E: Yes, it’s that time of year. Come one, come all to Premiere Week!
M: I thought you meant Quibbling Sibling Fall TV Preview Week.
C: There is that.
E: Come to both, please? Though a few new show have slipped into the schedule at the end of August and the beginning of September, the network seasons officially start today, after the Emmy broadcast last night put a glamorous cap on the previous season.
C: Mm, yes, “glamorous” is the word I’d use to describe the Emmys, definitely not “boring” or “predictable.”
M: “Long,” “bloated,” and “pompous” come to mind, too. So do “pretentious,” “self-indulgent” and a lot of words far less kind than those.
E: Oh well. Fine. The attendees and their clothes are glamorous (Kristin Bell! Constance Wu! Priyanka Chopra!), and some of this year’s picks are surprisingly adventurous – Aziz Ansari, Rami Malik, Tatiana Maslany – and far more diverse than usual. But it’s fair to complain that the Emmy’s love their repeat winners and established shows (ahem, Julia Louis Dreyfus, even though I’m super sorry for your loss). Anyway, lots of programs — perhaps more than usual — were canceled or came to their natural end at the end of last season, and so there’s a good amount of new material to talk about. On the other hand, Monday is a big night for long-form reality competitions, so there are fewer shows in this particular preview than you’ll see on other evenings.
C: I’ll probably leave the bulk of this discussion to you two, then, since I could never get into reality TV. And even less, now, since I happened to chat at a party with someone who was recently cast in one to play a representative of a group this person in actual reality has nothing to do with. I knew they were scripted, but I didn’t know they were that fake!
E: Wait, what?
M: Okay, that’s not the kind of comment you can throw out there and not elaborate on. Spill it!
C: Sorry, I was sworn to secrecy. But a parallel situation would be if, for instance, you found out that someone appearing on camera as an Appalachian hunter was actually an accountant from Boston who just happened to answer a casting call for nonspeaking role, and got put in costume and given props to hold, on a “reality” show that captioned him as a member of a rival backwoods family or something.
E: Like how some of the houses on House Hunters aren’t actually for sale. Or the time that The Amazing Race was in our hometown and incorrectly identified it. Not that I had huge faith in the television industry, but it’s so depressing to hear that kind of thing.
M: So, you’re saying that it’s like a Michael Moore “documentary.” Got it. Back to the preview, as with previous years, new shows (or new networks for existing shows) are listed in blue, and an each of us put asterisks next to the shows we’re either already watching, or planning to watch.
Dancing With The Stars (September 12th), ABC*
E: My dance-loving family watches this show on a season-by-season basis, with our decision to watch based entirely on that season’s particular cast. Olympic champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White? Absolutely. Crazy-eyed actor Gary Busey? Not so much.
M: I don’t watch this, but if I did I’d be far more interested in Busey than the ice dancers.
E: I know. I, on the other hand, prefer good dancing to the celebrity trainwrecks. I was fully prepared to boycott this season based on ABC’s choice of the always slimy and now utterly repellent Ryan Lochte (a much more reasonable response than the people who’re actually protesting him at the theater, which seems like more attention than he deserves), but seeing the full cast has made me rethink that decision. Taxi‘s Marylou Henner? Cool. The Brady Bunch‘s Maureen McCormick? Getting warmer. 90’s musical sensations Babyface and Vanilla Ice? Count me totally intrigued. Top it off with adorable Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, and it’s suddenly turned into a season want to see, though it might require a little dvr dancing to get there.
M: Wait, like, 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez? Shouldn’t she be in school?
E: Probably. I’m sure they have tutors, and this is a particularly good chance for a cash return on all those expensive hours in the gym. It’s a fair point, though.
M: Wow, you acknowledged I made a good point? Thanks! You feeling ok?
E: Har har. Moving on, every few years there’s a weird outlier — a (generally conservative) politician. This year’s answer to Tom Delay? Rick Perry. That’s right, two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry, who was also the longest serving governor in the history of Texas. What the what?
M: So strange!
The Big Bang Theory (September 19th), CBS**
E: After eloping last season, Penny and Sheldon throw themselves a wedding.
