Fall 2015 Television Preview: Monday

E:  First the kids go back to school, then comes the Emmy Awards, and immediately after, premiere week.  Are you ready for it, America?

C: The college kids have been back at school for a few weeks now, and I think we can all agree the Emmys are by far the most boring of the “major” awards shows. Bring on premiere week!

M: Wait, they still hold the Emmy’s?

E: That they do.  I even watched them putting a cap on last year’s television season last night so we can start the new one today with a massive onslaught of new programming.  With more channels and websites getting into the television game, how can you keep the Must See TV straight?  All those new shows!  All the old ones with new story lines!  The mind reels!  However will you figure out what to watch?

C: Hint hint, you could try reading this post.

M: Aren’t you so lucky to have us to look through all of this for you, and sort out what’s going on?

Note: New shows are in blue, asterisks (*) mean a Sibling will be watching.

8:00pm

Dancing With The Stars, ABC September 14th

E: Welcome to Monday, the night of lengthy reality competition shows.  First up, ABC’s venerable BBC import that M loves to call “Dancing With the Mildly Recognizable.”

M: Venerable’s a stretch, but I digress.

C: It’s been on a long time. It feels really long to me.

E: Yeah, M, it’s good you didn’t start a fight with me that you would lose about the 20 plus seasons of this show. Now, you know me.  I love dancing, and I love reality competitions.  That said, this season’s cast of celebrities doesn’t much excite me.  Chaka Khan is a legend, but I can’t imagine her dancing is really going to be worth tuning in for.

C: That’s a 70’s person, right? The name is familiar, but I couldn’t have even told you she was a she.

E: Oh, C.  How can you not have heard “I’m Every Woman“?  Or 1984’s “I Feel For You“?

M: Chaka Khan let me rock you, let me rock you Chaka Khan.

C: Okay, I have heard “I’m Every Woman.” That doesn’t mean I knew who sang it.

E: Big news of the season: series judge Len Goodman has returned to England to care for his aged mother, and left former pro winner/partial Derek Hough fan Julianne Hough to take his place.

M: No, the really big news, and the reason to tune in, is that Gary Busey is one of the contestants. Literally ANYTHING could happen and I’d believe it. It’d be equally unsurprising to see headline that said “Busey amazes with dancing ability” or “Busey goes crazy, kills and audience member and eats their liver on live TV.”

E: Fair enough; Busey is nothing if not a complete wildcard.  In case you’re wondering, the cast also includes singer Tamar Braxton, controversial cooking star Paula Deen, Triple Crown winning jockey Victor Espinoza, Backstreet Boy/man Nick Carter, singer Andy Grammar who performed on the show last season, teen conservationist Bindi Irwin (damn, I remember her parents showing her ultrasound on The Crocodile Hunter to announce their pregnancy), married couple Alex and Carlos PenaVega (he’s famous for Big Time Rush and her for Spy Kids), and French train hero Alek Skarlatos.

C: Props to the PenaVegas for both taking the combined name — a bold move when you’re both Mildly Recognizable.

E: Isn’t it?  And seriously, they’re super cute. Addendum: I did manage to catch the Tuesday night rebroadcast of the season opener.  The highlights are definitely the PenaVegas (adorable and good dancers, especially him), Skarlatos (who knew?), Irwin and Grammar.  Carter and Braxton were good too, as they perhaps ought to be; it’s particularly funny to see both the pros and the judges swoon over former teen idol Carter.  Chaka Khan, sadly, was a complete disaster, as were Gary Busey and Victor Espinoza. I still don’t know that I’m going to keep watching.

The Big Bang Theory, CBS**

E: Yes.  There is it.  I have finally joined the rest of the world in loving this show.

C: Wooooo! If you’ve been reading us long enough to witness E’s slow, gradual, snail-paced, painstaking transformation from thinking all half-hour situational comedies are by definition terrible, to being willing to give a show a fair chance, you’ll know just what a huge moment that comment represents.

M: To be fair… it’s been more glacial than snail-paced.

E: Well, you know. Sitcoms can be so canned and over the top.

M: As opposed to reality dance competitions, which are so high-brow?

E: Yes.  Yes they are. And really.  All the characters on this show are named as if their parents wanted them to be stereotyped as nerds all their lives.  Howard?  Leonard?  Sheldon?  Do you know anyone in that age group actually named those things, C?  And you live in academia like they do.

C: Um, hmmm. I don’t know anyone with names quite that old-mannish, though there are one or two that might qualify. Though it’s a funny show, we’ve always complained that it goes way overboard in its exaggerated portrayal of nerddom. That said, I haven’t actually seen it myself in two years. How’s it been lately?

E: Well, since I don’t really know how it was before, I’d have to say excellent.

M: I’ll agree, or at least go as far as really good. They’ve had some good new plots, some that weren’t as strong, but some good development of some of the characters.

C: Hm, I should tune back in!

E: It does seem rather silly that you’re not watching now that I finally am. I was particularly thrilled to see the Disney-princess level adorable Laura Spencer cast as Raj’s slightly creepy medical-doctor girlfriend.  Although the biggest surprise of the show for me was how unpleasant Penny is.  Why do we want Leonard with her, again?  I thought she was supposed to be dumb, sweet and hot, but instead she’s smart, sarcastic and just kind of world weary.  And that’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t want to marry someone who wasn’t nice to me.

