Jess and Nick Kiss on ‘New Girl!’ Jim and Pam fight on ‘The Office!’ Should you watch ‘Do No Harm?’

Nick and Jess kiss

Credit: FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Can we talk about the kiss Jess and Nick shared on this week’s New Girl? That was one excellent TV kiss. I’m blushing just thinking about it. Nick is so my new secret TV boyfriend.

I had a chance to talk to Jake Johnson when I was in LA recently. You can read my interview with him here. Johnson had really interesting things to say about whether or not Nick and Jess should get together.  Nick has really blossomed as a character this year. I like to think of him as the sleeper breakout character of the season. He’s kind of snuck up on us.

I am fascinated by how the show is handling the whole Jess/Nick “will they or won’t they” conundrum. Much like how The Office handled Jim and Pam, Jess and Nick aren’t monopolizing the story telling but they are kind of percolating underneath the roommate shenanigans at all times. I don’t want them to get together yet. And I definitely don’t want a possible romance between the two of them to dominate the show. But, like Ross and Rachel on Friends, I’m pretty sure they belong together. How about you?

And speaking of The Office, I’ve been hearing from quite a few of you who don’t like the big fight that Pam and Jim had last week. As you know, I usually like TV shows to end with  all the characters still continuing on in perpetuity. Sam is still bartending on Cheers. The Friends gang still meets up at the Central Perk except now they talk about which private school is best and how to handle the rebellious teenage years.

But with The Office, I don’t want to think of Jim still working at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin forever. Since the show’s inception, Jim has been an underachiever who has never realized his full potential. I’ve liked this arc of Jim pursuing a new and inherently risky business venture.

Pam has always been the one who was happier with the status quo – the most telling insight into Pam’s character was when she was thrilled that Jim had secretly bought his parent’s house. She’s interested in pursuing her artistic ambitions locally. She painted a mural in the warehouse and applied to paint a mural for the city of Scranton.

That tension in Pam and Jim’s marriage to me is utterly believable as was their fight. Who hasn’t been in argument where you take out your anger at the wrong person when the person you are most mad at is yourself? Jim was frustrated that he had lost a key investor and upset that he missed Cece’s first dance recital. So he got irrationally angry at Pam for not taping it. I’m not saying he was right, of course, but the fight rang true. (As a side note, the only thing I didn’t find believable was that CeCe would be in a dance recital. Pam had CeCe around the same time I had my daughter so I think CeCe is about a year away from any kind of group performance, but I quibble).

I also liked that this was the way we finally got to see someone from the documentary crew. Of course if the show heads down the path of Pam and Brian (Chris Diamantopoulos) flirting or Pam considering an affair, I may never speak to the show again and I take back everything I’ve said. Because the Pam I know would never, ever do that.  But I like the idea that Jim and Pam have known Brian as long as we have known Jim and Pam. Just as we need to meet the mother before How I Met Your Mother ends, we need to meet the documentary crew before The Office signs off.

Jim and Pam have always been the heart of the series and last week’s fight hit on the crux of the tension that has always existed in their relationship. I liked it. How about you?

And finally, let’s talk about Do No Harm, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC. The drama couldn’t ask for a better lead in. It will debut after the series finale of 30 Rock and a one hour episode of The Office. NBC hasn’t had a good show in the Thursday night 10 p.m. time slot since ER went off the air. And, alas, Do No Harm continues that trend.

Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) stars as Dr. Jason Cole, a talented neurosurgeon who suffers from multiple personality disorder. Every night at 8:25 p.m. exactly his evil alter-ego Ian Price takes over and wreaks havoc on his life. I can play it pretty loose with TV in terms of facts but seriously every night at 8:25 p.m.? Yes that’s exactly how mental illness works. It’s nothing if not precise.

I might have been able to overlook that if the whole show hadn’t played like a Saturday Night Live skit. There were so many points where I was laughing when I know that’s not the reaction the series was hoping for. I really like Pasquale and I loved him as Sean on Rescue Me (and fun fact he’s married to Go On’s Laura Benanti in real life) but these characters are not for him. He plays Ian as totally maniacal and borderline cartoony. No need to watch Do No Harm. Trust me. You can listen to me talk about the show with my friend and fellow TV critic Mekeisha Madden Toby here.

Be sure to check out my review of tonight’’s 30 Rock series finale in Paste Magazine.

That’s all for today. What do you think about New Girl and The Office? Are you going to watch Do No Harm? Talk about it below.

Should you follow ‘The Following?’

Michael Lavine/FOX

Michael Lavine/FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

You know when you open a bag of potato chips telling  yourself you’re only going to have a couple and then you end up eating the whole bag? You’re not even sure why you ate them all because they didn’t taste that great. .

