A Second Look: Critics Reassess the New Fall Shows

  • Publish Date: October 11, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 7 user comments

On second thought ...

Imagine trying to grade a demo version of the first portion of an ongoing, ever-changing work-in-progress. That is the unique dilemma facing television critics, who typically—especially for shows airing on the traditional broadcast networks—receive only one episode to review. Not only is it inherently difficult to judge an entire series based on just one sample episode, but if that one episode is the pilot (and it usually is), it may not even be representative of the series as a whole, since it must spend the bulk of its running time establishing the premise and characters (and it may even be lacking characters who are added in subsequent episodes).

So, while the Metascores listed in our TV section might be a good indicator of the quality of each new show's first episode, the scores are not necessarily a good indicator of the merits of subsequent weeks of each series. With that in mind, we've rounded up some recently published second opinions about fall's key new shows. These consist of second- and third-week reevaluations by TV critics who initially reviewed these shows, as well as episode-by-episode assessments by TV recappers. The goal here is to get a better feel for each of these programs as an ongoing entity.

Comedy | Mondays at 8:30p CBS2 Broke Girls 66

THEN:
"If this promising half-hour finally comes up short on Nielsen's balance sheet, it won't be due to a deficit of energy or charm."

—Brian Lowry, Variety, Sep. 15

NOW:
"The two stars are appealing enough, even if the writing hasn't been. But they're going to have to find some supporting characters beyond what's already there ... The show's broke."

—Brian Lowry, Variety, Oct. 4

How it's doing: It's a hit. The pilot had more viewers than any other new show so far this fall by a huge margin, and while viewership dropped nearly 40% the following week, it's still the #1 new program in the key 18-49 demographic. Unsurprisingly, the series just received a full season order.

About that Metascore: 2 Broke Girls has the second highest Metascore out of the new fall comedies (behind only ABC's Suburgatory), with about 61% of critics giving the first episode a positive review, and even the less-enthusiastic reviewers praising the chemistry of leads Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. Now, however, that 66 seems awfully high for a show that seems to be losing fans among the critic community at a rapid pace.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
AOL TV / Jason Hughes Review of Ep. 2
Max's constant quips are starting to wear thin. It's like she's trying to be Chandler from 'Friends,' without any of the moments of sincerity or reality that grounded him from time to time.
A.V. Club / Todd VanDerWerff Review of Ep. 3
I continue to believe there's a good show lurking inside of 2 Broke Girls, even when the storytelling is nonexistent and the jokes are frequently questionable and/or terrible. A series that contains as interesting and amusing a relationship as the one between Caroline and Max—even if it's a spin on a female friendship as old as I Love Lucy itself—is one that I think will work out its kinks if given enough time.
[Episode grades: 1: B+ 2: D+ 3: B-]
Daemon's TV / Ciara Moyna Review of Ep. 3
Last week's episode marked a serious drop in quality from the show's excellent debut. This week picked up quite a bit, keeping the focus firmly on the relationship between Max and Caroline, leaving unfunny distractions like Max's babysitting job and her ex-boyfriend firmly by the wayside. It made for a much better episode of 2 Broke Girls, but still wasn't close to fulfilling to promise of potential which the first episode hinted at.
Entertainment Weekly / Stephan Lee Review of Ep. 2
In general, much like in [Michael Patrick] King's other show Sex and the City, there seem to be two competing types of humor: one is dark, cutting, and clever; the other is a bit broader, somewhat annoying, and more predictable (Caroline falling in the "mud" with carrots in it — okay, fine, I laughed). The series is still finding its legs, but it's a needed step up from the pilot.
Entertainment Weekly / Ken Tucker Review of Ep. 3
Three weeks in, 2 Broke Girls is not quite living up to its potential as the new season's break-out/talent-filled/girl-power-trend sitcom. ... [The series] does that mediocre-sitcom thing of having its actors deliver lines as though they were jokes but which, upon cursory inspection, prove not to be.
HitFix / Alan Sepinwall Review of Ep. 2
"And the Break-Up Scene" featured more of everything I didn't like about the pilot: more horrible ethnic caricature at the restaurant, more cartoons elsewhere (notably Brangelina's mom), more cringe-inducing puns ("She'd be the last lez I'd be in") or jokes based on brand names ("Chanel Number Two!"), more of Caroline being so clueless and grating as to be intolerable, etc.
IGN / Eric Goldman Review of Ep. 2
That's the thing about 2 Broke Girls: I'm laughing. Not at every joke to be sure, but enough to keep me entertained.
[Episode grades: 1: 7.5/10 2: 7/10 3: n/a ]
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Kat Dennings is terrifically funny and has real star quality, so it'd be nice to root for 2 Broke Girls, but when the big sight gag of the episode is Caroline falling hands and chest-first into either horse manure or mud (no doubt CBS Standards made them keep it ambiguous, although you wouldn't think it really could be), we're not in very classy or smart territory.
Time / James Poniewozik Review of Ep. 2
I could spend a lot of time listing the clunky gags and running jokes with diminishing returns ... But the larger problem overall was that this just does not feel like a sitcom that knows what it is. ... I still think 2 Broke Girls can turn things around and prove itself work sticking with. But it needs to show us that it knows its crap.
TV Addict Review of Ep. 2
In what universe did the proverbial powers that be think it would be a good idea to take the best two things about their show — which in the case of this CBS laugher are stars Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs — and both literally and figuratively slather them in sh*t!
TV Fanatic / Kris Hekmi Review of Ep. 3
The show needs to right a lot of its wrongs tonight. And they really, really need to do something about those three walking stereotypes that work with them in the restaurant.
[Episode grades: 1: n/a 2: 4/5 3: 2/5]

Drama | Thursdays at 8p ABCCharlie's Angels 30

How it's doing: Ratings were low for the premiere even when compared to ABC averages, and viewership has declined over 30% over the course of three weeks. Cancellation by the end of the month would not be unexpected.

