Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on ABC

Three shows from last season return for a second season: Fresh Off The Boat, How To Get Away With Murder, and Black-ish. For the readers of last week’s new shows on ABC preview, expect only two (maybe three) to make a triumphant Fall 2016 return. Fresh Off The Boat premiered in February 2015. Amazingly, I wrote more than two sentences about the returning Last Man Standing.

CASTLE returns Monday, September 21 at 10PM

Season 8 could be the last. Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic returned for season eight, but Katic didn’t commit for season nine. Series creator Andrew Marlowe left the series. Two Castle veteran writers became the show runners. Katic said the new show runners have a grand cosmic vision for why the characters came together. Unfortunately, the history involves stupid, lazy tropes such as Rick’s past memory loss. Stories that investigate the patterns of the character’s lives can be extraordinary or…not. The first two episodes set up the rest of the season.

THE MIDDLE returns Wednesday, September 23 at 8PM

The main news about season seven of The Middle is that viewers will see a three-part Halloween homage to The Twilight Zone, with Brick as Rod Sarling. Halloween episodes rock. Three part Halloween episodes rock more.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT returns Tuesday, September 22 at 8:30PM

Jessica worried about her family losing their Chinese identity in the season finale. Eddie Huang, the author of the book which inspired the series, criticized the series for not depicting a more genuine Asian-American experience, but he’ll return to narrate season two. The only other news out there involves casting for a one-off character. If you’ve never seen a theme park employee that takes his or her job too seriously, then you’ve never watched a mainstream movie or TV show. That’s the guest character coming to your TV September 29 in episode two.

THE GOLDBERGS return Wednesday, September 23 at 8:30PM

The Middle pays homage to The Twlight Zone, and The Goldbergs pays homage to Risky Business. Adam F. Goldberg told critics at press tour, “I’m sinking cars.” The Goldbergs has a new series regular played by AJ Michalka. She will throw the Risky Business party. The series will continues its yearly tradition of paying homage to classic 80s movies. Goldberg didn’t reveal the movie to critics, because why would he, but he confirmed it’s a John Hughes movie. Also, TV Adam experiences puberty in season three.

MODERN FAMILY returns Wednesday, September 23 at 9PM

The season 6 finale was the show’s lowest rating in the series’ history, down 38% from the season 5 finale, and it lost 14% of viewers from the previous week’s episode. The show still finished tied for the top spot. One of the subplots in the season six finale was, “Claire wants to find a better gift for Alex.” Season six hung its cliffhanger on iPad/Skype technology. Haley and Andy love each other, but Andy will marry Beth. Sitcom stuff. Phil tried to alert the two of their love for each other, but gosh darn Skype stopped working before they heard him.

So, what’s coming in season 7? Andy and Haley will figure out their love for each other, I assume. Alex starts college and meets her “interesting” roommate (Willa, from Seattle, eh, Steve Levitan?). The most delightful thing about the new season could be Mitchell and Cameron entering the Airbnb business and meeting “interesting” characters.

BLACK-ISH returns Wednesday, September 23 at 9:30PM

Black-ish will devote an episode to the ‘N’ word in season two. Anthony Anderson told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s about who has the right to say the word, and whether it should be said at all.” Another episode will deal with gun ownership. Thus the series continues to pad its polarizing and divisive reputation.

NASHVILLE returns Wednesday, September 23 at 10PM

Someone flatlined in the finale and fans don’t know who! Most folk think Deacon died. Deacon and Rayna never had their chance to be together. Deacon’s death would affect Nashville fans the way every scene in Rectify affects me. The writers titled the premiere “Can’t Let Go.” Nashville fans, Deacon won’t let go. Hell no. Believe in Deacon, and the writers. Nashville isn’t a Chekhov story. The writers won’t take away Rayna and Deacon before it began.

GREY’S ANATOMY returns Thursday, September 24 at 8PM

No McDreamy anymore. Is McCreary still around? Season 12 begins three months after the finale. Meredith is single, living with her sisters, and contemplating the next years of her life, which seems like a bold departure from the heart of Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe not. It is Meredith’s story, I think. Shonda Rhimes promised new romances for other characters, though, and an overall lightness to the episodes--so, perhaps only one catastrophic event at the hospital this season.

SCANDAL returns Thursday, September 24 at 9PM

The premiere begins immediately after the explosive finale. Characters need to pick up the pieces, or something. I wonder was there an explosion in the episode or is it hyperbole. We’ll never know, as we’ll never know the identity of the man in Macintosh. Ah, Shonda used “blown apart” as in the characters are torn apart inside, emotionally shattered, and two characters may separate. Also, an actress from The Strain signed on for a mysterious role.

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER returns Thursday, September 24 at 10PM

Season 2 of How to Get Away With Murder will have less murder. One presumes characters will more easily get away with murders. Executive producer Pete Nowalk teased dark, twisted backstories for characters the audience thought they knew but didn’t. Another popular ABC show tried that in season 2. It didn’t work so well. I’m still disappointed by “Fire + Water” and “The Long Con” and much of that season. Nowalk also told press that things become more complicated the longer the show goes. Complicated or dramatic? People love the trio of Rhimes’ show. Shonda’s not slowing down.

LAST MAN STANDING returns Friday, September 25 at 8PM

New show runners for the fifth season. Last Man Standing changes show runners as frequently as The Walking Dead. You will never find Last Man Standing and The Walking Dead sharing a sentence again. Tim Allen’s sitcom will celebrate the 100th episode. Tim Allen promised to “drill Hillary Clinton” this season, and he may insult Donald Trump, too. Jay Leno will guest star in an episode this season.

ONCE UPON A TIME returns Sunday, September 27 at 9PM

“This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.” Will Emma speak those words after the darkness leaves her? Emma is going dark. Will I wake from night terrors because I quoted Shakespeare’s fantastical final play in reference to a show I despise? Merida and King Arthur come to Storybrooke. Arthur’s girl, Guinevere, is another new character. Lancelot joins those two. The first half of the season follows Emma’s journey and the other’s characters’ journey to save her from wherever she went to rip out hearts. The series will air its 100th episode in 2016. Eddie and Adam might write a musical. Oh, dear.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.LD. returns Tuesday, September 29 at 9PM

Season three jumps ahead in time. How long? Claire Bennett told critics that enough time has passed for the agents to accept Simmons is missing. Simmons accidentally fell into/was absorbed by something The Inhumans wanted secure right before her and Fitz confessed their feelings to each other. Henceforth, Skye is Daisy. Whoa. There’ll be less Hydra in the new season. Clark Gregg told critics that episode two will be the biggest episode yet. Season three will have a new Inhuman, Lash. Finally, the Secret Warriors are in season three.



Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on NBC

Here am I again at the end of week 1 of the Fall TV Preview. Look, NBC’s back. Hi, NBC. I hear NBC’s got bland procedurals and a trite sitcom on the way in late September. 

Chicago Med’s the best shot of the four to earn a second season, because, you know, Dick Wolf. Blindspot either becomes a surprise like its spiritual sister, The Blacklist, or it’s quickly cancelled. The other two are screwed.

At TCA, the NBC president spoke about doing more live events, re-booting old shows, how ratings affected the image of the company, and the ratings for online streaming Aquarius vs. the numbers from those watching weekly. NBC’s in a better spot than it was. The network won the demo battle two seasons in a row. They ordered an unexciting bunch of shows. Also, HEROES falls under the list of returning shows. I did not include it below. My emotional reunion with the series comes next week. By reunion, I mean I’ll watch a trailer, read some stuff, and have the lowest of low expectations for Tim Kring.

NBC

BLINDSPOT

Created By Martin Gero

Premiere Date: Monday, September 21 at 10PM

Premise: from NBC's press release, May 2015) From executive producer Greg Berlanti ("Arrow," "The Flash," "The Mysteries of Laura") comes "Blindspot": A vast international plot explodes when a beautiful Jane Doe, completely covered in mysterious, intricate tattoos, is discovered naked in Times Square with no memory of who she is or how she got there. But there's one tattoo that is impossible to miss: the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller, emblazoned across her back. "Jane," Agent Weller and the rest of the FBI quickly realize that each mark on her body is a crime to solve, leading them closer to the truth about her identity and the mysteries to be revealed.

Thoughts: “From the executive producer of The Blacklist.” Well, then. I read that The Blacklist would be terrible without James Spader. Blindspot burrows in convolution. Jane Doe’s tattoos inform everything: her identity, weekly crimes, and when unravels the mystery of her tattoos, seeking revenge could sustain season two. Jane Doe pairs with Kurt Weller to investigate the crimes—another pairing that’ll hook up. I’m gonna guess a satellite of the FBI tattooed Jane. Why? Without, Martin Gero doesn’t have a show. I don’t know. The intricate tattoo thing is a good gimmick for a procedural. At least it’s less generic, but it retains a certain generic quality. Greg Berlanti also executive produced the series. He’s never creating another warm family drama again, is he?

THE PLAYER

Created By John Rogers

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 24 at 10PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2015) From the executive producers of "The Blacklist" and starring Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester ("Strike Back," "Fringe") comes an action-packed Las Vegas thriller about a former military operative turned security expert who is drawn into a high-stakes game where an organization of wealthy individuals gamble on his ability to stop some of the biggest crimes imaginable from playing out. Can he take them down from the inside and get revenge for the death of his wife, or is it true what they say: The house always wins.

