New season report card: returning shows

New season television has been with us for over a month now so I figured it was time to take a look back - I rated all the new shows last week, and today I present grades for all the RETURNING shows.

You know how this works: I've provided my grades, from A+ to F - you should feel free to rate these shows yourself, or just tell us your favourites, in the comments section below. As the censored Black Eyed Peas would say, let's get it started ...

7 Days: Friday, 9.30pm, TV3 - Grade: A+
New Zealand's top comedy show improves with each passing year, as its cast of comedians get used to the format and make the most of precious little individual screen time each week. Look for 7 Days to take another giant leap in quality this year.

The Almighty Johnsons: Wednesday, 8.30pm, TV3 - Grade: B+
Strong performances from a local cast and some stellar writing from the team at South Pacific Pictures add up to an entertaining hour of television each week.

American Idol: Friday/Saturday, 7.30pm, TV2 - Grade: D-
Diminishing returns and an abundance of superior talent shows (The X Factor, The Voice) mean that it just isn't fun, or cool, to tune into American Idol anymore.

The Big Bang Theory: Wednesday, 8.30pm, TV2 - Grade: B-
I don't understand some of the backlash against Big Bang: sure, it isn't much better than something like Two & A Half Men, but the always-hilarious Jim Parsons earns this grade all by himself.

The Big C: Sunday, 9.30pm, TV3 - Grade: B-
The final few episodes air this Sunday night and I'll be posting a full review next Monday - but without saying too much, I haven't really enjoyed the second season of this quirky comedy.

Bones: Thursday, 8.30pm, TV3 - Grade: C
We've only got a short run of episodes due to Emily Deschanel's real life pregnancy, so last night was the last episode for a while. Anyone else notice how much more gory these few episodes seemed, though?

Criminal Minds: Monday, 8.30pm, One - Grade: C+
Its good to have the BAU gang back together, but the last few episodes have seemed painfully paint-by-numbers compared to how good Minds can be when it tries. Check out my full review here.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Monday, 9.30pm, TV3 - Grade: B-
The addition of Ted Danson to the cast has injected a bit of life into this ole' dog. Check out my full review here.

Desperate Housewives: Monday, 8.30pm, TV2 - Grade: C-
It's hard to believe Housewives started all the way back in 2004. This final season doesn't bring anything new to the table though; if you're not already watching, there is probably no compelling reason to start now.

Doc Martin: Friday, 9.30pm, One - Grade: D
I just can't get past the annoying title character: Martin Clunes' grumpy doctor is agonising to watch. The number of times I roll my eyes in each episode could probably be measured in revolutions-per-minute.

Family Guy: Sunday, 8pm, Four - Grade: B-
It can still make me chuckle, but Family Guy's last few seasons haven't hit the show's potential.

Glee: Friday, 7.30pm, TV3 - Grade: D
Plagued by a slew of terrible song choices ... a handful of lacklustre performances ... the introduction of several boring new characters ... a couple of storylines that weren't all that interesting ... wait, am I talking about Glee in 2012 or an Oasis concert in 1998?!

Go Girls: Tuesday, 8.30pm, TV2 - Grade: B+
Brand new episodes of Go Girls always feel more like a reunion with friends than the debut of a new season of television. As funny as any sitcom, Go Girls may have taken over from Outrageous Fortune as the best of Kiwi-made drama.

Happy Endings: Wednesday, 9pm, TV2 - Grade: B
Much improved from its first season, Happy Endings is now one of the funnier sitcoms around, getting bigger laughs from me as the action stays clear of the Dave-Alex breakup that drove those initial episodes.

House: Sunday, 8.30pm, TV3 - Grade: B
The concern for me is how House will end: since the decision to bring the show to a close was made mid-season, there's a slim possibility that the ending of the show might be a letdown due to a lack of preparation.

How I Met Your Mother: Tuesday, 7.30pm, Four - Grade: A-
Is there a better character in scripted comedy than Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris)? The latest season of HIMYM has been as funny as ever, showing little sign of slowing in its eighth year.

Masterchef NZ: Tuesday, 7.30pm, One - Grade: B
If cooking shows are your thing, then you'll already be watching. If you're just a sucker for irrational competitiveness and interpersonal drama, you might want to wait until the final five or six episodes. Either way, this is probably the country's best reality show.

Misfits: Tuesday, 9.30pm, Four - Grade: B
The UK superhero action-comedy has been hit and miss this season, though the show hasn't missed Nathan (Robert Sheehan) as much as I thought it would thanks to hilarious new character Rudy (Joseph Gilgun).

Modern Family: Monday, 8pm, TV3 - Grade: A
The most consistently funny show on TV and probably the funniest sitcom right now, Modern Family's third season has improved in every area, from story to scripting to performance. A class act in every regard and appointment viewing at OTB HQ.

NCIS: Tuesday, 8.30pm, TV3 - Grade: C
I can't describe to you how far under the radar NCIS falls for me at this point. I don't like it. I don't dislike it. I don't actively seek or avoid it. It just is. Maybe TV3 could use that in their advertising: "NCIS: it just is" - Chris Philpott.

The Simpsons: Sunday, 7.30pm, Four - Grade: A
We're slowly creeping toward the 500th episode of the hit cartoon series, an epic feat. A bumpy start to the latest season has given way to a handful of wonderful episodes in the last few weeks.

Sons of Anarchy: Wednesday, 9.30pm, TV3 - Grade: B-
The bikers are back after a year in jail, but up to their old tricks: running guns, getting involved in the drug trade, and going after power in the hierarchy of the gang. It all feels a little "been there, done that". Yawn.

Spartacus: Vengeance: Sunday, 9.30pm, The Box - Grade: F
The second season of Spartacus is so bad that I've found myself wishing Andy Whitfield were still around - and I didn't even like the show with him in it, either. It's not as bad as 2 Broke Girls, but its damn close.

Two & A Half Men: Wednesday, 7.30pm, TV2 - Grade: D+
Kutcher is just as good at delivering a bad pun as Sheen ever was. Heck, he could even be better, but the show is so bad it probably wouldn't matter. Check out my full review here.

The Walking Dead: Wednesday, 9.30pm, TV2 - Grade: B
The first season of The Walking Dead was among the most acclaimed shows of 2011. Sadly, the season 2 hasn't cashed in on that success. Still, it's better than much else on TV. Check out my full review here.

WANNA-BEn: Friday, 10pm, TV3 - Grade: B+
Back for a short run, this batch of episodes is a much more refined than the first season, much funnier overall and not settling for the easy joke. By the way, keep an eye out for a guest post from Ben next week, right here at OTB.

Those are my grades, so it's over to you now:
What are your favourite - or most hated - RETURNING new season shows? Do you agree with my grades? And have I missed anything?

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