I've tried a few of the season premieres, and I've already begun to weed out shows that (a) failed to click right away, or (b) no longer hold any appeal. Here's a synopsis of my viewing thus far:
(1) Playboy Club - an absolute disaster. This could have been a great ensemble cast show set against the backdrop of the changing mores of society in the 1960s, using the music and the cultural influence of Playboy as a pivotal plot element. Instead, the producers and writers tossed all of that out the window to turn this into a tawdry crime drama that seems like a sub-par version of Crime Story set in the 1960s.
(2) Terra Nova - I was more impressed than I expected. Spielberg has never been strong on subplots, so I figured this would be a straight-ahead story of colonists in a prehistoric environment; what I'm getting shows the influence of Lost and other complex science fantasy dramas, and in a good way. Characterization is a bit flat, but there's still time to remedy that.
(3) 2 Broke Girls - Attitudinal comedy with a heavy dollop of sarcasm throughout, this bawdy comedy appeals to me. The show's best asset? Cat Dennings, who plays Max; she's a pleasure to watch with enough credibility to carry off the mixture of raw and risque that defines this show.
(4) The New Girl - Adequate, although I find Zooey Deschanel best in very small doses. She always has struck me as both overly needy and aloof in every part she plays; she frequently fails to to convey either convincingly.
(5) Gray's Anatomy - It's done, whether the cast and producers know it or not. The characters have moved from quaint to unconventional to aggravating; the series has begun to sound like a continual whine, and I find their self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing approach to be so irritating that I'm just waiting for one of the show's crappus ex machina plot devices to wipe them all out.
(6) Two and a Half Men - I've said before that I'm a sucker for sitcoms, and this one has won me over. I enjoyed Ashton Kutcher on That Seventies Show, and I had decided even before Charlie Sheen's career suicide last spring that the show needed something to get it out of a rut. In the early seasons, Charlie Harper was roguishly appealing; in the later seasons, he was Michael Jackson-level pathetic, comedically dead. The show has been funnier in two episodes than it was all of last year. Biggest regret? Jennifer Bini Taylor, who played Chelsea in the last couple of seasons, is no longer in the cast; she brought a refreshing dose of maturity, sophistication, and elegance to every episode in which she appeared.
(7) Ringer - It's got Sara Michelle Gellar, so I'm going to watch it for a few episodes. I enjoyed it well enough, but the story seems more than a little contrived in places, and it amazes me that the same actress can play two roles, but she does such an unconvincing job portraying one character trying to play the part of the other.
(8) Unforgettable - It's not. The "I can play back my memories like a DVR, looking for details I didn't see at the time" approach is daffy, and it takes a way from the believability of the concept.
(9) The Middle - Still the best (and most underrated) family sitcom on television.
(10) The Big Bang Theory - A comedic highlight, and one of the few shows that I would actually watch live, commercials in all.
(11) Secret Circle - It should have remained a closely guarded secret...