By Allison Brennan

Several friends recommended Detroit 1-8-7 as one of the best new television shows out this season, so I downloaded Season One thus far and will start watching it while wrapping Christmas presents this week. It’s an ABC show, and I think I avoided it when it started because I rarely watch network TV anymore. Castle (ABC) is my guilty pleasure, and Law and Order SVU (NBC) has been a long-time favorite. But looking at my iTunes directory, there are no other network shows. I grew quickly bored with Criminal Minds, stopped watching CSI years ago, and NBC ticked me off when they cancelled LIFE after two incredible seasons. As far as I’m concerned, network TV is no better–and often worse–than cable television. The pluses are that when they are good, they have the money to really produce a top show–with solid writing and great actors and no skimping on the budget. But unless I hear from people I trust–like I did about Detroit–I won’t invest the time or money in network TV.


FOX launched in 1986, and brought with it some innovative programming. The WB and UPN were merged into The CW a few years ago, but the WB in particular had some great shows. X-Files came from FOX and one of my favorite shows (SUPERNATURAL) is on the CW. The formerly small networks are now competing with the big guys and I think it’s to the advantage of television fans to keep the creative competition thriving.


Enter cable TV. It used to be, at least for many people, that cable television was blah–unless you had paid premium cable like HBO and Showtime. To me, ten years ago cable television was all boring documentaries and some good kids programming (like Nickelodeon.) But over the last few years, I’ve found that cable is bringing me my favorite new shows. And while in the past cable networks weren’t widespread or you had to buy specific packages, now there’s more universal cable programming. And even better for people like me, if you don’t subscribe to premium programming, you can still buy many of the shows on iTunes to watch only a few hours after they air. But it’s still the basic cable programming that is really shining for me.


Take F/X. JUSTIFIED is my new favorite show of 2010–and I’m thrilled Season Two is starting in two short months–sometime in February. It’s edgy, fun, witty, dark, with some of the best characters on television today. US Marshal Raylan Givens is based on an Elmore Leonard character, and Leonard is involved in the show. 


And I’ve been enjoying THE GLADES (A&E) and am glad it’s returning for a second season. The show works because of the protagonist, Chicago transplant to South Florida Det. Jim Longworth played by Matt Passmore, and his best friend, the forensic pathologist Dr. Carlos Sanchez (Carlos Gomez.) It’s not JUSTIFIED, but few shows are. But it’s fun, and Longworth is a great character.


And I’m still watching SUPERNATURAL, now in Season 6, on the CW. The show is about two brothers battling supernatural forces–the standard demons and vampires and ghosts, as well as less common creatures like the djinn, tricksters, and ghouls. I was skeptical that it would survive without its creator, the amazing Eric Kripke, and when the season started my first thought was, “Damn, they should have ended on a high note.” Kripke had a five season story arc for the show, and it was pitch perfect. But still, I continued on, until two weeks ago when they aired “Appointment in Samarra” and I thought, “It’s back.” In summary? Dean, the older brother, agrees to be the Horseman Death for a day if Death will get Sam (the younger brother’s) soul out of Hell where it’s trapped with Lucifer and Michael. If they keep up this storytelling, SUPERNATURAL will return to being one of my top two shows. I’m only disappointed that it took them half a season to regain their footing.


And then there’s FRINGE, a FOX program. Season one? Terrific. Season two? Awful. I don’t know why, but I really didn’t like it at all. It just didn’t click for me. But so far, Season three is fantastic. I hope they keep it up.


To me, there’s sort of a realignment going on in television–and possibly all media. The big guns are no longer the big guns per se, but when they get it right they do it right. But the cable networks — even with small budgets and shorter seasons — are creating some amazing new programming, focusing largely on quality character development as well as edgy storylines, without being unbelievable. So while I’m looking forward to ABC’s DETROIT because my friends tell me it’s amazing, I’m truly looking forward to seeing what cable comes up with next. Another fun thing about cable shows is that they often launch mid-seasons, with fewer episodes but original programming when so many other station are putting up re-runs. 

