By Curtis Caesar John | Shadow and Act May 18, 2012 at 2:20PM
The 2011-12 network TV season was a difficult one for all the networks. Still there were some surefire hits and some quick bombs. With the recession still in full effect, none of the networks took too many chances, save FOX with the underwhelming sci-fi/dinosaur show Terra Nova, and are only bringing back some underperforming faves in a limited capacity. I break it all down below.
Feel free as usual to comment on what worked on these shows and what doesn’t.
The Bachelor – Just in time to have another Black bachelorette who has zero chance of being chosen, but will make it past the first round just for appearances.
Body of Proof – A total shocker. Network execs must love Dana Delaney (though I admit, I think she’s pretty cool) but this show is a bore even with Sonja Sohn (best known as Kima from ‘The Wire’) playing a police detective on the show. Windell D. Middlebrooks also appears playing Dr. Curtis Brumfield, a fellow M.E. who works, usually unwillingly with Delaney’s character Dr. Megan Hunt.
Castle – Not a shocker, though I would not have expected this show to last five seasons. Though at times predictable, this is a fun show placed perfectly on Monday’s at 10pm. Tamala Jones is slated to return as coroner Dr. Lanie Parish (is there a theme going here?) that assists the will-they-or-won’t-they team of Castle and Det. Kate Bennett – though the season finale pretty much tells us that they finally will. Penny Johnson Jerald co-stars in the minor role of Captain Victoria Gates, the homicide squad commander who last season took over for Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s character Captain Montgomery.
Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 – Glad to see this return as it’s a pretty funny sitcom. Hopefully it last in it’s new Tuesday 9:30pm slot after Happy Endings. More Eric Andre for everyone! (See my highlight of him HERE). It goes against potentially tough competition: The Mindy Project on FOX, which I thought was a return for Natalie from ‘The Facts of Life’ but is actually the brainchild of Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor from ‘The Office’) as a young Bridget Jones-type doctor as she tries to navigate her personal and professional life.
Grey's Anatomy – The season finale aired last night. We know Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Bailey and James Pickens Jr.’s Dr. Webber weren’t in the plane crash and will be back for season nine. We already know Lexie died though, though I had my money on Patrick Dempsey.
Happy Endings – Still going strong. Damon Wayans Jr. is really funny in this show, which I hope can survive the move to Tuesday nights, especially since it now competes with another very similar sitcom – New Girl.
Private Practice – Really? I have a feeling this got renewed just to keep Shonda Rhimes happy.
Revenge – Makes sense. No one believed me when I said this juicy soap would last, but I saw the great potential for it. Still believe Ashley Madekwe is wasted on here, but who can beat a network paycheck?
Scandal – I’m not surprised, though last night’s finale (Don’t they know how to lock their front door at this point? Or turn off a cell phone? ) was weak. An S&A favorite show, its initial eight week run, which ends tonight, was a great idea. Let’s see what Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope & Co. can do with a full season though. And can she go 24 episodes with keeping her hands (um, and more) off of the President?
Shark Tank – A ratings winner in it’s Friday 8pm timeslot, it returns there come Fall and hopefully, if they’re smart, with FUBU founder Daymond John.
Also returning: America's Funniest Home Videos, Dancing With the Stars, Last Man Standing, The Middle, Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, Suburgatory, Wife Swap
Charlie's Angels – had potential, but scripts were weak as was Minka Kelly’s stiff acting. Annie Ilonzeh was good though and I look forward to seeing her in more.
GCB – the name change totally messed up what could’ve been a great show. Mad move ya’ll.
Man Up – Not a bad show per se, but probably would’ve worked better on a smaller network like TBS. Surprisingly, Henry Simmons was funny on the show, though he didn’t drive the comedy.
Missing – So corny. So glad it’s gone.
Pan Am – Ditto. Stop trying to bring back the 60’s. Mad Men is original, this wasn’t.
The River – I’ll miss the monkey with the doll’s face on it. Actually, I won’t – that scared the mess out of me!
Work It – I forgot this show even existed, and so should you.
The Amazing Race – One of the best shows ever, and if you’ve never watched there’s always a Black team on this show (not that you can’t watch it without one).
Criminal Minds – Shemar Moore is still a lead here as FBI agent Derek Morgan. About to enter its 8th season, even though it fits in the mold of a CBS procedural it’s pretty underrated.
CSI: NY – Hard to believe that this show is about to enter its 9th season. It was on the bubble to be cancelled but the high production value of CS: Miami forced that to be canceled instead. S&A favorite Hill Harper has been a cast member from episode one, first as the medical examiner and then as a CSI field agent. The show’s just alright, really only enhanced by star Gary Sinise, new cast member Sela Ward (she’s great in everything!), Eddie Cahill and of course, Harper.
The Good Wife – No surprise at all as it continues to do well in the ratings. Though there are no actual Black leads there are a number of Black talent in recurring roles, notably Michael Boatman, Renee Elise Goldberry and Mike Colter.
