As we get into the season this fall, we of course have a whole new set of shows to test the waters. With staples like 30 Rock and The Office crossing over after this season, and the realization that a standard like House isn’t returning, I’ve been perusing the new array more carefully than usual. We’re going to have some pretty big shoes to fill this year, but somehow it feels like we’ve been given exactly what we need. Let’s just bring Alcatraz back and I’ll be totally happy. However, this is about new shows, not the torch I’ll be holding forever, so let’s see what we’ve got.
Interestingly, my picks this year are two dramas and a comedy. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited for two new dramas. Though, as you may have seen from my opinions on Animal Practice, I think the comedies are looking a little rough around the edges, barring one or two.
That said, these are my picks for the fall:
The summary: Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it? On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman’s life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously – and unbeknownst to her – had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future.
Why I picked it: A new sci-fi drama from the minds of Eric Kripke (Supernatural), J.J. Abrams (Everything ever that is great) and Bryan Burk (Lost)? Starring Billy Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell and Giancarlo Esposito? Okay, well. But if you need more of a reason: It’s no secret that I’m a huge sci-fi fan, but a lot of the shows that make it to series aren’t fleshed out and don’t wind up making the renewal cut (see: Awake, Alcatraz, Terra Nova, The Event, FlashForward, Dollhouse, etc). The three men in charge of making this show happen are people I put complete TV faith in (plus, Jon Favreau directed the pilot, and he’s a great director), and I think we’re ready for a post-apocalyptic dystopia that is grounded in our real world. I get chills every time I watch the trailer, and this is a sci-fi that promises a real plot nested inside a high concept show, with real characters and real relationships. And that’s something I will always get behind.
Airs: Sept 17, Mondays at 10PM, on NBC
Competes with: Castle (ABC), Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
The summary: A young Ob/Gyn doctor, Mindy Lahiri (Kaling),balances her personal and professional life, surrounded by quirky co-workers in a small office.
Why I picked it: I’ve been a fan of Mindy Kaling’s for years, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that she finally has her own self-titled show. Plus, the supporting cast looks great, and I’ve been waiting for the day when I can see Chris Messina’s beautiful, witty face on my screen every week with regularity. The hospital scenario seems a little odd, but we have too many Serious Doctor Dramas right now and I think her position as an OB/GYN will open us up to some really good lady-truths-couched-in-comedy moments. Kaling has long been the straight man character who makes people laugh simply by talking (also see: Rashida Jones, Adam Scott), and pairing her with Messina is going to make for some funny television. Plus, it seems like she knows enough people that we’re going to get some pretty spectacular guest stars – Bill Hader and Ed Helms in the pilot? Sure, whatever, okay, let me fall on the floor. This is, in my opinion, the massively-ahead frontrunner of the comedy season, and I think we may have found our new 30 Rock. Shame on you, NBC, for letting it go, and all congratulations to FOX.
Airs: Sept 25, Tuesdays at 9:30PM, FOX
Competes with: Don’t Trust The B—– in Apt 23 (ABC), The New Normal (NBC)
The summary: At 666 Park Avenue, all of your dreams and burning desires can come true: wealth, sex, love, power, even revenge. But just be careful what you wish for, because the price you pay… could be your soul. Welcome to The Drake, the premiere apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Owned by the mysterious Gavin Doran (O’Quinn) and his sexy wife Olivia (Williams), The Drake is home to dozens of residents who are unaware they’re living in the dark embrace of supernatural forces. They think their dreams are all coming true, only to find they’ve been lured into making, what feels like, a deal with the Devil. When a young Mid-western couple – Jane Van Veen (Taylor) and Henry Martin (Annable) – is hired to manage The Drake, they soon discover that evil, obsession, and manipulation has a home.
Why I picked it: The sci-fi/supernatural genre is really laying it on thick this year, aren’t they? 666 Park Ave is part of the movement to change Genre Night from Fridays to Sundays, which I always support, and though this premise is a little bit silly, I think it’s going to be great. Although the trailer plays up the main four characters (as it should, because the actors are fantastic), I have a hunch this is going to introduce the tenants in a way that will create a split ensemble feel, sort of like The Office does. As long as the show goes the way of the character-based rather than shooting for thrills and scares, I think it’ll be a winner.
Airs: Sept 30, Sundays at 10PM, ABC
Competes with: The Mentalist (CBS)
Honorable Mention: Go On
The summary: Ryan King (Perry), an irreverent yet charming sportscaster who, after a loss, finds solace from members of his mandatory group therapy sessions.
Why I picked it: Go On didn’t quite make the cut, but I have seen the pilot (and so can you, it’s online already!) and I really liked it. The concept is a little tired, but the writing is good and the cast is right. Matthew Perry has been on a couple of shows that weren’t a good fit, but nobody does laughing-through-your-tears better than he does and it seems that he’s finally found his place. The comedy is a little ham-handed at points and veers toward so-ribald-it’s-offensive, but a pilot is a pilot and I predict it’ll even out and find its legs. Up against some proven and great comedies, my big concern is that it might be hard to find its audience. It’s going on my must-watch list, regardless, and I’m going to give it a shot.
Airs: Sept 11, Tuesdays at 9PM, NBC
Competes with: Happy Endings (ABC), New Girl (FOX), NCIS: LA (CBS), Emily Owens: MD (CW)
What about you, dear readers? What shows are you going to watch? Don’t forget to vote for your favorite fall comedy in our sidebar poll on the right!