When My Favorite Shows Return

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With autumn right around the corner, it won’t be long before my favorite shows are back on the air. Below is a list of when those shows return and where we left off last season. Spoiler warning if you’re not caught up!

  • Supernatural: Tuesday, Oct. 7

Where we left things: With Dean as a demon!

  • Arrow: Wednesday, Oct. 8

Where we left things: With Slade Wilson behind bars, Starling City is safe… for now.

  • Parks and Recreation: No date set

Where we left things: With a shocking 3-year time jump and Pawnee as home to a new regional office for the National Parks Department.

  • Community: “Sometime after Christmas”

Where we left things: With the show cancelled! Six seasons and a movie is now a strong possibility thanks to Yahoo TV.

  • The Walking Dead: Sunday, Oct. 12

Where we left things: With the survivors in a boxcar and the Terminus crew unaware they’re screwing with the wrong people.

  • Robot Combat League: Possibly not renewed

Where we left things: With robot Crash capping an amazing string of comeback victories to claim the inaugural title.

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Sunday, Sept. 28

Where we left things: With lead detective Jake Peralta deep undercover for six months and his feelings for Amy known.

  • Sleepy Hollow: Monday, Sept. 22

Where we left things: With Ichabod and Abbie separated and the Horseman of War finally revealed.

  • The Amazing Race: Friday, Sept. 26

Where we left things: With Dave and Connor knocking off beloved cowboys Jet and Cord on their way to a title.

  • Justified: No date set

Where we left things: With Ava sprung from prison on the condition that she sell out Boyd to Raylan.

  • Banshee: January 2015

Where we left things: With Rabbit dispatched and Chayton and Kai Proctor gunning for Sheriff Hood.

  • Parenthood: No date set

Where we left things: With no idea – I’m only on Season 4!

  • The Flash: Tuesday, Oct. 7

Where we left things: With Barry Allen in a coma after returning to Central City from a trip to Starling City.

Catching up on Smallville with the wife and we watched Season 7’s “Persona” tonight. I forgot how much I enjoyed this episode. Among a lackluster showing in the seventh season, this midseason gem stands out for bringing Bizarro and Braniac back into the fold while also wrapping up a big storyline on the Luthor front. Chloe’s “mother hen” instincts are on full display in this episode as well, and it’s glorious. If only Season 7 had maintained this momentum down the stretch…

My favorite player from this season of Hard Knocks has been Devonta Freeman, the rookie running back for the Atlanta Falcons. In this screenshot, Freeman is drinking a Capri Sun as he tours an apartment complex and considers his future living arrangements. He also sat in an average size bathtub and proclaimed “Boss life, just chilling” with a big grin on his face. If you need further proof as to why Devonta Freeman is a national treasure, I would refer you to items 14 and 15 in this excellent recap from Grantland’s Rembert Browne. This is my first time watching Hard Knocks and I’m throughly enjoying it. Even if you don’t know the first thing about football, this show is a fascinating examination of a subculture that rarely lets outsiders peek behind the curtain.

My favorite show on Food Network starts back tonight: The Great Food Truck Race. The show kicks off its fifth season at 9 p.m. EST and is hosted by the affable Tyler Florence, also of Food Court Wars fame.

There are three reasons why I prefer The Great Food Truck Race to Food Network Star or Worst Cooks in America, the two other Food Network programs that have earned a season pass on my TiVo.

This show is excellent first and foremost because it uses the ultimate unbiased metric to judge teams and decide a winner: money. Eight teams drive from city to city selling their gourmet food out of trucks designed by Food Network. The team that makes the least profit in each city is eliminated. It’s as simple as that. There’s no panel of judges or fans voting online. Teams advance based strictly on merit, which is a beautiful thing.

The teams are also more likable on this show. It’s the same phenomenon I watched happen with The Amazing Race and Survivor, two shows on the same network. While Survivor struggled to cast memorable contestants past Season 20 (and went back to its star-studded alumni list far too frequently), The Amazing Race keeps finding engaging teams time and time again. I would argue casting is the key to that show’s success.

Perhaps casting teams is easier since you have more than one personality to draw on, but whatever the reason, The Great Food Truck Race has excelled at finding compelling characters and capable cooks. That’s more than Food Network Star can say with its two or three star-worthy cast members, and while I think Worst Cooks in America is stocked with great characters, those people are clowns, not cooks. Finding people who are amusing and have culinary expertise is a much harder game.

The Great Food Truck Race also has a likable host. Tyler Florence is there solely to host the show and make the teams miserable at times by throwing in crazy challenges and wrinkles. He doesn’t parade around as a mentor like the three stars on Food Network Star. I enjoy the role Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell play on Worst Cooks in America, but you once again run into the weird coach/judge/team captain dynamic. Tyler’s job is cut and dry: teams give him the money, he counts it, and declares a winner.

If you ever wondered what a cross between Food Network and The Amazing Race would look like with food trucks involved, I highly recommend checking out The Great Food Truck Race tonight. You’ll get to see the best of what Food Network has to offer.

