Hark’s Fall TV Preview
All good things come to an end and we know that this season will mean the end of some beloved shows like THE OFFICE, 30 ROCK, and FRINGE. While all of these shows have had celebrated runs, and while each deserves to go out in style, I for one will be focusing on THE OFFICE thanks to the return of original show runner Greg Daniels.
Speaking of Daniels, his other show — PARKS AND REC — just keeps on getting better, so I expect it and ABC’s HAPPY ENDINGS to grow their audiences and breakthrough despite the fact that this is P-REC’s fifth season.
A New COMMUNITY
Dan Harmon is gone and Moses Port and David Guarascio are in as the lords of NBC’s COMMUNITY, but will the show limp to it’s own end or will the new showrunners find a way to make the cult favorite viable for long term success? Here’s a potentially more important question though, do COMMUNITY fans really want more of the show if Port and Guarascio have to alter it to make it into a hit?
The Existing Royals
Nobody stays relevant or good forever, so the questions has to be asked: will existing hits like NCIS, TWO AND A HALF MEN, BIG BANG THEORY, HIMYM, and countless others keep plugging along, or will they fall out of favor? While we’re at it, should we be afraid of a sophomore jinx for some of last seasons big freshmen like BLUE BLOODS, GRIMM, REVENGE, NEW GIRL, and others?
After the “Will they/Won’t they?”
Opinions were mixed on how BONES faired last season after they finally brought Bones and Booth together and now it’s CASTLE’s turn to deal with the heightened risk and expectations now that they’ve made the decision to couple Rick Castle and Detective Beckett up. Will their chemistry carry them through any rough patches, or will the show crash and burn around them?
Can Lightning Strike Twice?
Ryan Murphy and Tim Minear shocked and delighted us with AMERICAN HORROR STORY, but with an all new story and almost an all new cast, can they do it again?
Getting it Right
Robert Kirkman is the master of the WALKING DEAD verse, but the show has strayed from his source material to mixed results. Now, as they embark on their first completely Frank Darabont free season, will they get the prison, the Governor, and Michonne right, or will they piss off fans of the comic and lose viewers?
Alright, there are another 100 questions about this season’s upcoming shows that we could ask, but right now we’re goona focus on some of those new shows. Five of them, to be precise, because these shows look like the best bet to still be standing when the dust clears.
THE LAST RESORT
Some names mean quality and when they are attached to a project, I am immediately drawn to that project. Shawn Ryan is one of those names. The producer of THE SHIELD, and also the highly underrated military show THE UNIT, the prematurely cancelled CHICAGO CODE, and the brilliant, underrated, and prematurely cancelled PI show TERRIERS, Ryan consistently churns out great TV, but lately he’s had a hard time retaining an audience. With LAST RESORT — which casts Andre Braugher as a rebel submarine captain that is driven (by his government) to hijack a small island and make them a nuclear superpower in the midst of a now brewing nuclear conflict — I worry that audiences won’t take to the high concept or complexity.
To Ryan, and Martin Campbell’s credit though, they don’t seem to care and they certainly aren’t mashing up our vegetables for us. The pilot is thrilling and deep. Not so much an introduction to this world, but a glimpse inside of it. Braugher is his usual genius self (pardon me, but the man is among the best TV actors of the last 20 plus years) and Scott Speedman really shines as his right hand man and the emotional center of the show. I won’t mince words, THE LAST RESORT is the best pilot I’ve seen in years and I really hope we get to see, for the first time in a long while, Shawn Ryan’s full vision for a show, and not just the beginning of the story.
Premieres: September 27th, 8/7 Central on ABC. (Pilot available on Hulu right now)
I really hate to judge a show based on anything less than the pilot episode, but I can’t write this list without talking about VEGAS.
