We’re well into the television season, but don’t get too comfortable because this is the time of year when the TV world gets a shake-up.
Networks start canceling shows with low ratings, making adjustments to program scheduling and adding new shows to premiere mid-season. For viewers, it can be heartbreaking when the show they’ve grown to love is canceled or, heaven forbid, moved to a night that conflicts with other favorite shows.
The point is, winter is upon us. Years ago, people depended on the warm glow of their fire for warmth and comfort. These days, we depend on the warm glow of our televisions.
So which shows have been canceled, which shows are here to stay and what should you be watching? I’ve got the answers to all those questions and more.
Time to say goodbye
“Animal Practice” — CANCELED. Although the Internet basically survives off of cute kitten videos, not even cute animals could save this show. While perhaps veterinarians are disappointed their career didn’t capture the country’s imagination, PETA is probably thrilled. If you loved "Animal Practice," stick to watching Animal Planet.
“Made in Jersey” — CANCELED. I tried to like “Made in Jersey,” the show about a young lawyer from New Jersey trying to make it in the Big Apple. I laughed at the cliché Jersey stereotypes and attempted to overlook that the leading lady went from first-year attorney to big shot in the courtroom in less than half a day at work, but “Made In Jersey” wasn’t made to last.
“30 Rock” — NBC, Thursday, 7 p.m. We’ve entered the seventh and final season of “30 Rock.” It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Tina Fey’s eccentric show. Ratings struggled in the first season and again during the writers strike in what was a rough year for even devoted viewers like myself. I’ll be sad to see “30 Rock” go, but it is time.
Sticking around . . . for now
“Last Resort” — ABC, Thursday, 7 p.m. In this military drama, the captain refuses orders from what he claims to be an unauthorized source and then commandeers an island in protest. I found the show to be silly and somewhat disrespectful to men and women in uniform. You won’t catch me watching “Last Resort,” even as a last resort.
“The Neighbors” — ABC, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. From what I remember, we haven’t had a comedy about aliens since “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and that show came out when I was 10. I’ve seen every episode of “The Neighbors” and just when I think I’m getting tired of the weird alien shtick, the next episode surprises me. “The Neighbors” doesn’t have the longevity of “Friends” or “Seinfeld” because at some point I’ll grow tired of alien jokes, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of it while it lasts.
“Chicago Fire” — NBC, Wednesday, 9 p.m. My husband is from Chicago, so watching “Chicago Fire” with him is like getting an education in the city’s geography. He’s outraged when the firefighters go from one end of the city to put out a fire on the opposite end of the city, claiming it would be impossible to make it there in time. It’s really a television buzz kill. While the poor city of Chicago is constantly on fire in this show, it seems the drama in “Chicago Fire” is just heating up.
“Elementary” — CBS, Thursday, 9 p.m. This American remake of Sherlock Holmes set in New York City isn’t as horrible as I was certain it was going to be. While I can’t appreciate Watson being played by a woman (Lucy Lui) and Sherlock being shirtless more often than necessary, I can appreciate the interesting mysteries in each episode and applaud the writers for their hard work.
“Ben and Kate” — FOX, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. This show is a delight! I’m excited to have a sitcom to look forward to every week. Ben and Kate are goofy siblings who, as adults, are trying to get it together. Kate is a single mom and Ben is supposed to be an inventor, but he’s pretty terrible at it and lives in Kate’s garage. Nat Faxon, who plays Ben, reminds me of Will Ferrell, Chris Farley and a slew of other cast members from “Saturday Night Live” all put together. There’s no need to catch up on past episodes in order to understand the show. Just sit back, relax and laugh.
“The Mindy Project” — FOX, Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. This is a show for women, which both frustrates and confuses my husband. In it, Mindy Kaling plays a character struggling to balance her life as a doctor and her simultaneously exciting and depressing dating life. I like Mindy because she says what girls feel, but do we really want all our secrets out there?
“Go On” — NBC, Tuesday, 8 p.m. In this show, a group of misfits including Matthew Perry meet in a therapy group to try and move past tragedies in their lives. This show reminds me of another NBC sitcom, “Community,” except this time the band of misfits is enrolled in a therapy group instead of a community college. It’s funny until you remember they are all mourning some kind of loss. Then it’s sad for a minute until it’s funny again.
“Revolution” — NBC, Monday, 9 p.m. Every time my husband and I watch an episode of “Revolution,” I fall asleep — every time. I have heard from a reliable source it is a great show and is getting better ratings than any other drama on TV. Don’t panic when “Revolution” disappears in December. The show goes on hiatus at the end of November and comes back to NBC on March 25.