After hearing about cult favorite Twin Peaks for years, I finally decided to watch the pilot when IGN called the series one of television’s best this week in a review of the series on Blu-ray. Right away I was engrossed by what is easily the most bizarre, surreal 90 minutes of television I’ve ever seen. I had no idea what was going on half the time, but I was deeply intrigued by how different this show felt from anything else I’ve watched. Here are some other thoughts I had while watching the pilot:

  • I’ve never seen another show use background music like Twin Peaks did in its pilot. I didn’t keep track, but I’m almost positive every scene had a fat slice of late-80s atmospherics served up with whatever was happening onscreen. I can’t say it detracted from my viewing experience since it fit the vibe of the show perfectly.
  • Late-80s hair everywhere. Home phones everywhere.
  • The pilot unloaded about 728 characters on us (all numbers approximate). I can tell this is going to be a sprawling show with an innumerable number of Twin Peaks residents popping in and out of episodes, similar to Springfield on The Simpsons
  • Yet another show falls victim to the “these high school kids are clearly in their early-to-late twenties” syndrome. Shame, really.
  • My favorite interactions in the pilot were between FBI agent Dale Cooper and Sheriff Harry Truman, the latter of whom had some hilariously understated reactions to Cooper’s strange fascination with the flora and fauna in Twin Peaks. (Douglas firs!)
  • Is Diane the name of Dale’s recorder? There was something weird about how he kept referencing Diane in all his memos.
  • Will this show mimic The Killing and put off resolving its core mystery until the second season? I sure hope not.

I’m onboard the Twin Peaks Express after struggling to stay above water during a bizarre introduction to this world. I look forward to seeing what all the hype is about and crossing another show off my bucket list.

How has a ghost not straight up murdered Zak Bagans yet?

“And the good thing about the show is that there’s not really a shark to jump because in the pilot we kicked the shark in the teeth.”
— Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow)

Anybody else stoked for the second season of Sleepy Hollow?

Parenthood Season 4 thoughts

I’m four episodes into Season 4 of Parenthood and I have several thoughts about a season where I’m worried things might start to go off the rails for a show I love dearly:

  • Changing the theme song is such an odd choice that I hope doesn’t reflect a shift in the show’s personality. “Forever Young” was wholesome and all-American, like the show in its first three seasons. This new song feels soapier and more melodramatic. That’s my biggest fear with Parenthood: that after so many seasons of running back the same storylines, the stakes have to be upped to ridiculously dramatic (and unrealistic) levels to sustain a season’s worth of episodes. How did I get all of that from a new theme song, you ask? By unashamedly looking way too much into things, that’s how!
  • I love Ray Romano’s character of Hank, Sarah’s new boss. His dry sense of humor is a wonderful change of pace from the manic, goofy humor that tends to dominate the show. That said, if Sarah breaks Mark’s heart (again) by falling for Hank, I will never forgive her. But Sarah is attracted to men she thinks she can fix, and Hank is a grump who Sarah hopes to bring out of his shell. We’ll see, but I’m very worried about where this storyline is going.
  • Victor is an annoying caricature at this point. His only redeeming moment was playing catch with Joel, who I’ve long contended is the unappreciated gem of this show. I hope raising a son is the storyline Joel has long deserved. If it is, I’m annoyed with how easy it is to dislike Joel’s adopted son right off the bat. I understand introducing a character who’s different from the Braverman clan and having both parties struggle through an awkward transition phase. But Victor has shown zero redeeming qualities as a character thus far. He’s a brat. Julia worried that she was “waiting to fall in love with their son.” Join the club, sister.
  • The Bob Little campaign felt like the Dillon Panthers’ second season under Coach Taylor in that it was completely abandoned from one season to the next. There were two characters involved with that campaign and it only merits a passing mention in the fourth episode. Amber in particular was set for a juicy storyline as she struggled to balance her work with her feelings for Bob. Now she works at the Luncheonette. Come again?
  • Jettisoning Haddie, even temporarily, has done wonders for this season. Haddie was easily the show’s worst character. For all its strengths, the Jason Katims writing team struggles to write relatable teenage characters. Think Julie from Friday Night Lights, who failed to have one redeeming moment in five seasons. Haddie is built from the same mold. Her absence has been a blessing.
  • The Crosby-Jasmine-Jabbar family unit has shined this season. Jabbar is without a doubt the best young character on the show. He’s fun, innocent, and sweet. Getting married has mellowed Crosby and Jasmine out considerably, and made their relationship more palatable. The angst that surrounded them last season grew tiresome. I’m enjoying their development as a young family.
  • Zeek and Camille desperately need a single storyline to share or separate storylines to justify their continued screen time. They’ve been stuck in neutral since the first season. Camille in particular hasn’t had a relevant moment in a long time. I wouldn’t mind seeing far less of the Braverman patriarch and matriarch this season unless they’re given something interesting to do.

Now, those of you who are current with the show, sit back, chuckle, and say to yourself, “Just wait, Josh.” Go ahead, get it out there.

I’ll check back in at the end of the fourth season to see how things have changed for the Braverman clan as they head into Season 5. Until then… May God’s blessings keep you always, may your wishes all come true…