Metro Weekly

Television: Fall Arts Preview 2015

Scream Queens: Nick Jonas

Scream Queens: Nick Jonas

It’s something of a tame year for television. As networks increasingly hedge their bets by ordering “event” television (read: shorter series that can be quietly cancelled without impacting an entire schedule) or by spinning off tried-and-tested properties, this fall season is a bit of a bore. Sure, there’s a musical comedy, a live variety show, a psychedelic ’80s animation and The Muppets, but for the most part it’s business as usual. On the plus side, there isn’t anything as heinously offensive as The Millers or The McCarthys, but nor is there anything explicitly LGBT, either — Dan Savage’s gay-focused sitcom has been pushed from the fall schedule entirely.

SEPTEMBER

The Bastard Executioner (FX) — What was Kurt Sutter to do now that his acclaimed Sons of Anarchy has wrapped its final season and ridden off into the sunset? Come out swinging with this intensely violent drama set in 14th century Wales, centered on Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones), a man who retired his sword after the trials of war only to be forced to resume killing — this time as an executioner. The period is ripe with murder, war and intrigue, so the series could have legs — though one wonders whether audiences will love Brattle as much as they did Jax and company in Sons. Premiered Tuesday, Sep. 15 at 10/9c.

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (NBC) — Who better to attempt to bring back the live variety hour than Neil Patrick Harris? Ignoring a shaky attempt at hosting the Oscars this year, Harris has proven with both the Emmys and Tonys that he’s a skilled presenter. Plus his affable charm will help immensely in selling the hidden camera stunts, game show segments, musical numbers and sketches that will be a part of this series (which is borrowed directly from an immensely popular British show). Did we mention that it’s live? That alone is worth tuning in for. Premiered Tuesday, Sep. 15 at 10/9c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVqScwWAfdc

Moonbeam City (Comedy Central) — To say that Moonbeam City owes its existence to Archer would be an understatement. It’s essentially Archer meets Miami Vice, with all of the ’80s pop culture references that entails. There’s a great cast on-board, too, with Rob Lowe as trigger-happy detective Dazzle, Elizabeth Banks as his chief, Kate Mara as a colleague and Will Forte as his main rival. Comparisons to Archer will dog Moonbeam City, but if Scott Gairdner can get his scripts up to the same quality as Adam Reed’s, Comedy Central could have a hit on its hands. Premiered Wednesday, Sep. 16 at 10:30/9:30c.

Life in Pieces (CBS) — CBS doesn’t have a particularly great track record with single-camera comedies, instead preferring to manufacture the laughs for mega-hits like Big Bang Theory. Still, Life in Pieces shows promise — and an interesting premise. Attempting to out-Modern Family ABC’s juggernaut, each week it will focus on four separate points of view of the same family, including Joan and John Short (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin), the eldest members, and Greg Short (Colin Hanks), their son, and his wife Jen (Zoe Lister-Jones). If it makes the most of its Big Bang lead-in, it could be pretty stellar. Premieres Monday, Sep. 21 at 8:30/7:30c.

Minority Report (FOX) — Tom Cruise’s thriller transforms into a weekly procedural set eleven years after the events of the film. Stark Sands is Dash, a Precog with the ability to predict crimes. Since the original unit was abandoned, he now assists a detective (Meagan Good) while trying to track down his siblings and keep his gift a secret. Fox dropped Almost Human like a hot potato last season — another big-budget, futuristic police procedural — so the writing’s on the wall unless Minority Report can rope in millions of viewers. Premieres Monday, Sep. 21 at 9/8c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK2wqjVs_vo

Blindspot — Times Square is evacuated due to a mysterious duffle bag with the tag “Call the FBI.” From said bag emerges a woman, completely naked, covered in tattoos and with no memory. Kudos to NBC, because Blindspot has one of the more attention-grabbing premises this season, but the fact that Jane Doe’s (Jaimie Alexander) tattoos hold clues to upcoming crimes and terrorist events is just ludicrous. Did we mention she also has a suitably mysterious past that’ll be slowly and painfully eked out? Actually, it probably won’t, as we give it a few weeks before viewers tire of all the insanity. Premieres Monday, Sep. 21 at 10/9c.

