Hopes were high for two of Fox’s new series this fall, but in the latest proof that television can be unpredictable, it was a third show, New Girl, that caught on in a major way, while both Terra Nova and The X Factor fell into that twilight zone between hit and bust. The X Factor looks to have the stronger future, even though it will be hard to know for sure until we can see whether or not its presence all fall has weakened American Idol. As promised, the judge/mentors are even bigger presences on Simon Cowell’s new show than they are on Idol, and I think that’s a misreading of the public mood. Of course, Cowell has tens of millions in his piggyback on his side of the argument.
The final X Factor performances come Wednesday, with the champion given their Christmas bonus the following night (8 p.m.). Of the three finalists, Chris Rene has some originality and an interesting backstory, but possibly not the sheer vocal ability. Melanie Amaro has the Leona Lewis qualities that Simon will never stop believing is what singing is all about. And the WHAT2WATCH-endorsed Josh Krajcik has the rumpled appeal that voters have tended to favor on shows like this. My guess is Simon will get his way, Melanie will win, and music history won’t change a bit.
Also this week:
Monday: Terra Nova (Fox, 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.): The ratings are only fair and it ain’t cheap, so these episodes might mark the end of the road for the adventure-soap (emphasis on the soap). Shannon (Jason O’Mara) and Taylor (Stephen Lang) are fighting on the same side against the Phoenix Group. I always thought life in the future-past would be less petty and more … dinosaur-y.
Tuesday: Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker (Bravo, 10 p.m.): The comedian’s latest special for Bravo focuses on big news of 2011 such as the Republican presidential race, our continuing economic troubles, and … fooled you! She’s really going to deal with Kris Humphries and Nancy Grace, among other boobs that escaped this year.
Wednesday: American Horror Story (FX, 10 p.m.): This first season is ending just in time, before they kill off the entire cast. The finale will cover the questions of what will become of Vivian’s baby/ies, and whether Ben (Dylan McDermott) will join his wife, daughter, mistress, and patient in the great beyond.
Friday: Chuck (NBC, 8 p.m.): Ageless Marvel Comics king Stan Lee is the guest star as Chuck and Sarah learn more about the plot to destroy Carmichael Industries, the Buy More staff deals with a computer virus, and Ellie tries to keep her Christmas from being ruined.
Saturday: NFL (CBS and Fox, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.): The NFL never plays a full slate of games whenever Christmas falls on a Sunday, believing that should be a day for family togetherness. So it moves its schedule to the much more casual and carefree Christmas Eve instead. The most interesting of a weak slate of games is probably the 1 p.m. Fox showdown between the two New Yorks, the Giants and Jets.
Sunday: Leverage (TNT, 9 p.m.): The team hunts for the missing wife of a philanthropist, which leads them to discover a group that is using a matchmaking service as a front for running scams. Wait – you mean the promise that I would be getting Miranda Kerr in my Christmas stocking was just a con?