2014 Fall Television Preview: Tuesday

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:

8:00pm

Selfie (ABC, September 30th)

E: I love John Cho.  I really really love Karen Gillen.  I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Pygmalion.  I love My Fair Lady.  But oh my God, I do not know how this could possibly look any worse.

C: Right??!? I was trying to describe it to a friend who loves Doctor Who and therefor had some automatic curiosity. What an appalling-looking attempt to be “timely.” The main character (Gillen, sadly doing an American accent) has a social media addiction but needs John Cho — whose specialty is… somehow… teaching women to be “ladies”? this is a thing? — to show her how to really connect with other humans, because one time she used to get made fun of or something. Seriously. That is the plot.

E: Yes, and his expertise in interpersonal communication is highlighted so beautifully when we see that he’s — in true Henry Higgins fashion — grumpy and rude, and does not actually bother to relate to people in practice at all. Maddening.

M: You know the old saying, “those who can’t do, teach.” I don’t believe the saying, but TV writers do.

C: What? Couldn’t be the people who wrote stellar lines like: “I guess the moral of the story is, being friended isn’t the same as having friends!”

E: This looks so amateurish and so terrible it makes me want to break the faces of the people wasting Gillen and Cho’s time like this.

C: Hardly fair; they signed up for it.

M: Even if it looked good, I am so sick of the word “selfie” (and the narcissistic attitude that is often, though not always behind it) that I don’t think I could support this. I know you guys don’t watch the Tour de France (though you would LOVE watching just for the gorgeous French scenery they pass), but one of the major problems this year was fans standing out in the road, backs to the oncoming riders, trying to take selfies, and causing accidents as the riders hit them. BECAUSE THEY WERE IN THE ROAD FACING THE OTHER WAY! Ugh.

E: This show needs to be mowed down by the peloton, too.

M: Excellent use of cycling lingo, sis!

NCIS (CBS, September 23rd)

E: If it feels like this show has been around forever, that’s because it has.  Back when it premiered, The West Wing, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Frasier, The Practice and Alias ruled the airwaves.

M: I have mentioned it in these previews before, but will mention it again. This franchise is a cash cow for CBS. #1 show. Top 10 spin off. New spin off with a big star. And CBS has the idiots at NBC to thank for it. EIGHTEEN years ago NBC decided to cancel JAG after one modestly rated season. CBS scooped it up, it lasted 10 years and spun off NCIS. No hyperbole, it might be the worst decision in TV history.

C: Huh. I can’t see how they could’ve foreseen that, but yeah.

E: Perpetual ratings loser NBC could have used the boost from even one of those hits. Welcome to Season 12, which opens with the helicopter carrying a grimly stoic Gibbs, McGee and some others being shot out of the sky. But living through the crash and dealing with injuries and wolves isn’t enough; the mysterious military folks who shot them down are bringing their guns to make sure there are no survivors.

M: Seems very reasonable for Navy investigators.

The Flash (the CW, October 7th)*

E: You have to admit it, the preview for this looks cool.

M: So cool. I’ve always loved the Flash, whether it be the cheesy 80’s show, the comics, or Charlie and Hurley’s Flash vs Superman debate on LOST.

E: From the moment the Flash’s mother is killed by a man inside a ball of lightning, to Tom Cavanagh’s wheeled entrance, I was captivated.

C: Me too, but mostly because I have always had a bit of a crush on him.

E: Wait, on who?  On the Flash?  Grant Gustin?  Tom Cavanagh?

C: Tom Cavanagh. I never watched Ed or any of his other TV shows (unless you count Eli Stone, where he played the deceased dad in flashbacks); he just has such a pleasant face and demeanor.

E: Oh.  Right.  I somehow had forgotten about that crush (though now that you say I remember being bemused by it back in the day).  He does have a very pleasant way about him.

M: He was great on Ed, which was also great, and had family favorite Justin Long as a regular cast member.

C: Anyway, back to The Flash — the mother death scene in the trailers seems like a very on-point Supernatural retread.

M: It doesn’t seem like a retread to me.

E: I agree with M.

M: Wait, really?

C: Okay, but… you guys didn’t watch Supernatural.

E: Whatever. It’s only one show! Plus, the Flash as a character is far older than Supernatural; maybe they’re the copy cats.  To continue the story, when Barry Allen, the Flash, gets struck by lightning (a bit less fun as an origin story after people in my area were actually struck by lightning), everything changes.

M: Yeah, not a joking subject, when actual death is involved.

E: On a lighter note, the best line from the trailer: “Lightning — gave me abs?”

