E: Gentle readers, welcome to the always highly anticipated Relatively Entertaining Fall Television Previews! It has, in the last several years, become our custom to present a night-by-night preview of each season’s offerings, including both returning and new shows. We cover the major nets, as well as the better-known cable shows — or at least the ones that pique our interest and conform to network scheduling norms.
Sunday has become the night to stay home — the richest evening in animated comedy and prestige drama. Not to mention football.
C: She just says that because it’s when The Good Wife is on.
E: Well, sure, but I think you’ll find Sunday’s slate is far more than just my favorite show. And as always, if we haven’t included something that you watch or were thinking about watching, please leave a comment and let us know why we’re missing the boat! Here’s a quick key to help you as you read:
- Titles in blue are new this season
- Each * means one Quibbling Sibling will be tuning in
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC, October 5th)
M: This video clip show is back for its 107th season. At least it feels that way. The “big” news is that this will be current host Tom Bergeron’s final (and 14th!) season hosting.
E: Huh. I didn’t even know he did this in addition to Dancing With the Stars.
M: So next year at this time we either won’t have this around, or will have a new host to discuss. I nominate George Takei, he’s already the king of Facebook, so why not?
C: Whoa, why did it never occur to me before that this show is the progenitor of Youtube? (Only, now that we have Youtube, what would be the inducement to watch it?)
E: Exactly. Cats falling off television sets, first seen here.
M: I don’t know the inducement, which is why I don’t watch. Maybe because it’s kind of like watching a long YouTube playlist that someone else put together for you?
60 Minutes (CBS, September 21st)
M: Speaking of 107th seasons…
Football Night in America (NBC, September 7th)
M: Football pre-game show. If you’ve watched one in the last 10 years then you know that that means they will have more hosts/talking heads than superhero sequels have villains. The staggering total of people they try to put on camera in these things is only rivaled by CNN’s presidential debate coverage, which usually includes a two-tiered panel that looks more like a jury box than a coherent TV set.
E: Which seems appropriate, because every discussion I hear about football lately has come from a CNN-style panel.
M: Sad, but true.
Bob’s Burgers (FOX, October 5th)
E: This season’s going to explore titular character Bob’s back story. Who was he before he slung burgers for a living?
M: I know there are people out there that watch this, I just have never heard from any of them.
C: Come to grad school, where they flock in great numbers.
M: Really? Huh.
E: No way! That’s kinda baffling.
C: My impression from overhearing their conversations in the lunch room is that Tina (the sardonic elder daughter) is the main reason to watch.
E: Er, okay. Also, somebody named Gene directs a musical version of Die Hard. I’ve never been interested in this show (the visuals are such a turn off) but you can bet I’m going to be Youtubing that one.
M: Wait, musical Die Hard? Yes, please! If it’s anything like the Star Wars send ups by Robot Chicken or Family Guy, it could be great.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, September 28th)
E: I am ever so slightly sorry to have given up on this show, knowing that Anna and Elsa of Frozen are appearing on it this season. Not sorry enough to take it back up, but a little bit sorry.
M: What, because with your three young daughters you haven’t gotten enough of Frozen over the last year?
E: Eh, I like Frozen well enough myself — and know the songs as well as my daughters do.
C: I don’t particularly want to see Anna and Elsa in “adult” situations though. Also, isn’t it weird that Disney let the characters appear on here when there’s also an Official Sequel in the works? I know Once thoroughly ignores canon, but still.
E: I almost feel like it’s supposed to exist in an alternative universe?
C: True enough, they’re just not usually competing with a current alternative.
E: Anyway, for me, last season got so weighed down in the backstory about Henry’s dad and his magic-hunting evil girlfriend that Mr. E and I found it piling up on the DVR. And when the thought of watching something feels like a chore? Time to hit the delete button.
M: Yeah, and it’s sad when it’s something (like Heroes) that was so good at one point, but you just can’t pull yourself to watch it any more.
C: Not that I think Once ever hit the awesomeness level of Heroes season one, but otherwise agreed.
