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Entertainment Weekly TV critics Kristen Baldwin and Darren Franich discuss the best new shows of fall 2018. Let’s listen in…
KRISTEN BALDWIN: Grab that venti pumpkin spice latte and dust off your tweed, Darren, because the Fall TV season is upon us. While TV “seasons” have all but dissolved in this era of perpetual premieres, anticipating the bounty of new shows is as much a part of our annual late-summer mind shift as coping with those “Back to School” ads (which seem to start earlier every year, by the way).
You and I have watched as many of the new shows as humanly possible — some, like CBS’s Murphy Brown revival, were not available at press time — and now we hope to offer the EW audience a little guidance on what they should consider adding to their viewing lists. A caveat before we begin: We’re highlighting shows that premiere on or after Sept. 15. So if you don’t see things like FX’s Mayans MC (a worthy successor to Sons of Anarchy), Lifetime’s You, and Showtime’s Kidding (Jim Carrey as the sad host of a beloved children’s show), don’t think it’s because they’re not worth checking out. (They are!)
My first pick came as a very pleasant surprise. The Good Cop (Sept. 21, Netflix) stars Tony Danza and your mom’s favorite opera singer, Josh Groban, as father and son police officers. Well, Danza’s Tony is an ex-cop, having gone to the slammer for a corruption scandal. Groban’s TJ, meanwhile, is such a straight-arrow detective that the idea of pilfering sugar packets from the IHOP is anathema to him. The duo have a wonderfully easy chemistry — Tony’s shifty charm is the perfect trigger for TJ’s controlled anxiety — and the clever (but never too dark) mysteries are wrapped up tidily at the end of each episode. (The Good Cop comes from Andy Breckman, the creator of Monk.) Darren, if you had told me a few weeks ago that a police procedural starring Tony Danza would be one of my favorite new shows this fall, I would have thrown a DVD of Elementary season 5 at your head. Did any fall shows catch you off guard?
DARREN FRANICH: Ah yes, that special time of year when the Santa Ana winds blow cruel heat out of the desert, and the palm trees don’t noticeably change whatsoever. Autumn might not seem too autumnal here in Los Angeles — send me a picture of the New York leaves falling, Kristen! — but that’s one reason why this city attracts so many newcomers, who’ve heard stories of eternal beach weather (and don’t realize the droughts, wildfires, and earthquakes will never make housing prices any cheaper.) One such newcomer is John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), the apparent main character of The Rookie (Oct. 16, ABC), a 40-year-old small town everyman who seeks a new beginning as the oldest newbie on the LAPD.
I like Fillion, and figured this procedural was aiming to be a new star vehicle for the Castle vet. So it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that The Rookie is actually building a rock-solid cop ensemble. Nolan’s training officer Talia (Afton Williamson) has big career ambitions, which makes her a friendly rival with the equally go-getting Angela (Alyssia Diaz). The other newcomer cops have their own dramas: Lucy (Melissa O’Neil) has some particular struggles as a female cop, while Jackson (Titus Makin) has a legacy to grapple with. There one soapy plot element that cheapens the pilot for me. But a lot of the new Fall TV network dramas are trending in dispiriting directions, self-serious to the point of absurdity (A Million Little Pieces, Manifest) or bland genre remixes (FBI, New Amsterdam.) The Rookie‘s casual humanity works on me.
I realize that we’re both leading with cop shows, Kristen. Are there any definably un-procedural-ish new dramas that grabbed your interest? Bonus points if it’s a limited series with a trendy lack of obvious plot! (Next page: A prison drama from Ben Stiller, plus a chilling new TV witch)