Monday, September 12, 2016

Fall TV Preview 2016: My Shows that are a GO!

Every year since I started this blog, I've devoted some end of summer posts to the upcoming Fall TV shows that are being offered on the networks--and to a lesser extend on cable (and more recently on streaming services). Dean has once again offered up his thoughts on a variety of shows--and I thank him for his contribution again this year. He even decided to mix it up in the network choices a bit this year.

In search of yet another thematic hook, I've decided to present my own offerings in a slightly different way this year. Instead of focusing my posts on networks, or nights of the week, or some other organizational principle, I'm grouping shows into three main categories: GO! CAUTION! or STOP! I doubt I need to explain which types of shows go in which category.

Today I'm going to talk about the shows that I think are GO's! Set aside some time and watch these shows and see if you might enjoy them.

This is Us (NBC; Tuesdays, September 20 @ 10 pm new)
My cynical nature is telling me to hesitate putting this in the Go! category. But the creators of this show are connected to Crazy Stupid Love, which is a movie that I rather enjoy. So maybe this will be okay? No, I need to be more confident in this recommendation. It's going to be good! It's got Sterling K. Brown, who was really good on "The People vs. O.J. Simpson". This is the sort of show that critics really want to like!

(A few days later. . .)

[Can I be honest for a bit, while we are getting into this? Maybe it was the worst idea to start with the tire fire that is the NBC network, but I'm not finding lots of shows that I can confidently put in the GO! category. This predicament is putting me in an uncomfortable situation where I am second-guessing myself and wondering if I should start taking some flyers on other shows that might be a GO, but probably will not be . . .]

For instance--

Powerless (NBC, Coming soon . . .)
This is the DC Universe's first effort into TV shows (unless you ignore the existence of Supergirl, right? Oh . . . wait, this show is a comedy, so that is what sets it apart from Supergirl. Okay.). At least, that is what the show is proclaiming in the first sentence of its description. Things in the show's favor? It's based on an established I.P. so maybe it has some good stories to work from. And two of the actors on the show are Danny Pudi and Alan Tudyk. But, the main character is played by Vanessa Hudgens. And most damning of all, this is a superhero show told from the lame normal perspective of non-superheroes. And that simply can't be any fun at all in the long run. But . . . I'll try to be positive, I guess.

Running Wild with Bear Grylls (NBC, Mondays @ 10 pm, new)
Sorry that I didn't let you know that this show was already underway. But you should start watching now. And this is not a half-hearted recommendation to fit something into the GO! category. This is Bear Grylls hosting an outdoor adventure show WITH CELEBRITIES! You want to see Shaquille O'Neal try to hike? You want to see Olympic skier Lyndsay Vonn mountain climb? This is Celebrity Apprentice mixed with a lot of Fear Factor. This is a Stephen King novella concept turned into a TV show. This is America.

Speechless (ABC, Wednesdays @ 8:30, new)
This show centers on a family dealing with a child who has cerebral palsy. The drama focuses on Minnie Driver's efforts to find the best family situation for her, her other children, and their life. This show could be a good one, because ABC usually does well with dramas. The network doesn't sensationalize them so much--which could easily be done with this subject matter. And I like that the life of the handicapped is a central part of this show. We need more perspective on this subject in today's media.

Atlanta (FX, Tuesdays @ 10, new)
Dean already mentioned this on his post giving his opinions about the Fall. But I wanted to say that I've watched the first two episodes of Donald Glover's show--which he called "Twin Peaks with rappers." And while the description is misleading for the totality of what this show is, those words do provide some explanation for the feeling of parts of each episode. I've really enjoyed Atlanta so far, and my one tip to you is to turn on closed captioning to capture all of the dialog and slang that I could not catch on speakers alone.

Better Things (FX, Thursdays @ 10, new)
This is another show that Dean recommended. I decided to try it, since I enjoyed Louie in the early seasons. Pam Adlon does a good job portraying a harried mom of three girls, and the kids are good enough in their scenes. If you liked/like Louie, you'll most likely enjoy this show--which is definitely a branch of Louis C.K.'s TV tree.

Marvel's Luke Cage (Netflix, streaming September 28)
I don't know how many more of these shows Netflix can keep making. And these types of superhoro shows are of varying degrees of quality. But Jessica Jones was really, really good. And I still like bits of Daredevil (thought I wish season 2 had featured more Kingpin.)
I hope Luke Cage will be as good as Daredevil season 2. If it reaches the level of Jessica Jones, then I'll be very happy.

Westworld (HBO, premieres Oct. 2)
This looks very good! I really hope it is as good as the loooong commercials make it appear. But I am ready to enjoy it. It can't be compared to The Night Of . . . because the genres are very, very different. But the level of the cast and the amount of detail put into it should make for glitzy entertainment.


New Girl (Fox, Tuesdays @ 8:30)
This show will continue to be fun to watch--as long as the creators don't waste the beautiful character of Winston Bishop. We can all use more Winnie the Bish!

blackish (ABC, Wednesdays @ 9:30)
I've really enjoyed blackish and I appreciate the chances it took in telling fun stories with a purpose. It has always been fun to watch and consistently makes me laugh and chuckle. (Yes, I regret mis-characterizing the show in my initial review of it when it was a new show. I was very wrong.)

Elementary (CBS, Thursdays @ 10)
I still enjoy this show--which is nothing more than a police procedural dressed up with some "literary" pedigree. Good cast and solid writing make it fun to watch week in and week out.

You're the Worst (FXX, Wednesdays @ 10)
This is definitely NOT the show for everyone. The characters are gross reprobates, but the ideas and the writing are very, very funny. If you want shows that make you laugh and then make you cringe--this is a good show for you. But you've got to know your audience. I always check with Lynda to see if she's okay to watch it with me. Not at all a show for the easily offended.

So . . . these are the shows that I am comfortable recommending to you. Not a very long list. I'm afraid that more will be featured in the CAUTION and STOP columns that will post on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But I didn't even really TRY to cover all of TV. Dean hit some shows on other networks and streaming services, so be sure to watch what he had to say. And you should probably also check out what professional critics think about the new shows coming up for the Fall. After all, they get paid to be thorough about this stuff. I just do it for fun.

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