E: It’s still very popular, though. Since apparently Lana Parilla’s Evil Queen reformed, the show needs a new villainess. But don’t worry, it’s not Queen Elsa — it’s a mysterious one played by Revolution‘s Elizabeth Mitchell.
M: Okay, I know that’s her most recent credit, but come on, you did not just attribute Elizabeth Mitchell to Revolution, did you?
C: Come on! LOST is totally her most memorable thing.
M: Exactly! And the vastly underrated Frequency.
C: Who’s she playing here, though?
E: I don’t know. An original character, perhaps, or a classic baddie. And of classic villains, who’s left, I wonder? Maleficent? Ursula the Sea Witch? Cruela de Ville?
Madam Secretary (CBS, September 21st)*
E: I’m not blown away by the trailers, but I still think I’ll check out this new political drama about a no-nonsense Secretary of State played by Tea Lioni. I like Lioni, and I like political shows. That’s enough to get me to the pilot, anyway.
M: I, on the other hand, see right through this latest entry in a long line (Commander in Chief, Veep) of attempts to make Hillary Clinton more palatable as a presidential candidate. Maybe at some point the Hollywood left (sorry, I know that’s redundant) will realize that her negatives have nothing to do with her gender.
E: Are you kidding me? Wow. You’re even more of a conspiracy theorist than I thought.
M: Right. In a town and industry that turns more sharply to the left than the corners on a NASCAR track, the first major show about a female president gets made when Hillary’s just starting to run for president, and that’s a coincidence? Now, when she’s starting to prepare for what most people consider to be both her last and best chance at the presidency, a show about a female Secretary of State (her job until recently) comes out ? Call me conspiracy theorist all you want. I’ll call you a bias-denier. As for the show, my money’s on it lasting one season at most.
C: M, you can be so scary sometimes. Why are women are playing political leaders on TV? Because there is no earthly reason why they should not. It’s frustrating that seeing this in fiction is even noteworthy, and I’m grateful to any showrunner who chooses to go with it anyway. If there’s an agenda in showing women in political leadership roles, that agenda is to make it easier for American audiences to imagine women in real political leadership roles, because that should not be a thing that we as society question. It should be a fact.
E: Hear hear!
M: I agree completely that is shouldn’t be. I wish it wasn’t. As for the agenda, though, answer this. Why do they only make these shows when Hillary is running? Nothing for Sarah Palin. Nothing for Geraldine Ferarro back in the day. Nothing for Libby Dole. They all coincide with Hillary.
E: You are insane. Let’s think: that couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Scandal (a show about a female political operative) is incredibly popular, could it?
C: Or, let’s see, how about the fact that Palin’s VP candidacy was announced in August ’08 and McCain lost the election in November, not exactly giving anyone time to pitch and film a TV series? But get this straight, Conspiracy Dude: pop culture depictions of women in high-powered roles help normalize the idea of women in high-powered roles, period. Which will help the next Palin (if there is one) as much as it helps Clinton.
E: Anyway, you can put money on my watching at least one episode.
The Simpsons (FOX, September 28th)
M: Also back for its 107th season!
E: Funny how true that feels. This year is all about the crossovers — first Family Guy, then the Futurama crew. And how’s this for a fabulous idea? In the yearly Halloween episode (“The Treehouse of Horror”), the Simpsons find ghosts haunting their house, and the ghosts turn out to be their Tracey Ullman show era selves! Love the meta. Love that.
C: That is pretty fantastic. So thanks for spoiling it.
M: I know I say it every year, but it continues to amaze me that something that started out as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show is still going strong. I’d be willing to bet that most of the people who watch the show this season will not have even heard of Tracey Ullman (which is a shame).
Masterpiece Classic (PBS, ongoing)**
E: Look for season two of Victorian department store melodrama The Paradise, based on a 19th-century French novel, to begin airing September 28th, something I caught last year and liked, but didn’t love.
C: Yeah, it was a bit… I don’t know, underdeveloped, character-wise? More gloss than substance, I guess I felt, though I didn’t watch the whole first season.
