Fall TV Preview: Returning Shows on Wednesday, September 18th

fall TV

Yesterday’s Fall TV premieres on FOX were really just a tease because the schedule is particularly light with new & returning shows for the rest of the week. Next week is when the real action begins.

As a matter of fact, you won’t be seeing a TV preview blog from me on Thursday because there’s nothing on that night.

Tonight there are no brand new shows but a couple returning shows that might be worth your time. Let’s jump into the season premieres for Wednesday, September 18th:

Survivor: Blood vs Water

When & Where: 8:00pm on CBS

What: A reality game show where contestants have to outwit, outplay and outlast each other while surviving isolation in the wilderness for up to 39 days. The person deemed “sole survivor” at the end wins a $1 Million reward.

Who: In its 27th installment, Survivor is bringing back a bunch of former contestants paired with their loved ones. Also, Jeff Probst, the show’s host, is simply the greatest host/moderator/instigator in TV history.

Ross’s Take: People tend to be surprised that this show is still going strong after 13 years of being on the air, but I promise you it’s the only reality game show worth watching. The basic rules are still the same—16-20 people compete in physical and mental challenges while roughing it for nearly six weeks in the wilderness, all while trying to make alliances and ensure they won’t be voted out by their tribe mates—but in recent seasons there have been twists to keep the show from getting stale (Survivor All-Stars, Survivor Heroes vs Villains, a twist where you can get back in the game after being voted out if you survive a competition with other exiled contestants on a separate island). It appears this season’s twist is that half the players are former contestants and the other half are their loved ones. Two brothers, a mother-daughter combo, an uncle-niece combo, etc… From what I can tell, the contestants think they are teaming up with their loved ones, but as soon as they get to the Philippines they’ll find out they’re competing against each other.

This show’s major appeal for me is the buffoonery that usually goes on throughout the season. Without fail, someone will get voted off while holding onto an immunity idol (a “get out of jail free”-like object that can save the person who possesses it as long as they play it before that episode’s votes are read by Probst). Or in extreme cases, someone will give up his immunity necklace (which he won with a hard-fought physical challenge) because some woman with attractive breasts convinces him it’s the right move for the tribe. And then that woman will immediately orchestrate that moron’s ouster from the game. More often than not, we’ll get to see a certifiably crazy person start scaring the other tribe members to the point where they’ll keep him around only because they’re scared he will decapitate each and every one of them if he gets voted off.

I give Survivor a solid 4 out of 5 rating, acknowledging that some seasons are better than others.

Julie’s Take: I wasn’t able to get Julie’s opinions before she shuffled off to work this morning, but I know she’s a loyal Survivor watcher, and I have to think she’s going to get extra emotionally invested this season when loved ones are scheming against each other and screwing one another over. She’d probably give Survivor a 3.5 or 4 out of 5.

Key & Peele

When & Where: 10:30pm on Comedy Central

What: A sketch comedy show in the same vein as Chappelle Show. It consists of pre-taped sketches that are introduced by the show’s stars in front of a live audience.

Who: Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are the show’s creators, writers and stars. They were both former cast members on MADtv.

Ross’s Take: It’s a slightly tamer version of Chappelle Show. That’s the simplest explanation. I haven’t seen every episode of the first two seasons, but the ones I’ve seen have been extremely entertaining. There’s a lot of humor about race and stereotypes, but they’re just as likely to spend time breaking down the mechanics of a high five or doing a parody of a flash mob. It’s one of those shows that you have to watch at least once to see if their humor does it for you.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5. It’s one of those shows I’ll tape, not watch for a while, and then plow through four or five episodes in one sitting.

Julie’s Take: She’s tried to watch it with me before and hasn’t enjoyed it nearly as much as I do. I’m guessing she’d give it a 2 out of 5.

To reiterate, no preview on Thursday. Go ahead and enjoy Kansas City at Philadelphia on the NFL Network. I’ll be back on Friday with another short preview of the weekend in TV.

