Thursday, September 25, 2014

What I'm Watching this Fall (Part 1 - New Shows)

I am a reader, no doubt about that.  I am also a television watcher, too much so perhaps.  Now that fall has arrived it is time for cool temperatures and sweaters, rust colored leaves, and a crop of new shows to sample.  Okay maybe the weather is still a warm 84 degrees and there are no rust colored leaves here in Southern California, but there are definitely new shows.  Side bar – Isn’t it interesting how much television and movies informs our sense of things?  On screens big and small, fall means piles of leaves and sweaters and winter means snow storms.  I still think of those as hallmarks of the seasons even though I grew up in a city and currently live in a city where it never snows.  I did grow up in a place that has an actual fall season, complete with multicolored leaves and warm coats.   

But back to TV…Every fall I look forward to what new shows the networks have to offer.  My sister and I both have a habit of making charts so we don't miss anything good. Some shows I will end up obsessing over, others may not rise to the level of of obsessions but will become comfortable and reliable go-tos, and some I will drop before the season ends.  This season the shows I am setting my DVR to record include: Gotham (Fox), Scorpion (CBS), NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), The Flash (CW), The Jennie Garth Project (HGTV), The Mysteries of Laura (NBC), Red Band Society (Fox), Stalker (CBS), Bad Judge (NBC), Gracepoint (Fox) , How to Get Away with Murder (ABC), Madame Secretary (CBS), Forever (ABC), and Constantine (Fox).

Shows I’m Really Excited About or at Least Intrigued By
The two shows I’m most looking forward to are Gotham and The Flash.  I have long been fan of all things Batman and The Flash is a spinoff of Arrow, one of favorite shows since it debuted, so these are no-brainers for me.  Even if the first episodes are not great I am more than willing to give them multiple chances to get good.

I expect NCIS: New Orleans to be much like NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, which is to say a comfortable and reliable cop procedural.  I started watching NCIS: Los Angeles because LL Cool J was on it. Then I started watching NCIS, and expect I’ll like the New Orleans version too, or not.  I used to watch CSI.  Then there was CSI: Miami and CSI: New York and it got to be too much of the same thing.  I can’t but help but wonder if the NCIS franchise is headed for the same downward spiral.  Then again I think some version of CSI is still kicking around so maybe not everyone sees it as a downward spiral.

The Jennie Garth Project I watched on a whim and really enjoyed it.  The premise is simple – Jennie Garth, with the help of a contractor and several others, is remodeling her recently purchased Los Angeles ranch house.  I discovered the Property Brothers this summer and have been watching remodeling shows ever since.  What I especially enjoy about this show is how much Garth gets involved and gets her hands dirty.  She’s no diva, barking orders and outrageous demands.  She has a budget and is more than willing to roll up her sleeves and participate in the hard work.

Although I hate the title, I’m really excited about to How to Get Away with Murder.  Viola Davis is going to be great in this, I just know it.  Gracepoint also looks promising, especially since David Tennant is in it.  It is bit worrying that it is basically a remake of Broadchurch which I loved and saw just a year or so ago, but rumor has it that the story has been changed for the new series and that except for the first episode, it won’t just be a repeat of Broadchurch with American accents.

Shows I’m Cautiously Interested In

A blog I occasionally follow likened The Red Band Society to the eighties move The Breakfast Club, except in a hospital.  There’s a mean pretty girl who’s a cheerleader, a shy smart/arty girl, a pothead, a rebellious boy, the new kid, well you get the idea.  After watching the first episode I’m interested but not yet captivated.  My favorite character is the nurse played by Octavia Spencer.  The kids are a little too on the nose.  I mean the mean pretty girl needs a new heart, literally.  Apparently subtlety and nuance won’t be making an appearance on this show.

Scorpion sounds interesting but also seems to be a new twist on what used to be known as the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold trope.  You know the story where there is someone whose occupation is kind of bad, perhaps even illegal, but when you really get to know the person he or she is really sweet, smart, and otherwise a really good person.  The modern take on this trope seems to people who are emotionally deficient in some way but also brilliant and at times, sweet in their own way.  Scorpion involves a group of really smart people who aren’t good with people.  In the past they have used their intelligence to do questionable and sometimes illegal things like gambling and hacking into government databases.  Now they’re working with the FBI.  In the opening episode, the lead character breaks up with his girlfriend who in the past has accused him being emotionally inept.  He tries to compensate for this by drawing up a list of the emotions she’s likely to feel in the time following their breakup.  Why he does this isn't clear - to let her know what's coming?  It could be interesting to see him and his cohort of high IQ / low EQ friends grow, or it could be annoying.  Time will tell.

Stalker has Maggie Q kicking ass. Sounds like a winner to me but it hasn’t gotten mixed review so I’m cautiously optimistic.  Bad Judge stars Kate Walsh as a judge whose behavior off the bench seems to be a paradigm of bad decision making and inappropriate behavior.  Looks funny but some in some trailers she appears to be semi-adopting a poor kid.  It made me think of Diff’rent Strokes, which I find funny for its time but also patronizing.

Madame Secretary and State of Affairs both look good but I’m not sure if I can deal with two shows about government and politics in D.C., where war and other horrible things are always on the brink.  Of course I watch Scandal which is also a D.C. show with politics and government, but really it’s all about the scheming, the adultery, and well, the scandals of D.C.  It’s fun.  Madame Secretary and State of Affairs look serious and heavy and interesting, but they do not look like fun.  

Constantine is a great comic.  I’m a little skeptical of how it will play out on a major network.  I imagine many changes were made to make it acceptable for display on network television. 

Shows I’m Worried About
The Mysteries of Laura has been called the worst new show by multiple people.  I’ve seen a couple episodes and while it may not be the best show, I didn’t hate it.  It has a lot of actors I like in it, so there’s that.

Forever didn’t last more than an episode for me.  The premise centers on a guy who has been around for a few hundred years and can’t die.  He doesn’t know why he can’t die.  His day job is involves helping the police solve crimes in his capacity as a medical examiner.  I could swear there was another show a couple years ago about a guy who couldn’t die who solved crimes, maybe he was a private investigator.  That show didn’t last long and I can’t imagine this one will either.

So those are the new shows.  Next: returning favorites.

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