Thoughts: Winchester’s character thinks he’s needed to improve a security team, but he’s needed to make criminals money by stopping criminals from committing big crimes. The Player may remind one of ANGEL’s “Double or Nothing.” You don’t? Yes. Gambling, crime, and Vegas don’t work well. Vegas as a setting for a series never sustains a story. NBC aired a night-time soap set in Vegas that aired four season (maybe? No?). Generally Vegas can’t prop up a feeble show if it needs the blandness of Vegas intrigue. I lost interest after whoever it was revealed the gaming aspect. The protagonist has a motivating tragic past, but every procedural hero or heroine has that. The Player’s a stand-alone episode that unfortunately is the premise of a weekly series.

TRUTH BE TOLD

Created By D.J. Nash

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 2 at 9:30PM

Premise: from NBC's press release, May 2015) If you can think it, they will say it. From producer Will Packer ("Ride Along") and director Pam Fryman ("How I Met Your Mother") comes this unabashed new comedy about two diverse couples who are both neighbors and best friends. As they go through life side-by-side, they can't help but analyze and obsess about everything. From topics like sex and race, to the fact that the trusted new babysitter might just be a porn star, nothing is out of bounds for this wildly outspoken foursome.

Thoughts: I wonder how long the question of the new babysitter’s porn career lingers. The first episode revolves around the new babysitter, specifically regarding how the one guy couldn’t sleep with her if he tried, which leads to humor about marriage and also, and, also, running gags about pizza box porns. The best friends are white and black. Early in the episode, a valet makes a crack about white people listening to John Mayer. I think this show’s already done. Many of the jokes would’ve been ancient in 6-8 years ago. NBC gave it a crappy night. It leads into a show about detectives fighting creatures from fairy tales. It’ll compete against Dr. Ken. Dr. Ken has more potential.

CHICAGO MED

Created By Derek Haas, Dick Wolf, Matt Olmstead & Michael Brandt

Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 14 at 9PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2015) Executive producer Dick Wolf delivers the newest installment of the compelling "Chicago" franchise, an emotional thrill ride through the day-to-day chaos of the city's most explosive hospital and the courageous team of doctors who hold it together. They will tackle unique new cases inspired by topical events, forging fiery relationships in the pulse-pounding pandemonium of the emergency room, and through it all, familiar faces from the Chicago police and fire departments will intertwine as this third team of Chicago heroes hits the ground running.

Thoughts: The lone clips I saw came from the backdoor pilot (?) from Chicago Fire. A Jihadist blows himself up in the emergency room while people stricken with a deadly virus waited for treatment. Chicago Med will fit in with Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. People won’t lack for stakey medical or cop procedurals this fall.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

2015 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on FOX

FOX wants to do a weekly X-Men series. X-Men: The Series won’t happen this fall. FOX marks the second network to bring movie to TV with Minority Report. Scream Queens has a chance to stand out. The new shows look underwhelming, though. FOX ordered two of the blander procedurals to series. John Stamons returns to playing a handsome, desired man that unexpectedly has to help raise a child.

FOX

MINORITY REPORT

Created By Max Borenstein

Premiere Date: Monday, September 21 at 9PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2015) The future is coming. Based on the international blockbuster film by executive producer Steven Spielberg and the first of his films to be adapted for television, MINORITY REPORT follows the unlikely partnership between a man haunted by the future and a cop haunted by her past, as they race to stop the worst crimes of the year 2065 before they happen. A drama of crime and conspiracy, this is a timeless story of connection: two lost souls, Dash and Vega, who find friendship, purpose and redemption in each other.

Thoughts: CBS ordered a Limitless adaptation to screen. FOX ordered Minority Report, the 2002 Tom Cruise film. TV executives have nostalgia for average movies. Why doesn’t FXX produce American Pie the series? The gang all have teenage children because the president’s a duck—or pre-teens, so Jason Biggs can explain the birds and the bees to his preteen daughter as Michelle emasculates him with a glare. Minority Report looks network generic: procedural, ongoing mystery, tough but vulnerable ass-kickers. I wondered before, during, and after my watch of the trailer and my read of the premise whether or not Looper could work as a TV series. Minority Report’s concerned with the future and the past, both inform the other, which is all nonsense and if the writers don’t lose their way nine episodes into the season I’ll buy them all a packet of Instant Oatmeal. Issues of time in network television invariably become incoherent like a drunk.

SCREAM QUEENS

Created By Brad Falchuk & Ian Brennan & Ryan Murphy

Premiere Date: Monday, September 22 at 8PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2015) The girls of Kappa House are dying for new pledges. SCREAM QUEENS is a new killer comedy-horror series from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning executive producers of GLEE and "American Horror Story." Part black comedy, part slasher flick, SCREAM QUEENS is a modern take on the classic whodunit, in which every character has a motive for murder... or could easily be the next blood-soaked casualty.