My Dog’s Nearly-Tragic Timing and the Rest of the NFL Week 1 in Review

All of us football players prepare the entire summer for opening weekend. We go through all the required training drills, study extra film and stay late to work on our weaknesses. The preseason’s a decent warmup for what’s to come, but you can never prepare for everything. We just have to hope that we’ve done all of our work and be as ready as we can. But then of course, one of those things you can’t prepare for happens. For some football players it’s a tweaked hamstring. For me, it was a potential emergency vet visit during the first set of games this past Sunday. We woke up at 4am Sunday to the sound of our puppy trying to gnaw the skin and fur off her own body. When I opened up her crate door—something she usually greets with the enthusiasm of a 16-year-old unexpectedly losing his virginity—she stayed in the crate, continuing to lick, bite and chew on areas of her body that most women only wished they could reach with their mouths. Something is seriously wrong when our dog volunteers to stay in her jail cell. When we took a closer look, it seemed like a new flea bite was breaking out on her undercarriage every second. My first thought? “Fucking hell, Julie is definitely gonna want to take Molly to the vet when they open today.” And then, “Wait a sec, is there any chance no vet’s office is open on Sundays so we’ll have to wait until Monday to take her?” I know what you’re thinking: why didn’t I just ignore the problem and make Julie take the dog by herself to the vet while I watched football like I planned, right? Oh, wait, you’re actually thinking I’m a terrible dog owner for my first thought not being “I need to make sure my puppy’s OK.” Well, to that I say…it’s football season. A lot of people are counting on me to ignore my responsibilities and deliver meaningless football content to the blog.

Luckily we didn’t have to take Molly to the vet. She calmed down, and the flea bites took a turn for the best. For those of you wondering how I’m gonna segue from this random story to week 1 of the NFL season, well, here goes nothing. When I was worrying that Molly would cause me to miss the first round of games of the first week (including the Patriots game), another thought crossed my mind: What Would Michael Vick Do? What would he do if a dog was being a total nuisance to him? What would he do if a dog was disrupting his perfect plans? Just joking PETA!

But I did actually think of Michael Vick, and I did think maybe my dog getting sick was an omen that the only man in the NFL who is so closely linked to dogs would have a bad day at the office. Did that stop me from making “Philly -10” my lock of the week? Of course not. Will I ever get sucked into Philly being a good team again? Of course I will.

So besides a very strange Molly-to-Michael Vick correlation, what else went on around the NFL in week 1? (This is the point where anyone who only tuned in for the promise of a dog story can feel free to tune out, though I can commit that the rest of this will continue to be entertaining)

-Maybe one of my readers can advise me on which pregame show to watch every Sunday morning. There’s no fewer than five of them, and I must have chosen the worst with the NFL Network because the first thing I saw on that channel was a 10-minute segment on Tim Tebow’s rise to fame, highlighted by interviews with Mary Lou Retton, Vanilla Ice, Sully Sullenberger and William Hung. There are more than 700 players who are considered starters in the NFL, either on offense or defense. And Tim Tebow isn’t one of them. But we’re running a lengthy special on his fame? Not even on his football talent? And why are we interviewing four D-list celebrities who have nothing to do with football? Because they can help us understand what it’s like to be famous while lacking any true reason to be that famous? I’m going back to my old routine of watching Patriots Championship DVDs during the hour leading up to Sunday’s first games.

-On Twitter Sunday morning, I wrote that Philly and Atlanta were my “big bets” for the week. What I should have wrote, unfortunately, was that Philly was my big bet and Atlanta was half the size of my big bet. I might be done betting on games that involve NFC East teams for the rest of my life.

-My eyes tell me that the Patriots are going to have a top-five run defense this season. Sadly the last time a good run defense was necessary for winning a Super Bowl was before my balls dropped. Don’t fool yourselves, Patriots fans. If they can’t consistently shut down an opponent’s passing game, they’ll be just as sketchy of a unit as last year’s team.

-Jeff Kent is on the new Survivor? I GUARANTEE he makes at least one blatantly racist comment as long as there’s a black person on the show. Who wants to take that bet against me?

-I counted at least four outrageous missed calls or wrong calls by the school teachers referees in the Titans/Patriots game. And I’m willing to admit two of them were of the noncall variety that should have been pass interferences on the Patriots in the end zone. More on the refs in a minute.

-Comedic timing is my favorite kind of timing, and  it was on full display in the 3rd quarter of the Dolpins/Texans game. A split second after the color commentator finished saying, “Only one of the three interceptions that Ryan Tannehill has thrown today was his fault so he’s gotta be feeling pretty good about himself,” three defensive linemen from Houston absolutely pancaked Tannehill for a five-yard sack. It was just a nice comedic moment.