E: The new seaso brings us news of Moray — exiled after jilting moneyed Katherine for shop-girl soulmate Denise — as well as Katherine’s adventures running the Paradise, and not a few supernatural plotlines.
C: Whoa, I totally did not know there was a supernatural element. That’s crazy.
M: Yeah… supernatural plotlines? In a Victorian department store? Is Steven Moffat involved?
E: No, we’re not talking Buffy-style vampires or Doctor Who-style aliens; I think it’s just that the Victorians were obsessed with ghosts.
C: Ah. So maybe we should say spiritualist plotlines then.
M: Or you could just say ghosts. Just sayin’.
C: E, are you going to keep watching?
E: I’m not sure. It may depend on how good some of the other shows in this time slot are. I’ll keep recording it, anyway. Also, over the winter — typically starting in January — we’ll get to see the next season of Downton Abbey.
M: Which makes that relevant for the FALL preview how?
E: Well, I think the last few years we got a rerun of the entire series leading up to the premiere? So that’ll probably start in November or December.
M: Which, again, makes that relevant for the FALL preview how?
C: Not to get all teacher-y on you, but November is in the fall.
M: Not to get all E-doesn’t-even-know-what-month-it-starts-y on you, but November was the earliest option.
C: Also we don’t do a spring preview, so what are you even quibbling about this for?
M: Because it’s in our tagline?
C: The people have a right to know when their next Downton fix is coming!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX, September 28th)
E: The Golden Globe-winning sitcom returns for its sophomore season, such a clear highlight of last season’s comedy slate that FOX decided to open up Animation Sunday for it.
C: Haven’t seen this yet, but several people have told me it’s very funny.
M: I wanted to get into this show, I just didn’t. It has everything a quirky cop comedy should have. It has a great cast, oddball characters, straight-man characters to set up the oddballs, a decent mix overall. It just felt like every episode I saw (which was probably 6 or 7) was trying too hard.
E: I buy that. I didn’t last nearly that long, but for those who kept watching all the way through, Andy Samburg’s Jake ended last season by confessing his crush on coworker Amy — oh, and also revealing (at least to the audience) that he’s working undercover for the FBI, both of which events will resonate through the season. The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick pops into the season as a rival for Andre Braugher’s captain.
Resurrection (ABC, September 28th)
E: The crazy escalates in season two of last year’s high concept back-from-the-dead mystery.
M: This was another one I wanted to get into, but didn’t for a different reason… time. Just never had time, so I decided to not watch any of it, and binge watch it at a later date if it turns out to be good.
C: But has it? What was the buzz on Season One?
E: It looks like the fairly enthusiastic audience liked it more than the critics, who were only mildly interested in this retelling of a French TV show (Les Revenants) based on American Jason Mott’s best-selling novel The Returned ), about dead who inexplicably come back to life (but not zombie style – answered prayers style). In case that’s not convoluted enough, the book has also been adapted by A&E as The Returned – rather impressive for a novel that was only released in 2013, huh?
C: Wow. That might make me want to read the book more than watch the series, though.
E: This season, the dead are resurrecting in droves, and they’ve got no place to go; more and more people feel that the resurrected can’t be human, and move against them. The military moves in, quarantining them. Their loved ones don’t take kindly to this. Tensions, needless to say, are high.
M: Okay, that sounds potentially very cool. And as we noted when discussing this in the past, the cast is outstanding.
E: Speaking of the cast, Omar Epps’ Bellamy is on the run with David, the little boy familiar from the commercials with the now-old parents. Where can they go with the military closing in? Bets are on not very far.
The Walking Dead (AMC, October 12th)
E: In the last year I’ve watched — and, gasp, enjoyed — Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies, but I still can’t see my way to watching this hard core, old school zombie apocalypse adventure. It’s the high point of the year’s viewing for a lot of my younger friends, though.
C: E, in case readers haven’t noted, generally hates zombies. I’m not a fan myself. I can take quite a bit of gore in a mystery/thriller context, but I can’t handle straight-up horror gore.
