20 Questions About the 2011-2012 TV Season Part 3

The past few weeks, we have tackled several relevant questions about the 2011-2012 TV season. Since there’s nothing like beating a dead horse into the ground, let’s keep it rolling. If you aren’t keeping track (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t be keeping track), we are on question eleven. Let’s start with one of the hottest new shows of the season. As with the last two posts, if you have a question you would like for me to address, feel free to submit it in the comments below or on Twitter.

What is New Girl doing with Winston?

New Girl definitely has its fair share of warts. There are many episodes that make it seem like pitch meeting went like this:

Creator: Okay, so we’ve got Zooey Deschanel…
Fox Executive: Sold. When can you start shooting?
Creator: Um, soon, I guess.
Fox Executive: Great. I’ll call Deschanel’s people. You start shooting next weekend.

Their ideas just don’t seem fully baked. Some episodes work well (Schmidt’s birthday episode will stand the test of time), and the interplay between some of the characters is very appealing. Still, it’s tough to ignore their struggle to fully develop characters. It’s almost like they bought a house, but didn’t have the money to fix up the entire thing. Therefore, they fixed up the kitchen (Zooey) and invested a large sum in a nice dining room (Schmidt). The bedroom is still a work in progress (Nick), but they have all of their extra stuff tucked away in the bonus room (Winston).

Winston has had a few moments here and there (the Bells episode was pretty good), but there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction for his character. For him, there is no life outside of the apartment. We don’t know anything about him other than he played basketball in Latvia for a few years. New Girl is such a hit that they will have time to figure out, but they have other problems that probably need to be dealt with before they get Winston. We may not see a whole lot from our favorite Latvian Basketball League star in the near future. Hopefully, they can tighten it up over the summer.

Has Showtime surpassed HBO?

Homeland (Showtime) "Representative Brody" Episode 10 (5)

Let’s check the starting lineups for each show:

Showtime: Homeland, Dexter, Shameless, Nurse Jackie, The Big C

That’s a strong starting five. Homeland is a first class drama. I have never seen Shameless, but people who have seen it absolutely rave about it. Dexter has seen better days, but was truly groundbreaking television when it started. That’s easy to forget now. Nurse Jackie and The Big C are both solid “comedies” that are yearly Emmy bait for their strong female leads.

HBO: Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound & Down, 24/7, and… True Blood? Luck?

On paper, it would seem that Showtime has the better depth. I would tend to agree with that statement. However, HBO has the biggest guns (Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and 24/7 for reality). It’s like watching the Mavericks and the Heat play in last year’s NBA Finals. Showtime has one go-to guy (Homeland) and a bunch of solid role players flanking him. HBO has the superstar duo (Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones), but a pretty weak supporting rotation.

Right now, I’m copping out and saying it’s a dead heat. Still, this conversation wouldn’t have been had 5 years ago. I don’t know if that says more about HBO or Showtime.

Why isn’t Up All Night a better show?

It’s the most puzzling new show of the season for me. Maya Rudolph is funny, people like Will Arnett (though I personally don’t), and I L-O-V-E Christina Applegate. There is some real comedic firepower on this show, yet they can’t seem to make it work. It’s not a bad show, but it has failed to live up to some lofty expectations. Even with their sweeter timeslot, their show hasn’t really picked up the quality. At best, they are a hit and miss show that works the best when it features the third person on the cast list (Rudolph).

Here’s why the show doesn’t work: No one cares. The daily lives of working mom Regan and stay-at-home dad Chris apparently doesn’t lead to provocative storylines. It’s the equivalent of listening to someone talk about their own kids. You smile politely, but you don’t care. When Up All Night is at its worst, it feels like you are stuck with that overzealous mom who will not shut up about the bowel movements of her toddler. I don’t know how to fix it, but I do know that Maya Rudolph has a ready made spin-off when she wants it.

Can Game of Thrones top season 1?

Seems impossible, but consider these three things: Dragons, Whitewalkers, and Tyrion Lannister as Hand of the King. Let’s do this. Admittedly, I do have some concerns as we continually expand our world. I really enjoyed Winterfell, Kings Landing, The Wall and Dothrak. I didn’t really need some new places. Still, I am interested in the places they are going to explore. Can I interest you in a trip north of The Wall to encounter the Whitewalkers? Well then, get behind me, because I am first in line. Also, at some point we will get to find out what is more terrifying: fire-breathing dragons or unseen monsters who live in the ice for 3000 years. I imagine we won’t get to it this season, but I’m ready for the showdown. It’s going to be tough to top, but I have no reason to doubt these people at this point.

(For the record, I have not read the books and don’t plan to read them. I’m a TV writer people. I like moving pictures.)

Which TV character most deserves a punch in the face?

Since I am a male (the last time I checked), I forbid myself from choosing a woman. I will leave it to the readers to decide which woman I would have chosen. Instead, I will have to simply choose my number one male candidate. Congratulations, Pete Campbell of Mad Men! I must admit, that dude has been on my list for awhile. I understand he is meant to be a sniveling annoyance, but Vincent Cartheiser is just a little too convincing. I’m truly surprised that Don didn’t hit him during one of his drunken benders last season. Certainly no one would have blamed him. Frankly, I’m not sure how I haven’t seen him punched in four seasons. Come on, people of Mad Men, step up your game. Somebody go out there and deck Pete Campbell for me.

That’s it for this week. There’s only one more chance to get your question about the TV season addressed. Put it down in the comments or on Twitter.