Thoughts: Late 90s slasher flicks inspired me to write screenplays, so I’d like to watch a weekly series that’s “part slasher flick,” but I can’t stand Ryan Murphy’s creative vision in any project. I watched one episode of Glee with a friend in fall 2009. We thought Will worked as a janitor. I really like the Scream Queens cast. Emma Roberts overcame the Scream 4 travesty to become my girl. The presence of Jamie Lee Curtis in a weekly slasher series should have a share of meta writing about a crazy Midwestern brother. Nasim Pedrad deserves more prominent billing. She’s probably the killer, though Chanel accuses her in the teaser; however, that’s the kind of postmodernism that works. Reveal the killer in an aside during a 3 minute YouTube trailer. MTV’s Scream was/is a disaster. Scream Queens definitely gets a full season.

ROSEWOOD

Created By Todd Harthan

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 23 at 8PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2015) Meet the Beethoven of private pathologists... From executive producer Todd Harthan ("Psych," "Dominion"), ROSEWOOD is the story of DR. BEAUMONT ROSEWOOD, JR. (Morris Chestnut, "Nurse Jackie," "The Best Man" franchise), the most brilliant private pathologist in Miami. Plagued with his own set of medical ailments, Rosewood sees that every moment of life should be embraced and lived to the fullest. And those moments of victims' lives that will never be are what drive him the most.

Thoughts: Rosewood follows Bones and Castle in structure and execution. A man and a woman work together, solve crimes, and become lovers. When and how Rosewood and Villa become lovers no one knows, but they will. Rosewood’s an energetic, confident medical examiner with less than a decade to live, which reverses the trope of the dying cop/medical examiner. Usually, that character type is miserable, popping pills and swilling whiskey. Rosewood’s not that. Villa’s a tough cop with vulnerabilities and touched by Rosewood’s medical maladies. They’ll work great together, solve crimes, and eventually marry. He’ll die in the series finale. Rosewood, everyone.

GRANDFATHERED

Created By Danny Chun

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 29 at 8PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2015) What's the fastest way to put the brakes on a cruise-controlled bachelor lifestyle? Fatherhood? Guess again. Television icon John Stamos ("Full House," "ER") stars in a new comedy about the ultimate bachelor who discovers he's not only a father, but a grandfather. Will Jimmy and Sara fall for each other all over again, even though she's the one thing he never dates - a woman his own age? And who's higher maintenance, Jimmy or the baby? GRANDFATHERED is an unconventional, sophisticated comedy about coming of age - at any age.

Thoughts: Grandfathered’s not dissimilar from Full House. Stamos plays a successful restaurateur instead of a musician and soon finds himself helping his son, who he didn’t know existed, raise a child. Grandfathered looks perfect for a Hallmark movie, but less perfect for a weekly episodic sitcom. It’s a John Stamos vehicle. Despite the claim that it’s an unconventional show, I think it absolutely is an unconventional show.

THE GRINDER

Created By Andrew Mogel & Jarrad Paul

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 29 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2015) How many TV lawyers does it take to try a real-life case in a real-life courtroom? One, and his name is THE GRINDER. THE GRINDER is the story of two brothers, who took different paths, but meet again in the middle - for justice... sort of.


Thoughts: Fred Savage’s acting hasn’t deteriorated as his brother’s has over on Disney channel. Lawyer shows either depicts serious dramatic situations or it’s like Franklin & Bash. The Grinder can send up lawyer shows, the TV industry, how it is after a series ends for a lead actor, while conforming to the formula of what it parodies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on Cable & Premium

You may have read tweets or posts about Peak TV. It’s a hashtag; it’s important. FX’s president John Landgraf thinks TV will hit a saturation point and decrease. Well, yes, it happens. Critics wrote about it after press tour because it’s an easy talking point during the summer months. I only preview scripted shows. I found sixteen cable/premium scripted shows premiering this fall. A entertainment news site released a fall TV calendar for over 110 new and returning shows. Putting together new and returning shows posts for cable/premium takes the most time. Critics and executives rightly declare people can’t watch every show a network produces. The overwhelming number concerns only those in the business. One could complain libraries have too many books, DVDs, newspapers, old magazines, and that one will never read everything in a library.

Discussion of Peak TV ignores a basic truth about humans: everyone tastes differ. John Landgraf worried that people would miss the great show because of the good shows. He’s invested in people finding great shows—his FX shows—because it’s his job. Critics consider him the mayor of television. His opinion about Peak TV inspired a multi-part exploration of TV’s future, as well as multiple blog posts about the issue. People determine what’s great or good. It differs. It varies. Some literary folk consider Henry James The Master of Anglo-American books and short stories, but many revered writers did not like him. Mark Twain, for example, commented, ““Once you've put one of his [Henry James] books down, you simply can't pick it up again.”

There’s something for everyone these days. Scratch the ‘these days’ part. There’s always been something for everyone. Cable and premium have a wide variety of programming premiering this fall.

