What to Watch: October 2013

Each month here on YBTV, I will attempt to provide our faithful readers and overview of what to look forward to in the coming TV month. Last month was a busy one with the beginning of the fall TV season making it almost impossible to include everything in one list. I will attempt to rectify that in some small ways in October, pointing out shows that maybe barely missed the cut back in September.

10. American Horror Story: Coven (FX, Wednesday, October 9 at 9 PM) — Every year I get moderately excited about this show, and every year, after a few episodes, I stop watching and never feel sorry for doing so. I suspect this will be another year of the same, but none-the-less, I’ll be watching for the first few episodes. There’s a lot to like here, great performers (Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga, Jessica Lange, etc, etc), a creepy, fun premise. But for whatever reason, within a few episodes, I’m always just kind of bored with it. I find that Ryan Murphy is kind of like Kurt Sutter, but worse. He does things purely for effect, without thinking about their place in the story and whether they offer any intellectual payoff. Or, who knows, maybe this will be the year I finally stick with a season of AHS.

9. Cousins Undercover (HGTV, Sunday, October 6 at 7 PM) — John and Anthony are without a doubt two of the best personalities on all of HGTV/DIY, so whenever they have a show, it is watched in our home. Whether it’s Kitchen Cousins, Cousins on Call or this new show, it’s always entertaining and fun to watch. Plus, you get to see really great contractors doing some really cool home improvements. What’s not to like?

8. ESPN’s 30 for 30 (ESPN, Tuesday nights starting October 1 at 8 PM) — The 30 for 30 series of documentaries is back. While I don’t necessarily know what specific docs are coming up, I know that I’ll be watching them. Not every documentary is legendary, but the batting average for ESPN with these is incredibly high, so missing them is not really an option. We’ve been provided some great storytelling in this series by some great story tellers. Will any of this batch match “Catching Hell,” “June 17, 1994,” “Benji,” or “The Ghosts of Ole Miss?” I don’t know, given the track record, I would expect at least some of them to do so.

7. Eastbound and Down (HBO, Sunday nights at 9 PM) — This is the first example of a show that started right at the end of Septmeber that I didn’t get a chance to talk about last month. The return of Kenny Powers definitely deserves some attention though, so here it is. We all thought season 3 was going to be the final chapter of the Kenny Powers story, but you can’t kill Kenny Powers quite that easily. So here he is, back for one last run at making it back to the big leagues, and surely providing us with one last round of incredibly offensive humor. Welcome back Kenny Powers.

6. Strike Back season 4 finale (Cinemax, Friday, October 18 at 9 PM) — A show that has no business being as good as it is finishes out another excellent season later this month. Cinemax’s first attempt at original programming, I honestly expected it to be something suited only for Cinemax audiences. And while it does have a lot of those traits to it, it also includes excellent characters and character development. You don’t necessarily come to Strike Back for the story (you come for the guns, explosions and boobs), but you get it along with all those things. Scott and Stonebridge are often times forced to deal with the emotional fallout of their jobs (basically government sanctioned mercanaries), and it is wonderfully played by Phillip Wincester and Sullivan Stapelton. A show I never expected to watch more than 2 episodes of, I look forward to each and every summer.

5. Saturday Night Live: Bruce Willis, host (NBC, Saturday, October 12 at 10:35 PM) — The Tiny Fey season premeire came and went last week with many good things and some not so good. This weekend, we have Miley Cyrus, but that’s not what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to an episode hosted by John Freaking McLane! I don’t think any of us can know what to expect out of Willis, who has not hosted SNL since the season premeire of 1989. That’s right. 1989. That kind of uncertainty makes me very curious to see what he will have to offer.

4. The Bridge season 1 finale (FX, Wednesday, October 2 at 9 PM) — A show that started out maybe having a little trouble finding its groove, The Bridge has settled into becoming a very solid show for me. It show remains centered around the outstanding performances from Demian Bichir, Diane Kruger and Ted Levine, each of whom have stepped their game up even further as the season progressed. The show has never really been about the case, never really been about the “big bad,” at least not for me. For me, this show is about how Marco relates to Sonya, and the growth of that relationship has kept me coming back week to week, and will have me back next season.

3. Arrow (The CW, Wednesday, October 9 at 7 PM) — Another show that I honestly expected to watch 2 or 3 episodes of last year when it premeired, but quickly morphed into one of my favorite watches each week. Stephen Amell does a great job playing both sides of the Oliver Queen/Bruce Wayne character, and can kick ass with the best of them. The reason you come to the show though is for the amazing chemistry between Amell and David Ramsey, who plays Diggle, a combination of both Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon rolled into one, as well as the third part of the crime fighting team, Emily Bett Rickards, who plays computer whiz Felicity. The addition of Felicity midway through the season was one of the things that really helped this show turn the corner from being a good CW show, to just being a good show, and one of the best action/adventure shows on TV. With the death and destruction that occurred at the end of last season, I can’t wait to see where The Hood goes from here.

2. Bob’s Burgers (FOX, Sunday nights at 730) — Again, a show that started in the last couple days of September, but just deserves some discussion. Bob’s Burgers, going into its 4th season (and renewed for a 5th by FOX), is simply the best animated show on FOX right now. It is the freshest, the funniest, and the one with the most heart. Bob’s Burgers actually shares many similarities in that way with a previous FOX animation great, King of the Hill. Many of the other FOX animated shows are all edge and offensive humor (Seth McFarland shows), but Bob’s Burgers is so much deeper than that, and, because of that, a much funnier show than any of the other Animation Domination shows.

1. The Walking Dead (AMC, Sunday, October 13 at 8 PM) — Another new season of TWD, another show runner. Moving on to season 4, and the third showrunner, Scott Gimple, TWD is coming off a season where it arguably hit its creative high point, and became the most popular show on TV (all of TV, not just cable). I would expect much of that to continue because, hey, who doesn’t like seeing zombies get stabbed through the head. But if the show wants to continue to succeed creatively, there needs to be continued character development and a story focus on the people, not just killing zombies. Questions such as, how do you raise a child in this environment? Or, how do you build a loving marriage through the zombie apocolypse? And, can we work together and build real community while living in the constant fear that someone could turn on us the way The Governor did? I’m far more interested in delving into the answers to these questions than I am seeing more zombies killed. But, maybe that’s just me.

-CJ

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