Fall TV 2012: New shows a huge letdown, but returning faves still deliver appointment television (Commentary)

Two years ago, I labeled Fall 2010 as the worst batch of new shows ever. The highlights were “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” which was hardly a new concept; “No Ordinary Family,” which was throwaway fun; and “The Walking Dead,” which wasn’t the show then that it is now.

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First episode impressions: ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ (TV review)

“American Horror Story: Asylum” (9 p.m. Central Wednesdays on FX) departs from the first season’s present-day haunted house and visits an insane asylum in 1964. The setting is evocative and different enough that this is clearly a new world — there’s no need to think back on the pretty-good-then-pretty-bad first season (some actors are the same, but none of the characters are). But at the same time, “Asylum” is undeniably a Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk production, so we get more showy visuals and quick, arty cutaways than engaging characterizations or intriguing mysteries.

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Fall TV 2012: 5 new shows and 5 returning shows to watch (Commentary)

Ah, fall TV. And, in a nice old-school twist, the Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview issue highlighted a single show on its cover rather than using a collage (the featured show: “Homeland,” which seems worthy, although I’ve never seen it). The fall lineup isn’t particularly deep this year, but it’s pretty respectable at the top. I’ve picked out five new shows to watch and five returning shows I’m excited about (“Parenthood” returns tonight!). All times are Central.

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Best TV decision in recent memory: ‘American Horror Story’ to start new yarn in Season 2 (Commentary)

I loved “American Horror Story” when it first started out, then kind of cooled on it toward the end of the season. It didn’t become flat-out bad, but it wasn’t as scary and surprising as when it first started. But the recent announcement that Season 2 will feature a new cast in a new setting has me excited about “AHS” again.

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What happened to ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Sophia? (and 6 other burning TV questions) (Commentary)

Part of why it’s been a great TV season is that there are so many compelling questions that keep us watching from week to week. And these aren’t just a matter of “Oh well, I’ve followed it this far so I might as well keep going” like I sometimes felt with “Lost.” A lot of shows this fall actually have mysteries where I want to know the answer. Here are seven of the most burning questions among currently airing shows (No, I haven’t forgotten about “Who killed Rosie Larsen?,” but I’ll save that for when “The Killing” returns). (All times Central.)

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The new fall shows — not too shabby so far (TV commentary)

I’ve done “first episode impressions” of the noteworthy new shows this season, and many TV critics have done the same. We do this because it’s fun and quick-hitting more so than because it’s an accurate and fair way to judge a show. Indeed, my views of some shows have changed quite a bit in the month or so since the pilot episodes aired, so here’s a rundown on where I now stand with these series, ranked in order of quality. (All times are Central.)

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Fall TV 2011: 6 new shows and 6 returning shows to watch (Commentary)

Believe it or not, the fall TV season is less than a week away. Fittingly, one of the best-looking new shows and one of the best returning shows will throw out the first pitches of the season when they premiere on Tuesday. Here’s a closer look at those shows and more — my top six new shows and top six returning shows of Fall 2011. (Showing my non-coast bias, all times are Central.)

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