C: Nice work, E, you took the breath right out of me with that gaffe! I haven’t seen the show in a couple years, so I just did some frantic googling: Penny didn’t really dump Leonard for Sheldon, did she??? But no, of course not. That would make no emotional sense whatsoever, and this isn’t How I Met Your Mother.
M: Ouch, serious (but TOTALLY deserved) burn!
E: Ha ha ha. Oops! That really would be funny, wouldn’t it. Or maybe I should say, that really would be a show.
C: It seems like at least some of the awkwardness/drama in this season opener will come from a new pairing that did result from Penny and Leonard’s pre-wedding festivities: Leonard’s dad (Judd Hirsch) and Sheldon’s mom (Laurie Metcalf). Surely this will make the two longtime friends squirm!
E: It does sound quite squirm inducing — though not as icky as Penny and Sheldon. Also squirmy? Howard and Bernadette’s baby! FYI, on October 27th, this moves to Thursdays.
Supergirl, (October 10th), the CW***
E: Supergirl was one of my favorite new shows from last year. Premiering at 9:00 on the 10th but airing regularly at 8:00, the story of this charming superheroine continues on the CW after the ratings were too anemic for CBS.
M: It’s weird, because the ratings weren’t that far off other CBS shows, and it was in first-year-build-a-base-audience mode. I really enjoy it.
C: Yeah, that seems unjustified and rather a pity to me. This was definitely my favorite new show last year — in fact, the only one of the 2015 batch I watched all the way through to the end of the season. But I liked the fact that, similar as it was in many ways to a CW show (especially the ones made by its showrunner), it had a sunnier vibe than anything I’ve ever seen on that network.
M: I agree about the sunnier vibe, though the first season of The Flash had more of that vibe, and it’s been getting increasingly darker as it’s gone on. I’m worried that Supergirl will do the same.
C: That would truly be a shame.
E: I hope not. Big changes other than the network: Callista Flockhart moves from series regular to recurring character. But worry not! The show’s pulling out the stops with some new additions — Tyler Hoechlin as cousin Kal-El, Sharon Leal as Miss Martian, Chris Wood as Mon-El (another cousin, perhaps, whom Kara can actually mentor) and Maggie Sawyer as detective Floriana Lima, who investigates the sudden influx of aliens in National City.
M: About time someone noticed that. I mean, it’s a comic book show and all, but for ALL the aliens on the planet (except Superman) to congregate on one city’s pretty ridiculous.
C: I don’t know if any of that makes up for diminishing the role of Calista Flockhart, who was a dynamic force in Season One.
E: Agreed. I would love to know whether that was her choice, or the network’s.
C: She’s probably too expensive for the CW.
M: Yeah, that’s my bet, too.
E: Either way, it’s a shame. Who knew Ally McBeal could be so deliciously mean?
M: You mean, other than everyone that watched Ally McBeal?
E: Hush, you. I’ve saved the best casting news for last! Prepare to meet President Olivia Marsden, played by none other than TV’s original successful super-heroine, Lynda Carter.
Gotham (September 19th), FOX
E: So remember last year how we kind of snickered over the theme, “the rise of the villains,” since that was the point of the whole show?
M: Vaguely, yes.
E: Well, this year is about the heroes. I guess how stressed and unhappy they are? Jim Gordon (Benjamin Mackenzie) starts the season having quit the GPD, chasing down criminals as a bounty hunter. He’s also been dumped by real life love Morena Baccarin and will spend at least the start of the season making futile grand gestures. Sounds like a ball, man.
C: I have never seen this show, but I read an article about the upcoming season that profoundly creeped me out. Despite the fact that Bruce Wayne and many of the classic villains are children in this, and that’s supposedly the point, the producers apparently decided that it was cramping their style to not be able to totally sexualize and objectify the female villains (them being played by real, actual young teenagers). So they’re using some ludicrous plot device to age up Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy supposedly to her upper teens, but actually recasting the 14-year-old actress with one who is 28 years old. How gross is that?
