Despite a relatively lackluster development season, a few shows have struck a chord with audiences: CBS' Hawaii Five-0has dominated on Monday nights and the CW's Nikita has proven that the network can launch more than shows for young women. Boardwalk Empire's record premiere bodes well for HBO, which already has a hit in its stable with True Blood. On the flip side, Lone Star's early cancellation shocked critics, if not the general viewing public. No such uproar greeted the axings of My Generation, Outlaw and The Whole Truth. For now, everything else seems to be treading water. Here's how we see fall TV's freshman class thus far.
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Better with You
The Good: We love the chemistry among all the couples. Jake Lacy's lovable doofus Casey is one of our favorite new TV characters. ABC is fond of the show as well, having ordered up a full season.
The Bad: Despite that Friends pedigree behind the camera, the show doesn't excite us the way Ross, Rachel et al did.
Blue Bloods (CBS)
The Good: Casting Tom Selleck as the family patriarch turned out to be a genius move, even if his character isn't exactly Magnum P.I.-like. The scenes in which the whole Reagan family interacts are like the dark twin of those boozy Walker dinner parties on Brothers & Sisters, and are just as satisfying.
The Bad: The procedural elements aren't breaking any exciting new ground, and the Blue Templars mystery sometimes feels a little tacked-on.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
The Good: A top-notch cast has distinguished itself in seedy Atlantic City, under the patient guiding hands of The Sopranos' Terence Winter and executive producer Martin Scorsese.
The Bad: It's a big cast, and the deliberate pace of the show can lack momentum.
The Good: The ensemble of this man-on-the-run procedural is made up of quality actors, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer knows a thing or two about creating teams that bust baddies (see: the CSI franchise).
The Bad: The generic plots make it hard to relate to any of the characters removed from the context of their work. Star Kelli Giddish comes the closest, but we'd still rather watch Mary McCormack do virtually the same thing in a more interesting way on USA's In Plain Sight.
The Defenders (CBS)
The Good: The rapport between Jerry O'Connell and Jim Belushi is winning and believable. We can totally picture them tossing back a few together when they're not shooting.
The Bad: That said, their chemistry can't carry the whole show on its own. What about more interesting cases? What about some high-profile guest stars? We'll settle for some jokes about something besides their opposing personalities.
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The Good: We love having The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli back on our TV screen, and we buy him as quirky Detective Fitch. Shooting on location in Detroit gives the show an authentic, gritty feeling we haven't seen on network TV since NBC punted Southland.
The Bad: At times, the show feels like an NYPD Blue copycat.
The Event (NBC)
The Good: As the gobsmacked Sean Walker,Jason Ritter is an easy character to root for. The producers have kept their word about providing answers to the big questions posed in the pilot.
The Bad: So far, the answers aren't that interesting. Also, for every enlightening flashback, there are two that land with a total thud.
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
The Good: Scott Caan's perfect as Danno, and he often carries the weight in his Odd Couple-like partnership with McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin). The show's adrenaline-soaked action pieces however, are where O'Loughlin is able to do what he does best: take his shirt off.
The Bad: We really wish they would find something to do with Grace Park besides acting the scantily clad decoy.
The Good: Catty cheerleaders are always a safe bet. Ashley Tisdale is the surprising revelation here as Savannah, the tightly wound, eager-to-please squad leader.
The Bad: If, say, Josh Schwartz was at the helm, the snark would be smarter. Also, we're still not fully accepting of Marti's stripper look. Yes, it's the South, but the hair, the makeup... we like over-the-top, but she just looks trashy.
Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC)
We like seeing the different parts of L.A. not often explored on TV or in movies, i.e. Echo Park and Venice. And the prosecutors — veteran actors Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina — lend this well-worn procedural formula some fresh and formidable blood.
The Bad: Skeet Ulrich as the lead detective doesn't have the same gravitas as Howard and Molina.
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Mike & Molly
The Good: Leads Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell are infinitely charming, and we totally buy their romantic chemistry. Also, we'd watch Swoosie Kurtz read the phone book.
The Bad: The fat jokes just don't stop. It's not that they're unfunny, but we think the cast is capable of making us laugh at something other than broken furniture.
The Good: As played by the super-intense Maggie Q, the assassin Nikita returns with a fresh, modern vengeance. The action is top-notch and the intrigues are an improvement over the original series. The addition of a mole within the nefarious Division adds complexity, and has us really impressed by former teen star Lyndsy Fonseca.
The Bad: Not much so far. The twists are still revealing themselves.
No Ordinary Family (ABC)
The Good: It's a promising premise: a stressed-out, not particularly close family is imbued with super powers. Their shared secret brings them closer and imbues them with a newfound confidence. Plus: Michael Chiklis can do no wrong.
The Bad: Everyone else in the cast is far less compelling. And it's starting to feel like Heroes, which might be fine if it's able to learn where that show went wrong and avoid it.
The Good: Critics panned it, but its ratings indicate that a decent number of viewers dig this comedy about an American novelty company's call center in India. NBC has already ordered a full season.
The Bad: The humor is broad.
Raising Hope (Fox)
The Good: A game ensemble really lives in their roles, with extra high marks going to Martha Plimpton. Creator Greg Garcia is a master of making ignorance bliss.
The Bad: Lucas Neff doesn't always seem up to the challenge of being at the center of the show. And Cloris Leachman's inappropriate old lady act can be a bit tiresome.
Running Wilde (Fox)
The Good: Say what you will about its shaky start, the Fox comedy starring Will Arnett and Keri Russell as wildly mismatched, would-be sweethearts found its footing in subsequent episodes. (Does no one remember this was also the trajectory of the brilliant Parks and Recreation?) The absurdity has jelled, and it's all pretty funny now. Really!
The Bad: No one is watching. Alas, it might be too late to save the show.
$#*! My Dad Says (CBS)
The Good: Well... it, um... Oh, William Shatner is in it!
The Bad: The Twitter feed works because it's nothing but context-free punch lines. The context added by the show just isn't funny. Even Captain Kirk can't save it.
The Good: Who doesn't want to go jet-setting on high-stakes missions with a genetically blessed husband-and-wife spy team? Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe smolder their way through job after job, and we don't mind watching.
The Bad: They're too damn happy! Where are the stakes in their relationship or their job?