Sunday, September 08, 2019

Fall TV Preview 2019: Post Apocalypse Edition

This may well and truly be the final edition of my Fall TV previews.


Because TV barely exists anymore and the concept of "Fall TV" stopped being a real concept about four years ago. I only hold onto the conceit because I am imaginatively bankrupt.

Still, I feel the need to lead you through the radioactive wastelands of what used to be called the TV Zone--now a blasted wasteland of unpredictable premieres, new networks and programming outlets, whole seasons of content appearing overnight, and all the rest.

Follow me into the unthinkable . . . if you dare!

So, what will I do with mainstream television? Will I cut my ties to cable television before this calendar year is done? And if I do that, am I guaranteed to fill that entertainment void with Disney+ and the like? Will I shift my television connections purely to . . . let's say . . . DirecTV streaming? Streaming HBO Go? Will I stay on Hulu and Amazon Prime? Include Disney+? And even add CBS All Access? (But probably NOT Apple TV? Good lord--am I forgetting something?

It's a very complicated world forming out there and I haven't yet decided which way to jump? And a lot of it is going to depend on what are the comparison bills between pure streaming and mainstream cable + some streaming?

But enough nuts and bolts business talk--I've been watching too much Succession, I guess.

Let's get down to the business of which entertainments will demand my time this season?

A few behind-the-scenes notes. I am taking back the full reins of writing these posts this year. My friend Dean is far more focused on things that matter to him and fair enough. But if he changes his mind, he should know that my blog is always open to his thoughts on any television matter he wants to discuss. I've enjoyed collaborating with him over the years and I miss our lunchtime conversations on whatever is happening.

Otherwise--how to handle it this year? I am thinking that I am going to simplify things down even more this year and only have a single post that focuses on a few broad categories of shows. In this mixed up media world, how can I figure out what is the right thing to do? I can only tell you the story that I feel like telling. So . . . enough preamble.

Let's go!

Category I: the only show that truly matters

Holey Moley

You may quibble with my selection of this show on this list, since it was a summer show and is not being broadcast in the Fall. But I don't care. It was my best viewing experience of the last few months.
I loved the imagination. I loved the ridiculous contestants. I really loved the humorous commentary from the announcers. I loved the concept of extreme mini golf. I loved the notion that I might consider auditioning to be a contestant for next summer. And I love the idea that even if I somehow managed to get on the show, I would be a huge embarrassment to myself, my wife, my children. So. Much. Fun!

Category II: Shows to look forward to

The Good Place (NBC, September 26)
Last year, this was the only mainstream show that I could muster up any anticipation for. And this is the last season of The Good Place. So I hope that I enjoy it immensely. This show has proven its ability to reinvent itself many, many times in its short life. But I have found good things to like about it every time. I like the heart of the characters and the goodness within the show's message. This being season 4, I don't guess I can convince any of you to try it at this point. But since everything can be found on-demand and streamed whenever you feel like it, I'll try one more time before The Good Place ceases to be a "going concern." Watch it.

Watchmen (HBO, October 20)
Did you ever read the graphic novel? Did you watch the movie? What was your opinion on the movie? Did you like LOST? Damon Lindelof? Are you experiencing comic book fatigue? Do you have an HBO subscription? These are all relevant questions that will determine your interest level in Watchmen. I am favorable on all of the questions above, which I wrote, and which came out of my brain seconds ago. So . . . I'm going to be giving this show a try. I do hope that I like it.

Mr. Robot (and while we're at it . . . Briarpatch) (FX, October 6)
I kind of lost track of Mr. Robot. I thought that it was done. And I couldn't really tell you what happened in the last season--which I am sure that I definitely, for sure watched. The show was so interesting in season 1 and it was less so after that. But Rami Malek is still a fun actor to be involved with and the premise of the show is still (I think?) worth pursuing. So I'm going to at least try to look forward to it and give a few episodes a try. If I find myself scanning my phone more than I'm paying attention to the visuals? Well, then maybe I'll drop it before it finishes.

And I've got to make sure that my DVR series settings still have it ready to record.

And because of its production company connection to Mr. Robot creator and showrunner Sam Esmail, I want to put in a bit of a plug for Briarpatch. It is a new show that I believe will be on USA Network. It is based on a book and the head creator/showrunner is Andy Greenwald. I've loved Andy's TV reviews on Grantland and his podcasting acumen on The Watch. So I think this show will be full of character depth and intriguing to experience. Go look for its premiere and commit to watching it!

