E: What to say about Wednesdays? There’s the requisite amount of sitcoms, but the pendulum definitely swings away from reality tv and toward science fiction.
C: Also, there’s not a lot that we’re interesting in watching.
E: Wednesday: the night watch whatever’s piling up on your DVR.
Note: New shows are in blue, asterisks (*) mean a Sibling will be watching.
The Middle (ABC), September 23rd
E: Maybe it’s because I live this life every day, but family sitcoms don’t tend to amuse me. My kids are way funnier than most of the stuff that ends up on sitcoms. Ask anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook. I’m not exaggerating.
C: Your kids are hilarious, though as a doting auntie, I’m bound to think that.
M: Technically, no. You’re bound to love them, and think the world of them, but not that they are spectacular in every category. For example, I’m pretty sure you don’t think that my kids are great surfers, or that we as a family are more empathetic than, say, Mother Theresa. So in short, E’s kids truly are hilarious.
C: Okay, I guess what I mean is that I’m bound to think their funniness is more special and funny than other kids’. I would not, however, necessarily argue that a recording of their day-to-day lives would be a wild source of entertainment nationwide.
M: That’s more than fair.
E: Sure, and I’ll go you one further. If somebody out there wrote a sitcom about us I bet no one would believe the things my kids say.
M: Probably a lot of other parents would, but point taken. And point taken on The Middle as well… you’re not impressed.
E: No, but for those who are, here’s the big news of the season: daughter Sue goes off to college, which inspires sadness in mother Patricia Heaton and a midlife crisis in dad Mike (Neil Flynn of Scrubs). Son Axl (Charlie McDermott, who gave a devastating dramatic performace as a teenager seven years ago in Frozen River) remains at home, making a sort of odd name sandwich around daughter Sue. Meanwhile youngest son Brick (Atticus Shaeffer) exults in reaching the 8th grade and becoming one of the big kids on his little campus.
Survivor Cambodia: Second Chances, CBS, September 23rd
M: I say this every year, but I’m amazed this is still on. I stopped watching somewhere around season 3, with an occasional dive back in for part of a season.
E: Well might you be amazed. They started filming this season 15 years to the day after the first season began airing back in 2000.
M: The first season, which was dubbed by many as “Who REALLY wants to be a millionaire” to show how much pop culture has moved on since then.
C: I’m assuming from the title that this is a show made up of previous losers?
E: Yup, all of the contestants are former survivors getting a second chance at big prize — most notably season one’s Kelly, of the recipient of this infamous speech. Will the rat get to eat the snake this time?
M: The choice of the cast was entirely based on fan vote, from the pool of all past one-time contestants who didn’t win. No influence or pruning from the producers, which is interesting. Looks like the people voting were mostly new viewers of the show, as the last three seasons make up a plurality of the cast.
C: Oh, there you go showing off your “plurality” knowledge. What’s wrong with good old “majority”?
M: I was temped to go all Three Amigos and say there was a plethora… I figured I’d needle you instead.
E: Contestants you may have heard of or remember include Season 2’s Jeff Varner and Kimmi Kappenberg, Season 29’s Jeremy Collins, Season 30’s Joe Anglim, and Season 18’s Stephen Fishbach.
M: 31 seasons. Dang.
Arrow, The CW, October 7th
E: I still wonder if I missed the boat on this show.
C: You can always go back and catch up. I’ve made it through two season on Netflix, though I still have another to watch before I can pick it up live.
E: Gah, I never end up having time to binge watch things. But go on. What do you think? You must be enjoying it or you wouldn’t continue binging.
C: It’s half soap opera, half adventure show. I like to say it’s what you’d get if you cross-bred Batman Begins with Revenge. Does that make for a “good” show? Depends what you’re looking for. It’s entertaining, and full of eye candy.
M: Mrs M and our 15 year old left me in the dust in our binge of this (which began with the first Flash-Arrow cross over episodes). They’re caught up, I’m only a couple episodes into season 3, and stuck there as I stopped a while ago. I liked the first two seasons well enough, but the third starts out poorly, and from what I’ve heard (from my fam and others) falters throughout.
C: Really? That’s not what I heard at all.
M: I assume it’s because of the inclusion of Brandon Routh, who’s not a bad actor, but is a mush. Everything he’s in sucks, every show he joins starts to fail immediately. It’s not even him that’s the problem, so it’s weird, but it’s undeniable. Heck, he practically ruined Superman.
E: Well, you might be happier with this season, then, because at least to start, he’s not in it. (I feel so torn between my responsibility to this preview, and my desire not to spoil the two of you! Dilemmas!)