M: Okay, she started out as dumb, sweet and hot, but they’ve tried to not keep her one-dimensional and tried to make her actually, you know, grow up a bit. They’ve also tried to keep the tension in their relationship, and sometimes that’s worked it’s way as meanness. She’s not truly mean to him, but you are right, she should be much better. They’ve had spurts where she is.

E: Speaking of which?  After being engaged and not doing any wedding planning all season (partly in deference to Sheldon’s desperate fear of change),Penny and Leonard decided to elope at the end of last season, and appear to be going through with it.  That sounds super smart.

M: The other part was in Penny not really wanting to be married (as a concept). It works with in the context.

E: Also, Amy decided that Sheldon wasn’t serious enough about her and told him they were going to take a break, while he had a ring secreted away in his room.  Oh noes!  Whatever will happen to those crazy kids!

M: Also note, this will only be on on Mondays until November — after which point, what sparkling new show should move into the slot but…

Supergirl, CBS, November 2nd***

E:  I would so love for this to be good.  We could use a good female superhero!

M: Totally. I was doing one of those social media “put comic book heroes as your profile picture” things recently, and whenever I had to assign a female super hero it was a challenge to try to find ones that I knew that either would be known, or wouldn’t have the most ridiculous, skimpy costumes.

C: I know, right? The world needs something like this. Actually needs. But will this be it? Unfortunately, as with any case of under-representation, the pressure is unreasonably high. The show’s success or failure will be taken as not having to do with its own merits, but as a gauge of whether female-helmed superhero projects are viable. That’s scary.

E: Ridiculous and very scary, yes. Superman’s cousin Kara looks to claim her own legacy and power, while working for mogul Calista Flockhart.  It seems very cute and girl-powery.

M: The trailer they put out back in the spring was excellent, even if Flockhart’s had so many facelifts that she’s barely recognizable.

E:  Very, very disturbing.  I’d really rather not think about that. Supergirl’s played by Melissa Benoist, who was charming and smart in a brief but pivotal role in one of last year’s best movies, Whiplash, and also starred on Glee after I stopped watching it.  Showrunner Greg Berlanti seems to have a thing about Glee, since that’s where he also found Grant Gustin, the titular hero of The Flash.

M: Well, both Gustin and that show were quite good in season one, so that portends well.

E: Oh, I definitely agree. I’m not a fan of Arrow, Berlanti’s other super-show,  but The Flash charmed me. These trailers definitely share their tone with The Flash, in that it feels like a family show, cute and fun but not too scary.  (Love Kara heading to earth as perhaps a 10-year-old, after a pep talk from her loving mom Laura Benanti.) The players include Mehcad Brooks as James “don’t call me Jimmy” Olsen, who won a Pulitzer for a picture Kara’s cousin posed for, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Chyler Leigh as her polished big sis, and Smash‘s Jeremy Jordan as Kara’s office-mate and friend.

C: Wait, why does Supergirl have a big sister? Does she also come from Krypton? Why is Krypton still there? I need to beef up my D.C. backstory knowledge…

E: No, I think she was adopted in a family that also had kids, C.  Krypton’s gone, although the timeline does look slightly confusing.

M: Yeah, that’s definitely something I assume will get cleared up in the pilot.

E: Oh. Kara’s apartment? The cutest.

M: Oh. Didn’t notice.

C: We’re talking a lot of “fun” and “cute.” I suppose that’s appropriate for something with the word “girl” in the title, but I hope this won’t be stereotyped as a niche series just for girls.

E:  I’m hopeful it’s not a bad portent for a saccharine take on the character, which is certainly a pitfall for a superheroine show.  After mishaps with the Bionic Woman, it’s been decades since we had a comic adventure centered around a female character (unless, hmm, do you count Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?), and I really want for this to work.

M: I think the “fun” and “cute” commentary could also be extended to The Flash. Honestly, I think we’ve gone too far in the “dark” and “gritty” trend with our comic book heroes, and want some more comic-book-y feel.

C: I definitely feel you there.

E: Exactly.  The success of The Flash makes me feel more sanguine about this.  A few more specifics: Kara is frustrated, languishing away as the assistant to Flockhart’s Devil Wears Prada-type boss until her sister Alex is endangered. Afterwards, she tries to figure out how to be her super-self, not only trying to figure out her powers but how to use them with her face bare. How will it work, being a superhero in the age of cell phone cameras? Supergirl’s the rare hero who doesn’t wear a mask; expect the show to deal with that.

C: Can’t she just wear glasses?

E: Well, she does put her hair back in a bun. She also gets a call from the Department of Extra-normal Operations, which is lead by a dude who sounds almost exactly like Fringe‘s Agent Broyles.

C: I’m already loving the idea of Supergirl-Fringe crossover fiction.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, CW, October 12th

E: This show.  I am a bit puzzled by it.

C: You’re puzzled? I’m well over the line into pissed off. And that’s not an expression I like using. WE KNOW BETTER THAN THIS, CULTURE.

M: I couldn’t make it through the whole trailer, so you’re getting nothing but agreement from me.

E: Puzzled by who greenlit it and why anyone would possibly think its existence was a good idea. Let me set the stage for you fortunate readers who didn’t sit through the egregious trailer. Our leading lady is a melodramatic, miserable yet super successful woman prone to breaking into song and hearing voices that do the same. Pet peeve: the show and the ex-boyfriend tell us that this girl is dramatic, but we largely see this because she cries when broken up with.  Oh, women.  Always investing in their relationships. We’re so crazy!

C: As the link above puts it, “What [men] really mean by ‘crazy’ is: ‘She was upset, and I didn’t want her to be.’” Not to mention that throwing the term around that way belittles the dignity of people with actual mental illnesses.

