You don’t judge books by their covers, you don’t judge movies by their trailers, and you don’t judge new TV shows by their upfront presentations. But if teasers are supposed to pique our curiosity, surely we can rate our excitement, yes? Here’s my take on the first looks at Fox’s new shows for next season, ranked in order of interest.
Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET between The Simpsons and Family Guy
Premise: High-concept buddy cop comedy starring Chris Robinson (The Office) and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) as mismatched partners who investigate paranormal mysteries for a secret organization called The Paranormal Underground.
What intrigues me: Right in my nerd wheelhouse. The sci-fi, horror, and fantasy genres — dominant modes of entertainment right now — are ripe for quality satire and spoofing. Robinson and Scott are excellent comic actors who could easily anchor their own shows and have potential to be dynamite together. The visual effects look impressive, and better, they produce comic effects, not just spectacle.
Why I’m skeptical: Geek-coms are fashionable now, but they can run out of gas quick (see: Fox’s Son of Zorn and Making History) or fail to launch (see: NBC’s Powerless), either because they don’t have the ideas or budget or because of creative differences between producers and the network.
Mondays at 9 p.m. ET after Lucifer
Premise: A new take on Marvel’s X-Men from writer Matt Nix (Burn Notice) and director Bryan Singer, longtime captain of Fox’s cinematic X-enterprises. Stephen Moyer (Shots Fired) and Amy Acker (Person of Interest) star as the Struckers, parents who discover their teen kids are super-powered mutants, which makes them targets of a government agency that hunts, regulates, and neutralizes them. One twist? Moyer’s character works for said agency. D’oh!
What intrigues me: Nix, Singer, and a quality cast offer hope for an elevated, next-gen approach to a property that could really use it. The teaser offers hope that Nix and Singer can present familiar X-themes in a resonant way — teen angst, Otherness, persecution — and find some new ones. Daddy Strucker’s conflict sounds timely and compelling. Another part of the premise involves the X-Men themselves. Where are they? Do they still exist? Or have they gone underground? My inner comic book fanboy wants to know.
Why I’m skeptical: My inner comic book fanboy also has a very high threshold for cool. For example: Fox’s Gotham and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. do nothing for me. Gifted will also have to compete with the memory of so many recent X-clone shows (Heroes, Tomorrow People) that have come and gone, wearing out the premise in the process. It’ll also have to compete with comparisons to another X-show, Noah Hawley’s edgy, audacious Legion. Good luck.
L.A. to Vegas
Premise: Dylan McDermott plays the boozy, cheeky captain of an airplane that makes weekend flights to Sin City, ferrying a core group of eccentrics and gamblers who make weekly trips to Vegas to party or get rich.
What intrigues me: The comedy brain trust of producers Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Lon Zimmet (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Steven Levitan (Modern Family). But it’s McDermott as you’ve never seen him before that gets me cackling in the trailer. He looks like he’s having loosey-goosey fun while also trying to craft a distinct comic character. He also looks like a wasted Clive Owen. Which is good, I guess!
Why I’m skeptical: The kind of skepticism that unusual premises often invite and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in fact, provides one more reason to watch: Is there really a show here?
(Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET following Gotham)
Premise: A live-action sci-fi dramedy (heavy on the sci-fi and comedy) created by and starring Seth MacFarlane, who plays the commanding officer of a Star Trek-esque exploratory vessel with a diverse alien crew who go on First Contact missions and scrap with warmongering extraterrestrials. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) plays his ex-wife, who gets assigned to be his First Officer.
What intrigues me: MacFarlane doing his version of Galaxy Quest. Also, there’s a funny robot in it, so you got me.
Why I’m skeptical: Is there interest in a Star Trek spoof right now? Also: Will MacFarlane be as MacFarlane as he wants to be? Hopefully he can bring his inspired edge to it.
Premise: An attempt at a next-generation hospital drama starring Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife), Emily VanCamp (Revenge), and Bruce Greenwood (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) that “rips the curtain back to the truth of what really happens, both good and bad, in hospitals across the country,” according to Fox.
What intrigues me: Besides actors I have always loved? Nothing.
Why I’m skeptical: The trailer is all anti-hero doc clichés.