M: Seems like a fair question, even on a superhero show.

C: Hey, if a spider bite can give you abs… Just go with it.

E: I didn’t like Grant Gustin (who plays Barry) on Glee, but then again, you really weren’t supposed to.  I’m very curious to see how well the delicately featured actor can carry a show.

C: “Delicately featured”? What does that even mean? And how does it relate to his acting? He seems appealing enough to me in the trailer.

M: Just E, as usual, treating men as objects.

E: Oh stop. Just that he was cast to be very different and distinct from Arrow‘s brawny Steven Ammell, a comment that comes from the show runners, not me.

M: Wait, which came from them, “delicately featured” or “different and distinct”?

C: Yeah, shouldn’t you cite your sources here?

E: Just stop.

M: Fine.

E: As for supporting characters, Danielle Panabaker made an appearance last season on Arrow as her Flash character, scientist Caitlin Snow.  More familiar to me as the adorable Agent Olivia Sparling from Bones, Panabaker’s part of the Cavanagh-lead team that hopes to explore Barry’s new powers.  They’ll also help him transition into a superhero, fighting other “meta-humans” who use their crazy new powers for evil instead of good. Anchoring him to reality is best friend (and possible crush?) Candice Patton.

M: Please tell me you made up “meta-human,” and the show is not actually using that. Please, I want to like the show.

E: Sorry, no can do.

C: And don’t forget Jessie L. Martin, of Law & Order fame (among many other things), as his boss or senior coworker.

E: Forgetting Jesse L. Martin would be a crime and mistake for sure.

M: Okay, he does help.

Utopia (FOX, Sunday September 7th)

E: Reality show as social experiment.  Gee, that’s never been done before!

M: You know TV execs, shying away from anything repetitive and always trying new things.

C: I like social experiments. That is, if they’re done with genuine goals, and not as a manipulated gimmick, which I rarely expect to be the case with reality television. Just saying, the range of potentially interesting experiments is pretty wide…

E: Indeed.  This one was fascinating, so it’s certainly not an impossible concept.  In Utopia, fifteen strangers leave their families to spend a year trying to build a better world together on a three acre plot of land.  Which is really not a lot of land if you think about it. Of course (sigh) because it’s a reality show — even if it’s the purest reality show John de Mol claims to have ever produced — they’ve cast a Real World like group of opposites.  Muslims!  Christians!  Atheists!  Feminists!  Partiers!  Free love advocates! Adults with a worth ethic! Hundreds of cameras streaming all night and day for 52 weeks.

C: I don’t know why a diverse cast earns a sigh. I mean, obviously bringing in a lot of people with opposing views is drama-bait, but “utopia” projects with a small group of like-thinking types have definitely been done (throughout history).

M: It’s because it’s drama bait. Which makes it like Real World, but mixed with The Truman Show and Lord of the Flies. On a tiny parcel of land.

C: Yes, exactly.

M: And no, that doesn’t sound appealing.

E: Yes, exactly.

C: I don’t tend to watch reality shows, but sounds like something I would read an article about.

The Voice: Results (NBC, September 23rd)

E: I’m glad someone gets a results show.  I don’t always love results shows, but I hate it when the public doesn’t get to vote on who leaves in a given week, based on that week’s performance.

M: “I don’t always love a results show?” I don’t ever like a results show. Do the results live the first 5 minutes of the next week, and stop wasting people’s time.

C: AGREED. I can’t believe you’re being nostalgic, E, about an innovation that, a few years ago, we were groaning over as a shameless, content-less ratings grab.

E: The guest performances can be fun.

M: So do a performance show. Oh wait.

E: I just think it’s less fun watching someone get kicked off during a performance episode.

C: You are weird.

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. (PBS, September 23rd)

E: PBS’s celebrity genealogy series continues.  This season, famous Harvard professor Gates will guide Tina Fey, Don Cheadle, Anderson Cooper, Gloria Reuben, Aaron Sanchez, Stephen King and many other prominent Americans through secrets buried in time about their families’ histories.

C: Gates, who’s extremely well-known in academic circles, is primarily known outside of them for his infamous arrest, when he locked himself out of his ritzy Cambridge professor home and local cops thought he was breaking in. They probably won’t talk about that on this show.

M: I wouldn’t imagine so, no. Now, didn’t one of the real networks try this idea out a few years ago, with Gwyneth (don’t call me Gwen or even Gwyn) Paltrow?

E: Yep.  Pretty entertaining, actually.

M: Really? I find that hard to believe. Oh, and I found it… Who Do You Think You Are? back in 2010. E aside, I don’t think it interested people then, not sure it will now.

E: An excellent reason for PBS not to do a show, M.

M: Yes, because when no one wants to watch it, we should pay for it with tax dollars.

E: UGH. I just mean they’re less ratings dependent, M.

C: Don’t you think it’s possible PBS might do it in a much classier, sharper, more interesting way? I can pretty much guarantee that they will, given the presence of Gates, in fact. He’s a smart guy.

M: Possible, yes, but the original seemed both classy and sharp. It’s just not that interesting a concept. I don’t really care to know if Aaron Sanchez’s great grandparents were Chilean coal miners, or whatever. As smart as Gates is, he can’t help that.

8:30pm

Manhattan Love Story (ABC, September 30th )

E: Okay, I’m vaguely surprised at myself for saying this, but this sitcom looks moderately cute. Not cute enough to watch, but still, cute. Guy’s a would-be player (gross, really gross, gross), girl’s an adorkable mess (no, spell-check, I did not mistype adorable), they’re set up on a blind date.  Things do not go well — but somehow, they might end up going better.

M: I think I understand why you don’t like sitcoms. The only ones you ever think look good, and thus try watching, are HORRIBLE.

C: Heh! You might be on to something. Anyway, the gimmick of what otherwise seems like a very plotless plot is that you can hear the internal monologues of both characters — not just as introductory or occasional voice-over, but throughout all the scenes. Would this be funny and innovative, or quickly grow tiresome (especially given the banal quality of the thoughts we get to hear in the trailer)? I guess it depends where the writers plan to go with this.

E: It’ll also depend on how interesting and well written those internal monologues are.

M: I’d lean toward it getting tiresome quickly and them giving up on it and turning it into a generic rom-sit-com, if it lasts long enough.

E: Shameless‘ Jake McDorman plays the playa’, and Warm Bodies‘ Analeigh Tipton, in blond curls, is the new-to-New York City girl.  Maybe I’m vaguely interested because I love romcoms, and this show seems like a valentine to the genre?

M: You know what, I think this would work as a movie. I can’t picture a season of it, but 2 hours could be cute.

E: I know it’s going to shock you to hear me say this, but you’re probably right.

M: Really.

E: Don’t get used to it.

M: Fair enough.

E: Maybe it’s that I always want to root for Tipton; there’s something in her wide-eyed awkwardness that gets me.

M: And thus we get to the bottom of it. E finds someone she likes (like Jeremy Sisto, or anyone that’s ever been on Good Wife) and watches the crap they get put in hoping for them to be good.

E: I would think that my loud rejection of Selfie would be the perfect argument against that claim, M. On the other hand, maybe I’m soft on this show because McDorman reminds me of a less cute version of Brent Bailey.

C: Speaking of someone who needs to get his own (not terrible) sitcom.

E: Amen!  Or drama, really, I’m not fussy.

C: Anything that showcased his charms — er, talents — better than one million TV commercials, really. Maybe next year…

9:00pm

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  (ABC, September 23rd )**

C: All the buzz on this show is that it finally got good last spring, long after most people I know had stopped watching it.

M: It did.

E: My kids cannot wait for this to start back up.  I’m excited to see where the team is going in a post-SHIELD, post-Clairvoyant world, but not as excited as my offspring are.

M: This show was pretty enjoyable all year, in my opinion, but really took off after tying in the major plot twist from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Which would have been so much better if I’d seen that movie first. I like the show, and like watching it with my kids, too, but assuming that everyone saw a movie within a few weeks of it coming out is kinda bad form.

E: I know what you mean: we actually stopped watching episodes for a month to avoid the spoiler, but eventually had to just give in.

M: I don’t remember, did I give you the heads up on that because we watched it before you, or did you know about it and not give me a heads up?

C: I’m assuming she cruelly withheld that info.

E: Ouch!  I would not!  I think he happened to watch it first and warned me.  Outside of the whole obvious “where do we go from here?” issues, and the fun of opposing Hydra while on the run, I’m most curious about the fate of poor Agent (former agent?) Fitz, who heroically sacrificed himself to save partner and apparent love interest Gemma Simmons.  What’s all this stuff about him not being the same?  Will he have brain damage from the oxygen deprivation of being trapped underwater in a box?

M: I’m assuming he’ll be fine after about a 3-episode story arc. Oh, and that the whole “love interest” plot line between him and Simmons will be dragged on for seasons.

C: This is all baffling to me as, based on having watched the first three episodes of the first season, I thought those two were already a couple.