AMAZON

HAND OF GOD

Created By Ben Watkins

Premiere Date: Friday, September 4 at 3:01AM

Premise: (from Amazon's press release, October 2014) Created and written by Ben Watkins, and marking the television debut of renowned filmmaker Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, World War Z), Hand of God stars Golden Globe winner Ron Perlman in his first lead television role since Sons of Anarchy as the honorable justice Pernell Harris. The show centers on Judge Harris, a hard-living, law-bending married man with a high-end call girl on the side, who suffers a mental breakdown and goes on a vigilante quest to find the rapist who tore his family apart. With no real evidence to go on, Pernell begins to rely on "visions" and "messages" he believes are being sent by God through Pernell's ventilator-bound son.

Thoughts: Remember the Oscar YouTube trailer? Joss Whedon linked it on Whedonesque prior to the 2013 or 2014 Oscars. The filmmakers made a trailer full of Oscar moments. Hand of God’s the serious streaming TV series. The main character is of dubious moral character, but he’s sympathetic, vengeful, trying to bring his life back together after a criminal tore it apart, plus one can’t ignore the spiritual element. Hand of God’s the stuff of House of Cards, The Leftovers, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, meaning that it depicts another man enduring a mid-age crisis. I don’t have more than a broad sense of the series, though.

RED OAKS

Created by Greg Jacobs & Joe Gangemi

Premiere Date: Friday, October 9 at 3:01AM

Premise: (from Amazon's press release, October 2014) Directed by Sundance award-winner David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Eastbound and Down) and executive produced by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh (Behind the Candelabra, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven), Red Oaks stars Craig Roberts (Submarine) as David Myers, an assistant tennis pro at the Red Oaks Country Club in suburban New Jersey in 1985. David is both reeling from his father's heart attack and conflicted about what college major to declare in the fall; his father Sam Myers is played by Richard Kind (Luck). While there, David meets a colorful cast of misfit co-workers and wealthy club members including an alluring art student named Skye, played by Alexandra Socha, and her corporate raider father Getty played by Paul Reiser (Mad About You) and Ennis Esmer as Nash. A coming-of-age comedy set in the "go-go" 80s that is equal parts hijinks and heartfelt, Red Oaks is about enjoying a last hurrah before summer comes to an end - and the future begins.

Thoughts: The Red Oaks YouTube page uploaded the first episode. I watched the Behind the Scenes video. I think the series will draw comparisons to Freaks & Geeks and Dazed and Confused. The 80s country club setting could lend itself to parodies of those 1980s sex comedies. I think of Private School. Obviously, Private School’s set at a Private School, but the ‘colorful’ characters I briefly glanced seemed similar to Private School’s colorful cast of sex-starved teens, aloof adults, and myopic businessmen.

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE

Created By Frank Spotnitz

Premiere Date: Friday, November 20 at 3:01AM

Premise: (from Amazon's press release, January 2015) Based on Philip K. Dick's Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history, The Man in the High Castle considers the question of what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost World War II. Almost 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Through a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), The Man in the High Castle provides an intriguing tale about life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality.

Thoughts: I’ll watch anything starring Alexa Davalos. The trailer’s bare. I didn’t watch the “Pilot” during Amazon’s Vote for Pilots season. Frank Spotnitz wrote a decent amount of X File episodes and, lately, wrote for critically acclaimed Strike Back. Hollywood loves adapting Philip K. Dick. Linklater adapted him. Total Recall is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick. I’m sure more exist. Video games already imagined if the Nazis and Japanese ran the world after the war, but my friend still needs to push more for video games to receive the same credibility as an art form as TV and cinema. The premiere is more than eight weeks away. If interested, look out for more meaty trailers than what’s presently available.

AMC

INTO THE BADLANDS

Created By Al Gough & Miles Millar

Premiere Date: Sunday, November 15 at 10PM

Premise: (from AMC's press release, July 2015) AMC announced today from the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour that its new martial arts drama series "Into the Badlands" will premiere Sunday, November 15th at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. In a land controlled by feudal barons, "Into the Badlands" tells the story of a ruthless, well-trained warrior named Sunny (Daniel Wu) and a young boy named M.K. (Aramis Knight) who embark on a spiritual journey across a dangerous land.

Thoughts: The series premieres in mid-November. It’s loosely based on the classic Chinese tale, Journey to the West. The trailer released during Comic Con shows terrific fight choreography and excellent cinematography. The forest of one of the battles Sunny fights looks similar to Pylea, the home of Lorne in TheWB’s ANGEL. Into The Badlands’ central characters search for enlightenment, which represents a strict departure from the popular AMC series involving mentally unstable men leading agencies, drug empires, and zombie apocalypse survivors. The series looks solid.