That’s kind of how I feel about The Following, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX. When FOX sent out the screener of four episodes last month, I sat down thinking I would only watch one episode that night. After the first episode was over, I thought, “I’ll just watch the first fifteen minutes of the next episode and then I’ll go to bed.” Cut to me up watching all four episodes in a row and staying up until 2 a.m. So there’s no way I can deny there’s something innately compelling about this drama from Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream, The Vampire Diaries). I just didn’t necessarily feel that great after binge viewing the show.

Kevin Bacon stars as former FBI agent Ryan Hardy. In 2003, Hardy captured serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), who had murdered 14 female college students.  Now Carroll has escaped and the FBI calls in Hardy to once again put a stop to Carroll’s murderous spree. But it seems that former college professor Carroll, who is obsessed with the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, has been very busy in jail. He’s become something of a cult leader to depraved people seeking acceptance and a group of their own. Adding a romantic angle to all the violence, Carroll’s ex-wife Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) and Hardy fell in love during the investigation but haven’t spoken in years.

Is it a preposterous notion that a serial killer would be able to amass followers who would want to carry out his bidding? Not necessarily. We live in a crazy world. Do I want to see these followers commit violent acts on a weekly basis? Not necessarily.

Williamson excels at creating suspense. The Following has shocking plot twists and reveals. Williamson has said he was a huge fan of 24 and you can definitely see that.  The Following has a distinct 24 feel.  Bacon, in his first foray into television, is a compelling lead. As with Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer, you’ll kind of believe Ryan can do anything.

No Ryan isn’t crossing Los Angeles in 15 minutes or uploading complicated schematics to his cell phone but like Jack Bauer, he’s the only one who can stop Joe Carroll. Like Jack Bauer, Ryan Harding is a damaged, troubled soul. He’s sacrificed everything for his job. Like 24, The Following manages to quickly get viewers invested in new characters. And like 24, you’ll start to doubt everyone. (I don’t want to spoil anything right now but in a few weeks we can discuss who I’m most suspicious of).

Purefoy plays Joe Carroll as all charm. This is a man who doesn’t feel bad about what he’s done or what he’s going to do. He feels no remorse. No guilt. That may work for a movie. But I’m not sure how it will work for a TV show, especially when this is essentially a two-man show. At some point I’m sure the series, which is already prone to flashbacks, will tell us exactly what made Joe Carroll Joe Carroll. But I don’t care about his motivations.

Even before all the most recent talk about violence in our entertainment, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch a weekly TV series about a serial killer with a cult following. The Following often feels like violence for violence sake. And it must be addressed how misogynistic the show is. A lot of women die and are tortured. A lot. Their deaths are gory and brutal.

Despite the talent both in front and behind the camera, the show leaves you feeling rather empty. After that bag of chips, you may vow to only eat fruit and vegetables for a week. And that’s kind of how I felt about The Following. The show made me want to sit down to a marathon of the kindler, gentler, much better series Switched at Birth.

After you have watched The Following, let me know what you think in the comments section or by emailing me through my contact page.

‘The Following’ kiss

Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy kiss

CR: Frank Micelotta/FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Thought you all might like to see the kiss Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy, who star in the new FOX series The Following (premiering January 21 on FOX), shared on stage this morning at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena. This was their response when a reporter asked about their on-screen chemistry.

On ‘Bunheads,’ Boo and Booooooo

SUTTON FOSTER

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I’m pretty sure I spent 50% of my time between Christmas and New Year’s doing dishes. How about you?

After taking a long winter’s nap, TV is back in the full swing of things this week so let’s get to it.

Bunheads returns tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC Family. As you know, I can’t decide if I love or hate the fact that the series is basically Gilmore Girls Redux. When The Newsroom premiered, someone clever put together a video clip of how Aaron Sorkin often uses the same dialogue. I’m fairly confident someone could do the exact same thing with Amy Sherman–Palladino. Whole scenes from Bunheads seem directly lifted from Gilmore Girls. The series gives me a sense of déjà vu every time I watch it.

On Bunheads, Michelle is Lorelai. Fanny is Emily Gilmore (she’s even played by the same actress). Paradise is Stars Hollow. Sasha, Boo, Ginny and Melanie are Rory and her friends. (With Boo being my favorite. I love her.) I understand Sherman-Palladino’s desire to recreate the magic of Gilmore Girls and not veer too far outside her comfort zone. (Anyone remember The Return of Jezebel James?) The acting on the show is terrific. I like that, like Gilmore Girls, it’s a show that can play to multiple generations. We really don’t have enough of that on TV. (ABC Family really excels in this area. Switched at Birth, which also returns at 8 p.m. tonight, is another show multiple generations can watch together).

