New Seasons of Glee, The Good Wife, Fringe etc

The 2011 autumn season is now in full swing – indeed we are already experiencing the most irritating aspect of US tv –  the breaks for sports as Glee is off the air for baseball until November 1st, Fringe also skipping a week..grr!

So how are my favourite shows shaping up?

Well Glee is like a whole different show this year and I am not totally sure I like it as much yet. The critical reception has been good as the one aspect Glee is doing well is more consistent storytelling. However, I’ve never watched Glee for its dramatic strengths. What has me a tad worried is the lack of any really standout must-be-played songs in the first three episodes. Yes the music was ok, but I’ve been listening to the music from the first two seasons rather than any of the 10 or so songs we’ve had so far.

Contrast this with last year when the first three episodes had given us Empire State of Mind, Telephone, Toxic etc. The show has focussed on show tunes a lot as the school musical West Side Story is the main feature so far. Yes Blaine was great, yes it was nice to hear Mike Chang sing – and he was not bad. But apart from the admittedly good but unadventurous arrangement for Rachel and Shelby singing Somewhere, we’ve hardly had a classic Rachel number, Finn has hardly opened his mouth (well, thank heavens for small mercies!) and there has hardly been anything from the last 10 years.

Asian F, the third and most recent episode did have a very enjoyable Beyonce number from Heather Morris, who has rapidly become one of the most energetic performers with her amazing dancing and perfectly acceptable vocals. It also featured Glee‘s first Coldplay song – the rather soppy Fix You that I wasn’t hugely into. I’m sincerely hoping the music picks up as it has always been a big part of my enjoyment of the show, and as a person who does not listen to the charts or music radio, it was one way to keep up with current musical trends.

On the other hand, the writing and characterisations have been great. Love Rachel and Kurt together, and unlike last year, Rachel appears to be a human being still! I really disliked the way they seem to have no idea what to do with her at the start of the second season apart from make her an insecure unlikable bitch! Mercedes descent into divahood is a story that looks like it might stick. Quinn is back to being the bad girl. Let’s face it, they need one! Santana might claim to be a bitch, but she’s not so bad. Quinn’s little pink haired punk look didn’t last, but the return of Shelby looks like it is inciting a bit of bitchy insanity from Quinn.  I’m trying to ignore most of the Will and Emma stuff, but was very impressed with Jayma Mays heartbreaking acting in the most recent episode after her bizarrely crazy Ginger Supremacist parent showed up. Her desperate hand wringing after they left was just so painful to watch.

Incidentally, my favourite acting moment was a tiny little one that my inner Lea Michele fangirl spotted in the first episode when Sugar shows up to audition as the kids are covered in food after the cafeteria fight. As Sugar ‘sings’, we get a shot of Rachel reacting that is just brilliant from Lea Michele – a tiny quirk of the lips showing her shift from rather worried to reassured she will not be usurped. Subtle and fab!

So with Damien from the Glee Project showing up in the nest episode, I’m enjoying the season, but I can’t deny I am torn. Good drama/characters v great music. I’m kind of missing the music..

The Good Wife has not quite hit its strife yet for me in this third season. The main problem – similar to Glee in a way – is that the cases have just been rather uniteresting and dull. The show has always had strong cases to hang its interpersonal dramas on, and so far…hmm, not so much. I miss seeing Alicia and Kalinda together and am wondering whether Alicia/Will is going to get rather boring to watch. Kalinda has mainly been seen with Eli Gold, and that is a pairing that is quite fun. Just as long as she doesn’t hook up with the always sleazy Cary..

The show has a lot to live up to as for two seasons it has been almost flawlessly brilliant. Expectations are high and I’m waiting to be wowed right now.

Lisa Edelstein from House popped up in the most recent episode (and House is rapidly losing my interest by the way. New Docs? Y-A-W-N!!) and I was a little disappointed. Usually The Good Wife gives its guest stars realy interesting things to do. Lisa Edelstein’s flirting with Will was very predictable and un-noteworthy. She’s due to appear in a few more episodes, hopefully we will ssee her get her teeth into better storylines. (I MISS YOU CUDDY!!)

Fringe is also going through a period of change after the season 3 finale changed history and deleted Peter Bishop! The first three episodes could almost have been from the first season. X Files-ish cases, some Walter nuttiness. But without Peter around, Walter just seems insane! However I enjoyed the fourth episode a lot more. It seemed to focus less on the case of the week and more on the characters – finally! We found out about this version of Olivia’s expereinces as a Cortexifan subject, a warm motherly bond with Nina Sharp and some of the very best Walter/Olivia scenes ever! Usually Peter was the buffer between the Aussie actors Anna Torv and John Noble, but we saw Walter’s germophobia, his insecurity over possibly being sent back to St Claire’s – and Olivia’s care for him. Excellent stuff. Peter is finally back YAY! But no one remember him..oops! Should be fun watching how they all react to his appearance.

In other returning shows, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has undergone a huge change with Chris Meloni as Eliot Stabler quitting. On the plus side, the only two ADAs worth their salt, Alex and Casey have reappeared, but Olivia’s rather chilly hostility towards them was a bit of a shame. Of the new detectives Kelli Giddish is the one I have my eye on. I liked her series Chase a lot last season and she was pretty wonderful as Kalinda’s sometime hookup pal on The Good Wife. As always, the cases dictate the quality of the show and it’s been a bit of a mixture.

Alphas concluded strongly, as did Warehouse 13 (HG…nooooo!!) Both shows benefitted from strong casting. David Strathairn is wonderful! W13 brought Kate Mugrew back to tv sci fi!!

Haven wavered but was pretty good. Castle is back with pretty much more of the same, as is Body of Proof. Both enjoyable enough. Ditto The Mentalist that solved Jane’s murder of Red John and susequent jailing within one episode. Back to the old formula already..

Nikita is going quite well so far this season, thanks to a huge change in the format of the show. Nikita and Michael are freelancing with Birkoff. Alex is working for Division, Percy in in a Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter style prison cell while Amanda runs things, The tension between Nikita and Alex is very enjoyable as Alex is now hunting down her former mentor.  Enjoying the dynamics.

I’ve finally quit Boardwalk Empire and Hawaii 5-O. Didn’t even start on Boardwalk Empire, I pretty much hated everyone and everything about it last year. Hawaii 5-O‘s main problem for me is star Alex O’Loughlin who is so unbearably macho and smug I just wanted to slap him! I actually quite liked the rest of the team, but the plots were getting ridiculous too so after 2 episodes this year I am done.

Desperate Housewives is a show I’ve always intended to quit as it really is repetitive after all this time, but like all good soaps, it can draw you in. I am worried for Tom and Lynette, and former Xena actor Charles Mesure is romancing Vanessa Williams this year. After Elizabeth Mitchell on V last season, he is clearly a lucky guy!

British tele has one of my favourites right now, the wonderful period drama Downton Abbey. While some have not found this second series as strong as the first, I am just enjoying the storylines and the characters. Not spotted any TV arials in the village yet..