Fall TV: What Looks Good
I love the fall. Cool, crisp air, fresh apple cider, my birthday (October 28th), and my favorite holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving) all make this a great time of year. But the best part about the fall? NEW TV SHOWS!
This fall features a great mix of new shows and returning favorites. It seemed like last fall, all the good shows were on Mondays and Thursdays, with very little in between. This fall, it looks like there’s something good on every night, including Fridays (which seems to be the red-headed step-child night of network TV programming).
After the jump, I run down the week in network TV for fall 2011.
With The Event canceled and Chuck haring off to Fridays, Monday is now largely devoid of genre TV. There’s Castle and Hawaii 5-0, which have genre connections, and there’s the new show The Playboy Club, if you’re in to that sort of thing (it also has Sean Maher, for you Browncoats out there). But here are two better bets to start the week off right:
Terra Nova, FOX
The Good News: It’s a much-anticipated, genre-bending sci-fi series with a big budget.
The Bad News: It’s on FOX.
Terra Nova is about time-traveling exiles from the future who go back to the Cretaceous period to give mankind a second chance at survival. It features Jason O’Mara from the U.S. Life on Mars and Stephen Lang as the same guy he played in Avatar. I’m really hoping this show succeeds despite FOX’s terrible track record with genre TV. I only have one question about the show: if they manage to survive in the past, what do they plan on doing about the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs?
The Sing-Off, NBC
This all-a capella group vocal competition show has a been a holiday staple in the Lobster household for the last two years. This year, The Sing-Off gets a full season and a new judge. Sara Bareilles joins Ben Folds and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman on the panel, while Nick Lachey returns as host. The Sing-Off is as sweet and sentimental as American Idol is snarky and judgmental, and is the perfect counter-programing to The X Factor featuring Simon Cowell and Sing-Off ex-judge Nicole Scherzinger.
This year, one of the groups competing is the Rochester, NY, based University of Rochester YellowJackets, so it will be great to have a home team to root for.
Tuesdays are ruled by Dancing With The Stars results, The Biggest Loser, and NCIS-related programming, but here’s some other stuff you can watch, instead:
New Girl, FOX
Zooey Deschanel is one of my top celebrity crushes of all time. The thought of having her gorgeousness beamed into my living on a weekly basis is almost more excitement than I can bear. Though I love Zooey in every role, if the previews are any indication, she looks to be bringing her A-game to New Girl. I can’t wait for this show to start. It look like FOX is backing the show hardcore, as they’ve been promoting the hell out of it and have bumped their newborn baby show Raising Hope, their darling of last season, to the Running Wilde/Traffic Light death slot and put New Girl in its place. Maybe they know baby shows don’t last more than a season. Too bad – I liked Traffic Light a lot. I think it and New Girl would have made a cute couple.
The Ringer, CW
I honestly don’t know very much about this show, other than the fact that it’s bringing Sarah Michelle Gellar back to TV. That’s enough to make me want to tune in. Also, it features Mr. Fantastic and Richard Alpert/Bat-Manuel.
Last Man Standing, ABC
Same as The Ringer, but with Tim Allen returning to sitcom television.
I’ll be honest, there’s not a ton of great-looking new stuff on Wednesdays, so I’ll probably check out these two new NBC comedies:
Up All Night & Free Agents, NBC
Up All Night stars Will Arnett, Christina Applegate, and Maya Rudolph and looks like a mash-up of Raising Hope, Running Wilde, and Traffic Light. Hopefully, this concoction works for NBC better than those three shows did for FOX.
Free Agents is a Britcom remake starring Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn. Azaria (The Simpsons, The Smurfs movie) and Hahn (Crossing Jordan, Step Brothers) are both funny, talented people, and the show also boasts Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy), who happened to be in the British version of the show, as well.
I don’t think either of these shows will last longer than a season, but they should be fun to watch while they’re on. I’ve enjoyed some of NBC’s blink-and-you-missed-them comedies in recent years, like Kath & Kim and Perfect Couples. I’m tempted to give Free Agents the edge over Up All Night, because Azaria and Hahn are fresh faces and we really don’t need another baby show, people.
