Fall TV is here, and for a number of shows, they’re off to a great start. There are episode spoilers in each case, so be forwarned.
Fringe “A New Day in Old Town” — We meet Agent Amy Jessup as a replacement for Charlie (Oh my God, you killed Charlie! You Bastards!), also allowing 2×1 to serve as a second pilot to introduce new viewers to the concept of the show. Walter’s plans for custard are delightful, especially when juxtaposed with the gross ‘arm deep in guts’ autopsy stuff. We also see Peter lead the charge in moving to change the Fringe division into being pro-active instead of re-active, as well as being willing to hand over dangerous technology to keep the division going. I’m happy to see Peter continue to be a bit darker than the rules/conduct of the division would call for, since it creates more plot and reminds us that he’s not a Good Person in a way that reminds us that he is his father’s son. Even if he’s actually his Father’s Alternate Universe Version’s Son. I’m glad they didn’t extend the ‘Olivia can’t handle her gun’ arc past this one episode. I like that she’s a badass, but having her show (occasional) vulnerability makes her a more human character. It’ll be interesting to see how Jessup fits in with the team, and whether this season is better for Olivia/Peter shippers or for the new Amy/Peter shippers. Or possibly, Amy/Astrid shippers. I mean, after all, we are talking about shippers.
Big Bang Theory We see all the guys with beards (except Sheldon, who has the Evil Universe goatee), and then see Leonard spend the whole episode failing to catch a break until the very end, which then leads directly into the When Harry Met Sally Awkwardness of “We’re friends who just hooked up and now it’s confusing.” I hope as a viewer that they actually write a relationship for Penny and Leonard — they’ve already been laying the groundwork that Penny’s become more geeky/nerdy over the two years. It’ll also provide the opportunity for them to then try to set up Raj and/or Howard.
House: For me, this is the best season opener of the year (so far, and may continue to be so). They completely break format, don’t include anyone in the secondary cast for any substantial scenes (Wilson is as close as anyone gets). House’s arc over the 90-minute TV-movie-esque opener includes enough stubbornness, backslides, acting out and slow acceptance to be believable, and Laurie is fantastic. I’m glad Lydia didn’t turn out to be a hallucination, as it set House up to have a real human experience that he processes appropriately. Plus, Franka Potente is great. I really hope that they actually keep House along this healing arc, where we can see him trying to figure out how to live with his pain, learning how to not push away the people he cares about, and seeing what that does to his Diagnostic approach.
Heroes — I was >< close to dropping Heroes from my watch list. The overall quality has dropped, and the bad has gotten worse, even if the good is still great (Bryan Fuller's brief return at the end of last season was very welcome). The season opener shows some promise, depending on its execution. The Carnival group seems to be set up as a Brotherhood of Mutants-style group, antagonists without being necessarily outright evil. I hope they don't kill off Hero, because he is in fact the heart of the show. Claire seems to be set up to be Wolverina Mars, and one wonders if her friend Gretchen is going to turn out to be more than meets the eye. I was expecting the Nathan!Sylar plot to be drawn out a bit longer, but I do want that decision to come back to haunt people.
How I Met Your Mother — Again, I’m hoping this is the last season of the show. They’re running a little thin on the plot ideas (next episode — The gang finds a stripper who looks Just Like Lily! Hilarity!), but Barney/Robin make a fantastic couple, and will probably dominate the season with the story of their relationship, whatever form it ends up taking/not taking. I’m hoping that they crib a bit from Definately, Maybe and show us a few prospective mothers in Ted’s Architecture class, so we can learn about the Mother before Sagat!Ted clues us in on the mother’s identity. It’d be hard for me to satisfied if they get to the end and then just introduce the mother, identify her, and then not show us why she’s The One satisfactorily.