M: Nope! Anyhow, back to the Captain America tie-in: in the premiere we’ll have an appearance by Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and the Howling Commandos.

E: Who’ll get their own spin off next year, although I think as a web-series.

C: This winter, I believe, and on real TV!

M: Yep, I found out what the deal is! ABC is having a couple shows, Agent Carter and the highly anticipated (at least by me) Galavant, fill in the SHIELD and Once Upon a Time time slots, respectively, when those shows sign off for the fall. Both will have short “seasons” then, and give way when the “regular” inhabitants of their time slots come back for the spring.

E: No, I’m fascinated by the Spamalot-esque musical fairy tale Galavant, too, and all about Agent Carter.

C: I’m definitely looking forward to both of those. Much more, frankly, than what they’re filling in for.

M: I think I’m looking forward to Galavant more than anything else that’s new, so yeah. Now, when does the next Marvel movie come out? Need to know when the entire plot of the show will change again…

C: That’d be Avengers: The Age of Ultron next summer. A long gap compared to last year!

E: Yeah, when not only The Winter Soldier but also Thor: The Dark World had strong influences on the SHIELD plots.

M: Okay, we’re safe for the whole season, then!

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS, September 23rd)*

E: CBS’s mantra: when in doubt, spin off a hit.

M: But this one has something awesome going for it — Scott Bakula!

E: Yes, Scott Bakula stars as the good old boy, maverick leader of the Big Easy’s NCIS team.

C: Wait a minute. When you said above that they were casting a high-powered actor in the new spin-off, did you mean Bakula? Love him of course, but… “big star”?

M: Hush your mouth! Ever since the spectacular Quantum Leap, we’ve been Bakula fans. He’s had some misses over the years, but having him as the lead here is akin to another favorite of mine, Gary Sinise, leading CSI: NY. It sets the level of the show higher than, say, a Chris O’Donnell or a David Caruso. This show could have plenty of warts, but Bakula alone makes it worth checking out.

E: See, I don’t know.  I think on the whole it’s a minus for me; I hate seeing an actor I really like play a character I can’t respect.

M: Ok, I respect that. But for me it’s like our discussion yesterday about Alfre Woodward. Bakula alone is worth the chance.

E: Can I just say now how much I hate this trend of outside-the-law law enforcers?  Seriously, does anyone in Hollywood even think about the kind of culture they’re propagating here?

M: You accused me of being a conspiracy theorist before for suggesting that Hollywood makes decisions based on their cultural beliefs. This time I think I’m with you, though, that they just look at what makes for the most drama.

E: It’s just such a destructive trend, and makes me really unhappy. Anyway. Get ready for a super thick southern accents, courtesy of Lucas Black, as well as the awesomeness that is C.C.H. Pounder.

M: Yay, love her! And Black’s an X-Files alum, so C and I could go all E-with-the-Good-Wife-y and watch it just for him…

C: Pounder had an Emmy-nominated guest spot on The X-Files too!

E: I wish you’d pay attention, M; just because I make a note that actors appear on TGW doesn’t mean I watch their shows.

M: Oh, I’ve been paying attention. Maybe it doesn’t guarantee it, but it gives it probably about a 97% chance.

C: You do tend to say “I might be willing to check this out…”

E: Ahem. Getting back to NCIS: Zoe McLellan brings a little Midwestern flavor in to vary the team; the trailer shows her earning Black’s respect by assaulting a suspect during an interview.  Yeah.  Civil right violations; they’re so awesome.

M: Remember my comment about warts?

Supernatural (The CW, October 7th )

E: Demon hunting brothers Dean and Sam have a new challenge for their 10th season: transforming demonized Dean back into a human.

C: I guess they got tired of simply killing one or the other brother at the end of each season; decided to mix it up.

M: There’s lots of mystical, supernatural stuff going on here.  Demons, penitent angels, dead prophets, stone tablets, religious rituals in Latin, twisted and tortured souls, that kind of stuff…

C: …hence the name Supernatural.

E: Fair enough.

M: You didn’t let me finish. As I was going to say, you know, it’s all the stuff you already saw in the first season of this, just repeated over and over because CW doesn’t EVER end a show if it once had an audience.

C: And for one pretty good reason: people are still obsessively watching this.

M: “People” is a relative term when we’re talking about The CW. About one-third as many people watched the highest rated episode of this as watched the lowest rated episode of the unfairly cancelled Almost Human (the best new show of last year). If this were on any other network it would have been gone years ago.