The Mandalorian (Disney+, November 12)

In case it is not obvious from the trailer above, the Mandalorian features the same race (?), citizens (?), sect (?) of people from the Star Wars planet Mandalor--where mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett came from. I don't know, based on this alone, if this show is worth watching. But I liked Rogue One and I've been much more pleased with the recent SW movies since George Lucas left it all behind. So this might be one of the main reasons why I'd add this payment to my entertainment plan in the coming months.

Picard (CBS All Access, ____ 2020)
Speaking of space shows . . . I resisted joining up with CBS All Access last year--even when the critical buzz continued to say that the new flagship show, Star Trek: Discovery was excellent. Then CBS went ahead and delivered a new second Star Trek series focused on Jean Luc Picard. It really seems like they are doing good things. Will that persuade me to "Make it so?"

Looking for Alaska (Hulu, October 18)

Happy--belated--birthday to me! John Green's first publication is finally being filmed. Not as the long-rumored, often shopped movie, but as a Hulu series. And I'm very excited to watch it. The press on this one has been quiet--both from the network and from John himself. But I watched the original trailer and I thought it looked good. This story of high school love and mystery works very well with the Hulu brand and I think it can make a fun serialized show. If it does well, might we see a Will Grayson Will Grayson series next?

Stumptown (ABC, September 25)
What do I know? It's got Cobie Smolders. (Yes.) Jake Johnson. (Double yes.) And she is a private eye. (Fine.) Cobie's character seems like a less comic booked Agent Hill and I'm ready to give her a watch or two. It may end up being pretty predictable. But hey, I watched Whiskey Cavalier last year and enjoyed that diversion as well.

The Flash (The CW, October 8)
I'm still hanging in there with this superhero show, even though I dropped Arrow a while back as well as Supergirl. And I only ever gave Legends of Tomorrow part of a season. I don't know if I'll be willing to sample Batwoman (The CW, October 6) because I strongly lost interest in Gotham last season--even though I came back for the finale. I'm worried that Batwoman will be very focused on gender politics and be less about vigilante justice.

Silicon Valley (HBO), October 27)
The funniest show of computer nerds come back to finish out its story close to Halloween. But full disclosure, will I like it as much without T.J. Miller? I know he is supposed to be off the show now and I am sorry for that. I liked the tone of his character. But I'm sure the residuals from The Emoji Movie are keeping him in houses--even if he isn't yet a member of the Tres Commas club.

Marvels Runaways (Hulu, December 13)
This was one of the first shows Lynda and I watched when we started using Hulu. It's an okay superhero show. I'm willing to check in on it and see where things are now. It's based on a comic book story of teens who have super-ish powers and the twist is when they find out that their parents are the supervillains. So they escape from home to find out how to deal with this and how to deal with each other.

Category III: Be still my heart!

The New Pope (HBO, _____?)

It is entirely possible I might end up going to hell for loving this bananas show. But maybe if I balance it out by going to confession?
I'll risk it.

Kidding (Showtime, November 3)
See my pick for Number 1.

Mad About You (Spectrum, November 20)
Who do I have to kill to get Spectrum? Am I going to be able to watch this show? Do I WANT to watch this show? I'm intrigued, terrified, excited all at once. Lynda and I loved to watch this show so much back in our early marriage days. It only seems right that we all come back together again in our middling years of matrimony to check in on each other.

(Plus, I've got to find out if they have solved that vexing cell phone problem.)

Category IV: Why?!?!!

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+, November 12)
Disney + may giveth, but Disney+ also taketh away. And no, those are NOT typos in the title. According to some child based research I've conducted in my own home, this show is not a bizarre reinvention of the beloved Zeffron vehicle. Rather it appears to be a documentary (Office-style mockumentary?) of kids preparing and auditioning for a musical based on the TV show. I don't think Disney content needs to be so meta. But when you've got an entire network to fill with programming, you mine your IP for whatever it is worth, I suppose.


So, what did I miss? Which shows premiering and returning in the fall are you excited for? How many streaming services are you willing to subscribe to? How badly do you miss Dean's takes on television?

Category V: Random bonus moment for long-time readers

Years ago I used to write a lot about how Scrubs was under-appreciated. Someone finally appreciates the TV show Scrubs!

No comments: