By Daniel Walters
Who watches: Moms of the teen girls who watch the CW.
When we watched it: Sept. 5-19
Hours wasted: 6+
Sign of the Apocalypse or the new Golden Age of TV? The new dramas represent the forces of light; the new comedies, the forces of darkness.
Show sure to be discovered on YouTube by aghast future generations: The Neighbors
Show somehow more painful to watch than The Neighbors: Malibu Country
Air time: 8pm, Thursdays
Watch if: You’ve ever fantasized about sipping Mai Tais on a tropical beach/holding the nations of the world hostage with a dozen nuclear weapons.
Normally, I’d worry this would suffer from Great Pilot Disease, where a serialized drama blows all its interesting plots in the first 45 minutes of its life. Here, none of the potential ongoing plots appear to be as interesting as the initial world-on-the-brink intro. And since no show has ever successfully pulled off a good government conspiracy plot line, why should this be any different?
That’s because Last Resort is from Shawn Ryan, the creator of the The Shield. Few writers know how to weave long-term plots with short-term ones as well as he does.
Air time: 10 pm, Thursdays
Watch if: You take your Gossip Girl-level soap operas with West Wing level banter.
Unfortunately, this sort of melodrama thrives on zany characters, and right now there are only two: the crisis firm’s talented boss, Olivia (an alternately ruthless and histrionic Kerry Washington), and U.S. Attorney David Rosen (a perpetually beleaguered Joshua Malina). The rest are generically attractive human exposition devices. The show reeks of potential, and the fact that it’s not better is, well, a scandal.
666 Park Avenue
Air time: 10 pm, Sundays
Watch if: You’re considering a career in demonic urban planning.
But horror, perfect for the one-off X-Files episode, never works well across serialized television. The premise is a mess. Outside of particularly skillful fiddle-playing and fanciful legal maneuvering from Daniel Webster, going up against the devil himself never ends well, and that weary inevitability drains any potential the suspense. Worse, ABC really, really, wants you to understand that this show is spooooky, and throws in Halloween music and disorganized bric-a-brac of horror imagery.
Air time: 10 pm, Sundays
Watch if: The word “Nashville” inspires a warm smile.
Connie Britton (Mrs. Coach on Friday Night Lights) plays fading country music Rayna Jaymes, forced by her label to wearily co-headline with Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette Barnes. Britton can play absolutely anyone well — and she does here. Hayden Panettiere (of Heroes) can pretty much only play entitled, spoiled and deviously sexy well — and she does here.
But the greater problem is that nobody is likable. It’s hard to want to root for either the fading diva or the rising one. When you watch TV you usually either want to love a character or love to hate them. So far, none of the characters pass that test. But when they can sing like that, many people won’t care.