“Guys with Kids” — NBC, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. If viewers can get past the laugh track and the fact that these guys hang out with their babies in a bar (during the day), they’ll enjoy “Guys with Kids.” At times the show can be corny, but I’m always looking for good, clean fun. It’s nice to have a show that doesn’t put me on the edge of my seat. Instead I can sit back and laugh at the ridiculous things guys do. Now that’s fun! (No offense, men.)
“Nashville” — ABC, Wednesday, 9 p.m. After a few episodes of “Nashville,” I understand why country music is so emotional. These characters are complicated and have so many feelings. I was quick to judge “Nashville” based on the previews as petty and trashy. While each character has secrets and flaws, the show isn’t just about love and lust but presents some insights on the ups and downs of fame. Country music lovers will enjoy “Nashville” but this isn’t a show that viewers can jump into mid-season. They will have to go back and catch up on previous episodes to make it worthwhile.
“666 Park Avenue” — ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m. An unmarried and broke but happy couple moves to New York City to pursue their dreams and ends up applying for a job managing 999 Park Avenue (cue dramatic music). The numbers invert to make 666 Park Avenue, where the previous manager had suddenly moved some place “warmer” like Arizona (read: hell). If you watched “Lost” you’ll have no problem seeing Terry O’Quinn (John Locke) as the devil. The show is straight-up scary. However, it’s about making deals with the devil, so count me out.
“Arrow” — CW, Wednesday, 7 p.m. The CW has seen recent success with “The Vampire Diaries” and, in “Arrow,” the network seems to be using the same tricks: dark shadows, dramatic music and attractive characters. Just to be clear, there are no vampires in "Arrow" ... yet.
In for the long haul:
“New Girl” — FOX, Tuesday, 8 p.m. In this season of “New Girl,” Zooey Deschanel’s character Jess loses her job as a teacher, tries to casually date and gets teased by a bunch of super models. “New Girl” can be adorable at times and painfully awkward at others. The best episode of the season involved a group of hipsters that moved next door, making Jess and her almost 30-year-old roommates feel old. I watch “New Girl” but only enjoy maybe one out of three episodes.
New or returning shows coming soon
“1600 Penn” – NBC, Jan. 10. Based on previews, “1600 Penn” is about a quirky United States president and his goofy family, starring Bill Pullman, Jenna Elfman and Josh Gad. Gad, who has guest starred on “Modern Family” and also stars on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon” musical, plays a college-age son who gets into quite a bit of trouble. I don’t know much about the show but would be willing to give a comedy about the White House a shot.
“Community” — NBC, Feb 7, 8 p.m. This show, about a study group of misfits attending community college, has been hanging on a cancellation thread since it premiered in 2009. It has been renewed for one more season and was originally banished to the Friday night slot, which is where all shows go to die. Recently, it was shown some mercy and will air on Thursday in what used to be “30 Rock’s” slot.
“Smash” — NBC, Feb. 5. Since this show premiered, I have often accidentally called it “Shame” instead of “Smash.” I like to think it’s because any show with singing and dancing reminds me of the classic TV show "Fame" so my brain merges smash and fame together. Truthfully, shame is how I feel when I watch it. If “Smash” is an accurate depiction of the Broadway world, I will probably never sing a show tune on the big stage, which is a shame because I am an excellent tap dancer.
“Up All Night” — NBC, Thursday, 8:30 p.m. (until January). You can expect a few more episodes of “Up All Night” on Thursday nights after which it will go into hiatus for three months and return as a multi-camera sitcom that will be shot in front of a live audience (much like “Guys with Kids,” “The Big Bang Theory,” etc). Why the change? The network thinks “Up All Night” needs a reboot and since Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett always seem to steal the show on “Saturday Night Live,” executive producer Lorne Michaels thinks they’ll do even better in front of a live audience. “Up All Night” isn’t quirky like “30 Rock," so I’m hoping a live audience will give it new life.
There are plenty of shows to watch this season, and I didn’t mention some of my favorites including “Raising Hope,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Parks and Recreation,” but I’ll stop here. If you’d like to catch up on some shows that premiered this season, many episodes are available for free online at abc.com, nbc.com, fox.com, cbs.com and cwtv.com.
Jenna Kim Jones is a writer and stand up comedian in the Los Angeles area. She will be performing in Salt Lake City at Wiseguys Comedy Club on Nov. 16-17. For more information, please visit her website at www.jennakimjones.com.