New Girl (FOX, September 16th)**

M: I’m excited for the return of one of the better comedies on TV, even if last season wasn’t nearly as good as the previous 2. The whole Nick and Jess break up was so forced, and the writers just seem to have no idea what to do with Cece. They need to go back to just being quirky and funny, and leave the running plotlines behind.

E: Well, for one offs, Jessica Biel guest stars on a episode.

C: Yes, on the pilot episode, which already aired, guys! Catch up!

M: It’s on my DVR.  Did Mrs. Timberlake bring a bit of zip to the season premiere? It’s better than having Prince, in my opinion.

C: Actually she was pretty hilarious as Jess’s intense competition for the only available male guest at a wedding. This show has always been wildly inconsistent, sometimes hilarious and sometimes just painful, but the premiere of this season was a good start!

M: And yes, the show is horribly inconsistent, but when it’s good, it’s sooooo good.

The Jennie Garth Project (HGTV, September 16th)

C: Goody, someone I’m always wanting to see more of! Wait, no.

E: Old school 90210‘s Jennie Garth — fresh off a divorce — takes her two young daughters and renovates a house, along with her doubting contractor.

M: So, it’s like The Vanilla Ice Project from a few years back? Interesting.

E: Except the house is ugly.

M: Instead of the host. Bazinga!

Marry Me (NBC, October 15th)

C: Veronica Mars‘s Vinnie Van Lowe, Ken Marino, also a star of Party Down

M: …not to mention a frequent guest star on The League

C: …has such trouble proposing to his long time girlfriend Annie (Casey Wilson) that they decide to take marriage off the table until their lives settle down.  Not that anyone needs to get married, but that seems like a silly reason not to. I mean, especially if you’ve already talked about it enough that both know he intended to propose.

E: Yeah, it seems to me at that point you just decide together to get married.  Why is the proposal that important?

M: This whole concept seems dated. Most people in this situation these days just wouldn’t get married at all.

E: I have no interest in watching it, but I must admit, the leads on this show have chemistry, and the early reviews have been pretty promising.

C: Hm. Vinny in love sounds a little creepy, but I’ll take your word.

E: It’s not so much my word as the critics who’ve actually, you know, seen it. The show runner, David Caspe, was responsible for the late lamented Happy Endings, which as it happens is where he met his wife, Casey Wilson; the show is loosely based on their relationship.

M: And let me be the first to point out… they’re married.

9:30pm

The Mindy Project (FOX, September 16th)*

E: Mindy has, inevitably, gotten together with cave man coworker Chris Messina, which allows them this exchange, unsexily grappling on Mindy’s bed in their underwear: Her: “Just let me dominate you!” Him: “Just be submissive for once!”  Her: “I’m not that kind of Asian!”  Glad that’s going well…

M: I still do not understand the appeal of Mindy Kaling.

C: Y’all are such stupid haters about this show, and I’m getting tired of it. It is funny. Mindy is awesome. She’s the outrageous friend who you always have a blast hanging out with.

M: Oh dear Lord. You find her funny. I find her insufferable. She is the friend I’m glad I don’t have. And yes, I’ve watched it. A bunch.

E: I haven’t watched a bunch, but I did try. I really really wanted to like it, but no, and the romanticizing of cave man coworker (Mindy’s obvious romantic endgame since the pilot) had a lot to do with that.

C: Though I’m glad your judgment is based on experience this time, you’re still factually wrong about this. And while they rushed Mindy’s character into a relationship with Danny (Messina) because the show was on the bubble last year — and by the way, far from that being inevitable, I thought they’d spin the will-they/won’t-they out much longer — the premiere, at least, got some hilarious (and occasionally touching) mileage out of their tricky adjustment to being newly in a relationship, as co-workers.

About A Boy (NBC, October 14th)

E: I’m happy for Minnie Driver that this show succeeded.  Not happy enough to watch it — let’s just say the lead actor, David Walton, is no Hugh Grant — but still, happy.

M: There you go, treating men as objects again.

C: Maybe she meant in terms of charm or acting prowess! You don’t know.

E: I do!

M: Riiiiiight. For the record, I happen to like Walton, who has been charming and a good actor in many things I’ve seen, Including New Girl. I’m happy he’s finally gotten a role or show that’s stuck for more than a season. Not that I’m watching, either — but still, happy.