E: Really, really gross. (And, they can’t have thought that through; that’d put her in her late 40s or early 50s when Batman’s in his prime, which is definitely old age time in Hollywood years.)
C: I doubt they care, honestly, since they’ll never get to that point.
M: Makes me glad this creeped me out and I gave up on it after 6 or 7 episodes.
E: Back when I was watching it, only Catwoman was played by another kid actress: the Penguin and the Riddler were both adults.
The Voice (September 19th), NBC
E: So, much to Adam Levine’s shock, contestants on this season prefer the new female judge Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys to him. Apparently Blake Shelton is loving watching his friend deal with losing his status as the king of the mountain.
C: Or, you know, they’re supposed to make it seem like the judge change-up has created drama so they came up with this.
E: I’m sure I say this every year, but I love the blind audition rounds and not the structure of the rest of the show, where each judge/mentor’s team cannibalizes itself.
M: You’re right…. you do say that every year.
Kevin Can Wait (September 19th), CBS
C: Ha! That is a pretty funny title.
M: Agreed, I like it.
E: It’s definitely made for old movie buffs like us! Kevin James stars as retired cop Kevin (gee, shocking) who lives with his hot wife and kids. (Apparently this is different from King of Queens because that character didn’t have kids. Oh, wow. He’s really stretching, huh?) What does he do all day? Oh, the mysteries of life…
M: I saw a commercial for it… it looks like he complains in the most Kevin James-y way possible. Other than that, no clue.
C: I probably will never know. I’m sorry we don’t have more to say about this, since it’s a new show, but honestly what is there to say?
M: That if you liked King of Queens, this has a shot with you.
E: Well, one other thing: don’t get too used to this show in this time slot because when The Big Bang Theory switches nights, it’s headed to 8, making way for another familiar star picking up his first family sitcom gig.
Man With a Plan (October 24th) CBS
E: Matt LeBlanc turns his talents back to a traditional multi-camera sitcom (i.e., one that’s shot like a play with a live audience, versus the trendier and artsier single camera show, which is shot more like a drama or a movie, filming in bits and being pieced together in an editing room).
M: This bit of technical explanation, ladies and gentlemen, comes from the woman who despises sitcoms, yet studies the intricate details of how they work and are made. If you’re confused, join the club.
E: I know things about TV shows, M.
M: I’m assuming that’s an In The Line Of Fire reference. If so, it makes me very happy.
E: This one tells the story of a contractor forced to take more responsibility for his kids when his wife goes back to work.
M: Do we really buy Matt LeBlanc as a contractor? I know I don’t.
E: Sure. What other weird info can I give you? Apparently Jenna Fischer of The Office starred as LeBlanc’s wife in the pilot, which was re-shot and recast with Liza Snyder of Yes, Dear in the spousal role. It seems that the network was unimpressed with their chemistry, or so the official line goes. (It’s a bummer, because I’d be way more interested in seeing Fischer than LeBlanc.) Also starring, Kevin Nealon as LeBlanc’s brother.
C: Agreed about liking Pam, though it’s actually kind of amazing that in the end they went with an actress who’s even closer to LeBlanc’s age (48 to his 49).
E: Wow. That IS shocking.
Two Broke Girls (October 10th), CBS
E: Did you guys know that cupcakes are totally passé? Well, it turns out that they are, so the broke girls will try their hand at running a dessert bar instead.
M: Oh, the fickle whims of the American dessert appetite! I will miss the glut of cakes in a cup.
C: Hmm, tell that to the people swarming the cupcake truck I see all over this area of Pennsylvania. But I would never argue against branching out into other (perhaps superior) forms of dessert.
E: You were right on trend with the dessert bar at your wedding, sis.
M: Wait, back up. Cupcake trucks?!?!? Really? Wow.
C: Oh yeah. In fact, I think there’s two. Food trucks are huge here. As to being on trend, I’ve always thought cake was unnecessarily limiting. Dessert diversity is delicious!
E: This season is also going to focus on the girls’ dating lives, including a long distance relationship with lots of oh-so-hilarious-sounding swipes at modern dating culture (apps, sexting, etc).
