Perhaps because of concerns already expressed by criticsh who have seen the season premiere, NBC sent out the second and third episodes of the new season. And it's tearing me apart. ... (Possible slight spoilers ahead.)
Although the handling of the big dramatic twist in the season premiere -- which we will talk about in detail later -- allays some of my concerns, it still feels wrong. And there's a subplot involving Saracen and his grandmother's need for help that also seems like something pressed upon the show by ratings-seeking forces wanting big scenes that they can use in promos -- and, of course, ruin the big scenes by giviing them away in promos. (I'm still amazed how many parts of the season premiere of "House" were ruined by a Fox promo.)
That's not what's tearing me apart. It's that for every wrong move the show is making, there are two or three other things that are absolutely brilliant. Pretty much anything involving Eric and/or Tami, for starters, and what's in store for Julie in the first three episodes, and a scene with Street in the third episode that will break your heart, and some business with Buddy, and ... well, I may have given away too much already.
But that doesn't wash away the problem. In a way, it makes it worse. If it was all bad -- and I know of at least one critic is unhappy about far more than I am in those first three episodes -- then I could walk away. But I know that I'll miss some amazing television if I do. Only, to see the amazing stuff, I have to sit through a storyline that very much bothers me. I suppose I could fast-forward through the troubling scenes. But that's no way to watch a show that's as textured as "FNL."