M: Same here. That said, this is another show on my binge-watch list. Skipped it at first because it was marketed as, like you said, straight-up horror gore, and I didn’t know the now-departed Frank Darabont was running it. And like E, I know a lot of people that watch and love this. It’s the opposite of Bob’s Burgers.
C: False in my world. I hear the most about both those shows from the same person.
M: Again, different worlds.
C: Mine is real too! That’s all I’m saying!
E: For those who are fans, this year’s action takes up right after last season’s cliff hanger at the Terminus. A priest character joins the cast (Teen Wolf‘s Seth Gilliam) and several actors (The Young and The Restless‘s Alanna Masterson, Twilight‘s Christian Serratos, Band of Brothers‘ Michael Cudlitz, Greek‘s Andrew J. West, and Retired at 35‘s Josh McDermitt) have been promoted to series regular; I don’t know the show well enough to know whether this means that lots of people got killed off at the end of last season (though that seems like a fair bet) or if they’re planning to kill off a bunch of different regulars as soon as the new season starts.
M: Odds are highly in favor of it being both! And not a single one of those names is familiar to me, but on TV that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
E: You’d know Cudlitz, at least, but probably not the others. I can’t decide if this is a cool idea or an awful one: you get half of each season in the fall, and the other half starting in February.
M: You mean “how all TV shows used to be scheduled”?
C: I feel like that’s a thing for many shows in recent years.
The Good Wife (CBS, September 21st)*
M: Not sure I know anyone that watches this. C, do you?
C: Nope, nobody comes to mind.
E: Har har.
M: Just trying to mix it up.
E: Phew. Well. Where to begin? Eli continues pressing the very frustrating idea of Alicia running for State’s Attorney, which maddens me because things are getting so exciting over at Florrick Agos — or, as the promos reveal, Florrick, Agos & Lockhart.
M: Please be Gilderoy Lockhart. Please be Gilderoy Lockhart!!!
E: Sorry, it’s Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart, but I’d love to see a recurring character spot for Kenneth Branagh!
M: Especially if he’s as daft and harmlessly narcissistic as Gilderoy.
C: Harmlessly?! …But this isn’t really the place for that particular quibble.
M: Yeah, I know that’s not quite right, but I couldn’t think of exactly the right word. Let’s move on.
E: If only Alicia would! What frustrates me is that for all her financial and worldly success, our remarkable heroine has no idea what she wants, and isn’t acting as a prime mover of her own life. Thrillingly, Alicia started her own firm last season to get away from boss/former lover Will, only to see him murdered by a client.
M: Not that I watched every show out there, or even this one (though I feel like I do from your reviews), but I think that probably ranked as the biggest shock of the last TV season.
E: I would agree. And you know I’m still infuriated to have wasted 4.5 years caring about that relationship, knowing that I will never get to see the showrunners’ true vision for the characters. I’m resigned, but I’m royally pissed off.
M: Well, if the Chuck and HIMYM showrunners’ true vision for their characters was anything to go by, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
E: Not necessarily, true. Anyway, Alicia’s banished husband Peter to a sham political marriage, and doesn’t know if she even wants to continue working in the law. I have no idea why she would ever even entertain Eli’s proposal (running her own firm isn’t fulfilling, but running a campaign and then a beleaguered public office would be?), but it sounds like she gives it a lot of serious thought. While this is still the smartest, most subtle and most complex show on network television, I’m pretty frustrated with my beloved main character. Do more than just react! Figure out how to live a life you really want! Make a choice and stick with it, damn it!
M: You realize that if she’s happy and living a less dramatic life, the show suffers in the eyes of the creators/writers/network execs, right?
C: I think E’s feelings on this matter are beyond that kind of logic, M. Plus, good writers should be able to create believable tension even if a character makes a real life choice occasionally…
E: Right! Besides, I do understand the rules of drama; Alicia has spent 5 years transforming herself into a very dangerous lawyer. She’s learned how to play the game, in court and in politics. What I can’t wait to see is her using those skills for something she truly believes in, something that will invigorate and satisfy her. There’d be no lack of plot or thrill if that happens. I hoped it was starting her own firm, but she’s sabotaged that effort all season. I don’t see that being political office, but if it is, then I’ll gladly eat my words.
