Premiering This Fall

With mid-September upon us, we’re rapidly approaching the start of the Fall TV season.  For the last several years, this hasn’t been a big cause of excitement for me.  Maybe there have been one or two shows that I am interested in checking out, and usually I’ve dropped most of them within a few episodes because they just didn’t grab me.  Out of last year’s crop, I believe Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only one that I’ve stuck with, and, as regular readers of my posts on VampireNomad know, even that was touch-and-go for a while.

This season, though, I’m finding several shows on the broadcast networks that I want to check out (and some that I already have).  Here’s a quick walkthrough by day of the week (Days and networks are for the US only.  Sorry.  All times are Eastern.)

MONDAY

GOTHAM (FOX, 9/22, 8PM) This one hour drama series is a Batman series minus Batman.  Set when Bruce Wayne is a young boy who has just had his parents gunned down in front of him (an event that will have no lasting effects on his psyche, I assure you), Gotham follows Jim Gordon in his early days as a police detective in the city.  The series also promises to include younger versions of several Batman villains including the Penguin and Catwoman.

I’m a Bat-fan, so of course I’m going to watch this show.  I even watched TV’s other attempt at a Batman series minus Batman, 2002’s Birds of Prey.  The trailers have made the show feel more like a police procedural, and Gotham definitely seems to be more influenced by Christopher Nolan’s “more realistic” Batman films than the comic books.  How that will work on a weekly basis remains to be seen.  My main concern is that the show won’t have any sense of fun and will just be a run-on-the-mill gritty cop show with a slight Batman overlay.  If that ends up being the case, I probably won’t be sticking around for long.

The other new shows airing on Mondays are CBS’s Scorpion (9/22, 9PM), which is one hour drama about a team of geniuses recruited to investigate crimes, and the CW’s Jane the Virgin (10/13, 9PM), a one hour dramedy about a young woman who, despite never having sex, ends up pregnant.  The concept of and ads for Scorpion have me slightly curious, so I may check it out at some point.  But it does feel like CBS is just trying to find yet another take on the crime procedural, a type of show that already dominates most of their schedule.

As a scheduling note, CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, one of the shows I currently watch, is starting the season on Mondays at 8PM Eastern until October 20th, when it moves back to Thursdays.  Monday is also the night BBC America airs new episodes of Top Gear, but I have not heard when the next season is coming.

TUESDAY

SELFIE (ABC, 9/30, 8PM) Based on Pygmalion (Or My Fair Lady, if you prefer musicals) this half-hour sitcom is about a self-absorbed, social media obsessed woman, who, after enduring a very public humiliation, asks a coworker to help her remake her image.  I freely admit that the only reason I was interested in this show is that Karen Gillan, who I loved as Amy Pond on Doctor Who, is the show’s lead.  That said, after watching the pilot episode (As of this writing, the pilot is available on Comcast On Demand), I wouldn’t be surprised if this series is one of the first that I drop.  The pilot was fine, and Gillan and costar John Cho were good.  But I don’t see how this concept can be extended into a series.  The pilot episode honestly felt like a romantic comedy film that had been condensed to 30 minutes and skipped the final bit where the leads get together.  I have no idea how they sustain this for a whole season, much less several.  I will give them another couple of episodes, though, so I can find out.

THE FLASH (CW, 10/7. 8PM) The Flash is a DC Comics superhero with a long history, but this particular series is a spin-off of the successful CW series Arrow (A show I dropped about 9 episodes into its first season; although, I’ve been told that I should pick it back up again).  I like The Flash as a character (I watched every episode of the Flash series from 1990), so I’ll definitely give this one a shot.  From the trailers, though, series lead Grant Gustin doesn’t strike me as looking particularly like a superhero.  That could actually work in the show’s favor, though, depending on how they choose to portray his Barry Allen.

Other new series airing on Tuesdays include Manhattan Love Story (ABC, 9/30, 8:30PM), a half-hour sitcom which I have to admit that I know nothing about; Utopia (FOX, Had a 2 part premiere on 9/7&9, 8PM), a reality show about people trying to create the perfect society; NCIS: New Orleans (CBS, 9/23, 9PM), yet another spinoff of CBS’s procedural franchise, this time starring Scott Bakula; Marry Me (NBC, 10/14, 9PM), a truly awful looking sitcom about a couple experiencing several bumps on the way to the altar; and Forever (CBS, 9/23, 10PM), a one hour drama series about an immortal medical examiner in New York City who, surprise surprise, solves crimes.

As for shows that I already watch, ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is moving to 9PM, which means that it’s now joining the DVR schedule, since my daughter won’t be able to stay up that late on a school night to watch it live. 