Now, there’s no new trailers for JUSTIFIED, but I found this on YouTube and I thought those who love the show would enjoy the minute of clips from Season o ne, and those who haven’t seen it will get a taste of a terrific program.


 What mid-season premiere are you most looking forward to returning? Here about anything new coming up that sounds like great television?


22 thoughts on “Realignment

  1. Barbie

    You've never tried BONES? You should try it. It's awesome!!! (I <i>love</i> CRIMINAL MINDS, it's probably my favorite). Lately, I'm very into NCIS: Los Angeles and CSI:NY is a million times better than CSI and CSI:Miami.

    But, anyway, the show I'm looking forward the most? THE AMAZING RACE: Unfinished Business. It's the second All Stars edition and though it's not the best selection of teams, I can't wait. I kinda hate reality shows in general, but TAR is a whole level above the rest, I think.

  2. David DeLee

    Couldn't agree more about DETROIT 1-8-7. Great show. Great actors, great stories. Also JUSTIFIED and L&O: SVU, a long time favorite. I would recommend you check out BLUE BLOODS, Not quite as good as DETROIT IMO but performances by Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg are top shelf, as is the rest of the cast. I also agree about cable's offerings over network: Did you check out THE WAKING DEAD? And of course my two favorites THE CLOSER and RIZZOLI & ISLES. Also I watch almost anything from the USA Network. Different tone than series likes JUSTIFIED but smart, fun, and witty shows. I especially IN PLAIN SIGHT and the just canceled DARK BLUE. And my guilty pleasures are THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and NIKITA, these are not your daughter's CW <g>. Oh, and I almost forgot THE HUMAN TARGET on FOX. Fantastically fun.

  3. Rob Cornell

    WALKING DEAD is my new favorite, and I'm glad a new season is in the works. Talk about taking a tired concept (zombies) and revitalizing it with great characters and original storytelling. I'm in the middle of season one of FRINGE. Loving that one. Most of the shows I enjoyed watching "live" are all over now. I've shied away from trying anything new because I don't have much time for TV.

    I'll tell you what I really love: Finding a show I totally missed that now has a couple seasons on DVD. No commercials, no waiting to find out what happens next. Pure bliss.

  4. Allison Brennan

    I gave up television for three years when I was working full-time and writing at night. Giving up television was the only thing I could do to make the time to write. So I tend to be very picky. And Rob, I agree–I love DVDs and iTunes. There are also free sites where you can watch complete seasons on your television, but one problem I've heard is that they don't keep them indefinitely. My only problem with iTunes is that eventually, my AppleTV will be full and I've already done one massive purge. I like keeping shows I like–for example, we bought season one of SUPERNATURAL on DVD and the other five are on iTunes. I don't want to delete them because I enjoy rewatching.

    Oh, another cancelled chow that I loved (CW) was VERONICA MARS. Great show. Three seasons. Still worth watching.

    David, my oldest loves THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. I've watched IN PLAIN SIGHT (3 seasons) and I enjoy the characters, but the show also irritates me sometimes.

    Hmm, Rob, I might have to check out WALKING DEAD. That sounds intriguing. I'll be interested to find out if you enjoy Season Two just as much–maybe I'm the only one who didn't like it. (Toward the end it got better.)

    Barbie, I have Season One of BONES and I know I'd like it, I just haven't started it. I don't know why–my mom loves the show. CSI I used to love (I hate Miami because I don't like David Caruso–back from NYPD Blue days. Whereas Las Vegas had a full ensemble cast where every character was developed equally with flaws and strengths, Caruso's character was always right, always had to make the big discovery, told everyone how to do their jobs, and everything was about him. I can't tell you how much I hated that show. The characters I liked all played second to him, so I never watched regularly.

