2014 Fall Television Preview: Wednesday

C: Believe it or not, we’re already half way through the previews.

M: With all the shows on Sunday, and the weak spattering on Friday and Saturday, I think we’re well past half, actually.

E: 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
  • Click for Sunday‘s post, Monday’s and last but not least, Tuesday’s.

8:00pm

The Middle (ABC, September 24th)

E: After passing the syndication-necessary milestone of 100 hundred episodes last year, ABC’s family comedy The Middle enters its 6th season.

M: E’s friend MMGF is a fan, but none of the sibs have ever gotten into this. I keep hearing from people that it’s funny, and that you can pop in and out. I don’t know anyone else dedicated to it, though.

E: As I understand it, this season will feature a lot more of sister Sue, who finally gets her braces off!  The lovable Richard Kind guest stars as her orthodontist.

C: Wow, I just googled Richard Kind thinking I didn’t know who that was and I totally, totally do. THAT guy!

E: How could you not remember him?  We definitely need to dock you some Sibling points for that!

M: A LOT of sibling points. Richard Kind is so great. And is in Gotham, too.

C: I just didn’t remember his name! (Okay, fine, that is a pretty big Sibling offense.)

M: As long as you’re willing to admit that.

Survivor: San Juan del Sur: Blood vs. Water (CBS, September 24th)

E: Apparently feeling that their strategy from last spring’s season of pitting family members against each other provided a lot of tasty drama, the venerable reality competition’s going back for a second round of family abuse and betrayal.  You apply in pairs, and then the pairs are split to make up the two teams.

M: Maybe we should apply. 😉

E: Oh sure. Sounds awesome.

C: Apparently their strategy of double colons (title, subtitle, sub-subtitle?) also felt successful enough to repeat.

M: I’m glad you specified the subtitles, I was thinking you were talking about the pairs of contestants using that anatomical term to replace a less family-friend anatomical term from the same general area of the body.

E: What else can we say about this?  You know whether or not Survivor is your thing.

M: For some people, even if it was once your thing, it’s been going on for so long now that it might not be. Or maybe you finally gave it a shot. Or came back after many seasons off. It’s one of those shows that can do that.

E: Perhaps it’s all down to the cast, which this season includes a husband and wife firefighter/cop team, college sweethearts (a former quarterback and an infertile beauty queen) looking to win enough money to pay for a surrogate or adoption, gay Christian Broadway dancers, a thrice divorced mother and her very world-weary young daughter, and a set of Sri Lankan/American twins who were on the Amazing Race.

M: Wait, Sri Lankan/American, or Sri Lankan-American? Is one of them from Sri Lanka, and one from America, and it’s like a Parent Trap, separated at birth thing?

E: Gah.  Why can’t you just point out typos like a normal human being so I can just correct them without turning it into a deep psychological examination?

M: Because this is more fun. And besides, the separated at birth, raised half-way around the globe from each other thing might have actually gotten me interested.

C: Oh M, you should have known. You were putting far too much stock in the idea that E chooses her punctuation with meaningful purpose.

M: Says the self-appointed punctuation Nazi who, among the many (*coughneedlesscough*) punctuation corrections she makes in these posts, ensures that all punctuation is tucked properly inside quotation marks, which, grammatically correct or not, looks dumb and is not actually accurate when it differs from the quote, like when you’re asking a question about a quote, and yes, that this is one massive run on sentence with horrible punctuation is entirely on purpose.

C: I AM AN ENGLISH TEACHER.

M: Hear me roar.

C: Besides, you’re wrong about the question mark thing being something I would change. So there.

M: Whatever.

Arrow  (The CW, October 8th)

E: Watching the trailer for the new season — featuring the advent of Ra’s al Ghul — makes me wonder if I made a mistake giving up on this show in its first season.

M: Yes, this is another that’s on my binge list. If only I didn’t have a life! 😉

C: I might watch it some day, but I’ve yet to get the sense that the main character has any personality. (Then again, I feared the same about Grimm, which I did finally binge-watch and that guy turns out to be great.)

