It’s not as bad as the case of the old “Doctor Who” episodes that were intentionally destroyed after their broadcast, but in this age where it’s easy for a streaming service to make something available to its subscribers, there are still a lot of TV shows you simply can’t see.
Ayear ago, I didn’t give a glowing review to ABC’s “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” but I did like it enough to keep watching. Even though I almost canceled it from my DVR a few times, I watched the whole season (which turned out to be the whole series). It wasn’t good, per se, but there was a warmth to the interactions between Kevin, Amy, Reese, Tyler, Kristin and Nate in that small Texas town that I now find myself missing.
CBS adds to its stable of modernized nostalgia-driven shows (see also “Hawaii Five-0” and “MacGyver”) with “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays), which drops the comma and trades Tom Selleck’s ‘stache for Jay Hernandez’s goatee, but retains most other elements of the 1980s action/detective classic. I’m guessing old-school fans aren’t as enthusiastic about the update as Magnum is about crashing Porsches in pursuit of bad guys, because it rates a mere 4.6 on IMDB.
There are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).
As a franchise, “Star Trek” has boldly gone many places, and not all of them have been good.
While the original series is legendary, and “Next Generation” improves on it, things started to fall apart with “Deep Space Nine,” which cribbed so much from “Babylon 5” that it felt like a cheat calling it “Trek” at all. “Voyager” upped the camp level and became the goofy uncle of the franchise. It was ridiculous, over the top, fun, but never very good. The less said about “Enterprise,” the better.
“Century City” (2004, CBS) was quietly – too quietly, as it turned out – one of the most innovative law dramas from the era when “Law & Order” and “The Practice” dominated the ratings. Because it’s set in 2030 and therefore deals with the legal issues that are right around the historical corner, it forces thoughtful writing. No clichés allowed.
I like “Swingtown” (2008, CBS, available on DVD and Amazon streaming) almost entirely for the way it recreates the Summer of 1976, yet it’s totally defensible as a legitimate one-season wonder on its overall merits, thanks to its wonderful characters and portrayal of changing societal values. For me, the buzziest part of the show – the fact that it chronicles (gasp!) the swinger lifestyle – is almost beside the point.
A summer mystery/horror miniseries has to achieve a pretty low bar for me to not give it more than one episode, but “American Gothic” (10 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on CBS) descends to that bar. I wasn’t a big fan of the 1995-96 original, which put Shaun Cassidy (“Invasion”) on the map as an executive producer. I didn’t really care about the characters – particularly the fact that the main character was outright evil — and the religious-themed horror didn’t grab me. But at least that show had passion and style; this same-named newcomer – which shares no other relation to the original – is entirely rote, as if no one behind the camera (it has four executive producers, not a good sign) cares about making this series stand out.
“Supergirl” (8 p.m. Eastern Mondays on CBS) is a slickly produced and nicely acted but utterly unnecessary and unimaginative addition to TV’s comic-book superhero boom. Because it’s in the same timeslot as another DC adaptation, “Gotham,” and the year’s best new show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” my DVR wouldn’t record it and I watched it on the Internet. It was hardly worth the extra effort.
Ah, Christmas Day. For a “Star Wars” fan, that means listening to Chewbacca croon “Silent Night”and watching the “Star Wars Holiday Special” on YouTube, right? On second thought, Life Day (the GFFA’s Christmas equivalent) really should be observed on Nov. 17, the date the “Holiday Special” premiered 36 years ago, so I’ll skip the re-watch for now. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever made it through the entire “Holiday Special,” and honestly, I’ll have to be scraping the dregs of the “Star Wars” back catalogue before I ever do.