New TV Shows – How long do you give them?

Every fall we’re bombarded with a plethora of new TV shows, and every fall I ask myself the same question: “What am I going to watch?”

Some years, I completely miss the mark. I was willing to suffer through half of Melrose Place in 2009, but skipped out on Modern Family that same year? And why didn’t I start watching Friday Night Lights earlier? I’ll never forgive myself (slight overstatement, but whatevs) for that oversight.

Once I’ve determined what shows I’ll check out, I have to decide how long I’ll test drive them for. Like a moron, I gave up on both Cougar Town and Parks and Recreation after about two episodes. That situation has since been rectified, but it brings to light an important question – When do you make the call?

I’ve often said that I give a show three episodes to hook me. This has worked for shows like The Wire, Mad Men and Friday Night Lights – but those are all dramas. Sitcoms take much longer to find their footing, and it’s impossible to judge a comedy based solely on the pilot.

There are a lot of reasons pilot episodes aren’t a good, true example of what a show will be like. They’re made when shows are trying to get picked up, and from there writers and showrunners have to opportunity to really make the show they want to make, not the show they think the network wants. Just look at Cougar Town – I wrote that off because I wasn’t interested in watching Courtney Cox bed younger men, but by the Thanksgiving episode it had morphed into a quirky, warm comedy about a funny group of wine-guzzling friends. What’s not to love there?

So for now, I’m going with five episodes. I’m adding a few new sitcoms to my TV schedule this year, and I’ll give them each at least five episodes to grab me. If I watch five episodes and hate the show, I’ll dump it. If I’m on the fence I’ll keep going until I make up my mind.

And what are those shows? Well, starting this September they’ll be 2 Broke Girls, New Girl and Up All Night. I also might check out The X-Factor, but the five episode rule won’t really apply there. There’ll be some more test drives coming mid-season,  Smash and Apartment 23 as well. So stay tuned! What new shows are y’all checking out this fall? How many episodes will you give them?


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