M: Yeah, Chuck didn’t get any better when he left. I’m worried.
C: No, I think you’re totally off base on this. I heard Routh was great, from my friends who watch the show. (Also, I like his Superman!) He left because they’re putting him in a spin-off of fan-favorite recurring characters from this and The Flash.
E: Oh, Legends of Tomorrow again? Okay.
M: Arrow has made some bad decisions with characters and plot choices, I think his character doesn’t have to be the problem, but it seems too much of a coincidence that the show started making bad choices when he joined, just like Chuck. Hopefully that not really a thing and doesn’t carry over to LoT, because that looks good. But let’s move on.
E: When I watched the pilot, I really disliked Amell’s character Oliver Queen, although it’s probable that I was supposed to at the start. All the bits I’ve seen since have just seemed to be wallowing in darkness. I feel like that’s becoming a theme of these previews, me being fed up with angst. I love me a moody atmosphere and ambiguous characters, but…
M: My guess is that you’ll continue to dislike Oliver, actually. He’s really not overly likable; they use the supporting characters (Felicity, Diggle, etc) for that, and it works.
E: Huh. Interesting.
C: Yeah, Oliver’s not the reason to watch. Okay, for some Oliver’s training sequences are the reason to watch. But mostly he’s… sort of Batman Lite.
M: According to what I’ve read, even in the comics Green Arrow was always very similar to Batman.
C: Maybe Batman meets Tony Stark, as cast and scripted by The CW. The tone of the show is moody without being as dark as something like Daredevil. But as M says, the supporting characters — Team Arrow — are the reason to watch.
Rosewood, FOX, September 23rd
E: With So You Think You Can Dance as my summer treat, I saw a lot of previews for this new show starring the handsome, charming Morris Chestnut, who stars as a fun loving pathologist who helps solve crimes.
C: I’m continually amazed that Morris Chestnut is the name of a current-day actor, and not an old-time president or a stock brockerage firm.
C: Also, don’t you wonder how this premise took off? Last year it was Forever with the medical-examiner-as-tough-lady-cop’s-partner concept. Admittedly most of what I know about how cops work comes from TV and movies, but I’m still pretty sure detectives and medical examiners aren’t partners.
E: Bones has been working that way (forensic anthropologist/FBI agent “partners”) for years, so I guess FOX thinks that if it provides likable enough characters, no one will care about the plausibility.
C: It wouldn’t stop me watching, but it would continually stretch my suspension of disbelief.
M: There are others too, like the Dana Delaney vehicle Body of Proof. And it goes back further than Bones, to shows like Crossing Jordan. It is a strange concept, though, and I agree that it’s likely not how things work in the real world. Moving past that, E, what’s the rest of the story with this version of it?
E: Parties, palm trees, pretty people; Rosewood’s got a seize-the-day mentality inspired by some sort of trauma which put massive scars on his chest. Which gives the show runners ample opportunity to show us Chestnut’s chest.
M: So, they’re taking a page out of Arrow‘s book, as that show uses every chance they can get to show Amell’s abs.
C: For evidence of which, see link above. Here, the extended trailer reveals he has holes in his heart and cannot live longer than “the next decade.” Given the initial reviews, I don’t think this series has that long.
M: Bah dum dum.
The Mysteries of Laura, NBC, September 23rd
E: Never having been a big fan of Debra Messing’s, I still checked out the pilot of this show last year in case I was being overly harsh. I wasn’t. I’m frankly more than a little surprised that this show survived to make a second season.
M: Honestly, I thought it got cancelled last year. I don’t recall seeing or hearing of it beyond early in the fall, maybe around the mid-season break at the latest.
C: Yeah, I don’t know anyone who watches it, but I probably wouldn’t.
E: As for that second season, the plot is more than a little outlandish. Messings’ detective, Laura, has a new partner this season; her ex-husband Josh Lucas, who told her he still had feelings for her at the end of last season, and then was struck with amnesia! Sigh.
M: Amnesia again? It’s more disproportionately represented in film and TV than just about anything, and that’s saying a lot!
The Goldbergs, ABC, September 23rd
E: Here’s another show often I wonder if I ought to be watching. It’s clearly made to be my generation’s Wonder Years, which I liked well enough at the time.
C: I’m confused. Wasn’t Wonder Years your generation’s Wonder Years?
E: I see what you’re saying, but this is a nostalgic show set in the time of my youth, not a nostalgic show made during my youth.
C: Ah, gotcha.
M: And even if you were right in theory, Wonder Years was actually just enough younger than us that no, it wouldn’t have been our Wonder Years. It’d more be the “between your age and ours” Years. That aside, I’ve only seen a couple episodes of The Goldbergs, but really liked what I did see. I also have friends who love it. Like, it’s-the-best-show-on-TV love it.
