Previously I've looked back at ABC's and CBS's 2011-2012 TV seasons. Next up alphabetically is CW (aka what used to be UPN and WB), but I only watched one show on that network, so I'll also cover Fox.
"Nikita" somehow remained on my TiVo Season Pass despite the wooden acting by leads Maggie Q and Shane West. It did seem to get a bit more interesting in the later part of this season, with all kinds of shifting alliances. I think I might have given up on it, except that its ratings were so horrible that I fully expected it to be cancelled and hence put out of my misery. Yet, somehow, it got renewed. . . . Unbelievable.
It's hard to believe, but "Fringe" was the only returning scripted show that I watched on Fox. I can remember the days when Fox carried about half of everything I watched . . . like when "24" and "Prison Break" were good. Ah, those were the days. Speaking of "24," I've been rewatching season 7 on DVD lately. It's so much better than most of what's on right now.
Anyway, "Fringe" is certainly thought-provoking with not just parallel universes, but now parallel timelines(!). It demands attention, which sadly, I haven't been giving enough of. As with "Nikita," the ratings would have easily predicted cancellation, and yet, here we are, getting a 13-episode final season to wrap things up.
Fox had three high-profile new shows this season: "Terra Nova, "Alcatraz," and "Touch." Well, four if you count "The X-Factor."
I had moderately high hopes for "X-Factor," as I stopped watching "American Idol" during Simon Cowell's last season. I also liked the format of having the judges coach teams, an idea that NBC's "The Voice" used last year to great effect. And in the beginning, I enjoyed "X-Factor." Judge L.A. Reid impressed me with his observations and critiques. Yet . . . something was missing: blunt, caustic, funny Simon. Eventually, I got bored with the show, and as I write this right now, I can't remember who won. Or who was runner-up.
"Terra Nova" was the high school angst crossed with Jurassic Park show, with people going back 70 millions years into Earth's past via a wormhole to escape the environmental degradation of the planet in the 24th century. Of all of the new Fox shows, I guess this is the one that I would have chosen to renew, but that's more of a negative statement of the others. The main problem with "Terra Nova" was too much focus on annoying teens and their melodramatic problems, and not enough focus on dinosaurs eating people who do dumb things.
"Alcatraz" was the brainchild of J.J. Abrams, who was behind "Lost" as well as the excellent "Star Trek" movie (and "Mission Impossible 3"). It was kind of like a bag guys on the loose version of "The 4400" -- i.e., a bunch of people from the past who disappeared mysteriously are showing up now, with SOMETHING BIG BEHIND THEM. Unfortunately, as far as I could tell before I got bored, there was no real development of the characters, no real variation in the types of baddies they were chasing, and so on. (Yes, I know there were some key reveals about the scientist helping the task force chief, but it really wasn't that interesting.) I gave up on the show about five or six episodes before the end, which turned out really to be the end, since this did not get renewed.
Finally, "Touch" did get renewed. I had really high hopes for this because of Kiefer Sutherland, but this also got repetitive quickly. Too many scenes of Kiefer running after his genius/mute son, calling out to him, "I don't understand!"
Now, at some level, you could criticize many shows of being repetitive -- my favorite "24" has so many scenes of Jack Bauer screaming, "We're out of time! Tell me what I need to know!" The difference for me, I guess, is whether there's an arc that gets advanced quickly enough -- but at the same time, with enough scope and size to build on itself. Shows like "Touch" and "Alcatraz" -- and one can look to older, short-lived Fox dramas like "Brimstone" (Peter Horton as a guy released from Hell to chase down escaped evil souls as a bounty hunter for Satan) -- fail on that front. As the opposite end of the spectrum are shows like ABC's "FlashForward," which certainly advanced an overall arc, only the arc was seemingly being made up as it went along, to the point where the show collapsed under its incoherence.
And now back to "24" on DVD . . . .