Hawaii Five-O – I find this show kinda corny but folks seem to love it. Richard T. Jones plays Hawaiian Governor Sam Denning in a recurring role.
NCIS – “My name is Curtis, and I’m a Black man and I watch NCIS! Hello Curtis!” Now that I’ve gotten my confession out of the way, they just had a great season finale in which we’re not sure who might have survived. Chances are NCIS Director Leon Vance, cleared by Rocky Carroll did survive though. We’ll see in a few months.
NCIS: LA – Still licking his lips, L.L. Cool J’s show is still going strong, very much so in thanks to him.
Person of Interest – I’ve highlighted this show before, which was in my Top 5 shows of the 2011-12 season. Taraji P. Henson is pretty good on it and it had its season finale last night. Episodes are available in CBS.com for viewing, but men might like this show better than women as there’s a lot of action.
2 Broke Girls – Though not in every episode, Garrett Morris helps provide comedy relief and old Black man wisdom in one of the most successful new shows of the season.
Also returning: Blue Bloods, The Big Bang Theory, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 48 Hours Mystery, How I Met Your Mother, The Mentalist, Mike & Molly, 60 Minutes, Survivor, Undercover Boss
CSI: Miami –FINALLY!, Though to bad Omar Benson Miller is out of a job.
How to be a Gentleman – Neither I or most anyone else even got a chance to see it.
Unforgettable – This sucked. It was extremely derivative.
A Gifted Man – Kinda cheesy and un-needed. Surprised it even aired in the first place.
Rob – Big ugh! Totally unwatchable…and I usually have a strong constitution for sitcoms.
NYC 22 – Think they should’ve given this show a chance. The Good Wife was its lead in for only a few episodes, which would’ve helped bring more people in. Hope to see Harold House Moore on more shows, dude is decent actor.
Community – Did a whole write-up on Community last week. Only returning for 13 episodes, but it should be a fantastic half-season, though now on Friday’s along with Whitney.
Fashion Star – show buyer Caprice Willard shined on the first season and chances are is slated to return for the next. In her day job she Vice President/RPM for Women's Apparel at My Macy’s out in Los Angeles
Grimm – People love fantasy shows, which helped this show survive. It also often performed stronger than the superior Fringe. Russell Hornsby is good on it (as he is in everything) as Det. Hank Griffin , so support if for him alone.
Law & Order: SVU – Time does indeed fly as SVU is about to enter season 14 with this renewal. Ice-T still co-stars as Det. Odafin 'Fin' Tutuola
Parenthood – Recently married to her formerly estranged boyfriend Crosby on the show, Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell-Braverman is obviously still slated to return to this surprise hit for NBC. Tyree Brown co-stars as her son Jabbar. Show creator Jason Katims knows how to make a good show.
Parks and Recreation – Cast member Retta still is great on this show that I hated in season one, but now love. Check it out…its funnier that 30 Rock now.
30 Rock – Only coming back for a 13-episode seventh and final season, its definitely time for this show co-starring Tracy Morgan as well as Keith Powell as Toofer and Kevin Brown and Grizz Chapman to end as its on its last legs.
Up All Night – Another show that started better than it ended its season, Maya Rudolph’s character Ava Alexander seems to have been tempered a bit. Bring back the real funny with her, please!
The Office – Horrible without Steve Carrell, at least regular cast member Craig Robinson has gotten some great moments this year. Along with the hilarious Leslie David Baker as Stanley (best facial expressions on TV period!)
Also returning: Smash (surprisingly good), Whitney
Awake – Boring. Thankfully it’s gone.
Are You There, Chelsea? – Not even worth a comment
Bent – This existed???
BFF - Ditto
Free Agents – Top 5 worst shows of the season. Only 4 episodes aired with the remaining ones available on Hulu, but why waste time watching them. Enjoy the good weather…please.
Harry's Law – Hey, they got rid of the young brother on the show (Aml Ameen) after season one so good riddance to them.
The Playboy Club – Another poor attempt to capture the Mad Men audience as if people only watch that great show because it took place in the 1960’s. Cancelled quickly, which was smart. Thankfully, Naturi Naughton was lauded as the best thing about the show.
Prime Suspect – Cancelled fairly early, this show tried to hard to be good. Still, I think it deserved to stay in the lineup the full season, but it didn’t.
America's Next Top Model – Beautiful women trying to achieve their dreams and modeling often in half-naked clothing. Who would’ve thought this show would last until Cycle 19? LOL. Congrats Tyra Banks for also reworking your judges and keeping the show fresh.
Hart of Dixie – Cress Williams co-stars as the mayor of the small town where this show takes place, and aside from the occasional guest star he’s the only charming thing about this show. I like Rachel Bilson, but this show kinda bites.