E: Huh.  I wonder if I gave up on that one too early, too.  A big part of my interest here?  British favorite John Barrowman and former Superman Brandon Routh join the cast.

M: Oh crap, really? It’s off the list now. Routh’s a mush, he’s not necessarily bad himself, but everything he’s associated with gets ruined from the point he joins on.

C: Aw, poor guy. I like him. And unlike 95% of the world, I liked his Superman movie. Waaaay better than Man of Steel, that’s for sure.

M: That’s because it’s a chick flick starring Superman. But we digress.

C: Yes, to get back to Arrow

E: Really, I just like my comic book stories, and the darkness leeching through Starling City is surely that. Fans will surely want to know that the Arrow’s finally asking fan-favorite Felicity out on a date.

Hell’s Kitchen (FOX, September 10th)

E: Is there really anything new to say about this FOX drama, either?  Either you like to see Gordon Ramsey abuse people or you don’t.

M: Hey, you’re the one that included the crap MTV shows in yesterday’s preview. After that I don’t think you can throw stones at just about anything.

C: Presumably she’s just calling it like she sees it. I’ve yet to learn that we control the TV lineup.

M: No, but outside the major nets we control what we put in these previews. MTV shouldn’t make the cut is all I’m saying, and if she’s going to add that in…

E: Then I can’t comment on the quality of anything else?  Oh.  I see.  That makes sense.

M: Glad you came around.

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC, September 17th)

E: Debra Messing, single mother of twin kindergarten aged boys, homicide detective.  I think it’s aiming for a Castle or Bones type of tone — action comedy, more about the characters than the murders — but I’m not sure.  I was never a Will and Grace fan, so the idea of Messing back in a comedy doesn’t thrill me the way I’m sure it does for a lot of people.

M: Neither that nor Smash did it for me, but neither was anything specifically against Messing. In fairness, I work for her uncle, so I don’t think I’m allowed to have anything against her.

C: Not to get all Gender Studies again, but a female detective with a successful family life is practically a unicorn in the mystery genre, so that alone makes me want good things for this.

M: Um, Dana Delany’s Body of Proof comes immediately to mind. I’m sure I could think of more if I gave it 30 seconds.

E: Cagney & Lacy springs to mind first for me, which maybe proves C’s point.

M: Which makes me immediately go to Risoli and Isles, which is current.

E: They’re both single, though, M. Or at least, they were when I watched back in the first season.

C: I’m not saying there are none — okay, so maybe “unicorn” was the wrong metaphor — just that it’s very, very unusual.

E: There’s a couple of toddlers on Bones now, too; not sure if that counts, as they’re scientists and not detectives?  Oh, and Gracepoint. What bothers me is that I feel like the trailer laughs at Messing rather than with her: look at the badass cop who’s a completely incompetent parent!  Hilarious!

M: Regardless of the gender of the parent, that’s not cool.

E: I did like Messing in Smash, and I have heard favorable reviews of this from friends who follow Messing’s career. One thing, though. I will never understand why the trailer spoils the big mystery in the first episode.  All that does is decrease my already low desire to watch it.

M: Networks do that ALL the time. I can’t stand that. Why why why?!?!?

C: Possibly so people don’t start the show assuming a certain wonderful Veronica Mars alum will stay part of the cast? Rico, let’s just assume this show wasn’t up to your stickin’-around standards; otherwise I don’t see how they could’ve written you off.

8:30pm

The Goldbergs (ABC, September 24th)

E: Last year’s breakout ’80s comedy returns.

M: What I watched of it (admittedly very little) was both funny and endearing. I’m glad it’s doing well.

E: I have to tell you, I’m horrified every time I think that The Goldbergs is to the teens what The Wonder Years was to the 80s.  It just makes me feel — ugh, I don’t know.  Like life moves pretty fast.

M: If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.

C: Hee. Speaking of the ’80s, funny, and endearing.

E: Exactly.  To start the new season, David Spade guest stars as a creepy dude making fake IDs, and mom Wendy McLendon-Covey sings Journey ballads along with the radio, to the great mortification of her children.