Born as, what looks like, a western set in the 1960s, Dennis Quaid comes to TV as a gruff sheriff who is desperately trying to hold onto his town and keep it away from the mob, which is personified by SHIELD alum Michael Chiklis (hey, speaking of that list of best TV actors in the past 20 years). So, why does this appeal to me? Well, I’m a fan of JUSTIFIED and the way they paint Raylan Givens as a sarsaparilla era lawman taken out of time and Quaid’s sheriff Ralph Lamb sounds like he could be similar. Hell, even Rick Grimes on THE WALKING DEAD feels like that kind of character from time to time, so it is an archtype with a great track record.
What does not have a great track record though, is shows that try to reach back into the past. Sure, MAD MEN is a buzz generating, perenial award winner, but last years attempts to capitalize on that trend (THE PLAYBOY CLUB, PAN AM) didn’t do so well. With that said though, I tend to think that CBS’ success with and faith in police dramas and the appeal of Quaid, Chiklis and the rest of the cast (Carrie Anne-Moss, and TERRA NOVA’s Jason O’Mara), plus that cowboy vibe will lead to some entertaining television.
Premieres: September 25th, 10/9 Central on CBS
With Marvel dominating the big screen and heading for the small screen with the S.H.I.E.L.D. project and a possible HULK show, DC needed to come back to TV in a big way. Enter ARROW, a sorta adaptation of the GREEN ARROW comic book, that will center on not just Oliver Queen, but also a ton of other DC characters like Huntress, Deadshot, Speedy, Deathstroke, and the Black Canary.
As per usual, fanboys (such as myself) are griping about a possibly un-faithful transfer from page to screen and co-creator Greg Berlanti’s murky track record with the hero concept (GREEN LANTERN and the failed NO ORDINARY FAMILY), but few can legitimately say that the available footage from ARROW doesn’t look amazing. Add to that the casting of DOCTOR WHO and TORCHWOOD alum John Barrowman in a recurring role and the high quality of the last DC TV show (SMALLVILLE) and I’m certain that I want to see how the Arrow (who wears green) cleans up the streets of Starling City. Even though it should actually be known as Star City.
Premieres: October 10th, 8/7 Central on The CW.
Mathew Perry hasn’t had the easiest time finding sustained success on TV following the end of FRIENDS, but GO ON may change his luck. At this point I’ve seen two episodes of this show and I can say that I have been pleasantly surprised by a show that begins with Perry’s character dealing with the very recent death of his wife and yet finds a way to respectfully find humor, not in loss, but in surviving loss. Co-stars like Brett Gelman, Tyler James Williams (EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS), and the legendary Bill Cobbs shine as members of the support group that Perry joins, and the whole thing feels a little like an update of Judd Hirsch’s 80′s sitcom DEAR JOHN. I’m rooting for this one to succeed, and with the low bar over at NBC, I think it might.
Premiered: Catch new episodes on NBC every Tuesday at 9/8 Central or on Hulu.
THE MINDY PROJECT
I’ve only seen the first episode of this one, so I’m going on my instincts here a bit. The show isn’t there yet, but I think it will be and I think it’ll be a second straight hit for FOX, following in the footsteps of NEW GIRL, but with a more adult tone.
The show centers on writer/creator/and star Mindy Kaling’s character, Mindy, who is balancing her career as a doctor and a love life that is complicated by her somewhat recent break-up, her attraction to one of her co-workers, and her antagonistic yet sort of flirty relationship with another co-worker (Chris Messina).
I have a lot of faith in Kaling’s talent, and when I say the show isn’t there yet, it’s one of those “just missed” situations, so I expect this one to hit its stride before their 5th episode and cruise to an easy victory as the seasons breakout hit.
Premieres: September 25th, 9:30/8:30 Central on FOX. (Pilot available on Hulu)
So there we are, my top 5 picks for success this fall. Here’s the thing though, these things are subjective and I could be wrong. Last season, after I saw the NEW GIRL pilot I loudly proclaimed that I’d rather search for an open outlet with a wet fork before watching another episode, and now I am a big, big fan.
Bottom line: these shows make adjustments along the way, and while they can be awful, they can also elevate them — the question is, can bad shows or middling shows turn good before audiences turn them off? We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.