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As I’ve admitted before, I’m an entertainment junkie… and what you might call an entertainment adventurer. As the explorers of old searched for new lands and trade routes, I am always seeking quality music, movies, books, and TV shows (though my explorations usually result in far less scurvy and bloodshed).

Because of that, this time of year seems kind of like TV Christmas to me. I love seeing how the storylines and characters of my favorite shows are going to move forward, as well as predict and analyze which new shows are going to make it past the massive slaughter known as “The Rating Games” (Ok, it’s not really known as that, but you know what I mean). I know not everyone watches TV and most people don’t watch it with as much dedication as I do (to my shame, not theirs), so  below I’ve provided a rundown of shows you might want to watch (or DVR) this season (when you need a break from actually having a life).

Why? Aside from the “it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want” spiel, I do think that watching (some) good TV can be more than just mindless escapism. Personally, I’m convinced I owe a large part of my humor evolution in the past few years to the amount of time I’ve spent “studying” Chandler Bing. But more than that, real TV– of the scripted caliber– is about stories and characters. Story is a powerful force in our lives, and TV is another medium for telling stories– stories that can teach, comfort, humor, inspire, unite and more. In other words– there can be merit to things even as trivial as television.

Without further ado, my rundown:

New Shows to Watch

Last Resort (ABC). The first two shows on this list are LOST-esque dramas, but with apocalyptic events instead of, ya know, a time-traveling island. Last Resort is the story of an American submarine crew that receives extremely questionable orders, hesitates, is targeted by its own country, and ends up confiscating (you guessed it) an island to become the newest nuclear nation in the world. Yeesh. If somehow that plot itself doesn’t get you, the pilot will sink you with its dramatic awesomeness. I can already tell that this will be the new show I look forward to every week. Last Resort poses some great dilemmas about morality, authority, and true freedom.

Revolution (NBC). I’m still not sure this show is as epic as it thinks it is. Don’t get me wrong: I like it, and it’s certainly entertaining. However, unlike Last Resort, the storytelling hasn’t yet lived up to the story itself. Set in the future, when our world is without electricity, it certainly has potential for greatness. There are several big questions raised in the first few episodes (and there should be), but as my friend Shannon Potelicki has pointed out, the true test of this show will be how it answers those questions as the show progresses. And while character development has been improving with each episode, personally I need to be better invested in the characters to really care about their powerless plight. Themes of right and wrong, forced labor, and justice are present, but could use a little backbone. If nothing else, this show gives us something to be thankful for and forces us to consider how much we truly depend on technology.

Go On (NBC). As you might have guessed by my earlier Chandler Bing comment, I am a huge Friends fan. While Matthew Perry still has moments of Chandler-y movements or expressions, his Go On character, Ryan King is quite different– still funny of course, but more secure, confident, and (somewhat) mature. King is a sports radio talk show host who is dealing with his wife’s recent death. His friends and wacky therapy group are there to help him along. While off the wall at times (as most new comedies are), Go On has something many new comedies don’t: heart. And it somehow deals with an extremely serious subject (the death of a loved one) in a tactful, yet uplifting way.

The Mindy Project (FOX). Mindy Kaling was awesome on The Office, so it’s not really a surprise that she created, writes, and portrays such a fun and relatable character on her new show. While the dilemmas and plot might not be the most original (Mindy is a doctor who is unlucky in love and dreams of romantic comedy scenarios happening in her own life), it still feels fresh. The other actors/characters complement Mindy well and help bring the show to life. So what’s the takeaway from yet another romantic comedy? Separating fantasy from reality, for starters, as well as perhaps learning a little about relationships along the way.

Ben and Kate (FOX). I really enjoyed the pilot of Ben and Kate– the second episode not quite as much. We’ll see if it can deliver the charm of the first episode with more consistency, because if it can, this could be a great show. With a little brother myself, I’ve always appreciated shows that portray good brother-sister relationships. Ben and Kate has funny moments, a little wackiness, and a lot of heart (kind of like a show called Laura and Naffie would have). I just hope the heart isn’t grossly overstated… or overshadowed by trying to force laughs with wackiness. If this show succeeds, it will be nice to have another good family relationship on television.

Returning Shows to Watch (In Five Words or Less)

These have been on for a while. If you don’t know what they’re about by now… you probably have more of a life than I do. 

Castle (ABC). Fresh. Chemistry. Suspense. Twists. Wit.

Parks and Recreation (NBC). Knope. Swanson. Ludgate. Haverford. Dwyer.

Revenge (ABC). Sweet, twisted, and tantalizing.

The Office (NBC). Final season.

Raising Hope (FOX). Wackiness done right.

I’m not boycotting CBS. I do enjoy The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds. They and a few other shows just aren’t quite on the list this year (I probably also don’t want to admit the number of shows I actually follow). #junkieprobz #writingaftermidnightmeanshashtags.

Happy Watching.

-LC

COMMENT: What new/returning shows are you enjoying this season? 

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose: 6 Life Lessons from Friday Night LightsLeslie Knope: Role ModelWhy I Don’t (Really) Want to be Veronica Mars, and What I Learned from Friends.

If you thought my insights on these shows were insightful, you might like to follow me on Twitter. Sometimes I tweet my insights.

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