M: I don’t know, I think using the term crazy about people with actual mental illnesses is what demeans them.

C: Can’t it be both?

M: From what I saw of the trailer, the character here is “crazy,” not because she didn’t take a break up well or because she hears sound effects, but because she is obsessed with a guy she dated for a summer 10 years earlier, and other legit scary reasons.

E: I suppose we’re just quibbling about what the word crazy should mean.

M: (In best Geico commercial voice) We’re the Quibbling Siblings, that what we do.

E: If you don’t mind me getting back to the hideous plot (and I wouldn’t blame you if you did), here it goes.  One day the heroine runs into the aforementioned ex-boyfriend, and realizes she hasn’t been truly happy since the summer they dated (even though she was apparently delusional about their connection back then because he wasn’t that into her).  She promptly leaves her successful career and moves to a small town in Southern California to stalk him. Which, yes, is actually a crazy thing to do.  And cringe-worthy.  And nothing I would remotely want to witness.

M: My point exactly.

E: One good thing about this show: the guy she’s chasing, named Josh Chan, is played by an apparently mixed-race actor (Vincent Rodriguez III). When do you see that in the love interest on contemporary American TV? I would list the singing as another plus — I love a good musical — but there wasn’t actually any melody I could hear.  It has to have good music to, you know, qualify as a good musical.

M: Yeah, it looked more like narrating to music than actual melodies.

E: Also? Oh my gosh, why does the camera cut everyone’s head off?

M: Also, oh my gosh, why are you still talking about this show?

E: It’s just so hideous I can’t help thinking of ways it offends me. I kept thinking I’d accidentally scrolled down while watching the trailer on Youtube. It’s like it was shot by our grandfather’s ghost.

C: That is a weirdly specific reference that I do not understand.

M: I didn’t know our grandfather was, or had, a ghost.

E: You can always tell a photograph he’d taken because he never managed to get the top of anyone’s head into the frame.

M: Not something I remember. Sorry.

E: Oh well. If you’re looking for a mildly interesting bit of dialog from the trailer, there is this single exchange when Rebecca Bunch, our hapless heroine, finds a bartender in her new town who knows the object of her affection. He asks her out, but she’s oblivious to it. “You’re pretty and you’re smart, and you’re totally ignoring me so you’re obviously my type.”  “What did you just say?” “Perfect!”

C: Oh good, at least we know that when she stops uselessly chasing her beloved of color, a generic white guy will be there to scoop her up.

Gotham, FOX, September 21st

E: Mr. E and I tried this and lasted about half a season.

M: It was the same in our house.

E: The acting is great, the villains are colorful, and the styling atmospheric and cool, but the violence and unremitting grimness got to me.  It’s a well done show, just not for me anymore.

M: And for the same reasons. That and we had too many shows already.

C: That about sums up my reaction to the half-season of Daredevil I watched, so I doubt I’d be more into this. Unremitting grimness is boring. Add more jokes!

M: This goes back to my point about the grittiness of the comic book hero genre being taken too far.

E: Absolutely! The tagline for this season seems to be Villains Rising, although honestly, I thought that was the theme for the whole show.  I mean, isn’t that the point?  James Gordon hanging on with his fingernails to all that is good, but villains taking over the city of Gotham? And sadly, they set the bar of badness awfully high to start.  Can it really get that much worse without descending into total chaos?

M: One huge problem I have with the show is that all the villains are rising to power now… when Bruce Wayne is, like, 12. So they’re going to all still be around and in positions of villainic power in another 15-20 years?

E: Right there with you, bro.  Anyway. Last season brought us the evolution of the Penguin and the decline of his boss Fish Mooney; this year concentrates on actor Cameron Monaghan, who plays Jerome Valeska, who might be the Joker. James Frain joins the cast as Theo Galavan, who will lead a group of Arkham inmates known as The Maniax.  The season will start with two deaths,  one quick and shocking, the other one someone dear to James Gordon (and considering that his future wife Barbara obviously lives, it’s hard to say who that will be).  Michael Chiklis joins the cast later in the season as a GCPD higher up.

M: Oh, I love Chiklis, glad he’s getting a gig.

C: Well, now that he knows he won’t be getting any more calls to play the Thing…

The Voice, NBC, September 21

E: Is there anything new to say about this singing competition?

M: No, but something tells me you’ll find something anyway…

E: Okay, there is the fact that, unlike the soon-to-be-defunct American Idol, it celebrates rather than belittles its contestants, and yet hasn’t managed to create an actual hitmaker?  The show feels like it’s more about making (bigger) stars of the judges.  The judges for this season: Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams.  Watch out for your marriage, Adam.

C: Whoa! What is that supposed to mean?

E: Oh, just that Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani both got divorced/ended their marriages this summer. Sometimes those things are catchy.

M: If they’re catchy, then Hollywood’s a petri dish.

C: Ahh. Well I didn’t follow so I tried googling and learned that Blake Shelton is totally gross and maybe Adam should worry. But about his choice of misogynist friends, not his marriage.

Childhood’s End, (Sy Fy), December 14th

C: Pause, stop, proceed no further: five hundred Most Depressing Title points for this one!

M: Ding ding ding!

