The DVR Dump: 14 Freshman Shows I'm Giving Up On

American Horror Story Pilot - Dylan McDermott Connie Britton - 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. Other times it's painful enough just saying hello. But it’s that time again – weeding out the failures from the freshman crop of television shows. Even if you have a DVR that can store 100 hours of HD TV, that’s not really the issue.

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You have a life. There’s only so much you can watch. You’ve got to make the tough cuts. You’ve got to kill those season passes. And do you know what? It’s true for television critics as well. Maybe more so – since some of us are less forgiving than others. Now that the fall season has produced enough episodes for anyone to know better – and enough for me to stop waiting on improvement in most cases – the second chances end here.

Not that I would have watched more than I was being paid to endure, but canceled series Charlie’s Angels, The Playboy Club, Free Agents and How To Be A Gentleman are not on this list for obvious reasons.

Behold, those that I’ve flunked out of the freshman class and dropped from my DVR:

2 Broke Girls (CBS): Awful, annoying and – vagina, vagina, vagina (thought I’d say those punch lines before the show could write them for next week) – predictable. In my alternate life, I have Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs starring in a sitcom where their talents are exploited to maximum effect.

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American Horror Story (FX): An incredible artistic mess that wasn’t believable or watchable for any length of time. You can sell assaultive sensory overload and pointless shock as “creative” if you want, but I’m not buying.

Hart of Dixie (CW): It’s not you, it’s me. The show was a lot better than I thought it would be. It exceeded my low expectations and gave the CW a little something different. But it’s not something I would watch of my own accord. It’s just not.

Last Man Standing (ABC): My appreciation for Tim Allen skyrocketed because of his ability to make the limp, witless jokes sound, when spoken, almost like they belonged on a standard sitcom. The man works the genre with precision, people. But the show is just another in the weak-man-lament meme that is currently passing as comedy on television.

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Man Up! (ABC): See above. Also, see 2 Broke Girls for a similar waste of acting talent.

Unforgettable (CBS): It’s not just that this series was, indeed, forgettable. The bigger problem was the style of the series – the laborious reconstruction of crimes so that Poppy Montgomery’s character could see what everyone else missed (including the cameras, which makes this the most gimmicky of recent procedurals). 

Ringer (CW): I had high hopes for this one, but not enough soap can clean up the lack of forward movement, intrigue and believability here. Perhaps the hardest element to accept is that Sarah Michelle Gellar just can’t pull off the dual role convincingly. Oh, Buffy, where art thou?

Whitney (NBC): A laugh track – OK, fine, people in a live audience who laugh too easily when prodded to do so – built around jokes that aren’t that funny.  Two people living together but not married – and plenty fine with it. How is that a premise? How is that even interesting?

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Prime Suspect (NBC): A tough inclusion here. There was simply no need for NBC to brand this as Prime Suspect (based on the original version). It’s like a restaurant saying they serve steak, but you get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when you order it. Why bother, NBC? Because you saddled it with all kinds of expectations it couldn’t possibly meet. On the other hand, I really like Maria Bello. She’s great in the role. I wish the writers would make the surrounding characters great, too. And then just market the thing as a procedural and tell the truth. But no. And no. So it’s gone.

The Secret Circle (CW):  You’re kidding, right?

A Gifted Man (CBS): Another show just wasting talent. I’m convinced Patrick Wilson would be something special in the right vehicle. He does what he can here, but the limitations on him are maddening. And do we even have to discuss Margo Martindale? It’s like buying a Formula One car and driving it on a NASCAR track.

Once Upon A Time (ABC): Like the other shows getting good ratings on this list – it’s not about the ratings. You can believe in as many fairytales as you want, but this one is nothing less than stupid when it goes from the real world to the fairytale world. It’s like watching community theater in a community filled with bad actors.

Pan Am (ABC): See: Secret Circle. Add higher expectations, more damnation at the failure of the execution and the feeble attempts at period relevance and believability. Then press delete.

Allen Gregory (FOX): Let's bring back Bob’s Burgers, shall we? And hurry.

On the bubble (shows that are getting a little bit longer to improve):

Terra Nova (Fox): Oh, quiet down. Admittedly, this is a very, very long leash. I’ve been tempted to delete it a couple of times. The series has already validated my belief that Falling Skies on TNT would be the Steven Spielberg-assisted series that’s more enjoyable. But I’m willing to keep rolling out the slack for a few more episodes to see if the incremental improvement has an uptick.

Grimm: Only the pilot has aired. And it was different enough to keep an eye on. I’ll give it at least a few more chances.

Coming soon: The new series I’m sticking with (and yes, liking – and in a few cases, loving).


Twitter: @BastardMachine