New season report card: returning shows

Last updated 09:36 16/03/2012

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.

20120316You 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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Or, feel free to email Chris at 
otbmail@chrisphilpott.co.nz
This is a spoiler-free blog - please comment responsibly.

48 comments
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Michael   #1   09:51 am Mar 16 2012

Wait and see what Sons has in store for you, Chris.

Karl   #2   09:52 am Mar 16 2012

No Justified in your list? I think it's the best thing on at the moment. Boyd Crowder is one of the best characters on any programme.

kiwicossie   #3   09:55 am Mar 16 2012

My favourite tv shows at the moment are: -Amazing Race (sad but true - I still like to see the exotic places they travel to) -Project Runway (and a lot of my girlfriends still think it's great) -The Graham Norton Show (he's the best interviewer out there since Parky retired in my humble opinion) -Homeland -Treme (such a good show - have you not watched CP?) -Boss -Backbenchers (and I think it's a crime if they cancel it) -The Secret Lives of Dancers (not as good as last season so far but still very interesting and my pick of the best of NZ reality) -7 Days -Hell on Wheels -Packed to the Rafters (but this season isn't as good)

Feel exactly the same as you about Criminal Minds which used to be a fav. Got a bit fed up with the paint by numbers crime dramas.

Yes I watch a lot of TV and MySky is the best invention EVER :) -

bOb   #4   09:56 am Mar 16 2012

"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." I’m pretty sure you have said previously that you liked the 1st season of this show... maybe when you were saying the 'prequel' was disappointing. No fair backtracking.

Don’t know why but I had never watched Happy Endings till this week and it was pretty funny. Will have to grab season 1 and have a look.

J   #5   10:04 am Mar 16 2012

Go Girls has got to be the most insipid rubbish on TV. The main character Kevin is such a drip, and his moronic way of speaking drives me nuts. Rant over.

maz   #6   10:07 am Mar 16 2012

While I'm enjoying Go Girls, there are a few things that are bothering me. Firstly the fact that Britta hasn't told Kev about the baby, and letting Leo carry on as the father seems so wrong, both morally and as a storyline. Secondly, the Fran McMann and Kev thing seemed a bit pointless. Plus the sleeping with your best friends Mum while high storyline has already been done in Outrageous Fortune. Loving the Brad scenes, especially when everyone is still treating him as the finance guy.

I wonder if Kev will disappear from Go Girls for a while with his new job? Possibly so jay Ryan could have time off to film Offspring across the ditch? The writers has done a good job with working the storylines around the actors schedules (e.g. Anna Hutchison and Brad Whelon coming and going while they are working on other projects).

danny sims   #7   10:11 am Mar 16 2012

watching some new "tv". noel fielding's luxury comedy, bob's burgers, unsupervised, napoleon dynamite, and about to crack into new community. you're still on about walking dead season 2?! you know nothing.

Jas123   #8   10:14 am Mar 16 2012

Why do you have the NZ shows so high?

The Almightly Johnson's has had 3 episodes and nothing has really happened yet. Just 3 weeks of the main characters going out and getting drunk or having sex. If it was a US show you would say that it is bad but if a NZ show it is ok.

As for the US cop shows I find a lot are ho-hum. Sometimes 2 or 3 seasons is enough.

Yes Doc Martin is starting to lose it's lustre but again 3-4 seasons would have been enough. Why do you find him annoying? Is it because he doesn't fit your image of how a man should be ie a doormat snag. If it was a woman doctor like that would it be ok?

Leon   #9   10:26 am Mar 16 2012

Wow, I'm stunned you rated How I Met Your Mother so highly this season. I've found the last couple of seasons more in the "B- could put more effort into the script" kind of report card.

Ted is just such a weak character that to me, he brings the rest of the show down. All he does is fall in and out of love on a biweekly basis. Yes, Barney is brilliant fun as a character. But good lord if the actress who plays Robin doesn't eat something, we're looking down the barrel of a death by complications related to an eating disorder headline before long.

Ben   #10   10:47 am Mar 16 2012

The X Factor and the Voice are so far inferior to American Idol that its stunning. They are just overblown, overhyped, overproduced. Idol manages to retain a subtlety and focus that keeps it at the top of the pack - plus they still have collectively the best talent, too.

I haven't been watching the simpsons this season (I've never been the kind to tune in every episode anyway), but I'm interseted in your A grade given previous columns about it being far from its peak. Chris, do you think its back on an upswing?


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