WEDNESDAY

NOTHING – There are four new series airing on Wednesdays, none of which have caught my attention.  The Mysteries of Laura (NBC, 9/24, 8PM) is a one hour procedural centered around  a police officer/single mother played by Debra Messing.  Red Band Society (FOX, 9/17,9PM) is a one hour drama about patients in a hospital pediatric ward.  It’s based on a Spanish show, but the trailers looked like an attempt at a series version of The Fault in Our Stars to me.  Black-ish (ABC, 10/24, 9:30PM) is a half hour sitcom about a man who is worried that his kids are losing touch with their African American roots.  Lawrence Fishburne is costarring on this show, but supposedly he’s still able to fulfil his duties on Hannibal (One of the returning shows I watch and love.  Hannibal will start its third season in the Spring), assuming, of course, that he survives the cliffhanger from the end of last season.  Finally, there’s Stalker (CBS, 10/1, 10PM), yet another CBS police procedural, this time about a team of Los Angeles detectives that investigate stalking cases.

THURSDAY

GRACEPOINT (FOX, 10/2, 9PM)This one hour drama about the murder of a young boy and its effect on the residents of the small coastal town where the killing took place is an adaptation of the British series, Broadchurch, which aired in the US on BBC America last Fall (Season two will arrive on BBC America next year).  The footage shown in the ads for this series look almost shot for shot like the British original.  FOX even brought over Broadchurch star David Tennant (My favorite Doctor from Doctor Who) to reprise his role as the lead police detective on the case; although, they’ve changed his character name and are forcing him to use a really weird attempt at an American accent.  The original Broadchurch was basically an eight-episode miniseries about the murder case (Season two will have the same characters but a different storyline.).  Gracepoint will be ten episodes and the producers say that they’ve changed the guilty party.  I’m watching this for Tennant and to see the changes in the American version.  Since it’s only ten episodes, my guess is that I’ll stick with it until the end.

A to Z (NBC, 10/2, 9:30PM) I watched the pilot for this series on Comcast On Demand, and the opening narration from an unseen Katey Sagal tells us right up front that the show will portray the eight plus months that the two main characters, Andrew and Zelda, date, covering the relationship from A to Z.  My initial interest in this show was solely due to the presence of Cristin Milioti, who was fantastic as the Mother in the final season of How I Met Your Mother.  The pilot episode was sweet and amusing, so I’ll be back for a few more at least.  From a writing perspective, I am intrigued by the boundaries the show has set for itself.  Just as the first episode of How I Met Your Mother told us that Robin wasn’t the Mother, from the first moments of A to Z, we know that they date for only eight months.  That’s barely a season.  Of course, dating can end in ways other than a break-up: with an engagement, for example.

I won’t be watching Bad Judge (NBC, 10/2, 9PM), a half hour sitcom about an unorthodox judge played by Kate Walsh; The McCarthys (CBS, 10/30, 9:30PM), a half hour sitcom about a Boston family that’s really big on sports (I haven’t seen any ads for this one, so my description is based on the vague blurb I found on TVGuide.com); and How to Get Away With Murder (ABC, 9/25, 10PM), an hour long series about a law professor and her students who are involved with a murder.

Thursday night is also home to two CBS series I already watch: the aforementioned The Big Bang Theory (Timeslot premiere 10/30, 8PM) and the not-nearly-as-good-as-Sherlock­-but-still-entertaining Sherlock Holmes series, Elementary (10/30, 10PM).

FRIDAY

CONSTANTINE (NBC, 10/24, 10PM) This series, based on the long-running DC/Vertigo comics character, is about a demon hunter.  If the title and concept sounds vaguely familiar (and you weren’t aware of the comics), it may be due to the 2005 film of the same name starring Keanu Reeves.  While that film actually isn’t terrible, Reeves’ portrayal is nothing like the comics version of the character.  The series is, based on the previews, trying to be much more faithful to the source material (which I will admit that I haven’t read).  I’ve liked what I’ve seen in the ads so far, so I’m willing to give this one a shot.

Friday’s other new series, Cristela (ABC, 10/10, 9:30PM), is not on my watch list.  It’s a half hour sitcom about a recently-graduated lawyer trying to deal with her work and home life.

SATURDAY

NOTHING – In fact, no new series are premiering on Saturdays at all.  The broadcast networks seem to have given up on Saturdays altogether.  Cable is another story, since Saturday is the night for two of my BBC America favorites, Orphan Black, which begins its third season in the Spring, and, of course, Doctor Who.

SUNDAY

NOTHING – There are two new series airing on Sundays, neither of which looked that interesting based on their ads.  Madam Secretary on NBC (8PM Eastern) is a one hour drama that stars Tea Leoni as the US Secretary of State.  And Mulaney on FOX (9:30PM Eastern) is a half-hour sitcom centered around comedian John Mulaney, who plays…a comedian!

That’s six new shows I intend to check out.  If I end up getting hooked on all of them in addition to the shows that I already watch, my DVR and my free time are in real trouble.

- Alan Decker

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