About that Metascore: Viewers might be staying away for a reason; the Charlie's Angels reboot is the worst-reviewed new network show of the fall so far, with a Metascore even lower than that of the just-canceled H8R 31. Did things improve after the premiere? Not much, apparently, and the lack of people writing about the show doesn't argue in the show's favor.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
CraveOnline / Hilary Rothing Review of Ep. 3
Unfortunately, the show isn't very good. Like, at all.
[Episode grades: 1: 4/10 2: 5/10 3: 3/10]
Daemon's TV / Kristen Elizabeth Review of Ep. 2
Normally I would love ridiculous plots like this, but the cliches, clunky dialogue and the continued use of the split-screen editing makes it almost impossible for the show to work its way up in my estimation.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Almost entirely dull and routine. ... The dialogue is so uninspired it practically feels phonetic, and the plotting is truly woeful. ... Charlie's Angels could work for people who want something attractive playing on the TV screen while they surf online or have a conversation, paying attention for a few seconds every five minutes or so. But for people who are actually watching the set, it offers little in the way of entertainment value.
TV Fanatic / C. Orlando Review of Ep. 2
Pleasantly surprised. That was the feeling I walked away with after watching this week's episode of Charlie's Angels. I wasn't thrilled with the premiere. I felt it lacked the fun of the original while degrading the characters, but as pilots can be a tricky thing to pull off, I decided to take a look at "Runway Angels" with fresh eyes. I'm glad I did.
[Episode grades: 1: 3/5 2: 4/5 3: 3.7/5]

Comedy | Tuesdays at 9p FoxNew Girl 65

THEN:
"I'm annoyed by this on paper, but you don't actually watch the show on paper. And the theory of New Girl ... runs up against the fact that it's actually a very good pilot, probably the best sitcom pilot of the fall."

—James Poniewozik, Time, Sep. 16

NOW:
"The second episode of New Girl, 'Kryptonite,' was really, encouragingly funny."

—James Poniewozik, Time, Sep. 28

How it's doing: Fox's lone hit among its three new programs launched so far, New Girl was recently picked up for a full season (24 total episodes). The show is performing especially well in the key 18-49 demographic, and has lost fewer viewers since its premiere than nearly any other fall show. Oddly, however, Fox has pulled new episodes from its schedule for the remainder of October; you'll have to wait until November 1st to get your next shot of adorkability.

About that Metascore: With a solid if unspectacular 65, New Girl is tied for the fifth highest Metascore among new fall shows. And while that score is based solely on the pilot episode, critics and recappers have been generally enjoying subsequent weeks of the series, perhaps even a bit more than the first episode.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Erik Adams Review of Ep. 3
Coming into New Girl, the main knock on Deschanel's acting was that it was flat and one-note; New Girl hasn't added additional dimensions to that perception, but it does play to Deschanel's strengths (broad reactions, physical comedy, general gregariousness) in a way that also suits a television comedy.
[Episode grades: 1: B 2: C+ 3: B+]
CliqueClack TV / Michael Noble Review of Ep. 3
New Girl keeps getting thumbs up from me.
Daemon's TV / Ciara Moyna Review of Ep. 3
It's quite clearly still in development stages. The cast has yet to gel – the roommates still have that weird overly polite 'getting to know you' vibe going on, even among the guys, so I'm hoping that within a few weeks they'll settle into a routine where their banter will feel a little easier. But the show, so far, is little more than large potential. Luckily, while it gets its gears in check with regards to story kinks and auxiliary characters, the show has Zooey Deschanel and all her boundless charm to support it.
Entertainment Weekly / Lanford Beard Review of Ep. 3
I think the thing that has begun to bother me about the show is that the writers seem to have a very good idea of who they're creating and simultaneously no idea at all. ... On a more positive note, no one can argue that Deschanel hasn't been fully committed.
HitFix / Alan Sepinwall Review of Ep. 3
Last week's "Kryptonite" was a step down from the pilot ... But "Wedding" was easily the best of the post-pilot episodes I've seen, and in some ways I enjoyed it more than the pilot. ... If they can make more like this one, I look forward to watching for quite a while.
Hollywood.com / Kelsea Stahler Review of Ep. 3
This show really can't help but make you grin like a little kid.
IGN / Max Nicholson Review of Ep. 3
Overall, New Girl just keeps getting better and better with each passing episode. Granted, there have only been three episodes so far, but it's already a frontrunner for one of the funniest shows to come out this fall.
[Episode grades: 1: 7/10 2: 8/10 3: 8.5/10]
Paste / Ross Bonaime Review of Ep. 3
With its third (and best so far) episode "Wedding", New Girl proved why it deserves an entire season. ... If the quality keeps going up like it has this week, with hilarious moments and genuinely interesting character moments, it should be a great full season for a show really starting to find itself.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Even at this early stage, the ensemble works together extremely well, with Deschanel a consistent delight and the others fitting comfortably into her rhythm ... New Girl continues to be one of the highlights of the new season.
TV Fanatic / Kris Hekmi Review of Ep. 3
"Wedding" cemented New Girl as my favorite new comedy of the year. It took the show three episodes to find its funny groove, but this episode lived up to the promise of the pilot, and I would say even exceeded my expectations.
[Episode grades: 1: 4.2/5 2: 3/5 3: 4/5]
TV Guide / Matt Roush Review of Ep. 3
Another example of why this charming comedy is an instant winner.
Vulture / Izzy Grinspan Review of Ep. 3
Last night's episode busted out a lot of gimmicks, some of which worked better than others. It also forced Zooey Deschanel to ham it up even more than she already had in the previous two episodes, thereby drawing a line in the sand: Basically, if you do not enjoy watching a gifted comic actress cut herself out of a pair of little girl's bike shorts with a butter knife, then this might not be the show for you.
Zap2It / Mikey O'Connell Review of Ep. 3
Yes, Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel), both heartbroken dumpees, seemed destined for eventual hooking up from minute 5 of the pilot. But this is the first episode that has really shown off their absurdly convincing chemistry -- and Nick's equally adorkable skills as a leading man.

