Choosing your fall schedule is a delicate balance of watching what’s good and what will last. Here are five that should fit into both categories.
1. Pushing Daisies, ABC: It’s a love story, a death story, a murder mystery, a fantasy tale, and it’s beautifully made. Some will argue it belongs on a premium channel, but why not give smart, sweet dramedy to the masses? Allow yourself to be swept up in its charms. Give it a chance.
2. Aliens in America, The CW: The high schoolers of Medora, Wis., are not supermodels. The foreign exchange students are not 25-year-olds with sexy accents. The parents are overly involved but not above telling their kids that Grammy is dying when they need to distract them. This is some serious funny.
3. Cane, CBS: First, it’s Jimmy Smits. Second, it’s about a Cuban-American family in modern times, which is inherently fascinating. Third, we don’t have The Sopranos anymore. Fourth, it’s about rum and sugar, two of the greatest things on earth. How can this not be fabulous?
4. Journeyman, NBC: The Peacock network stuck with some high-adventure shows this season, but this one probably has the best survival chances with its post-Heroes time slot, solid acting from Kevin McKidd and a generally neat concept: do-gooder time travel, a la Quantum Leap.
5. Dirty Sexy Money, ABC: A bevy of richly developed characters anchors this series, although it’s hard to see where the story line is going and whether we can buy into it. So what makes it worth watching? Peter Krause of Six Feet Under and Sports Night fame. It’s so nice to have him back on TV, I’m aching for more.
You can’t watch everything, nor should you. If you’re looking to streamline your viewing for maximum possible enjoyment, count out these shows immediately.
1. Big Shots, ABC: A pack of painfully wealthy men with nice hair, toned bodies and hottie wives make cruel, scandalous mistakes that put their fortunes and personal lives in jeopardy. Boo-hoo. Let us weep for their deep pockets, achy golf grips and oversexed mistresses.
2. Viva Laughlin, CBS: OK, so it’s a murder mystery, and we like those. Or wait, no. It’s a glitzy musical. Well, those are OK, too, if a little odd for prime time. No? Oh! It’s a remake of a perfectly good British miniseries, stretched out for American audiences and made to look like a spoof of itself? Never mind, then.
3. Cavemen, ABC: There are better ways to create an allegory on race, stereotypes and cultural differences than by lifting Neanderthal characters from insurance commercials and dropping them into modern society for 23 minutes once a week. Certainly, there are better ways to create comedy. Hey, that little gecko was pretty cute ...
4. Carpoolers, ABC: Four grown men whine about their wives, ex-wives, jobs, paychecks and kids on their rides to and from work. This is neither a dramatic depiction of reality nor a fanciful prime-time escape. It’s the beige modular home of comedies, complete with dull neighbors and tedious moments that allow the mind to wander to better networks with greener lawns.
5. The Big Bang Theory, CBS: Did we really need one more show to widen the gap between Klingon-speaking physicists and blond waitresses who happen to live across from one another? A continued demonstration of how even the geekiest guy can still be sweet and the dumbest girl can be insightful? No. No, we did not. We have Beauty and the Geek for that.