THE BLOG
09/26/2012 08:41 am ET | Updated Nov 26, 2012

Here Are Some Talking Points for Fall TV Shows So You Don't Have to Pretend Like You Watched 'The Mob Doctor'

The following will happen to you.

You will be stuck at a pre-Halloween party, flirting with someone and dressed as an NFL replacement referee. (Of course, you're just in a striped shirt and have facepaint on that makes it look like you are bleeding from the eyeballs). Or you will be held at knifepoint in a Walmart checkout line by a crazy old woman reading Us Weekly. One of these two things will happen in the next three weeks.

And then you will be asked this question:

"So, um, what do you think of Animal Practice?"

But you haven't seen Animal Practice, because you are an adult. You still want to appear as a sexy, sexy replacement referee to this woman at this Halloween jamboree. Or you want to appear to be the more composed person in this checkout line with the Us Weekly/knifepoint lady.

You need an answer.

So, since Ryan Lochte is an unreliable narrator, here are the necessary talking points for each talked-about show this fall. We may have just saved your life.

Last Resort

Remember that time: They made a bunch of very loose Ronald Reagan references throughout the episode?

That was: Not really what the air traffic controller strike was about, but who cares this thing is awesome.

Okay, so maybe ABC hasn't been able to make a successful tropical island show since Lost, despite many attempts. And, sure, the first scene in the trailer is the entire submarine crew getting down to La Bamba (and no, they aren't being ironic). But at the very least, I can at least almost guarantee that this one will be better than the 1994 film of the same name starring both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. Better, though not necessarily as fun to reference.  

I can think of at least two Shawn Ryan shows that were more than entertaining (The Shield, The Chicago Code), and two Scott Speedman movies that at least struck a few of the right notes (take your pick of any two  of the Underworld movies). Throw a few watchable submarine movies into the mix (The Hunt for Red October and, uh, Down Periscope?), and you've not only got a reason to watch, but cautious optimism at your side.--Jay Johnson

Ben and Kate

Remember that time: Ben tried to break up that wedding ceremony in the same exact way that happens in The Graduate and Wayne's World 2?

That was: A profoundly weird sequel to Wayne's World. A naked Indian and the ghost of Sammy Davis Jr. were main characters in this movie. Why were people OK with this?

God, what are these feelings?

I got some heavy "I'm watching this because it is my job, just as a welder must put his gloves in the laundry" vibes from Ben & Kate. It is called "Ben & Kate," for God's sake. I've had one of those names for a couple of decades now and I can tell you the most exceptional things that happen to people named Ben is that they sometimes find great deals on bulk Doritos at BJ's Wholesale Club.

But this show? It has charmed me in a way with which I'm not entirely comfortable.

It's, first of all, one of only two comedy pilots all season where the characters aren't Wile E. Coyote-levels of cartoonishness and nonhuman succubi. The only other show is critical lovechild and Fox stablemate The Mindy Project. The performances are similar. They're subtle and warm and funny like your friends, not funny like a bear in a Pixar movie.

Kate is the first single mom in the history of comedic TV that isn't either "I'm Every Woman" levels of empowered or a cretin who chews dirt when she's bored and hungry. She's still capable of being cute and going on dates, but she can also put on her own pants and be an adult.

And Ben is a moron, no doubt, but he's a moron you've met before and hung out with willingly thereafter.

Sweet lord, is this what falling in love feels like? No, wait, is this what falling in love with Aladdin or Kevin Federline feels like? This wasn't supposed to happen. How am I going to tell my parents that this show is part of my life?--Ben Collins

The Mindy Project

Remember that time: She DUI'd her bike into a pool?

That was: Dangerous but cute but mostly dangerous.

Fictional Mindy Kaling is what happens if Michael Scott and Jessica Day had a baby. She's quirky but also kind of, well, not too self-aware. In her mind, neon sequined outfits get the boys to the yard. The former Office customer service rep is now a young doctor waiting for a hipster Colin Firth to sweep her off the crack-laden streets of NYC. At the same time she's attempting her own Eat, Pray, Love journey to self-discovery. Oh, but wait. She doesn't want to pray, so forget that bit.
 
We're anticipating the crap load of references to Nora Ephron, Sandra Bullock and Bridget Jones along with ironic rom-com clichés thrown in. But let's just hope Mindy doesn't ever give up her career for love. She would never do that to us. Would she?--Sheila Dichoso

The Mob Doctor

Remember that time: They didn't waste any time having the Mob Doctor feel conflicted about saving the life of a terrible person?

That was: Fast.

Look, we're cool with the fact that there will probably be some crazy contrived reason as to why the Mob Doctor has to be a mob doctor and not a witness protection doctor or a brother-less doctor or a mob lawyer who didn't go to mob medical school just because her father and grandfather had been mob doctors. We accept the fact that Michael Rapaport brings his angry brand of acting to the table because, as we understand, he is legally required to be on a series every two years or the Gods of the Airwaves will make all things television cease to be. Where we start questioning if the show has legs is how long can a successful doctor continue to have a 0% survival rate with all of her Italian-American patients before suspicions start to arise? "Dr. Cossanostra will see you now, Mr. Rossi." "Um, I'm good."--Martin Moakler, Mob Editor

Beauty and the Beast

Remember that time: They unveiled the Beast, and he wound up being the best looking person in the history of network television?