M: Oh, if they made David Spade an 80’s pedophile, with a wispy mustache and a white van, that might be the best casting ever.

9:00pm

Modern Family (ABC, September 24th)

E: Emmy’s favorite comedy is back!  With Cameron and Mitchell finally married, the Pritchett clan’s looking forward to a honeymoon period.  Happiness all around, right?

M: It’s Modern Family. No one will stay happy, and almost nothing will make you laugh on its own merit. You might get cumulative laughs, or embarrassment laughs, but that’s about it.

E: Ah, M.  Still bitter about having to give this show a chance.

M: No, it only wastes 22 minutes thanks to DVR, so I’ve only wasted probably 3 hours on it total. My problem is that in those 3 hours, I’ve probably laughed 3 times.

C: I watched this very sporadically for a couple seasons, and did think certain characters got old very quickly, but when it was “on” it was really funny.

M: I’m the odd one out, apparently, so let’s just continue with what’s coming up on this season.

E: Watch out, 30 Rock fans!  Emmy winner Kristen Johnston guest stars this season as a colleague of Mitchell’s who’s rumored to have an epic emotional break down.

M: Um, sis, that’s not 30 Rock, but 3rd Rock From The Sun. Not sure if you ever watched either, since they’re both sitcoms, but there’s a pretty big difference between them.

E: Oh, dear.  I did mean 3rd Rock (which I did watch, WITH YOU), not 30 Rock.

C: That’s kind of embarrassing, E. If you’d said it in a speech to your coworkers that was supposed to secure you a promotion, then you’d fit right in as a character on this show.

E: Also, wacky ’90s dude Steve Zahn joins the cast as the head of a family of neighbors set to clash with the Dunphys.  Rut-roh!

M: Too soon for Casey Casem-related jokes?

Criminal Minds (CBS, October 1st)

E: Somehow without my paying attention, this show’s managed to stick around for 9 years.  I’m kind of astounded by that.  This is season 10!  Wow.

M: I know a bunch of people (including my 14-year-old’s friends) who love this show. I also know a bunch of parents, like Mrs M and me, who can’t watch it any more because it’s too well done.

E: Too creepy?  I watched a few episodes in the first season for Mandy Patinkin and found it just unrelentingly grim. Now, something must have happened to The Client List while I wasn’t paying attention to that either, because guess who’s joining the cast?  Jennifer Love Hewitt.  Someone who, whatever else you might say of her, I don’t think of in terms of unrelenting grimness.

M: The entire The Client List happened to The Client List while I wasn’t paying attention.

C: Also, say what you like of Hewitt, but she gets work consistently. When her latest show dies, she’s put in another one. It’s impressive.

E: Upcoming plots include the team finding three severed legs in someone’s car.  Outstanding.

M: See, you’re making my point.

The 100 (the CW, October 22nd)

E: Life remains pretty tricky for the 100 juvenile delinquents sent down by space-faring survivors to see if their old home Earth is habitable a hundred years after a nuclear war.  Not that you’d imagine it’d be any fun being the human version of a canary in a coal mine, but when it turns out that there are actually people already on Earth who survived the apocalypse?  Stranger and stranger.

C: This is a show? Why have I never heard of it?

M: It premiered in the spring, and was well received. I found out about it after it had started, and wished I’d seen the start. I may have to see if the first season (13 episodes) is on Netflix streaming.

C: Sounds very on-trend with the whole young adult dystopia thing, but could be cool for all that.

E: Stop reading if you care about spoilers!  Because I think this might be telling (even if it’s already out there in videos made by the show creators). In the second season premiere, Clark struggles to save Finn – desperately trying to establish contact with her mother on the mothership for some medical instruction – and Bellamy turns one level of the drop ship into a torture zone. So, you know, sunshine and lollipops. As the season progresses, they’ll be exploring the history of the Ark (the mothership, a space station hovering around earth which sent the 100 down), the Grounders, the Reapers, and Mount Weather.

M: *la la la. not reading. la la la*

E: Like it even makes sense when you don’t watch the show?