I  also like that the show has teenage characters who aren’t vampires and aren’t behaving older than they should be for their age.  And like Gilmore Girls, Bunheads does a great job of making even the show’s secondary and tertiary characters fantastic. I’m particularly fond of Truly (Stacey Oristano, who played Mindy Riggins on Friday Night Lights) and Boo’s mother Nanette (Jennifer Hasty).

However, Bunheads is missing any real conflict. The entire premiere is spent with Michelle back in Vegas living with her friend and performing with a cheesy magician in Henderson. But here’s the thing: We all know there’s no way Michelle is staying in Vegas. We all know she’s going to return to Paradise. There wouldn’t be a show if she didn’t. So despite the enjoyable performance and fun banter (seriously I would watch the fabulous Kelly Bishop have a tete-a-tete with anyone),  the whole hour feels like we’re just biding our time until Michelle makes her inevitable return. The trick on a TV show is to make something the audience knows is going to happen interesting (see what How I Met Your Mother did with Barney’s proposal to Robin) and the Bunheads premiere doesn’t pull that off.

Bunheads is also missing its Luke. I enjoy still getting to see Alan Ruck in flashbacks but with Hubbell dead, Michelle needs a romantic interest, one that the audience can root for.  What do you think about Bunheads? Are you going to watch tonight’s premiere? Talk about it below.

NBC premieres Deception tonight at 10 p.m. The hour long drama plays out like someone said “Hey, you know how ABC has a hit on its hands with Revenge? We should totally do that.” The series is a blatant, but not at all clever,  attempt to capitalize on Revenge’s popularity last season. Detective Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good) returns to place she grew up to investigate the death of her former best friend Vivian Bowers.  The FBI has been investigating the Bowers family and is convinced that Vivian’s death wasn’t an accidental overdose.

There are plenty of bad shows on TV but I always get particularly upset when I don’t like a show that features so many actors I do like.  Deception stars Victor Garber (Alias), Tate Donovan (Damages) and Marin Hinkle (Once & Again). That’s a lot of great talent to waste on such a boring show. And the kicker is that the series gets even more dull in next week’s episode.  My official review is: BOOOOOO!

I’m at the Television Critics Association Press Tour this week. I’ll be gathering as much fun TV information as I can to share with all of you. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Hear a great TV quote? Email me through my contact page and let me know.

My Favorite Shows of 2012

PATRICIA HEATON, EDEN SHER, NEIL FLYNN, CHARLIE MCDERMOTT, ATTICUS SHAFFER

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

When I first started writing about TV, I could list my ten best shows of the year with confidence. Sure one viewer’s trash is another’s treasure (some think American Horror Story is brilliant, I find it rather laughable). Lists are always subjective and my opinion is just my opinion. But, back then, I had at least watched one episode of every show and felt I had given every series its fair consideration.

That, my friends, is no longer the case. Even if I did nothing else but watch TV, I don’t think I would be able to say I’ve seen everything the medium has to offer. There are way too many shows on the air. For example, I will admit to you that I’ve never seen a single episode of Justified. It’s been on my “I need to watch this show” list for years. There are other shows I liked –The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad among them – that for whatever reason I haven’t kept up with. The second season of Downton Abbey is just sitting on my desk waiting to be watched. Do spa/TV viewing vacations exist? Because that’s what I need.

My other issue is the rise of what I like to calls shows that are rated NFA – Not For Amy. For example, I can appreciate that Lena Dunham is creating something unique with a distinct point of view with Girls. However, from the opening moments, I couldn’t stand the show. I found the characters to be whiny, obnoxious and self-centered. And series such as Game of Thrones are also NFA.  With its gratuitous sex and violence, I didn’t even make it through the series premiere of Game of Thrones.

What I can offer you are my favorite shows of the year. The shows that have been consistently high in quality. Show that each week offered thoughtful, moving performances and strong writing. Shows that make me laugh, cry or both. Shows that are among the best TV has to offer. I have ranked them in terms of what I would choose to watch first on my TiVo.