Drama | Sundays at 10p ABCPan Am 67

THEN:
"The female leads are appealing, the world promising and the pilot much more clear-eyed and less compromised in its view of the era than 'Playboy Club' is."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Sep. 24

NOW:
"I wasn't hugely impressed by 'We'll Always Have Paris,' which had the familiar kind of 'repeat the pilot' structure you often see with second episodes."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

How it's doing: Strong numbers for the pilot (at least in terms of total viewers) turned into much weaker figures in week two, with a significant drop-off in viewership. (Preliminary ratings for this week's third episode show yet another sharp drop.) Still, the show has outlasted NBC's 1960s-set drama (The Playboy Club 46, which was the season's first cancellation), and it is doing better among the DVR set.

About that Metascore: Among the season's new scripted shows, only Suburgatory scored higher with critics than Pan Am. But those original reviews were based only on the first episode, and it appears that subsequent episodes have been a bumpy ride, with the second episode dipping in quality and the third rebounding (at least for some observers). If anything, the jury is still out over whether the series will develop into something worth watching.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Erik Adams Review of Ep. 3
If presented deeper into its first season, "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" might seem like a radical reinvention for the series; as the third episode, it's a sign of Jack Orman and company laying out another potential course for a young series that's yet to settle on a single path. And while I like "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" as much (if not more) as Pan Am's pilot episode, more episodes like it may prevent Pan Am from becoming its own, unique series.
[Episode grades: 1: n/a 2: B- 3: B+]
Daemon's TV / Kristen Elizabeth Review of Ep. 3
I have to say that while I realize the show has a few kinks to work out (like deciding exactly what kind of show it wants to be), I still find myself thoroughly enjoying it week after week.
Entertainment Weekly / Adam B. Vary Review of Ep. 3
That is more like it! After last week's trip to Paris portended a descent by Pan Am into pleasant mediocrity, this week's voyage to West Berlin for President John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech felt like a show that was finally beginning to realize just what it was capable of pulling off. ... If Pan Am can turn out more episodes like this one, then I'd say we may actually have ourselves a genuine television program on our hands.
HitFix / Alan Sepinwall Review of Ep. 3
"Ich Bin Ein Berliner" was such a significant step up from last week's episode - and the pilot, for that matter. [Also see his assessment of Ep. 2, above]
Hollywood.com / Kelsea Stahler Review of Ep. 2
Pan Am may be one this season's biggest surprises for me. I expected to hate every second of the '60s themed romp in the sky, but it's managed to weasel its way into my heart with just two episodes.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
It's likely to take a bit of time for Pan Am to balance its triple goals of telling soapy stories, mixing in some espionage, and tackling the changing era of the 60s. Right now, it's an uncertain mix--the spy story feels like it was carried in bodily from another show, and any time the series invites direct comparison to Mad Men, it's asking for trouble. Also, both the pilot and initial episode weirdly underuse Christina Ricci, who's supposed to be the star of the ensemble. Still, the show is entertaining enough to make its bumpy take-off endurable.
TV Fanatic / Carissa Pavlica Review of Ep. 2
A lot of comments about Pan Am have insinuated the period wasn't being well represented. I disagree. The hairstyles, the decor and even the burgeoning fight for women's rights all seem very indicative of the early 60s.
[Episode grades: 1: 5/5 2: 4/5 3: 4.1/5]
Zap2It / David Eckstein Review of Ep. 3
For a show that started off with such promise, "Pan Am" is hitting a patch of turbulence. ... It's too much about placing these women in interesting times and places, almost like "Forrest Gump" with flight attendants. What it needs to do is focus on the characters and the conflicts between them. And it needs to start doing that soon or "Pan Am" might just be grounded.

Drama | Thursdays at 9p CBSPerson of Interest 64

THEN:
"The show can simultaneously unsettle, comfort, excite, and amuse its viewers — something for everyone."

—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, Sep. 15

NOW:
"I'll keep watching, for sure, but this was a disappointing hour overall."

—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, Sep. 30

How it's doing: Fairly well. The second episode of Person of Interest had more viewers than any other second episode of a new series so far this season. The problem facing any new CBS series, however, is the network's overall success, and Person's key 18-49 rating is enough below the CBS average to make the show's future slightly uncertain (though the series is certainly well in the "safe" column for the foreseeable future).