E: Yeah, the Goldberg fans I know are pretty fanatical about it. Which, actually, might be the same devoted fans you know.
M: Definitely not all the same, many of the fans I know do not overlap with your circles.
E: Okay. New plots for this season: Adam Goldberg (the character, not the creator of the show) hits puberty! In trying to make the transition easier, Wendy McLendon-Covey’s mom oversteps and makes it infinitely worse.
M: As she does with everything. Hilariously.
E: I have a 12-year-old son, and I am really not sure I can handle jokes about that right now.
M: You can. Speaking as someone who also has a 12-year-old son (for those readers who don’t know E’s and my sons are 5 weeks apart, which is awesome) AND a 15-year-old daughter, if you don’t find ways to laugh at it you will become homicidal. Quickly.
C: Poor kids. I’d be hard to live with too if everyone went around constantly talking about how much they hated me being the age I am. (Oh yes — and I was. Partly for that reason.)
E: Well you told us!
M: Hang on. We don’t constantly talk about that, at least not in front of them. And for the record, C, you were hard to live with during that phase. I’ve always said you gave me a sneak peek into what having teenage daughters will be like.
E: Also look for homages to Milli Vanilli and Short Circuit. The latter is almost enough to get me to watch the show. I loved Short Circuit. Maybe I’ll hunt down that episode.
M: Number 5 is alive!
Modern Family (ABC) September 23rd
E: Emmy’s favorite sitcom is back — after being dethroned by Veep, that is.
M: Oh yay, another show that’s never made me laugh winning awards as best comedy.
E: Yeah. I actively dislike Veep; all embarrassment humor, which I just can’t handle.
C: Actually, my fiance likes Veep.
M: To be fair, I’ve barely ever watched it, and never a full episode. MF, on the other hand, I have watched many, many times. Mrs M loves it, so I’ve seen at least 10 full episodes, and large parts of many more. I think I have now laughed twice.
C: We always disagree about this show. I don’t watch it, but when I’ve been somewhere it was on, it has made me laugh a number of times. I don’t think it’s brilliant, but I also don’t think it’s bad.
E: The spoilers for the new season are these: Ariel Winter’s Alex goes to Caltech, where she’s shown up by her child prodigy roommate. And yes, they really are going to send her to college, but there’ll be lots of visiting back and forth and lots of Facetiming. And also maybe some tonsil hockey backsliding when homesick Alex runs into awkward high school love interest Sanjay.
M: And lots of overbearing mothering, I’m sure. Overbearing mothering is soooo hilarious.
E: Apparently. Haley continues to flirt with Andy, even though he left to propose to his girlfriend at the end of last season. It sounds like he’s super age inappropriate, but I guess since fans of the show love the pair together, things will progress between them?
C: 24 and 31, and she’s supposed to be younger. So that is kinda icky.
E: Very. Cam and Mitchell will operate a B & B out of their house, and Gloria (whose baby Joe is going to be aged up roughly a year, without the rest of the cast aging similarly; two years aren’t easy for anyone to work with) looks to make bank with a culinary entrepreneurial scheme involving an old family recipe.
Criminal Minds (CBS), September 30th
E: Does it blow anyone else’s mind that this is the eleventh season of this show? It’s been on TV for more than a decade.
C: Um… not really? I sort of feel like I’m more surprised when these classic procedurals go off the air.
M: Really? I’m kind of shocked this one is still on. I mean, it’s not like it’s on the CW or anything…
E: This is one of those shows, like NCIS, that has a lot of viewers but no buzz in the entertainment press. It just seems to glide along without comment. This season, the team will be dealing with a network of nefarious criminals, inspired by the underground website Silk Road. When you bust up the black market, as it were, where do the criminals for hire go?
M: I think I’ve said this every year, but I used to watch this show, it just got to be too much darkness. And it’s more realistic, more believable darkness than something like Arrow. That said, some of my 15-year-old daughter’s best friends are obsessed with it, so it is still relevant.
C: Teenagers in general seem to love procedural shows. This is a thing I’ve noticed teaching college freshmen. They all want to be forensic pathologists and stuff.
E: Alrighty, that is good to know. The show’s also dealing with a casting shake up. A.J. Cook, who plays Jennifer Jareau, will take a leave of absence to cover for her real life pregnancy; Jennifer Love Hewitt’s pregnancy and maternity leave was written into character Kate Callahan arc, leading to a resignation at the end of last season. All this leaves the show with a big gender imbalance, so expect lots of female guest stars with long running arc (like Hewitt’s former Ghost Whisperer colleague Aisha Tyler playing an expert on, what else, serial killers) and maybe even a new series regular. The showrunners have been very open about leaving the light on for Hewitt if she wants to come back. So I guess only time (and Jennifer Love Hewitt) can say for sure!