90210 – Tristan Wilds still appears, but every time I try to watch (it’s really hard to watch this show!) they don’t give him much to do. Still, it’s going into a strong Season 5.
The Vampire Diaries – Never watched this show but I do know that the lovely Katerina Graham co-stars on this show based on the L.J. Smith novels. Season 4 folks!
Also returning: Gossip Girl, Nikita, Supernatural (all of these are good genre shows)
H8R - ???
Remodeled - ???
Ringer – Finally a canceled show that I know! Ringer had potential but the storylines were slow and confusing. I was hoping Sarah Michelle Geller would have another hit. At least co-star Mike Colter, an underrated actor, still has a recurring role on The Good Wife.
The Secret Circle – The few episodes I saw weren’t too bad, at least for what they were. A lot of people are disappointed that TSC will no longer be on the air. Requisite CW light-skinned sister Jessica Parker Kennedy (who played the little sister on the pilot for ‘Undercovers’ last year)
Bones – Another veteran show for FOX, chances are this’ll be the last season. Tamara Taylor still appears as Jeffersonian Institute Medico-Legal Lab head Dr. Soroyan as does recurring actor Eugene Byrd as Dr. Clark Edison.
The Cleveland Show – Sanaa Lathan and Reagan Gomez-Preston, along with veteran voice actor Kevin Michel Richardson, still get to enjoy making millions laugh as this animated show enters its fourth season.
Fringe – As reported two weeks ago, Fringe returns for a final half-season this Fall. Surviving her bullet-wound two episodes ago, Jasika Nicole returns to the show as does Lance Reddick, who’s newly promoted as General Broyles, the head of the Fringe division.
Glee – I shouldn’t be so subjective, but there’s only one token Black character on this show, and I hate musicals, so if you’re gonna watch continue to. If not, I’d say continue not doing so. Creator Shawn Ryan says all cast members are due to return, even though most of them graduated from the high school on the show.
Hell's Kitchen – Always fun, so glad it’s returning. There’s always 2-3 requisite Black chefs/cooks on the show, so if that matters to you I saw enjoy the show. I’ll be doing so.
Kitchen Nightmares – The other Gordon Ramsey show (see Hell’s Kitchen above) this one is fun too, but deals with the real world of working restaurants instead of just the chefs. I guess I just like Gordon Ramsey cause I endorse KN wholeheartedly.
New Girl – The biggest new hit for FOX, they probably still won’t give Lamorne Morris anything to do in season two. Maybe we’ll get to see the lovely Kali Hawk as his girlfriend again though…
Touch – Gugu! I love saying her name. This was a surprise renewal, and I know regular readers of this column don’t like this show but perhaps the network just really believes in it and star Kiefer Sutherland.
The X Factor - Superstar music producer LA Reid, quite frankly the best judge on the show, returns even though ditzy Paula Abdul is let go. Can LA get along with new ditzy judge Britany Spears? America will be watching.
Also returning: American Dad, American Idol, Bob's Burgers, Family Guy, Raising Hope, The Simpsons
Alcatraz – I already miss seeing my man Jorge Garcia on a regular series again. Though it started a bit slow, I grew to like Alcatraz.
Allen Gregory - Thank goodness
Breaking In – Good riddance. They ruined a show that wasn’t too hot to begin with.
The Finder – This show should’ve been on the USA Network. Even having Michael Clarke Duncan co-star didn’t bring viewers to this show.
I Hate My Teenage Daughter - And this show should’ve been on TBS. Good premise, poor execution. Chad Coleman (best known as Cutty from ‘The Wire’ deserved better anyway (though that network paycheck I’m sure was the bomb!).
House – More so ending than canceled, Omar Epps can at least now fully concentrate on having his production company crank out more movies, including the one he was supposed to be starring in with Nia Long.
Napoleon Dynamite – Five years too late. What were they thinking?
Terra Nova – Corny to begin with, they should’ve done more with Christine Adams. Knew it wouldn’t last. A true waste of a lot of money.
Quick cancelation mention:
Breakout Kings (A&E network): First they killed off Laz Alonzo is the 2nd season opener and now they end the show, not granting them a third season. Were they really expecting the show to do well against Mad Men? Co-star Malcolm Goodwin got to spread his acting chops here though and I’m sure we’ll see him again soon.
TNT Network’s returning shows with Black talent
Rizzoli & Isles – Season 3 premiere: Tuesday, June 5, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
Franklin & Bash – Season 2 premiere: Tuesday, June 5, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
Falling Skies – Two-hour season 2 premiere: Sunday, June 17, at 9 p.m.
The Closer – Final six episodes premiere: Monday, July 9, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
Leverage – Season 5 premiere: Sunday, July 15, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Southland – Season 5 coming in February 2013
Next week I return with reviews of your favorite shows with Black talent, including reviews of USA’s Common Law with Michael Ealy (you may disagree with me on that one!) and previews on which summer shows have great potential for watching.