Monday, September 13, 2010
Fall TV Follies: One person's picks
Here are some brief personal thoughts about the new shows for the coming TV season:
For me, no broadcast series tops my two favorite fall offerings on cable: "Boardwalk Empire" (reviewed today by Brian Lowry), which I think is going to be the biggest thing on HBO since "The Sopranos," and "Luther," a British series that will premiere on BBC America in October and features a tour de force from Idris Elba in the lead role. (Think someone as smart as Gregory House but who lets all his emotions out rather than suppressing them.)
"Terriers," which premiered on FX last week, is solid, and I'm curious after seeing the pilot of IFC's "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" to see how that show will go.
But this post is about the broadcast network freshmen. Here's how I would rank them at the start.
"Lone Star" (Fox, 9 p.m. Mondays, pictured below): Imagine Don Draper with a younger, lighter Fox gloss. Just a really compelling pilot with a central character whose every move is interesting — this was the standout of the fall class.
Watching hopefully to see where they go
In alphabetical order:
"The Event" (NBC, 9 p.m. Mondays): Jason Ritter is a likable lead, but there are a lot of threads in this one, and it's not clear whether they all come together in a worthwhile way. But the pilot made me think it's at least worth a shot.
"Mike & Molly" (CBS, 9:30 p.m. Mondays): Leads Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy are immediately likable. The talent in the supporting cast is solid, but I'm not at all sold on their characters yet. It's clear, though, that this show will be about more than fat jokes.
"My Generation" (ABC, 8 p.m. Thursdays): A mixed bag. I can't say this faux documentary about high school kids 10 years later couldn't develop into something, but unless it finds a new timeslot, I don't know if it'll have much of a chance to.
"Nikita" (CW, 9 p.m. Thursdays): This is the first CW drama since "Reaper" that has me interested in seeing a second episode. I'm not necessarily hooked, but I liked the two-tiered storytelling with the Maggie Q and Lynsey Fonseca (pictured below) characters.
"No Ordinary Family" (ABC, 8 p.m. Tuesdays): Had high hopes for this but was a bit disappointed by some odd choices in the pilot. I still like the premise and the cast, so I'll give it more time.
"Outsourced" (NBC, 9:30 p.m. Thursdays): Some shaky early moments, but some promise later on. This is one of those series where the second episode will really tell us more than the first. By the end of the pilot, you got the sense that characters would drive the series more than the high concept — which is what has to happen.
"Raising Hope" (Fox, 9 p.m. Tuesdays): The half-insane character played by Cloris Leachman dragged down what was otherwise a fairly promising comedy, so I'm of mixed feelings about it.
"Running Wilde" (Fox, 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays): This series has a lot going against it; comparisons to "Arrested Development" have not been kind. But there are germs of the "Arrested" humor and sweetness in this new offering from alums Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett, and heaven knows it's nice to have Keri Russell back on TV. So I'm going to buck the trend and give this one a chance. It might need a few episodes to click, but I think there's something here.
Liked, but won't watch religiously
"The Defenders" (CBS, 10 p.m. Wednesdays, pictured right): Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the new fall series. Admittedly, my expectations were low, but almost immediately I found myself enjoying a legal show that didn't take itself too seriously yet avoided being slapstick about it. It won't be regular viewing for me, but it certainly works as a diversion.
Had their good points, but not for me
"Chase" (NBC, 10 p.m. Mondays): "Trauma," "Mercy," "Chase" ... they just all seem the same.
"Detroit 1-8-7" (ABC, 10 p.m. Tuesdays): Solid (with nice cast including James McDaniel, left) but not really a gamechanger. I think it'll do just fine even if I don't stick with it.
"Hawaii Five-0" (CBS, 10 p.m. Mondays): Pretty enough to look at, and who doesn't like Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park? But little in the pilot that made me care about what was happening, and I don't foresee that changing.
"Hellcats" (CW, 9 p.m. Wednesdays): This show isn't for me, but of course, look at me. It does work for what it is and could easily survive as a guilty pleasure for enough people.
"Better With You" (ABC, 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays): I've liked JoAnna Garcia since her "Freaks and Geeks" days, but this feels like a step backwards for ABC after their great stride with "Modern Family." Maybe this show would have seemed fresh 10 years ago.
"Blue Bloods" (CBS, 10 p.m. Fridays): Among other problems, the characters played by Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynahan, Donnie Wahlberg, Will Estes and Len Cariou — a fine cast, by the way — formed one of the least convincing families I've seen in some time. Despite my personal misgivings, I think this show will probably succeed on Fridays.
"Body of Proof" (ABC, 9 p.m. Fridays): The usually wonderful Dana Delany in maybe the worst role of her career (and that includes "Exit to Eden") — a smug know-it-all, a Gregory House without nearly enough of his charm.
"Outlaws" (NBC, 10 p.m. Fridays): Could not overcome the preposterous set-up of Jimmy Smits' character, who somehow made it to the Supreme Court in his 40s, despite numerous vices, and whose hard-line conservatism is reversed on a veritable drop of a hat.
"S#*! My Dad Says" (CBS, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays): I've only seen the original pilot and not the retooled version, but I'm not sure how they make this oddball show into a winner.
"Undercovers" (NBC, 8 p.m. Wednesdays): An unpleasant surprise — just came across as so shallow and self-satisfied. Can't wait to see leads Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw again ... in something else.
"Law & Order: Los Angeles" (NBC, 10 p.m. Wednesdays)