About that Metascore: With a decent 64, Person of Interest ranked 9th of 21 new fall network shows with critics. And, after a few weeks, "decent" still seems to be the operative word, with observers mainly in the camp that Person is nothing groundbreaking, but is mostly good enough as a standard procedural. Still, reading the reviews, we get the feeling that many of these critics wish the show were better and more interesting than it currently is.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Zack Handlen Review of Ep. 3
Person Of Interest doesn't need to be the next great drama on television to be effectively entertaining, but if it's going to keep churning out b-level plots like this one, it needs to do more with its two leads.
[Episode grades: 1: n/a 2: B- 3: C+]
Crave Online / Blair Marnell Review of Ep. 2
If John Reese is going to be the hero on this show than he needs to be more than just a convenient excuse for an action sequence. The nature of procedurals is that the regular characters can fade away behind a steady stream of guest performers. That can't happen here. We need to care about John Reese as well as the people he's trying to help. But there's such an emotional distance between Reese and the audience that it's hard to feel anything for him at all. In short, "Person of Interest" has an impressive body. It just needs a soul.
[Episode grades: 1: 8/10 2: 7/10 3: n/a]
Daemon's TV / Luke Gelineau Review of Ep. 3
There are two people in this show, and I already like them more as characters after two episodes than I liked any of the Suspect Behavior team after 13 episodes.
Entertainment Weekly / Benjamin Wood Review of Ep. 2
All in all, for a series constructed as high-concept, last night's episode felt oddly formulaic. Compared to the dark gritty feel of the pilot, the broad daylight action of episode 2 lacked the same tension. ... I'm hopeful that the post-9/11 ideas of security vs. privacy and the uncertainty of villain or victim can make for some very engaging discussion and drama as the season progresses.
Paste / Ross Bonaime Review of Ep. 3
The first two episodes were monotonous, boring and not as interested in character. Person of Interest still definitely has problems, but for once it seems like it's trying to solve them.
Postmedia News / Alex Strachan Review of Ep. 2
It's still an interesting premise, but now the signs are clear: It's a procedural crime show, not a psychological thriller, and it will tell self-contained stories each week. Those stories will be of the CSI how-done-it variety -- undemanding and untaxing on the brain.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
As the season's new procedurals go, Person Of Interest is easily the most promising. It's not essential viewing at this point, but it's a diverting way to spend an hour.
TV.com / Tim Surette Review of Ep. 3
The series' most interesting component so far is the duo's relationship, which is slowly evolving into a bizarre friendship between two completely socially broken people. ... I'm sure the weirdness is intentional, but it's that sliver of doubt that makes me wonder exactly what is going on here.
TV Fanatic / Sean McKenna Review of Ep. 3
I know that Person of Interest technically falls under the procedural category, so each episode should only involve one case. But does it have to? I recognize the risk in trying to put too much information into one hour and not leaving the case in question unfinished, but could it hurt to try?
[Episode grades: 1: 3.7/5 2: 4.2/5 3: 3.7/5]
TV Overmind / Keysh Review of Ep. 3
It's refreshing to have a strong 'case of the week' style drama that's slowly putting itself together to have a deeper story emerging from the background with each glimpse into the past along with clues found in the present. And that's why Person of Interest is turning into something that's become very rewarding to watch as it unfolds a little more each week.

Drama | Thursdays at 10p NBCPrime Suspect 66

THEN:
"If Jane Timoney continues to be an interesting character - and if the characters around her become three-dimensional enough to stand plausibly with or against her - then this could hearken back not only to the original 'Prime Suspect,' but 'NYPD Blue,' 'Homicide,' etc."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Sep. 22

NOW:
"This was promising after the pilot left me uncertain what the real show would look like. "

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Sep. 30

How it's doing: It's one of the lowest-rated new shows (especially in the 18-49 demo), and NBC has already canceled its two new series with lower ratings. Still, Prime Suspect's ratings have been fairly stable over its three weeks on the air—it isn't shedding the viewers it does have, which is a positive sign—so expect the network to show some patience with the series.

About that Metascore: The premiere's Metascore of 66, while good (it ranked fourth among all new shows), had the potential to be especially troublesome as far as predicting future quality, since the producers already announced that subsequent episodes would differ greatly from the pilot (mainly in the show's emphasis on sexism). No one seems blown away by the show, but recent episodes seem to point to a potential for improvement in the near future.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Hayden Childs Review of Ep. 3
Despite my annoyance with the uneven writing in the previous two episodes, I find that am now pulling for Detective Jane Timoney, and that's a sign of major improvement. ... If they keep making episodes like this, they may even earn the right to call this show Prime Suspect, and that is an excellent reason to watch this show.
[Episode grades: 1: B 2: B- 3: B+]
CliqueClack TV / An Nicholson Review of Ep. 3
This week, NBC seemingly decided that everything we enjoyed about the original Prime Suspect (and the re-boot's last two episodes) should go. ... This week's show looks like a watered down version of Chase's commercials. The writers did such a good job last week. I watched this week expecting that same level of awesome. I understand that no one wants to see sexism, scared cops, or realistic home life, but Prime Suspect did well showing society's unwanted realities. I hope it returns to that.
Entertainment Weekly / Ken Tucker Review of Ep. 2
Prime Suspect episode two was a lot snappier than its pilot was. ... Suspect took a premise that could have been ripped from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — a missing tot may be in the hands of a man previously convicted of child abuse, who swears he's reformed and innocent — and assiduously avoided the weepy grandstanding that L&O:SVU traffics in.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Aside from Bello (who does need to politely tell the costume people it's time to ditch the silly hat), there's nothing remotely exciting or distinctive about the new Prime Suspect. It's just a functional crime show, comfort food for a crowd that doesn't want its sensibilities mussed in the least.
TV Fanatic / Nick McHatton Review of Ep. 3
But with the sexism toned down, there's a whole lot more to love about this detective, the beef trust and the show in general. ... The roughness from the prior episode has been smoothed out, characters are starting come to the surface, and the cases are a welcome change from the typical run and gun procedural.
[Episode grades: 1: 4/5 2: 4/5 3: 4.5/5]

Drama | Wednesdays at 10p ABCRevenge 65

THEN:
"I found it all a bit predictable and thick, like I was choking on Crisco."

—Matt Roush, TV Guide, Sep. 21

NOW:
"It's certainly holding up better than the CW's Ringer, which is treading water awfully slowly ... I just wish I enjoyed it more."

—Matt Roush, TV Guide, Sep. 28

How it's doing: The premiere exceeded expectations, winning its timeslot and ranking among the top half of fall's new shows in total viewers. While the show's 18-49 rating has declined a bit more than ABC might like in the ensuing weeks, Revenge does not appear to be in any imminent danger (though it will need to stop losing viewers at some point in the very near future).

