Let's face it. The fall TV season, especially for network television, has lost a lot of its luster over the last decade. With all of the other options for awesome things to watch on cable channels, Netflix, Hulu, and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry Internet site getting ready to offer, at very least, the option to see humans and cartoons swear and get naked on your screen, why get excited over what the "regular" networks have to offer?
Last year, for example, we can think of two new shows we watched without being bored, disgusted, or driven to playing Internet mahjongg while watching, and they were Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Goldbergs. We'd love to think the networks have it in them to produce equally funny shows this year, but the chances are slim. Sure, there were a few other shows that were fun to watch a high percentage of the time. The Blacklist was fun thanks to the inimitable James Spader, and Marvel's Agents of Shield had its moments thanks to Clark Gregg's steady delivery of the goods as Agent Coulson, but most of the shows that debuted in the fall of 2013 fell flat more often than not.
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While looking at what the networks have prepared for us this fall, it was difficult to find even a handful of shows compelling enough to give one shot to, let alone a season's worth of potential disappointment.
So what network shows are we either (sort of) looking forward to, mildly intrigued by, or sure will be such a train wreck we won't be able to take our eyes off of? We'll tell you.
The following show fits in a category called, "Seriously? What are they thinking and who do I talk to about pitching a show if they'll put something like this on the air?"
Galavant ABC, airing to be determined
So, this show lives at the crossroads of Glee and the early '80s movie Excalibur if Mel Brooks would have directed it. And it will, in all likelihood, only exist for a handful of episodes. A singing knight named Galavant, who is portrayed by a handsome actor we have never heard of (Joshua Sasse), tries to get back the gal of his dreams from an evil and slightly effeminate king. We don't even care who plays these characters as we won't ever get to know them. Who gave this the green light? They are either brilliant, high, or related to someone in the industry. Someone really powerful.
Wow. A singing knight? What is next, a singing nun? Galavant is a comedy, and it's only hope is that it is truly funny.
The next category is, "Brilliant or bullshit? You decide."
Black-ish ABC, Wednesdays
This show is either going to be a great statement on cultural identity or a modern Cosby Show wannabe. Anthony Anderson, who portrays the main character, has decent comedic timing and may prove to be the breakout star of the TV season if this show is well received. Or it could try too hard to be everything to everyone and end up with no identity at all. At least Black-ish has Lawrence Fishburne. How many shows this year can boast a cast member from Apocalypse Now? This is the only one.
Utopia Fox, Sunday, Tuesday, Friday
The first season of Survivor was pretty cool. Admittedly, we haven't paid much attention since as the concept grew fairly trite pretty quickly, but the initial offering was entertaining. There is hope for Utopia, as well, and if it is successful, it may go further in a few seasons than Survivor ever has. The premise, which echoes of some sort of real-life Truman Show, follows participants as they build a brand new society from nothing in the middle of nowhere. Followers of the show will be able to view webcams, some of which will not be revealed to the participants, 24/7. If you're into this sort of thing, welcome to your new obsession. Brilliant or bullshit continued...
Marry Me NBC, Tuesday
Ken Marino and Casey Wilson are hilarious. The premise, um, well could be hilarious. Time will tell. This could be a strong addition to NBC's weak comedy offerings, but is the network ready to allow Marino and Wilson to take this show to the heights their considerable talents offer? Marino's best work has been in completely off-beat and often darkly humorous on such shows as Party Down, Children's Hospital, and Burning Love, while Wilson was pretty entertaining as Penny on Happy Endings, which was unceremoniously cancelled a year ago. Unfortunately, comedy pedigree is only as strong as the writing it has to work with, so we'll see if Marry Me is brilliant or if it is, as the category states, bullshit.
Next category, "It has Kate Walsh, so it's almost certainly bad."
Bad Judge NBC, Thursday
We are not Kate Walsh fans. She is terrible. Private Practice was awful and as Addison Montgomery-Shepherd, Kate Walsh made millions of viewers irritated on a regular basis spewing show runner Shonda Rhimes' often ridiculous crap. This show could fail, even though it comes from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the main brains behind Funny or Die. In this show, Cardboard Kate is a wayward judge who has a crazy personal life. Why anyone would want to watch this is beyond us, although it is always ballsy to put out a product with "bad" in the title.
Time for some positive stuff. How about, "This show might actually be cool and uplifting while ripping your heart out."
Red Band Society Fox, Wednesday
Tears. There will be lots of tears shed because of Red Band Society. Sick kids bonding and being cared for by a nurse played by The Help's Octavia Spencer seems like a recipe for success. The kids live in the hospital and the narrator is in a coma, so prepare to have your heart ripped out on a regular basis and then you can talk about how you cried all night at the water cooler the next day. Dave Annable, who has been killing TV series after TV series since his last success in Brothers and Sisters, also stars as a doctor in this hospital based take on the Breakfast Club. (Brilliant marketing technique, really, for Fox public relations reps to call Red Band Society a new Breakfast Club, by the way. Those of us of a certain age can relate to that particular shizzle.) There are high hopes for this fictionalized Upworthy.com-style drama.
Category five: "Comic book shows make up 18 percent of the shows on television."
iZombie CW, airing to be determined
The first of a few interesting offerings (loosely) based on a comic book, iZombie might just be the in the vein of a show like The Blacklist. It could easily be very fun, yet also solve a few crimes along the way. The main character, played by Rose McIver, is a brain-eating zombie/med student who helps police solve crimes because the brains she eats give her the inside scoop on what happened to their owners and caused their untimely deaths. What could be better than a weekly dose of in-your-face brain-eating followed by some crime-solving? The CW has a decent track record for bringing comic book stories to life, so maybe this will follow suit.
The Flash CW, Tuesday
Piggybacking on the incredibly well done CW series, Arrow, The Flash shows some wonderful promise to be clever, action filled, and entertaining. Grant Gustin, who played a totally believable schmuck on Glee, has the title role and showed in the Arrow crossover episodes last season he is more than capable of being both a great Flash and a great Barry Allen. Many of the Flash's mortal enemies are slated to make appearances in the first season, including Leonard Snart/Captain Cold, played by Wentworth Miller (Prison Break) and General Wade Eilling, played by Clancy Brown (Viking in Bad Boys, the Kurgan in Highlander, and Captain Byron Hadley in Shawshank Redemption). Comic book shows continued...
Gotham Fox, Monday
This one has a very interesting premise as it is set in the fictional Gotham City of the Batman Universe during the time prior to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. It follows Detective Jim Gordon (who will eventually, of course, become Commissioner Gordon) in his early career as he battles a litany of Batman's future foes like the Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman. Donal Logue and Ben McKenzie lead a great cast. This one should be very fun and interesting take on the Batman mythos, at least for bat lovers everywhere. For a lot of us, we are eager to see if Gotham can last until Batman comes of age.
Last category... "What the world needs now is another Seinfeld."
Mulaney Fox, Sunday
NBC passed on this comedy, which features stand-up comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney as a New York City-based comedian who has some wacky friends. Sound familiar? This time around, though, the ace up the show's sleeve is that Mulaney has a boss and his boss is Martin Short. Seinfeld never had a boss, so this one is already very different, right? Actually, this show has some promise. In addition to Short, screen vet and ex of Barbra Streisand Elliot Gould has a role, which adds not only star power, but chutzpah, too.
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