2014 Fall TV Pre-Review

We interrupt this (surprisingly successful) experiment in linking movie reviews with a discussion of the upcoming fall TV season. (I also apologize for the extremely late nature of this post. But, late or not, post it I shall!)

I admit, my TV viewing habits have dropped off dramatically. (Fatherhood, natch.) I looked back over last year’s post, and realized how many things I said I’d watch, and I never watched. (Sorry, Sleepy Hollow. I promise to think about catching up later.) So, this time I’m not going to track down previews. I’m just winging it, old-school!

Hat tip to the Internet for the show descriptions. (I honestly can’t remember where I pulled them. Please don’t sue me, Internet.)

A to Z
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 2 at 9/8c

A student of the How I Met Your Mother school of television, A to Z is a romantic comedy that chronicles a relationship from beginning to end, à la 500 Days of Summer. (I think HIMYM was true lighting-in-a-bottle TV. Any attempt to recapture that magic is likely doomed.)

The Affair
Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 12 at 10/9c

Told from alternating male and female perspectives, The Affair examines the emotional and psychological effects of infidelity on two different marriages. (Downer alert. Do not sign me up.)

Bad Judge
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 2 at 9/8c

This single-camera comedy stars Kate Walsh (Private Practice, Fargo) as Rebecca Wright, one of L.A.’s most respected criminal court judges. (What is the sound of no hands clapping? Cancellation. That’s what… Who am I kidding? This’ll probably be the next The Good Wife, another show I don’t watch.)

Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 24 at 9/8c

Created by and starring comedian Anthony Anderson, Black-ish explores one man’s efforts to establish a cultural identity for his family after he discovers his children don’t have one. (They get points for attacking a relevant social issue. And there’s Laurence Fishburne, too! A definite maybe.)

Premieres: Friday, Oct. 24 at 10/9c

One of many comic book adaptations this season, Constantine is based on the DC Comics series Hellblazer. Welsh actor Matt Ryan stars as the titular John Constantine, a seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult who abandoned his campaign against evil after failing to save a young girl’s soul from hell. (I liked the Keanu film. I plan to try this one on for size based on that alone. Could be a nice pairing with Grimm.)

Premieres: Friday, Oct. 10 at 8/7c

Loosely based on comedienne Cristela Alonzo’s life and stand-up routine, this family sitcom opens as the title character enters her sixth year of law school and takes on an unpaid internship at a law firm where she’s frequently mistaken for the help. (Hmmm. Racial issues central to a sit-com. I sense a Theme of the Season coming…)

The Flash
Premieres: Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 8/7c

The CW’s highly anticipated Arrow spin-off stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, who becomes the fastest man alive, aka The Flash, after an explosion at the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator bestows him with superhuman speed. (This is one of the few I’ve seen a trailer for. Looks cute, but largely disposable.)

Premieres: Monday, Sep. 22 at 10/9c

Ioan Gruffudd stars as New York City medical examiner Henry Morgan, who harbors an unusual secret —he can’t die. (I like Gruffudd, and the premise is interesting. I’m worried that the balance of case-of-the-week procedurals won’t mesh well with mythology-building-backstory. But never say never, right?)

Premieres: Monday, Sep. 22 at 8/7c

Described as the origin story of future Gotham police commissioner Jim Gordon, Gotham is Fox’s effort to get in on TV’s comic-book craze. (This is probably my favorite of the new shows, at least based on some of the footage I’ve seen. As long as it feels mythic as opposed to soapy, I think it could be awesome.)

Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 2 at 9/8c

When a young boy is found dead on an idyllic beach, a major police investigation gets underway in the small California seaside town where the tragedy occurred. (For people who weren’t depressed enough by The Killing (or Twin Peaks, for that matter). I expect I’ll watch the pilot. The tone will determine my level of interest. Good cast, though.)

Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 30 at 11/10c

MTV’s newest scripted teen drama exposes the soapy inner workings of one of the country’s most popular theme parks, revealing the less-than-magical reality of what goes on behind the scenes. (This actually looks interesting… except for those three little letters: MTV. Can they produce content relevant to a 46-year-old? I mean, now that Death Valley is gone.)

How to Get Away With Murder
Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 25 at 10/9c

Shonda Rhimes continues her push toward world domination with this legal thriller, which stars Viola Davis as a serious-as-the-death-penalty law school professor whose attractive students vie for her approval and a desk at her prestigious law firm. (I respect Rhimes and do not begrudge her success. But, man, I don’t like her shows.)

BBC America
Premieres: Saturday, Aug. 23 at 9/8c

Based on Michael Marshall Smith’s 2007 book The Intruders, BBC America’s newest series stars Doctor Who’s John Simm as Jack Whelan, a former Los Angeles cop who has relocated with his wife (Mira Sorvino) to the Pacific Northwest in search of a quieter life. (Interesting. Another vague homage to Twin Peaks… Maybe that’s the Theme of the Season!)

Jane The Virgin
Premieres: Monday, Oct. 13 at 9/8c

Come on, it’s all right there in the title: Gina Rodriguez stars as a young woman named Jane, and Jane is a virgin! (I’m going to assume this skews too young for me.)