M: Not for nothing, but doesn’t every season focus on their dating lives?
E: I would have had to watch it to know the answer to that question. I guess I assumed it focused on them being broke?
Jane the Virgin (October 17th), the CW*
E: I really need to make time to watch this whole show from the start. I kind of hate how much I know about it from doing this preview. (On the other hand, so much goes on in each episode that it’s probably okay to be slightly spoiled.)
M: I kind of hate how much I know, but not because I have any interest in watching. 😉
C: Considering that it’s on Netflix and you, E, have my Season 1 DVDs, there is really no excuse for that whatsoever.
E: Time! Time is always the excuse! That and the fact that Mr. E (like our brother) probably wouldn’t be as interested in this as I am.
C: For starters, he should watch it before he decides because I think it has cross-gender appeal.
M: My non-interest has nothing to do with it being female-centric. I just haven’t found any part of it that I’ve seen or any of the promo material compelling or interesting. Now, stop the slander and move on.
C: Second, you find time for plenty of less good shows.
M: She has you there!
C: And finally, this isn’t a show where you want to be spoiled so you should have left this one to me! Jane the Virgin is one of only three current series I watched last year, along with Supergirl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s rather convenient having two of them on back-to-back! That is… if I can bear to continue with this one.
E: This season will pick up just minutes after Jane’s disastrous wedding was violently interrupted in last season’s finale.
C: Guhhhh. I don’t even want to talk about it.
M: Yeah, me either!
E: Hush your mouth. Fingers. Whatever. According to show runner Jennie Snyder Urman, the new season will incorporate some structural changes to their usual story-telling methods, mostly in the shape of a lot of flashbacks.
C: Hm. I’m not sure they should mess with something they were already doing so well, but flashbacks isn’t a big departure.
E: Complications will be added in the form of a new sibling for Jane, as her mother deals with a surprise pregnancy. Two famous Estefans, Gloria and Emilio, will guest star as Jane’s father Rogelio’s best friends. Also? By midway through the season, Jane will be a virgin no more. Of course, the people in the know are mum on the identity of her lover; will it be Michael (assuming he survives the premiere) or Justin Baldoni’s Rafael? Or — heaven forbid — somebody new?
C: I’m getting sick of them teasing that one plot point endlessly. I get that it’s the title of the series, but it’s not remotely its biggest draw! That, of course, is a three-way tie between the humor, the lovable (or in some cases delightfully deplorable) characters, and the kooky, innovative narrative style. Then the wacky plots, then Jane’s sex life. They really bungled the latter during the mid-season last year by putting Jane in a totally inappropriate and out-of-character relationship with her thesis advisor. They straightening things out… then messed them up again. In the meantime, I’ll mostly be tuning in for Rogelio, Xiomara, Alba, and Petra. (Petraaaaa!)
Halloween Baking Championship (October 3rd), Food Network*
E: I just love these shows. They’re so much fun. In this one, a group of professional and amateur bakers compete for a tile and monetary prize in a series of Halloween-themes baking challenges.
M: I enjoy them in small doses, when there’s nothing else to watch. Which happens very rarely.
E: Though the judging panel of Ron Ben Israel and Carla Hall doesn’t charm me quite to the level of Duff, Nancy and Lorraine on the Holiday and Spring Baking Championships, the difference equals out when you compare the fall host, family favorite Richard Blais, to the more sardonic and smirky Bobby Dean.
M: Carla is great, too.
E: Yes, definitely. So maybe it’s just Ben Israel who I don’t love. I do appreciate that they show up for judging in extravagant costumes, though.
Lucifer (September 19th), FOX
E: Did you guys know anything about this show last year?
M: Yes, unfortunately.
E: I think I saw ads, but didn’t know anything about it. I don’t think we can have previewed it.
C: It was a mid-season replacement, premiering in January 2016 — that’s why. The internet tells me it’s based on the Lucifer character in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, so I’m pretty astounded I haven’t heard more about it in nerd circles.
M: It’s because it looked nothing like a show based on either Neil Gaiman or comics, and just looked like a boilerplate attempt at putting a sexy spin on evil. And it looked HORRIBLE.
