New TV: Winners and Losers

This week marks the unofficial start of the new TV season. Out are the summer’s reality shows and time-filling, cheapo series and in comes a glorious week of new premiere after new premiere.

Except…not all of the new shows look so great.

So, which ones have jumped out to an early lead? I checked in with to see what the critics had to say. So far, these have risen to the top of the pack:

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Boardwalk Empire
This is not surprising, considering that the show is executive produced by the great Martin Scorsese. The series takes place in 1920s Atlantic City, which means it is beautifully art-directed, and stars perma-sleazeball Steve Buscemi as a politician trying to weasel his way around Prohibition laws for his own profit. These are all fun things. Unfortunately, the show is only available if you have HBO, but HBO seems to be where the best TV is migrating.

Unlike Boardwalk Empire, this show’s slot at the top of the Metacritic list is a total surprise. Terriers? What? Is it a show about dogs? No, it’s not. And, unlike Boardwalk Empire, it has no, well, pedigree. Its biggest star is Donal Logue, whom you’ll recognize as “that guy” from a number of movies and TV shows. It’s not on the splashy HBO, but on the gritty FX network. It’s about a private detective—one of many private-detective shows on TV. But critics give it praise for being smarter and more interesting than most P.I. series, and Logue is known for his great character performances, so it might be worth giving it a shot.

Critics aren’t in love with this re-do of the Luc Besson film/USA series, which now airs on the CW. But they say it’s a sexy, good time, and not as dark and heavy as the USA series—good if you’re looking for some mindless entertainment.

…and, so far, the season’s biggest loser:

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Sorry, Jimmy Smits. It seems as if your TV projects never quite catch fire. On the 100-point scale, his new outing—about a former Supreme Court justice who decides to go back to practicing law to help the little guy—scored only a 36. “Ludicrous” and “ridiculous” are the words used most often to describe it. Ouch. And, with a billion other lawyer shows to choose from, it doesn’t look like this one is needed.

I’ll check in with the old Metacritic meter again once the initial wave of TV excitement has died down, and we can see which new series deserve that season pass on the DVR.

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