It’s been a while since my last blog post, so I thought it would be a good time to get back to writing! Now I know that people these days love their Netflix binges, or the premium cable darlings like Game of Thrones, but I’ve always been impartial to the good ol’ cable TV shows. Some of my favorite shows, like Survivor, New Girl, and Saturday Night Live are on the classic television networks, and I’m always interested in seeing what kinds of new shows the networks come out with every Fall. So, what I’ve decided to do this year is watch all the trailers for the new shows on the major networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox) and break down what the trends in new shows are, and give some of my thoughts on what looks good, what doesn’t, and what shows I think have some lasting potential. Here’s what to (and what not to) watch out for on television this fall:
Shows About Time Travel
- Perhaps the networks are trying to piggy back off the success of Starz’ breakout hit Outlander because 3 of the 4 are premiering pilots with plots centering on time travel (Side Note: If any of you haven’t had the chance to check Outlander, I would suggest doing so because it truly is one of the best shows running right now). These particular shows look like kind of a mixed bag though, I’m not sure any of them are particularly strong or have a great long-term prognosis, but they all seem at the very least OK. Making History is a comedy, premiering on Fox, starring Adam Pally (best known from The Mindy Project) as a time traveler who enlists the help of a friend of his to protect the past from being interfered with while he tries to live a double life in the past. I’m not sure if I understand the plot of this show too well from the trailer, nor do I really understand where the humor is going to come from in this plot, but it’s going to get a premiere in between The Simpsons and Family Guy, so it should have a shot. NBC is premiering their drama, Timeless, starring a relatively unknown cast as would-be heroes selected to stop a time-travelling villain who is seeking to alter history in nefarious ways. This show looks like it has something to offer just about anyone, drama, action, mystery and intrigue, so I imagine it should do well given the show doesn’t just happen along aimlessly. My favorite of the three pilots is probably ABC’s Time After Time. The show is a very interesting historical fiction piece starring fictionalized characters of real life figures like H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper, as Wells travels through time to stop Jack the Ripper from wreaking havoc in the future. This show looks really fun, the leads look very invested in their parts and the scene, and I think the story being told could be very riveting if written well. I also really love the chemistry between the actors too; even from the short snippets we get in the trailer it’s clear that the relationships between the leads get really well-developed through the course of the show. I’ll definitely be tuning into Time After Time when it premieres this winter, I think this one is worth a shot!
A-List Celebrity Driven Comedies
- It’s really tough for comedies to survive on network TV these days. It seems like every year there are all these new shows, and 90% of them don’t last for a second season. In order to make shows work, the networks are really relying on A-list personalities to drive shows, almost guaranteeing that pilots will get picked up as long as they got a big name tied to them. Unfortunately, a lot of the shows premiering this fall with those A-list names genuinely look terrible. Let’s start with The Great Indoors, CBS’ new comedy starring comedian Joel McHale. I love McHale’s work, so I was pretty interested in this project until I saw the trailer. Everything about the show looks bad, his character isn’t funny, the premise isn’t funny, and it just doesn’t look list a plot that’s going to grow. The same can be said about Man With A Plan, the umpteenth new series starring Matt LeBlanc that is destined for cancellation. Sure, he was great in Friends, but that was over a decade ago, and society and television have changed a bit. No one is clamoring to see Matt LeBlanc on their TV, and I don’t think this series is going to change that. Now, much to my surprise, the one comedy of this type I actually think has some promise stars my least favorite comedian of the group, Kevin James. I’ve never really seen this guy’s appeal over the years, but his upcoming show Kevin Can Wait actually seems like a decent family comedy. I think it has a pretty good ensemble with actresses like Erinn Hayes and Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey) helping to carry this show and keep it down to Earth and relatable. It might just be the setting or the similar family dynamics, but the show really reminds of Grounded For Life or The War at Home, and it would be refreshing to have a show like that on the air again. I’m not positive I’ll stick with it, but I might give Kevin Can Wait a chance.
Milquetoast Dramedies Galore
- I understand that there are shows on TV that are just not meant for me or my demographic, but still, I can’t wrap my head around a lot of these new dramatic comedies rolling out this fall. There are plenty that look OK, but I’m not sure who’s tuning in to see some of these shows. I’ll start with Imaginary Mary for example. It’s a show starring Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) as a woman whose childhood imaginary friend comes back to haunt her as she falls in love with a single father. I’ll be honest, I didn’t hate this show when I watched the trailer, it looks OK, but the premise is so weird that I just can’t imagine it catching on. I really don’t know who would green light a premise like this for a network TV show, but all the power to ‘em if it works I guess. Then there’s shows like ABC’s Speechless and NBC’s American Housewife that really walk that line between serious drama and comedy, and they just don’t seem to succeed with the balancing act on first look at least. Watching those trailers didn’t get me interested in those shows, they just kind of left me confused as to how I should feel. One show I think might be worth watching is The Mick, a Fox comedy premiering mid-season. Starring Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as a woman left to watch after her niece and nephews after her sister is sent to prison (not a unique plot device, mind you), The Mick appears to have some promise, Olson looks like she’s having a lot of fun in the title role, and having Sofia Black-D’Elia (Skins U.S., Gossip Girl) in the cast makes me even more interested to watch. Also, the fact that this show is going to premiere after New Girl makes the decision to watch this much easier for me, and also probably gives it a fighting chance of catching on with its target audience.
