Friday, August 29, 2014

2014 Fall TV Season Preview - NEW SHOWS aka "what will clog up my DVR next" Edition

How can it already be time for the Fall TV season? Last year around this time I was excited for a lot of shows, and only ended up sticking with like two, maybe. Let's see what sticks this time around. 
My poor poor DVRs...

Fox, 8 p.m. (Sept. 22)
Holy prequel, Batman! Ben McKenzie (oh, how I love and have missed you Ben! Sorry I didn’t watch Southland!) stars as young, pre commissioner Jim Gordon, navigating a city teeming with DC Comics vigilantes and villains, including Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, a sadistic gangster boss and nightclub owner. Also Donal Logue is in it, so you know, AWESOME.

State of Affairs
NBC, 10 p.m. (Nov. 17)

All you Katherine Heigl haters out there can suck it. I love Katherine Heigl and thinks she gets a bad rap. She plays a maverick (of course!) CIA officer turned daily briefer to the president, played by Alfre Woodard. SOLD!

NCIS: New Orleans
CBS, 9 p.m. (Sept.23)
The few times that I’ve watched NCIS has been with my father, or with Sharon & Vince Villa (surrogate parents) so basically you know that this show , despite having Mark Harmon in it, is NOT for me. What’s going to get me to tune into this new spin-off of the NCIS juggernaut? Two things – the setting of New Orleans which is almost always a good thing,  and Scott Bakula, who makes anything and everything better!

ABC, 10 p.m. (Sept. 23)

I got so excited when I first heard about this show. Then I actually read the description and became instantly disappointed.
See, back in 2008, Fox adapted one of my favorite books by Peter Hamill, into a series starring the tremendously hot Nikolaj Coster-Waldau called New Amsterdam. Of course this was way before “Game of Thrones” so nobody knew who Nikolaj was and Fox being Fox cancelled the show before the season was finished, despite it actually being great and a nice adaptation of the book. So I was jazzed that ABC was going to take a crack at it, using the actual title of Hamill’s book. Surprise! It’s not the same story…just almost exactly? The plot is about  a New York crime-scene examiner, Dr. Henry Morgan, played by Ioan Gruffudd who happens to be immortal as long as he’s submerged in water after “dying”. I don’t know you guys. I love Gruffudd though and have enjoyed most of the stuff from Matt Miller (Chuck, 666 Park Avenue).

ABC, 8 p.m. (Sept. 30)

Plot summary: A vacuous social-media star (Karen Gillan) hires a brand consultant (John Cho) to repair her damaged insta-celebrity after a compromising video goes viral. This sounds pretty awful, but recently I’ve read articles from critics that I respect that are saying that the show is actually funny and clever. So I’m giving it a shot, although if I love it ABC is guaranteed to cancel it.

The Flash
CW, 9 p.m. (Oct. 7)

Grant Gustin stars as that speedy young super-hottie. This is another show that’s gotten great buzz and has been recommended by a bunch of people that I trust. Also, I’m a sucker for CW sci-fi/fantasy shows.

Marry Me
NBC, 9 p.m. (Oct. 14)

A sitcom starring two of my fave comedians whose cancelled shows I’m still mourning. What could be better?! Well?...the show’s description sounds fucking awful and stupid – “A welcome return to TV for two offbeat comedians, Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) and Ken Marino (Party Down), who play a lovesick couple determined to stage the perfect proposal. Expect mayhem, gay dads (Tim Meadows), and aggressive karaoke.” YIKES right? But you guys, it’s Casey Wilson and Ken Marino! These two are very smart along with being very funny; they wouldn’t be involved in something that wasn’t worth watching. Right? I’ll watch until NBC inevitably cancels it.

Red Band Society
Fox, 9 p.m. (Sept. 17)

This show proposes the following - What if you set a drama in the pediatric cancer ward of a hospital and focused the story on a bunch of the kids there and the shenanigans they get into, sort of like The Breakfast Club meets The Fault In Our Stars, thus combining two of my favorite teen things. The story is narrated by a young man in a coma who can hear everything going on around him which is a nice twist. It stars Octavia Spencer who is cool and I’ve missed. The commercials for this show keep showing this one kid in a wheelchair and his bald-cap is SO awful, that it may be the only thing that keeps me from enjoying this show.  

ABC, 9:30 p.m. (Sept. 24)

Anthony Anderson stars in this assimilation farce that asks: How do you teach your kids how to be black when they grow up in a mostly white suburb? It’s gotten really good reviews and I don’t want to do the same thing that I did last year with The Goldbergs where I started watching half-way through the season after hearing how great it was. I’ll watch at least the first couple of eps and decide.