C: Another show about a woman politician? Shhhh, M will hear you.
E: OH NO THE HORROR! Bonus trivia: check out Alan Cumming’s dark hair from his run as the Emcee in the current revival of Cabaret, something he does every ten years. Also, prosecutor/Will substitute Matthew Goode seems to have been promoted to series regular, Michael J. Fox is sticking around, at least for a little while, as the sneaky devil forcing Diane out of Lockhart/Gardner, and family favorite David Hyde Pierce will have a recurring guest role.
Halloween Wars (Food Network, October 5th)**
C: Otherwise known as the seasonal crafty cooking show that caters shamelessly to all of E’s Pinterest-based fantasies.
E: Oh yeah, baby! As if Sunday nights at 9 weren’t crowded enough, the Food Network steps into the fray with this enormously entertaining seasonal competition. A pumpkin carver, a baker and a candy maker/sugar artist team up to make incredible themed Halloween creations (twisted fairytales, zombie proms, the gates of hell, etc); each week, one team is eliminated until two remain for the finale. This is completely fantastic family entertainment. So. Much. Fun.
M: Nice! I love me some Food Network, though I rarely watch it during prime time.
E: Past winners include Ray Villafane, if you want any idea of the quality of the sculpting.
Family Guy (FOX, September 28th)
E: Crossover time! Why has it taken this long for the Griffins and the Simpsons to hang out? Whatever the answer, the wait is finally over.
M: To quote both Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin… Woo hoo!
C: Was the world waiting for this? It sounds like a possibly disastrous gimmick.
M: The Simpsons have been on for 107 years, and Family Guy has been cancelled before, how disastrous could it really be?
E: Hijinks including baby Stewie getting knocked up by Brian the dog, and Peter attempting to take on Taken‘s Liam Neeson.
C: My money’s definitely on Neeson.
American Dad (FOX, September 14th)
E: It’s safe to say I’m more than a little confused about the timing here. How do we have two shows on at the same time? I do have a partial answer, anyway. On October 20th, this surprisingly long-running animated stepchild moves to TBS, where apparently the characters can swear with abandon. Alrighty.
M: Good for Seth McFarland. Not necessarily good for the show, TBS, or the world.
E: It’s so nice that none of us care.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO, September 7th)
E: No offense, Martin Scorsese and Steve Buscemi, but I’ll wait for Game of Thrones to start in the spring, thanks. Or for that matter, Aaron Sorkin’s chatty The Newsroom, which will air its final season on Sundays later this fall. Gangsters aren’t my thing, and despite the fun prohibition era costumes, this show has never interested me. Maybe it’s that the women spend more time naked than wearing the cool costumes? Or the generally cynical world view.
C: M, did that sentiment make the tiniest amount of sense to you? Because I’m boggled.
M: Nope! It sounds like, instead of watching this naked-women-filled, cynical show E will wait for… Game of Thrones? Because that never has naked women, and is positive, inspiring and uplifting? Just trying to follow the logic.
C: Yeah, that’s what I gathered too. Our sister the ever-consistent.
E: Let me try and explain myself, then. If you watched GOT, you might understand my love/hate relationship with its incredibly bold plotting and thrilling political schemes; I guess I just didn’t find Boardwalk Empire thrilling enough to compensate for the gross parts — and the buzz and ratings for both shows suggest I’m not alone in this. For its final season, this costume drama opens seven years after last season’s finale.
C: Wow, they’re out-Downtoning Downton Abbey with the time jumps!
E: The flapper dresses are gone, the Depression is in full swing, and the writing’s on the wall for Prohibition. Knowing this, Bootlegger Nucky has gone to Cuba to make a deal with Bacardi rum. Viewers will also see quite a bit of real life gangsters Lucky Luciano and Al Capone. Awesome.