M: Wait, since when it Love Hewitt on this? Wow, I really haven’t watched it in a while. That said, Aisha Tyler is AWESOME, and she should totally get a full time gig.
E: Agreed. And she does seem to bounce around a lot; I have no idea why she’s never settled into grand stardom in something.
Supernatural (The CW), October 7th
M: Speaking of shows lasting forever on the CW….
C: Yeah, this on the other hand, is kind of amazing in its longevity. Not that its devotees aren’t legion (and very emphatic); just that it might be the longest-running series the CW has ever had.
M: And that’s saying something! I remember when Jensen Ackels left Smallville for this… that was so freaking long ago! Funny aside, I was looking this up on IMDb, and the top choice in the “People Who Liked This Also Liked” section was Macbeth. WAIT, WHAT?!?!
E: I got a good laugh out of that, M; thanks for sharing. What’s the commonality there, do you think? Witches?
M: No clue. However, it got me to look at this new Macbeth, which stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and David Thewlis, and looks like it could be excellent. Comes out in December. Definitely looking forward to that more than another season of Supernatural.
C: Dude. That may be a great cast but the movie’s going to be as bloody and dark as every unrelentingly grim show we’ve criticized. Supernatural, while dark, also has some comedy. And lots of apocalyptic heaven-and-hell stuff and Paradise Lost references. But I have no clue why Shakespeare.
M: Yeah, but it’s two hours of dark, not 23 hour(ish) long episodes a season for multiple seasons. I can handle 2 hours.
E: At the end of last season, the demon-fighting Winchester brothers were not just attacked but enveloped by a very confusing sounding demon called The Darkness. And no, M, I don’t think anyone was singing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.”
M: I was actually thinking you were going to go to A Wrinkle In Time.
C: Yeah, sounds like the Black Thing.
E: I’m so bemused that M went there and I went to heavy metal. Wacky.
M: Agreed. Now, if it had been called Muse… 🙂
E: Anyway, Ackles and Padalecki promise that The Darkness is such an overwhelming force it will force the often warring brothers to depend on each other to defeat it and — perish the thought — actually fight a little less.
C: Aw, they really love each other very much deep down.
Kingdom, DirecTV, October 14th
C: A drama about a family involved in Mixed Martial Arts, now entering its second season. Overall decent enough reviews, though described by Rotten Tomatoes as “a little dated in its portrayal of women.”
E: That sounds pretty ominous. I remember writing about this in last year’s preview. One of the Jonas brothers is in it, as well as Frank Grillo and Kiele Sanchez, who I remember from short-lived mystery series The Glades.
M: Or her brief stint (which I accidentally wrote as “stink”, which works) on the first half of season three of Lost, as Nikki of Nikki and Paolo infamy. That was followed immediately upon the return from the writer’s strike, with that duo being killed off in spectacular fashion, signaling the return to greatness of that show. So, weirdly fond spot in my heart for her.
E: That’s really skewed, bro.
M: Yeah, it’s more a fond spot for that show turning it around, which she is a reminder of. Make more sense that way?
E: Sooo, season 2 is going to feature a Rhonda Rousey-inspired character who joins Franks’s gym and trains with his sons, where we’ll see Frank train Alicia Mendez (Natalia Martinez) up so she can be truly great.
M: Because Rhonda Rousey rules the world right now. As well she should.
Empire, FOX, September 23rd
C: This was the big hit of last spring’s new series as far as I can tell, at least in terms of what generated buzz and name recognition. I have at least one friend who’s hooked.
E: Indeed; I think it’s safe to call it the biggest hit of last year, period.
C: It seems as soapy as nighttime soaps get, but the cast is excellent, starting with Terrence Howard as the, er, emperor. (Why do we say someone has a “music empire” but never call them a “music emperor”? We should start.)
E: Indeed we should.
E: Also starring music empress Taraji P. Henson, late of Person of Interest, who first made headlines costarring with Howard in an Oscar-winning movie about aspiring musicians, Hustle & Flow.
M: Oscar-winning? Seriously?
E: Don’t you remember? Howard is an ex-con who raps a song (really by Three 6 Mafia) called “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.”
C: I do in fact remember that. Come on, M.