Thursday continues to be the DVR battleground night in the Lobster household with almost every network posting a solid bloc of shows. NBC is bringing back Community, Parks & Rec, and The Office (now with 100% more Spader!) and adding Whitney, which looks fun. CBS is leading the night with The Big Bang Theory and adding How To Be A Gentleman, which might have promise (uncouth jock moves in with snobbish writer – comedy gold, amirite?). Returning hits The Vampire Diaries, Bones, The Mentalist, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice round out the night. However, there are three new hour-long dramas that might be worth your time to check out, if you can squeeze them in:
Charlie’s Angels, ABC
I honestly don’t know what to expect from this remake. It looks nothing like the McG movies, which I enjoyed. The Angels look boring (Couldn’t they at least get Lucy Liu? No? At least she’ll be on the next season of Southland). Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) wrote the first pilot, but it was rejected. Showrunner Alfred Gough (Smallville) said he doesn’t want the show to be “campy or retro,” but just look at that promo logo. Which is it going to be, Alfred?
Person of Interest, CBS
This show takes CSI‘s old spot and adds Jim Caviezel (Jesus!) and Michael Emerson (The Devil! Er, okay, Ben Linus, but still!). Again, not sure what to expect here, but it looks good. Here’s the premise: an ex-CIA agent (Caviezel) and a billionaire (Emerson) team up to fight crime using a futuristic computer program. The program can predict who will be involved in violent crimes before they happen, but there’s a catch: it can’t predict if the person will be the perp, the vic, or the witness. Sound fun? I think so.
Oh, and it was created by Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher and co-writer of The Prestige and The Dark Knight, to a name few movies you might have heard of.
Prime Suspect, NBC
Another remake of a British show, this one based on an incredibly popular crime drama starring Helen Mirren. The competent Maria Bello steps into the Mirren role. It’s nice to see NBC putting a drama back on Thursday nights where there hasn’t been one since Jay moved to 10 PM. Prime Suspect seems to be about as solid an entry they could make. At least it’s not an ER/Grey’s Anatomy clone.
Ah, Friday. You’ve made it to the end of the workweek. You just want to relax, and watch something good. Crap! There’s nothing on! Fear not, this fall you’ve got options! Chuck is back for its apparently final season, and has moved to Fridays, so you can close out out the week with some Nerd Herd fun. Nikita is also back and has moved from a crowded Thursday to a wide-open Friday, which means I’ll get more Maggie Q this year. There’s also Fringe, Supernatural, and another new show that will be competing in the same timeslot for the same viewers:
This is a cop show about hunting down fairy tale creatures. No, it’s not the Ron Moore show, starring Jamie Bamber, James Callis, and Tricia Helfer, about cops who use magic. That was 17th Precinct. NBC decided not to pick up that series and went with Grimm instead. Why? Well, they probably figured they only had room on their schedule for one supernatural cop show. It is a niche market, after all. Crom only knows why they decided to put it up against the only two other supernatural-cop-monster-hunting-shows on network TV that happen to be on at the same time.
The outlook for Grimm, needless to say, is grim.
“Who cares? You’re probably out drinking anyway!” – The Networks
There are actually a couple of good shows to catch on Sundays this fall, and they’re both on ABC:
Once Upon A Time, ABC
What is it with fairy tale shows this year? This show looks to be taking up the mantle from LOST, with several former writers from that series working on this one, as well as Jane Espenson. Disney has apparently opened its Vault of characters for use on the show, and the writers have also cited the comic book series Fables as a major influence on the show. It looks decent, and it boasts Robert Carlyle (Stargate Universe) and Alan Dale (LOST‘s Charles Widmore) among its supporting cast.
Pan Am, ABC
Along with NBC’s aforementioned The Playboy Club, Pan Am represents network TV’s efforts to tap in to the Mad Men-driven interest in the early ’60s this season. Both shows are set in the same year, 1963, but Pan Am looks to have the edge.
For starters, The Playboy Club has already drawn the ire of the Parents Television Council and the anti-pornography watchdog Morality in Media. Aside from the fact that neither show is likely to feature actual nudity, Pan Am‘s title is a bit more family-friendly. Kids these days know what Playboy is, but likely haven’t a clue what Pan Am was.
While we’re talking about sex, I’d personally rather have my cute women (including Christina Ricci!) dressed up in ’60s stewardess outfits than Playboy Bunny get-ups. So I’m watching Pan Am, and skipping The Playboy Club – for now.
And that’s it for fall TV! Apparently the networks are holding a lot of shows back as mid-season replacements, so it’s a given that some of these new fall shows are going to get cut. What shows are you most excited for this fall? What shows do you think are safe, and which do you think will be on the chopping block?