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This story first appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
→ Good news in the “shows you heard a lot about but never saw” department: WGN America has picked up Manhattan (pictured above) for another season. Your task now is watching season one.
→ I was immensely disappointed in the season finale of FX’s The Strain (pictured above). Here is a good example of a fluctuating critical opinion: I gave The Strain a lukewarm review. I believed there wasn’t enough heft there. But the show was fun. So I kept watching, got hooked, appreciated the growing depth of the characters as episodes ticked by, politely overlooked the glaring plot holes and rode it out all season. Then the inept finale came, and now I’m a little annoyed. Like the ancient vampire known as the “Master” in the series, this one got away. Fix it next season.
See more The Faces of Fall TV
→ As a critic, I’m fascinated with the nature of the viewing experience for the general population. For example, I make it a policy to add caveats to any review for which I’ve only been sent the pilot. Even if it’s a great pilot, expectations have to be tamped down because history has shown that subsequent episodes could, in the parlance of the thesaurus-free, really suck. I did not like the pilots of either of FX’s comedies, Married and You’re the Worst. The latter apparently improved in later episodes, but another rule I have is, almost never give second chances. Normal viewers don’t let you have seven episodes to figure it out. That said, I noted that I would revisit both if FX renewed them. It did. So I will. Most of the shows that I’ve abandoned this season are the same ones nobody watched or everybody loathed. Current plans include sticking with ABC’s Selfie (pictured above), which, come to think of it, may alarm some people.
→ The recent news that AMC was dumping all but two of its reality series to refocus on scripted material was encouraging. AMC is a channel that can go either way at this point. Now that Breaking Bad has ended and we’re coming up on the final sprint from Mad Men, the two steel-rod backbones of AMC will be gone. Most of the channel’s other, somewhat dubious offerings are of only varying interest and creative merit. Luckily, there’s The Walking Dead (pictured above) — TV’s most critically underrated series, which just premiered its sixth season.
→ Twitter seems to blow up several times a day over random bits of TV news. Lots of time it’s about a casting decision. Sometimes it’s just a rumor about casting. Other times, it’s flat-out wish fulfillment. I’d put the news that Showtime is going to revive Twin Peaks (pictured above) in the latter category. I noted via Twitter that I’ll be excited as well — in 2016. When the show is officially completed. And finished episodes cross my desk for review. Not to go all wet blanket on happiness, but a lot can happen before 2016, people. What if the Twin Peaks revival ends up not being very good? Twin Peaks during its first season was one of my favorite times to be watching TV; it shaped so much of what I expect from the medium, or at least what I wish to get from it. But season two wasn’t so great, a fact everybody seems to forget. Beyond that, remember what happened with the much-anticipated return of Arrested Development to Netflix? After all that buildup and breathless tweeting, it was (unjustly) met with only qualified praise and many disheartened “mehs.” Which is to say, Twin Peaks fans, be careful what you wish for. And David Lynch, curb your enthusiasm.
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