M: I remember the movie, just not that it won an Oscar. And thinking about it raises an interesting question. Is a film really “Oscar-winning,” if only a song from it wins? I don’t know if I agree that it is. That’d be like calling a movie Oscar-winning if they had a category for Best Cameo… it’s not really a “whole film” award.
E: Sorry, that’s the correct common usage, although I see where you’re coming from. If you refer to Ben Affleck as an Oscar-winning director, for example, you will annoy the heck out of me, since he won his Oscar for writing and famously not for direction. That’s a rabbit hole I could spend a long time falling down, however, and this is probably not the time for it.
C: Yeah, not so much, though it as good question.
E: So. Empire began its first season with Henson’s character Cookie being released from jail and wreaking all sorts of havoc on the family whose fortunes she did hard time to protect; the second season begins with Howard’s Lucious in jail and awaiting trial for murdering a long time friend Bunkie in cold blood at the end of the pilot. Symmetry!
M: I’m not a fan, but I have to say, their exchange in the commercials, when Cookie says “Orange looks good on you” and Lucious replies “They say it’s the new black” cracked me up. Well played.
E: I haven’t seen that! Excellent. Cookie is fun, but I found Lucious too cold and brutal for me to enjoy watching the show after he gunned down his friend. That said, I’m really glad that the powers-that-be are now alive to the fact that audiences will in fact watch shows with a diverse cast and African American leads; Empire and How To Get Away With Murder are prime reasons for that realization, and for the proliferation of such shows this year.
M: And as much as I despise it, Scandal deserves credit for that, too.
E: Sigh. Yes. Last year, we learned that Lucious Lyon was terminally ill, and wondered which of his three sons (ambitious Andre, artist Jamal, or wild child Hakeem) would inherit his record label. Partly to get back at her husband (who refused to see Jamal for who he is because of his sexuality) Cookie backed her middle son, who succeeded in replacing his now jailed father. Something unfortunate happened to them along the line, though, because season 2 will detail a hostile takeover attempt by Cookie and the other two brothers. Obviously loyalty and the lack there of is going to be a big theme.
M: Wait, so Cookie backed Jamal, Jamal won, and now Cookie’s going after him? I’m confused.
E: You are not alone, though I’m sure it makes sense if you actually watched the show. Guest spots this year will come in a multi-episode arc from Marisa Tomei as a lesbian business associate of Cookie’s, and from Mariah Carey (who took a small but impressively de-glammed role in Empire creator Lee Daniels’ Precious) who’ll turn up in the end of the season.
Law & Order: SVU, (NBC), September 23rd
C: There is so much to tell you about this series, that you totally don’t know! Nope, I’m just flat-out lying.
M: Mariska Hargitay, who I thought left the show a couple years ago, is still leading the way for the last remaining (and most dour) show of the Law & Order series.
E: I think she did leave, and then came back. I’ve never been fond of this L&O, though, so I don’t know that for sure.
M: I’ve like the side characters (Dan Florek, Ice-T, Richard Belzer, Diane Neal and B.D. Wong) more than the show itself.
E: Anyhoo. This season’s all about workplace and personal transitions. It will bring us the aftermath of Detective Amaro’s departure, a problem for both his partner/friend Hargitay and his girlfriend Kelli Giddish. Huh. This is where Giddish ended up after the show she left The Good Wife for fell through. Did not know that.
M: Well, we know what E’s going to start watching now!
E: Oh no no. If we were talking about Mamie Gummer, maybe.
Black-ish, ABC, September 23rd
C: This series inspired by a Veronica Mars episode seems to be flourishing.
M: I’m glad for Anthony Anderson, who was also in a Veronica Mars episode (though it wasn’t the same one, right?), but have no interest in watching it.
E: It was totally the same one!
C: Dude, the was the whole reason we suspected he had gotten the idea from that episode. Because he starred in it.
M: My memory of the good seasons VM is no longer fresh. Plus, I just watched the movie, which admittedly was a better ending than the last episode, but come on, they could have done so much better! They should have named it Veronica Mars: Logan Ruins Her Life Again (and everyone else gets taken down in the mess). Hmmm, maybe that’s a bit long…
C: Agree to disagree on that point; I like the ending.
M: Oh, so you like her, Weevil’s and Piz’s lives getting ruined? Good to know.
C: Again, agree to disagree. At least about hers. But if your memory of season one isn’t fresh, time to rewatch! Show it to the teenager!
M: She and Mrs M watched it this summer. I had no time, which is sad, so let’s get back to Black-ish.
E: From what I’ve read, the show plans on tackling some big issues this season: the politics of racial slurs, for example, as well as gun control and ownership.
M: Just what you want from a sitcom!
C: Pretty sure hot-button issues are constantly the subject of comedy, so. Seems pretty standard, really.
