Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fall TV Preview round 1

I like television, always have... once I graduated from a cartoon and kids show diet to "Must See TV" with the Cosby Show, A Different World, Cheers and beyond I realized how appealing ongoing, serialized storytelling was.  For a long time, though, I, like many, considered it inferior to cinema, but now that television has adopted cinematic production values and often a creator (rather than formula)-driven mentality, it's equaled, if not surpassed the capabilities of cinema.  The only limitation seems to be the financial investment, but the talent is more and more migrating to the long-form storytelling capabilities of the small (and/or on-line screen).

I was a sit-com devourer, and in my teenage years became a steadfast consumer of genre television, absorbing classics like Doctor Who, modern shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Flash, and Bravo's incredible slate of "TV Too Good For TV" like Twin Peaks, The Prisoner, The Avengers, Max Headroom, and, erm, Cop Rock.  I've not always watched the best TV, but as the years have progressed I've developed a taste for quality television, but still with a tendency towards comedy and genre programming still in effect.  It's with this lens that I've approached the fall previews that have recently flooded the youtubes.  Overall, I'm curious about much of the fall season, but expect to find most of it lacking any sustainability or long-term interest.

The 100 It's "After Earth" meets "Lord of the Flies"... it's only lacking the competition element from being Battle Royale/The Hunger Games. It's a CW show so it's going to hit a lot on romantic entanglements, and there seems to be a lot of typical eye-rolling teenage conflict. That said, Paige Turco, Henry Ian Cusick and Isaiah Washington as the adults of the piece, I like, and there seems to be some nice plot twists ingrained in this. I don't have much hope that they can pull it off though



The Tomorrow People It's the X-Men. It's Mutant X. It's Push. It's been done a dozen times, in fact the Tomorrow People was done 40 years ago, and 20 years ago, and 5 years ago on BBC. There's no reason why this can't work again, but tossing in another trite "chosen one" subplot and too much of the usual CW "good looking young people" vibe, but a lot of that could be the grating emo tracks the CW is overdubbing into all their promos.



Star-Crossed CW seems to be banking heavily on the whole "pretty young people in genre settings" scenarios this year. Were I 15 I would be so totally devoted to the CW. As a grown up, this all makes me feel a little... I dunno, bored, by it all. This one is easily the worst of the lot, and just as easily put up on the podium as Twilight fangirl bait. It's Romeo and Juliet meets Alien Nation.



Hostages This one would interest me as a movie but as an ongoing series I just don't see how it's going to run more than a half dozen episodes. Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott make for a surprising cast in a show that can't possibly have a long-term gameplan.



Sleepy Hollow A bit of a surprise for network TV, this seems more in line with a SyFy original than a Fox program. Ichabod Crane awakens in the present day, teaming up with the modern day authorities to do some ghostbusting, as the headless horseman returns as well. Production values look not too shabby and there's a solid chuckle or two in the trailer (more than I can say for most previews), but again, this doesn't look like a series with legs or a long-term gameplan.

Intelligence An update of the Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman thread, but it stars Josh Hollaway, so, you know what, it's cool. It looks pretty bad ass but if it can heavily ingraine the DARPA secret and theoretical tech of the comic book Think Tank then there might be something to it. It took Person of Interest a season for me to really catch on, and to see the bigger picture, so hopefully this has it too, because Josh Hollaway. "A secret agent Disneyland for men, are you kidding me? I love that sh..." - Josh Hollaway.



The Crazy Ones It's "Mad Men" if it were set in the modern day, and the products used in the show were actual product placement, and if Don Draper were played by Robin Williams, and if Sally Draper were Sarah Michelle Geller and Bob Benson was some kind of immortal (and has become bisexual I see). Geller looks pretty great, but the rest of the show, especially Williams at his most annoying Williams-ness, looks unbearable. It'll probably be a hit.



Rake Greg Kinnear is a pretty awful human being, in the trend of shows following pretty awful human beings. But he's awful in the quirky-funny almost-tolerable way. It actually looks entertaining enough, but it's one of those single-character based hour-long comedies that, for me, wear out their welcome quickly (it's a no win situation, either the character stays the same and his antics get tiresome, or he grows and is no longer the character you tuned in to see originally).



The Goldbergs When I was a kid, The Wonder Years taught me all about what it was like to be a child of the 1960s, all while still being relatable as a child of the '80's/'90's. The Goldbergs is The Wonder Years but set in the 1980s, and instead of Daniel Stern we have Patton Oswalt narrating. The adult cast looks good, but unfortunately the trailer doesn't have a single solid laugh in it, which is kind of sad. The REO Speedwagon bit gets close though and there's some conceptually funny bits which, I hope, actually pay off in a full episode. I'm hopeful for this one, but I'm definitely wary.



Trophy Wife While I could stare at Malin Ackerman's malamute-esque eyes for hours, I can't do so in the form of terrible situation comedy in which she attempts to go toe-to-toe with Marcia Gay Hardin (she's who the show should be about). I assume she'll still be game for more Children's Hospital and the cameo appearances as Tessa's mom in Suburgatory...



The Michael J. Fox Show Who doesn't like Michael J. Fox? This show seems to be set around that very premise, only here he's a retired news anchor with Parkinson's Disease getting a little stir-crazy around the house, so he goes back to work. I laughed quite a few times throughout the trailer, but I'm wary that all of the jokes seem to be about disarming the stigma of the disease. I hope it's something the show writers can overcome and create a genuinely entertaining family/career comedy around a very charismatic lead actor.



The Blacklist The trailer seems to break down the entire first episode of the show, but as a result it leads to the set-up to the larger structure of the series. I wanted to hate it, as it's yet another Clarice/Hannibal-type scenario (so many scenes in the trailer I've seen so many times before), but it does seem to have some very enjoyable twists... and a gameplan, as well as a great set-up for an episodic show.



Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A show by Joss Whedon set in the Marvel Universe of the movies, OF COURSE I'm watching this. I'm so fanboy-intrigued that I can't even be impartial or critical about the trailer. I just want to watch it. Now please.



Brooklyn Nine Nine This show only really works if you enjoy Andy Samberg's manchild schtick, which I do, so I'm in. Bounce that off Andre Brougher and I'm in doubly. To me, this could be the next Unusuals. To others, I can feel the eye-rolling from here. Plus Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti and Terry Crews. Created by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (they of Clone High, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, and the 21 Jump Street movie), so in other words, yes.



Enlisted A screwball military comedy, in the vein of... well, EVERY screwball military comedy EVER. See also: Police Academy. Not generally my thing, but the cast looks very solid, and there were some actual laughs in the trailer. It has a total Bill Lawrence vibe (CougarTown, Scrubs)so looks quite promising.



Dads Former child actor showdown between Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi in a Seth McFarlane created 3-camera comedy that looks, well, like the typical 3-camera comedy, complete with a live studio audience. Could be likeable, but the trailer is excruciating.



Almost Human Credit to JJ Abrams for giving genre shows a decidedly huge boost in recent years, from Lost to Fringe to Person of Interest, but his track record is at best 1:2 so I've become wary heading into any of his produced programs. That said, Karl Urban! But was I really looking for a mis-matched buddy cop show where one half of the team is Data from Star Trek? Kinda yawn.



Winners:
Agents of SHIELD, Brooklyn Nine Nine

Potential Winners:
The Blacklist, The Michael J. Fox Show, Intelligence, Enlisted

There's Potential:
The Goldbergs, Rake

Potential Losers:
Sleepy Hallow, The 100, The Tomorrow People, Hostages, Dads, Almost Human

Losers:
Star-Crossed, The Crazy Ones, Trophy Wife