Five Shows You Can’t Miss This November

Unless you’ve been hiding out in Luke’s Diner (where we’re pretty sure cell phones are still not allowed), you know that Gilmore Girls returns November 25 on Netflix.

These four new 90-minute episodes are, of course, huge news that has us walking and talking even faster than usual. November is a busy TV month. In addition to the return of Showtime’s The Affair (November 20), the finales of PBS’s Poldark (November 27) and FX’s Better Things (November 10), and two (as Cubs fans, we hope) very important baseball games, November will also see the conclusion of Presidential Election 2016 which many have criticized for its outrageous plot twists and over-the-top villain.

But what else should you be watching this month? Here are the five new shows you can’t miss this November.

Head on over to Paste Magazine to read the full article.

A Conversation with Peter Paige, Executive Producer of ‘The Fosters’


By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

I’m kind of in love with The Fosters (Monday, ABC Family, 9 p.m.) right now. The show is a smorgasbord of social issues – adoption, same sex marriage, foster care, alcoholism – you name it, The Fosters probably has a story line about it.  But somehow, thanks to strong writing and solid performances, the show really works. The series has a lot of heart but is never treacly. And the characters rarely act stereotypically – the show constantly surprises me with its nuanced approach to complicated topics.

For those of you who haven’t watched the show, Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) are married and raising Stef’s son Brandon (David Lambert) and their two adopted children Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez). Last season, Stef and Lena took in two foster children, Callie (Maia Mitchell) and her brother Jude (Hayden Byerly), who they want to adopt. Things got a little complicated when Brandon and Callie kissed and Callie ran away.  Now Callie’s living in a group home run by Rita (Rosie O’Donnell) but Brandon and Callie are IN LOVE.

A few weeks ago at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, I had a chance to talk with executive producer Peter Paige (you may remember him as Emmett on the Showtime series Queer as Folk) about the show and what’s coming up this season.

I’m fascinated by the Callie/Brandon romance because I can’t figure out what you guys are going to do. I mean, they can’t be together, right?

Peter Paige: This is the God’s honest answer. We write ourselves into corners all the time and we spend hours and hours and hours figuring our way out of it. What would you do? What would you really do if you have these two kids, you love them both. You want to adopt one. They’re in love. They’re teenagers. They’re hormonal. Is it real? Is it puppy love? Is it going away? These kids need a home. It’s a continuing conversation for us and it’s not going away any time soon.

How do you write for your teenage audience?

Paige: We don’t talk down to them. We don’t. ‘Okay you’re going to have sex for the first time and you’re not going to use a condom? Well here’s what you’re dealing with then.’ We try really hard not to be preachy and not to be after-school specially about it.

Teenagers are just adults but amped up. They’re so hormonally alive that it’s just fun to write for. They want more. They need more. They’re dreaming bigger. They hurt more than we as adults do I think and that makes it really really fun to explore.

What can viewers expect this season?

Paige: This season is an extension of last season – a lot of the issues have been brought to the table so it’s about exploring them.

The great thingis we’re very lucky and smarter than I even think we knew we were. We set this sort of trampoline in the pilot of all these stories and collisions. You can draw a line between any two characters in The Fosters and they create a dynamic and a situations that probably hasn’t been explored on television before. It gives us extraordinary opportunities.

One of the great things about the group home story is giving us a platform to tell some of the darker stories that we can’t tell with our family and our kids because our family is a primarily healthy family and a loving home and we need it to be that way so keep people watching.

We learn a whole lot more about Stef’s father this season in a way I find really compelling. It’s complicated. We never, never, never, never want to leave even our most challenging characters out in the cold. We’re all people at the end of the day so we try to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

What kind of research do you do for the show?

Paige: Fortunately the show has been very well received by both the adoption and foster communities. We have some people who work in the ABC/Disney family who grew up in foster care and made themselves available to us right away

When we decided to do this group home story line with Callie, I so happen to have a friend from the gym of all places who runs a group home so we were able to go and spend time with the girls there. It’s actually been an extraordinary gift.

Do you think a show like The Fosters can start to change people’s minds about same sex marriage and other issues?

Paige: I think media has the power to really engage people in conversation and make them comfortable with ideas that they never felt they would be comfortable with. Having been an actor on Queer as Folk I experienced that first hand.

One of my favorite tweets that I find fascinating and we get it all the time is I love The Fosters even though I don’t believe in same sex marriage. Sometime if you can during an episode of The Fosters, hashtag The Fosters and watch the feed. It’s amazing. It’s astounding to see. The response to every moment is really fascinating to see.