M: Yes, because I plan to some day. Duh.

E: Whatever. Random fact: Grey’s Anatomy‘s controversial Isaiah Washington is on this show!  Crazy.

M: Crazy why, because he’s being allowed to work again in Hollywood, the land of tolerance?

E: Someday we will have a fight about why it’s okay with your version of free speech that the Dixie Chicks get their records burned for having a political opinion but not that Washington got fired for using bigoted slurs against a castmate — but not today.

M: Yes today, because it’s amazingly fast. No one stopped the Dixie Chicks from making more music, it was consumers boycotting, like Market Basket. Let’s move on, oh tolerant one.

E: As long as you don’t count the radio stations refusing to play their music.

M: Or don’t move on.

C: Guys! Wasn’t there a TV show we were going to talk about?

E: Whatever. Washington is on this show, or at least, he was last season.  This season he’s on the verge of death with no way out.  Or so we think…

Kingdom (DirecTV, October 8th)

E: Yep, that’s right.  Yet another player in the hunt for your eyeballs: DirecTV is offering new content.  To be honest, I have DirecTV and I’ve never watched anything they’ve made.

M: I don’t, thus won’t see this. What’s it about?

E: About the fourth word in the trailer is the F-bomb, which is then used a good ten more times in less than three minutes, just in case you didn’t know that this SoCal drama about a family of MMA fighters and their gym was on cable.

C: Yeah, that was the first thing I noticed too. “We’re edgy! Cable! Cable! Watch us for uncensored content!” Okay, but your trailer doesn’t give me any other reason to watch; it just informs me that real men like to fight each other, and sometimes go to prison. Yay.

E: It stars Frank Grillo as the owner and patriarch, who wastes no time in explaining that most men run from physical conflict because they fear it will prove them to be weak.  Take that, social contract!  Take that, civility!

C: Yeah! Who needs ’em?

E: The Glades‘ luminous Kiele Sanchez costars as his (age-inappropriate) girlfriend, and Parenthood‘s Jonathan Tucker as his screw-up son.  We also meet Kiele’s ex-con ex-boyfriend (who obviously must fight at the gym as well, because duh) and Joanna Going as someone’s junkie whore mother.

M: Kiele Sanchez is memorable to me as the female half (with Rodrigo Santoro being the male half) of the embodiment of all that was going wrong with LOST in the third season, symbolically killed off to kick off the revamp in the second half of the season, at the start of an excellent string of episodes. And yes, I would much rather talk about LOST than Kingdom.

E: Ha — it’s like that character doesn’t even exist for me, I’ve excised her so completely from my memory. Here’s the real casting kicker.  There’s another son who’s an up-and-coming fighter, one who does seem to have his stuff together, played by, of all people… Nick Jonas.

C: Shut the front door!

M: Nick Jonas. Has his stuff together. Not things I expect to hear in the same sentence.

E: Wait, the part of that that surprises you isn’t Nick Jonas, plausible MMA fighter?

M: Yeah, there are smaller weight classes. Plus, I’m just assuming he ‘roided up for the role.

E: Muscles are so not what I’m talking about when I question his plausibility.

M: Then I don’t know what it is. Flexibility?

C: Maybe E thinks he is “delicately featured”?

E: Um, how about a lack of general badassery?

M: Let’s just say, if I had to choose which I bought between two unlikely statements to be made about Nick Jonas and the choices were “MMA fighter” and “has his stuff together,” well, I think you know which one I’d choose.

E: I do, and you’re still wrong.  Anyway, it looks well made, but the glorification of violence is totally not my thing.

C: I don’t think I’d even agree about the “well made.” Instagram cinematography substituting for “atmosphere” and hoarse grumbling substituting for nuanced acting, putting the real emphasis on shock value to gain viewers, is my initial impression.

The Red Band Society (FOX, September 17th)*

C: Otherwise known as The Fault in Ours Stars, the TV show.