CBS, 10 p.m. (Oct. 1)

One of my fave show-runners Kevin Williamson, doing a crime procedural about law enforcement officers that find/fight stalkers (?) that stars Dylan McDermott and the always cool Maggie Q. I’ll give it a couple of episodes; at least to see if McDermott (or Maggie for that matter) takes his shirt off.

DirecTV, 9 p.m. (Oct. 8)

Description: “Nick Jonas buffs up and hopes to finally shed his Disney Channel origins in this roid-o-rama MMA drama. “ Um…Nick Jonas, who I have VERY inappropriate feelings towards, is going to be shirtless and sweaty a lot. Attention all friends with DirecTV (I’m looking at you Larry Ahrens) I am coming over to watch this. I don’t care how awful it sounds. LA LA LA I can’t hear you shirtless Nick Jonas!!!!


How to Get Away With Murder
ABC, 10 p.m. (Sept. 25)

All aboard for the next Shonda Rhimes Thursday-night-on-ABC show!!! A crime thriller, starring Viola Davis as a law professor. This has gotten rave reviews from the TCAs and up-fronts.

A to Z
NBC, 9:30 p.m. (Oct. 2)

I love Ben Feldman. LOVE him. He played Ginsberg on Mad Men and was an angel on the first couple of seasons of Drop Dead Diva (don’t ask). In this he is an internet-dating executive and Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother’s mother) plays an attorney who he starts dating. I was not impressed with her on HIMYM but most folks liked her, so maybe she’ll be good on this? I don’t care. BEN FELDMAN. Remember, I called dibs on him first!

Fox, 9 p.m. (Oct. 2)

Okay. Here we go. A big rant is coming; deep breath. THIS SHOW ALREADY EXISTED! It was called Broadchurch and it was a British show that aired on BBCAmerica last year!  DAVID TENNANT, yes, that David Tennant, STARRED IN THE ORIGINAL AND IS REPRISING THE EXACT SAME ROLE BUT WITH A HORRIBLE AMERICAN ACCENT!! And I mean HORRIBLE. This new U.S. version appears to be A SCENE FOR SCENE REMAKE WITH NO CHANGES TO THE STORY! NOT EVEN TO DIALOG! WHAT IN THE FUCK?! Millions of Americans already watched and loved the original, and KNOW HOW IT ENDS; why would Fox and the producers think that it’s okay to remake the show exactly like the original? Listen, I get why U.S. production companies like to remake shows from other countries; they have a proven entity that they know they can run with. And in many instances I find American redos to be great – The Bridge, The Killing, Homeland, In Treatment, for crissakes even Devious Maids are all remakes that I’ve loved. But the difference with these shows is that they took the concept of the original, and either put it in a different setting, or changed the story but kept the setting etc. But they definitely made it their own. Another difference is that unlike the shows I just listed, Broadchurch wasn’t some random Estonian production seen by 3 people here; it was on a major cable network and got a ton of publicity and promotion. And was on Netflix streaming! The whole idea of a to-the-letter remake is infuriating.
And yet…David Tennant, bad American accent or no, is awesome and the rest of the Gracepoint cast reads like my dream cast list – Anna Gunn, Josh Charles, Jacki Weaver (!!!) NICK NOLTE(!!!!!!) – The cast has guaranteed that I’m going to watch the whole damn thing, even though I will know what happens at every turn.

The McCarthys
CBS, 9:30 p.m. (Oct. 30)

This comedy based on actor Brian Gallivan’s  own life, is about a gay, athletically challenged son who becomes his basketball-coach dad’s assistant. It sounds truly awful. But it stars Laurie Metcalf and Jack McGee who I love, and my friend Vance, who is a gay entertainment critic, said he wanted to hate it but ended up loving the first two episodes. So I’m going to begrudgingly give it a shot.


NBC, 10 p.m. (Oct. 24)

An adaptation of one of my favorite comics, with Matt Ryan as John Constantine. Should pair nicely with Grimm on Friday nights.

PBS stuff:
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
PBS, 8 p.m. (Sept. 14–20)

Ken Burns’s latest, this time with a focus on Theodore, Franklin, Eleanor, et al.

Death Comes to Pemberley-  Masterpiece Classic
PBS, 9 p.m. (Oct. 26 and Nov. 2)

The BBC mini-series version of P.
D. Jamess murder-mystery sequel to Pride and Prejudice comes to PBS, starring Matthew Rhys as Mr. Darcy. I LOVED this book so much and I am beyond excited about this.

Worricker: Turks & Caicos – Masterpiece Contemporary
Masterpiece on PBS, 9 p.m. (Nov. 9)

Playwright David Hare writes and directs an all-star cast — Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder(!), Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes(!!), and Bill Nighy as the titular MI5 spy. Cannot wait!