1.Homeland (Showtime): So we’re all kind of in a fight with Homeland and I totally get that.  The show is cutting corners and sacrificing realism to advance the story and get the characters where they need them to be. I mean we’re going to have to ask Carrie more follow-up questions about how she escaped from Abu Nazir, right? An acceptable answer isn’t “I got lucky” when it comes to freeing yourself from the world’s number one terrorist. But all my quibbles aside, no other show surprises me and keeps me engaged like Homeland does.  Especially in season two, I never knew what the show was going to do next. Every time I lulled myself into believing I knew what was going to happen, the series zigged in a totally different direction.  But what really sets Homeland apart is the incredible acting. Clare Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin are breathtaking every week. They rise above the most inane writing and ridiculous plot twists.  Danes and Lewis have made me believe in TV’s most unlikely and unhealthy romance. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to a show as much as I look forward to Homeland. And that means, despite the ridiculousness of late, the drama is doing a lot of things right.

2.Parenthood (NBC): This is the season Parenthood transitioned from a good drama into a great one.  I wrote about Parenthood being one of the best shows for Paste Magazine. You can read what I had to say here.

3. Southland (TNT): The best cop drama on TV. With gritty realism, Southland pulls the viewer into its world each week.  This past season the drama added Lucy Liu and, as much as I enjoy Liu on Elementary, I am really going to miss her on Southland. Her performance was transformative. I could write paragraphs about the brilliant acting that occurs each week on the show but I want to especially praise Regina King, whose Detective Lydia Adams is one of the strongest female characters on TV. Bonus points to the show for having C. Thomas Howell in its cast. When I was a girl, pictures of Howell adorned my bedroom walls. How wonderful it is to have him on TV. Some things that are gold can stay.

4. The Middle (ABC): This week Frankie (Patricia Heaton) woke up in the middle of the night to fight with Mike (Neil Flynn) and you know what I loved best about that scene? Frankie was in mismatched pajamas. That, my friends, is real life. (My biggest complaint with Homeland this season remains that Jess packed a negligee to go to a safe house). While Modern Family may be the show all the cool kids watch, The Middle is the show that truly captures the humor of family life. The comedy has the best teenage characters of any show. Each week Eden Sher and Charlie McDermott are perfect as the ever enthusiastic Sue and her older, slacker brother Axl. (For real fun, follow these two on Twitter to see how they interact in real life).  When people ask me what’s the one show they are not watching that that they should be watching, I always say The Middle.

5. Scandal (ABC): From her first power-suit strut into the office, I was all about Olivia Pope and her not-so-merry band of Gladiators. The show provides a juicy soap opera and intense mystery while, without making a big deal about it, has built a show around a successful woman of color. Plus nobody enunciates quite like Kerry Washington enunciates. I want to be a client of Pope & Associates just so I can hear Olivia say my name. Most of the time, I have no idea what the Huck the show is going to do next and I love that.

6. Parks and Recreation (NBC):  What other series could make local politics so utterly compelling? I literally love this show. Parks has the best ensemble cast on TV. There are no weak links. I adore every single character on it.

7. The Glee Project (Oxygen): The Glee Project is the only reality competition that is truly rooted in reality.  The audition process is grueling and, in the end, no matter how much the casting director, vocal coach and choreographer may love you, it all comes down to the executive producer’s capricious decision.  I love that this is a tough competition but one where none of the coaches are mean-spirited or nasty. If you’re not performing well, they will tell you but in a way that allows the performers to flourish. Bonus points to the show for 1):  Totally making up words.  We all need a little glee-ality and romanticality in our lives.  2): Giving me my new secret boyfriend Zach Woodlee. His proud papa face when he watches the kids perform makes me tear up every time.  3): Giving Glee Blake Jenner and Alex Newell. They’ve both been great additions to the series.

8. Mad Men (AMC): Not everything worked this season but when the show worked, it worked brilliantly. Joan finally telling her husband to get out. Peggy leaving the agency and coming into her own. Joan becoming a partner in the worst possible way. These are TV moments indelibly inked in my mind. Mad Men continues to create a world that is mesmerizing.

9. Awkward (MTV):  Yes I know I’m way too old to be watching this show. But what I love about Awkward is that although the technology has changed (no one had a blog when I was in high school), the experience of being a teenager hasn’t. Awkward takes me right back to the not-so-glory days of high school. But it’s not just nostalgia that makes me love the show – it is witty, hilarious, poignant and heart-breaking.  While I always rooted for Jake, the Jake/Matty/Jenna love triangle is one of the best ones out there.

10. New Girl (FOX): For a show ostensibly about a girl, it’s the men who have made this comedy flourish. The rapport between Schmidt, Nick and Winston is the stuff of TV magic. If Schmidt is the series breakout character, Nick is the sleeper breakout character. I still laugh every time I think about Jake Johnson’s “I give you cookie” diatribe.

Honorable Mentions:

The Good Wife (CBS): I adore this show. The only reason it isn’t part of my top ten is due to the mandatory “Nick is a bad husband” deduction. May we never have to see a fight involving raw eggs again.