Premieres: Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 9/8c

Originally titled Navy St., Kingdom is a family drama set in the bruised and bloody world of mixed martial arts. Created by Byron Balasco (Detroit 1-8-7), the series stars Frank Grillo (Prison Break) as Alvey Kulina, a legend in the sport and the owner of an MMA gym who’s looking to develop the next generation of fighters. (Yeah, I’m going to ignore this one completely.)

Madam Secretary
Premieres: Sunday, Sep. 21 at 8/7c

Tea Leoni plays a former CIA agent whose former boss, now the president of the United States (Keith Carradine), asks her to take on the role of Secretary of State after an accident claims the life of the office’s previous occupant. (The number of shows that I like that use the government as a backdrop is rather small. But I like Leoni and Tim Daly. And I do miss The West Wing something fierce.)

Manhattan Love Story
Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 30 at 8/7c

This new comedy uses the power of voiceover to broadcast the internal monologues of a New York City dude (Jake McDorman) and a Midwestern transplant chick (Analeigh Tipton) as they navigate an awkward first date and subsequent budding romance. (If I had more disposable time, I’d probably give this a try for the gimmick alone. However, I don’t.)

Marry Me
Premieres: Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 9/8c

Happy Endings’ David Caspe is the writer behind this rom-com about a couple (played by Ken Marino and Caspe’s real-life wife Casey Wilson) who are well on their way to tying the knot. (I loved Happy Endings, so this gets an immediate shot.)

The McCarthys
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 30 at 9/8c

A loud-mouthed, sports-crazy Boston family (aren’t those things redundant?) is at the center of this multi-camera sitcom based on the life of series creator Brian Gallivan. (Ha-ha! People from Boston are jerks! Skip!)

Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 5 at 9/8c

Stand-up comic and former SNL writer John Mulaney does his best Jerry Seinfeld impression as a comedian who lives and works in New York City and whose pals (Nasim Pedrad and Seaton Smith) and wacky neighbor (Elliot Gould) like to butt into his life. (Because trying to recapture the magic of lightning-in-a-bottle shows always works so well.)

The Mysteries of Laura
Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 17 at 10/9c

Things at NBC are about to get Messing again! This lighthearted drama brings Will & Grace and Smash actress Debra Messing back to the small screen as Laura Diamond, an NYPD homicide detective who spends her days cleaning up the streets and the rest of her time cleaning up after her rambunctious twin sons and soon-to-be ex-husband (Josh Lucas). (If that title wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the description of he show. Blurgh.)

NCIS: New Orleans
Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 23 at 9/8c

Why should Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles have all the fun? The Big Easy gets its own iteration of TV’s most-watched drama, with Scott Bakula, Lucas Black, Zoe McLellan, and C.C.H. Pounder solving crimes on Bourbon Street and beyond. (I wonder if my fondness for Bakula can get me past what is likely to be an extremely by-the-numbers procedural?)

Red Band Society
Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 17 at 9/8c

Set in the children’s ward of a Los Angeles hospital (and narrated by a kid who’s in a coma), Red Band Society is a coming-of-age drama that follows a Breakfast Club -esque group of patients as they such face life-changing (and life-threatening) challenges as cancer and heart defects. (You really can’t pay me enough to watch this.)

Premieres: Monday, Sep. 22 at 9/8c

Based on the experiences of real-world genius Walter O’Brien, Scorpion is about a bunch of nerds who form a team to solve some of the world’s most complex problems. (Seems very promising. Like the cast, love the premise.)

Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 30 at 8/7c

Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) drops her adorable Scottish accent to star in this modern spin on Pygmalion that takes place in today’s social media-driven world. (I’m not a Whovian, but I do like John Cho. Worth a shot.)

Premieres: Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 10/9c

This violent and shocking thriller from The Following’s Kevin Williamson has already drawn plenty of pre-air criticism, and with good reason. It follows a division of the LAPD that deals with stalkers, voyeurs, and love-obsessed weirdos who target mostly women, often with deadly results. (I like both Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott. But if it gets too Criminal Mindsy, it might turn me off.)

State of Affairs
Premieres: Monday, Nov. 17 at 10/9c

Former Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl is making her grand return to television, whether you want her to or not. In this political drama, she plays a top CIA attache who’s tasked with one heck of a job: put together a briefing for the president (Alfre Woodard) to assess the greatest threats to national security. (I suppose if Madame Secretary isn’t doing it for me, I could try this one. But I’m not hopeful.)

Survivor’s Remorse
Premieres: Saturday, Oct. 4 at 9/8c

This basketball comedy… (We’ll just stop there. Next?)

Premieres: Sunday, Sep. 7 at 8/7c

In this experimental reality series based on a Dutch format, 15 contestants — of varying backgrounds and temperaments, of course —are thrown into the wilderness to spend an entire year building their own society with their own rules. (No. No. NO!)

Z Nation
Premieres: Friday, Sep. 12 at 10/9c

Syfy goes after the Walking Dead crowd with this action-horror series about — what else? — a group of survivors trying to save humanity after a zombie apocalypse. But this show’s ragtag group (including Lost’s Harold Perrineau, Southland’s Tom Everett Scott and Road Trip’s DJ Qualls) aren’t traipsing around the Southern countryside. Instead, they are trying to get the only person unaffected by the zombie plague from New York to California, where a viral lab hopes to turn his blood into a vaccine. (I find this to be an interesting take. And since I’m so over The Walking Dead, why not?)


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