Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on Cable/Premium Channels

ADULT SWIM

MR. PICKLES

Created By David Stewart & Will Carsola

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 21 at 11:59PM

Premise: (from the Adult Swim press release, July 2014) Mr. Pickles is Adult Swim's newest original animated series set in the small, old-fashioned world of Old Town that is slowly being taken over by the modern world.

Thoughts: The “Pilot” has been available to watch since March of this year. Mr. Pickles is the name of the family dog. He is evil. The series is incredibly twisted, and I sort of dug it. Most of the jokes are violent, physical gags or cheap pre-teen humor. The episode lost me about 6 minutes in. Hence the ‘I sort of dug it’ opinion stated.

HBO

FOO FIGHTERS: SONIC HIGHWAYS

Created By Dave Grohl

Premiere Date: Friday, October 17 at 11PM

Premise: (from HBO's press release, August 2014) HBO has confirmed the debut date of FOO FIGHTERS: SONIC HIGHWAYS, with the series to launch its eight-episode season FRIDAY, OCT. 17 (11:00 p.m.-midnight ET/PT), followed by other episodes debuting subsequent Fridays at the same time. Directed by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, each one-hour episode of the unprecedented documentary series is devoted to a different American musical landmark, chronicling the history, cultural environment and people defining that city's unique musical identity.

Thoughts: Dave Grohl promised a musical map of history. I love music. I don’t love The Foo Fighters, but I like the recording process, the history of a studio, the artistic struggle (there won’t be any of that). I might never watch it. Dave Grohl probably enjoyed a seamless transition into directing. Another iconic rock musician also makes films, and I’d love for HBO to negotiate a deal to broadcast his films.

MTV

HAPPYLAND

Created By Ben Epstein

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 30 at 11PM

Premise: from MTV's press release, July 2014) New dramedy series "Happyland" will premiere on Tuesday, September 30 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT, following "Awkward" and "Faking It." "Happyland" is a soapy teen dramedy exploring the underbelly of one of the country's most popular theme parks, going behind the scenes to reveal the not so magical reality of the park workers.

Thoughts: There’s a twist in Happyland: the dashing new guy and the main character, who kiss, and feel attracted to each other, are brother and sister. At the TCA panel for Happyland, some critics expressed anger about it, with a dash of ‘that’s horrific,’ or something. One critic wanted to know how the brother-sister thing figured into the series. Why did Ben Epstein need to do it? It’s a gosh darn story, anonymous TV critic. Hack receivers concentrate on the morally offensive aspects. It’s why Lolita’s been mis-read for over 50 years. (Thank goodness Ada never really hit the mainstream). Happyland’s not a probing series. It’s more reminiscent of the Australian-made series, Camp, that NBC aired last summer. MTV has a niche audience that won’t cause an uproar because of the ‘horrific’ twist.

NICKELODEON

NICKY, RICKY, DICKY, & DAWN

Created By Matt Fleckenstein

Premiere Date: Saturday, September 13 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from Nickelodeon's press release, March 2014) Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, greenlit for 13 episodes, is the story of a 10-year-old girl Dawn Haley (Lizzy Greene) whose sibling rivalry with her three brothers is heightened by the fact that they are quadruplets. Aidan Gallagher (Modern Family) plays the germaphobic Nicky, joined by Casey Simpson (The Goldbergs) as the overachieving Ricky, and Mace Coronel (Bold and the Beautiful) as the pint-sized ladies man, Dicky. Brian Stepanek (Two and a Half Men) and Allison Munn (What I Like About You) star as the Haley parents.

Thoughts: Welp; I thought this was an animated series. Moving on.

PBS

LIFE ON THE REEF

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 24 at 10PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, May 2014) The Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, is a rich and complex natural ecosystem, home to a stunning array of animals. The reef's human residents work to find that critical balance between their needs and those of an ever-diminishing natural world. This series presents a unique and fresh angle on Australia's greatest natural icon: the Great Barrier Reef seen through the eyes of those who live, work and play in this natural wonderland.

Thoughts: Life on the Reef appeals to me more than any new comedy or drama debuting this fall. Nature, my brothers and my sisters, is the elixir for what ails you. Nature.

THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY

Executive Produced By Ken Burns

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 14 at 8PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, July 2014) Ken Burns's upcoming film, THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, marks the first time the Roosevelts' individual stories have been woven into a single narrative, following the family's story for more than a century, from Theodore's birth in 1858 to Eleanor's death in 1962. Over the course of those years, Theodore would become the 26th president of the United States and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry her fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd president. Together, they redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, and redefined, as well, the role of the United States within the wider world. The first 2-hour episode will premiere on PBS stations, Sunday, September 14th (8:00 p.m. ET) and the entire series can be streamed on station websites and PBS station branded digital sites beginning the day after the broadcast premiere.