30 Rock (NBC): As always, I want to go to there. In its final season, this smart comedy has enjoyed a greater and more hilarious freedom as it mocks its corporate parent and takes Liz Lemon through some major life changes.

Switched at Birth (ABC): Bunheads may be Gilmore Girls Redux but it’s Switched at Birth that has filled the hole Gilmore Girls left in my viewing schedule.

Go On (NBC): This comedy is doing exactly what a freshman comedy should be doing: It gets better every week as Ryan (Matthew Perry) continues to grieve his wife’s death with an unlikely support group. It can’t be easy to make a comedy about people continuing on with their lives after a great loss, but Go On is doing an excellent job.

Those are my favorite shows of 2012. What are yours? Talk about it below.

TV Throwdowns

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As TV viewers, we must make tough choices. In that vein, I present to you my current TV throwdowns.

New Glee Students vs. New Grey’s Anatomy Interns: Glee had an obligation to add new students. It is, after all, a show about a high school Glee Club. It would be impractical to keep the actors high school students forever especially since many of them looked as if they passed the exit to high school long before the show started. But, we didn’t really need new interns on Grey’s. We have enough doctors to keep up with as it is. On top of that, while the Glee students may be knock-offs of the originals (in the grand tradition of Valerie becoming the new Brenda and Gina becoming the new Valerie on 90210), they have made an impact. I may not like Kitty, but at least I know who she is. While watching Grey’s last week, I did not even recognize Leah (Tessa Ferrer). When she talked about having slept with Alex, I thought, “Is this girl hallucinating? She’s never been on the show before.” Turns out she’s been on the show twice before. Who knew? The rest of the interns I refer to as the crying one, Smash and Tina Majorino. Winner: The new Glee students.

Marvin “Wait For It” Erickson (How I Met Your Mother) vs. Carl Porter (Revenge): I know it’s hard to have a real baby on a TV set. If my daughter had been on any TV show as a baby, you would not have been able to hear any of the dialogue over her screaming, but I digress. Last week when Marshall was wearing a doll in a baby carrier, it was as if How I Met Your Mother wasn’t even trying.  The scene was ridiculous. Say the baby is sleeping or out for a walk or whatever, just don’t show us a lifeless baby doll. It was disturbing Baby Carl may be the easiest, most well behaved baby on the planet but at least he’s usually played by an actual baby. Winner: Carl Porter.

Nellie Bertram (The Office) vs. BJ (Ben and Kate): Who is the better saucy British sidekick? The Office has done a lot of work to make Nellie a more tolerable character this season. The smartest move the show made was to make her one of the gang. Now she’s the one colluding with Jim and Pam to play a trick on Dwight instead of the antagonist. They’ve also attempted to give Nellie a personal life to try to humanize her character. But despite her character rehabilitation, too much damage was done last season. I still prefer Lucy Punch’s absolutely outrageous BJ. Winner: BJ

The technology on Scandal vs. The technology on The Killing: Both shows seem, at times, to be stuck in the early 2000 technology wise. Rumors spread a few weeks ago that Netflix might pick up The Killing for a third season. In addition to the fact that this might not be the best idea creatively (the show struggled so in its second season), I wondered if the characters on The Killing even know what Netflix is or that’s it’s possible to watch a TV show via the Internet. This is, after all, the show that has a police detective using a flip phone and driving a car with no automatic locks. But over on Scandal, Olivia still receives photos via fax machine (I honestly thought my mother was the only person who still used a fax machine so at least she’s in good company) and Cyrus’s husband is excited about being on the front page of a newspaper (wouldn’t he be more excited about being the featured story on the paper’s website or getting his own blog for a political website?).  Meanwhile the show has Huck who can hack into anything at any time. At least The Killing was consistent with its archaic technology. Tough call but winner: Scandal.

Stockard Channing as Alicia’s mom (The Good Wife) /Adrienne Barbeau as Victoria’s mom (Revenge): Which mom am I most looking forward to meeting this Sunday? Well I already love Alicia’s brother and I’ve missed having the Former First Lady on TV. Except for the Storyline That Shall Not Be Named, The Good Wife does an excellent job with its guest stars. Revenge, however, wasted Jennifer Jason Leigh. WASTED HER. I’m not even sure of the reason for having Leigh on the show.  Winner: Stockard Channing.

Where do you weigh in on some of these TV throwdowns? Talk about it below. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Heard a great quote? Email me and let me know.  And remember to sign up to follow my blog if you want to be part of my December TV Swag giveaway. Coming soon, my open love letter to Parenthood, Part 2.

