It's a good thing I'm not a betting man.
If you had asked me in September to lay odds on the survival of broadcast television's new shows, I would have declared ABC's turbocharged submarine drama "Last Resort" to be the season's blockbuster hit. On the other hand, I'd have told you that NBC's lights-out saga, "Revolution," was destined for a Nielsen blackout.
Uh, never mind.
As it turns out, "Last Resort" has already been canceled (and, yes, I'm ticked off at ABC). Meanwhile, "Revolution" has become a valuable weapon for a surprisingly resurgent NBC, which may live to regret its decision to bench the show until late March.
But that's what kind of weird, unpredictable, largely lackluster season it has been. As TV rolls toward the midseason point, here are a few random observations about what we've witnessed so far:
So why did it beat the odds?
First, it has a simple, straightforward premise, especially compared to most of the dense "Lost" clones in recent years. It also features a good blend of older and younger characters, giving it a family-friendly quality.
Perhaps most significantly, "Revolution" maintains a potent blend of suspense, humor and swashbuckling action. In other words, it's just good, ol'-fashioned lightweight
But now I demand a recount. The latter show, pegged to the awkward relationship between a free-spirited brother (Nat Faxon) and his uptight sister (Dakota Johnson), has really grown on me. The leads are charming, the quirky supporting cast appealing and the writing fresh and witty. Give this underappreciated sitcom a try.
I came to this series with a sour attitude, refusing to believe it could live up to the PBS series "Sherlock." And while I still prefer the latter, I've come to embrace "Elementary," thanks to the performance of Jonny Lee Miller.
He brings some fidgety, neurotic wrinkles to the iconic sleuth and invests Holmes with a touch of appealing vulnerability. It's just a pleasure to watch him work.
"Parenthood" also continues to deftly mix moments of humor in with the poignancy. Ray Romano, as a caustic photographer with a thing for Sarah (Lauren Graham), has made for a fun addition.
Unfortunately, NBC is giving us only a half season of this marvelous show. "Parenthood" will depart at the end of January to make way for the return of "Smash."
Perhaps "Five-0" producers have lapsed into a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mode. The show, after all, airs on CBS, the home of visually explicit crime series like "CSI" and "Criminal Minds."
But they need to keep in mind that "Five-0" isn't that kind of show and shouldn't be. Viewers flock to it for the gorgeous scenery, the high-octane action, buddy humor and tropical escapism -- not blood and guts.
Even though I enjoyed "Revenge" as a sudsy guilty pleasure in its rookie season, I kept wondering how the series was going to sustain its momentum and intrigue in Season 2. The answer? It hasn't.
"Revenge" is the new "Prison Break" -- a show that has quickly devolved into a tangled, convoluted mess. And now it's in danger of slipping completely off my DVR.
My new favorite character among the guys is grumpy, high-strung Nick, wonderfully played by Jake Johnson. He brings just the right vibe to the romantic tension between Nick and Jess and really knows how to deliver a one-liner. He doesn't even have to talk to be funny. Just a simple facial expression or weird gesture from Nick is enough to get me howling.
As a bow-toting vigilante, Amell brings a brooding charisma, as well as some great abs, to the show. His presence has helped "Arrow" become The CW's biggest hit since "The Vampire Diaries."
Now the series needs to do a better job of developing its bland supporting characters.
As a judge, Spears has been zombielike so far, dispensing mostly bland, often pointless critiques. In fact, the feisty and outspoken Demi Lovato, who makes a lot less money, is much more fun to watch.
We'll give Spears her due, though. At least she's a better judge than Khloe Kardashian is a host.
On Showtime, "Homeland" is following up its big, Emmy-winning first season with another riveting saga, and "Dexter" has bounced back from a disappointing season. On FX, the motorcycle drama "Sons of Anarchy" is absolutely on fire, and on AMC, Season 3 of "The Walking Dead" ranks as the show's best yet.
Memo to the major networks: It's time to up your game.