This time of year means two things to TV fans: Reruns of your favorite shows and a slew of new mid-season replacements on offer. Here are seven newcomers that have the critics sparring:
FX's new boxing drama has plenty of punch, critics say. It's a "first-rate series" that offers a "cleverly updated version of the Rocky story" with added dimensions for those without pugilistic interests, says Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times. Yes, it's "a handsome genre show," says Mark Peikert in the New York Press, but Catherine McCormack, who plays the lead character's wife, "is almost ludicrously bad." (See a promo for "Lights Out")
The new Showtime drama about a struggling, dysfunctional family is based on a British show and stars William H. Macy as a drunken daddy. It "attempts to jam a lot into one hour," says Tim Bashan in Paste. But "the show's tremendous cast, smart pacing and fresh storyline keep it engaging." Nah, this is a "strangely unlikable remake" that "seems determined to knock viewers on the head" with a bad combination of "grittiness and preachiness," says Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times. (View an ad for "Shameless")
MTV's hotly anticipated version of a long-running British series about sex, drugs, and high schoolers premieres on Monday, but it might not be worth the wait. "There is no denying that the plot lines are risky and cover territory well outside any other American teen shows," says Zach Mack at Gawker. But for a fan of the British original, the MTV version is "like watching your high school put on a crappy production of your favorite play." For better or worse, the show has been Americanized, says Jessica Bennett in Newsweek. "The girls are more glossed; crude details about the characters' lives have been played down; and, most noticeably, the flamboyant, tap-dancing Maxxie character has been replaced by a hot lesbian cheerleader." (Watch an ad for "Skins")
"Off the Map"
The critical prognosis for ABC's medical-drama-in-the-South-American-jungle (produced by "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes) doesn't look good. "The parallels in both tone and character" between it and "Grey's" are "pretty hard to ignore," says Alan Sepinwall at HitFix. It's "a pleasant, unremarkable, overly familiar show with a pretty setting." That's too kind, says Tim Goodman in The Hollywood Reporter. In a word, the show is "brutal," and I plan to watch it "never again." (Watch a promo for "Off the Map")
NBC's comic-bookish superhero drama might not save the day (or the flailing network). It's "fundamentally unsatisfying," says Matt Zoller Seitz at Salon. "It rushes through everything, pulverizing potentially engaging characters and story until the whole production starts to feel like a long trailer for itself." I wouldn't say that, but it's certainly not for cynics, says Jethro Nededog at Zap2It. On the other hand, "if you're one who gets sucked into stories of valor, can have a sense of humor about the characters and their abilities, and you can buy the idea that one man can make a difference, you'll enjoy 'The Cape.'" (View a trailer for "The Cape")
NBC's new legal drama has star Kathy Bates and noted writer David E. Kelley ("L.A. Law," "Ally McBeal," "Boston Legal") in its favor. "Bates is just the person to deliver David E. Kelley's tart dialogue," says Brian Lowry in Variety. "And he surrounds her with enough quirky characters to make this Cincinnati-set spiritual companion to 'Boston Legal' a breezy diversion." While it tries to duplicate the "quirky" tone of "Ally McBeal," says a less impressed Jesse Tigges at Columbus Alive!, it "fails miserably, resulting in a ridiculously poor take on criminal law." (Watch a promo for "Harry's Law")
Comedy Central and The Onion have teamed up to spoof the likes of ESPN's "SportsCenter." The show "takes a much needed shot" at the flashy graphics and oversized egos that permeate the world of sports reporting and punditry, says Danny Gallagher at TV Squad. Yes, it's "pitch-perfect, good-natured mockery," entertaining for both sports fans and "girlish viewers" alike, says Meghan Carlson at BuddyTV. (See a trailer for "Onion SportsDome")
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- Grammar quiz: Do you know the passive voice?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week