First Quarter Report Card for ‘Elementary,’ The New Normal,’ ‘The Mindy Project’ and ‘Nashville’

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

You can only tell so much in a show’s pilot. You can sense the potential or lack thereof. You might know at a gut level whether you’re interested in the characters or not.  But really the pilot is merely a peek into what could be. I had no idea when I watched the pilot for Buffy the Vampire Slayer that it would turn into the landmark TV. But I knew from the moment I watched the first episode of Arrested Development that it would most likely become one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

With that in mind, let’s check back in on four new shows that have been picked up for the full season.

The New Normal (Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on NBC): To my utter surprise, I’m still watching The New Normal.  So there’s definitely something there that keeps me coming back each week. Perhaps it’s just to see what Babe Wood Shania will do next. Wood is the discovery of the season. And while the show isn’t as funny as it needs to be to actually be a comedy, it has, at times, been surprisingly poignant. I loved the episode the October 23 episode that found Bryan and David searching for godparents.  When the show tones down its preachiness, it is actually capable of providing thoughtful commentary.

But, as much as I hate to say it, Ellen Barkin’s Nana is a huge, almost insurmountable problem for the show. There’s some sort of graduate student thesis that could be written about why Sue Sylvester works as a character on Glee and Nana doesn’t.  Both women make absolutely outrageous homophobic and racist comments. Both women have no problem doling out vicious, personal attacks.  Both women are, on the surface, beyond offensive. Yet Sue has always provided great entertainment value. Nana is cringe-inducing. Perhaps it’s because The New Normal has given Nana no redeeming qualities. She is the cruelest to her own granddaughter. Seeing Sue with her sister let the audience know that she had a loving side to her and I always feel that, on some level, Sue actually cared about her students.  Nana is merely angry at the world and that much vitriol in an endless loop is tedious to watch.  Nana needs to go back to Ohio.

The Mindy Project (Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on FOX): There is so much that is not working about this comedy and it starts with Mindy Kaling. As I said in the review I wrote for Paste Magazine this week, Kaling’s character becomes increasingly unlikeable with each passing week. The crux of the problem is that she’s playing a doctor -not just any kind of doctor, an OB/GYN.  If you want women to watch your show, you really can’t mess around with that. Most women have a trusted relationship with their OB/GYN.  These are the doctors who know your most personal information. They see you through your pregnancy and the delivery of your baby.  As I’ve always said, I don’t need a ton of realism from my TV shows. But I need to believe that Mindy actually is a doctor. (At least to the same degree I believe Phil Dunphy is actually a real estate agent or Robin Sherbatsky is actually a news anchor). So I want to watch a comedy where Mindy is actually good at her job and cares about her patients.  I want to believe the premise the show is built on – that Mindy has her professional life together but her personal life is a mess.  Dr. Lahiri and her colleagues don’t seem to ever work. Mindy is vapid and vain. I wouldn’t trust her to paint my nails.  She would probably stop half way through so she could chase a boy or try on outfits. There are so many other problems with the show (beginning with the painful underutilization of Anna Camp) but if your main character isn’t working, the rest of your show isn’t going to work.  Mindy Lahiri needs a profession where other people’s lives aren’t at stake. I fear the character’s career choice is fatal error from which the show cannot recover.

Elementary (Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS): The biggest problem this crime drama is facing is that it keeps casting familiar faces as the weekly bad guy.  The show films in New York City. It needs to take a page from the Law & Order playbook and start casting more theater actors – faces that viewers don’t know. Because if we see David Costabile, who has had major arcs on Breaking Bad and Damages, as a janitor, we’re not fooled. We know he is probably the bad guy.  And if we solve the crime before Sherlock does every week, we are going to get bored. My other issue with the show is that Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller are giving incredibly strong performances but the series is struggling to integrate the mystery part of the show with the interpersonal aspects of the character’s lives.  It is often clumsy and awkward.

Nashville (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC): This was my favorite new show of the season and, for the most part, it has lived up to my expectations. I’m enjoying the continuing development of Rayna’s character. Given my affection for Friday Night Lights, I expected Rayna to be a tough-as-nails/heart-of-gold type character. But she’s evolved into something much more complex than that.  I like that I don’t always like Rayna. Deacon, who she clearly loves, calls her from jail and she declines the call? That seems awful but it also tells me quite a bit about their shared history. Maybe this is the fifth, tenth, or twentieth time that has happened. I would like to see Eric Close’s Teddy be less of a pawn in everyone else’s game.  But the character I’m having the biggest problem with is Scarlett. As much as I love Scarlett’s music, I’m not that into her character. Her little-girl-lost act is grating and so is her stand-by-her-man nonsense – at least she stopped standing by her man last night. It’s tricky to play a character that fragile and innocent and still make her compelling. So far Scarlett is the show’s weakest link.