About that Metascore: Frankly, we were expecting the original Metascore for Revenge to be a bit lower than that 65, given that the show is basically a guilty pleasure primetime soap opera, but the key word in that description appears to be "pleasure": Critics enjoyed the pilot, and, three episodes in, that hasn't changed much.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Carrie Raisler Review of Ep. 3
Another week brings another very solid episode of Revenge, in what's shaping up to be one of the better new drama series of the season. ... Revenge shows no signs of going off the rails anytime soon, and this is a very good thing.
[Episode grades: 1: B 2: B+ 3: B+]
CliqueClack TV / Bob Degon Review of Ep. 3
Sure, it's a little campy, and I'm not sure how the writers will keep the story going in every episode, but it is highly enjoyable.
Daemon's TV / Ciara Moyna Review of Ep. 3
The third episode of Revenge establishes that this is probably the most appealing network drama of the fairly unsuccessful fall. But it's not just appealing: this is actually beginning to flesh out into a really solid, potentially very good, show.
Entertainment Weekly / Darren Franich Review of Ep. 3
I think Revenge has set a pretty high goal for itself. The show appears to be aiming for the hybrid "serial-sodic" form of storytelling, where each episode simultaneously tells a self-contained story while also furthering along the overarching master story. It's a tough trick to pull off -- I'd say that Fringe and Burn Notice do it the best -- and I'm not even sure if Revenge needs the independent vengeance plots. I got a big charge out of the one big scene between Emily and Mama Grayson -- "Would you mind terribly if I started calling you Victoria?" -- and I wonder if the other little vengeances will just start feeling distracting.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Revenge is, so far, a pleasantly dumb entertainment that takes itself just seriously enough, and moves too swiftly to leave time for many questions. (Ringer could learn something from its pacing.)
TV Fanatic / C. Orlando Review of Ep. 2
The more I watch of Revenge, the more I want to see.
[Episode grades: 1: 4.2/5 2: 4.5/5 3: 4.4/5]

Drama | Tuesdays at 9p CWRinger 59

THEN:
"The pilot ... takes itself too seriously, and thus wastes one of its biggest assets--in Gellar, they have a champion at the art of wisecracking in the course of heavy drama, and with a show that could desperately use a dose of sardonic humor, the writers need to make use of that skill if the series is to keep rolling along."

—Mitch Salem, ShowBuzzDaily, Jul. 6

NOW:
"Ringer still has promise: the unraveling of what's going on with Siobhan is intriguing, and Bridget's attempt to fit into Siobhan's life could be fun. And Gellar has plenty of talents the show hasn't exploited yet. But Bridget, who's supposed to be street-smart, needs to be more ingenious than she's been so far, and the villains have to move beyond the level of B-movie thugs if Ringer is to be diverting fun."

—Mitch Salem, ShowBuzzDaily, Sep. 21

How it's doing: Like most CW shows, Ringer's ratings barely register when compared to the other four broadcast networks. But while the series was holding steady for a while, last week brought a major drop in the show's numbers, and it can't afford to lose any more viewers.

About that Metascore: Critics weren't especially fond of Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to series television, though it was the highest-scoring new show for The CW. Has it improved in the month since its premiere? Not much, according to observers who regularly write about the show. Especially problematic is Ringer's tedious pacing, though last week's episode offered a glimmer of hope.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Carrie Raisler Review of Ep. 4
After two weeks of utterly banal wheel-spinning, the last five minutes of this episode finally featured a moment jaw-dropping and soapy enough to pay off the promise of everything set in motion in the pilot. Even though it's only the fourth episode it feels like it's been a long road getting here—each episode has been more generic than the last, until any hint of even pseudo-noir disappeared like the mysterious assassin in the trunk, only to be replaced by generic CW-style pop music—but if the show can pick up this train and run with it, there could be a somewhat fun show buried beneath this boring dreck.
[Episode grades: 1: C+ 2: D 3: C 4: C+]
CliqueClack TV / Carla Day Review of Ep. 4
Forty minutes into tonight's Ringer, I was ready to give up reviewing the show and move it to the catch-up-on-the-weekend slot on my DVR. That was until the last 30 seconds.
Entertainment Weekly / Tim Stack Review of Ep. 4
Tonight's Ringer was kind of a snooze…until the last like 10 minutes. Frankly, it all felt like filler, which isn't a great sign when you're on episode 4 of a (hopefully) 22 episode series! Hopefully, the fairy epic twist at the end will mean that the drama next week will be amped up.
Hollywood.com / Kelly Schremph Review of Ep. 4
So far Ringer has managed to hold our interest with a jam-packed plot that has us both rooting for Bridget and wondering what evil schemes Siobhan is up to.
IGN / Amy Ratcliffe Review of Ep. 3
The show is out of sync. It wants to be film noir but doesn't put any effort into that style aside from the sets and lighting. If the writing and music (the current soundtrack is out of place) matched the mood, the series would have so much more potential. As it stands, it's just mildly entertaining.
[Episode grades: 1: 6/10 2: 4/10 3: 5/10 4: n/a]
TV Fanatic / C. Orlando Review of Ep. 4
I have no idea where Ringer goes with this, but I can't wait for next week to find out. And that should be the goal of every episode.
[Episode grades: 1: 4.5/5 2: 4.2/5 3: 4.3/5 4: 4.5/5]

Drama | Thursdays at 9p The CWThe Secret Circle 55

How it's doing: By CW standards, it's doing fine. Despite losing a decent chunk of the audience of its lead-in, Vampire Diaries, Secret Circle is still one of the network's better-performing shows, with ratings higher than those for Nikita and Supernatural, for example. If it can hold steady at current numbers, renewal is a strong possibility.