Olive Kitteridge (HBO, November 2 & 3rd)*
E: Okay, it’s not a series, but I thought it might be worth included this mini-series anyway, just so you guys know it’s coming. After a rapturous reception at this year’s Venice Film Festival, the miniseries looks to figure into the Golden Globe and Emmy races as one of 2014’s best.
M: Nope, not worth including. 😉
E: Apparently Oscar winner Frances McDormand has long labored to bring this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen. Elizabeth Strout’s book tells 13 separate but interconnected stories: this miniseries deals with the central one, about reserved librarian Olive and her more outgoing husband, played by the always marvelous Richard Jenkins.
M: Wait, there’s a story about a librarian that’s not outgoing? Next thing you’re going to tell me is that HBO has a show with naked women on it.
C: She has a husband, though.
M: Oh, excellent point!
E: What does that point to?
C: I feel like it’s revolutionary for on-screen representations of librarians.
E: Fair enough.
The Newsroom (HBO, November 9th)*
E: Now here’s a show I care about going into its final season. There’s action a-plenty, without gratuitous violence or nudity. First the team refuses to give up a source to the Justice Department. Second, in the battle of sitcom stars, 2 Broke Girls‘ Kat Denning shows up as obnoxious pissant/network boss Chris Messina (The Mindy Project) ‘s half-sister, taking part in a hostile takeover attempt. Third, anchor Jeff Daniels and producer Emily Mortimer will actually tie the knot. A happy ending? Amazing.
C: That… is an odd pairing. Not having watched the show, just saying.
E: What, Mortimer and Daniels? Why, because he’s 20 years older than her? Pshaw.
Masterpiece Mystery! (PBS, ongoing)**
E: The mystery series up for this fall are Miss Marple (starring Agatha Christie’s famous elderly heroine and airing on September 21st-28th), Inspector Lewis (October 5th-19th, featuring Laurence Fox’s newly promoted D. I. Hathaway, and a not so very retired D.I. Lewis).
C: Julie McKenzie, who did a good job in the role previously, reprises as Miss Marple. Also, don’t forget Jack Davenport in medical drama Breathless, or The Escape Artist, a thriller starring David Tennant as a cocky, gifted lawyer whose life is changed by a dark case. Not sure if this latter is more John Grisham or From the Hip, but it involves David Tennant in a silly wig.
E: The very quirky and entertaining Breathless has already finished airing, sadly, as has the incredibly creepy Escape Artist. But don’t fear! There best is yet to come! Most thrillingly, there’s an adaptation of P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley, starring Anna Maxwell Martin as the funny girl who got the guy, Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, and The American‘s Matthew Rhys as the devoted Mr. Darcy.
M: Thrilling! I am thrilled!
E: You should be.
C: I’m super excited and not even being ironic! It sounds like an utterly silly concept but I’m dying (har) to see it. Jenna Coleman of Doctor Who fame and Matthew Goode of handsomeness fame (oh yeah, and from this show called The Good Wife?) also star as Lydia and George Wickham.
E: I cannot even express how giddy that casting makes me; it’s like I’m a 13 year old girl at a One Direction concert. Be warned to check your local listings! In some areas, the fun might start at 8:00.
Homeland (Showtime, October 5th)
E: After a disappointing third season, Homeland seems to be getting a total overhaul. Claire Danes’s Carrie and Mandy Patinkin’s Saul hit the road, taking us to Afghanistan and Pakistan for most of the season.
C: Woo road trip! Sounds like the ultimate buddy-cop comedy.
E: Yee haw! As perhaps necessitated by the new locale, there are a raft of new actors joining the show, include House of Card‘s wonderful Corey Stoll, Suraj Sharma (the titular Pi from Life of Pi), Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ Laila Robins, Raza Jaffrey (Karen’s at first too perfect and then too dastardly fiancé Dev from Smash), and character actor Michael O’Keefe (perhaps most familiar from Roseanne). What they’re all going to be doing? Your guess is as good as mine.
