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October 13, 2015

The Twelve Days of Festivus: Six shows you should be watchin'

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Dec 18th 2009 10:02AM
Modern FamilyOn the sixth day of Festivus, TV gave to me ... six shows you should be watching.

Every fall TV season brings out a new crop of fresh shows and despite the fact that some of them are ridiculously good, they slip through the cracks and not many people watch them. Not all of these are new and not all of them are suffering in the ratings, but some could still use your eyeballs. So take this list as a gentle nudge to start tuning in if you haven't already, because all six of these shows really are appointment television right now.

Modern Family (ABC; Wednesdays 8:30) -- Easily the best new comedy of the Fall '09 season, Modern Family has very quickly risen up most critics' lists and even nabbed a Golden Globe nomination earlier this week. The show features a spectacular ensemble cast that tackles just about any family related issue from dating to divorce by putting one of the most unique spins on the genre in recent memory. With the show on hiatus until January, now would be a great time to catch up on the first half of the season and if you don't, Fizbo the ass kicking clown, will, you know, kick your ass.

Lie To MeLie To Me (FOX; On Hiatus - Return Date Unknown) -- For whatever reason, Lie To Me just can't seem to catch a break. After its mediocre first season, Fox took a gamble despite so-so ratings and renewed the show with the hopes that installing Shawn Ryan (from The Shield) as showrunner would turn things around. Well, guess what? It worked. No longer just another crime procedural, Lie To Me has distinguished itself from the rest of the field with clever stories and fun twists led by Tim Roth in what's very quickly becoming the performance of his career (still hasn't topped Mr.Orange - yet). Unfortunately, the show wasn't able to hold on to much of its House lead-in audience this Fall and even though it's been renewed for a full 22-episode season, FOX has yet to confirm a return date.

Parks and RecreationParks and Recreation (NBC; Thursdays 8:30) -- The clear winner of "the most improved show of the year" award, NBC's Office-esque clone has rebounded and then some after last season's forgettable six episode run. Funnier than anyone ever anticipated, Parks and Rec is one of the few reasons NBC has any business still busting out the "Must See TV" tagline. This season has seen some huge growth from the cast (especially Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari), but it's also allowed the minor supporting roles to grow, as well. While Jerry and Donna aren't quite there yet, they're on their way to reaching the status of a Creed or Stanley. If you're looking for one highlight to get you in the groove, check out "The Fourth Floor" and keep an eye out for Ron Swanson -- you'll never see a man happier to eat bacon than Ron at The Glitter Factory.

Sons of AnarchySons of Anarchy (FX, Tuesdays 10:00, Returns Sept. 2010) -- We've probably sounded a bit like a broken record here at TV Squad when it comes to Sons of Anarchy. Between myself, Danny, and Jane, we really haven't had anything bad to say about Kurt Sutter's motorcycle drama. Well ... there's a reason for that. While getting through the very uneven first season was tough at times, Sons of Anarchy roared back onto the scene this past September with one of the best sophomore seasons of any show in quite some time. It was incredibly compelling TV and despite the often graphic nature (there's rape, murder, and plenty of sex), you couldn't take your eyes off the screen. Ratings wise, the show became a powerhouse for FX (it even beat Leno on one occasion), but that's still in terms of a basic cable audience. Bottom line -- you want to be caught up when this show comes back next year.

Friday Night LightsFriday Night Lights (DirecTV 101, Wednesdays 9:00) -- Whenever I hear someone say that there's nothing good on TV anymore, this is the one show I tell them to watch. It's not the best thing on TV, but it terms of honest, down-to-earth, legitimately wholesome entertainment, it doesn't get much better than Friday Night Lights. 7th Heaven it is not, but this is a show the whole family can rally around. If the football is a turn-off for you, don't worry -- sports are hardly the focus of this expertly written and acted drama. The one downside? You gotta have DirecTV if you feel like watching it now, but maybe, just maybe, if enough people starting tuning in, NBC will air the encore presentations earlier than next summer.

True BloodTrue Blood (HBO, On Hiatus - Returns Summer 2010)
-- Between this show, the Twilight movies, and The CW's Vampire Diaries, the whole undead blood-sucking obsession sweeping across America is as high as it's ever been. However, don't let the pop-culture popularity be a turn-off when it comes to HBO's excellent True Blood. There's a reason this show has become one of HBO's biggest hits since The Sopranos. Darkly funny and full of cliff-hanging twists, True Blood features plenty of vampire characters, but that ain't all the show is about. It's also a sharp-tongued take on bigotry, racism, southern values, and love. Like Sons of Anarchy, you're gonna want to get caught up before this one returns for its third season.

Twelve shows a'stinkin'
Eleven babes worth watchin'
Ten shows on DVD
Nine on-air breakdowns
Eight stars a'shinin'
Seven shows a'thrivin'

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You're wrong on two counts. Community is the best new sitcom of the season and it's also the only thing NBC has going for it on Thursday nights.

December 19 2009 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo


December 18 2009 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tony DIMeo's comment
Marcus Gorman

It's on Hulu. Watching it right now.

December 18 2009 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Lie to Me" has looked pretty intriguing, and I'd have loved to have checked it out this season, but the time slot made it prohibitive. In my house when the season is in full swing, Mondays already have House, Heroes, and 3 of the 4 NBC sitcoms we're trying to get through. the 8-9 hour is generally spent watching one or more of these in the bedroom while the DVR does double duty in the den, and then the rest of the evening is spent trying to catch up and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. Mondays are full.

If they brought "Lie to Me" back on any other night, though, I would definitely give this show a shot.

December 18 2009 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Lie to Me" could use a cool procedural episode once in a while this year. I'm sick of the way every show has some deep emotional, CRITICAL connection to one of the actors. Jeesh, it's all sweat and panic every week. I still like the show, but I miss the professional investigations that they had last year, back before every story was life-or-death for one of the characters.

December 18 2009 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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