BBC AMERICA

THE LAST KINGDOM

Created By Stephen Butchard

Premiere Date: Saturday, October 10 at 10PM

Premise: (from BBC America's press release, July 2015) Today, BBC AMERICA revealed the key art for its new original series, The Last Kingdom, and announced that the drama is set for premiere on Saturday, October 10, 10:00pm ET. The Last Kingdom is a contemporary story of redemption, vengeance and self-discovery set against the birth of England. The eight part drama series follows young warrior and outsider, Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon, American Horror Story), on a fierce mission to reclaim his birthright.

Thoughts: The BBC knows how to produce epic battles about England at war. I couldn’t tell the difference between The Last Kingdom and the battles in The Hollow Crown. Men will fight for land, men will sleep with women, and, yeah, that’s about all one can gather from the short footage available online.

COMEDY CENTRAL

MOONBEAM CITY

Created By Scott Graidner

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 16 at 10:30PM

Premise: (from Comedy Central's press release, July 2015) "Moonbeam City" is an absurdist, retro-futuristic 80s cop extravaganza. Comedy Central's new animated series follows Dazzle Novak (voiced by Rob Lowe), a handsome, idiotic detective who commits more crimes than most criminals. His sexy, tyrannical chief Pizzaz Miller (Elizabeth Banks) won't get off his back. His obnoxious rival Rad Cunningham (Will Forte) will stop at nothing to destroy him. Dazzle must team up with the city's only competent police officer, Chrysalis Tate (Kate Mara), to protect their beloved, neon-soaked metropolis.

Thoughts: I bow in respect and reverence for the character names. Dazzle Novak. Rad Cunningham. Pizzaz Miller. Chrysalis Tate. Excellent. The animation style resembles Archer. It’s distinctly 80s in tone, color (neon), akin to the original Miami Vice (or Vice City), but also subversive (even though the idiot cop as the protagonist of a series is nothing new), and a tad surreal. Comedy Central has continually debuted great shows.

FX

THE BASTARD EXECUTIONER

Created By Kurt Sutter

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 15 at 10PM

Premise: (from FX's press release, August 2015) The 10-episode first season of The Bastard Executioner from Kurt Sutter, the Creator/Showrunner of the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy, debuts on FX on September 15th with a two-hour premiere. The Bastard Executioner is a blood-soaked, medieval epic that tells the story of Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones), a 14th century warrior, whose life is forever changed when a divine messenger beseeches him to lay down his sword and lead the life of another man: a journeyman executioner. Set in northern Wales during a time rife with rebellion and political upheaval, Wilkin must walk a tight rope between protecting his true identity while also serving a mysterious destiny. Guided by Annora (Katey Sagal), a mystical healer whose seeming omniscience keeps Wilkin under her sway; manipulated by Milus Corbett (Stephen Moyer), a devious Chamberlain with grand political aspirations; and driven by a deepening connection with the Baroness Lady Love Ventris (Flora Spencer-Longhurst), Wilkin struggles to navigate political, emotional and supernal pitfalls in his quest to understand his greater purpose.

Thoughts: I read that Kurt Sutter heavy-handedly paralleled Hamlet’s themes and Sons of Anarchy themes. The SOA finale features a heavy-handed Christ martyr image that one could connect with Hamlet. The Bastard Executioner combines mysticism with medieval Christianity, the time in history when God chose kings. When God spoke through others, as He does to Wilkin, Wilkin will listen. Contemporary TV criticism and commentary doesn’t like overt themes, heavy-handed symbolism, which Kurt Sutter loves. Stories stagnant and die when characters exist to embody a theme, an idea, or to be a symbol, Kurt Sutter’s characters seem more than symbols or the personification of an idea. The Bastard Executioner looks similar in spirit, tone, and execution to The Last Kingdom and Vikings.

IFC

BENDERS

Created By Jim Serpico & Tom Sellitti

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 1 at 10PM

Premise: (from IFC's press release, June 2015) Benders follows a team of friends bonded by an irrational obsession with their men's ice hockey team, The Chubbys. Paul Rosenberg (Schulz) is the insecure leader whose involvement with the team causes daily havoc for him and his wife Karen (Broad). Along for the ride are Paul's best friends Anthony (Distefano), the charmer who schemes his way through life; Dicky (Gessner), the wealthy hedge fund manager whose answer to everything is in his wallet; and Sebalos (Iskandar) the slacker on a misguided search for his purpose in life. While their hockey skills may be limited, their passion is not, as evidenced by the chaos their devotion to the game creates in their everyday lives.

Thoughts: Finally, a hockey sitcom. I played for an extended stretch of time in a dek hockey league filled with mostly men that had an inflated sense of their skill as hockey players. Benders tell the stories of such men: delusional, off-color, but enthusiastic. I hope Serpico and Sellitti included scenes of opposing players illegally holding sticks because their defense lacks a whole lot or overly aggressive males that take runs at the Chubbys players. My interest in a hockey sitcom pales in comparison to my interest in watching hockey games. I watched a scene from Benders that did not engage me, and the trailer, which I disliked.