M: I have the first season sitting under my BluRay player right now, I just need the time to watch it. Even with the universally agreed upon dip last season, I know so many people who love this show.
E: That’s funny — so do I. (I wasn’t as enchanted with the first few episodes as I thought I would be, but that might just be the pressure of expectations.) Can the show recover its footing? Perhaps the return of writer Meredith Stiehm (who skipped out on Season 3 to create the darkly brooding, highly acclaimed mystery The Bridge) will make the difference.
Mulaney (FOX, October 5th)
E: Ah, it’s so difficult to be a smart funny white boy with a great job working for a comedy legend! Seriously, it’s SO HARD, guys.
M: Why you going there? There are a lot of things that are actually hard, and I’d guess making a living in comedy is NOT at the bottom of the list. And what the heck are you bringing both race and gender into it for?
E: My point is that he’s actually making a living at it, and whining about how difficult that is. It feels very entitled to me. And don’t try and tell me that there aren’t more working comedians who are white men, because then I will know you’re willfully blind.
M: Not saying that at all, I’m just wondering what it has to do with this, other than absolutely nothing. Why are you race and gender baiting?
C: I think maybe she is saying that, while getting paid work in comedy is genuinely quite difficult in present-day America, the people who do so successfully are overwhelmingly white and male. So maybe someone who has it better than many, many others should not be whiny. That’s my guess.
E: Ding ding ding! He shouldn’t be whiny if he wants me to like him and watch his show, anyway.
M: At least from the promos I saw he wasn’t whiny, and he was made to do horrible “personal assistant for a nasty narcissistic person” type things for Martin Short. Anyway, let’s move on.
E: The real-yet-fictionalized John Mulaney works for game show host Martin Short. Like Jerry Seinfeld, Mulaney frames his show with stand-up bits. Like Jerry, he has a wacky group of friends and neighbors around him, although his are at least more diverse — neighbor Oscar (Elliot Gould), chubby Newman-like oddball Andre (Zack Pearlman), smooth ladies’ man and fellow comedian Motif (Seaton Smith), and college friend Jane (Nasim Pedrad, the SNL alum responsible for, among other things, this Aziz Ansari impression). It seems at once unremarkable, not particularly funny, and very smug.
M: And at eight hundred and third glance my sister is still a sitcomophobe.
E: Don’t tell me that actually looks good to you.
M: Oh, hell no.
Revenge (ABC, September 28th)
E: This show is still on?
M: I was just thinking the same thing. I gave up on it last year, and felt like I was a year too generous.
C: Haha. I still know some people who are watching, but purely for the ridiculousness.
E: Rarely does a show go from being so thrilling to so completely disappointing in such a short time. Heroes, as we discussed above, is the only other example I can think of.
M: I’m sure there are more, but yeah.
E: Anyway, the trailer makes it sound like this season is all about Victoria Grayson coming after Emily Thorne. But guess what? There’s a big crazy surprise that shapes the season as well. It turns out that Emily’s father, David Clarke, is actually alive. Dun dun dun!
M: Oh dear Lord.
C: Well, way to make all the previous seasons where she avenged him kind of pointless.
The Talking Dead (AMC, October 12th)
E: The Nerdist‘s Chris Hardwick got a second season of this amusingly titled reaction show, which discusses the episode of Walking Dead you’ve just watched. If you’re into that kind of thing. (And, for the record, I totally would be if it were done well – IF I were into The Walking Dead. Which I am not.)
M: At least this can’t possibly be as insufferable as that Andy guy on Bravo.
E: Hardwick is suddenly everywhere, have you guys noticed that? He has some kind of game show (Comedy Central’s @midnight), he hosts after shows for Doctor Who and Orphan Black… He’s like the handsome nerd poster boy.
M: For my money, Wil Wheaton should have gotten the job.
C: Not quite as handsome?
M: Which is the ultimate quality for a nerd!
E: Okay, not to belabor the point, but most men are probably less handsome than Chris Hardwick. You might as well say “sports fans: less handsome than Chris Hardwick” or “rock stars: less handsome than Chris Hardwick.”