E: Aliens show up, and the first thing they do is take over the bodies of myriad humans, using them as mouthpieces to recite a speech.  There’s no need to be afraid, people tell their own family members.  Oh yes.  Human puppetry on a planet-wide scale is very reassuring. “We’ve come to help mankind. We’re not conquerors. We’re enablers.”  Those not at all alarming words come from Karellen, the new “supervisor” for Earth, who promises peace and security for everyone.  And I’m sure that’s totally what he brings, too.

C: Because “enabling” is such a good thing. Also, Karellen is a male name here? Because it sounds like a teenage girl named her baby after her mom Karen and her vampire hubby’s mom Ellen.

E: Excuse me while I mop up my tea after that comment, C.

M: Right, if they wanted it to be and obviously male name it should have been Karshawn.

E: Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Bleak House) provides the super creepy voice over as the unseen alien supervisor/overlord, and Under the Domes‘ Mike Vogel agrees to act as Karellen’s single mouthpiece, so as not to keep freaking everyone the heck out.  He claims to be ushering in a Golden Age of Man, but we all know there wouldn’t be a show if that were true.

C: This follows in a long tradition of alien invasion shows, few of which lasted more than one or two seasons. I’m thinking of V, Threshold, Earth: Final Conflict, The Event, Invasion, and more (and yes, I had to look up some of those titles). I wonder why we’ve had such profoundly successful, long-lasting shows about humans and aliens in space, but haven’t managed to make that work yet in plots set on Earth? Though I guess Falling Skies is at four seasons and still going…

M: I don’t think it’s still going, I think it just ended.

E: Did it? I would personally assert that show jumped the shark in season 3 and would not have survived on a broadcast network.

M: I think part of the reason is that shows set in space have us either on a level with the aliens we encounter, or superior to them. Shows set here, like this one is prone to be, are all about us being conquered. I don’t think people want to watch us be conquered for, say, seven seasons. I was looking at the plot and thinking “wouldn’t it be nice if for once the aliens that made contact actually WERE friendly?” When do we get THAT show?

E: Maybe we should write it.

M: Now you’re talking.

E: Rounding out the cast in this nicely-made Arthur C. Clarke tale include Daisy Betts of Last Resort and Chicago Fire, Star Trek‘s Colm Meaney, and the first Victor Von Doom, Julian McMahon.

C: Maybe Colm Meaney will prove to have the magic touch for extraterrestrial-themed TV.

E: Maybe.  I’m really agonizing over checking this one out or not. I feel like I ought to just so I can give an informed opinion, but I’m leaning toward not.

8:30pm

Life in Pieces (CBS), September 21st

E: Like its popular lead in The Big Bang Theory, this show will move to Thursdays in November, holding down the time slot formerly occupied by Thursday night football.

M: And by formerly, she actually means currently.

E: I mean it will be formerly in November.

M: Exactly.

E: Anyway, here’s the tagline.  One big family; four short stories every week.  The cast is amazing, or at least starts off that: Dianne Wiest and James Brolin star as the (grand)parents, with Colin Hanks, The Newsroom‘s excellent Thomas Sadoski, Niall Cunningham, and Betsy Brandt helping fill out the tree.

C: Also Alex Borstein, the voice of Family Guy‘s Lois Griffin.

M: I have NEVER liked Brolin. Can’t think of anything I’ve seen him in that I enjoyed, or that was better for his presence.

E: Okay. You all know I’m seldom sold on comedies, but some of the First Look trailer made me laugh.  I’m a fan of fake funerals.

M: The track record of the rare comedy that you like the look of is horrendous.

E: Which may be part of why I generally hate sitcoms.

C: I must say this looks cute. No laugh track, which is a big selling point in my book, and the “short story” aspect is rather clever — allows them to do something a lot like sketchy comedy (or is that impression just coming from Jordan Peele’s presence in the trailer?). I would tentatively call it a version of Modern Family that’s less diverse, but with sharper humor.

M: Well, to be accurate, Modern Family was a more diverse version of the movie of Parenthood, so this is really an off-shoot of that. The fun part is that Weist was in that… she’s just moved up a generation now.

9:00pm

Scorpion (CBS), September 21st*

E: Mr. E and I tried to watch this last season.  We love the idea of nerds saving the world, but the writing (both plots and character definition) just wasn’t sharp enough.

M: Really, we watched it with our older kids, and all enjoyed it through the end of the season. It’s no MacBeth, mind you, and stretches believability at times, but it’s entertaining and fun.

E: Bah.  I don’t know how you did that.

M: By not expecting The Good Wife, and just enjoying it.

E: Whatever.  The Flash is not The Good Wife, but I can still enjoy it because it’s well made with good acting, fun plots and well defined characters.  Anyway. In the promo for the new season, the network (or somebody) promises that sparks will fly.  Though some members of the team seem to be literally sniping at each other, the sparks seem chiefly to be flying between waitress/human interpreter Paige (Katharine McPhee) and head genius Thomas O’Brien (Elyes Gabel). Actual human contact achieved.  Who knew nerds knew how to do that?

C: E, hush, the people may not realize you’re being sarcastic.

M: To be fair on two points… first, Paige hasn’t been a waitress since the pilot, so let’s drop that from her title. Second, she and Walter were beating around the bushes of a relationship all season, so it’s not like it’s a big surprise.

Jane the Virgin (The CW), October 12th

E: I really need to catch this adorable looking, Golden Globe-winning telenovela.

M: I can’t help but wonder if you’d call this a “telanovela” if everything else was the same, but Jane wasn’t Latina.

E: Well, it’s based on a telenovela, features characters watching telenovelas, and has the super melodramatic plot twists and fast pacing of a telenovela, so, yes.  Yes I would.