E: It looks like Lucifer’s left hell for L.A….
M: …same diff….
E: …where he enjoys rebelling against his role running hell as his Father’s rebel son. Apparently the second season will revolve around Lucifer’s mom and her escape from hell, theology which basically makes my head explode. Angels (dark or light) don’t have mothers! UGH!
M: Why are you hating on women? More strong female characters! Oh, wait….
E: Ignoring you. Making this whole thing even weirder is said Lucifer’s mom is played by Battle Star Galactica’s Tricia Helfer, I suppose on the principle that if anyone could tempt a deity it would be her?
C: I read that Lucifer here is the child of Tricia Helfer and “her ex-husband, God.” I suppose the fact that she is 5 years older than one of her sons in this, Tom Ellis’ Lucifer (once so cute in various BBC things like Doctor Who and Much Ado About Nothing, alas!), and 5 years younger than the other (D.B. Woodside as Amenadiel), is kind of a moot point given that introduction.
M: Since they’re supposed to be immortal, I think the actors’ ages are pretty irrelevant.
C: Right… that’s what “a moot point” means…
M: Sorry, I thought you said a “mute” point. 😉
E: Since Ellis and Woodside (yay, Buffy‘s Principal Wood, defending the world from demons again!) have the same parents yet are of different races, I would agree that they’re not going for normal human biology here.
The Odd Couple (October 17th), CBS
E: This show is still on the air? Really? What an insult to the funny and smart classic sitcom, and the play on which it was based. What an insult to Matthew Perry, even.
C: An insult? Isn’t that a bit strong?
E: Hey, he’s capable of so much. Did you see him on The West Wing or The Good Wife? He was terrific. I’m sick of seeing him wasted on heinous material like this.
M: Have you seen pretty much EVERYTHING else he’s starred in since Friends? Okay, that’s not fair, I kind of liked Go On (sitcom, so E would hate it), but my point is still valid, he’s had a string of bad misses, and I’m shocked this survived for another season.
E: Apparently Oscar (Perry) is in a stable relationship with Teri Hatcher this season, so he’s going to be the grown-up one, while uptight Felix (Thomas Lennon) is forced onto dating apps and one-night stands for companionship.
C: Hm, “forced” might also be a bit strong.
E: I’m overstating everything today, apparently.
Conviction (October 3rd), ABC**
E: Our favorite Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) finds new life as Hayes Morrison, bad girl/former First Daughter who ends up in prison but is offered a choice: stay there, or lead a crack unit of fellow lawyers in the Conviction Integrity Unit which investigates potential wrongful imprisonment. Frankly it’s an incredibly silly-sounding premise, but I will be tuning in for the wonderful Atwell, for fellow team member Shawn Ashmore (Iceman!) and hope that the day-to-day business of the show will be more fulfilling than the tortured concept suggests.
C: I’m extremely puzzled about why she would be recruited for this team, but as you point out, hopefully once she gets there and they start Serial-ing their way through cold cases, it won’t matter.
M: There was a show ten years ago with a similar team, cleverly titled In Justice, starring Kyle MacLachlan and Jason O’Mara.
E: Written and created by Robert and Michelle King of The Good Wife, in case you were wondering.
M: Shockingly, I wasn’t. Anyway, I liked the concept, but it could only go on so long. As much as I like Atwell and Ashmore (who along with being Iceman guest starred with his twin Aaron in one of the best episodes of Fringe!), there are only so many wrongfully imprisoned scenarios, and you can’t make it so that everyone’s innocent.
E: That’s okay, they can investigate people who turn out to be guilty; it’s boring and facile when each week has to end with an acquittal. And hey, finding out that someone really is guilty and deserves to be where they are is a win of another kind.
M: Except that it’s Hollywood, so everyone will be innocent. One of the things I loved about the start of Person of Interest was that half the time the person they thought they were supposed to save turned out to be the bad guy. So few shows even try things like that.
E: Well, as the Kings proved so well, there really is no end to what you can do with a legal show.
M: Didn’t that show literally just end?