NETFLIX

MASTERS OF NONE

Created By Alan Yang & Aziz Ansari

Premiere Date: Friday, November 6 at 3:01AM

Premise: (from Netflix's press release, July 2015) Based on the comedic viewpoints of Aziz Ansari, the show follows the personal and professional lives of Dev (Aziz Ansari), a 30-year-old actor in New York who has trouble deciding what he wants to eat, much less the pathway for the rest of his life. Ambitious, funny, cinematic, and both sweeping in scope and intensely personal, Dev's story takes him through subjects as diverse as the plight of the elderly, the immigrant experience, and how to find the most delicious pasta for dinner.

Thoughts: Per The Hollywood Reporter, Aziz Ansari said, “This isn’t a relationship show.” The show’s driven by Dev’s perspective, Ansari’s character, and like Louie, characters will come and go, return or disappear, because Dev’s the Louie of Masters of None. Aziz Ansari wants the series to tell broad stories, though bits of his recent book, Modern Romance, will pop up in the series.

PBS

ARTHUR & GEORGE

Created By


Premiere Date: Sunday, September 6 at 8PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, June 2015) ARTHUR & GEORGE ON MASTERPIECE -- Martin Clunes ("Doc Martin") stars as world-famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in this three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes' acclaimed novel that follows the separate but intersecting lives of two men: a half-Indian son of a vicar who is framed for a crime he may not have committed; and Doyle, who investigates the case.

Thoughts: The Victorians had extraordinary work ethic. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle solved crimes when he didn’t write about the crime-solving sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Julian Barnes’ novel is based on true events, but the novelization of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle must have taken liberties with the truth. The production of a three episode Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Masterpiece Theater fits well with Masterpiece Theater’s Sherlock. I might indeed watch the series. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fascinated me as a young lad, in my pre-Tolstoy days before I savagely turned against Victorian literature. The work habits of writers fascinate me. I doubt Arthur & George shows much about Doyle balancing detective work and the composition of his stories. British critics poorly reviewed the series earlier this year.

INDIAN SUMMERS

Created By

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 27 at 9PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, June 2015) MASTERPIECE "Indian Summers" -- Julie Walters plays the glamorous doyenne of an English social club in the twilight of British rule in India. The lavish 9-part series explores the collision of the English ruling class and local people agitating for Indian independence. The two sides alternately clash and merge in intricate games of power, politics and passion.

Thoughts: Indian Summers has the post-colonial British thing to it. India wants independence from British rule. An old woman drunkenly babbles about the slaves of empire. A woman tells an Indian man, “You’re British propaganda.” I used to write many sentences about post-colonial British culture in college. The BBC seems likely to produce tales of the British Empire, the fading British Empire, England after the Empire fell and scores of migrants came to the country from all over, because it’s their thing. Indian Summers won’t become a social media sensation, but the British press favorably reviewed it—more so than Arthur & George.

I’LL HAVE WHAT PHIL’S HAVING

Created By Phil Rosenthal

Premiere Date: Monday, September 28 at 10PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, June 2015) I'LL HAVE WHAT PHIL'S HAVING -- Journey with Phil Rosenthal, creator of the TV hit "Everybody Loves Raymond," as he learns from the chefs, vendors, culinary leaders and style-setters who keep their communities' traditions alive and create new ones. Rosenthal visits kitchens on and off the well-worn gastronomic path, leading viewers from one of the least expensive Michelin-starred restaurants in Asia to a Los Angeles bakery training former gang members.

Thoughts: Phil Rosenthal explained the series during a panel recorded by The Nerdist Writers’ Panel: he traveled to nine different cities to explore the dining, the culture, etc. Rosenthal chose Los Angeles for an episode because he thinks many Los Angelenos can discover more about where they live. The show’s Anthony Bourdain for PBS.

THE WIDOWER

Premiere Date: Sunday, October 4 at 10PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, June 2015) THE WIDOWER - This drama is the true story of Malcolm Webster, a nurse by profession and, on the surface, a perfect gentleman: well-spoken, personable and charming. He's also a spendthrift and killer. He marries, and attempts to kill, a succession of women to cash in their life insurance policies.

Thoughts: The British press wrote lukewarmly about the series. PBS didn’t release a trailer yet, though ITV broadcast it a year and a half ago.

BRAIN WITH DAVID EAGLEMAN

Created By David Eagleman

Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 14 at 10PM

Premise: from PBS's press release, June 2015) THE BRAIN WITH DAVID EAGLEMAN -- Neuroscientist David Eagleman explores the human brain in an epic series that reveals the ultimate story of us, why we feel and think the things we do. This ambitious project blends science with innovative visual effects and compelling personal stories, and addresses some big questions. By understanding the human brain, we can come close to understanding humanity.

