Dear readers: I must confess I can’t pick 2011’s best new shows because I haven’t had time to watch ‘em all. Then I had a brainstorm: “Back to school night” methodology. Parents get roughly seven minutes to size up a teacher, which is more than enough. Here’s my take on four acclaimed rookie series, based on seven-minute samples:
American Horror Story (FX, 10 p.m. Wed.). Teen sets stepdad on fire! Hubbie tells wife her twins had two dads — and one was the man in a rubber suit who raped her!! Teen and wife may be ghosts!!! Horrifyingly addictive!!!!
Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m. Wed.). A sitcom about bantering 20-somethings. Wife says “va cay cay.” Husband says, “Don’t say va cay cay, mm kay kay.” Refreshingly zany, like Oscar Wilde for goofy hipsters.
Homeland (Showtime, 10 p.m. Sun.). Claire Danes, above: She’s crazy — and the best terrorist catcher in the CIA. Masterfully tense, with so many twists you can’t possibly keep up!
Revenge (ABC, 10 p.m. Wed.): Daughter seeks to avenge framed dad. Full of hilariously bad dialogue, e.g.: “How can you stand the touch of your enemy’s son?” and “Who doesn’t like pancakes?” Guiltiest guilty pleasure of the year!