“the Fien print” Picks the Best & Worst New Shows for Fall 2012

Gotta figure the dood’s probably right. ‘Cuz he usually is:


Normally I do separate “Best” and “Worst” galleries for the various new fall TV shows, but this year I just squished 15 notable shows together into a single gallery.
“Why?” you might ask.
First off, I do it for you, dear readers. This way, you’re only clicking through 15 pictures, rather than 20. Aren’t I conscientious?
But more to the point, I think that combining my Best & Worst galleries is reflective of the degree of ambivalence I feel towards most of this year’s new shows. I doubt that I’m going to have the time to write many full reviews this season. I don’t have the time and I feel pretty awful about that fact. As you know, there’s nothing I enjoy so much as writing 2000 words to say, “Meh.” If, however, I were to be reviewing these new shows, there isn’t a single one that would get an “A” or “A-” or even a “B+” grade from me. I like “Vegas” and “Nashville” and “Last Resort” and “Ben and Kate,” I have reservations on each. Last year, there were four or five “A-” or “B+” pilots.
I have less reticence to call out the bad pilots, but other than “Beauty and the Beast,” I’m not sure I could rank them. There’s a lot of bad.
And then there’s a pile of so-so that this gallery is ignoring. So don’t ask me where “Revolution,” “Animal Practice,” “Made in Jersey” and a couple other shows are. I might regret not coming down definitively on the “Good” or “Bad” side after a week or two, but for now, I’ll just shrug…

“The Fien Print” on NBC’S CHICAGO FIRE

Dick Wolf shoots – but does he score? Let’s ask Daniel Fienberg:

Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’ – by Daniel Fienberg

The Pitch:“Let’s do a network-friendly version of ‘Rescue Me.'” “So ‘Rescue Me’ only without the mature themes, instantly vivid characters, boundary-pushing language and humor?” “Yup. Those weren’t exactly essential, were they?” “As long as we’ve got fires, it’s all good.”

Quick Response: A couple years back — I remember this and maybe one or two viewers do as well — NBC had an EMT drama called “Trauma.” It had strong production values and a very solid cast and it was the kind of show which, if it had had a cable show’s interest in character, could have possibly worked. Instead, I tuned out after three or four increasingly generic episodes. [I heard “Trauma” got a little better towards the end, but I needed something sooner.] Well, the Dick Wolf produced “Chicago Fire” is like “Trauma,” only even more desperately in need of a cable sensibility, especially given how well similar terrain was covered in “Rescue Me.” Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, the “Chicago Fire” has at least one decently executed inferno sequence that might really be a nail-biter if you cared an iota about any of the characters whose lives are ostensibly in jeopardy. Dick Wolf dramas have often struggled with the need/imperative to display deserved respect for the people in difficult and honorable professions, while simultaneously capturing the colorful ways people in those professions act. Here, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas’ script gets bogged down in firehouse jurisdictional squabbles and barely sketched character details and then wallows in an even more frustrating self-seriousness. Jesse Spencer, battling an accent that probably should be dropped entirely, suffers most from the pilot’s earnestness…

Read it all

When you read on you’ll get to the section Fien calls “Desire To Watch Again,” in which he writes the magical 1-word sentence: “Very little.” DF, we have a very great desire to “watch” the next thing you write. Your reviews let us know that we aren’t alone in expecting just a tad more than we seem to get.