E: The initial ads (which I’ve seen numerous times, having spent the summer watching the world’s best dance show on FOX) made me roll my eyes.  What are these teens doing lolling about the hospital, looking healthy and getting up to various hijinks?  In my experience, hospitals don’t let you do a lot of lolling.  More like booting you out on your butt as soon as possible.

C: Or a lot of LOL-ing, which is how I first read that sentence.

E: Basically, as you say, C, it looked like a shameless grab after fans of the smart, funny and very thoughtful TFIOS, and I was prepared to boycott it in outrage.

M: That was my impression, too. I was not preparing a boycott, but did see it as an attempt to capitalize on TFIOS‘s popularity.

C: I take it you’ve changed your mind, though, E?

E: Yeah, a friend of mine explained that for seriously ill kids like her, you do in fact spend a lot of time sitting around hospitals waiting for something to go wrong. She eventually ended up with a heart and lung transplant, and went on to counsel other teens about how to deal with long periods of hospitalization. So, my bad.

C: Okay. That doesn’t change the obvious TFIOS coattails grab, but clearly there’s way more than one story to be told about the experience of illness. And since most hospital TV shows are about the doctors, maybe this fills a niche.

E: That left me prepared to like this tales of sick teens and the staff who help save them (including the always fabulous Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Brothers and Sisters‘ Dave Annable, and the wonderful Wilson Cruz of perpetual My So-Called Life fame).

M: I hate to break it to you, but in the year 2014, MOST people have never heard of My So-Called Life, never mind it bringing someone, even Clare Danes, perpetual fame.

C: Perpetual in certain hearts, like E’s, M!

M: Of that I am well aware. Back to Red Band. As C said, it still seems like reaching for the coattails to me, but my 14-year-old TFIOS-obsessed daughter is all in on it.

E: Oh, I don’t doubt that’s why it got green-lit.  I imagine it’d be easier for teens to watch than adults, who’d be more horrified to see kids suffer, so again the audience is less surprising. Funnily enough, however, it’s based on a pre-existing European show, Spain’s Polseres Vermelles.

M: Well, unfortunately it’s not like it’s a new topic.

E: Sadly so.  It’s also a tricky concept, building a show around patients instead of the medical staff, because the stakes are so much higher for the patients. You know what would be an awesome thing to come out of this?  Donations to researching the illnesses on the show, particularly childhood cancer; it will probably horrify our readers to learn that very few advancements (like the one that preserves TFIOS‘s Hazel Grace) have occurred in the last several decades, because no one wants to do experiments on sick kids.  For more information, try Stupidcancer.org, or go here for New England-area fundraising efforts. Go gold!

M: Too, too true.

E: After all the waffling, I watched the premiere.  Not enough Octavia Spencer, almost no Wilson Cruz, but an introduction to the confusingly-plotted but still soulful and magnetic Leo (Charlie Rowe).

C: How can a person be confusingly-plotted…? Oh well, this is getting long, just go on.

E: Lots of a comatose narrator, which was okay because I like narration, but other than that, I feel like the writing was rushed and I’d pretty much seen the entire plot in the trailer. And like this writer, I am still bothered by the fact that the kids don’t act sick at all.  I’ll wait till tonight’s episode to see if it gives me a better sense of the rest of the characters, but so far it’s not showing a ton of promise to me or in the ratings.

Law & Order: SVU (NBC, September 17th)

M: I am stunned that this show is still on. 16th season. Also, I thought that Mariska Hargitay left the show. Apparently not.

C: I’m pretty sure she did?

E: Yes, I’m pretty sure as well.

M: Oh good, I thought I was losing it. Well, I probably am, but at least not about this.

E: After all, 16 years is a long time for an actor to play one character; old stalwarts like Richard Belzer’s Detective Munch call it quits this season as well.  But apparently now Hargitay’s back, baby! Promoted, even.

C: I guess at a certain point it just becomes a day job like any other. Some people stay in those for decades.

9:30pm

Black-ish (ABC, September 24th)

C: Okay guys, I know this is going to sound like crazy fan talk, but they totally got this show concept from Veronica Mars! Anyone remember the first-season episode “Lord of the Bling,” where Anthony Anderson plays a rich music producer who’s afraid that his science-nerd son and Jewish-boy-marrying daughter will diminish his urban street cred?

