Ahh September, if you are like me, you don’t care about pumpkin spice anything. Did I just invite the wrath of the basics? The thing that will quench my fall thirsts are new TV shows!! What new stories and characters await us to get lost in, cry over, concoct complicated conspiracy theories about, suspend disbelief for, or just get plain worked up over? Smell that? That’s drama, or comedy, or a thriller, frothy good fun. Full disclosure, I don’t have a TV. Long story short, movers broke it and I never replaced it. This is a weird set of circumstances for a TV addict to exist under; but given the rate of my peers ‘cutting the cord’ from cable and moving to streaming services, or Netflix marathons, I barely notice. Well also, I am several seasons behind on many (many) shows.
That being said, I am very picky as to what I will watch. Time is valuable, so will I be having a marathon catch-up session of Haven or check out the Another Round podcast? For new shows, I sometimes give it up to four episodes before I cut it loose or keep going. My theory is that pilots are rarely good indicators of the pacing of a show. The second episode could be a result of network notes. The third episode should take us out of back-story and character introductions, and the fourth episode should be setting the stage for the season. However, how do you pick what pilot to watch in the first place? Well here is my handy dandy decision tree, feel free to tailor it to your personal predilections and tastes (I won’t judge).
Now we here at sisters in law blog know you have your choice of entertainment sites to get the lowdown and skinny on shows by people who are paid to know about TV, but in case you can’t trust a critic, or their tastes run more highbrow than yours, we are presenting our summary of the new fall shows.Just a couple of notes before we begin, I am only going to talk about the big five broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox, and NBC. And also these are only shows that will be new or have a series premiere during the 2016-2017 TV season. I also acknowledge that in the list of 2016 Emmy nominations, there are a scant handful of big five network shows nominated. This could lead one to say that the big five networks do not cater to quality or innovative or are slow to reflect society. But let’s take a look at how far off the mark they are anyway.
I have put a little * by the shows I will for sure check out.
American Housewife – narrated comedy about a woman and her family. I fear their special episode may be about gluten intolerance.
Conviction – a former first daughter is blackmailed into running a justice center. So a legal drama, probably high stakes too.
*Designated Survivor – low level cabinet member becomes president, post-apocalyptic world, Kiefer.
Notorious –crime show based on the relationship between early crime TV and lawyers.
Speechless –Family dramedy about a special needs child who does not speak. In real life, the actor does have special needs, but does speak.
- Downward Dog – Based on a web series, where the dog is the one giving camera confessionals.
- Imaginary Mary – Jenna Elfman appears to be a disheveled thirty-something year old who met the love of her life, a single father of three. I smell tropey high-jinks.
- Still Star-Crossed – what happened in the courts of the Montagues and the Capulets after Romeo and Juliet shrugged their mortal coil. Appears to be colorblind casting.
- Time After Time – the time traveling adventures of a young HG Wells.
Bull – loosely based on the life of Dr. Phil.
The Great Indoors–Joel McHale is a former adventure reporter running a web zine with a staff full of millennials.
Kevin Can Wait–Kevin ‘Paul Blart’ James returns to CBS for predictable situational comedy.
MacGyver – it’s young MacGyver.
Man with a Plan – how did Matt LeBlanc go from Episodes to this? It is described as a hard working dad getting to know his family more…did he leave them and come back? No. His wife goes back to work so now he has to do stuff…umm 1955 called and wants its plot back.
Pure Genius – Two white men, one a tech billionaire, one a maybe shady doctor (??) buy a hospital and try to teach cutting edge medicine there.
- Doubt – ugh Katherine Heigel plays an attorney in love with her bad news criminal client. Also I bet all they give Laverne Cox to do is ‘uh-uhs and ‘no girls’ for a couple of scenes.
- Training Day – I am pretty sure Bill Paxton is supposed to be Ethan Hawke 15 years from when the movie ended. This time the rookie is the Black guy.
Puja’s recommendation: I cannot in good conscience recommend any of these. Literally a show about the life of Dr. Phil made it to air. They let Limitless go for this.
Frequency – Another Movie Reboot. Cop daughter can talk to her cop dad who died a while back via a CB radio.
No Tomorrow–Opposites attract + work place comedy + bucket list = been there done that
- Riverdale– subversive live-action version of Archie comics. This sounds like it could go Dawson’s Creek real quick.
Puja’s recommendation: Jane the Virgin, yeah it is not on the list, but it is a good show. Catch up on Netflix.
The Exorcist– Here is one of two of Fox’s big to small screen offerings. Geena Davis will be gnashing through the scenery in this one I bet.
Lethal Weapon–Damon Wayans Sr. as young Roger Murtaugh sounds like it could be great or terrible.
