Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

Some shows get off to a great start (remember "Smash"?), others take a while to get going. Here's a progress report SLIDE SHOW

Topics: Television, TV, The New Normal, go on, revolution, Last Resort, The Mindy Show,

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    Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

    The New Normal

    The first episode of Ryan Murphy’s “The New Normal,” about David and Bryan, a gay couple having a baby, was shrill to the point of uncomfortable, out there to the point of mean-spiritedness in great part due to Ellen Barkin's unbridled racist, homophobic character. It has since mellowed just enough. And David and Bryan are affectionate and romantic (ahem, “Modern Family), while retaining a dash of the Ryan Murphy crazies. In a recent episode Bryan became obsessed with throwing a pretend wedding for a little girl that ultimately resulted in David’s very heartfelt proposal to him: Out of campy insanity comes a big awww.

    Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

    Revolution

    “Revolution” has a great premise. It still has a great premise. That is all it has. The biggest hit of the fall season is still as lame-brained and disappointing as its pilot, apparently allergic to exploring the more interesting aspects of its post-apocalyptic setup. Look out for more end-of-the-world shows next year, because “Revolution’s” success indicates all you need is a halfway decent idea and mediocre follow-through to have a hit.

    Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

    The Mindy Show

    I’ve always respected “The Mindy Project,” but it’s only the last two episodes that have made me laugh. The show just recently achieved a tone that takes the piss out of its self-involved characters, rather than celebrate them. (The mockumentary format that Kaling long used on “The Office” takes the piss automatically. The camera is always at a distance, studying and judging the characters’ silliness.) The last two episodes have been laugh-out-loud funny, simultaneously sending up Mindy and her rom-com obsessions, while also celebrating her — or really “Beyoncé Pad-Thai’s” — toughness.

    Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

    Last Resort

    ABC's high-concept action series about a rogue U.S. submarine holed up on a tropical island with 17 nukes has been spinning its wheels since its juicy first episodes. Six episodes in, epic action episodes are followed by, say, last week’s fragmented and disjointed episode about a biochemical attack. And we still don’t know the scope, or nature, of the grand conspiracy that created this mess. I need to know a little more to stay invested.

    Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

    The Neighbors

    ABC’s series about a regular family that moves into a suburban community inhabited by aliens was a big joke going into the fall, widely predicted to fail. But "The Neighbors” is having the last laugh, or, more accurately, the last polite chuckle — it’s much better than it seemed to be, a totally solid, occasionally very funny series about the intricacies of human-alien interactions.

    Was I right? Six new TV series reassessed

    Go On

    The other big hit of the new season, NBC’s “Go On,” about the madcap antics of a grief group, seemed from the start like a mainstream take on “Community." A group of disparate strangers become a makeshift family but without any of the formally inventive structures or pop-cultural intensive dialogue that made “Community” so unique (and narrowly appealing). Eight episodes in and it's basically "Community" Lite. It's got a strong cast that's very pleasant to spend time with, but the show isn't wildly, or even particularly, original.

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It’s hard to judge a TV show by its first episode. But every fall, when the networks march out their new fall shows, that’s exactly what critics have to do. Inevitably, some promising shows fall off, and some not-at-all-promising shows get surprisingly good. Two months into the new season, I checked in on six of the more high-profile new series to see how they’re faring. (Sorry, “New Normal” — I was wrong about you!)

Willa Paskin

Willa Paskin is Salon's staff TV writer.

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