September brings the return of children to their schools, the retreat of the stuffy humidity and the long-awaited television premieres. To those that know me, it’s no secret that I watch a lot of television. For the most part, I find the mindless aspect of television comforting. If I’m getting stressed out, I can always turn on the TV and escape for thirty minutes to an hour.
While I will watch almost anything on television, the new series that I am most looking forward to will be airing on specialty channels such as HBO and AMC. One hour dramas are the hardest type of network TV shows for me to get into, and this year (as with every year) there are a plethora of legal and medical dramas set to air. If these shows are your thing, then you may be sorely disappointed by the television picks listed here.
This is by no means a comprehensive fall preview. We have painstakingly sifted through all of the network fall line-ups, read synopses and watched trailers in order to put together a list of the shows that have potential and shows that may make you regret wasting your time. Check out the full list after the jump.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Premieres Sunday, September 19th @ 9pm
This is a new series created by Terence Winter (The Sopranos) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. The series will detail the life and times of Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, as an Atlantic City gangster and politician in the 1920s. I don’t know much more about this series but Martin Scorsese directed the pilot episode and that, teamed up with Buscemi and Winter, means I’m in.
The Walking Dead (AMC)
Premieres Sunday, October 31 @ 10pm
Based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, The Walking Dead was greenlit for a six-episode series and just recently it came out that it has also been signed for a 13-episode second season. The story of life after a zombie apocalypse follows a group of survivors in search of a safe home, led by police officer Rick Grimes. Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually) will play the lead role of Rick Grimes while actor Jon Bernthal (The Pacific, The Ghost Writer) will portray the character Shane, Grime’s coworker. Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) serves as writer, director and executive producer. I have not read the comic, but I am definitely welcoming to the idea of giving zombies their due air time to compete with all of the vampires and werewolves in popular television these days.
Premieres Wednesday, September 22nd @ 8pm
Married former spies get back into the business together in this J.J. Abrams-produced show. A lot of people are comparing this show to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but to me, it has more of a True Lies vibe. Either way, I’m actually psyched for this show. It looks like a lot of fun. Samantha Bloom and Steven Bloom are being played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe, respectively. With all of the shows this year that are teaming up has been actors, I think Undercovers got it right by using two unknown, fresh actors to star.
Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
Premieres Monday, September 20th @ 10pm
When I first heard that they were remaking this show, I thought the concept was really lame. After checking out the previews for it, however, I can see how this show might actually find an audience. It stars Daniel Dae Kim (Jin Kwon on Lost) and Scott Caan (Scott Lavin on Entourage). I’m not sure what Kim can bring to it, as his part on Lost was not very deep, and I cannot stand Scott Caan although I feel bad about that since it’s mostly due to the roles he portrays, and not his ability as an actor. I will pass on this myself, but I do think it has the possibility of longevity.
The Event (NBC)
Premieres Monday, September 20th @ 9pm
Billed as “a suspense filled journey where the answers only lead to bigger questions”, this show seems to have everything a conspiracy could want. It seems to be about the CIA, a President on a “need to know basis” and secret files. A quick teaser that they showed the other night during a commercial break leads me to believe this might be more in the vein of The 4400 or even The X-Files. I think I’ll check this one out.
Running Wilde (Fox)
Premieres Tuesday, September 21st @ 9:30pm
Steve Wilde (will Arnett) stars as an emotionally stunted rich guy trying to impress his childhood crush Emmy (Keri Russell), an extremely liberal humanitarian. I’ll give this a chance, if only for Will Arnett and David Cross. The comparisons to Arrested Development cannot be helped due to the cast and the writer, but they warn the audience, this is no Arrested Development. I have hopes for this show.
