The Fall TV season is well underway and that means that we’ve had a bunch of new shows all vying for our attention, amidst our returning favourites. I try to give most of these new shows a chance, particularly the comedies because who doesn’t want more laughter in their lives? So as follows, here’s a rundown of some of the new shows that have premiered thus far. As always, these are simply my opinions on the shows that I took an interest in to watch. Everything is subjective so don’t just take my word for it; if something interests you, check it out and make your own judgment.
PARTNERS: The series stars David Krumholtz and Michael Urie as two lifelong friends, and their respective others played by Sophia Bush and Brandon Routh. I went into this being a fan of both Urie (best known for his work on Ugly Betty) and Bush (none other than B.Davis of OTH!) so I was very much looking forward to it. Not to mention, it comes from the creators of Will & Grace. The pilot showed some promise but very much predictable, in the way that it’s setting up all the characters, relationships, etc. It definitely has the feel of a sitcom from the late 90s/early 00s, and while some critics are calling the style outdated, I personally don’t see why it can’t peacefully coexist with all the other comedies out there. Assuming of course that they don’t write themselves into a corner with outdated/stereotypical jokes and instead stay relevant. It seems to be a nice fit with the rest of the CBS comedy Monday lineup, but the episodes thus far have been so-so.
REVOLUTION [Picked up for full season]: Brought to us from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, the series jumps forward to a future where we have lost all electricity and power. The governments as we know it cease to exist and the country is run by a powerful militia, under the rule of a man named Monroe. It is a fascinating concept to say the least in our tech-driven world and what’s been shown so far has been promising. Of course, with such a high concept, it leaves a lot of viewers questioning whether the writers can keep momentum/interest going. Fans of genre fare have been burned one too many times over the years and so many are going in with a “proceed with caution” frame of mind. Because for every Lost or Fringe, there’s been FlashForward, The Event, Alcatraz, and many more failed attempts at highly serialized dramas. Revolution, at least thus far, has shown to be far superior than any of those failed attempts in terms of the writing, but it is certainly the adult characters (particularly Billy Burke’s Miles and Giancarlo Esposito’s Captain Neville) that are carrying the show right now.
BEN AND KATE [Picked up for full season]: When I initially heard about the show during Upfronts, I had my reservations about it. I certainly still think they could’ve at least tried to come up with a better, less-generic title but I’ll let it be for now. That’s because the pilot was actually pretty good. It was cute and had a certain charm to it. It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it had some awfully amusing elements to it – Ben not liking Kate’s love interest’s inability to high-5 properly; the attempt at a three-point turn in a stationwagon; Ben trying his hardest not to swear in front of his niece Maddie (which anyone with little ones in the family can certainly attest to.) I certainly will keep watching, but it might take a backseat to the whole load of other comedies on Tuesday nights and will probably be watched the day after.
THE MINDY PROJECT [Picked up for full season]: Mindy Kaling breaks out of The Office and into her own show, where she plays an OB/GYN who sort of lives her life like it’s a romantic comedy (though let’s be real, women who watch enough rom-coms kinda do wish real life was like that). What’s great about this show is just how straightforward Kaling makes her character. We’re not talking the Hollywood ideal of what a working single woman should be. Kaling writes her character Mindy as if she was real, and rooted in reality, not Hollywood reality. Love what’s aired so far.
GO ON [Picked up for full season]: Matthew Perry returns to NBC as a sports commentator who is forced to join a support group after the death of his wife. Perry does snark pretty well (he is Chandler Bing after all!), but he’s also got a pretty funny supporting cast, including John Cho, Tyler James Williams, Laura Benanti, and Julie White, among others. Without a doubt, one of the best new comedies of the season.
THE NEW NORMAL [Picked up for full season]: Ryan Murphy’s new project centers around Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha’s couple, Bryan and David, and their want to start a family. Georgia King’s Goldie is their surrogate, who already has a child of her own, Shania. Goldie’s grandmother, Jane (played by Ellen Barkin) is a total left-winger, racist, and bigot. Though it has its funny moments, I’m not entirely sure how much longer I will keep up with the show. Even for Ryan Murphy, who brought us Glee, a lot of what happens in the episodes feel very heavy-handed and almost preachy – talk of gay equality/acceptance, political views. It all feels a little too much.
GUYS WITH KIDS: The sitcom stars Jesse Bradford, Anthony Anderson, and Zach Cregger as…guys with kids (can they BE any more straightforward?). Almost similar to Partners in that it has an old-school sitcom vibe, and yet I was taken aback a little bit when I heard the audience laughter on this show. Maybe because these days, NBC rarely has any sitcoms that tape in front of a live studio audience. I didn’t particularly like what I’ve seen so far. It had its amusing moments (as tends to be the case when you’ve got kids in the mix) but I don’t remember truly laughing at anything. Maybe a few chuckles but that’s about it. I’m willing to give the show a chance, based purely on the fact that Jimmy Fallon created and is executive producing it, but they have to really step up their game with the writing.
