20 Questions About the 2012-2013 TV Season (Part 3)

America’s favorite running Internet article series on the 2012-2013 television season is back! After answering 10 questions (part 1 and part 2 are still available for your consumption), we’re halfway home. If you’ve been following along, you know the format by now. If you haven’t been following along… you’ll figure it out. It’s really not that complicated.

Which cancelled new show should have stuck around?

Let’s be honest with one another: The year’s crop of new shows was pretty bad. The vast majority of shows fail, but this year really seemed to stand out in all the wrong ways. Nothing jumps out as a breakout hit (regardless of what NBC is trying to sell us on Revolution). Plenty of shows have room to grow, but most of the shows cancelled deserved to get the ax.

If you’re searching for an exception, look to NBC and Go On. While by no means a great show, Go On had fits and starts of really good work throughout its lone season. There was definitely work to be done, but plenty of comedies struggle to find themselves in their first season before taking off in their second. Given its home network, that was unlikely to happen for Go On, but the show at least deserved one more season to try to develop some consistency.

Where do we stand with Modern Family?

Modern Family Season 4 Episode 24 Goodnight, Gracie (9)

Modern Family has had a pretty interesting arc for a television series. Season 1 it stormed on the scene and probably got more credit than it really deserved. Season 2 was fantastic and set a tough-to-replicate high water mark. The show banked Emmys (and nominations) like its monthly paycheck all while producing some really fine television. It was poised to dominate the television landscape critically and commercially. Then season 3 happened. Season 3 of Modern Family is practically indefensible. Every potential issue the show could have with its characters seemed to crop up as the season went along. Everyone became goofy caricatures of themselves while spewing such vitriol that it made you wonder why any of these characters spent time together. It looked like we were on the verge of driving off of a cliff.

Season 4 was a bit of a mixed bag. It trended toward steering away from the cliff, but some of the old warts were still there. They may be there permanently. Still, it was nice to see some of reminders of the show Modern Family is capable of being. Many aspects of the show are too far gone (they’ve completely destroyed Cam), but the show reached some high points this season that we hadn’t seen in a few years. Hopefully it’s the start of an upward trend and not just a series of blips on the radar.

Can the CW capitalize on Arrow?

Oliver Queen - Arrow

Long a place of culty little shows and horrendous teen drama, The CW suddenly found itself with a legitimate hit when they debuted Arrow this season. A perfectly affable show with a strong lead that knows exactly what it is, Arrow really seemed to capture audiences in ways other CW shows have just failed to accomplish. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any long reaching effects for the networks other series, but the CW has a chance to use a show as a legitimate springboard for another show. Though next year’s scripted fare looks like a collection of very CW-like shows (not a compliment), there’s a chance that one of them latches on thanks to the success of Arrow (Stephen Amell’s cousin, Robbie gets the first crack with The Tomorrow People).

Regardless of what happens, I’m rooting for the CW. They seem like nice people who accept their network’s standing and have a good sense of humor about it. One of their new shows (or possibly more) will be a complete dumpster fire, but at least they have an opportunity for expansion. I imagine CW executives have been waiting for some time to even have the opportunity.

Who’s winning the pay cable war?

Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Episode 12 Margate Sands

When you look at the stables of HBO and Showtime (don’t talk to me about Starz), it becomes a really interesting comparison. Take a look at a few of the networks’ bigger shows heading into next television season:

HBO: Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound and Down, Game of Thrones, Girls, The Newsroom, True Blood, Veep
Showtime: Californication, Dexter, Episodes, Homeland, House of Lies, Nurse Jackie, Shameless

Sure, HBO has some big ticket items, but doesn’t the Showtime group look a little more consistent from top to bottom? All of those shows have their flaws, but very few of them are widely considered to be bad shows (with the exception of maybe Californication). Meanwhile, HBO has some shows that inspire some real vitriol (both legitimate and otherwise). Homeland has had some rocky moments, but most of the shows on Showtime’s list are allowed to move along without a whole lot of anger or adulation in either direction. Whether that’s good or bad is certainly up to interpretation.

In the end, the nod still has to go to HBO. With Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones leading the charge, the show has two big dogs that are both awards bait and ratings winners for the pay cable network. Showtime has an opportunity to change the game if the quality of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex match the considerable hype. Stay tuned on this question.

What should we make of networks’ attempt to broadcast new episodes year round?

Under the Dome

More so than ever before, broadcast networks are making strong pushes to program year round. A few networks have attempted to do this in the past, but this push is on another level. What the year round idea creates is opportunities for even more shows to get on the air (yikes), but also an opportunity for shorter run shows. Most shows struggle to come up with 22-24 episodes of quality material, so the idea of cable length seasons on networks sounds more appealing. Granted, it doesn’t sound appealing to actors wallets, but I’m sure things will get worked out.

The real difficulty is going to find enough quality shows to put on the air. Networks have enough trouble filling a September to May slate. Now, we have to watch them flop around and try to program the entire year. Judging from the recent track records of most of the networks (CBS remains relatively immune… to everything), it’s not quite time for us to get our hopes up.

15 questions down, 5 to go. What do you think of my answers to these sets of questions? Let me know in the comments below.