M: My place, I have been put in it. Move on.

E: I kept missing episodes last season, and the melodrama moves to fast for me to just skip them and make sense of the plot.  I’d like to do it eventually, however, because the cast and especially lead Gina Rodriguez are so winning.

C: Actually, skeptical though I was of the premise, I have two friends who are huge devotees. And though they do also like Married at First Sight, they claim this is clever and well-done.

M: Well, I still have no interest, and have no friends that have even mentioned watching this, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

E: My Movie-Going Friend is a huge fan as well, which adds to my desire to catch up at some point. Promotional materials promise a huge twist involving Jane’s baby (kidnapped?) and trickiness from villainess Petra.  What is she carrying in that little thermos?  Human ashes?  Sperm?  With Petra, who knows?  Abuela Alba looks to clarify her immigration status. Also, Jane’s going to get married, but to whom?  (See how I snuck that in at the end, like it’s no big deal?)

Minority Report, FOX, September 21st*

E: As a fan of science fiction in general and the Spielberg film in particular, this is one of the new shows I’m most excited about for this season.

M: There’s a HUGE problem for me that can be explained in two terms; “SciFi” and “FOX”. The track record is beyond bad, highlighted by Firefly and Almost Human. I’m still amazed Fringe lasted as long as it did, with all the messing with it FOX did.

C: It does seem like a premise that could translate really well from big to small screen, since it is essentially about crime solving. And it wouldn’t be the first show to involve stopping crimes before they happen!

E: I definitely see this in the Early Edition/Quantum Leap vein.

M: I don’t know, both those shows were lighthearted, I don’t see that here. Don’t get me wrong, I like the movie version well enough even though I don’t think it’s great, and love things based on Phillip K Dick stories, so it definitely has potential, just in a different way than those two.

E: Okay, fine, scratch that comparison.  On to the set up. Washington D.C., 2065.  Three children were tested for their ability to sense crimes before they happened.  For a while, they were able to foretell every murder with in a hundred miles of their location — but then, as in the movie, the pre-cognition crime program was abolished.  In the present, our hero, Dash (Stark Sands) is haunted by premonitions of terrible crimes, and has been attempting with no success to figure them out and stop them on his own. The premise of the show is that he teams up with a cop (Meagan Good) and sets up a rogue, underground pre-cog unit to save murder victims.  It’s a nice turn around of the movie’s premise — that pre-cog was faulty and part of a Big Brother state.

C: Hm. How about this for a better comparison: it actually sounds quite a lot like Person of Interest, in a dystopian way.

M: Exactly what I was thinking!

E: Yes, that’s more apt. Interesting background:  Dash had a twin brother, Arthur (Nick Zano) and the two of them functioned together as pre-cogs.  Arthur was the one who got the names, and Dash saw the crimes, which obviously makes solving them without him difficult.

M: Also kind of Person of Interest-ish.

E: And it begs other questions, like where is Arthur? Where’s the girl who worked with them?  We have no idea.

C: Kinda wish the girl was the hero, but oh well.

E: And why ever would you expect that?  (I take that back; television is much better at giving us female protagonists than films are.)  Like M I’m a little nervous that FOX might be quick to slay this if it doesn’t make money fast, especially given their egregious treatment of the late great Almost Human.  After all, sci fi is expensive to produce.  Still, what it has, I’m buying for at least long enough to watch the first few episodes, and considering that legendary director Stephen Spielberg is actually involved in the show, I’m hopeful it might both excel, and have a shot at sticking around.

M: I’m thinking I will wait a year, and if it actually gets a second season I’ll binge it over the summer. That’s how little faith I have in FOX.

Major Crimes, TNT, November 2nd

E: I’m not going to lie; I was stunned to find that this cop drama starring Mary McDonnell of Battlestar Galactica is in its fourth season.  I also honestly can’t tell if it’s really a drama.  It feels like a spoof to me.

M: Honestly, outside of doing these previews I’ve forgotten it exists. Apparently twice.

C: Ditto. Anybody out there watching? Wanna let us in on what we’re missing?

10:00pm

Castle, (ABC), September 21st**

E: You know we love it.

C: Oh dear. Has it been that long since we talked about Castle? E, I gave up on it over a year ago.

E: I guess it has.  And honestly I can see why; I suppose what I should say is that you know we love the characters. I’m still hanging on because I love the cast, and because when they do their goofy best the show is still delightful, but it is not the reliable joy it once was.

M: Agreed, it’s not quite like when Chuck went downhill. There is still a LOT of why we like the show in most episodes of it, and some really good episodes.

E: This, though, what they did going into this season, is the kind of thing that makes me spitting mad.  Will Beckett run for State Senate?  Sure, because that’d really work with her solving crimes and keeping Espo and Ryan and Lanie as supporting characters!  What a plausible course for the show!  I HATE shows that give cast members job offers that they’d love but could never take.  It’s ridiculous.  Don’t dangle an interesting future in front of characters which you won’t actually let them have because it disrupts the model of the show.

M: Agreed. I feel like the DC plotline a couple years ago was far more probably, as they would have lost the side characters, but could have had Castle and family move to DC. They scrapped that within two episodes, so I can only assume this will last about as long. Dumb.

C: Parks and Rec did the same with an election plotline followed quickly by a recall plotline. It was stupid as heck. Luckily they realized that and gave the protagonist an interesting, show-disrupting new offer and let her take it.

