Fall TV preview: ‘Gotham’ and a handful other shows worth checking out (Commentary)

A year ago, I announced that the lineup of new fall shows was the worst in two decades, and although I ended up liking (and now mourning, since they were canceled) “Almost Human” and “Super Fun Night,” I think my prognostication was accurate. Now I’m here to say that the fall of 2014 looks worse. The good news is that, aside from “Almost Human,” the networks’ axes fell lightly, so a decent number of favorites will return. Here are my picks for three new shows to check out, along with a few returning shows of note:

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John’s 10 favorite TV couples of all time (Commentary)

In a double dose of weak sauce, Entertainment Weekly’s writers recently chose “Friends’ “ Ross and Rachel as the greatest TV couple of all time, and readers responded by choosing some random couple from “Glee” (which, research reveals, is actually still on the air). Over at his blog, my buddy Seth Stringer upped the standards by selecting Jim and Pam, from the American version of “The Office.” (Check out his full list here.)

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Classic Christmas TV episodes: ‘Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire’ (‘The Simpsons’)

Show: “The Simpsons” (Season 1, episode 1)

Airdate: Dec. 17, 1989

Overview: This is a classic not only because it’s a Christmas episode, but also because it’s the very first episode of “The Simpsons.” Sometimes when you go back and watch the first episode of a long-running series, it’s jarring how slow and boring it is. This episode is paced slowly but it’s not boring. We meet many major characters for the first time (although the Simpsons themselves were familiar to “Tracey Ullman Show” viewers), notably Santa’s Little Helper in the final act. When Homer brings home a free dog for Christmas, having failed to win any money at the dog track to buy presents, everyone is thrilled, and that wonderfully illustrates the spirit of Christmas.

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Happy 20th anniversary to the still-funny, still-important ‘Simpsons’ (TV commentary)

Last week, “The Simpsons” was the clear winner in the laugh tally against “The Cleveland Show” and “Family Guy.” I can’t say that every week, but I can say it often enough to make a case that “The Simpsons” still has plenty of laughs left in the tank.

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