*Pitch–This may be my show for the fall I give my time to. It is about the journey of a young woman who becomes the first female pitcher in the major leagues. Also Mark Paul Gosslear.
Prison Break– Original cast appears to be back for a 10 episode miniseries a la 24.
Son of Zorn – Jesus what is this? It is another dad getting to know his family sitcom. But this time the dad is an animated cross between He-Man and Lion-O and everyone else is human. Again, what is this?
- *24 Legacy – don’t even know what it is about but it stars Corey Hawkins who was woefully underused in The Walking Dead and was Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton.
- APB – a different tech billionaire buys a police precinct this time, I guess new ways to fight crime?
- Making History – There is a trio of time travelling friends who are trying to learn about themselves and not eff up the past. I kid you not, the summary said something like that.
- The Mick – Sounds like that Kate Hudson movie Raising Helen if it was made in the Stepford Wives neighborhood.
- *Shots Fired – It kind of sounds like Broadchurch (which did not do well in its American adaptation) but stars Sanaa Lathan.
- Star – Queen Latifah has something to do with a girl group trying to make it. The picture made them look like they were along the lines of SWV, Brownstone, or Jade to be honest.
The Good Place – it sounds like highbrow version My Name is Earl with Ted Danson and Kristen Bell.
This is Us– hour-long dramedy based on the lives of people born on the same day. You know what sounds like a better version of this (even though I LOVE you Milo Ventigmiglia!)? Sense 8 on Netflix.
Timeless – More Time-traveling. Except this time a soldier, scientist and historian are traveling through time to stop a super villain from ruining the world.
- Blacklist Redemption – Espionage and Birth Secrets in a spinoff of Blacklist. Stars Famke Jansen of the X-Men series (pre-reboot).
- Chicago Justice – Legal drama about the state attorney’s office in Chicago and Carl Weathers is in on it too!
- *Emerald City –The dystopian telling of The Wizard of Oz. Costuming, make-up and set direction should be luscious if the promo pictures are accurate.
- Great News – the aunt from My Big Fat Greek Wedding plays a mom who gets an internship at her daughter’s news company/station(?)
- Marlon – A family comedy about co-parenting starring Marlon Wayans and quintessential stick up her butt mom, Essence Atkins.
- Midnight, Texas – paranormal Texas town just trying to make it in the big scary world.
- *Powerless – the background characters of the DC universe struggle to find their own super powers
- Trial and Error – Legal comedy set around a particular defense team
- Taken – Hey it’s the final big screen to small screen offering. It is young Liam Neeson and how he got his skills in displayed in the Taken films.
If you are interested you can get an actual summary of the above shows here.
Bad news kids, we are not looking at sweeping changes to the fall landscape. Many critics from the Television Critics Association called out CBS for this exact thing earlier in the summer. If you are looking for offerings like Stranger Things, Atlanta, Baskets, Luke Cage stick with your streaming services and cable. In fact, with the exception of a handful of the above, most of the above star a straight, white male.
Viola Davis won best actress in a drama series at last year’s Emmy Awards, becoming the first woman of color to do so. Do you remember her acceptance speech about representation and inclusion that made the rounds last year? The 68th annual Emmy awards will air on September 18, 2016. So what has occurred in the past year in TV? Is there more diversity, representation and inclusion in the 2016 Fall TV Season to be seen?
I have dozens of show ideas in my head. For example a show called #SingleAF in which the lead character, a plucky West Indian girl, tries to navigate her life via her American ideals, where being single has its perks and her traditional familial life where her sell-by date has long gone and her parents are getting desperate to see grandkids. Each episode will be based on tweet about this dual life. See, now doesn’t that kind of sound like something you would be willing to watch if you’re plans got cancelled or you were home sick on a lot of meds? No one is handing me a bag of money to turn this into a mega-hit, but someone greenlit a show based on Dr. Phil. UGH.
It appears that network TV has few new concepts to offer us. If all the time traveling, dads re-discovering their families (that they never left), movie to TV shows, and reboots by another name are to be believed, I do not think Network TV cares about making art or pushing the boundaries. There is more than one show about a dad stepping into a new world…that of his existing family. I mean when was neglect funny? Not saying that network TV can’t offer us good TV. Look to American Crime, Blackish, Jane the Virgin, etc. for some lights in the darkness. Also – this piece started off being a review of Stranger Things but clearly it went a different direction. However, if you have not checked out the show, please do, we just got word there will be a season 2! Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Crackle, even YouTube has subscription TV shows now; they are all doing some amazing things that network TV can’t/won’t do for whatever reason. Also it allows you to be picky, and we all know that being picky means you have good taste darlings. Go forth and find your preferred fall flavor (it is OK if it is pumpkin spice), happy tasting!
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This is my favorite Stranger Things Meme because #SingleAF