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The Sunday Dilemma: So Much TV, So Little Time...
September 30, 2012  | By David Bianculli  | 4 comments

I love quality TV as much as the next guy. More than the next guy, probably. But on Sunday nights, even I find myself saying enough is enough. Or, maybe, too much…

For years, we’ve been able to count on cable to present a rotating buffet of outstanding high-quality TV on Sunday nights, from HBO’s The Sopranos to AMC’s Mad Men. But now that the new TV season has begun officially, this first Sunday of the 2012-13 TV season has added an almost absurd amount of fresh, excellent TV offerings, all vying for attention.

And I know, the conventional wisdom is that it doesn’t matter any more what night a TV show is televised. Viewers grab it later on On Demand or online, or eventually on Netflix or Hulu, or wait for it to be released on DVD.

But the conventional wisdom doesn’t account for the type of high-intensity fan loyalty that is built upon instant gratification. If you’ve waited many months since the Season 1 finale of Homeland, desperate to rejoin the story of Carrie and Brody and the rest, chances are you want to see the Season 2 premiere the second it’s offered by Showtime. And that means Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET.

But at that same hour are at least four other TV shows worth watching — five, if you’re generous or curious enough to add the premiere of ABC’s 666 Park Avenue. There’s the season premiere of The Mentalist on CBS. The final hour of NBC’s Sunday Night Football coverage of the New York Giants vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. A new episode of BBC America’s Copper. And a new episode, a really good one, of HBO’s Treme.

As a TV critic, I have two DVRs, each capable of recording two channels, and even I can’t see them all. The action is even more competitive at 9 p.m. ET, and there’s enough good programming throughout the night to keep me working through it until at least Wednesday.

My Bianculli’s Best Bets for Sunday, Sept. 30, is, as always, limited to five shows — in this case, ABC’s Once Upon a Time, PBS’s Call the Midwife, CBS’s The Good Wife, and Showtime’s Dexter and Homeland.

But look what that leaves out — and which I’ll be working hard to record, watch and absorb over the next several days.

• The Season 45 (!!) premiere of CBS’s 60 Minutes at 7 p.m. ET, with a Lara Logan report from Afghanistan, and with Lesley Stahl’s exclusive interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

• The Season 24 (!!) premiere of Fox’s The Simpsons, with Homer and family visiting New York City, and with Bart’s new girlfriend voiced by Zooey Deschanel, at 8 p.m. ET.

• The 21st (!!) cycle of CBS’s The Amazing Race, beginning at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

• The aforementioned NFC East grudge match between the Giants and Eagles on NBC, beginning at 8:20 p.m. ET.

• Two 8 p.m. ET shows that aren’t my favorites, but have large and loyal followings: ABC’s Revenge and Fox’s Family Guy.

• A new episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, at 9 p.m. ET.

• A new edition of OWN’s Oprah’s Next Chapter at 9 p.m. ET, featuring a guest who, on any other night, would make the Best Bets list rather easily: Stephen Colbert.

I’ve already mentioned all the 10 p.m. ET shows, and I haven’t even gotten near the evening’s worthwhile movie offerings. But, just for the record, there’s Singin’ in the Rain at 6 p.m. ET on TCM, The Lion King at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family, The Crying Game at 8 p.m. ET on Flix, Shutter Island at 8 p.m. ET on Syfy, and The Mummy (the 1932 version with Boris Karloff) at 8 p.m. ET on TCM.

So much TV, so little time.

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Mark N
Dear David
You read my mind. They have made Sunday into a two to three day task. I have 3 sources for tv(Satellite/Cable/and off air antenna and three VCR's!) so I basically can get almost all shows down without On-Demand...but Bless On-Demand for being there...one note...no The Mentalist OnDemand. And hey they have made Sunday into a two to three day chore as you noted. Hey, I'm not complaining. We have to admit that we are in a wonderful time for Cable and broadcast TV(and of course it being new season, all the sampling of the new shows is needed). I'm really just here to note that they(programmers) have me in the palm of their hand...and Sundays, I LIKE IT!
Oct 3, 2012   |  Reply
I guess then it is Palm Sunday, then. –EG
Oct 3, 2012
That is exactly what I said when the new schedule came out (Tues and Thurs. are full for me also) I use to dread Sundays but all of a sudden there's too much! I have my Watch, Record and On-Demand lists but some shows still fall through the cracks and the new season just started yet I'm already a week behind on my viewing.
Oct 1, 2012   |  Reply
Nate Goldshlag
You left out Treme! How come that is not in your picks?
Sep 30, 2012   |  Reply
Mike Birdsall
Mad Men is AMC, not ABC, surely
Sep 30, 2012   |  Reply
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