In September, I gave a rundown of the five new fall shows that were locked into my DVR and the chances they would remain in the DVR for the entire season. Just about a month in seemed like the right time for an update and to note a few shows that have been added to the list. Generally, the new fall season has been interesting with more ups than downs and a couple of real surprises.
Gotham Network: FOX Ratings: Solid Chances it stays in the DVR: 100 percent
The Batman prequel of sorts has steadily improved since its opening night. The graphic novel style noir can be a bit corny at times -- this is a comic book show after all -- but the complexity of the evolving storyline and characters is what you might expect from the genre -- lots of blurred lines between right and wrong -- but never difficult to follow. As the role of characters well known to fans of the Batman comics changes, no doubt there will be plenty of story lines to keep watchers interested.
How To Get Away With Murder Network: ABC Ratings: Spectacular Chances it stays in the DVR: 100 percent
Thursday ShondaLand on ABC is clearly an overwhelming success and her latest show is a perfect example. Viola Davis has really begun to flex her acting muscles as the season has moved along and the constant flash forwards continue to tantalizingly reveal clues to what might be coming. Like all Shonda Rhimes shows, there is more than a little sex, deceit and speech making. And plenty of secrets to be revealed.
Gracepoint Network: FOX Ratings: Poor Chances it stays in the DVR: 100 percent
The U.S. reset of the award-winning British series, Broadchurch has been creepy and compelling through the first few episodes. In addition to some fine acting performances and a steady stream of twists and turns, the stellar cinematography and ominous score have made for a very sophisticated mystery series. Unfortunately (and predictably), it has not done terribly well in the ratings. Since it is only billed as a 10-part mystery series, it may only survive one season which would be a shame.
Scorpion Network: CBS Ratings: Solid Chances it stays in the DVR: 80 percent
What I had hoped was a fast-paced, nerdy thrill ride hasn't been exactly disappointing, but it has been middling enough to make me wonder how long I can take it. For a fellow geek, it is tough to watch week after week as hacking and technology is reduced to 10-second snippets of impossible ridiculousness. But, even so, the show has its moments. If Scorpion can leverage more of the character interactions and less of the unbelievable action (I can't believe I'm saying that), the show could find its footing.
Forever Network: ABC Ratings: Improving Chances it stays in the DVR: 70 percent
The other night when Bones came on, my wife said, "Ah, so soothingly mediocre." Such is the serial cop and crime drama of our era. Gone are the gritty, edgy shows like Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue in favor of slick, polished series with clearly defined good/bad lines like CSI and NCIS. Like those, Forever has found a soft spot in the week amongst older viewers. It's not a bad show, just occasionally dull and a little too neat and tidy. But, it's great to see Judd Hirsch back on TV in a role that really suits him.
There have also been a handful of new shows that have made it into the DVR hopper.
blackish Network: NBC Ratings: Solid Chances it stays in the DVR: 70 percent
I rarely have sitcoms on my DVR. Modern Family is perhaps the lone exception in the last five to 10 years. But, the new Anthony Anderson comedy might make the list. It's a smart, funny comedy that seems to have found a decent audience. Anderson and Laurence Fishburne are at the heart of the show, but the kids, particularly the twins, steal the show. It will need to be consistently funny for me to commit to it for the whole season, but so far, I've been impressed.
The Flash Network: CW Ratings: Good Chances it stays in the DVR: 100 percent
It's hard for me to resist a good superhero show, though Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a notable exception. The Flash has a certain CW-ish quality to it hearkening back to Smallville. It's quaint and a tad low budget for the genre. It wasted no time jumping right into the action and setting down some typically rigid boundaries that will, at some point, be obliterated like any good comic book vehicle. And Jesse L. Martin, who made his fame on Law and Order, lends some gravity to what could be a pretty lightweight affair.
Stalker Network: CBS Ratings: Below average, but stable Chances it stays in the DVR: 90 percent
Admittedly, this show surprised me. My wife is fairly picky about the shows she chooses to watch. She didn't grow up in front of the TV like I did, so she can only handle so much before she needs to do something productive like read (nerd). But, Stalker, much like last year's hit The Blacklist caught us both off guard. This show is creepy, more so than even the darkest episodes of Criminal Minds but not quite reaching American Horror Story levels. And they managed to make the characters likable and complicated without turning them into clichés, which is probably what keeps us both coming back.
Constantine Network: NBC Ratings: n/a Chances it stays in the DVR: 90 percent
For the past few years, one of my favorite shows has been Grimm. There's something guilty-pleasure-ish about it and it also manages to combine my love for superheroes, The X Files and In Search Of. I'm hoping Constantine, which will follow it on Fridays, can also fit that bill. I still miss the wonderful one-plus season of Reaper the supernatural comedy about a kid forced to catch demons for a brilliantly wicked devil played by Ray Wise. Constantine promises to be much more serious, but it falls into a similar genre. Fingers crossed.
Like the beginning of most fall television seasons, the DVR can start to get a little overrun with stuff and I find myself having to make hard decisions when two shows collide with Monday Night Football or the Rockets. Here's a breakdown of how each night of the week is shaping up minus Saturday since there is nothing worth discussing on those nights.
Monday Shows: Gotham, Scorpion, The Blacklist Ranking: 1
For me, personally, the best night of the week because it combines two of the shows that are now in my top five in Gotham and The Blacklist. It makes for a solid night of watching.
Tuesday Shows: The Flash, Forever, Person of Interest Ranking: 3
This is one of those nights that I really enjoy but my wife could just as easily do without. The Flash is rapidly becoming a must watch and Person of Interest remains one of the best shows on television. Scorpion could learn from the closer-to-reality geek stuff on POI.
Wednesday Shows: Modern Family, blackish, Stalker Ranking: 5
This falls in my rankings only because there is uncertainty here. Modern Family continues to be one of the most well written comedies in years. We'll see how the rest of the season fares for blackish and Stalker.
Thursday Shows: Gracepoint, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder Ranking: 2
Because of sports, this night frequently runs out of room. I had to give up on recording the second season of Reign and rely on on-demand access for that show. The two Shonda Rhimes shows are a fun counterpoint to the dark, pensive Gracepoint. Overall, perhaps the most fun TV night of the week.
Friday Shows: Grimm, Constantine Ranking: 4
I have high hopes for this pairing as I love Grimm and Constantine appears to have everything necessary to be a success. The pairing is a brilliant one from NBC and, if it works, they could have the first strong night of television for the network in quite a few years.
Sunday Shows: CSI, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Ranking: 6
CNN's fantastic travel show featuring the grumpy Bourdain is extraordinary if for no other reason than its stunning camera work, but the exotic locales and quirky mock coolness of the host make for a really compelling program. CSI remains solid if unspectacular.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.