Star Wars Rebels, DisneyXD, October 13th*
E: YES! Season 2 of this excellent animated addition to the Star Wars universe begins, finally.
M: I’m still stuck in “Don’t trust Lucas” mode with all things not The Force Awakens, so I haven’t watched season 1. You keep telling me it’s good, and I know I should. Trust issues.
E: Trust me, then. It’s so good. Season 2 will bring our cell of rebels off their former operating base of Lothal, and out into the universe as part of organized rebelious activities. It will also bring a new inquisitor, and more of rebel leader Asoka Tano, best known as Anakin Skywalker’s padawan from Clone Wars.
C: This might be another show that’s more fun with kids.
E: I dunno. Mr. E and I would totally watch it without them.
Nashville, ABC, September 23rd*
E: I hope I’m not spoiling the cliffhanger for you, but there’s no way Deacon’s the one who died during the organ transplant.
M: If the “you” is me, then no need to worry, I can’t stand this show.
E: No, of course not. “You” are fans of the show who also read this blog. Granted, I don’t actually know if such people exist, but if they do, and if they consider this a spoiler, then I’m sorry, because it’s totally Deacon’s sister Beverly. And Deacon is totally going to blame Rayna for it, because she strong armed and bribed and eventually successfully guilted wounded, resentful Bev into saving her brother’s life. Or at least that’s my guess. Maybe they’ll get married and everything will be nice and smooth.
M: Right, because marriages on this show can be described as “nice and smooth?”
C: I have never seen it and can answer that with a solidly factual “nuh uh.”
E: Other plots: Juliet’s disaster of a personal life, where she left husband Avery (Jonathan Jackson) and newborn Cadence to revive her career in a mania of post-partum depression.
M: You’re making my point.
E: I know neither of you watch, and I get that it’s soapy…
M: Soapy? This show’s so soapy it makes Irish Spring look like a mud pit. It makes Empire look like The PBS News Hour. Please!
E: …but my main love for this show has always been about the music. And honestly? Last year the music wasn’t nearly as good without T Bone Burnett as the music director. I find that very depressing — even more depressing than the will-they/won’t-they tension between Scarlett and Gunnar.
C: Why does it sound like we’ve wandered into the Old West?
Code Black (CBS), September 30th*
C: A new series about an ER, yay.
M: How original! Seriously, could we get a procedural that’s not about doctors, lawyers, cops or fire fighters? How about construction workers? Electricians? Hmmm… computer programmers, maybe? University professors? …who don’t teach their students to become serial killers, that is.
C: That would be really nice. I mean, I’m not sure it would be a “procedural” in that case, since a show requires a certain week-to-week sameness to earn that name, and we all know the life of a university professor or a computer programmer is wild and varied, with no repetition. Anyway, regarding this particular series: at first glance, it looks like we’re in for a grittier ride and a more documentary feel, set in Los Angeles’s busiest emergency room.
E: What cracks me up about that is the layers of it. For the last few summers, the nets have aired hospital documentaries like Boston Med, which riff off shows like ER. Last year there was an actual award-winning documentary about Los Angeles’s busiest emergency room called Code Black. Which means that this is a fictionalized version of a non-fiction version of a fictionalized show.
M: That’s about as Hollywood as it gets.
C: Wow. And you can kinda see that influence… until, as the trailer goes on, we’re introduced to four fresh-faced interns, shepherded around by Luis Guzman (the pride of Greendale Community College) as the chief nurse, and Marcia Gay Harden as the residency director. Bonnie Sommerville, of Golden Boy and several made-for-TV Christmas movies, is the only one of the first-year residents I recognized.
M: Love the Community reference, sis!
E: Why is everyone but me referencing Golden Boy? I have no memory of that show. I love the idea of grizzly Guzman as a nurse, though.
M: How can you not remember the Theo James-Chi McBride cop show that whatever network it was on bombarded us with ads for so unrelentingly that I was actively campaigning for it to be cancelled before it ever aired? But back to Code Black, this all sounds amazingly familiar, without the “feels like a documentary” part, that is.
C: To make sure the documentary feel is fully demolished, we’re treated to the sight of one of the two lumbering male interns checking out the pretty blonde intern, and then the other checking out the pretty brunette intern. Charming.
E: Did you notice that the one checking out the blonde is the hot white guy, and the one checking out the ethnic-looking brunette is chubby? Just saying.
C: It’s not only gross, it’s also a timely reminder that this is Television Land, the only land with an excess of attractive, single doctors.