About that Metascore: Only seven new fall shows so far have a lower Metascore than Secret Circle's 55, and four of those have already been canceled. Of course, CW shows (especially one as teen-oriented as this) aren't exactly designed to please critics. But many of the recappers who follow it on a regular basis are finding it a bit slow-going so far.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Katherine Miller Review of Ep. 4
The Secret Circle nixed the parents, the school, and Cassie's unyielding obstinacy, threw in some danger and some tiny, tiny demon snakes, and boom, things got good. It is nigh amazing the difference that removing the Teen Mom witches and forcing Cassie to be an engaged player in the deliberations made -- the second half of this episode moved at a brisk clip, where the first few weeks had plodded.
[Episode grades: 1: B- 2: B 3: C+ 4: B+]
Cinema Blend / Lauren Heimbaugh Review of Ep. 4
On the whole, The Secret Circle is still looking for some excitement.
CliqueClack TV / Ivey West Review of Ep. 3
In a lot of ways, the town's history is the show's best mystery. So far, I'm enjoying the way the writers are slowly peeling back the layers of the story.
Den of Geek / Caroline Preece Review of Ep. 3
In terms of the central plot lines, the show seems ready to get a little more ruthless. These brutal past events and present actions are all coming from the older generation, so it's unclear what the central teens have in store. It's clear that an increasingly tangled web of lies, deceit and murderous betrayal await them, but hopefully it doesn't take 20-years to get there.
Entertainment Weekly / Shaunna Murphy Review of Ep. 4
I thought it was interesting that this week's episode was the first to leave out the remaining parents. Interesting and also a little disappointing, since they are the strongest actors on the show.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
The biggest problem with The Secret Circle is that The Vampire Diaries exists (and airs as its lead-in), and although both shows are produced by Kevin Williamson and based on books by L.J. Smith, Vampire is infinitely more fun. ... Thus far, Secret Circle is more than a little plodding.
TV Fanatic / Jim Garner Review of Ep. 4
We shared concerns last week that The Secret Circle might suffer from not being as action-packed/fast-paced as The Vampire Diaries. "Heather," though, proved it can play with the big kids just fine, thank you.
[Episode grades: 1: 4.7/5 2: 4.2/5 3: 4.2/5 4: 4.3/5]

Comedy | Wednesdays at 8:30p ABCSuburgatory 70

THEN:
"The highest compliment I can pay 'Suburgatory' is to say this: it is one of the few comedy pilots I can remember where I laughed more the second time I watched it than the first."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Sep. 27

NOW:
"The exaggerated nature of most of the neighbors feels like it's distracting from what's turned out to be a much more interesting, funny father-daughter story."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Oct. 6

How it's doing: Since it started a week after most shows, only two episodes of Suburgatory are in the books so far, but it opened fairly strong (especially compared to other ABC programming) and lost very few of its viewers during its second week. In other words, it looks like the network has added another hit to its Wednesday comedy lineup.

About that Metascore: It has been a rather lackluster season for new shows, so that score of 70 makes Suburgatory the best-reviewed new network show of the fall. And the second episode did nothing to make critics change their mind about the series.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Ryan McGee Review of Ep. 2
The show continues to spin familiar tales in ways that feel fresh.
[Episode grades: 1: B+ 2: B+]
Daemon's TV / Kristen Elizabeth Review of Ep. 2
I'm already in love with Suburgatory and the second episode, "The Barbeque," just made it official. ... A large part of the charm of Suburgatory rests on the winning relationship between Tessa and George. There's real feeling there, but also an edge, like you'd expect in a single parent household, and some of the best moments of the show are when they're together on screen. But there are also some fabulous character actors showing off their chops in the background, not to mention some very witty dialogue partially concealing a rather scathing expose of this, our modern world.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
The regular series tone of Suburgatory is broader and less distinctive than the pilot suggested it would be. ... That's not to say the series isn't fun ... [but] what originally seemed reminiscent of My So-Called Life is now considerably less edgy. ... The hope here is that as the show goes forward, it'll recapture some of the originality that made it seem special in the first place.
TV Overmind / Shilo Adams Review of Ep. 2
I was definitely "in" for Suburgatory's brand of dry humor with a touch of sweetness after the very solid pilot and "The Barbecue" just solidified my trust in the show.

Drama/Sci-Fi | Mondays at 8p FoxTerra Nova 64

THEN:
"For starters, ... 'Terra Nova' shines pretty brightly ... Eventually, the show begins settling in, for good (cool-looking dinosaurs; an exterior threat from a rogue group of colonists) and ill (stupid teenagers, who bring tired teenage problems back to the Mesozoic era). "

—Brian Lowry, Variety, Sep. 23

NOW:
"Even more than the pilot, the family dynamics felt tired and stilted in the second episode. Fox has clearly taken the sharper edges in the original concept -- including a strained parental relationship -- and decided to get all soft and fuzzy with them. But since there's only so much action this sort of series can provide without exploding its budget, that leaves a lot of ho-hum screen time."

—Brian Lowry, Variety, Oct. 4

How it's doing: Ratings for the pilot were good but not spectacular, which itself is a disappointment given Terra Nova's enormous production and marketing budget. But nearly everyone who watched in week one came back for the second week. (Last night's third episode was delayed in some time zones by a baseball playoff game, so its ratings are unhelpful as an indicator.) The good news is that it won't be canceled mid-season; the 13-episode run is already booked to wrap up with a two-hour finale on December 19. But whether the series returns next year is still an open question.

