Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: Fox

It seems that this year many of the networks are not going all out for the Fall season. I guess you can understand how a mini-network like The CW is barely offering anything new. But even the big boys who have been producing and broadcasting new shows for decades are seeming to skimp a bit for the end of 2014. And maybe that is a reflection of the shift toward an emphasis on new shows in Winter and even in Summer. The new show budget is being spread more and more across the year, rather than being concentrated in a big launch of new shows at the Fall only. And maybe this is a reflection of the simple fact that broadcast TV sucks and Cable is totally eating Mainstream's lunch.

But . . . even with all that said, Fox is out there putting out some fun shows. And it started LAST year with Sleepy Hollow. It was a bananas concept and it did well. I mean, just look at this promotional image for the start of season 2.

You've got Ichabod trying to grab hold of his fellow "Witness"Abbie as she is getting sucked into the netherworld. (Just trust me that this is what is being represented here.) Add the weird vines pulling at them and the echoes of the Sistine Chapel and you get the beginnings of what makes this show so insane.

And so, even though Sleepy Hollow (premieres 9/22) is not a NEW show, I had to start my Fox coverage with it. Any show that makes the Headless Horseman seem anticlimactic is fully committed to its own level of weirdness.

As for new shows? The most high profile is definitely Gotham (premieres 9/22). It is set in Batman's city and is set during his childhood. We don't really get to see how Bruce Wayne trains to take on the cowl, but rather we get lots of focus on the backstory behind the greatest armada of villains in the business: Catwoman, the Riddler, the Penguin, and others. Plus policeman Jim Gordan. The critical buzz for this show has been pretty high so I'm definitely planning to tune in tomorrow night and see how this show does. (Heck, I watched every single minute of Smallville back in the day, so there is no doubt that I'll be tuning into this show for a while.)

 Gracepoint (premieres Oct. 2): If you are a fan of BBC America, you may have already watched this show. But it was called Broadchurch then. And it still starred David Tennant. But watching this show is probably a better use of your time than trying to reconnect with The Following, so I'm recommending it.

Mulaney (premieres Oct. 5): This is a show about an up-and-coming star trying to make it work on his developing talk show. There promises to be behind-the-scenes jokes, a cast of quirky characters, and . . . gulp . . . Martin Short. I'm no fan of Martin Short, so that won't be helping me watch. And this seems like Larry Sanders did this show so much better over a decade ago.

Red Band Society (premiered Sept. 24--last week): This drama (and probably sometimes comedy) takes place in a cancer ward of a hospital. The cast is full of patients struggling with disease and terminal diagnoses. It is also featuring doctors who struggle to maintain their optimism and bring the kids to accept their lot in life. As with many hospital shows, lessons will be learned and Very Special Episodes will be experienced. (NOTE: This all sounds very cynical and the show is probably pretty good. So, if this show is your thing, you'll probably like it.)

As for shows that have to be "that sort of thing" then there is Utopia (already airing). This is very much a reality show and so it is definitely NOT my sort of show. But it is pretty aggressive in its concept--putting people together in a compound and filming them as they try to organize and run a "society".  And it adds a social component by swapping out cast members once a month (if the show lasts that long) and bringing in new people that apply from the viewership. But someone over on Grantland has already said quite enough about this show, so I'll just link you over there. (Hint: They are NOT fans.)

Shows I'm not certain about?

Backstrom (coming soon?) and starring Rainn Wilson. It is a police procedural with a comic element and set in the Pacific Northwest. I think the comedy comes from Wilson's oddities and so it makes me think a bit of Monk or maybe a bit of Columbo? Maybe we'll see?

The Last Man on Earth (coming soon?): This is from the writing of and stars SNL alumni Will Forte. So it has the potential to be funny. But the gag of him being the last person alive can't last long, right? And if it tries to last any amount of time, then the hard cold reality of trying to keep the modern world running with (literally) NO ONE to help you is so unrealistic that it seems a HUGE stumbling block to overcome. And how funny can the show be if there aren't any other people? I'm tentative on this one.

Wayward Pines (coming soon?): I was interested in this show and its Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet vibe. And then I read in the description that it is connected to M. Night Shyamalan. Oof. This show may NOT be coming soon to my television.

So . . . that is a quick look at Fox's slate of new shows. And while not all of them are getting ready to launch this Fall, at least this network is thinking and trying to do something new. (Except for Utopia, I guess.) I'll be giving Gotham a try for sure and hoping that Sleepy Hollow maintains its insane edge for its second season. And I might give Gracepoint a try as well.

What Fox shows are you interested in? Anything that you are looking forward to? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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