Other stuff:
The Affair
Showtime, 9 p.m. (Oct.19)
Dominic West back on my tv screen. I don't care what it's about! Here - watch the trailer!

Fox, 9:30 p.m. (Oct. 5)
John Mulaney  is one of my favorite comedians and writers. They’ve finally given him his own Seinfeld-ian show, playing a stand-up comic with a day job writing material for a “legendary” game-show host played by Martin Short. The problem I have with this seemingly okay sounding premise, is that the commercials for this series are fucking horrible. It’s a studio-audience multi-cam show, but still seems to have a laugh track? Every scene they’ve shown with Martin Short is beyond unfunny. I am so so worried. But John Mulaney  is a great writer, and Julie Klausner is also a contributing writer for the show so it should it be amazing! And yet…those ads…so bad. John Mulaney deserves better than this.

Misc Streaming Stuff:
  • The Killing's last hurrah on Netflix
  • Amazon Prime's new Whit Stillman comedy. This description below should be enough to make you want to drop everything to watch it!

The Cosmopolitans: It's a Whit Stillman show set in Paris, starring Adam Brody and ChloĆ« Sevigny (among others) as American expats who drink wine and go to parties and lament things. It's very much how you'd think, which is to say: Mannered and tiny in scope; nostalgic, almost, even though it's set in the present day; and also sharply funny and a little dreamy.

Here are some links that you might find helpful to narrow down your own Fall TV choices -

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer TV round-up

It's been a good summer for me. Not only did I take most of the month of July off to relax on various beaches and beside numerous pools, I also got to watch several new television shows that I really enjoyed, along with a couple of others who had good sophomore seasons. And of course my summertime beloved - So You Think You Can Dance.

My top 3 summer shows were all newbies, and two of them are clearly geared towards a teen demographic, but you know what? I don't care. And I know I wasn't the only audience member in their childless 40s watching them!

  • Chasing Life - an ABCFamily drama about a young woman in her 20s dealing with her father's death and her recent diagnosis of leukemia. The main reason I fell in love with this show is that Scott Michael Foster is one of the leads and I love him lots. Especially now that he's not on "Greek" so has ditched the long hair and pukka shell necklaces. HOT. The main character is played by Italia Ricci, who is a lovely actress that I'm surprised I haven't seen in anything else. This show also let Steven Weber return to television and that is a blessing.
  • Finding Carter - Oh MTV, first you gave me my new favorite mid-season show Faking It (coming back in late September woo!!), and now you give me the gift of Alex Saxon (and his glorious hair) as Max, the best dude you'd ever want as your friend, boyfriend, brother, or son. The main plot involves a girl (the titular Carter) finding out at 16 that she was actually kidnapped away from her real family 13 years previously and raised a few hours north by a crazy lady who Carter has believed is her cool single mom Lori. Carter then has to adapt to having not only a twin sister and a little brother, but also parents, Elizabeth a police detective and David a writer who became famous when he wrote a true-crime book about the kidnapping, whom Carter is wary of and angry at for taking her away from her "real mom". I'm not going to lie, most of time you want to punch Carter in the face for being so bratty and obnoxious, but I don't really watch the show for her, I watch it for MAX. 
Dear Alex Saxon, I love you and your beautiful hair. Marry me, please! I first fell in love with Saxon on another teen drama that I love, the excellent ABCFamily show The Fosters. On that show he plays Wyatt, recently dumped boyfriend of the lead character Callie. I was at first very upset over the prospect of Wyatt being written off the show, because I love Saxon's portrayal of him so much. But then Alex Saxon showed up in the very first minutes of Finding Carter, playing the role of Max, who is not very different from Wyatt (a little older, a little dumber, a little more stoned), but better in all ways because of how sweet his dynamic with the Wilson family is on "Finding Carter". Also his hair! HIS BEAUTIFUL HAIR!

  • The Leftovers - Oh man, this show. I loved the heck out of Tom Perrotta's book that this HBO downer drama is based from. Although the television show is in ways very different from the book, I felt the stories were in good hands because Perrota has written or has supervised the writing of all of the episodes of this first season. One of the major differences between the book and TV show is the tone. Yes, the book was sad; there was a lightness or a feeling of hope infused in the writing however. The show, especially the first 4 episodes, is unrelentingly dire. And this makes it sometimes very hard to watch. What keeps me liking it and watching it are the performances from the actors. Holy crap, give Amy Brenneman her Emmy now! She conveys so damn much without uttering a word. Also cool to see good ol' Justin Theroux getting some recognition. DC boy made good.