As I have said in various fall-season discussions, I've got something like 12 hours of returning shows I want to watch, along with new series I am interested in. Next week will put the DVRs in overdrive (although I have been working my way through some previews and hope to post some notes along the way). But even this week has had a lot to talk about, including: season finales of "The Closer," "Rizzoli & Isles," "Covert Affairs"; the season premieres of "Parenthood" and "Survivor" and "Mad Men," which I haven't discussed for a couple of episodes.
Notes on everything except "Mad Men" follow the jump.
I watched "Parenthood" early in its first season and liked what I saw. But, juggling other shows, I never got back to it and finally had to invoke the 5-episode rule: If five episodes of a series are on the DVR, unwatched, then it's time to clean them out. That said, because I did like the show, I gave Tuesday's season premiere a try and, well, I still like it. Like it quite a bit, in fact. There are plot holes I (for instance, if your boss thinks you are spending too much time on family matters, how do you justify hiring your sister?) but there are also strong characters and a good blend of comedy and seriousness. I have a preview copy of the next couple of episodes and plan to give them a look.
"Survivor: Nicaragua" got off to a kind of blah start. Tribal council was far from surprising, especially when Goat Farmer proved unable to shut up, and there was a lot of time spent on Jimmy Johnson. I know that the show has to deal with Jimmy's celebrity presence, but I hope it doesn't dominate future episodes the way it did this one. Although a single character can become central to the show -- as Russell has -- I like it better when there are several people to watch scheme and plot. Aside from some early alliance-making (which is always a questionable idea), there wasn't much more either in terms of plotting or detailing characters to hold my interest. Let's hope it gets better.
"The Closer" handled the new-chief storyline nicely enough -- although having Courtney B. Vance suddenly appear certainly suggested we were going to see more of his character. But the show did set him up well as a guy who knew police politics, an area where Brenda has never been particularly good. I think it would have been immensely entertaining to see Brenda as chief, but it should prove just as amusing to watch her deal with a new higher-up -- not to mention a higher-up planning to put his own stamp on department policy and personnel.
The final moments of "Rizzoli & Isles" would have been much more intriguing if we didn't already know the show will be back for a second season -- and Rizzoli's name is in the title. Still, a pretty macho move.
I hope "Covert Affairs' " finale was the last we will see of the old-boyfriend storyline, and that the new episodes will focus more on Our Heroine as a full-fledged CIA agent. OK, she can brood about loss every now and then. But the show is most entertaining when it's light and caper-ish -- like the Anna Chlumsky guest appearance -- and I am far less engaged by the more serialized material.