E: Hell, I spent all of last season watching Alicia Florrick’s hideous, ill-advised political campaign on The Good Wife, and I can’t go there again. Not that any other network show would let their protagonist come out looking so completely rotten as TGW did.  Well.  I take that back.  There is Hannibal

M: And in this case, State Senator is so outside Beckett’s wheelhouse, and where she can make the greatest use of her skills, that I feel like she wouldn’t even entertain it for long. Castle, on the other hand, would a politician make.

C: Sadly for politics, schmooze skills and money do seem more important than rock-solid integrity.

E: And like M said, this is Castle‘s second time with stupid job offers for Beckett!  After the stupid homeland security job, I can’t even. Television writers. Couldn’t you just knock her up or something?  Have her solve crimes while waddling around in stilettos?

M: Which I’m sure she would do bad-assedly.

E: Right? Sorry I’ve been ranting.  Anyway, spoilers suggest that the stupid not-a-cliffhanger won’t last long, and Beckett will take over the department as Captain instead.  That’s a much more reasonable place for her to be, and yet it’ll still muck with the format of the show, since neither Captain we’ve had so far has routinely left the precinct building.  Perhaps we’ll have to depend on Castle and his private eye business to bring us new cases.

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), September 21st

E: The new season of CBS’s franchise hit will include more internal affairs drama for Deeks, more Deeks and Kensi plots, and family business for LL Cool J’s Sam.  The creators say they think to think of this season as filled with tentpoles, each one centering on one character.  So, should be cool.

M: I like the original enough, but I’ve never been able to get into this version.

E: Wait, you do?  Really? I don’t think I knew that.

C: I’ve never watched either, except bits caught while waiting for appointments and such. I’m always amazed at how far they manage to stretch the jurisdiction of Naval investigators, though!

E: I don’t tune in myself, but I can say one thing. There’s going to be a Renaissance Faire episode (featuring Eric and Nell and their slowly, glacially evolving relationship). Hearing that almost makes me want to watch (although, let’s be honest, I’m far more likely to get sucked into random episodes of LL’s Lip Sync Battle than intentionally watch this).   Why don’t more shows go to the Ren Faire?

M: Is that a serious question?

C: Come on, it’d be a natural for Castle. Maybe less so for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but that sounds like comedy gold.

Fargo (FX),  October 12th

E: In the first season of the show inspired by the Coen brothers’ Oscar winning film, mention was made of a terrible bloodbath in the town’s history. Season 2 tells that story.

C: Funnily enough, I will not be tuning in.

M: So, I haven’t watched this at all… does the bloodbath involve a wood-chipper?

E: I’m going to hazard a guess at no, but I wouldn’t bet on it either way.  This iteration stars Jean Smart as a local crime lord, Kirsten Dunst as an ambitious hairdresser, and Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson, the same character played by Keith Carradine in season 1, sheriff and father of season 1 lead actress Allison Tolman.  As I understand it, Dunst accidentally runs over a mobster, and hides her crime so well that she manages to start a war between two rival gangs over who killed the man and why.

M: Wait, there are mobsters and rival gangs in Fargo, North Dakota? Really?

E: Apparently.  The cast also includes Ted Danson. It’s 80s sitcom heaven, a deliberate choice by showrunner Noah Hawley, who likes giving comedians a chance to exercise their dramatic chops

M: Right, because Danson hasn’t been doing any non-comedy lately *cough*CSI*cough*.

E: *cough*Jean Smart*cough*. Anyway, it also includes Adam Arkin, Nick Offerman, Jesse Plemmons as Dunst’s hapless butcher husband, and Keir O’Donnell, and like another show I could name, aims to bring us a very bloody winter.

C: Boooo to Nick Offerman being in something I don’t want to see.

Blindspot, (NBC), September 21st*

E: Here’s another new series I’m excited about, largely because of the presence of Marvel’s great Lady Sif, Jaimie Alexander.  It’s also one of the most heavily advertised promos of the summer, maybe because I’ve been watching a great deal of American Ninja Warrior.  Maybe there’s a big cross over between action/mystery series and obstacle courses?

C: They’ve been plastering ads on all the magazines, so I don’t think it’s just a ninja warrior connection.

M: C’s right, the ads have been everywhere. I will say, usually the shows (remember Golden Boy?) that get over-advertised like this I just want to go away. This one I’m still interested in, even if I do think amnesia is an insanely overused plot device.

E: Anyway, maybe I’m a sheep, but I’m intrigued by the image of Sif unfolding herself from a duffel bag tagged “Call the FBI” in the middle of Times Square, surrounded by the SWAT team, naked, her body covered with tattoos.

C: I don’t know if that makes you a sheep, exactly…

E: A follower of advertising, then. Pavlov’s dog, drooling on command.

M: You’re not a sheep if what they’re advertising is actually good, and if you don’t watch it only because they advertised it.

C: Also, I guess she looks pretty good dressed in just tattoos, if you’re drooling. Did you know she’s engaged to that vampire guy? But I’m sidetracking us. On to the plot!

E: Here’s the weird bit: she doesn’t know who covered her body with tattoos that seem to unravel terrible secrets – starting with the name of an FBI agent, Sullivan Stapleton’s Kurt Wells.  Like Jason Bourne, however, she does retain her “procedural” memory, which allows her to among other things read Chinese and kick butt. How this is going to work out — and how her new team figures out which crime to solve first — is a mystery, as is what happened to her breasts, which seem to have disappeared (though only while she’s naked) in order to allow maximum tattoo viewing.  (Can you imagine the conversation that resulted in that decision? No nipplegate for NBC!)