No Ordinary Family (ABC)
Premieres Tuesday, September 28th, 8pm
A married couple and their children develop super powers when their family vacation ends in a plane crash in the Amazon River. The show stars Michael Chiklis (The Shield) as Jim Powell, the father of the affected family and a police sketch artist and Julie Benz (Dexter) as the mother and research assistant, Stephanie. Romany Malco (Conrad on Weeds), plays George, a district attorney and friend to Jim and Stephanie’s coworker is played by Autumn Resser (Lizzie, Entourage). According to early reviews of the show, however, the familiar faces in the cast might be a huge downfall of the show. It’s a Catch-22. You want big names to draw in an audience, but you don’t want the audience thinking about The Shield, or Dexter, or Entourage, or Weeds while they’re watching your show. I’m going to give this show a try since it feels as though it won’t take itself too seriously and the premise sounds like a live-action version of The Incredibles.
101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (ABC)
I’m not sure who is to host this show or when it is set to air. ABC ordered another pilot back in June and it was supposed to have been shot in August. The show is from the producers of Wipeout and was also picked up by the BBC for their own version to be released too. It has been described as a cross between Fear Factor and Wipeout with a trivia aspect involved. Just like Wipeout, it will be shot in Argentina since it has less expensive labour and goods. I will definitely give this show a chance.
Teach: Tony Danza (A&E)
Premieres Friday, October 1st, 10pm
Tony Danza is in his first year as an English teacher in Philadelphia. He shows these 10th-graders who’s the boss in his first venture into reality TV. The series will be seven episodes and will show Danza as he creates lesson plans, grades papers and even meets with parents. Even if this show is a train wreck, I’ll probably watch it through to the end of the 7 episodes.
Premieres November 8th @ 11pm
Conan O’Brien’s new show is set to air in November of this year. This is not a station that airs in Canada so Canadians can check out the show at 1am on CTV. I’m with CoCo, and if he has more freedom than he did with The Tonight Show, I think it could be fun late night entertainment.
Blue Bloods (CBS)
Premieres Friday, September 24th @ 10pm
This show is about a family of cops in New York City that spans across a few generations. Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is the NY Police Commissioner and head of the Reagan family. Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a seasoned detective, Iraqi War vet and the eldest son in the Reagan clan. The show will centre around this family of men in the NYPD and one woman as a assistant to the District Attourney, showing both their family life and their work lives and how one can impact the other. I’ve never been one to watch a cop show and even though this stars Magnum P.I. and Donnie Wahlberg, it still isn’t enough to entice me to give it a viewing.
Premieres Thursday, September 9th, 9pm
They’re remaking this show – but with Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III, Live Free or Die Hard) as the assassin. I occasionally watched La Femme Nikita (the series) and I enjoyed the movie Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda. Both the former TV show and the movie had the same premise: an anti-terrorist organization fakes the death of a convicted murderer in order to train her as an operative, but unbeknownst to them she was falsely convicted and isn’t the beauty and killer combo they require. This new series appears to be taking a different story line. Nikita was trained as an assassin but has escaped the organization and is living on the run. I think the biggest downfall of this show is that it is airing on the CW.
The Defenders (CBS)
Premieres Wednesday, September 22nd @ 10pm
This legal dramedy is about two Las Vegas defense attorneys at the law firm of Morelli & Kaczmarek. Nick Morelli, played by Jim Belushi is trying to repair his fractured marriage as well as represent his clients to the best of his ability. Pete Kaczmarek (Jerry O’Connell) loves fast cars, beautiful women and the law. I usually have no interest in legal dramas. This is still the case, but after seeing Piranha 3D, I think Jerry O’Connell will play the comedic role very well in this show. I think the main reason I don’t have faith in this show is because I don’t know where its audience would be.
Lone Star (Fox)
Premieres Monday, September 20th @ 9pm
Robert/Bob Allen (newcomer James Wolk) is a Texas con man, who has created two lives in two different parts of Texas. He’s juggling two lives. In one life, he is in Houston married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki), the daughter of Clint (played by Jon Voight), a wealthy Texas oil tycoon. His other life is in Midland, living with his girlfriend Lindsay (Eloise Mumford) while he drains local investors of their savings. The cons may prove too much for Bob and his loyalty is divided by his love for two women and his respect for his father and con artist mentor, John (David Keith). No interest. I can see how this show might appeal to some people but I can’t see it lasting when it is in the same time slot as The Event on NBC.