What do you think of The Fosters? Talk about it below.

A Festivus Giveway!

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

The “Festivus” episode of Seinfeld will be airing today in syndication. To celebrate, Sony Pictures Television sent me my very own “Festivus” pole. But since it is the season of giving, I’m giving away this unique holiday decoration.

As you may recall, Festivus, the holiday started by Frank Costanza, celebrates feats of strength and the airing of grievances.  It is a “holiday for the rest of us.” Post below what you and your family do to celebrate the holiday season. You have until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. PT to post your comment. I’ll pick a winner at random from the comments. You must live in the United States to be eligible to win.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!

‘The Goldbergs’ are Golden


Photo courtesy of ABC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

When I was younger, my mom lost me at the grocery store and had me paged over the store’s intercom.

Did I mention that I was 15 at the time? It was mortifying. She also used to embarrass me with her overwhelming use of coupons. I distinctly remember a time the grocery store owed her money. To a teenager, there may be no greater humiliation.

I share these anecdotes with you because similar situations were the storylines for recent episodes of The Goldbergs. The new ABC comedy is quickly shaping up to be one of the fall’s best new series.

Told from the perspective of 11-year-old Adam (Sean Giambrone) and narrated by Patton Oswalt, The Goldbergs takes viewers back to the 80s and celebrates shoulder pads, Pac Man, big hair, and giant camcorders. A time before smart phones, Facebook pages and DVRs. But the series has more than just nostalgia going for it. Much like ABC’s excellent and underrated comedy The Middle, The Goldberg captures the innate hilarity and poignancy that come with day-to-day family life.

The fact that it is based on executive producer Adam F. Goldberg’s real childhood – and several episodes are capped off with actual videos from his youth – makes the series that much more relatable. As I mentioned above, in two recent episodes, it felt like Goldberg may have been spying on my family when I was growing up.

And did I mention that the show is funny? Laugh-out-loud funny. That, as comedies including Dads and The Millers have shown us this season, is not so easy to pull off.

In between the guffaws are nuanced moments. Last week’s episode saw eldest daughter Erica (Hayley Orrantia) accuse her stay-at-home mother Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) of never having a job. Beverly promptly went on strike and the show explored the intricate relationship between mothers and daughters both touchingly and amusingly.

The performances are top notch.  McLendon-Covey is giving a transcendent performance as the family matriarch. She should already be on people’s Emmy nomination ballots. And I’m particularly partial to middle brother (and perpetual underdog) Barry (Troy Gentile) and the Goldberg grandfather Pops (George Segal). Whether you’re currently a parent or were once a child (so pretty much everyone), The Goldbergs is the little jewel in the fall schedule you may have missed. I’m on a one woman campaign trying to get people to give this show a chance. Won’t  you join me?  A new episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Oh and if you’re going to buy something, check with me first. I probably have a coupon for it. That’s right. I’ve become my mother.

Are  you enjoying The Goldbergs as much as I am? What’s your new favorite show of the season? Talk about it below.

I originally wrote this post for Antenna Free TV’s list of shows to binge watch over the holidays. Check out their complete list here.

Vote for the Worst Adolescent Children on TV

Photo:  Kent Smith/SHOWTIME -

Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME –

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

I usually defend the teenage characters that annoy most people. Maybe it’s something to do with being a mom myself but I tend to be more forgiving.

I root for Dana Brody and love what being a parent brings to Alicia’s character on The Good Wife. But after watching Grace wistfully eye the guns on Sunday night’s episode of The Good Wife, I began to think that maybe, like a lax parent, I’ve been a little too lenient.

Who do you think are the worst adolescent children on TV? I’m not talking about shows like Glee where teens are the main characters but show about adult characters who have teenage children. Talk about it below and vote!

Here are my picks:

Grace and Zach Florrick on The Good Wife

Pros: Zach’s great with computers and all things technical. His taste in girlfriends constantly disrupts his dad’s political life. He introduced us to Eli’s nemesis Becca.

Cons: Grace bounces from one distracting story line to the next. Now she’s going to be into guns?

Karen and Jerry Fitzgerald on Scandal

Pros: They never see their parents.

Cons: They never see their parents.

Dana Lazaro and Chris Brody on Homeland

Pros: Morgan Saylor is a great actress. She hasn’t had the best material to work with and she’s made it work.

