Fall-TV snap judgments
Vampires! Superheroes! Cops! Blond ladies who fall down a lot? The broadcast networks have released their lineups for 2013–14. And while we’ve only seen trailers for the new shows, it’s already clear which ones look the most promising…and which seem destined to disappoint.
WE’RE EXCITED FOR…
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
The geek pedigree behind this superhero thriller is so strong, nerds everywhere will be P.S.Y.C.H.E.D. Exec producer Joss Whedon has tapped Clark Gregg to resurrect his Avengers role as Agent Phil Coulson, who solves mysteries with a team of scientists and face-kickers. The fight scenes are blockbuster-worthy, and the humor is deliciously dry.
ALMOST HUMAN (FOX)
This sci-fi drama should fit snugly into that DVR slot left by Fringe. Exec-produced by J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman and set in the year 2048, it follows a cop (Karl Urban) who fights crime with his part-android partner (Michael Ealy). The special effects and futuristic cityscapes look amazing. Also, that scene where Ealy ”downloads” information by stabbing a syringe into his neck? So cool.
After impressive work on cable dramas, Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott move to broadcast TV in a nifty serialized thriller. She’s a surgeon tapped to operate on the president. He’s a rogue FBI agent threatening to murder her kin unless she kills the POTUS.
THE BLACKLIST (NBC)
A criminal mastermind (James Spader) turns himself in and promises to help the FBI catch other brilliant baddies. One condition: He only talks to a seemingly undistinguished field agent (Blue Bloods‘ Megan Boone). The Silence of the Lambs sans serial killing, The Blacklist looks engrossing and fully realized.
THE ORIGINALS (THE CW)
The spin-off of The Vampire Diaries seems to be an edgier derivation of the mothership. And with the commanding Joseph Morgan at the center, The Originals should get obsessive attention from TVD fans — and maybe a few newbies, too.
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (FOX)
It’s a workplace comedy set in a police precinct, with Andy Samberg as its resident goofball, a detective who whiles away the hours playing roller-chair derby and doing very bad robot impressions of his humorless boss (Andre Braugher). If you’re not laughing yet, go watch the trailer online, and check out Samberg in a Speedo. We’ll wait.
WE’RE NOT SOLD ON…
THE CRAZY ONES (CBS)
David E. Kelley’s latest ”zany” workplace comedy is a modern-day Mad Men, starring Robin Williams as a wacky ad whiz and Sarah Michelle Gellar as his responsible daughter. A likable lot, for sure, but Kelley’s satire will need to be sharper for The Crazy Ones to really zing.
Blair Underwood deserves a great drama — but this remake isn’t it. Playing a wheelchair-bound cop, he proves his badassery by dangling criminals off buildings and delivering tough-guy catchphrases. He’s spinning wheelies on Raymond Burr’s grave.
TROPHY WIFE (ABC)
This eye-roller of a comedy focuses on a reformed party girl (Malin Akerman) who marries an older guy (Bradley Whitford) and must make nice with his ex-wives (Michaela Watkins and Marcia Gay Harden) and kids. Expect every sexy-stepmom cliché ever: the creepy oedipal humor, the look who burned breakfast! moments, and at least one shot of Akerman grabbing her own breasts.
SEAN SAVES THE WORLD (NBC)
The single-working-parent premise gets an admirable twist, with Sean Hayes playing a divorced dad trying to juggle a teenage daughter, a tough new boss, and life as a late-blooming gay man. Alas, it looks like just another bland, broadly gaggy sitcom. Since it’s from Better Off Ted creator Victor Fresco, we hoped for more invention.
We saw your boobs, Seth MacFarlane: They’re the two guys on your new comedy. Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi play dim-witted friends and business partners forced to deal with their live-in fathers (Peter Riegert and Martin Mull) and their own terrible jokes about Indian-food burps. Questions you’ll ask yourself while watching: Which character is a worse stereotype, the broken-English Latina maid or the Asian woman in the sexy schoolgirl costume? And more important: Why am I watching this?
Season at a Glance: Big Trends On The Small Screen
LESS IS MORE
Next season the Big Four networks will all launch 10-to-15-episode dramas, like NBC’s Dracula with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, CBS’ Intelligence with Josh Holloway, and Fox’s 24 reboot with Kiefer Sutherland.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING
ABC’s Mixology could be subtitled ”It Happened One Night”: The club-set sitcom will spend an entire season exploring one eventful evening. It joins CBS’ How I Met Your Mother (whose ninth and final season unspools during a single weekend) and, of course, 24.
NO MORE MR. NICE GUY
Everyone loves a good villain. The new season will put this maxim to the test with several shows that make protagonists out of rogues (The Blacklist, Hostages), monsters (Dracula, The Originals), and one notable Rake (Greg Kinnear). Look at what you’ve wrought, Tony Soprano.
In addition to Fox’s Dads, ABC’s Back in the Game and CBS’ The Millers both feature adults awkwardly shacking up with the ‘rents. It’s enough to make real-life moms and dads everywhere lock their doors.