M: HA! You know, I had forgotten that, but now that you jogged my memory (less violently than Fezzik did to the albino) I totally do! There’s no way that’s a coincidence.

E: Oh my gosh, I completely forgot that Anderson was the producer!  That’s too funny.  Here, Anderson plays Dre Johnson, a man with a great career, a fabulous 09-er style mansion, an even more fabulous collection of sneakers housed in a shoe closet that would make Carrie Bradshaw weep with envy, four cute kids and a gorgeous wife. Oh, and Laurence Fishburne as his crotchety live-in dad.  Yet all is not right with his perfect world.  It frustrates Johnson to no end that in their wealth, his kids might be losing an appreciation for their roots and culture.

M: Anderson’s track record isn’t good on TV, but as he showed in The Departed, he can definitely act. And…. did you say that Morpheus is playing his dad?

E: That’s right.  Laurence Fishburne.  On a sitcom. Executive producing the sitcom, even.

C: He does add some serious cool factor. Even playing a sardonic grandpa.

M: My word. If he’d ever been on The Good Wife, E might actually watch this. Which would be in character, actually, because it looks lousy.

E: Ha ha. I didn’t come away from the trailer with a tremendous sense of what being black means to Anderson, and what definition of blackness he wants to pass on to his children.  Liking, enjoying hip hop music?  Not getting barmitzvahed?

M: Being a stereotype, from the look of it.

C: Or at least, not liking stereotypically white things. So yeah, maybe it’s being a black stereotype. I didn’t think this looked too bad though, until the kind of gross line about the not-yet-thirteen-year-old son wanting to “grab onto his first boob.” (Nods of approval from Dad and Grandpa.)

E: Definitely the low-light of the trailer for me.  (Highlight of the commercials, which also admittedly play to stereotypes:  “It is too fried chicken.  Well.  It’s baked fried chicken.”)

M: Agreed, and the attempts to dress him in tribal garb and throw bones at him turned me off a bit, too.

10:00pm

Nashville (ABC, September 24th)*

E: Okay, I know it’s incredibly soapy, but I just really love the music.

M: Off what I’ve seen, I’m not sure “incredibly soapy” even covers it. Even if it wasn’t country music, no music would be enough for me to put up with this drivel.

C: Or you could just Youtube the music the next day. Just sayin’.

M: Ding ding ding!

E: Okay, yes, but I like some of the characters, too.  I like Rayna James as character, particularly — she’s a woman truly comfortable in her own skin and confident of her skill set — and Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio as singers.  I really hope season three gives them more chances to sing together!  Not that I didn’t enjoy hearing Sam with Jonathan Jackson, or Bowen by herself, but still. I’m also hoping that Rayna gives Luke Wheeler the boot; I don’t think I’ve forgiven actor Will Chase for seducing Debra Messing on Smash, and to make matters worse, I don’t really like Luke’s sort of music.

M: That’s some seriously bad juju! Don’t even get me started! Who are these people, again? No wait, don’t answer that. Please.

C: Just keep going, E. Neither of us has anything to add here.

E: Okay, I will. The big question, other than Rayna and Luke’s shaky engagement; what’s Hayden Panetierre’s Juliette going to do about her pregnancy?  Since Hayden herself is pregnant, I’m guessing I know the answer.  I don’t know exactly how I feel about the stunt they’re pulling for the season opener – two live performances, live for both coasts!.  How is that going to be integrated into the episode?  I sort of feel like it can’t be – perhaps they’ve tacked one on at the end and another in the beginning?  I love live music, but I’m not sure I see the point.

Top Chef: New England (Bravo, October 15th)*

E: FINALLY!  As the season’s tagline says, the chef coats are coming, the chef coats are coming!

M: After much petitioning and more than a few lesser cities, Top Chef has arrived in Boston. Hooray!

E: Or as they seem to be calling it, New England — I suppose so they can get some lobster from Maine, and I don’t know, maybe some cheese from Vermont?