M: It’s kind of like a cross between Bourne and Prison Break, with maybe a bit of The Blacklist thrown in.

C: The premise is interesting but also riddled with problems. In some ways it’s similar to a Chuck-type show where the non-agent has information on crimes that the agents need but have to piece together. The difficulty is that this information comes in the form of tattoos. How long could that information possibly continue to be relevant? Is someone going to kidnap and re-tattoo her every month or two?

E: Exactly. And whoever had all this information — it’s a crazy creepy invasion of privacy and personal space to stamp it on someone’s skin, and while we know it’s more shocking, why is that more efficient than just, you know, dropping off a thumb drive?  They need to justify these drama-inducing choices with smart writing, or at least be cool enough for me to suspend my disbelief.  High-impact concept, questionable long-term potential.

Legends (TNT), November 2nd*

E: How is Sean Bean in a show I’ve never heard of?  This aired last year to no fanfare that I can think of.

C: And since the whole point of our previews is to help along the fanfare, I guess that’s partly on us.

M: No no, it aired in the summer of 2014. And had the hashtag campaign #DONTKILLSEANBEAN in its commercials. I know we talked about it. I watched the whole season, it was good.

E: Really? Wait, it was just C and I who hadn’t heard of it? Huh. I’m thrilled to hear it was good, and sorry I missed it.  Now I just need to look up whether it’s on Netflix and find time to watch it.

M: I’m serious, we talked about it. Or, at least about how hilarious the hashtag was.

E: As to our discussing it, I checked our preview from last year and we didn’t have it, which is a shame because I think if we’d known about it, C and I would have at least tried to check it out.

M: Again, it was over a year ago, and a summer show. We talked about it in person. Sorry to not clarify that.

C: Like E, I have no memory of that whatsoever.

E: Which is a shame. What’s not to love about the idea, at least, of a Sean Bean spy show?  Bean stars as Martin Odum, a deep-cover spy who transforms for each assignment.  But who is he?  Who does he really work for?  Does even he know the answer to either of those questions?  Well, I certainly don’t.  How will this be any different in season two than it was in season 1?  Only in that we’re going go get an answer to that first question — who is Martin Odum — at some point this season.

M: Like you said, season one set up that Bean’s character is a master of becoming “legends,” the alternate identities that he’s built over the years to do undercover work. The big mystery, though, was whether or not Odum himself was a legend, and that the character is actually someone else entirely who has memory loss/erasure. At the end of the season we found out that that is in fact the case. Season two should delve further into who he really is.

E: Huh.  Fascinating.  I can tell you that the show costars Ali Larter of Heroes.  What else.  Hmm. Oh!  It’s based on a book (Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation).  That I’ve never heard of. By an author (Robert Littell) I’ve never heard of. So, yeah.

C: Thank you. That was informative.

E: And this is going to just confuse everything further: the Rotten Tomatoes score is far from fresh.

M: Really? That’s odd.

The Expanse (SyFy), December 14th

E: The makers of this show — who apparently include folks involved in Iron Man — got my attention immediately by casting the luminous and powerful Shoreh Agdashloo.  (No, I’m not joking. If you don’t know who she is, you should rent The House of Sand and Fog or 24 immediately.)

M: She was also in Heroes (though not the new version, I don’t think), and has been in several other things.

C: Too bad she delivers all of one short line in the trailer, and doesn’t seem to play a central role. This looks to be aiming for a sci-fi-version-of-Gameof-Thrones kind of vibe, with lots of warring parties and historical grudges and anti-gravity sex.

E: It’s a little tricky to follow the plot, but there’s definitely a rebellion going on in a galactic empire.

M: I’ve heard that plot before somewhere. Can’t put my finger on where…

E: It is terribly confusing, isn’t it?  Twice we see characters with blood literally (and liberally) covering their hands.

C: The basic premise seems to be that this is taking place centuries in the future after Earth has settled the Moon, Mars, and other space places, oppressing a lot of people to make space livable after all but destroying Earth, but still keeping the central power there, much to the anger of the colonies. At least, that’s how I’m putting the bits of dialogue together.

E: I’m with you.  The cast also includes Wes Chatham, Dominique Tipper, Steven Strait and Thomas Jane.  I’m hoping it’s better than I’m expecting it to be.

C: It looks potentially like a successor to Battlestar Galactica, if done well.

11:00pm

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Comedy Central, September 28th

E: Can any man live up to Jon Stewart’s legacy?  Can any man stand the scrutiny?  I genuinely don’t know.  Is South African Noah that man?  Your guess is as good as mine.  One thing I don’t care to guess on: his age.  Whatever, Comedy Central.  You really think our curiosity — if it’s even exercised by the question — would survive the presence of Google on our phones?

C: Is that a campaign they’re doing? Well, it doesn’t bother me. Late-night continues to be, unfortunately, a sausage-fest, but Noah was very funny and poised as a correspondent on Stewart’s Daily Show, and he’s a major cutie with a nice accent. Will he live up to Jon Stewart immediately? Surely that’s impossible. Will he grow into the role? My confidence is high.

M: I prefer to get my fake news from CNN and the major networks, so I’ll pass.

11:35pm

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, CBS, September 8th

E: I can’t resist giving a shout out to the delightful Mr. Colbert as he starts his new endeavor.  I admit, I was puzzled by the idea of Colbert taking over from Letterman (after all, he’s spent a decade playing a character; would he bring the same blowhard truthiness to late night?) but judging from the first episode, he’s going to do fine.  And yeah, all three are white dudes, which is more than a little disappointing, but I like the air of genial civility that Colbert, Fallon and fellow newbie James Corden bring to the airwaves.