10:00pm

Forever (ABC,  Monday September 22nd – and already available online)**

C: This is one of, if not THE strangest things to appear this season: a TV show that sounds like it’s based on a really, really bad 2003 “literary novel” of the same name, by Pete Hamill, about an immortal man who moves to New York City from Ireland and, basically, just has a lot of sex. Uh, I mean, searches for his soulmate. Instead of that “plot,” the TV series makes it a medical drama! ABC claims it’s all just a coincidence, but that seems shifty to me, even if they did revamp the concept drastically.

E: Can’t say I mind the change! Oh, and note the trickiness of the timing here — the show premieres on Monday but will actually air on Tuesdays.

M: Trying for a strong start with back-to-back days, and giving it a strong lead in. A much more tenable tactic in the days of DVRs.

E: Ioan Gruffudd stars as a New York City medical examiner who investigates death in the hopes of figuring out why he’s immortal.  The idea is that he’s the best coroner ever because he’s had so much practice, although I’m not sure that’s how it’d work.  After all, with hundreds of years of medical practice comes hundreds of years of crazy and inaccurate science to unlearn.  Without the procedural angle, it makes me think immediately Nicolaj Coster-Waldau’s short-lived but entertaining New Amsterdam, right? Which sounds almost exactly like that book, C.

M: I really liked that show, another poor decision by network execs! And yes, definitely thought of that when I saw the trailer for this.

E: One major difference: Henry Morgan can die, but he always wakes up again.  In a body of water.  Naked.  Sometimes, he even has pal Judd Hirsch kill him to help solve crimes, though how this is effective (and what happens to his old body) the trailer leaves no clue.

M: Yeah, that seems a bit Edge of Tomorrow-ish, but not in a good way.

C: Agreed. Though I love Ioan “Horatio Hornblower” Gruffudd and will continue to love him no matter how many awful projects (coughSilverSurfercough) he involves himself in, so I don’t really care.

E: Bonus points for the accent (impressively, improbably, and adorably intact after 200 years) and for employing Bones‘ morbid forensic scientist, Joel David Moore.  I’m not sold yet on Morgan’s relationship with the hot young police detective who’s much too observant (gee, what are the chances of getting caught out for your weird immortality when you work in law enforcement?) who might turn out to be his soulmate.

M: Yeah, that’s not a stretch at all — either the law enforcement bit, or the soulmate bit.

Person of Interest (CBS, September 23rd)*

M: Okay, we left off last season of Person of Interest, which got a bit mired down after they unwisely killed off Taraji Henson’s Detective Carter, with some serious fireworks. Now a global conspiracy shadows season 4. Finch, Reese, Root and Shaw are undercover after rival machine Samaritan was brought on line by the power hungry Mr Greer (played by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan’s uncle, John Nolan, who looks and sounds just like John Hurt). Good news, “our” machine is spitting out numbers again, and though Finch is terrified of this new AI threat, Reese in particular needs the purpose that helping people gives him.

E: Wow.  That sounds like a pretty different show from the one I stopped watching a few years ago.

M: Well, the over-arching plot, which they’ve actually been setting up since season one, made a lot of late changes. A good half of last season was still helping/catching people whose numbers came up. For my money they need to mix in more of the stand alone episodes, but they got caught up in two things: the need of TV writes to have a consistent story, and all the actual government spying (PRISM, etc) leading them to try to make it more fantastic than actual reality.

E: Which I can imagine would be challenging. We see guest-starring turns/recurring characters Carrie Preston (The Good Wife, True Blood) and Camryn Manheim (Extant, The Practice) as well as The Smoking Man from The X-Files.  That’s what I call getting the best for your shadow conspiracy!

M: Manheim, who I’m not a big fan of, has actually been quite good on this. They need to mix in some more of Enrico Collantoni’s Elias, who is a fantastic character, but YAY!!! Smoking Man!!! Woo hoo, he is so fantastically creepy and sinister, I don’t care what role he plays.

E: By the way, I love the little frame story in the trailer, featuring Frederick Weller (who recurs on The Good Wife, obviously) as a poor sap who’s figured out the existence of the shadow artificial intelligence, only to fall prey to a femme fatale in its employ.

M: This show, even with the less than ideal way they handled some things last season, is still one of the very best on TV right now. It surprises you at times (which is rare), both with plot and character decisions. It’s patient with its plot development (which is unheard of), setting some things up over 5 or 6 episodes, some over three seasons. Seriously, people, if you’re not watching this you should be.

Sons of Anarchy (FX, September 9th)

E: A slew of high-profile cable dramas are calling it quits this year.  The Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, and now Sons of Anarchy.  The critically acclaimed biker drama has elevated Drea De Matteo and Peter Weller to full time cast members, and has added in Mystic Pizza‘s Annabeth Gish, 90s rock stars Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson, and The Cosby Show‘s Malcolm Jamal-Warner in recurring roles.  I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind.  But that’s not weird enough!  Glee’s songstress Lea Michelle has a single episode arc.