The Muppets — THE MUPPETS ARE BACK ON PRIME TIME! Ahem. Everyone’s favorite group of multicolored misfits are back where they first started, on TV. Almost forty years after The Muppet Show hit our screens, Kermit and the gang return with a thoroughly modern series. Shot in mockumentary style, it follows the fictional behind-the-scenes goings on at Up Late With Miss Piggy, a late-night talk show. Kermit is the executive producer, Gonzo is head writer, Fozzie Bear is Piggy’s on-air sidekick and Rowlf owns a bar across the street that the cast migrate to post-show. Expect a more adult sense of humor, cutaway gags, and exploration of the characters’ personal relationships outwith the show — chief amongst which being the news that Piggy and Kermit have officially broken up. Love is dead, everyone. Premieres Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 8/7c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp22u8JHisI

Scream Queens — Ryan Murphy already has a horror anthology series in the form of American Horror Story, but that hasn’t stopped the Glee creator from bringing Scream Queens to FOX. Set at a sorority that’s forced to drop its discriminatory entrance policies and open its doors to everyone, a cast including Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lea Michele soon find a killer in their midst. There are numerous guest stars and apparently someone will die every episode, with any remaining cast members moving to the second series and a new story — though unlike American Horror Story they’ll retain their characters. Premieres Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 8/7c.

Limitless (CBS) — Another film-to-TV transition, this time based on Bradley Cooper’s 2011 film. Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) discovers a drug that allows him to unlock 100 percent of his brain capacity, which he uses to… help the FBI. Yup, it’s a procedural. Still, Cooper will guest star occasionally, so that’s something. Premieres Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 10/9c.

Rosewood (FOX) — Essentially Bones in reverse. Morris Chestnut is Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr., a gifted private pathologist who teams up with Detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz) to solve murders. Expect copious amounts of sexual tension with the pair inevitably getting together should this last longer than a season. Premieres Wednesday, Sep. 23 at 8/7c.

Heroes Reborn (NBC) — Heroes was a show that burned brightly for its first season and then died a slow, painful death over three subsequent seasons. Naturally, an almost comically desperate NBC is trying again with this miniseries that will attempt to recapture the incredible ratings success of that first season with a tale of ordinary people discovering they have superpowers. Good luck with that, NBC. Premieres Thursday, Sep. 24 at 8/7c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEMHQjq4ul4

The Player (NBC) — Thursday nights used to mean ER and Friends. Now, they’re playing host to this batshit crazy series from the man behind NBC’s one successful show, The Blacklist. Alex Kane (Philip Winchester) is a private security consultant invited by Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes — no, really) to join him and “the dealer” (Charity Wakefield) and become “The Player.” Kane will attempt to take out high value criminals while wealthy gamblers bet on his chance of success. What? Premieres Thursday, Sep. 24 at 10/9c

Blood & Oil (ABC) — Dallas for our modern age, Blood and Oil follows a young couple (Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse) who move to North Dakota to make it rich in the oil boom. Don Johnson stars as oil tycoon Hap Briggs, whose family is plagued with secrets, and viewers can expect copious amounts of soapy drama to unfold. Everything about this screams cheesy and overdramatic, but in that oh-so-watchable sort of way. Premieres Sunday, Sep. 27 at 9/8c.

Quantico (ABC) — Now this looks interesting. Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra is Alex Parrish, a new recruit at the FBI Training Academy. She and her fellow recruits will have their stories told through flashbacks as they complete their training, but the show will also flash forward to the aftermath of a massive terror attack in New York City, which one of the new recruits helped mastermind. Naturally, expect many twists and turns as Parrish tries to determine which of her fellow recruits is the culprit. Premieres Sunday, Sep. 27 at 10/9c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRnFFinkCFA

Grandfathered (FOX) — John Stamos is so fresh-faced and attractive, there’s no way he could be a grandfather! One presumes that was the phrase that sparked the idea for this sitcom, which hands Jimmy Martino (Stamos), a divorced bachelor, the double whammy of both a son and a granddaughter. Diaper-changing hilarity quickly ensues. Premieres Tuesday, Sep. 29 at 8/7c.

The Grinder (FOX) — Immediately following Grandfathered is a show with a much more delectable premise. Yes, it’s a sitcom that’s also something of a procedural, but I’m completely on-board. Dean Sanderson, Jr., (Rob Lowe) is an actor famous for portraying a lawyer on hit TV series The Grinder (how meta). When it’s unexpectedly cancelled, he moves back home and decides to take a job at his family’s law firm — despite having no actual legal experience — much to the chagrin of his brother Stewart (Fred Savage). Lowe essentially plays a more self-centered version of his character from Parks and Recreation. Premieres Tuesday, Sep. 29 at 8:30/7:30.

Code Black (CBS) — Because TV doesn’t have enough medical dramas, enter Marcia Gay Harden and Code Black. Set in a L.A. emergency room, code black is often used at hospitals to signify a bomb threat. Appropriate, as I can’t see this doing anything other than bombing. Premieres Wednesday, Sep. 30 at 10/9c.

OCTOBER

Dr. Ken (ABC) — Ken Jeong was once a doctor. Yes, Chang from Community was a doctor. Think of that incredible fact — and how good Community was — while you watch him squander his comedic talents on this lifeless multi-camera sitcom. Premieres Friday, Oct. 2 at 8:30/7:30c.

Truth Be Told (NBC) — Truth be told, this multi-camera sitcom about two couples who are neighbors and friends looks dreadful. Premieres Friday, Oct. 16 at 8:30/7:30c.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW) — Originally intended for Showtime, this musical comedy-drama instead found its way to The CW — and that’s not a bad thing, given the network’s recent success with Jane the Virgin and iZombie. Oh, and yes, you read that correctly: musical. There are full musical numbers interspersed into this full-hour show. Rachel Bloom stars as Rebecca Bunch, the titular crazy woman who moves to the west coast in pursuit of Josh, an old flame who she believes she can find true love with. It’s silly, outlandish fun — apparently, it even converted an entire room of cynics at the Television Critics Association upfronts. Premieres Monday, Oct. 19 at 8/7c.

Supergirl (CBS) — This fall’s most talked about show. Supergirl was leaked (although in suspiciously high quality) months before its air date, giving viewers a glimpse of what to expect from Melissa Benoist as the titular superhero. With a much lighter tone than other DC series Arrow and The Flash (both on The CW), it follows Supergirl (Kara Danvers by day) as she balances working for the founder of a media conglomerate (Calista Flockhart) and fighting crime and becoming accustomed to her powers outside of office hours. Expectations are high and so is the budget, so it really needs to perform well to succeed, though Benoist at least looks to be suitably charming in the role. Premieres Monday, Oct. 26 at 8:30/7:30c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxW_BOjaa5I

Wicked City (ABC) — I’m not entirely sure who decided that Wicked City should be set in the ’80s, because its creators seem to be doing their best to recognize that fact through excessive hairspray and not much else. Regardless, it’s an ensemble drama that splits its narrative between two romantically-linked serial killers (Ed Westwick and Erika Christensen) and the police officers desperate to catch them. Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 10/9c.

NOVEMBER

Angel from Hell (CBS) — Jane Lynch returns to acting in this single-camera sitcom as Amy, a drunk, salacious guardian angel who imposes herself on Allison Fuller (Maggie Lawson). Lynch deserves a star vehicle for her talents (and a reason to finally escape from Sue Sylvester’s shadow) and Angel from Hell seems a good fit. Besides, when’s the last time your guardian angel offered to help you reach orgasm? Premieres Thursday, Nov. 5 at 9:30/8:30c.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6jIqdXmfWc

Master of None (Netflix) — Netflix’s newest comedy follows Dev (Aziz Ansari), an actor in New York whose inability to make a decision is seriously impacting his life. Each episode will deal with a specific issue, such as the elderly, immigration and food, and is based on Ansari’s stand-up comedy and book Modern Romance. Premieres Friday, Nov. 6.

Into the Badlands (AMC) — After exploring ’60s advertising, zombie outbreaks and present day drug dealing, it seems only natural for AMC to head to a future dystopia where martial arts reign supreme for its next big series. Feudal barons control much of the Badlands, leading to constant conflict as a great warrior (Daniel Wu) rescues and trains a young boy (Oliver Stark) while searching for enlightenment. If you’re looking for action, Into the Badlands will cram at least five minutes of fight scenes into each episode. Premieres Sunday, Nov. 15 at 10/9c

Chicago Med (NBC) — Following Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, NBC introduces the next step in its burgeoning midwest franchise. Next year, NBC will mount a crossover event between all three franchises and Law and Order: SVU. Next fall, expect even more drama from several new entries in the franchise, including Chicago Coastguard, Chicago Animal Control, and Chicago Apple Genius Bar. Premieres Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10/9c.

More Fall Arts 2015

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