C: I only brought it up because you said “handsome nerd poster boy”!
CSI (CBS, September 28th)
E: Ah, the granddaddy of them all!
M: The Rose Bowl?
E: No, silly brother, the forensic procedural that started the craze!
M: With the pity move to Sundays.
E: Pity move to the most crowded night of television? Sometimes, your logic escapes me.
M: Okay, I wasn’t thinking about that. Thursday isn’t what it used to be, and Sunday is the new Thursday. I stand corrected. Maybe… we’ll see how long it lasts.
E: This season, Mark-Paul Gosselaar has a double role, first as a jailed serial killer and then as his twin. Somehow this is going to not only bring Oscar-nominee Elisabeth Shue and Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor Ted Danson together, and make us wonder if they ever dated in the past. Um, great?
M: More like “Um, ew.”
C: I’m enjoying the career renaissance of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, though. From afar, but still.
The Comeback (HBO, November 9th)
E: The critically acclaimed meta-mockumentary is back!
C: Wow, such enthusiasm! Do you watch this?
E: Naw, I didn’t have HBO back when the series originally aired, but I might check it out this time around. Lisa Kudrow makes her re-return as former sitcom star Valerie Cherish, making a reality series about her career comeback, and releasing a behind-the-scenes reality series about her original faux-reality series from back in 2005. I’m mildly curious as to what all the fuss is about; you have to respect a fandom that loud.
M: Where I’ve never heard of it, how loud could they be?
E: Loud enough to get the show back on the air after 9 years off. That seems pretty devoted to me.
M: Devoted, yes. But still, I didn’t hear about this 10 years ago when it was on, and haven’t in the 9 years since. I’m standing by it not being that loud, at least outside Entertainment Weekly-reading circles.
C: I thought you meant the 2005 show was fictional, so I guess I’m on M’s side here.
E: It was fictional. It was a show about a show that didn’t exist. It could be interesting! (But, let’s face it. It’s a sitcom. It’s probably not going to hold my interest.)
M: GAH!! Now I’m more confused. You started out saying “the meta-mockumentary is back,” but now you’re saying that it’s brand new? And that the thing that’s “back” is the fictional show within the show? I’m so lost.
E: I’m not sure I even care to detangle that.
M: Alllllllllrighty then.
C: So, for the folks who don’t already know, what this show is about will, I guess, remain a mystery. Sorry.
The Affair (Showtime, October 12th)
E: And here’s yet another show that makes me kinda wish I had Showtime.
C: An infidelity drama? No thanks.
E: You might feel a little differently when you see the cast.
M: Nope, with C, no thinks.
E: Heh. I was going to fix your typo, M, but it just seems so fitting.
M: Not sure what’s fitting about it. That I don’t need to think about the cast to know I don’t want to put myself through the subject matter? Still, I’ll leave it.
C: I’m with M — there was some thinking involved. Just quick thinking.
E: Shush! BBC standout Ruth Wilson is married to Fringe‘s Joshua Jackson, but after a tragedy seeks comfort with The Hour‘s Dominic West (hello, typecasting) who’s married to New Radio‘s Maura Tierney. It isn’t just the actors that interest me, however. Like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which we discussed in the September movie preview, this show will deal with events from multiple characters’ perspectives.
M: Ooooohhhhhhhhhhh. So we get multiple character’s perspectives on how two people ruin their lives, and the lives of their families. That sounds so much better than just getting one perspective on it.
E: Exactly. He can be taught!
M: Yes, taught sarcasm.
C: Anyway, to get to the most salient point here, no show that kills Joshua Jackson off in its pilot is going to get watched by me.
M: Amen to that!
E: No no no, that’s not what I meant. The tragedy (which I was attempting not to spoil) is the death of their child, I think, not Jackson.
M: Fine then, any show with the premise of someone cheating on Peter Bishop is right out. Better?
C: That’s exactly what I was going to say. How could you, Jane Eyre?