E: Not that the cute one is a prize: in the extended preview he tells the blonde (Sommerville) “I’m going to be paying off student loans until I’m your age.” Classy. She looks barely if at all older. We later learn she’s coming into medicine “late” after suffering a personal tragedy.
M: *Snore*… are we really still talking about this show?
E: Oh hush. No doubt the writers thought they were being revolutionary and clever by having Guzman refer to himself as the new residents’ Mommy, with Marcia Gay Harden’s surgeon Dr. Leanne Rorish as Daddy. Oooh, amazing gender reversal! Not exactly revolutionary, but good enough, I suppose.
M: Good enough for what? Never mind, don’t answer that.
E: Gunning for Rorish is Dr. Neal Hudson, played by Raza Jaffrey of Smash fame. She’s too reckless! She tries too many experimental procedures in the extravagant attempt to save lives! Also, Guzman sings Bonnie Tyler, which is totally awesome. Actually, though, after watching several long previews, I’ve decided two things. First…
M: …that you want to transcribe every moment of each of them into this preview…
C: It is starting to feel that way.
E: No, that I really want to see the actual documentary. And second, it’s been a few years since there was a medical show I liked. I might check this one out just to see if it can buck that trend.
M: Good luck with that.
South Park, (Comedy Central), September 16th
E: According to what I’ve been reading – and even a trailer for the upcoming 19th season that’s airing on British TV, where it is legal to drop the f-bomb – they haven’t really made the new episodes yet. I mean, they had to at least make the one that aired last week, and presumably the one that airs tonight, but it doesn’t sound like they’re operating further in advance than that. It’s a good thing the animation is so crude.
M: The premiere tackled the whole Deflate-gate issue, taking jabs at the whole thing in typical South Park fashion. The best jab was Cartman, pretending to be Commissioner Goodell, saying “*&^% you, I’ll make up new rules!” Other than that I’ve got nothing left to say about South Park; we know what we’re going to get by now.
American Horror Story: Hotel, (FX), October 7th
C: Widely loved among a certain crowd, this show looks waaaay too scary for me. Even the still ads on Netflix frighten me.
M: I know they have a different theme/setting every season for this franchise/show, but I though they already did a hotel. I’m probably wrong, though.
E: You are. They did a circus, a school and an asylum after starting with a haunted house. No hotel before now.
M: <sarcasm> Oh, well sign me up then! </sarcasm>
C: Maybe you were thinking of that Hotel 666 show from last year, or whatever it was called.
E: So, welcome to the Hotel Cortez (yes, specifically named after genocidal Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez), where Lady Gaga waits for hapless visitors so she can tear them to shreds, or eat them, or something similarly ridiculous and horrifying.
M: Couldn’t they have just paid the royalties and called it the Hotel California?
E: Snort. Among the regular Murphy players, this ten episode season’s cast includes Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Basset, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Denis O’Hare.
Chicago P.D. (NBC), September 30th
E: What’s up with this whole Chicago franchise? Med, fire, police… Has NBC copyrighted the entire city? What’s next, Chicago Recycling?
C: Now I really want to see that spoof trailer.
M: I’m looking forward to that, and to the next few years bringing us series like Chicago Public Library, Chicago Weights and Measures and Chicago Council on Aging.
E: Or perhaps Chicago Social Services or Chicago Parks & Rec.
M: That last one could be a spin-off of Parks & Rec, with the hook of it being that one of the cast moved to the big city.
C: That actually almost happened on the show.
E: I like it!
M: We should totally be running NBC!
E: Obviously. Now, for fans of THIS show: at the end of last season, Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush, who’s famous father is a celebrity photographer and not a politician) quit the Intelligence Unit after a guilt and depression fueled bout with drugs and alcohol (and some corrupt cops). She’ll return to herself and to the unit, but it won’t be easy. Meanwhile, viewers will get to spend some quality time with her mom, played by 80s sitcom star Markie Post.
M: Wow, she’s been out of the spotlight for a while now!
E: Highlander‘s Clancy Brown turns up as an old prison acquaintance of Hank Voight’s. That’s right — Voight (Jason Beghe, who among a billion other roles you might recognize was Cormac Fitzpatrick on Veronica Mars) used to be be in prison. Not what you generally look for in a cop.
M: As opposed to the cop returning from abusing drugs? I see they’re going for realism with this one.
E: In happier news, Adam and Kim get to plan a wedding. Aw! Nothing stressful about that, is there, C?
C: Nah, I only tear my hair out once a week max.
The League (OWN), September 9th*
E: Now is the time M makes his yearly pitch to increase the audience of this cult favorite sitcom. M?
M: Okay, as this has already started, I can share simply the first scene of this season from the sitcom based around a quirky group of friends who take their 8-team fantasy football league way too seriously.