-Speaking of comedic moments, Julie’s first (and best) comment of the day was, “Wow, this announcer’s all hard for Matt Hasselbeck, huh?” And she was right, Phil Simms was unnecessarily hard for him.

-We had only two mid-game QB changes this week. Sadly both were because of injuries—Hasselbeck replacing Jake Locker and Kevin Kolb for John Skelton. If you’re interested in making a bet on who will be the first QB replaced because of ineffectiveness, forget about it. Vegas pulled the lines down because Brandon Weeden and his 5.1 QB rating is the guarantee of the century. The guy just completed 12 of his 35 attempts in a home game, so if Browns coach Pat Shurmur doesn’t put him on a short leash, we should be suspicious of Shurmur possibly fixing games because of bets he made against his own team.

-Speaking of interceptions (we weren’t, but Weeden threw four of them on Sunday), there were 35 of them thrown in week 1 by NFL quarterbacks. Last year there were about 30 INTs per week so even though it seemed like there were a ridiculous amount of them yesterday, it was really just that atrocious Browns/Eagles game (8 interceptions combined) that skewed our perception. I promise there are still some decent QBs out there.

-Back to the refs. I didn’t see all of the Packers/9ers game, but based on the comments from the announcers and the body language of the two head coaches I saw every time the RedZone Channel checked in, I’d have to say it was the worst-officiated game of the weekend.

-Only minutes after making the above note about the refs, there was the whole “does Seattle have a timeout left or not” debacle in the Cardinals/Seahawks game with 30 seconds left. I feel confident that the real refs will be back by week three at the latest. This is a train wreck waiting to happen, or a train wreck already happening depending on your point of view.

-I know it’s too early to make judgments beyond week 1, but isn’t there a chance the Packers were that team in the offseason that thought to themselves, “Hey, we won 15 games last year, had one bad game in the playoffs, and everyone’s picking us to be the best team in the NFL again. We’re good here”? Or are the 49ers just that good?

-Detroit fans might be excited about their last-minute comeback against St. Louis—especially after their team had six second-half comebacks in 2011—but the truth is that you can’t be getting into comeback situations against the less-talented teams of the NFL and expect to contend for the Super Bowl.

-What are you laughing at, Eagles fans? As a football fan, if I had to choose whether my team does what Philly did in week 1—pull off a late comeback against a hopeless Browns team—or what Green Bay did in week 1—lose a relatively close game at home to a solid team—I’d choose the Packers’ result every time. It’s weird, but one team can look better in a loss than another looks in a win.

-Julie has always been a fine person to watch sports with. For the most part, she gets it. But I’m gonna have to train her that when the RedZone Channel goes to split screen late in the 4th quarter of a couple games, it’s the wrong time to ask my opinion about which color I think she should order for a new Papasan Chair.

-Admittedly I don’t watch a lot of pregame shows or the opening of a football broadcast. So I probably miss a lot of what announcers say. So I need to ask others to help me out with this question: Has John Gruden been calling Terrell Suggs “T-Sizzle” for a while? Or did this just start? I didn’t even realize that was one of Suggs’ nicknames.

-And before I could even make the above note in my diary, Gruden unleashed a “He’s the King of Sting” when talking about Ed Reed. Guy’s on a nickname roll on Monday Night Football.

-In the final Monday night game, Antonio Gates left the game with a rib injury early in the 3rd quarter. Believe it or not, Vegas had the over/under on Gates’ first injury at five minutes left in the 2nd quarter of his first game, so somehow the over wins this bet.

-I went 10-6 in my week 1 picks (see the post HERE). As a side note, I’m in two Pick ‘Em leagues where I went 11-5 in one of them and 12-4 in the other (I luckily changed the Jets/Bills pick in both leagues at the last minute). I won the week in both. And yet somehow, I lost a significant amount of money on my sketchy gambling website. It’s because I get sucked into ridiculous teasers and parlays. Next week I’m going to bet all 16 games individually and assume that I can win 11 or 12 of them. No more teasers or parlays for this guy.

-My dog is 1-0 in her picks for the season. How many games has your dog gotten right, huh?