What new shows are you still watching? How do you think they’re doing? Talk about it below. If you’ve heard a great quote or seen a terrific familiar face, email me and let me know. And remember to sign up to follow my blog (upper right hand corner) if you want to be part of my December TV Swag Giveaway.

Where Have I Seen Them Before and Quotes of the Week for October 25, 2012

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Skyler Day was the teen who wanted to keep sailing even though she might lose her foot on Grey’s Anatomy. She was Amy, Drew’s girlfriend, on Parenthood. Meeghan Holaway was the lawyer for Derek, Cristina, Meredith and Arizona. She played Amanda Burke, the lawyer Kathryn and John had on Switched at Birth before they hired Craig (Sam Page).  Ned Vaughn was the lawyer for the airlines. We just saw him in an episode of The Newsroom, where he played a representative for Halliburton who came on Will’s show.

Patrick Fischler was Artie Hornbacher, the NSA employee who tricked Olivia on Scandal. Fischler has been on so many things but I remember him most as Jimmy Barrett, the comic who did the Utz Potato Chip commercials on Mad Men and Phil, a DHARMA Initiative employee on Lost. Wendy Davis was Kimberly Mitchell, the talk show host. She’s Joan on Army Wives. Steven W. Bailey, who played the bartender Joe on Grey’s Anatomy, was the medical examiner. Brian Letscher is Tom, the secret service agent. I wanted to point him out because he’s the brother of Matt Letscher, who played the evil Billy Chambers last season on Scandal. So Shonda Rhimes hire within her TV family and within real families as well.

Adam J. Harrington was the robot like Congressman on Parks and Recreation. He was Ethan last season on The Secret Circle and Agent Walker on Dexter.

Rosa Salazar was Molly, Kate’s wild high school friend on Ben & Kate. She played Zoe, the woman who changed her mind and kept her baby last season on Parenthood.

Yancey Arias was the father of the missing girl on Elementary. He played Senator Tom Kingsley last season on Revenge but I’ll always remember him as Miguel on Kingpin.

Matthew Del Negro was Kent, Penny’s physical therapist on Happy Endings. We just saw him in the season premiere of The Good Wife as the police officer who pulled over Zach. He’s lodged in my memory as Brian Cammarata on The Sopranos.

Rachel Shelley was Milah, Rumplestiltskin’s wife on Once Upon a Time. She was Helena Peabody on The L Word

Quotes of the Week

“I loved you . . . if only the circumstances had been wildly different. You’re a disgrace to your nation Sergeant Nicholas Brody. You’re a traitor and a terrorist. And now it’s time to pay for that.” Carrie to Brody on Homeland.

“You’ll never be done.” Amanda to Emily on Revenge.

“I’ll wait until I hear them all sing and then I’ll text in my choice.” Axl on which Presidential candidate he’ll cast his vote for on The Middle.

“You gave me cookie. I got you cookie.” Nick to Schmidt on New Girl. This is definitely one of those quotes that makes no sense out of context but I loved it so much I had to include it this week.

“There are no bad ideas Lemon. Only great ideas that go horribly wrong.” Jack to Liz on 30 Rock.

“You see her again, I’ll blow you away. And I’m an excellent shot, remember?” the First Lady to the President on Scandal.

“Christopher, this is no time to be petulant.” Tim to Christopher on Project Runway when he won’t stop sewing when his time is up.

“I’m proud of you but also a bit fearful that we’re verging on what I call feelings territory so let’s stare at the fire in silence.” Ron to Tom on Parks and Recreation.

“It’s going to be old school – guitars and great songs. Just a show for people who love actual music.” Rayna to Juliette about her new tour on Nashville. Rayna could rival Victoria Grayson for biting one liners.

“Now I don’t feel like pie. Wait. No. It’s back.” Kevin on The Office.

“He won the election. Honey, our son is the new president of Cedar Knoll Middle School. God help us all.” Adam to Kristina on Parenthood.

“I will always come find you.” Emmett to Bay on Switched at Birth. Thanks to Diane for the quote.

Best Exchange of the Week

“Who’s your favorite rapper?” Nick to Schmidt in a flashback to their college days on New Girl.

“Brian Austin Green.” Schmidt’s response. I would watch a whole show about Nick and Schmidt in college. Can we make that happen?

Have you seen a familiar face or heard a great quote? Email me through my contact page and let me know about it. And remember to follow my blog (enter your email in the upper right hand corner) so you’ll always know when I have a new post.

TV’s Best Tertiary Characters

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

How do you know you’re a great character?