E: How implausible is that? I don’t know anyone who takes their fantasy teams seriously. Oh, wait.
C: It does seem a little thin as the premise of a series, but whatever. Go on.
M: The relatability is part of what makes it so funny. Duh. Anyway, that first scene. One of the characters (Taco) is sitting on a beach with Seattle running back Marshwan Lynch. Taco’s brother Kevin asks for a beer, and Taco decides to throw it to him, to which Lynch replies “we’re so close, let me run it over to him.” They debate for a minute, Lynch insisting he could get it there “in his sleep,” and ends with Taco throwing it, Kevin trying to grab the errant throw, crashing into a barbecue grill and catching on fire. Everyone who saw the SuperBowl is nodding and laughing now.
E: Okay, that’s awesome. But if it’s an entire half hour of football humor that depends on my memory of football players and their personal histories, I doubt I’d have much to laugh at.
C: Ditto. I don’t even get that joke.
M: Because you’re one of the 10 people on earth that didn’t watch the SuperBowl. However, very little on the show actually has to do with football, it’s just the construct. There’s maybe one or two football specific jokes per episode. The competition between them, and their general hi-jinx is the real draw.
E: In reading up for this preview, I saw that this is the last season of the show! Did you know that, M?
M: WHAT? No! Booo!
E: To help make this season special, famous guests abound: Will Forte, Rob Riggle, Paul Scheer and Seth Rogen all help bring the series to what the creators hope will be an emotionally satisfying close.
M: I hate to tell you this, but Paul Scheer is actually one of the regulars. To replace him on your list, Leslie Bibb has actually returned to the show, after being in the first couple episodes of the series.
Moonbeam City (Comedy Central), September 16th
E: The cartoon people from Ah Ha’s “Take On Me” video finally get their own series!
E: No, but it totally looks like that. Everyone’s wearing Miami Vice style pastel jackets — it’s actually rather impressive, the style of it. What I was trying to get at is that it looks exactly like something someone would have drawn in the 80’s, rather than the 80’s through a Teens lens.
M: Okay, cool.
C: See now, how I would have said that is that it looks like Jem and the Holograms. (The 80s show, not the majorly-missing-the-point remake film.)
E: It also features lines like this. “Dazzle Novak, Moonbeam City police. I hope your brain is hungry. It’s having bullets for dinner.”
M: That’s some Emmy-worthy writing right there!
C: Now imagine the line is voiced by Rob Lowe, because it is.
M: Ok, that actually makes it much better.
C: Rather fantastic. But the good people reading this post still have not the faintest idea of what this show is about, so should we tell them? It appears to be a spoof of Miami Vice-like cop shows about ridiculously violent cowboy cops (metaphorically, not literally) in a fantastical pseudo-past/pseudo-future city. With dolphins.
E: The voice over talent is pretty impressive: In addition to Rob Lowe as Dazzle, Elizabeth Banks voices his boss Pizzazz, Kate Mara is his work partner Chrysalis, and Will Forte’s villain/ally/doofus Rad. It looks mildly funny in a raunchy, violent way, but not like something I’d watch.
M: So, kind of like Archer.
C: Sounds about right.
You’re the Worst (OWN), September 9th
M: I’ve seen commercials for this during The League. It looks atrocious. Other than it being an anti-romantic romcom, I can’t even tell what’s going on.
E: I did not know this show existed last year. Did you guys?
C: I don’t even know what the OWN network is, so that’s hardly a surprise. Where did you dig this up?
M: I think it’s on FXX (like The League), too.
E: I’ve heard about it in a couple different places, actually; critics seem to like it. Stars Aya Cash and Chris Greer as singles Gretchen and Jimmy too cool and cynical for love who end up falling for each other anyway. Not that they’d ever admit, although now that they’ve moved in together, it’s probably getting difficult to hide.
M: Exactly, an anti-romantic romcom.
C: Apparently they exhaust themselves doing everything they can not to become a boring couple. Which is funny because I think boring coupledom exists largely because it’s in the nature of humans to get tired sometimes and want to relax.
E: Here’s a good gauge for the show’s humor. Gretchen’s best friend Lindsay, played by Kether Donohue, realizes she’s made an unusual job out of getting men on online line dating sites to forward her pictures of their privates, which she then sells to gay porn sites. If that makes you do more than snicker, then this show might be for you.
M: Well, in fairness, it’s a pretty clever idea for making money, but not something I’d want to watch someone do.
E: Plots for the season involve Lindsay eating whatever she wants and getting fat (i.e., looking like a regular, larger than size 0 woman). Shocking!