M: So, just to make sure I understand, based on a couple of the last comments from each of you. You are upset when qualified white men get jobs they have earned and do well. Gotchya.

E: Can you see my eyes rolling through the screen?  You ought to be able to.

M: I can. Can you see me preparing to use your words against you? You ought to be able to.

C: For starters, since you referenced my comment above: Trevor Noah is not a white man. Also, it’s not about being upset that any one human gets any one job. All we’re saying is that we’d like to see more equality across the board, and sometimes that’ll mean giving a woman or man of color a job that a white man could have done equally well. That said, I personally and specifically love Stephen Colbert. He’s got to get used to his roomy hour-long spot and tighten up the too-diffuse humor, but there is probably no one in entertainment who I like and respect more than this man right now.

E: I notice you still haven’t committed to watching it routinely; neither have I, and that has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with format. 

C: It’s just too many nights a week! I’ll watch when I can.

E: I’m sure we’ll all be on the look out for viral segments, too.  And that’s what’s on tonight!  Check back tomorrow for insights into Tuesday’s new schedule.

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11 comments on “Fall 2015 Television Preview: Monday

  1. I have mixed feelings about the novel of Childhood’s End. I don’t know what the tv show is like (did not watch the trailer), but the book is not really an alien invasion narrative; it’s more just an alien contact narrative. Also there’s a Minority Report tv show now!? The world is weird.

    The Expanse is based on a series of novels by James S.A. Corey, which I’ve never read, but know a lot of sf fans (including my brother) who speak highly of.

    This is surprising number of book-to-tv sf adaptations. Is this the new craze?

    • E says:

      This seems to be a very adaptation heavy fall – books, movies, you name it.

      I’m trying to decide if knowing it was based on a book series does/should alter my decision not to watch The Expanse…

    • M says:

      I hope it is a new craze, we can always use more Sci Fi on TV!

  2. MMGF says:

    WHAT. E, seriously, you’re STILL not watching Jane the Virgin? (You even knew you’d get this reaction, with your shout-out.) JtV is an incredibly entertaining show. It’s clever, intelligent, fast-moving, heart-warming, tense, with characters you root for. (Seriously, even the villains, I often feel for.) While I want to say it’s like a less over-the-top telenovela, I don’t speak any Spanish, so I guess I don’t know for certain. (The characters on those Latin American telenovelas could all just be really enthusiastic about their favorite cheese recipes, for all I know.) But, this show feels like those shows, without all the over-dramatic single raised eyebrows, or anyone twirling the ends of his mustache, or all the ’80’s hair. (OK… there’s some fine ’80 hair here, too.) Also, come on. Jane’s other grandmother is played by occasional guest star Rita Moreno. Game over.

    • E says:

      Oh, I know. I know. Actually I didn’t know about Rita Moreno. I need to get on this — I just have to find the time. (Time. Haha. That’s so funny.)

  3. ptully94 says:

    MMGF, I liked what I saw of JtV, but the CW did not make it easy to binge watch like every other channel does. I tried to find the show maybe a month after it aired, and the first 2 eps not available, so I caught some of it over summer. Very funny and sharply done.

    Sibs, Fargo Season 1 was awesome. so very awesome. Great acting, story, freaking Martin Freeman in the weasel role. Billy Bob Thorton in a dark role. (like that’s a stretch) even freaking Key and Peele as hapless federal agents. Vince Gilligan also uses comedic actors for drama, or we wouldn’t have all his excellent show, especially Bob Odenkirk as Saul..and Bryan Cranston’s transformation from sitcom dad to dark anti-hero. I like Dunst and Plemons (in a he was great for a weasel role way) and Smart, Danson, Offerman… C, be glad NO’s working in a high-production, high-quality show with the Cohen brothers’ executive production blessing rather than some bad sitcom that will get cancelled. (The fate of many an Arrested Development alum.) I want well for my Parks & Rec alum too.

  4. […] M: Welcome back to the Relatively Entertaining 2015 Fall TV Previews! We’re moving on to Tuesday, after a rousing fare of shows set to air on Mondays. […]

  5. shasas says:

    I want to just say, from my read on it, that I don’t think the intention in Scorpion is to say that all nerds can’t have relationships/human contact. In this case, the character struggles WAY more than the other nerds in his life on human relationships/communication. That is his character and there are some people- more than we’ve ever known before- who struggle with interpersonal relations. To see this play out- and to see Paige be patient with him and still fall for him- is refreshing and hope-giving I think to those who have family members who struggle with this. Not to mention, that it builds empathy in us for people like him.. he just happens to be a nerd too, I don’t think that it is b/c he is a nerd, from the perspective of the writers.. just my take

    • C says:

      Sha, that’s a good point. I think we were reacting to the way the show was originally advertised (the sort of “nerds need this woman to translate for them to other humans” angle) — was not aware that this wasn’t how the show ultimately portrayed it.

  6. […] M: Welcome to the third installment of the Relatively Entertaining 2015 Fall TV Previews! In case you missed them here are links to our previews of Tuesdays and Mondays. […]

  7. […] M: Welcome to day two of the 2016 Quibbling Siblings Fall TV preview! Tuesdays are a big ratings night for networks, so you can expect to see more heavy hitters than on Monday. Speaking of Monday, if you haven’t read it you can catch the preview here. […]

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