Thoughts: An exploration of the human brain. Cool. If anyone wants to read a different kind of exploration of the depths, capabilities, mysteries of the human brain, borrow or buy James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

STARZ

ASH VS. EVIL DEAD

Created By Ivan Raimi & Sam Raimi

Premiere Date: Saturday, October 31 at 9PM

Premise: (from Starz's press release, July 2015) STARZ today announced the highly anticipated premiere of original series "Ash vs Evil Dead" on Saturday, October 31 at 9 PM ET/PT and released the first live action trailer during the series' Comic Con panel in San Diego. The 10-episode first season of the half-hour series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio who serves as executive producer and showrunner. "Ash vs Evil Dead," which is currently in production in New Zealand, is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons -personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its "Evil" grip.

Thoughts: The Evil Dead jawn found Ash, and Ash needs to improve his cardio before he battles the undead. The trailer showed great zombie kill shots, Ash battling the undead, teaching disenchanted millenials how to battle evil forces as well as the finer points of the boom stick; and the violence is messy, gory, brutal—perfect for Starz. Did I spot Lucy Lawless? I sure as hell did. I ignore every Starz show. I tried watching Spartacus because of my boy, Steven S. DeKnight, but I didn’t like it. I spend Saturday nights partying with my bros (I do not do that). I won’t have the time to watch Ash Vs. Evil Dead, because I’m broing out (nope).

FLESH & BONE

Created By Moira Walley-Beckett

Premiere Date: Sunday, November 8 at 9PM

Premise: from Starz's press release, April 2015) Starz today announced that "Flesh and Bone," the eight-hour limited series created by Emmy(R) award-winning "Breaking Bad" Writer and Executive Producer Moira Walley-Beckett, will premiere on Sunday November 8, 2015. "Flesh and Bone" follows a young dancer with a distinctly troubled past as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. The dark, gritty, complex series unflinchingly explores New York City through the eyes of Claire, played by Sarah Hay ("Black Swan"), an emotionally wounded but transcendent ballerina navigating the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world. Claire's self-destructive tendencies amid her vaulting ambitions drive her in compelling, unforeseeable ways, especially when she is confronted with the machinations of the company's mercurial Artistic Director, played by Ben Daniels ("House of Cards," "Law & Order UK") and an unwelcome visitor from her past.

Thoughts: Sarah Hay appeared in Black Swan. Flesh And Bone is Black Swan for TV. Moira Walley-Beckett wrote Breaking Bad’s most devastating episode, “Ozymandias.” I want Flesh And Bone to devastate viewers. Leave the viewers pale at the end of season one like a reader looks after reading “In The Gully.” The series seems by-the-books as far as psychological ballet thrillers go. The director’s insane. The central ballerina comes from a haunted, tragic past. I expect to see the bad side of NYC depicted because the setting character dramas such as these project around them, and the press release used “dark, gritty” to describe the series. Claire won’t walk the sunny streets of Greenwich Village. No, she’ll experience Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

SYFY

THE EXPANSE

Created By Hawk Ostby & Mark Fergus

Premiere Date: Saturday, November 15 at 9PM

Premise: (from Syfy's press release, October 2014) Syfy and Alcon TV today announced the start of production for The Expanse, the new 10-episode epic space drama based on the international best-selling book series of the same name. Currently shooting in Toronto, Canada, The Expanse will premiere on Syfy in 2015. The Expanse is a thriller set two hundred years in the future, after mankind has colonized the solar system. A hardened detective (Thomas Jane, Hung) and a rogue ship's captain (Steven Strait, Magic City) come together for what starts as the case of a missing young woman and evolves into a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.

Thoughts: Writer could stand to stop writing conspiracies into genre shows. Conspiracies don’t work, because they’re open-ended and, thus, difficult to resolve. Like Starz shows, I ignore every Syfy show, not for a specific reason but because I forget. The Expanse premieres mid-November. I will re-read my thoughts about the show next year and faintly remember it.

USA

DONNY!

From Executive Producers Banks Tarver & Ken Druckerman

Premiere Date: Tuesday, November 10 at 10:30PM

Premise: (from USA press release) semi-scripted comedy described as a satirical look at the media, wealth and modern romance with Donny Deutsch starring as a fictionalized version of himself: a famed ad man, single dad and TV personality

Thoughts: I assume the fictionalized version of himself differs from current fictionalized version of himself the MSNBC viewer sees while watching his talk show. Whatever persona one sees on television is not the ‘real’ persona of the person. USA’s Donny could shatter the metafictional boundaries of cable comedies, or I’m over-thinking it because Donny looks bland. He gives his child comically bad advice from Forrest Gump; his muscle shirts don’t have the desired affect on women; and other stuff. These self-indulgent TV vanity projects never self-deprecate. Donny Deutsch will look better for having done this. I don’t know.


About The Foot

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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. I write regular posts about Grimm & The Vampire Diaries.