E: Hush you. Getting back on point, Atwell’s intrigued to play someone who doesn’t have Peggy’s clear moral compass (though, let’s be honest, that’s everyone else — that’s part of what made Peggy so fantastic). You know what, though? I wish we lived in a world where there was a government agency tasked with making sure that people who’re in jail belong there.
C: Yeah, that would be pretty great. So this is government, here? Because I believe there are real private humanitarian groups that do such things, albeit on an all-too-limited basis.
E: I get the impression this is a government agency, yes, which is how they have the power to compel Morrison’s cooperation. I could be wrong, though. I guess we’ll find out when it airs!
Scorpion (October 3rd), CBS*
E: Be careful, Scorpion fans: the two-hour premier episode actually starts at 9.
M: Noted. I know you guys gave up on this show, but the M family still enjoys it’s silly, unbelievable brand of fun.
E: So, speaking of grand romantic gestures…
C: Were we?
M: To quote Animal House, forget about it, she’s rolling.
E: …yes, back when we were talking about Gotham.
M: You know, 10 shows ago. For those who haven’t grown up with her, E does this all the time. She picks back up from an earlier point in conversation with no warning and no segue, and just assumes that everyone else was on the same train of thought as her.
E: Yes, let’s all pick on E…. Anyway. Walter will spend the beginning of the season trying to woo back Paige. There. That’s it. Otherwise, shenanigans as usual.
Mary + Jane (September 5th), MTV
E: Chiefly remarkable for its executive producer Snoop Dogg, this Weeds-like comedy tells the story of two friends starting a (legal?) pot delivery business in the thriving L.A. market.
M: The title’s soooooo clever.
C: Yeah, I watched the trailer and struggled to come up with something to say, and the best thing I could scrounge up was: all these characters seem like people I would be annoyed by at a party. That’s what watching this trailer feels like. Being at a big party with people you don’t know very well who all think they’re fascinating.
Timeless (October 3rd), NBC***
C: When I talked to M a few weeks ago about the upcoming season, based on what we’d heard of through advertising, both of us mentioned this as something that had caught our eye.
E: Thanks to relentless ads during the Olympics — as well as my love for costume dramas and time travel stories — this sci fi drama is also high on my list of new shows to catch. Villain of the near future Goren Visnjic escapes with a time machine, determined to alter history and therefor affect some unclear changes in the present; a team of three travelers (Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett and Matt Lanter) assembles to track him and preserve the past as we know it.
M: I’ve liked Visnjic since his days on ER, and liked Spencer in her recurring role on Suits, so those are pluses. Throw in Shantel VanSanten (Patty Spivot on The Flash) and, for at least a couple episodes according to IMDb, Max Headroom himself Matt Frewer, and I’m really liking the cast.
E: Loved Patty, love Matt Frewer (seen more recently chewing scenery on Orphan Black). I know nothing about the main trio, though. I mean, except that Spencer was a total ham presenting at last night’s Emmy’s. And that Barrett was on Better Off Ted, which I really liked but apparently have utterly forgotten.
M: Most importantly, though, I LOVE the concept.
C: Yup. I’m so on board. Bring on the time travel! Bring on endless debates about the rules of time travel in this universe! (What can they change? What can they remember? Are there alternate timeless? etc. etc.)
E: Can’t wait for that! Each episode will cover a visit to a different era of the past, from the explosion of the Hindenberg to Lincoln’s assassination. Sets! Costumes! This history and sci-fi buff is so in.
M: I have to say, I’m definitely in, but some of the commercials for it look spectacular, while others look cheesy. Also, aside from the “Have you been drinking?” “I didn’t expect to be working tonight” exchange, Lanter’s character looks like he could be there as eye candy. So I do have some apprehension.
E: Okay, well, if the leads are compelling in addition to being pretty (something I can’t tell from the trailers and don’t know from seeing them elsewhere), then I’m all in.
C: Yeah, that’s the sticking point, isn’t it? We’ll see…
E: And speaking of seeing, that’s it for Monday, so we’ll see you in our Tuesday preview, chock full of drek, quibbling, and maybe a few gems as well.
C: Way to sell it, E.