M: Knowing Tom Colicchio, I’m going to guess a fishing trip off Rhode Island or in Long Island sound.

C: Like the New England Patriots, I guess. (Though, Boston Red Sox, so that isn’t a perfect argument.) But I definitely have encountered many people from outside the U.S. who think New England is one of the states. We tend to get lumped together.

E: Former contestant/Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais joins the judging panel! And I’m so stinking excited.

M: Woo hoo! I was recently down in Atlanta, but didn’t have a chance to go to any of his or Kevin Gillespie’s restaurants, which was easily the most disappointing part of my trip.

E: Someday, M, we should do a little Top Chef restaurant tour together.

M: A brilliant idea! Hopefully we can schedule that sometime *before* my youngest heads off to college… in 2032.

C: That would be kind of adorable. Sibling foodie road trip! You guys should do it.

M: Um, if we do, you should come with. Duh.

E: Heck yeah!  Even if you don’t watch, you do still eat. Now, it’s no secret to regular readers that I love me a good skills-based competition.  Face-Off, So You Think You Can Dance, American Ninja Warrior (what?  shut up) and Project Runway rank alongside Top Chef as some of my all time favorite television viewing.  I don’t think there’s anything quite like seeing real people doing something impressive that you can’t do.

M: No need to be defensive about American Ninja Warrior, it’s awesome. And for anyone that doesn’t think that requires skills, you try it!

Stalker (CBS, October 1st)

C: This show title is a little misleading, I think. It’s actually about stalker-catchers… but admittedly, that isn’t a great title.

E: With scare-master Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creak, Scream, The Following, Vampire Diaries) pulling strings behind the scenes, Maggie Q heads up a unit of elite crime solvers — a kind of A-Team, as it were, known as the TAU — who protect victims of stalking.

C: She quotes the statistic that reported cases of stalking have tripled in the last decade, which if true, is pretty terrifying. And makes me wonder if/hope that there is a real unit like this out there.

M: I think there are probably a couple reasons for that stat. One is that the internet makes it so much easier to stalk someone. The other is that, like rape, it has been horribly under-reported over the years, but is becoming more acceptable to report on, and more followed up on by the police. I hope, at least.

E: M, if I had to make an guess as to the causes, I’d guess those exact things as well. Speaking of the police, Dylan McDermott is the hotshot New York homicide detective who joins up with them. Of course, he’s fleeing a troubled past.

C: He looks to be the one off note here — smirky and patronizing in a way that feels extra wrong given the subject matter — but there’s hints that he might get over that quickly.

M: On the other hand, when was the last time McDermott wasn’t smirky and patronizing? In The Line of Fire?

E: That’s the last time that springs to my mind, too.  Q’s character was stalked herself, and seems to do a bit of moonlighting as a vigilante.  It’s a little paint-by-numbers, but it’s very nicely made paint-by-numbers.  To my surprise, after watching the long trailer I’m now debating checking this one out.

M: It’s a subject that, even with the uptick in reporting, doesn’t get as much attention as other crimes, but is VERY prevalent, especially in today’s high-tech world.

E: Yes. Prevalent and relevant.

C: I thought this looked very sharp, and very scary. Maybe too much so for me. I’m tempted to watch, but I know I’d have to close all the blinds and check behind the shower curtain after.

M: I feel like this has a shot at being a Without A Trace-style hit. Right formula, just different enough subject matter, good cast, CBS. We’ll see.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX, October 8th)

E: Even if, like me, you have no interest in horror, you have to hand it Ryan Murphy; he manages to come up with pretty fun settings for his anthology show.

M: Where are they this time?

E: Ha ha.

M: No, I was serious.

C: Here’s a hint. Read the subtitle.

E: If you meant technically, they’re in Jupiter, Florida. A freak show’s definitely a fun idea for a traveling horror franchise, and the 1950s setting should give it a gorgeous look.  Not to mention the fact that Murphy always lines up fantastic casts.  Starring Kathy Bates as the bearded lady!  Sarah Paulson as conjoined twins!  Michael Chiklis as the strong man!  John Carrol Lynch as the season’s villain, the Clown Killer! The world’s actual smallest woman, Jyoti Amge, playing the world’s smallest woman!

