The good, the bad and the ugly of this fall’s drama line-up

By Phil Case

To Blog It May Concern:

Here is my rundown of the dramas in this year’s lineup.


The Good: Ugh. For lack of anything better right now, I will say Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Wednesday, 8 p.m.) just because it’s currently the only drama on NBC that’s well-thought out and isn’t going to jerk you around for a few seasons before letting you know what’s going on. Still, NBC’s only real drama that will be worth your time is the upcoming fifth, and final, season of Friday Night Lights (Summer, 2011).

The Bad: J.J. Abrams returns to television drama after six critically acclaimed seasons of ABC’s Lost to attempt an espionage series following a couple that also runs a catering business. The show, cleverly entitled Undercovers (Wednesday, 7 p.m.), fails mostly because of the lack of chemistry between the lead actors and the fact that it isn’t Lost.

The Ugly: Watch NBC for more than 10 minutes and you’re almost guaranteed to see an advertisement for their new drama, The Event (Monday, 8 p.m.). Unfortunately, no amount of excessively overaggressive marketing can save this inevitable flop.


The Good: Lost. I know it’s over, but there really isn’t another drama on ABC that’s good enough to be mentioned. Just go to and watch it.

The Bad: The Whole Truth (Wednesday, 8 p.m.) looks like it’s just going to be another cliché courtroom drama involving attractive lawyers. Eventually the hot prosecutor will hook up with the sexy defense attorney, conflicts of interest will arise, and blah blah yawn blah.

The Ugly: I know actors like to take a variety of roles to extend their brand and flex their abilities, but who told Michael Chiklis, who starred in FX’s The Shield (one of TV’s grittiest cop dramas) for seven great seasons, that it would be a good idea to star in ABC’s No Ordinary Family (Tuesday, 7 p.m.)? The show is a somewhat laughable attempt at a live-action version of The Incredibles.


The Good: I’m not really a fan, but take your pick of any of the nine cop shows that I came up with off the top of my head. At this point, CBS should just start putting “CSI” in the titles of its sitcoms to boost their ratings. Seems to work for everything else.

The Bad: Hawaii Five-O (Monday, 9 p.m.) just shouldn’t have been remade. I don’t care if it has a sexy new cast or how the original could have been improved. The fact that CBS is remaking a show that’s about 40 years old tells you who their target audience is.

The Ugly: I don’t think the bard himself could write well enough to make me believe that Jim Belushi belongs anywhere near a courtroom as anything but a defendant. Unfortunately, The Defenders (9 p.m.) attempts to do just that. And fails.


The Good: Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I actually like House (Monday, 7 p.m.), I will say that it is pretty entertaining for the occasional watch and Hugh Laurie is awesome.

The Bad: Lie to Me (Monday, 8 p.m.). If you told me that you liked this show, I assume you would be doing just that.

The Ugly: Why hasn’t Bones (Thursday, 8 p.m.) been canceled yet? The writing is horrible, the chemistry is nonexistent, and the stories find a way to somehow be boring and horrifying at the same time.


I feel like I’ve been overly negative about the dramas on the major networks, but I have my reasons. Due to the subject matter and language necessary in order to make a drama work, most networks aren’t able to meet the criteria. So without further adieu, here is the honorable mention list of great shows on the less mainstream networks:

Mad Men (AMC, Sunday, 9 PM) is well-written, beautifully shot, and overall, wonderfully crafted. It is one of the best dramas in the last 10 years.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sunday, 8 PM) might be my new favorite show. Viewers should consider themselves lucky getting to watch Steve Buscemi’s weird, talented face grace their televisions for an entire hour every week for the foreseeable future.

The Big C (Showtime, Monday, 9:30 PM) deals with some heavier issues (the “c” stands for “cancer”) in a lighter way. One of the few shows that features a strong, likeable female protagonist, it creates a believable world, in which an unpredictable main character deals with real issues.