Five low-rated shows worth checking out
EW writers make the case for ''Community,'' ''Fringe,'' ''90210,'' ''Medium,'' and ''Friday Night Lights''
The best shows on TV aren’t always the ones topping the charts. Here, EW writers make passionate pleas for five high-quality, ratings-starved series that deserve your attention.
NBC, Thursdays, 8 p.m.
You say you want a sitcom that zings, zags, and zips? I say: Enroll in Community. This series — about a bunch of misfit community-college students — has become one of TV’s quirkiest, sharpest comedies, brimming with meta satire and inspired one-liners (”There is a time and a place for subtlety, and that time was before Scary Movie”). Isn’t it time you embraced the only show brave enough to lock its cast inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken Eleven Herbs & Space Experience bus for a whole show?
Fox, Thursdays, 9 p.m.
Now in its third season, J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi saga about a war between parallel worlds has found its voice and emerged as TV’s true heir to Lost’s cult-pop throne. Don’t sweat joining late. The trading-places conceit — Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) has switched spots with her ”over there” counterpart — has allowed Fringe to introduce itself all over again. John Noble’s riotous Walter Bishop is an entertainment unto himself, and the freak-of-the-week stories have never been brainier and better.
The CW, Mondays, 8 p.m.
We get it. We too were weary of 90210‘s tedious plots (Dixon gambles! Annie wants to be an actress!). But something about this season’s earthquake shook West Beverly into a salacious, sudsy, and scandalous reboot. Charity-auction striptease? Check. Houseboy who sleeps with mom and daughter? Yep. Skeezy manager who blackmails a pop star into posing topless? You bet! Bonus points to AnnaLynne McCord, who has transformed rich bitch Naomi into the show’s most complex character.
4. Friday Night Lights
DirecTV, Wednesdays, 9 p.m.
Whether you watch on DirecTV now or on NBC in 2011, treat yourself to TV’s most underappreciated gem while you still can: Season 5 is the drama’s last. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton remain TV’s best onscreen couple, and lots of old faves (Riggins! Saracen! Street!) will be popping up throughout the final episodes. Clear eyes and full hearts can’t lose, but my eyes will be teary and my heart heavy once the play clock finally runs out on this stellar show.
CBS, Fridays, 8 p.m.
In its seventh season, Medium‘s storytelling is as dark and twisted (and often funny) as ever: One recent episode found a murder victim possessing Allison’s (Patricia Arquette) injured arm (via skin graft, no less) and instructing her to catch a killer by undoing the pants of an elderly male corpse (!). Factor in that Medium also features one of TV’s most fully realized portrayals of modern family life, and it’s a pity CBS recently cut the show’s order. Never a good sign.