C: We already know who the killer is? I guess this demonstrates that I don’t know anything about the format of this show, but that seems weird.

E: That’s not what I’ve read about previous seasons, now that you mention it.  They’ll probably be other killers, then.  Now, add to that list of actors family favorite Matt Bomer, Angela Bassett, Denis O’Hare, Emma Roberts, Frances Conroy, Gabourey Sidibe and of course the redoubtable Jessica Lange as the manager, and you’ve got quite a showcase.

C: For Bomer’s sake, I wish I could handle horror. But nope.

E: Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer.  Fun link between seasons: one of the inmates of season two’s Asylum, Naomi Grossman’s Pepper, works at the circus before being committed.

The League (FXX, September 3rd)*

E: M, you want to handle this one?  Since you’re one of the few people in America who had even heard of the FXX channel before their much-ballyhooed airing of the entire Simpsons canon in early September.

C: Oh man, that was so ballyhooed. The most ballyhooed. (I didn’t hear about it, though.)

M: Yes, this season has already started up, and it’s off to a wacky start. Long-time out-of-town league member and reigning champ Ted (The O.C.‘s Adam Brody) was hit by a car and killed… while skyping with the league gang prior to the draft. In his will he bequeathed his California beach house to the winner of this season’s league, with one caveat. They have to replace him with an actual person. Which means, of course, that the newbie will end up winning the house, but it’ll still be fun to see what happens along the way.

Chicago, P.D. (NBC, September 24th)

E: Perhaps I should be a little embarrassed to admit this, but I’m surprised that this isn’t a new show.  I guess it was a mid-season replacement last year?  Anyone?

C: No idea.

M: Yep, spun off of Chicago Fire, which none of us watch, so your ignorance is less embarrassing.

C: And none of us know anything about this either, so that does it for Wednesday, folks.

M: Well, sort of. We have one more show, but it’s without a time or date, really.

E: Yes, as “television” changes with technology, we have a web series that bears mentioning.

Play It Again, Dick (on the web on CW Seed)

E: A Veronica Mars spinoff starring most of the cast (playing fictionalized versions of themselves) and starring Ryan Hansen trying to get himself a series as Dick Casablancas, P.I.  Looks like a lot of fun, and worth a peek from all you Marshmallows out there.

C: Warning, though, for the more sensitive: I expect gross-out sex humor to abound.

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3 comments on “2014 Fall Television Preview: Wednesday

  1. PT TV Cruiser says:

    I watched Black-ish. It was a sitcom pilot, with potential to be amusing but probably won’t be earth-shatteringly funny any time soon. The family is likable, teenager girl who texts, awkward teen boy, cute younger kids. Cool wife. Not a fan of the voiceover narration. This isn’t the Wonder Years, after all. 🙂

    Watched Key & Peele’s season premiere on Comedy Central. It was a solidly funny episode with extra skits packed in. They are pretty funny on a consistent basis, but some episodes are stronger than others; this was one of those.

    Keep up the banter and previews! I am enjoying your anticipatory takes on the new shows.

  2. PT TV Cruiser says:

    Interesting angle on Black-ish, it’s more about money than race. (NPR article below) I missed the first 2 minutes of voiceover (cited in article), and didn’t exactly articulate it while watching, but kind of picked up on the money conversations. The parents on the show do talk about money and privilege and how they want to make sure they’re not shorting their kids’ development by having so much. The wife has a great line about how they wanted to hike the Himalayas, make love in the Louvre, and raise their kids with more than they had, and if they don’t do the last thing, they’re 0 for 3 and failures.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2014/09/24/351135398/black-ish-and-the-color-of-money?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20140924

    (also, good dynamic with the spouses actually conversing and not arguing about these matters and the wife calling the husband on his “return to Roots/roots” behavior.)

  3. […] This series inspired by a Veronica Mars episode seems to be […]

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