SHOWTIME

THE AFFAIR

Created By Hagai Levi and Sarah Treem

Premiere Date: Sunday, October 12 at 10PM

Premise: (from Showtime's press release, July 2014) SHOWTIME has announced the premiere date for the network's provocative new drama series THE AFFAIR, which will make its series premiere on Sunday, October 19th at 10 pm ET/PT. Currently in production in Montauk, NY, on ten episodes, THE AFFAIR stars Golden Globe(R) nominees Dominic West (The Wire) and Ruth Wilson (Luther), as well as Emmy(R) nominee Maura Tierney (ER) and SAG Award(R) nominee Joshua Jackson (Fringe). THE AFFAIR explores the emotional and psychological effects of an extramarital affair. The provocative drama will be told separately from the male and female perspectives - using the distinct memory biases to both misdirect and intrigue.

Thoughts: Dominic West and Ruth Wilson return to American television. Dominic West worked on The Hour. Ruth Wilson worked on Luther. The premise of The Affair is similar to ABC’s Manhattan Love Story. The Affair seems tolerable, but a little too melodramatic. Shifting perspectives work better in prose than in performance art. The show looks great. Montauk’s a beautiful place. Joshua Jackson plays overly melodramatic stories well. Maura Tienry affects sadness and a distraught spirit that should enhance her character more than what’s on the page. Maybe I’ll watch two episodes of The Affair.

STARZ

SURVIVOR’S REMORSE

Created By Mike O’Malley

Premiere Date: Saturday, October 4 at 9PM

Premise: (from Starz's press release, May 2014) The STARZ Original series "Survivor's Remorse" began production this week in Atlanta on the six-episode first season of the half-hour scripted comedy series from LeBron James, Tom Werner, Mike O'Malley, Maverick Carter, Victor Levin and Paul Wachter. Set in Atlanta, the story follows Cam Calloway, a basketball phenom in his early 20's who is suddenly thrust into the limelight after signing a multi-million dollar contract with a professional basketball team, and explores the comedy and drama of an experience that everyone reads about, but few understand - what happens when you make it out.

Thoughts: I liked the Fresh Prince joke the father character made. LeBron James produced Survivor’s Remorse. Well, he’s among the producers. Survivor’s Remorse comes from the remorse of the central character who feels torn between two emotions: happiness at having made it, but guilt about having made it because of those who didn’t. I’d love to read a book or watch a series about that conflict for a young athlete who’s drafted, soon a millionaire, and how it affects him past and present. This is a comedy, so I doubt there’ll be too much remorse. The remorse will have the light touch of humor whenever present, besides the final five minutes when sitcoms cover the audience in sentimentality.

THE MISSING

Created By Harry Williams & Jack Williams

Premiere Date: Saturday, November 15 at 9PM

Premise: (from Starz's press release, August 2014) Starz announced today that the limited series, "The Missing," will debut Saturday, November 15th at 9pm ET/PT on STARZ. The eight-episode dramatic thriller, directed by Tom Shankland ("Ripper Street") and written by Harry Williams and Jack Williams, centers on the psychological fallout and ensuing years-long manhunt resulting from the sudden disappearance of five-year-old Oliver Hughes while on holiday with his parents in France in 2006. "The Missing" is a gripping dramatic thriller that goes inside the mind of a father, Tony Hughes, played by James Nesbitt (The Hobbit trilogy), desperate to locate his lost son. With help from local police detective, Julien Baptiste, played by Tcheky Karyo (Goldeneye), Tony embarks on an obsessive quest to find his son and those responsible for his disappearance. A gripping puzzle with twists and turns at every stage, Tony's exhaustive search fractures his relationship with his wife, Emily, played by Frances O'Connor (A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), and threatens to destroy his life. Told through a delicate and complex narrative, "The Missing" unfolds over two time frames simultaneously.

Thoughts: Writers wanted to get inside the mind of a character this past pilot season. TV writers and movie writers have yet to create something about the ‘inside’ of a character’s mind that succeeds in getting inside the mind. Some writers came close to it. Not even Charlie Kaufman succeeded when he wrote Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He was very close. The Missing’s like a moodier Taken, except longer form and with less action. I’m a sucker for father-son stories, but I will likely forget about The Missing’s premiere date by night’s end.

SYFY

Z NATION

Created By Karl Shaefer

Premiere Date: Friday, September 12 at 10PM

Premise: (from Syfy's press release, August 2014) Premieres Friday, September 12 at 10PM -- In Z Nation, three years have passed since the zombie virus has gutted the country, and a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world's last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind's survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America.

Thoughts: Zombies continue to delight audiences, but they delight not me. There’s not much one can do with a zombie story. Z Nation introduces a character that survived a zombie bite, which is different. Harold Perrineau has a wicked scar. I hope he yells and shouts a lot.

ASCENSION

Created By Philip Levens

Premiere Date: Monday, November 24 at 9PM

Premise: (from Syfy's press release, August 2014) Premieres Monday, November 24 at 9PM -- Ascension is an ambitious original drama following a covert U.S. space mission launched in the 1960's that sent hundreds of men, women and children on a century-long voyage aboard the starship Ascension to populate a new world. Half way into their journey, as they approach the point of no return, the mysterious murder of a young woman causes the ship's population to question the true nature of their mission.


Thoughts: A murder mystery in space, eh? I think aliens are involved.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.