There’s a fan outcry when you aren’t around.

Since Homeland began its second season, viewers have been plagued with questions:  Will Carrie realize she was right? Will Brody get caught? But perhaps the biggest question troubling viewers was: Where is Virgil?

The beloved surveillance expert brilliantly played by David Marciano finally returned on Sunday.  I actually clapped when he came on the screen. There is something so wonderful about Virgil and his relationship with Carrie. He’s exasperated when he should be, protective when he needs to be, and funny when the show is in desperate need of comic relief. Plus, he’s kind of the only character besides Carrie that I truly trust at this point.

But the really interesting thing about Virgil is that he’s obviously not a main character (that’s Carrie and Brody). But he’s not a secondary character either (lsuch as David Estes or Mike). He’s a tertiary character. And to make a tertiary character stand out you’ve got to be really good.

Here are some of my other favorite tertiary characters on television:

First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) on Scandal: I adore Mellie. First of all, she’s a woman in the right. Her husband, the President of the United States, cheated on her and continues to be hung up on a woman he cannot and should not have.  Secondly, would you want to cross her? Young brilliantly pulls off the tricky act of being simultaneously sympathetic and devious. The scene in the limo where she asks her husband to forgive her? Heartbreaking. The scene where she tells her husband that she needs to start making plans for her future.  A little terrifying.  The season Young was promoted to series regular and is rightly getting so much screen time that she’s almost a secondary character.

Grizz (Grizz Chapman) and Dot Com (Kevin Brown) on 30 Rock: As Tracy’s entourage, the pair have provided some of the comedy’s best laughs with their droll commentary on their boss’s ridiculous antics. They’re the voice of reason not just in Tracy’s world but sometimes for the entire series. I would so watch the Grizz and Dot Com Show. Now that 30 Rock is ending, isn’t it about time for a spinoff?

Cora (Barbara Hershey) on Once Upon a Time: How do you make viewers feel sorry for the Evil Queen? Give her a mother who is worse than she is. Hershey is wonderfully evil. I’m so glad she is still around this season causing trouble. Also bonus points for the fact that Hershey actually looks like she could be Lana Parrilla’s mother.

Brad Bottig (Brock Ciarlelli) on The Middle: As Sue’s enthusiastic former boyfriend, Ciarlelli makes me smile every time he comes on the screen.  He also exemplifies what makes The Middle such a fantastic show.  Brad could have been a one note joke – Sue doesn’t realize that her boyfriend is probably gay. But he has become so much more than that. The Middle thrives because it’s a very funny show with humor based in truth and characters we know. I always say there’s a little bit of Sue in anyone who has ever been a teenage girl. And I definitely had friends such as Brad when I was in high school. He’s simply a fantastic character.

Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) on Glee: O’Malley provides some of Glee’s best moments. He is my favorite television dad.  Here’s hoping there’s a holiday episode in our future where Kurt goes home to see his dad.

Who are some of your favorite tertiary characters? Talk about it below.

Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B ____ in Apartment 23 and Nashville

Here’s my three-part TV viewing assignment for the week:

There are times when I truly believe an episode of television was created just for me. It’s like television’s way of saying “thanks Amy. We’re glad you’re here.”  And the premiere of Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23, which returns for its second season tonight at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, is one of those times.  James Van Der Beek, who continues to hilariously spoof himself, reluctantly decides he will do a Dawson’s Creek reunion.  I don’t want to ruin the jokes by telling you any more than that. But any show that can reference The Facts of Life Goes to Paris and stage a fame intervention is my kind of show. You must watch.

I have championed Happy Endings since it premiered. Dave writing thank you notes after being left at the alter is one of the funniest television moments ever (“Darkness reigns. Hope gurgles out its dying breath. Thank you for the beautiful crockpot.”).  As it returns for its third season (tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC), Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Elisha Cuthbert (Elisha Cuthbert) are back together but keeping it casual. They’re this decade’s Ross and Rachel if you didn’t think Ross and Rachel should actually be together. The show has become more Scrubs-like as the seasons have progressed (more totally out there flights of fancy humor) but the writing remains razor sharp. What other show has hilarious lines such as “You two have fun talking like Scott Caan’s groomsmen.”  Again, you must watch.

People, people, people. What is going on? Why oh why is Nashville (Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC) on the bubble? Why aren’t you watching the best new show of the season? This is starting to remind me of Lone Star. Talk to me.  Why aren’t you watching?

That’s all for today. Remember to follow my blog so you will know every time I have a new post. And on Thursday I’ll have this week’s best familiar faces and quotes so if you’re heard a great quote or seen a familiar face email me about them through my contact page.