Fall TV Preview: The 5 Returning Shows That Need to Get Their Mojo Back

Fall TV Preview: The 5 Returning Shows That Need to Get Their Mojo Back As the fall TV season approaches and networks show off their shiny new offerings, let’s instead take a look at some returning shows that might need a polish. The following are five shows that need to get their groove back this season:

1. "Gossip Girl":

My Dearest  “Gossip Girl”,

You know I love you, XOXO and all that, but let’s get real: What happened to you last season girl? Everything started out so well with Blair and Serena prancing around Paris and Chuck Bass dating a prostitute while dressing like a “Newsies” extra. The Juliet arc was one of the most well done the show has ever pulled off, managing to pull together little hints about Serena’s bad girl past dropped in previous seasons.

It was after the hiatus, however, that the season started to fall apart. Sticking the formerly hilarious bad boy Chuck Bass into another business/daddy-issue storyline just made him melodramatic and boring. Meanwhile the guest stars kept pilling up without adding much to the story, Serena and Nate did practically nothing and the highlight of the episodes became the friendship between Dan and Blair.

But the Upper East Side faithful shouldn’t lose hope. The new trailer for the fifth season was just released and it promises flirty fun in the sun in the premiere LA episodes. Serena, Chuck and Nate might be the perfect City of Angels wolf pack and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans they get up to.

Improvement Hopes: HIGH

2. “The Office”:

For “The Office” the upcoming eighth season will finally answer the major question asked by audience and critics since Steve Carell’s departure was announced last year: Can the show survive without Michael Scott?

While the show has always had an intensely strong and hilarious ensemble, Carell’s buffoonish boss Michael was always at its awkward heart.  Without the world’s best boss will the show still feel the same? Despite the fact that Michael left last season well before the finale it still felt like the show as just spinning the wheels until it found a replacement head honcho. Last season the arc of Michael’s leaving was sweet, funny and touching. Unfortunately, there were enough clunker episodes to still leave room for doubt.

Of course, maybe the absence of Michael Scott means that once-major and now sidelined characters like Jim and Pam might come back to the fore. It could also mean that fantastically funny characters like Darryl and Kelly would command more screen time, and that’s always welcome news.

Improvement Hopes: MODERATE

3. “Chuck”:

Once a nerdy delight of heartfelt moments, funny jokes and heart-stopping action sequences, last season Chuck floundered in a major way. None of the storylines seemed to click and the season felt at once overstuffed and disjointed. Despite an impressive past of casting great guest stars, Linda Hamilton never felt like she really fit in her role as Chuck’s long-lost spy mom. Perhaps it was just one too many plot points lifted from “Alias”?

Not to say that the season didn’t have some great moments. It’s nice that Ellie finally, thankfully, is in on the secret. The relationship between Morgan and Casey was always a hilarious delight to watch unfold. And despite many of the relationship milestones in the season feeling too pat, it was great to see Chuck and Sarah walk down the aisle.

With the announcement that this is to be Chuck’s last, shortened season, I expect the producers will pull out all the stops to make it go out on a high note.

Improvement Hopes: HIGH

4. “Bones”:

Last season, “Bones” made the fatal mistake of pulling out the will-they won’t-they relationship of Booth and Brennan to the point that many a viewer just lost interest. While the cases got stranger and kitschier, the producers didn’t exactly balance the show by throwing in a new love interest for Booth. Anyone who has ever watched television knew the relationship between Booth and Hannah was doomed the moment she showed her pretty blonde head on screen.  So it was impossible to invest anything in their relationship or the danger she might pose to Booth and Brennan. Still, it was nice to see the Angela and Hodgins pregnancy storyline unfold with just enough drama to keep viewers interested.

While the cases will probably never come back down to earth, at least the interpersonal relationships on the show might have stakes again next season. With Brennan knocked up with Booth’s baby, it’ll be all hormones and toddlers all the time in the show’s seventh season. Moreover, it will give Emily Deschanel a different side to play to Brennan, as she adjusts to the idea of motherhood and a relationship (dare we hope?) with Booth.

Improvement Hopes: MODERATE

5. “Glee”:

What to do about a problem like “Glee”? The Fox musical juggernaut might owe some of its creative problems to the show’s own skyrocketing popularity. Or the show might easily be diagnosed with Ryan Murphy disease, whereby an already kooky show becomes increasingly zanier as it goes along, to finally end up so far in the land of the unbelievable that a leprechaun riding a unicorn over a double rainbow would stop and say “Oh come on!”

The show started out as a heartfelt but snappy comedy about musical underdogs with some great Journey songs and has turned, somewhere along the way, into a preachy uneven mess.

There might be some reasons to be hopeful for a more grounded “Glee”. The show’s 3D concert movie faltered at the box office, possibly showing the audience is growing tired. Murphy has said he wants to cut back on star-studded but ultimately distracting guest stars next season. (Of course, Ryan Murphy says a lot of things he doesn’t necessarily follow through on.)  With audience and critics vocal about their complaints, maybe “Glee” producers will finally listen?

Improvement Hopes: LOW

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