TV rundown: best and worst of fall season

Mallory Martin

Illustration: Julie Peterson
Illustration: Julie Peterson

“Once Upon A Time”

With rich sets, gorgeous costumes, endearing characters and an engaging storyline, “Once Upon a Time” was my surprise favorite this season. I had low expectations for this late season opener, which follows a small town in Maine where Anderson and the Grimms’ most popular storybook characters have been cursed to forget their past lives. Enter Emma Swan (“House”‘s Jennifer Morrison) and her long lost son, Henry (newcomer Jared Gilmore), who seek to break the curse and restore the town of Storybrooke to its former fairytale glory. To be honest, I thought it sounded like a bad Disney movie. However, I severely underestimated “Lost” writers Adam Horowitz’s and Edward Kitsis’s brainchild. The greatest quality of “Once Upon A Time” is that it makes the audience think. As Emma and Henry try to determine which Storybrooke citizens are which storybook characters, viewers are desperately trying to figure it out as well. Horowitz and Kitsis take their storyline slow, adding in great build ups and plenty of suspense. They even find room to add some cute romance between the amnesiac princes and princesses. In addition, “Lost” fans will appreciate the incredibly subtle “Lost” references continuously tossed in. See if you can find them all.

Illustration: Julie Peterson

“Up All Night”

Illustration: Julie Peterson

For this season’s most adorable, feel-good show, look no further than “SNL” writer Emily Spivey’s semi-autobiographical “Up All Night.” My second fall favorite, starring Will Arnett of “Arrested Development” and Christina Applegate of “Samantha Who,” relates the humorous antics of new parents Chris and Reagan Brinkley as they struggle with the ups and downs of parenthood. “SNL” aluma Maya Rudolph pops in as Reagan’s clueless BFF and co-worker Ava, while “My Name Is Earl”star Jason Lee guest-stars as their sweet, single-dad neighbor Kevin. With a strong cast, cute anecdotal humor, sweet married moments and an adorable baby, “Up All Night” stole my heart from the pilot episode. Maybe it’s just my extra X chromosome, but I find that this season’s treasure touches my heart in a place that I wasn’t quite getting from current baby favorites like Fox’s “Raising Hope.” “Up All Night” offers relatable, wholesome entertainment 100 percent of the time, and I absolutely love it.

“New Girl”

I have to admit that my initial excitement and anticipation over the Zooey Deschanel vehicle “New Girl” adds to my bitterness over this particular season flop. Zooey Deschanel is talented: she can be funny, she sings and she’s aboslutely gorgeous: so when I heard she was getting a TV show, I was psyched. Cue funny commercials and a bunch of hype and I thought I was sold . . . until I started watching. Elizabeth Meriwether’s “New Girl” tells the story of oddball schoolteacher Jess, who gets dumped by a cheating boyfriend and finds herself stuck moving in with three bachelors she met over Craigslist. This idea has potential, but the writers did not play their humor correctly. Not only is Jess annoying and strange, but so are all three of the guys. One weirdo mixed in with unsuspecting normal people could be a recipe for humor, but this just makes the show corny, predictable and unrelatable. Watch one episode of this series and you’ve seen them all.


I’m not sure if the creative team of “Suburgatory” had ever lived in a suburb before, but they obviously got a very warped impression of it from the looks of this show. Created by Emily Kapnek,  Suburgatorytells the story of Tessa Altman (played by newcomer Jane Levy) and her father George (Jeremy Sisto), two city slickers shoved into the midst of the shallow, wealth-driven world of suburbia. This flop could easily be likened to Mean Girls, if everyone in the school was a “plastic” and only Cady Heron understood what the word “normal” means. To tell the truth, as a suburban native, I find the show a little offensive. By their standards, apparently all suburban women are the equivalent of the housewives of Orange County, the teens are Regina George wannabes, and the dads are rich jerks. Every character featured here is two dimensional and boring, and the writers play heavily into exhausted stereotypes. The plot is uninspired, and the jokes are in bad taste. Avoid wasting your time on this ABC failure.