The Cape (NBC)
This is an hour long drama about a cop (David Lyons, ER) who is framed for murder, left for dead and forced into hiding. Wanting to reunite with his family, he takes on the persona of “The Cape”, a superhero from his son’s comic books and becomes a vigilante. If this show took on a tongue-in-cheek approach like, say, Darkman, I would totally be into it. However, it appears to take itself very seriously. I watched the trailer for this show and in it, some carnie folk find the cop when he is left for dead, take him in, and teach him how to use a cape as a weapon. If hearing that explained seems eye-rollingly ridiculous, you’re right. Watch the trailer yourself and don’t hold your breath for this one to become a hit.
Premieres Thursday, September 23rd @ 9:30pm
An American moves to India to run a call centre. The website for the show promises that “ethnic stereotypes are challenged”, but after watching the preview, it appears that the fodder for the so-called comedy will be in the form of these stereotypes. It appears cheesy and if the fish out of water story was not enough, the call centre that it is set in is for an American novelty shop. Fake poo and boob jokes abound.
$#*! My Dad Says (CBS)
Premieres Thursday, September 23rd @ 8:30 pm
This show, which will be referred to in promos and interviews as “Bleep My Dad Says” started as a Twitter feed. I follow this guy on Twitter and even though the updates are now far and few between, the Twitter feed makes me laugh. I just don’t see how it can translate to network television. The funniest parts of the feed are crass and expletive-filled. The show stars William Shatner as the dad who says shit and lives with his son. I don’t think Shatner can play the comedy subtle enough for this to work. Can this really be more than a cheesy sitcom? Then again, the network schedules are full of cheesy sitcoms.
Love Bites (NBC)
This show is being billed as an “hour long romantic comedy anthology series” with three loosely connected stories. It’s like Sex and The City (not a surprise since it’s the same writer) but there are different stars and stories every week. Becki Newton (Ugly Betty) and Jordana Spiro (My Boys) star in the storyline that will continue throughout the series while other characters and stories will come and go each week. The premise of different stars each week sounds interesting and after Christina Hendricks, Jordana Spiro is my next favourite girl crush. I probably won’t watch the show but I can see it getting a following. That is, if this mid-season replacement sees the light of day.
The Paul Reiser Show (NBC)
Another mid-season replacement will star Paul Reiser as himself in a single-camera comedy show. I loved Mad About You, but I’m not sure how much Paul Reiser had to do with it. From the sounds of this show, it is looking to be a Curb Your Enthusiasm type show. If that’s the case, I’ll surely hate it out of spite since I hold Curb up on a pedestal.
Sarah Palin’s Alaska (TLC)
Premieres Sunday, November 14th @ 9pm
Sarah Palin takes the audience on a National Geographic type journey across her home state, Alaska. The series should last eight episodes and will have Palin showcasing the views of Russia, the mountains, the locals and Kate Gosselin and her spawn will even make an appearance as Palin’s campground neighbors.
Mixed Signals (Fox)
David Denman and Nelson Franklin, (Roy and Nick from The Office) and Kris Marshall (Human Target) star in this comedy about 3 friends at different stages in their lives. One guy is married with a kid, the other guy is moving in with his girlfriend and the third guy is single. I like the premise of a show like this from the guy’s point of view. I plan to check this out, but by mid-season I may have already forgotten about it.
Terra Nova (Fox)
Premieres Fall 2011
One of the few new network shows that I was looking forward to will not air this upcoming television season. Terra Nova will now air in Fall 2011 instead of the spring as a mid-season replacement, airing its pilot in May to garner promotional momentum for its new start date. Steven Spielberg and David Fury (Lost) are executive producers on the series about a family from the future who travel back to prehistoric times. In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for Spielberg’s TNT mini-series Falling Skies, coming next summer.
In the end, I can honestly say that the only new shows I will automatically set up to record as a series on my DVR will be The Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire. The rest of the shows will only get a series recording set up after I’ve seen a few episodes and determined whether or not they are DVR worthy. What new television shows are you looking forward to most and which returning shows are your favourite?