About that Metascore: That 64, while not bad, is also a bit of a disappointment given all of the work that went into the show and the names involved (starting with Steven Spielberg). Have critics warmed up to Terra Nova since the pilot? Not exactly. If anything, subsequent episodes have been less exciting, and reviewers seem to be waiting for the series to get better.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Rowan Kaiser Review of Ep. 3
This episode of Terra Nova wasn't terribly good. It wasn't bad, necessarily, and I did enjoy it more than last week's episode, but I wouldn't qualify it as good. With that said, I think there were some clear moments when Terra Nova demonstrated qualities that indicate that it's building a structure that could become a good show.
[Episode grades: 1: B+ 2: C- 3: C+]
CliqueClack TV / Michael Noble Review of Ep. 3
I'll say this: At least there were some comic elements in last week's episode to make me chuckle. (And when I say "chuckle" I mean at the characters in Terra Nova, not with them.) This week's was just a piece of throw away filler.
Crave Online / Blair Marnell Review of Ep. 2
Was this really the strongest story the writers could come up with after the pilot? A prehistoric remix of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds"? It's not that this episode was particularly bad... it just wasn't good either.
[Episode grades: 1: 8/10 2: 6.5/10 3: n/a]
Daemon's TV / Luke Gelineau Review of Ep. 3
Terra Nova started off strong with a well done and promising pilot, but then dipped a bit in quality in its second episode. Now we're at the third episode, and everything about it felt goofy and out of place. The pilot episode introduced a lot of interesting potential plot points with the drawings near the waterfall and the Sixers, but ever since then it just feels like we're running in place.
Den of Geek / James Hunt Review of Ep. 2
The fact that this episode's central concept was reflected in its subplots offers some hope that the writers of Terra Nova might actually be smarter than the pilot made them look. ... It's still early days for the series, but right now its prospects look good.
Entertainment Weekly / James Hibberd Review of Ep. 3
Aside from some rather convenient plotting, I liked this episode -- "What Remains" -- better than anything I've seen yet from Terra Nova. The characters seemed to loosen up. The dialogue was less forced, more witty. The show made better use of the CGI dinos -- less screen time, more impact. ... "What Remains" was the least ambitious hour of Terra Nova -- it wasn't trying to be recreate the twisting mythology of Lost or the spectacle of Jurassic Park -- yet it was the most successful in terms of pulling off some fundamental non-splashy elements which make for enjoyable TV.
HitFix / Ryan McGee Review of Ep. 3
It takes a special talent to make a show about people going through a wormhole to dinosaur-infested prehistoric times inside an alternate time stream…and then make it this spectacularly dull. I almost want to applaud the show's writers for achieving something I didn't dream was possible.
Hollywood.com / Michael Arbeiter Review of Ep. 3
That's sort of the show's problem: it is light on the science aspect and a little too heavy-handed on the drama. We don't always need the highest possible degree of raw emotion or interpersonal conflict. People are usually more subtle and intricate than that. The Shannons are good characters, and they're all pretty believable, but they need to dial it back to more realistic levels, and maybe amp up the mythology a bit.
IGN / Chris Carabott Review of Ep. 3
The dinosaurs did look good, and, after a mere three episodes, it's nice to see that the show is delivering the Jurassic goods. Now if they can just improve the quality of the stories a tad more and do something about Josh, we might have a keeper on our hands.
[Episode grades: 1: 8/10 2: 7/10 3: 7.5/10]
Los Angeles Times (Show Tracker) / Todd VanDerWerff Review of Ep. 3
This means that every episode inevitably devolves into Josh or Maddy being mopey about their love lives, while Jim and Elisabeth deal with some mundane workplace problem, while all the while, dinosaurs are outside in the big, scary jungle. Sure, we've got hints of stuff that could happen, but this early in the show's run, the series seems reluctant to blow up any of its plot bombs ... This means that the episodes glide along pleasantly enough, hoping to create intimate character drama. This is all well and good if you have good enough characters, but this show just doesn't. So this means we essentially have a fairly staid smalltown drama that doesn't make use of its one interesting element: the new setting. It's like if "Lost" had spent all of its first 13 episodes with everybody constantly staying inside of the crashed plane because they knew the polar bears couldn't get them there.
Paste / Josh Jackson Review of Ep. 2
Terra Nova is very much a conventional, network-ready sci-fi show, likely not to scare away it's sizable audience, but unlikely to dominate the next Comic-Con. The strides forward here are visual (though the pterosaurs were less believable than last week's big lizards) rather than character study or storytelling.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Terra Nova isn't going to be deep or profound stuff, but if the production values can stay comparable to what we've seen so far ... and the writing can avoid being too blunt, it should continue to be a broadly enjoyable piece of weekly entertainment.
TV Addict Review of Ep. 2
The episode wasn't perfect. ... That said, if last night's second outing is indicative of what we can expect from the series as it moves forward, consider us engaged
TV Fanatic / Dan Forcella Review of Ep. 3
If you finished the Terra Nova series premiere excited to watch a full season of epic adventures against dinosaurs and defiant rebels - while pondering the many mysteries of time travel and its effects on this society - you have probably been disappointed the past two weeks. "What Remains" built on "Instinct" in the worst ways possible. Conversely, if were were thinking to yourself post-pilot, I wish this show was more of a mixture of a soap opera and a procedural crime drama, then you've been pleased with the two most recent outings.
[Episode grades: 1: 4/5 2: 3/5 3: 3/5]
Vulture / Chadwick Matlin Review of Ep. 3
Somebody find whoever's responsible for sending CSI's plot structure 85 million years into the past and feed them to an ovasaur. This week's episode, like last week's, opened on somebody we've never seen before, and then promptly killed him off. This, apparently, is Terra Nova's modus operandi: kill somebody, have that tragic event thrust our heroes into action, and have whatever mess they get in somehow act as an expository device that will drop clues about our clusterfuck of a future.

Comedy | Wednesdays at 8p NBCUp All Night 64

THEN:
"There's a sweet, good-hearted minuteness of observation to the show, which manages to work in middle-of-the-night wakings and diaper changes without going for obvious gags."

—James Poniewozik, Time, Sep. 14

NOW:
"Last night was the follow-up episode of Up All Night, which confirmed a lot of what I liked about the debut and some of what bothered me."

—James Poniewozik, Time, Sep. 22

How it's doing: Up All Night had a surprisingly strong premiere, and though it has lost more nearly half its viewers since that first week, it rebounded a bit with episode four, and the series has been picked up for a full season.