  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    My upcoming tv watching is on the premium channels:
    Spartacus: Gods of the Arena on Starz (January 21st)
    No dates yet but this spring: Camelot is coming on Starz and The Borgias will be on Showtime as well as Game of Thrones on HBO in April (based on great fantasy novel by George R. R. Martin though he hasn't finished the series yet due to years of writer's block). Also on HBO in March is a miniseries of the classic movie Mildred Pierce (with Kate Winslet) in which I'm interested.
    But I don't watch a lot of scripted tv. The Closer got silly and I dropped it last year. They killed off Rubicon recently on AMC and I don't do zombies (my husband LOVED Walking Dead). I do like Lie to Me but actually watching tv isn't a big deal for me. I usually only have about an hour after dealing with dinner and clean up until bed time (I get up way early so sleep comes early too) so I try to read a little before closing my eyes.

  6. J.D. Rhoades

    Usually what happens is that the news about the awesomeness of a show doesn't percolate through my thick skull until it's either in mid season or sometimes even mid-second season. If I start watching then, I usually can't figure out WTF is going on. Also, it's hard to pry the TV out of the hands of the womenfolk, what with their HGTV and their America's Top Model and whatnot. So we wait for the DVD to come out. Right now I'm waiting for the DVDs of Season One of Justified.

  7. Kim C

    While I happen to work on a long running network series, I agree, network television is definitely lacking these days. When I allow myself to watch television, I find I tune in to cable programming more often than not.
    -I'm a fan of Timothy Olyphant and was so looking forward to Justified when it premiered, but it just didn't hold my attention. Perhaps it warrants another look.
    -I really loved the characters on Terriers and thought that series had potential, unfortunately I seemed to be alone in that thought.
    -Love The Glades, I didn't want to -we are over saturated with law enforcement series- but it sucked me in. Longworth is a great character.
    -Was a huge Burn Notice fan, and though I still dvr it, it seems to have lost its luster.
    -I enjoy Covert Affairs, but can't say its anything more than a guilty pleasure. Though I do love that the lead is a female agent that does a little ass-kicking from time to time. Television is definitely lacking in strong female leads.
    -I'll tune in to Leverage every so often. Its not great television, but it is fun, a bit of a romp and a good Saturday afternoon viewing while folding the laundry.
    -I subscribe to HBO only when True Blood is running new episodes. I read the books way back when and suffered through the first season out of loyalty. It came into its own in the second season and I've been hooked ever since. (Though I could do with a heck of a lot less Bill.)
    -One of my favorite series of the last decade was Battlestar Galactica. What can I say, I'm a sci-fi geek. It was my must see tv and I've yet to find anything to replace it.
    -I also enjoy Human Target, another good romp. However, if you like Mark Valley, look into renting a short-lived series called Keen Eddie. Great characters. It's a shame it came out when it did and on FOX. It would have been a perfect fit for cable tv today. Timing is everything.

  8. Tom

    'Stargate: Universe,' starring the amazing Robert Carlisle . . . and which was canceled this week by the brain donors at Skiffy (SyFy, formerly SciFi).

    When Skiffy finally figures out how to do a series about wrestling monster trucks, then they'll be happy.

  9. JT Ellison

    Justified, without a doubt, is the best show on TV right now. You have good taste.
    I'm looking forward to Californication, and the new William H Macy show that follows it.
    Still big on Criminal Minds and L&O:SVU, plus the Mentalist.

  10. JJ

    Criminal Minds has gotten away from the good profiling forensics they started out with but I still watch. Blue Bloods, for me, is a reason to put my feet up and end the week. Writing and acting is superb. Selleck is steady on but Wahlberg's character is amazing the way he ramps it up and down.

  11. Alafair Burke

    So glad to know you're a fellow Veronica Mars fan. That and Buffy are probably my all-time favorites. And the Wire because you always have to say The Wire.

    Nowadays, I'm really into Dexter (or was until it ended last week). We are eager for Breaking Bad to come back. I'm curious about Portlandia and the William H Macy show. And we are about to start Walking Dead belatedly.