Popular Series Redux
- A big trend we’ve been seeing in movies over the last few years has been remakes of classic films and film series. The trend has continued on to the small screen to an extent too, but this year it seems like the big thing is redoing old shows. You can call it lazy if you like, but the new shows haven’t really been sticking these days, so why not try something that already has a little brand notoriety to get eyes glued to the TV screens again? Lethal Weapon is coming back as an hour long drama for ABC, paying homage to the movie franchise. I’m not sure how it’ll do, the action series are really not my cup of tea in general, but like I said, brand notoriety could carry this show. MacGyver is coming back to television as well, and from the looks of things, it’s going to be basically the exact same show. It’s going to be on CBS, a network that generally skews towards the older viewer, so the strategy of re-doing a show might actually do very well there. Of all the re-makes I saw coming up, I have to say the one that captivates me a little is The Exorcist, an hour long show for Fox. While it doesn’t appear to be tied in with the movie series at all, it’s still utilizing the name recognition of the franchise, and telling a similar story, only this time in serial form. I’ve seen plenty of movies and haunting specials about exorcisms, half of them good and half of them bad, but this show looks to be the right kind of creepy and thrilling. I reckon it could actually do quite well, especially since it will be premiering in early fall in good time for Halloween season. I really hope The Exorcist is as good as it seems in the trailer, I always liked the franchise and it would be fun to see it succeed as a series.
The Big 4
- In watching the couple dozen of trailers for new shows, I’ve come to the conclusion that each of the major networks is searching for that big splash show, something to put all of their marketing into in hopes it’ll get them big viewership for years to come. I think I’ve identified each networks big hope within their upcoming television series. For ABC, Designated Survivor starring Kiefer Sutherland is clearly the golden child of their new show lineup. It’s been very heavily marketed by the network, and relies heavily on the charisma and acting chops of Sutherland, who turned 24 into an iconic series many years before. Debuting in a big election season is going to help this show a lot, and its dystopian political theme should make it a big hit for ABC. CBS seems to be putting a lot of their money and time into ensuring that Bull is their crime-based answer to House. The conceptual similarities are pretty obvious here, you have a title character, this time played by Michael Weatherly (NCIS), who has an almost savant like ability to seriously impact his profession. This time it’s a procedural crime drama, which is right up CBS’ alley in terms of the shows they’ve been successful with in previous years. This should be a hit for CBS; they’ve promoted it too much for it not to be. I reckon it would actually be much more noteworthy if this show didn’t do well, that might be a hit to CBS’ marketing team. It was little tougher to pick out what Fox’s hopeful cash cow is going to be, but if there scheduling decisions are a tip off, then chances are 24: Legacy is what they are looking to carry their lineup in early 2017. This show is getting the luxury of premiering after the Super Bowl in February, and while it’s not going to features the stars of the first series, the 24 name should bring the viewers back in drones. Coupling that with a resumption of the Prison Break saga, and Fox is probably going to have a great spring 2017 season. I think NBC has a smash hit in the making with This Is Us, an ensemble cast drama that follows the lives and hardships of a group of people all born on the same day 36 years ago. This show looks sensational, heartfelt, and unique amongst the mass of procedural dramas and witty/snarky comedies on television. This should be a true heartstring pulling drama relying on the human element more than most shows today do. I think This Is Us could very easily become one of my favorite television shows, and I’m very excited for its premiere.
- My personal favorite of all the new shows coming out this fall is CBS’ medical drama Pure Genius. It stars Dermot Mulroney (New Girl, Shameless) as a doctor joining a new state of the art medical practice started by a tech billionaire, played by relative newcomer Augustus Prew. This show has a really amazing hopeful vibe to it, about using technology to try to cure diseases much more efficiently. I love the chemistry between the lead characters on this show; it really feels like it could be something special. I’m not 100% sure this show is going to catch on with the audiences, but it’s sleek, it’s innovative, and it’s exciting enough to do so. I’m very excited about this show; I think it could make for remarkable television!