Monday, September 12, 2011

The Fall TV Season Cometh

I haven't been paying as much attention as I should to the new television season that's set to kick off in a couple of days now. There are lots of new shows that are going to be premiering on network television this fall, so I figured it was a good time to take stock of some of the more interesting contenders. Who knows which are going to last a month and which will outlast "Entourage"?

"Prime Suspect" - Based on the long-running British crime serials starring Helen Mirren, the new version will follow an American policewoman played by Maria Bello. With so many other crime dramas out there right now, "Prime Suspect" needs to distinguish itself from the pack. However, with NBC's "Law & Order" empire in its decline, and the "CSI" format wearing out its welcome, this is as good a time as any to try.

"The X Factor" - The dominance of "American Idol" will be challenged by another British talent show import, "The X Factor," created by Simon Cowell. He'll also be appearing as a judge in the first season, along with fellow "Idol" alum Paula Abdul. The shows won't be in direct competition, though, since both will be on FOX, which will be running "Factor" in the fall and "Idol" in the spring. I wonder if that much reality will prove to be too much for the American public. Or if the two shows will just join forces to crush "The Voice."

"Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm" - The fairy tale bug has bitten this season hard. We have two shows that will use fairy tale elements and characters in modern settings to try and become a new genre hit. "Grimm," which uses the cop drama model, is starting out in a Friday night slot, so it already has its work cut out for it. I'm more interested in the mystery series "Once Upon a Time," which has a few "Lost" creators involved and Jennifer Morrison starring. And it'll be fun to watch the "Fables" fanboys flip out over any inevitable similarities.

"2 Broke Girls" and "Whitney" - I admit I'm not one to get too excited about sitcoms, but it looks like Whitney Cummings may be on the brink of becoming a TV superstar. She has somehow managed to come out of this year's pilot scrum with creator credits on two different comedies on two different networks. Moreover, "2 Broke Girls" will be on CBS's Monday Night comedy block, while "Whitney," where Cummings will be playing the title character, writing, and producing, will be on Thursdays on NBC after "The Office." You couldn't ask for better starting positions.

"Person of Interest" - What would a new fall season be without JJ Abrams? Add another high concept Bad Robot crime drama to the pile, one using science-fiction crime-predicting technology to stop major crimes before they happen, "Minority Report" style. "Persons" will star Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, and Taraji P. Henson, so I was already interested. Add some great buzz on top of that, and this is shaping up to be my most anticipated new series of the fall season.

"Pan Am" and "The Playboy Club" - Two 10PM dramas chasing the retro cool of "Mad Men." Both are trying to pull a "Sucker Punch" with their marketing, trumpeting women's empowerment storylines while plastering sexy visuals of its stars all over the ads. 60s stewardesses and Playboy bunnies? Oh yeah, that just screams women's lib doesn't it? I'll give the edge to "Pan Am" for now, since it features more reliable talent and Christina Ricci as the lead. However, controversy is sure to give "Playboy" a boost. One NBC affiliate has already refused to air it.

"Last Man Standing" and "Suburgatory" - There are lots of female-led new series this year, but ABC is pushing several sitcoms starring men, including "Last Man Standing," with Tim Allen as a last bastion of masculinity under siege, and "Suburgatory" where Jeremy Sisto will do battle with the horrors of suburbia and a few former SNL cast members. I'd say "Suburgatory" has a better shot, enjoying a nice Wednesday berth between "The Middle" and "Modern Family," while ABC hasn't had much luck lately with the Tuesday 8PM slot, where "Last Man" is standing.

"Terra Nova" - FOX's time-tripping adventure series has been in the works for ages and suffered multiple delays, because they keep tweaking those special effects that are supposed to blow all our minds. Having been bombarded by the extended trailers for this thing for months, I'm more worried about the cast of characters, who will have to sustain the series when the fancy CGI dinosaurs aren't onscreen.

There are also some more interesting titles coming up for the midseason, but that's a post for another time.

Happy watching!

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