Cons: Dana makes truly horrible decisions when it comes to dating. Has Chris had more than three words of dialogue all season?

Morgan and Jake Sanders on Hostages

Pros: Ummmmm . . . .

Cons: Just about everything that’s happened since the pilot.

My Irrational Anger Towards ‘Betrayal’

ABC/Jean Whiteside

ABC/Jean Whiteside

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

Into every new TV season, a show I’m irrationally angry about must fall.

Last year it was Emily Owens, M.D. I still have PTTD (post-traumatic TV disorder) over that show. I shudder every time I think of it. Back in 2008, I couldn’t stand The Ex List.

This season, I’m BEYOND annoyed with Betrayal, premiering Sunday at 10/9c on ABC. (What is with TV shows and the one word titles? Coming soon on Sunday night Embezzlement followed by Annoyance).  Yes, clearly there are more offensive shows this season (that would be Fox’s Dads). There are ones that are more laughably bad (that would be the CW’s Reign). And there are certainly ones that are a more egregious waste of talent (I’m talking to you CBS’s The Millers). But those are all shows I can calmly and reasonably dislike. They make me want to turn off my TV, not throw something at it.

In Betrayal, professional photographer Sara (Hannah Ware)  and lawyer Jack (Stuart Townsend) meet cute on a rooftop over looking Chicago. They talk at the same time. He gives her his coat because she’s cold. The only problem? They’re both already married to other people. (Warning to husbands everywhere – if you’re wife gives you a new tie, you better pretend to like it. And you better not work too hard or care about your career too much.)

Now I’m not a fan of adultery in real life (obviously) but I don’t mind it on my TV shows. Sure, we don’t need another ruthless man and the woman who-can’t-help-loving-that-man-of-mine. That kind of couple already permeates nearly every cable TV series. But sometimes adultery can make for fascinating story telling. Part of the reason Scandal is such a fun, over the top show is because the President is in love with Olivia Pope.  And my favorite Sex and the City story line occurred when Carrie cheated on Aidan with Big. The complex fallout from Carrie’s indescretion resonated for many seasons. And Nurse Jackie wouldn’t be Nurse Jackie without her affair with Eddie.

But Betrayal played it all wrong. The set up for the show doesn’t make for a legitimate serious drama.  And instead of treating the show like campy fun, it takes itself way too seriously and seems to think adultery is an IMPORTANT topic. And that they are telling an important story. The music is dramatic. Their conversations are dramatic. (Sample line: “After the first betrayal, there is no other.” Well, okay then!) The slow motion is dramatic. The dramatic pauses are dramatic. It’s all utterly exhausting.

A show like Betrayal has got to immediately make viewers sympathize with the two characters who are about to do something very bad. Do I feel for Sara because she is the good girl who never did anything wrong until now? Not really. Do I sympathize that Jack fell into a marriage because he was grateful to his wife’s family? Not particularly. Did I buy that each of them never realized that something was missing in their marriage until they met each other? Um, no.

The pilot also sets up a Revenge like scenario involving Jack’s ruthless father-in-law Thatcher (James Cromwell) and the episode begins with Sara being shot and then immediately flashing back six months. Who is holding her hand as she is rushed away in the ambulance? Her husband or her boyfriend? Yeah, I so don’t care. And this whole “let’s begin and the end” storytelling device is so overdone.

There are a few bright spots – Henry Thomas (E.T.) stars as Jack’s brother-in-law.  Wendy Moniz (The Guardian) is Jack’s wife and Merrin Dungey (Alias) is Sara’s boss Alissa. I like all of those actors and am delighted to see them. I just wish it was on a better show.

Are you planning on watching Betrayal? Are there TV shows you are irrationally angry about? Talk about it below.

Should I Kill Off ‘The Killing?’

Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Believe me. I can get very angry at TV shows. Some might even call it irrational anger. I could vent to you for hours about how silly it was to kill off Kyle on Smash or, you know, basically everything that happened this season on Glee. (I’m telling you now I will never get over the ridiculousness that was the Santana/Quinn hookup. NEVER.)

But, when the first season of The Killing ended, I wasn’t in an uproar. I didn’t feel the show had made an explicit or even an implicit contract with the viewers to reveal Rosie Larsen’s killer. However, when the second season lingered on and we still didn’t know who the killer was,  I got bored. And here’s the most telling part – I watched the entire second season and, just now, I actually had to look up who the killer ended up being. The show left so little impact at the end of two seasons that even the solution to the big mystery didn’t stick.

During the second season, I also started to get so annoyed with the show – the outdated technology (seriously even my parents don’t have flip phones anymore and it has been well documented that they live in the house that technology forgot), the never-ending rain, the inexplicable leaps in logic (Linden and Holder clearly attended the Ryan Hardy Institute of Not Requiring Back-Up Ever) and the tedious pacing (more happens in the first 15 minutes of a Scandal episode than happened in the entire second season of The Killing). But the real problem was Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos). Enos gives a palpably believable performance but her downtrodden character simply sucked the life out of the show. It’s tricky to have a character who is that gloomy as the show’s protagonist. And it was painful what a bad mother she was.  There is something inherently interesting about a mother who clearly loves her son but can’t get it together but on The Killing it was just plain depressing to watch. When the show was cancelled, it was a relief. I wasn’t quite sure why I watched the entire second season (it was summer?) but cancellation meant I didn’t have to make any active decision about whether or not I was going to continue on with the show.

But, against all odds, the show returned from that great DVR in the sky and I decided to watch the third season premiere and then make a decision. I was thrilled that , at the beginning of Sunday’s two hour season premiere, Linden was smiling. She was actually giggling. She and Holder had a hilarious exchange (as always Holder remains the bright spot in the series). “Maybe,” I thought. “Just maybe this season will be different.”

Alas, I was wrong. Linden’s happiness lasted about 15 minutes and she was back to being beaten down again. The show is wallowing in everything that drove viewers crazy. There’s an endless amount of rain. Holder STILL has a flip phone (I’m going to mail him my old cell phone because it’s more current than the one he’s using) and the pacing remains sluggish.

But, as expected, Peter Sarsgaard is wonderful as Ray Seward, a man on death row for the murder of his wife.  And I’ve already grown a little attached to all the homeless teens (they’re like a very dark, dark version of an ABC Family show.)

So now I have to decide whether this season’s mystery is going to be enough to hold my attention and will it be enough to outweigh all the things about the show that drive me batty. I mean maybe I am looking for a show that drives me crazy now that Smash is off the air?

How about you? Did you watch the season premiere of The Killing? Are you going to keep watching season three? Talk about it below.

Is ‘Golden Boy’ Golden?

Photo: JoJo Whilden/CBS

Photo: JoJo Whilden/CBS

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Often when I sit down to watch a new series, I don’t read any of the press material associate with the show. I want to watch the show not knowing exactly what it’s about or who it’s from. Given my profession, that’s not always easy to do, of course, but it happened with Golden Boy, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on CBS.

By the time the DVD arrived, I had forgotten what the show was about. But as I began watching the pilot, something about the grittiness of New York City, the cuts between scenes, and the cadence of the characters’ dialogue seemed very, very familiar. “This show, I thought to myself, reminds me of NYPD Blue.” Turns out that’s because it’s executive produced by Nicholas Wooten, who began his career writing and producing NYPD Blue.

I should pause now to issue my disclaimer: -We all know I love TV. But sometimes my relationship with a show transcends that of viewer/TV show. There are some shows that hold a particularly special place in my life.  NYPD Blue is one of those shows. (The other four are Cheers, Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Homicide: Life on the Streets). I loved NYPD Blue. I never missed an episode in its entire 12 year run. I still wonder what was the deal with Danny Sorenson and those paper clips. I still get chills when I think about the screen fading to white after Bobby died. I could talk to anyone for hours about how Andy Sipowicz is one of the greatest television characters of all time.

I tell you this because it means I’m predisposed to like Golden Boy. Anything that evokes the tone of NYPD Blue already is starting off in my plus column. Add in the fact that Greg Berlanti , the man behind my beloved Everwood as well as Brothers & Sisters, Political Animals and Arrow, is the show’s other producer and it almost feels like the pitch meetings started off with “We want to make a show that Amy Amatangelo will love.”

Theo James (aka the lost Franco brother) stars as NYPD Detective Walter William Clark, Jr. Seven years from now, Clark will become the youngest police commissioner in the history of the NYPD. The series flashes back to the present as we learn about Clark’s rapid and unlikely rise from rookie detective to commissioner. What we do know is that the seven years have not been kind to him – he looks and acts much older than his years. (Perhaps he needs to invest in a good moisturizer?)

CBS is the home of crime procedurals and what I like about Golden Boy is that the drama puts an interesting and innovative twist on the standard cop drama. Yes there’s the case of the week but it’s couched in the mystery of all that transpired between the present and the future. It’s a quirky set up that totally works.

Chi McBride co-stars as Clark’s partner Detective Don Owen. I can’t think of an actor who deserves for his series to be a hit more than McBride. He starred in Pushing Daisies, The Nine and Human Target –all great shows that were cancelled way too soon. Golden Boy should not be added to the list. The rest of the cast is also strong including Kevin Alejandro (who I still miss on Southland), Bonnie Sommerville (who starred in the final season of NYPD Blue) and Holt McCallany (Lights Out).

There’s been so much talk lately about the new shows that have tanked in the ratings including Deception, Do No Harm, and Zero Hour. But those were all bad shows. Golden Boy is a good show that could become a great one. I’m rooting for it to be around for a long time. After you watch the show tonight, let me know what you think.


Can season 2 of ‘Smash’ be a smash?

Photo by: Mark Seliger/NBC

Photo by: Mark Seliger/NBC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

True story: A few weeks ago  I sat down to watch the advanced screener of Smash.  I watched an ENTIRE episode before I realized I had watched the second episode of the season and not the two-hour season premiere, which airs tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Sure I was mildly concerned that suddenly the show featured new characters who weren’t introduced. And yes I did find it a tad annoying that so many story lines were dropped sans any explanation.  But at no point did it occur to me that I was watching the episodes out of order. I only realized it when I went to watch episode two and realized I already had. It shows just what a mess the show was by the end of last season.  I thought the looniness that defined Smash‘s freshman season was simply continuing.

I loved the Smash series premiere last year. I had such high hopes for the series.  I watched every single episode of its freshman season. I wasn’t hate watching. I was watching with the hopes that someday the show would become the series I thought it would be in the pilot. And I would see sparks of potential – musical numbers that moved me. Relationships that drew me in (I loved Christian Borle’s Tom and Leslie Odom Jr.’s Sam). Anjelica Huston’s Eileen Rand in every, single scene.

And the problem wasn’t Ellis. Or Leo. Or Dev. Or Julia’s adoption. It was the way those storylines were executed. Ellis could have been a great character if he had been better written and better performed.  Think of Nolan on Revenge. He’s an equally ridiculous character but he’s much better written and infinitely better performed and we love him.

There were two near fatal errors.  Julia (Debra Messing) had an affair almost immediately. It’s hard to root for a protagonist who is not only cheating but cheating on the couch in the rehearsal room where there are a million open windows. I had no sympathy for her plight and that’s not a good thing.

The second was that Ivy (Megan Hilty) didn’t just change episode to episode. She changed scene to scene, sometimes sentence to sentence. Was she a vixen? Nice? Were we supposed to feel sorry for her? Hate her? Like her? Root for her? Was she strong? Weak?  By the end of last season when Ivy was overdosing, I said out loud to the TV, “Oh come on!” The disaster of a character I had come to know the first season wouldn’t even do that.

So Smash begins its second season hitting the reset button and hoping that viewers don’t have much of a long term memory. Dev is gone.  Ellis is gone. Julia’s family is gone (although poor Frank does get a send-off)  and so is Michael. That frees Julia up to date which is probably where the show should have had her in the first place (enter Rescue Me’s Daniel Sunjata). Storylines are completely dropped –usually with a mere throwaway line. Julia’s possible pregnancy? Gone. Ivy’s suicide attempt? Explained away.  Julia’s scarves? Gone, but strangely her clothes are still shapeless.

New characters abound. Jennifer Hudson joins the cast as Ronnie Moore, a Broadway star looking to change her good-girl image and Derek (Derek (Jack Davenport) is just the man to do it. Broadway stars Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) and Andy Mientus come aboard as singer/songwriters Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop who befriend Karen (Katharine McPhee). Hudson is predictably fantastic. She was my favorite years ago on American Idol and I always love to hear her sing. But her character is clichéd. Jordan’s Jimmy is a little too petulant and so far Mientus’ Kyle doesn’t really leave an impression. And we are still hearing about what an amazing talent Karen is and how she has that indescribable star quality.  The only problem is it still seems that Ivy is the one bursting with talent.

Anytime a show hits the reset button, it’s starting from a disadvantage.  New showrunner Joshua Safran is trying to fix the problems he inherited. It’s too soon to tell if he’ll succeed.   Did you watch Smash last season? Are you going to watch this season? Talk about it below.

‘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.