  12. toni mcgee causey

    Justified, and of course, Life (which was amazing). I like Blue Bloods this year — agreed with the assessment of Selleck / Whalberg. Selleck brings the gravitas and Whalberg brings the chemistry and depth. I still love NCIS (which, frankly, is much better in its 8th year than it was in its first). Rizzoli / Isles and Closer. Loved V Mars and Buffy, too. I couldn't hang with Fringe the second season, although I had loved it during the first season–it just got too convoluted. Miss one show and everything was upside down and inside out.

    Human Target's fun (and I loved Keen Eddy — I hadn't realized that was Mark Valley). Bones is frivolous fun (you just have to buy into the premise that they have all of these technological toys to solve their crimes–but it's the relationships that make that show work.

  13. lil Gluckstern

    I'm so glad someone else likes The Glades! Fun and kooky, and Passmore does it well. I like CSI:NY because I miss the city, and Bluebloods because of the acting, and the good production values. The Mentalist is fun again, and I must seek out Justified. I love my DVR; it allows me to watch when I want, and then I get to read, which is my mostly favorite thing to do without friends. And read blogs…

  14. Allison Brennan

    Kim, my problem with COVERT AFFAIRS was that while I like the characters, it just didn't mesh together well for me. I LOVE Auggie. He's my favorite. The female lead is no Jennifer Garner in ALIAS, which for the first 2-3 seasons at least was a fantastic show. My daughters and I are going to watch it after we're done with BUFFY (we're mid-season 5.) Like you, I didn't want to like THE GLADES, either, and it took about 3 episodes, but I love Longworth and Carlos together, and I like the dynamic with Callie and her son. Great and natural conflict.

    I, too, have been enjoying RIZZOLI — I have three more episodes to watch (iTunes.) THE CLOSER I used to love, but it lost me at some point — can't remember which season, but it involved a house trailer.

    re: Dexter. I watched season one and enjoyed it but not enough to invest in season two. I wish I had. I might do a marathon.

  15. Sylvia

    I'm waiting for RIZZOLI & ISLES, THE CLOSER and my guilty pleasure THE BIGGEST LOSER (I know, go ahead and boo me).

    I'm also hoping that new episodes of DOC MARTIN will start soon but I've yet to confirm that.

  16. Laura

    I adore Bones, Rizzoli & Isles and L&O SVU – which is what initially sparked my interest in the genre! I could never get into CSI or Criminal Minds (to be honest Criminal Minds has the tendency to scare the pants off me…) Dexter, I love the books and I feel the TV show just doesn't capture the same 'zing' the books seem to have.
    And as for Buffy… I rewatch the first 3 seasons constantly, but it tends to lose me after that…
    Castle is fun – here in Oz they play it straight after Bones on a Sunday night… but we have to wait until February to get new episodes!
    My guilty pleasures are Desperate Housewives (this I watch with my Mum) Pretty Little Liars… and possibly my guiltiest pleasure – Hellcats. (Don't judge me too harshly!)
    Have a good one!
    Laura 🙂

  17. Chris Hamilton

    FRINGE is getting moved to Friday and may die there.

    As for what I'm looking forward to, I love love love IN PLAIN SIGHT.

  18. Pari Noskin Taichert

    You know what, Allison? When we had to get that new stupid box for cable, we lost about 15 channels that I guess someone had given us for free or something. Anyway, we lost them. And now? We're using Netflix a lot more and watching television a lot less.

  19. Alexa Bourne

    I LOVE the Glades! My other favorites are Leverage, both NCIS shows, Chase, Criminal Minds & The Mentalist. Lately I've been watching Law & Order UK, which is the same set up as the original Law & Order except it takes place in the UK.

  20. StephenD

    I'm looking forward to the return of "Justified".

    As far as new shows, I'm not a big fan of boxing but FX's "Lights Out" looks interesting. And Fox's "Chicago Code" will get a watch because of Shawn Ryan ("The Shield", "The Unit", "Terriers").

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