M: You know it’s not like me to nitpick, but does it qualify as an arc if it’s one episode?

E: Sorry. You are correct.

C: What did she just say?

M: You said not to get used to that. What gives!?!?!

E: For real this time, don’t get used to it.  What does qualify as an arc: Katey Sagal lies about accidentally killing someone, which leads to son Jax (Charlie Hunnan) putting the smack down on the wrong people.

Awkward (MTV, September 23rd)

E: So I watched the preview for season 4 and all I’m really left with is the feeling that the actors playing the students and the actors playing the teachers are all the same age.

M: And that’s a surprise?

E: No, but it seemed more egregious than usual. Here’s the rest of what I found out: Season 4 details the second half of the main characters’ senior year, which includes lots of weird friendship/romantic line blurring between Matty and Jenna, trouble over a website ranking senior guys for their relative hotness, and various unlikely social mishaps.

M: Um, it’s MTV. The last time they put out something relevant was the Thriller video. Why are we bothering?

E: I like to be thorough.

Chicago Fire (NBC, September 23rd)

E: I tend to forget this show exits.

M: Hence listing it after the dreck on MTV.

E: Or it could simply be because MTV comes before NBC in the alphabet. Take your pick.

C: Honestly, which do you think he’ll pick?

M: Nope, she said I was right twice, and took my side another time in this one post. I’m going with the alphabet. So there.

E: Woo! Also, when I recall that this exists, I still totally forget that Jesse Spencer from House stars in it.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, season 2 ended with most of the cast in an old building which then exploded.  The new season will include the literal and emotional fall out from that explosion, particularly since not everyone makes it out alive.

M: That seems like something that could be done very, very well. Having never watched, I don’t know if this is the show to do that well, but for the sake of my firefighter friends, I hope it is.

 10:30pm

Faking It (MTV, September 23rd)

E: MTV’s lesbian chic sitcom enters its second season, and here’s what you’ve missed: best friends Amy and Karma pretended to be lesbians for the popularity, because that’s totally how it works.  Not only was everyone at their school super supportive, but the super hot guy Karma crushes on (pretty boy Gregg Sulkin of Pretty Little Liars and Wizards of Waverly Place) fell for her.  Except all this real smooching for pretend reasons has Amy wondering whether she really is gay, and so both she and Karma’s crush Liam are soon professing their devotion.  Except for the tiny little hiccup when Amy hooks up with Liam.  Right.   It’s sure to be smooth sailing from here on out!

M: Seriously, why are you even including this? Should we preview daytime soaps as well?

C: Now might be a good moment for our readers to ponder what system we use to select which cable prime-time shows we review, after including everything on the major networks. Go ahead and ponder. Please tell us if you figure it out.

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7 comments on “2014 Fall Television Preview: Tuesday

  1. I LOVE MINDY KALING. I love the show. And I’ve never seen Danny as a cave man??? So I’m with C on this one. “Hooking up is Hard” from season 1 has to be one of my favorite sitcom eps ever. And I like the risk the show is taking with Mindy and Danny. Can a show still be funny and charming after the romantic leads become a couple? After watching the season premiere, I think they might be able to pull it off.

    I just watched the premiere of FOREVER. Such clunky dialogue, but it sure is easy to watch Ioan Gruffud. I will give it a few more eps.

    • E says:

      I only watched the first two episodes of The Mindy Project, so perhaps that’s an unfair assessment, but that was definitely my impression of Danny from that time.

      I liked Forever far more than I expected. Really, I thought it’d be awful, but I had to watch it for Gruffud because of course, how could you not? And then it turned out to be decent enough to keep going with, at least for now. I think what got me, beside Gruffud, was the Unbreakable-style plot twist. Most of the pilots I’ve seen so far have been so thoroughly spoiled by the trailers that it was kind of thrilling to have an element to the show I didn’t expect at all.

      • Oh dear. What was the FOREVER plot twist that wasn’t given away in the trailers? I don’t remember being surprised by anything. Man, I’m such a lazy viewer. 😦 (Message me if you don’t want to give anything away here…)

        • PT TV Cruiser says:

          Sonia and E, I like Mindy Project enough. I don’t seek it out, but when I’ve caught it, it’s amused me. Plus, good supporting cast and I like her as a comedic actress. She was funny as the neurotic Ryan-loving, always-talking Kelly on The Office, but annoying too.. but she was one of the writers and producers so mad comedy props to her. I like her 30 something, neurotic, single but professional character more here. and i like that she’s awkward and likable off the show too, seems very down-to-earth.

