Tuned In: What's the TV critic watching? Too much!


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It's probably the No. 1 question I get asked: How much time do you spend watching TV? And it's a tough one to answer. Should I count just what I watch for work? Do I count programs I would watch if watching TV wasn't part of my job?

So perhaps the easiest way to answer this question is to list the shows I'm watching. As prime-time TV has become a year-round business, what I watch varies through the year. "Mad Men" is not on the list below because it's not airing but you can be sure I'll watch when it returns with new episodes next year.

So consider this list a snapshot of a moment in time. And one more caveat: I almost never watch anything live. Just about all of these shows are recorded on DVR and watched later.

Sunday

CBS's "The Good Wife" just gets better as it goes. This season, in particular, has been a revelation, offering a surprising new direction that shook up the show in the best way possible.

I'm also keeping tabs on AMC's "The Walking Dead" and Showtime's increasingly ridiculous "Homeland." (Although I was pleased that the events of Sunday's season finale freed the show of one particularly awful plot, allowing it to begin fresh next season.)

Shows I'm recording but not watching (the "piling up on the DVR" programs) include "Revenge," which seemed to improve in its season premiere, but there's just not enough time to watch every show, Lifetime's "Witches of East End" and Showtime's "Masters of Sex."

Monday

While CBS's "Mom" got off to a shaky start, it has improved as it gets more episodes under its belt, and anytime a producer gives character actress Mimi Kennedy ("Dharma & Greg") a job, I'm inclined to tune in.

Piling up on the DVR: "The Blacklist" and "Sleepy Hollow," which I may try to catch up on. But there's another category that merits mention ...

Recording and deleting: Odds are I will never watch the episodes of the canceled "Hostages" that were recorded. I continue to record "How I Met Your Mother" just in case I hear about a particularly amazing episode, but other than catching an episode here and there I haven't watched "Mother" regularly in years. News that CBS has ordered a pilot spinoff, "How I Met Your Father," doesn't help matters for this comedy that outlived its welcome.

Tuesday

ABC had one of the fall's few winning pilots in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," but subsequent episodes turned out to be dull, disappointments. The show hasn't lived up to its promise of character development, devolving into a 1980s-style action-adventure that's beneath the talent of executive producer Joss Whedon.

On the other hand, the too-loud pilot for ABC's "The Goldbergs" has given way to a completely charming comedy series, probably the new program I most look forward to seeing on a weekly basis.

"New Girl" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" continue to get my attention, too.

Piling up on the DVR: "Trophy Wife," "The Mindy Project" and "Sons of Anarchy." (I did watch the brutal "Anarchy" season finale, and it bolstered my conviction that I'm ready for this show to end.)

Wednesday

FX's "American Horror Story" was a bleak downer in its second season, but this bewitching third season, "Coven," is a lot more fun and has easily become the ongoing series I'm most eager to see on a weekly basis.

"The Middle" and "Modern Family" remain mainstays and although it's gotten nuttier and soapier, "Nashville" has also become more enticing in its second season.

Piling up on the DVR: "Super Fun Night," "South Park," "Burning Love."

Recording and deleting: "Revolution."

Thursday

I still watch "Parks and Recreation" and "The Big Bang Theory" and gave a chance to freshman CBS sitcom "The Millers," but I've been disappointed and it's now piling up on the DVR.

"Scandal" remains a weekly viewing highlight with its lightning fast dialogue and plot churn. It's easily the best gonzo soap of the night, but I also watch The CW's Mary Queen of Scots soap, "Reign," most weeks for its great use of music.

Piling up on the DVR: "The Crazy Ones," "The Michael J. Fox Show" and "Glee."

Friday

I still enjoy ABC's "The Neighbors," which is sinking like a stone in the ratings and is likely to be canceled. It's quirky and clever and deserves a much wider family audience than it receives.

Piling up on the DVR: "Raising Hope."

WPXI's Benson back to weekends

After years on weekend duty, Channel 11 forecaster Kevin Benson moved to weekday mornings in April 2012, but he's now headed back to weekend morning and evening duties. Recent hire Valerie Smock will take his spot weekday mornings on Channel 11 with Scott Harbaugh taking over noon forecasting duties in the near future.

"When he agreed to join the weekday team a year and a half ago, we planned it to be a temporary move," said WPXI news director Mike Oliveira. "He's such a great guy and a great forecaster. Obviously, we'd love to have him on every single day, but we can't. He was gracious enough to help us out on that shift and he did a fantastic job. I know he's excited to go back to the newscasts that made him so popular with our viewers."

Channel surfing

"The Hollywood Christmas Parade," which aired earlier this month on Hallmark Channel, gets another telecast at 2 p.m. Sunday on WTAE. ... "Hill Street Blues," the 1980s drama that kicked off the serialized character-driven TV revolution, will finally be released in a complete series DVD set on April 29 from Shout! Factory for $199.99. ... NBC ordered 12 hours of "A.D.," Mark Burnett's sequel to the History miniseries "The Bible." It's expected to air in 2015. ... HBO debuts "James Gandolfini: Tribute to a Friend" at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, featuring remembrances from two dozen friends and colleagues.

Tuned In online

Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about Martin Bashir on MSNBC, "Doc Martin" and "Late Night With Seth Meyers." This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "The Great Christmas Light Fight," "How Sherlock Changed the World," last-minute TV-themed gift ideas and the best new shows of 2013. Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.

This week's podcast includes conversation about "Homeland" and our favorite TV shows of 2013. Subscribe or listen at http://old.post-gazette.com/podcast.


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