About that Metascore: Though critics have noted major problems in integrating Maya Rudolph's talk show host character (and other side players) into the storylines featuring the core duo of Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, they still seem as willing to keep up with Up as they were after the pilot. Still, as that 64 suggests, and subsequent reviews confirm, it's not quite at the same level as NBC's best comedies, and will need to work out its split personality issues to get there.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
A.V. Club / Phil Nugent Review of Ep. 4
Up All Night is one of the more promising and enjoyable comedies of the new TV season. ... From week to week, the show remains a pretty good bet for anyone looking for a few smart chuckles. It is also a freakazoid mutation. As you may have heard, in the pilot, Rudolph was cast "as Applegate's best friend and boss at a PR firm," but the part was subsequently changed to an Oprah-esque talk show host, with Applegate playing her indispensable first lieutenant. In terms of laughs, it was a change for the better, but it seems to have split Up All Night into two shows, the one that it's supposed to be and "The Maya Rudolph Half-A-Half-Hour Show." ... Of the two halves of Up All Night, the Applegate-Anett show is more likely to drag but feels more solidly grounded, while the Rudolph show is wilder, but also feels a little like a parasitic life form, which it kind of is.
[Episode grades: 1: B+ 2: B- 3: B 4: B]
CliqueClack TV / Meredith O'Brien Review of Ep. 4
Hey writers: Give Maya Rudolph something meatier, material akin to what Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation gets. I'm sure she'll crush it and be able to transform her character into something unique, instead of a watered down SNL persona.
HitFix / Alan Sepinwall Review of Ep. 4
"Up All Night" continues to be two different shows clumsily welded together, though this was the first episode where I think I preferred the Maya Rudolph version of the show to the Christina Applegate/Will Arnett version. ... It's early yet, and this is the time when most comedies are still figuring themselves out, but this was the first episode of the show I mostly didn't enjoy.
Paste / Adam Vitcavage Review of Ep. 4
"New Car" is easily the least funny of the series so far, but is still funnier than half of the freshman class. And that's saying something.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Up All Night is still a superior show, and Applegate and Arnett are terrific together.
TV Fanatic / Chris O'Hara Review of Ep. 4
This was the best episode so far and a sure sign of good things to come as the writers and actors seem to be finding their groove.
[Episode grades: 1: 3/5 2: 3.5/5 3: 3.5/5 4: 4.5/5]

Comedy | Thursdays at 9:30p NBCWhitney 50

THEN:
"When it's just [Chris D'Elia] being asked to be funny, or when the show stops telling jokes altogether and just lets Whitney and Alex horse around and enjoy each other's company, it feels like there's a show there. But Whitney the writer needs to figure out how to better feature Whitney the actress, and how to make the dialogue come across as less nakedly in service of setting up the next punchline."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Sep. 19

NOW:
"If the pilot left me with a tiny shred of optimism, 'First Date' dashed all hope early and often. ... This is a show I have no interest in continuing with right now."

—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix, Sep. 30

How it's doing: Whitney has also been picked up for a full season, though it, too has lost a decent chunk of viewers since a relatively decent premiere (the show's ratings are down nearly a third in the key 18-49 demo). Expect the show to get moved to a different night and time (likely paired with Up All Night, where it is now repeating as a replacement for the canceled Free Agents) when 30 Rock returns; its performance there will determine its fate next year.

About that Metascore: While most of the fall's new comedies received generally positive reviews from critics, Whitney did not, and only the canceled How to Be a Gentleman 42 had a lower score among new sitcoms (though, at press time, it looks like this week's new Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing will easily sink below both). Has Whitney improved with time? Not according to the people who regularly write about the series.

What Critics are Saying (Since the Premiere)
AOL TV / Jason Hughes Review of Ep. 3
Okay, so the episode didn't tread any new ground, but Alex and Whitney have a really fun relationship to watch, particularly when you can tell they're ad-libbing and getting more natural reactions from one another. Whitney Cummings and Chris D'Elia are both funny people, and as it stands right now, their charm and chemistry is holding the show together.
A.V. Club / Erik Adams Review of Ep. 3
I'm ready to ditch the idea that it's ever going to make me laugh. ... Whitney's a tough character to like. And the fact that I don't find her funny only makes that tougher. There have been very brief flashes of information that provide explanation for her rough edges and suggest a touch of empathy—glimpsed tonight in a tongue-tying breakdown of her parents' various infidelities—but they've been pretty clumsily handled.
[Episode grades: 1: D+ 2: D 3: D]
Daemon's TV / Kristen Elizabeth Review of Ep. 3
I just don't find anything funny about this show. And I'm trying, I swear! I have nothing against the cast; just the writing. It's derivative and perpetuates cliches about both men and women.
Paste / Adam Vitcavage Review of Ep. 3
While it was still rough around the edges, the meat of the show is getting more tender and bearable. This is definitely the strongest Whitney to date and hopefully it's the beginning of an upward swing. While dialogue and jokes fall flat sometimes, Cummings' acting is getting stronger every step of the way. My worries about the freshman sitcom are getting smoothed out, albeit slowly.
ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem Review of Ep. 2
Cummings and D'Elia have no real chemistry together, comedic or romantic--if the pair really were dating for the first time, there'd be no reason to think they'd stay together, which presumably isn't the point the show is trying to make. Unlike most modern sitcoms, Whitney so far isn't an ensemble show with multiple plotlines, either--the friend characters have no lives of their own, and in the second episode they exist only to service the Whitney/Alex story, which makes the show's pace feel comparatively slow.

What do you think?

What new shows are you enjoying this fall, and which have been disappointments? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (7)

  • Mansi  

    Thanks Jason Dietz for this brilliant post for posting.

  • MegWhiteley  

    My favorites TV Shows of the list are 2 Broke Girls, New Girl, Pan Am, Revenge, Suburgatory, Person of Interest and The Secret Circle.

  • Loopy  

    My favorite is Person of Interest. I like Prime Suspect although she is a bit dull. I enjoy Revenge but not sure how long this show could run since she will soon have wiped out everybody she wants revenge on. I like Unfogettable also.

  • sauzee  

    Good article. These reviews of secondary episodes should be included in the main metascore & critics review sections of shows. As the article itself highlights, basing a metascore on just the first episode is far from perfect.

  • cristane  

    Great article guys, thanks a lot for the hard work.

  • LamontRaymond  

    Great roundup! I'm fired up for the forthcoming "Cancellation Watch" - bring it on. Personally, I've been digging The Secret Circle, Ringer, Whitney, Person of Interest, and Prime Suspect. Revenge needs to wrap it before it becomes a predictable procedural. "OK, so which poor sap was part of Daddy's demise? Who am I gonna ruin this week?"

  • CRL  

    Glad to see Person of Interest is pretty safe. I think it's easily the best show you won't have to pay for (I'm looking at you Homeland), and Emerson is amazing in his role. It still has a lot of room for improvement though, but if it does it might become a mainstay for CBS.

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