          I watched Forever too. Happened upon it then read your blog later. Like Gruffud as well. and Judd Hirsch is an asset. He’s always a good actor, playing the mensch (who is actually younger than handsome IG)… didn’t know about the novel and some of the similar shows you all cite, but it seems pretty familiar. The medical drama stuff seemed a little like Sherlock (he’s so smart, he sees everything); the Dana Delaney medical examiner show (Body of Proof, had to look it up) (renegade, going after cases that should be closed); Law & Order (of course the female cop is from there and has the same low-waist blouse, straight pants & blazer wardrobe they favor on that show — she probably got to keep them from the set. and there was some show where the main character wound up naked after reincarnating… the flashback seem familiar – maybe that Poppy Montgomery show. It could be decent, but seems like it’s borrowing from so many other shows.

          SPOILER:
          I think the voice is Christian Slater.

  2. thepresidentrix says:

    Let’s see…

    My sister and I have watched the Selfie pilot. I was less impressed than she was (though we both agreed it had its problems), because she focused more on the way the show uses ridiculous internet-speak unironically. When she pointed that out to me, I had to admit the idea was pretty funny.

    I felt that the writing was clunky overall, but that the two leads (both of whom we LOVE and can’t help rooting for) delivered a couple moments of real charm and chemistry together. I don’t wish for them to get together romantically or anything – it would be strange to wish them on each other, when they’re both human disasters – but if they could manage a real friendship, it’s hard to deny that’d show personal growth on both their parts.

    John Cho’s character isn’t a professional lady-fixer, though he *is* a smug jerk at times. He’s a marketer, and Karen Gillan’s character asks him to “rebrand” her. A smug male delivering a de-sluttifying critique to a woman certainly can be offensive, but I *think* what the show is ultimately going for is Cho realizing that he really only exceeds Gillan in terms of self-awareness and the management of public perception. He knows how to control himself and behave in a way that’s fit for consumption. When it comes to how to be a person, he’s as lost as she is. Teaching someone else to manage her brand is softening him, because he’s recognizing the inadequacy of his own skill set. (Meanwhile, Gillan’s character is discovering that she wants friendship and camaraderie from people she previously dismissed as irrelevant).

    It seems to me that if the show continues at its current level of quality, it won’t be worth watching. But if it becomes a show about the best the pilot had to offer and sheds everything else, it could turn out to be good after all. I just hope if it fails it does so quickly, so Cho and Gillan can go do other, better jobs. (Did you ever catch Cho on Go On? My sister and I loved him and several of the other characters on that show. In one of my favorite episodes, Matthew Perry is unable to pick Cho’s character up from minor surgery, so he trusts a member of his support group to look after him while he’s coming off anesthesia. Instead, she takes him out for a shopping montage, trying on ridiculously dapper outfits while he’s still off-his-head on painkillers. It’s adorable and very, very handsome, ha ha!)

    Meanwhile, I think I’m going to give Forever a real try, despite that not really being in my plans until… just now. I like Ioan Gruffudd just fine, but I’ve never loved him. (I am an Archie Kennedy girl all the way, LOL). I wouldn’t watch a show just because he’s on it. But I might watch a show because I like what he’s like when he’s on it, if that makes sense.

    There’s nothing really original about Forever. (Except maybe the very, very unanswered question: what happens to his dead body and all his personal effects each time he wakes up naked in a nearby body of water; explaining that one could get original. Does he have a “reappearing cupboard” where his driver’s license and his fancy watch get teleported, every time he pegs out?) But it does have an old-fashioned quality, almost an elegance. Gentleman detective and all that. Gruffudd fits that feel very nicely, effortlessly even. I don’t expect to fall in love with him by any means. Nor am I presently expecting the show to surprise me very much or destroy me with “feels” (then again, Reign did that a couple of times, and I didn’t think much of its potential either). But it takes place in a world I wouldn’t mind hanging out in for a spell.

    And I do like Mindy, but I found her an acquired taste?

  3. thepresidentrix says:

    In Spoilery news: Every time Morgan hears the mystery voice on the phone, I get Adrian Pasdar. But he’s busy being insufferable over on SHIELD, so it’s probably not him?

  4. […] Click for Sunday‘s post, Monday’s and last but not least, Tuesday’s. […]

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