ANIMAL PRACTICE: Let it be known that the only reason I checked out this show is because I’m a fan of Joanna Garcia Swisher. Now, I attempted to watch it online but the video just kept on stalling. So I pretty much took it as a sign that I REALLY should not be watching it. From what little I was able to watch, it pretty much reaffirmed my initial thoughts upon hearing it got picked up – terrible. [UPDATE: Cancelled]
LAST RESORT: I can’t even begin to explain the plot of this show, which probably should’ve been a warning sign as to whether or not I’d like it. This is my attempt at explaining it – a nuclear submarine crew receive orders to nuke Pakistan, but something about the order doesn’t seem right to the captain. They disobey the orders, get hit by an American missile, and take refuge on some island, until they are told what exactly is going on in D.C. The cast that creator Shawn Ryan has assembled include Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Robert Patrick, and Autumn Reeser; in other words, a great cast. But watching the pilot, I got rather bored and quickly realized that it just was not for me. I did watch to the end, but I can’t help but wonder how they are going to be able to sustain it as a series. It seems better suited as a movie or mini-series. Also, in my opinion, ABC didn’t do it many favours by putting it on Thursdays @ 8. It’s a show that would definitely work better and possibly get a better audience if given the 10 p.m. hour. Just don’t count me in on this one.
ELEMENTARY: A modern take on Sherlock Holmes set in New York, with Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. Yes, Watson is now female. No, the producers have already adamantly said that there will not be a romance between Holmes and Watson. Besides the inevitable fact that the character details of Holmes and Watson are slightly changed, there really isn’t much else that really sets it apart from any other procedural drama. I certainly applaud the fact that Lucy Liu was cast as one of the leads (we certainly need more visible minorities as leads, instead of just supporting), but it’s not quite enough to make me a regular viewer. Due to the case-of-the-week set-up of the show it’s not exactly something that requires immediate viewing, so I think it is safe to say that I’ll only watch it from time to time.
666 PARK AVENUE: Rachael Taylor and Dave Annable star as Jane and Henry, a young couple who move into the historic Drake Hotel in New York as the new resident managers, which is owned by Gavin and Olivia Doran, played by Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams. As she attempts to restore the Drake to its former glory, Jane slowly uncovers something far more sinister in its history than she could’ve ever imagined. We also follow the lives of the other residents, including Robert Buckley and Mercedes Masohn’s couple, Brian and Louise Leonard; Samantha Logan’s Nona Clark; Helena Mattsson’s Alexis Blume; and Erik Palladino’s doorman, Tony DeMeo. The show is a sexy, seductive thriller, attempting to create a balance between being a soap and a creepy horror mystery drama; it’s a little bit of a hard sell. Now I know people have dismissed it because it’s “not as creepy/scary as American Horror Story“, to which I say it’s a broadcast drama AND it’s on ABC (which is owned by family-friendly Disney) – there’s only so much that they can air. From the get-go, I thought it was a great move by ABC to air this as part of its schedule alongside Once Upon A Time and Revenge, but for some reason, the ratings thus far haven’t been stellar. I’m certainly intrigued by the show and can’t wait to see where they go with the story. Hopefully ABC gives this some time before making any rash decisions regarding its fate in TV land.
ARROW: Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, this new adaptation follows former billionaire playboy Oliver Queen coming back to Starling City, after being presumed dead for 5 years. Oliver comes back vowing to right the wrongs of his family and restore their city to its former glory. The show comes to us from executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, with Stephen Amell cast as Arrow. A lot of people saw this as a replacement for Smallville, but what the producers have done here is make it an entity of its own, with a look and feel that draws more from the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. The CW have a surefire hit on their hands here, with not only a known entity but with a well-crafted show that goes along well with their Wednesday night partner Supernatural and Nikita (which would’ve worked INCREDIBLY well as a lead-out of Arrow). You certainly don’t have to be a comic book geek to see how great a show this is.
NASHVILLE: Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere stars as two rivals in the country music industry. Britton is Rayna James, a superstar who’s made a name for herself in the country music world, but who’s record sales aren’t so spectacular in the eyes of her label. Panettiere is Juliette Barnes, an up-and-comer with massive crossover and youth appeal. Just like how you don’t have to know the comics to get into Arrow, you don’t need to be a country music fan to be able to enjoy Nashville (though it may help a little when they perform some of the songs). The writing is impeccable, Britton has found herself another great character (following Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story), and Panettiere is coming back rather nicely with a much role than her Heroes character. While the focus is on Britton and Panettiere, the supporting cast certainly holds their own. Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor) and Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott) play a pair of songwriters who might just help Rayna regain success, and almost nearly stole the show with their performance of “If I Didn’t Know Better” at the end of the pilot episode. Charles Esten as Deacon, Rayna’s lead guitar player and ex; Eric Close as Teddy, Rayna’s husband, who is running for mayor; and Jonathan Jackson as Avery, Scarlett’s boyfriend and an aspiring musician, all add much drama to what’s sure to be another hit for ABC, assuming the ratings are good.
EMILY OWENS, M.D.: Mamie Gummer (daughter of legendary actress Meryl Streep) star as the title character, who is fresh out of med school and is quickly learning that life in the hospital is not so different from high school. It’s basically Grey’s Anatomy for the CW crowd. Based on the pilot alone, it’s not great, but it’s also not terrible. Something about the writing and the characterization of these people doesn’t particularly strike me as new and exciting. Certainly between Gummer and her other castmates including Justin Hartley and Michael Rady, you kind of wish they were given better material to work with. I am really hoping that the second episode will show improvement over the pilot, or else I’m afraid it’s not going to make the cut.
So that’s my thoughts on some of this year’s freshman shows. CBS already made the first cancellation of the season, cutting loose the legal drama “Made in Jersey” (Fridays @ 9? It never stood a chance.) But what else will join it? Which of the new shows have you watched? What’s been worth your time (or DVR space)?