Congratulations, TelevisionByters! Today marks the first day of the Fall 2011 TV season! In celebration, we’re spending every day this week breaking down what you need to watch live, what you need to DVR, and what you should save for online viewing. We’ll also give you a heads-up on the shows you should be reading recaps for to stay in the know with your friends and relatives. Let’s start with Monday!
WHAT TO WATCH LIVE:
The Sing-Off When news spread that NBC was premiering a singing competition to find the best acapella group in the nation, I was immediately interested. As a former choir boy myself, I’ve always been a fan of acapella groups – though admittedly, I thought the fan-based for the show was limited to college students. But when The Sing-Off finally hit the air in the winter of 2009, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everything about the format felt fun and fresh. The groups were crazy talented. The costumes and choreography super entertaining. And the judging panel, consisting of my favorite singer/songwriter Ben Folds, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, and Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman, were both entertaining and on point. Heck, i didn’t even mind Nick Lachey as host! Best of all, the show aired something like six episodes over three weeks leading up to Christmas. It was the perfect timing. nothing else was on, and I was totally in need of something new to get addicted to.
Of course, after two years of short winter seasons, The Sing-Off is finally moving to the big leagues this year, airing it’s third season on Mondays this fall. The time slot’s not the only big change. The episode order has been increased too – and the contestants have moved up from 10 groups to 16. There have been some format changes also. The top 16 will compete in two groups of eight, and then combine when we make it to the top 10. Oh, and one other big change: Nicole Scherzinger is out (taking on a judging gig over on The X-Factor on Fox), and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles is in (believe me, if you saw Scherzinger try to put together coherent sentences, you’ll realize this is a huge advantage).
That’s a lot of differences … but the one thing that makes the show so great is staying: its super talented singers. So skip Dancing with the Stars this season (which, let’s face it, is getting old anyway), and focus on this light-hearted Monday treat.
The Playboy Club I’m not going to lie: there’s a very good chance The Playboy Club could be the next Las Vegas: campy, soapy NBC Monday-night crap that eventually becomes campy, soapy NBC Friday-night crap. But I’m really intrigued by this sexy new show, which takes place in Chicago in the 60s during the rise of the Playboy Bunnies. Broadway darling Laura Benanti looks ah-mazing in these previews, and I like Eddie Cibrian well-enough. I don’t think we’re looking at the next Mad Men here. But I think The Playboy Club deserves a chance.
WHAT TO DVR:
How I Met Your Mother It wouldn’t be out of place to compare HIMYM with Friends. Both are traditional four-camera sitcoms about a group of friends living in NYC. Both have had songs that have penetrated the lexicon (“Smelly Cat” and “Let’s Go to the Mall,” respectively). Both have succeeded on the strength of their outstanding ensemble. But although HIMYM hasn’t received the breakout success of Friends, I think it’s done a better job at documenting the uneasiness of the period in life while you wait for everything to fall into place (career, relationship, family, etc). Of course, HIMYM finds humor in all that uneasiness – leading to some of the funniest half-hours in television. It’s been six seasons now, and I’m most and more excited to see where these amazing characters will end up. Even if it means we probably won’t find out who the mother is until the last episode.
2 Broke Girls I don’t really know enough about 2 Broke Girls. Except for the fact that Kat Dennings is in it, and it supposedly takes place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Oh, and they’re wearing those fugly maids uniforms in the pilot. No matter though – it’s enough to give it a spot on the DVR for at least the first three episodes.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Let’s be honest: there’s no way you can stop watching these ladies right now. First of all, you love yourself some Lisa Vanderpump (even if producers seem to be doing everything in their power to make her the villain this season). Second of all, you’re dying for the return of Allison Dubois. You’ve invented a drinking game where you take a shot every time Kim Richards appears drunk on screen. And tragic as it is, you obviously need to see what goes down with Taylor Armstrong – and what leads up to Russell Armstrong’s suicide. So do yourself a favor: DVR it. Or skip the first airing and catch up on the later rerun. Besides, Brandi Glanville, Eddie Cibrian’s ex-wife whom he left for LeAnn Rimes, is going to be on. After The Playboy Club, it only seems right that you watch both sides of the story.
Watch What Happens Live. The new season starts 9/25 at 11pm. DVR it to watch after you watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, obviously.
WHAT TO WATCH ONLINE:
Gossip Girl Admit it – although you were completely hooked on Chuck, Blair, Dorota and the rest of the Gossip Girl gang in the first season, you’re grown a little tired of the unnecessary Upper East Side-nonsense three seasons later.Yeah, I’m right there with you. But just like Serena and Dan (and Serena and Nate, and Nate and Blair, and Blair and Chuck…), I can’t breakup with the show for good. Besides – Vanessa’s off the show this year! And Little J isn’t coming back either. And Elizabeth Hurley’s guest starring for a few episodes! That’s gotta keep you watching for a little longer, eh?
Terra Nova I’m not really excited about Terra Nova. It feels a little Avatar meets Jurassic Park to me. But I can’t deny that the show’s gotten good buzz, so I’ll give it a chance… online.
WHAT TO READ ABOUT ONLINE TOMORROW:
You’re probably a little bit interested in who fucked up on Dancing with the Stars the night before. Be sure to find some blog doing good recaps, preferably with video. I’d also check to see how the new Two and a Half Men is going, now that Charlie Sheen is out and Ashton Kutcher is in. But be sure to clear your browsing history afterwards so no one knows you’re looking into anything about Two and a Half Men.
WHAT TO IGNORE:
Face it, you are never watching Castle – no matter how many of your friends told you it was worth it. And occasionally you watch House. Like, during Bravo reruns or when you’re visiting your family for a holiday weekend. You may consider giving Hart of Dixie a try … until you realize that like Life Unexpected and Privileged, it’ll probably be cancelled just when you’re getting totally addicted. As for Mike & Molly and Hawaii Five-O? They’re fine shows, but maybe not worth putting at the top of your list.