Brooklyn 9-9: It's not great, but it has some solid laughs, and with the departure of "30 Rock" and "The Office" (and the ever-mystifying status of "Community") I figured it was about time to add a new sitcom to the potential lineup. Andy Samberg is fine in the lead, but the real comedy comes from the great Andre Braugher, playing a character not a million miles away from Pembleton on "Homicide." And Terry Crews is pretty damned funny, too.
Boardwalk Empire: People complain about this show losing its steam each season, but I love every minute of it, from the evocative 1920s setting to the ever more intense cast of characters. As Nucky Thompson, Steve Buscemi is the calm center of the Jazz Age hurricane, letting characters like Al Capone (Stephen Graham, above), Nelson Van Alden aka George Mueller (Michael Shannon) and Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) spin off in ever crazier directions. Last week, Al's beloved brother was killed (spoiler alert for an 89-year-old historical event), and I can't wait to see him take bloody revenge on "every f*cking thing that crawls" in the coming weeks.
CBS This Morning: I used to have "Today" on in the morning when the family was getting ready, but I switched to "CBS This Morning" when the NBC show just got too damned stupid. The CBS version isn't perfect, but at least it seems like it's nominally aimed at grown-ups. One thing I don't like? How Charlie Rose and Co. pronounce "Eye-Opener," with the accent on the O. Also, just this morning, he mispronounced "Banksy" as"Banksky."
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: So-called "hate-watching" gets a bad rap. Sometimes, it's the only way to enjoy what's on TV at any given moment. (And now, right on cue, the voice of my father echoes in my head .... "You could turn it off..."). Thus, my convoluted relationship with Mr. Fieri. To be honest, I only hate-watch half of the show. I actually enjoy the trips to various restaurants and the scenes where the local chefs demonstrate how they make their signature dishes. The rest of the show -- i.e., everything involving the goof in the above photo -- is where that much-maligned hate-watching comes in. Jeez. You can practically smell the Axe Body Spray wafting off your TV.
Face Off: If we're counting purely by total hours consumed, this SyFy reality series is by far the most popular show in the Pfeifer household. And that, of course, is thanks to the little girl in the above photo. For some reason, my daughter, Allison, locked onto this show last season and remains crazy about it to this very day. Me? I'm grateful. There are so many worse shows she could be obsessed with (and no doubt will be one day) than this weekly competition focusing on movie makeup. It teaches her the value of hard work, education, cooperation and grace under pressure. And it's pretty entertaining, too, making it relatively painless for mom and dad to watch it -- over and over and over again. (That's Allie with Season 4 champ Anthony Kosar, by the way.)
Homeland: Admittedly, this season has been a little off-kilter, mostly because (a) Carrie is waaaaay off her meds and (b) the man above, accused terrorist Nicolas Brody is nowhere to be seen. (Until, that is, the final seconds of the "Next... on Homeland" promo.) I'm still enjoying it, mostly because I'm a sucker for ultra-paranoid conspiracy thrillers. Also, Mandy Patinkin as the guy we aren't sure we can trust makes the whole series worth watching.
The Little Couple: As my wife says, if you don't have a kid, this must be the most boring show in the world. Even if you do have a kid, it's not exactly a thrill a minute, but I suppose there are worse ways to pass a half-hour than watching the above couple raise their recently adopted son from China. Aside from the specific issues they're facing -- mom, dad and son all have forms of dwarfism, hence the show's patronizing title -- it's a lot like what Amy and I dealt with when we brought our own child back from the Far East. Hell, they even stayed at the same hotel.
Masters of Sex: If the intriguing premise, talented cast and high production values aren't enough to get you to watch, how about this: It's like "Mad Men," but with frequent nudity? Ah, I thought so. See you Sundays on Showtime.
The Story of Film -- An Odyssey: That's not a character from a TV show; it's Maria Falconetti from director Carl Dreyer's classic 1928 film "The Passion of Joan of Arc" -- and it's one of the reasons the series The Story of Film is so fascinating. I've seen a million histories of the movies, with most of them hitting squarely on the same exact spots in Hollywood lore and legend. But Mark Cousin's 15-episode look at cinema isn't limited by the Los Angeles city limits. His history spans the globe, with frequent visits to Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. I've heard of many of the movies he discusses (I have a great Criterion edition of "Joan of Arc" -- and you should, too), but I'm constantly surprised and educated by the movies he uncovers. The Story of Film is airing Monday nights on TCM through December. Even better? TCM is showing movies related to the series -- including many that have never been on TV in the States before.
Top Chef: I've been watching this one since its second season, even going so far as to run the betting pool back when I worked in a newsroom. And no matter how inane the challenges are, how self-obsessed the "chef-testants" (ugh) can get or how insufferable the guest judges can be, it's still fun to watch. I have to admit, though -- and maybe it's because you can't actually taste the food while sitting on your couch -- I prefer what Face Off does with the exact same format.
The Walking Dead: It starts again on Sunday, and I'll be watching it ... again. Still, it's one of those shows I watch more for the promise of its premise than for what actually happens. There are great moments, sure, but most of the time, it seems to be spinning its wheels, stretching out storylines long after their sell-by date. I have a hard time remembering how the last season ended. That can't be a good sign, can it?