That was: Not necessarily why I went to the mall and spent $300 on clothes the morning after seeing this pilot.

When we first saw the one sheet for this show, we worried for the young men of this nation because a handsome guy with yellow eyes and a scar on his face had been relegated to beast status. We already have to worry about excess hair, but a couple of scars reclassify us as some sort of manimal? So we were relieved to find out that the bête noire in question was actually a genetically-modified beast doomed to conduct his humanitarian research in secret from an isolated, abandoned apartment, much like Daniel Craig. After watching the trailer, however, what concerns us is the heroine called "Cat" (no doubt because she has nine lives with the amount of times Beast saves her life), who is obsessed with the wrong guy. Everyone thinks she made Beast up when he saved her the first time, he won't meet her friends and he's always saving her, not because of her; because that's his beastly thing. Girl, face it. He's just not that into you.--Martin Moakler

Arrow

Remember that time: They didn't call this show "The Green Arrow?"

That was: A copyright thing, probably?

And America's Hunger Games-inspired obsession with bows and arrows continues!  The CW presents their adaptation of The Green Arrow comics, and have inexplicably dropped Green from the title entirely. Possibly to avoid any comparisons to the The Green Lantern or Green Hornet, though more likely they're trying to appeal to today's youth who clearly has no time/attention span for two-word titles, unless easily abbreviated.  Personally I find their title choice confusing and misleading. This show is not at all about an arrow, but about a vigilante who shoots them. Go figure.

If nothing else, we can predict that every single review of this show will either claim Arrow "misses" or "hits the mark." We sure put a bullseye on those reviewers.--Jay Johnson

Animal Practice

Remember that time: That monkey did that thing, like pushed a beaker off a table and spilled poison or something?

That was: Anticipated.

It's about time quirky animals came back to network television. Justin Kirk (who won me over as Andy Botwin in Showtime's Weeds) brings his usual snarky charm and Joanna Garcia brings the cute to Animal Practice -- a show that brings nothing new to the table, but brings the funny with nothing other than cute animals in awkward situations. The premise of the show is nothing groundbreaking, the characters are carbon copies of other characters on current NBC sitcoms (the drunk, overly sexual, loudmouth is even named Angela) and the jokes lie mostly in animal innuendo, but I still can't help laughing and hoping this show makes it past the 4 episodes most critics seem to think it will last. Not since Ross adopted Marcel have I enjoyed watching a monkey flail around and cause humans trouble enough to want to watch next week. As long as NBC keeps this show about animals with humans, and not the other way around, I'll keep watching.--Gabe Pasillas

Vegas

Remember that time: Las Vegas was shady and disgusting and didn't even have free cocktails and gambling to make everything okay anyway?

That was: Ultimately detrimental to the city, if you think about it.

Dennis Quaid makes his network television debut as an ex-cop rancher, and Michael Chiklis goes back to being a badass as a mobster in this modern Western about the uprising of the Las Vegas we know today. You know, the one with corruption, murder, and the mob.

Network television has really tried (and failed miserably -- Pan Am, Playboy Club) to recreate the magic that is basic cable's Mad Men by bringing the early '60s into primetime, but by the looks of this new Tuesday drama, it seems like CBS just might break the mold, and make a show that is completely watchable.

With the people people involved in front of (Quaid, Chiklis, Trinity from The Matrix) and behind the camera (James Mangold, Nicholas Pileggi of Goodfellas & Casino fame), CBS isn't messing around. Full of action, suspense and interesting subject matter, the fact that this will most likely turn into another CBS procedural is not at the forefront of my mind. Right now, I'll consider this a win for CBS, the '60s and Vegas alike. Pre-Beach Club Vegas, that is.--Gabe Pasillas

Elementary

Remember that time: "They used Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson?"

That was: "Very good at introducing feelings to my body that I was not previously aware of."

When I first found out that CBS was producing their very own adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, I was stunned. Having just discovered BBC's Sherlock only months earlier (and falling madly, deeply in love with this series), it seems poorly timed that an American network would be producing its own contemporary update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes only two years after the debut of the British version.  Especially since the lead character, Jonny Lee Miller (Angelina Jolie's ex-husband), is a Brit himself, which seemingly drives the knife even further into the wound.

That being said, CBS claims that their Sherlock will differ from the BBC series, and that they will not infringe on any copyrights or storylines. Well, they've taken some basic precautions here: They've swapped New York for London, and a female Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) for Martin Freeman's male Dr. Watson. But you still have the same tried-and-true fast-talking, condescending, quirkily-lovable British Sherlock Holmes solving the same unfathomably complex crimes at a mind-numbing and intellectually-challenging speed (with modern technology to boot).

Executive Producer Robert Doherty [Elementary] has commented on the comparison, "Many hands have handled Sherlock over the years and Watson and the premise and the show. He's been everywhere. He's been to the future. He's been to the past. I've seen him in comics. I've seen him in books. I've seen many, many different takes and interpretations on the character and the franchise. They're all great. I don't think any of them hurt any of the others." But I've yet to be convinced that this isn't an all-too strangely-timed copycat series trying to ride the coattails of a show that has already proved that it's worth its weight in gold. I guess the proof is in the pudding with this one.--Brooke Citron