Just when you thought you had your TV schedule all lined up, the networks have to go and screw things up. A bunch of mid-season shows premiere/d this month, while some of your old favorites have moved around. Never fear – I’ve got your Spring TV 2012 Survival Guide! Today marks day one of a week-long series. Here’s what to watch, what to DVR, what to stream, what to read about online, and what to ignore on Monday nights:
WHAT TO WATCH LIVE:
The Voice When The Voice premiered last summer, most critics quickly wrote it off as another American Idol-wannabe. But without warning, The Voice blossomed into a pretty big hit for NBC – and completely changed the music competition series format. Now, everyone at NBC is hoping The Voice does big numbers for their spring schedule.
They’ll have some stiff competition, of course. This is the first time The Voice is going head to head with another singing completion – let alone the first big hit singing competition out there, American Idol. Positioning The Voice far away from American Idol is a smart move. But it’s how NBC has been marketing The Voice that I find the most compelling. Unlike Idol, who usually focuses on former winners and talented contestants in their advertisements, The Voice’s ads have been all about the judges: Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton. There’s been no mention of last season’s winner (who I can barely remember anyway). Barely any shots of other contestants. Just highlights of those judges in those chairs. It’s a smart move since that’s the main reason we all watched anyway.
One more thing that might help The Voice succeed: it’s premiere date. NBC is giving The Voice the big post-Super Bowl time slot (on Sunday, February 5). Monday, February 6 will be the first time the show airs in its normal slot, and I have a good feeling it’ll hold on to most of its audience.
SMASH I’m pretty sure SMASH was created specifically with me in mind. A musical television drama about the making of a Broadway musical? Starring Grace from Will & Grace (Deborah Messing), season five American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee, that guy from the UK version of Coupling (Jack Davenport), and the Grand High Witch from The Witches (Angelica Huston)!? Plus a slew of Broadway superstars, including Megan Hilty (9 to 5: the musical), Christian Borle (Legally Blonde: the musical), Brian d’Arcy James (Shrek: the musical), Wesley Taylor (The Addams Family: the musical), and Will Chase (Rent)!?! And executive produced by Stephen Spielberg and directed by Tony-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot)!?!? Seriously, kill me now – I have died and gone to heaven.
SMASH (which I think is supposed to be written in all caps, but if it isn’t, that’s how I’m saying it anyway) was the best pilot that I saw last year – which is why I was totally bummed out when NBC held it for mid-season. But now that it’s almost here, I completely understand their strategy. Waiting until the buzz of the other hits (and, well, flops) passed was smart. And seeing as SMASH is the show critics are praising most right now should guarantee it a pretty – wait for it – SMASH premiere.
WHAT TO DVR:
How I Met Your Mother The seventh season of HIMYM has been a little rough to get through. The show’s lost a bit of its mojo. It all just feels so… serious. Still, if you’ve stuck out the “mother” mystery for this long, you’re in it to win it at this point. And in the moments when HIMYM hits all the right notes, it’s a pretty bit win.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Heading into the second season of RHOBH, I was pretty certain that the show was going to have a hard time overcoming the tragedy of Russell Armstrong’s death. Enter Brandi Glanville and Dana Wilkey – two “friends of the housewives” who have stirred up a lot of drama (and a lot of fun) this season. I’m still totally bored by everything Kim Richards does (which, apparently, is still a lot of drugs), think Adrienne and Paul have a horrible marriage, and for no explicable reason, hate the hell out of Lisa Vanderpump’s daughter Pandora (worst wedding invitation ever?). But all and all, it’s been a good season, filled with plenty of quotable moments (“Are you KIDDING me?” “color me slut”), odd characters (Kevin Lee, the “she shi shi” wedding planner), and dramatic events.
Which brings us back to Taylor. Back when Russell died, I begged Bravo not to shy away from the reality of the situation at hand. And although there’s a lot that I’m probably not still seeing, I’m happy to say they’ve pretty much stuck with it. Taylor’s abuse has been a big topic this season. And with three more episodes to go before the two-part reunion (including a finale at Pandora’s wedding – which happened after Russell’s suicide), I have a feeling that we’re going to be hearing a lot more.
RuPaul’s Drag Race / Untucked If you’ve ever sat through an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, then you know it’s pretty much the best reality competition show ever. A search for “the next great drag superstar,” RuPaul’s Drag Race gives a nod and a wink to Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model in its basic format. But where those shows have become stale and boring parodies of themselves, RuPaul’s Drag Race is fresh, funny, and always. on. point. As Cynthia Bailey would say, these girls know how to work it and be seen. The fourth season promises more insane challenges, more crazy guest judges (Jesse Tyler Ferguson! Kelly Osbourne! Elvira! Amber Riley! Pamela Anderson! Natalie Cole! Loretta Devine! Dan Savage! Jennifer Tilly! Jennifer Love Hewitt! Wynonna! Regina King!), and of course – more Ru. Be sure to stick around for the Untucked after-show, to see what’s going down behind the scenes at judging.
WHAT TO WATCH ONLINE:
Gossip Girl Here’s the problem with teen soaps: once the characters grow up and graduate from high school, the magic seems to disappear. Look at Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson’s Creek, and Saved by the Bell, for example. All the fun went away once those diplomas were handed out. Sadly, The CW’s Gossip Girl is suffering from the same post-graduation slump. As much as you once loved Blair, Chuck, Nate, Serena, and Dan, once these scheming, scandalous teens moved out of prep school, their ridiculous behavior became obnoxious. You’re adults. Enough with the plotting! Still, this season hasn’t been nearly as bad as last season was, so I’d still check in online now and again. Especially since these kids probably only have one more season left in them.
Pretty Little Liars Where Gossip Girl is failing, ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars is soaring. Back for the second half of it’s second season, the mystery of who killed Alison DiLaurentis continues. And this half of the season promises more twists and turns than before. A delicious teen mystery drama at its best!
The Lying Game As if Pretty Little Liars weren’t tasty enough. Pair it with The Lying Game, and you’ll get your fill of teen trash. The shows follows two identical twins, Emma and Sutton (both played by Alexandra Chando) who trade lives and, in the process, discover a whole bunch of secrets about one another. It’s like a way better executed version of Ringer. Check it out online and you’re quickly be hooked.
WHAT TO READ ABOUT ONLINE THE NEXT DAY:
You’ll probably want to know who was kicked off The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars. But save yourself the two hours of sitting through awkward dates and bad cha cha chas and just read a good recap (with video highlights).
WHAT TO IGNORE:
There’s a lot of buzz about J. J. Abram’s newest show, Alcatraz. Unfortunately, most of it is pretty bad. I sat through the pilot, and although I like the cast, I wasn’t really thrilled with the program. The same can be said for Bravo’s It’s a Brad, Brad World. Brad was super nice when we talked a few weeks back.’ Sadly, his show was painful to get through. Oh, and if you’re watching the rest of CBS’ comedy block, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. #bye