Monday, September 9, 2013

New Shows, Old Faces: Fall 2013 TV Season

It's here! It's here! The start of the fall 2013 TV season has arrived, and with it a host of new shows to brawl it out on prime time.  It will be a blood bath and it will be glorious.

There's been a lot of talk recently about the changing face of television.  Even Kevin Spacey got in on the action.  As anyone with a computer knows, "content" is now no longer viewed only on actual television sets at certain times of day, but on a variety of platforms at whatever-time-I-feel-like-it.  TV bigwigs are just now realizing there is a market for this and the masses will still pay them to give the people what they want.  But some parts of the US television system are just too deeply ingrained to change, the biggest part being the fall premiere launch.  After wading through scripts, screening pilots, and strategically scheduling their lineup, the networks debut their hand-crafted new shows, the majority of which will be canceled before they've even become accustomed to the chill air of reality.

Because so many new shows get the axe, it can be a risk to start watching something new for fear you'll get invested just as it is yanked off the air.  But that's what I'm here for.  If you haven't already gone through the list of the new fall premieres to decide which you are going to invest precious DVR real estate in, let me help you.  I've given my top picks of shows I'm really pumped for and others I'll be watching out of the corner of my eye.  Remember, though, the risk of cancellation shouldn't stop you from sampling something that intrigues you.  What stays and what goes is still a surprise to the oldest of TV veterans.  May the odds be ever in the favor of your new favorites.

Top of the Top

The Blacklist-- Monday, Sep. 23 at 10/9c (NBC).  James Spader (pictured above) returns to NBC in this crime thriller as the world's most wanted fugitive who voluntarily turns himself into the FBI.  He offers to help them take down other most-wanted criminals with only one stipulation-- he gets to choose his handler, a rookie with whom he seemingly has no connection.  The trailer looks amazing, Spader is creepy in a good way, and the buzz surrounding the show is very positive.  It promises to be a twisty-turny ride.

Super Fun Night-- Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 9/8c (ABC).  Rebel Wilson and Conan O'Brien created this comedy in which Rebel (of Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect fame) stars as a home-body who is ushered into a new life of going out on Fridays by her new job.  I'm sure it will be silly and over-the-top, but the show has a strong pedigree and promise for the kind of relatable humor I love in The Mindy Project and New Girl.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine-- Tuesday, Sep. 17 at 8/7c (FOX).  Fox is hoping that Brooklyn Nine-Nine will be a better match for their existing comedy block than last year's newbies were.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine stars Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher in this comedy about a goofball detective and his straight-lace captain.  The show is from the creators of Parks and Rec, which is enough to get my ears perked, but the show has also received positive reviews from critics and features a strong ensemble.

Hostages-- Monday, Sep. 23 at 10/9c (CBS).  There are a number of things that really excite me about this show. 1) It stars Toni Collette, who I think is one of the great actresses of our time.  2) It's a departure from CBS's usual brand of cop procedurals and dramas that skew old.  3) The season will only be 15 episodes long, which will translate into tighter episodes and better storytelling.  Hostages is about a doctor (Collette) who is hired to operate on the president; she and her family are then kidnapped by a rogue FBI agent (Dylan McDermott. Er, Dermot Mulroney) with an agenda to kill the president.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-- Tuesday, Sep. 24 at 8/7c (ABC).  Ignoring the fact that I really hate titles where someone puts their name at the beginning (I'm looking at you, Lee Daniels' The Butler), SHIELD looks like it's guaranteed to be pretty darn awesome.  As a sequel/spinoff of The Avengers movie, SHIELD will be about the new team Coulson (he lives!) assembles to fight the bad guys.  Clark Gregg's resurrection as Coulson will be explained and Colbie Smolders will make an appearance.  Joss Whedon, he who gave us Buffy and Firefly AND directed The Avengers, will Executive Produce and his brother Jed will be part of the project, promising plenty of Whedon witticisms.

Worth Checking Out

Sleepy Hollow-- Monday, Sep. 16 at 9/8c (FOX).  From Fringe's Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci comes this modern spin on the classic story of Ichabod Crane.  The premise: Crane, who has been asleep for 250 years (Rip Van Winkle, what?), wakes up in present day where he must join forces with the local law enforcement to hunt down the Headless Horseman, who also happens to be one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  It's certainly a farce, but the show recognizes that and doesn't take itself too seriously.  I don't expect it to BE Fringe, but I do expect good things from the minds behind it. 

Mom-- Monday, Sep. 23 at 9/8c (CBS).  Chuck Lorre's newest creation stars Anna Faris as a recovering alcoholic single mom and Allison Janney as her critical mother.  Lorre's other TV shows--Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly-- have similarities between them, but they also differ significantly in tone and content.  I'm willing to check out Mom to see what Lorre's new show is like, and also because I'm sure Allison Janney will be fabulous as always.  The cast also includes French Stewart, Nate Corddry and Matt Jones.

Lucky 7-- Tuesday, Sep. 24 at 10/9c (ABC).  Lucky 7 is an adaptation of a successful British show about a group of gas station employees who win the jackpot lottery.  As always, I'm skeptical of an American take on a British show.  But it looks like the US version will be pretty faithful to the original, and features a strong ensemble cast.

The Crazy Ones-- Thursday, Sep. 26 at 9/8c (CBS).  Robin Williams returns to TV for the first time since Mork and Mindy to star as an ad exec who runs an agency with his daughter, Sarah Michelle Gellar.  Since the show is a sitcom, I'm worried Robin Williams will be too...well, Robin Williams-ee.  Over the years, though, Williams has proven he has real acting chops.  From creator David E. Kelley, there's a lot of very strong potential in this formula.  

The Michael J. Fox Show-- Thursday, Sep. 26 at 9/8c (NBC).  Another triumphant return to TV this year is that of Michael J. Fox.  The show will be a fictionalized version of his real life: a TV personality is encouraged by his family to return to work after taking time off to deal with his health issues.  Most of the draw surrounding this show appears to be Fox himself more than the storytelling or supporting cast.  NBC is clearly banking on Fox being a success by ordering the show straight to 22 episode pick up (shocking when most shows get a 6-13 episode order from pilot).  Perhaps it's a generational thing, but having never fallen in love with Fox on Spin City or Family Ties, I'll remain unsure of the quality of the show itself until we are a few weeks into the season.

Other Options

The much-anticipated Once Upon a Time spinoff has finally arrived-- Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8/7c ABC) is a dark take on Alice in Wonderland with carryovers from its parent show.  Family comedies are all the rage this year with every network launching at least one classic family sitcom.  Back in the Game (Wednesday, Sep. 25 at 8/7c ABC) stars Psych's Maggie Lawson and James Caan as a daughter and father who bond over softball.  Dracula (Friday, Oct. 25 at 10/9c NBC) is NBC's attempt to find a match for Grimm on Fridays, and they apparently believe in it with a 10-episode series order.  Jonathon Rhys Meyers will play Dracula in this fairly faithful adaptation of Brom Stoker's novel.  Sean Hayes is another big name TV return this year on Sean Saves the World (Thursday, Oct. 3 at 9/8c NBC).  Hayes plays a newly divorced single dad who sets out to be the world's best father when his daughter moves in with him.

Are there other shows that you are looking forward to premiering? Agree or disagree with my rankings of the shows listed? Hit up the comments below!

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