Tube Talk: Making time for new favorites

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

With so many promising new shows debuting this fall, I’m plotting out which shows I’ll watch live, which ones I’ll record, and which old favorites I might give up on.

As long as new episodes of AMC’s Rubicon and Mad Men keep airing, I’ll skip my former Sunday night staples, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. I’ve stuck with those shows mostly out of habit, so once the AMC shows wind down, I just might tune in to Masterpiece on PBS instead. The jury’s still out.

Mondays are a tough night. I love Chuck, but I’m not quite ready to give up on House. I managed fine before, taping one while watching the other, so I’ll do that again. House has been on a long time, but last season they shook up its stale formula (misdiagnosis, seizure in MRI, near-fatal treatment, then House’s sudden inspiration and accurate diagnosis usually followed by a cure) and sent House to a shrink. (I’m so hoping Andre Braugher returns as Dr. Nolan.) Seeing Hugh Laurie and Braugher square off is always fun.

But Chuck is consistently one of the best, smartest and funniest dramas (you read that right) in recent memory. The plots can get confusing, so I generally tape Chuck to replay scenes to catch any tidbits that zoomed past the first time. My big Monday night dilemma: Castle or Hawaii Five-0? I’m leaning toward Hawaii Five-0. Sure, I like the boyish charm Nathan Fillion brings to the title role of Castle, but the show’s had two seasons to wow me, and it hasn’t happened. It’s entertaining, but I don’t feel as if I’ve missed much when I skip an episode or two. If Hawaii Five-0 lures me in, Castle will be something I watch during reruns.

Tuesdays are conflict-free for me, and neither of the competing shows—Modern Family and Criminal Minds—that I like on Wednesdays is serialized, making it easier to wait for repeats. Who knows? I might just flip back and forth between the two.

Like Mondays, Thursdays are tough. Last season, there were three shows I wanted to watch all in the 8 p.m. hour, but I could only watch one and tape another. I spent a lot of time trying to watch shows online (not easy with an older computer that’s not always compatible with video streaming technology).

Over time, I’ve grown lukewarm about Bones, so I’ll put that in my “re-run rotation” and watch either Community or The Big Bang Theory at 7 p.m. and 30 Rock at 7:30 p.m. The following hour, it’s back to three shows at once. Something’s got to give, the question is: Will it be The Office or Grey’s Anatomy?

The third show—the one I’ll be watching—is Fringe, which improved a lot over the past season. The Office is still funny, but has grown kind of predictable. Grey’s is trying so hard to be unpredictable that more often than not it’s unbelievable. On the plus side, Grey’s got rid of Izzie, and Meredith is finally beginning to mature (she’s still one of the whiniest characters on TV, but what she whines about has changed). I still like Alex, Bailey and the Chief, so I’ll probably move Grey’s to the list of shows I record and watch later. Then again, it’s Steve Carell’s last season on The Office

So, which of your former favorites will you be skipping (or timeshifting) this season?

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

From the Sept. 22-28, 2010 issue

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