Compelling television is a wonderful thing, except when the viewer is compelled to change the channel. The 2016 fall television season has a few promising shows and several, well, that only promise to battle each other for what show will be cancelled first.
While some of the following shows probably will get a full season thanks to star power alone, most of them will be network tax write-offs before Christmas. We've got tired sitcom tropes, cop shows, hospital dreck, and even an imaginary friend. Movies made into TV shows — you name it, this is a banner year for inept Hollywood attempts to suck time from more deserving reality shows and Kardashian re-runs. It seems the days of being excited about the new shows coming out are long, long gone, just like the days of a (cough) new idea.
Kevin Can Wait
There are times when you just sort of know that a performer has shot their wad and there's really not enough left in the tank to get that next hit they all seem to crave. Kevin James is such a performer. Perhaps Adam Sandler rubbed off on James a little too much when they did I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), but James has not really been funny since then. Maybe he was never funny, and unfortunately for him, starring in a family-based sitcom has never been a cure for this malady. It doesn’t even matter who else is in this with him, really, but Erinn Hayes (from the often brilliant Adult Swim comedy Children’s Hospital) will at least get 13 episodes of major network pay for this garbage.
Odds of receiving a second season: 20-1
Bill Paxton as a crooked cop. Uggh. While there have been several Bill Paxton roles worth loving, this will not be one of them. The man has a voice capable of snide inflection like no other. It’s a cross between a drill sergeant and a trumpet permanently stuck in E flat. Could you imagine if he was your dad and you forgot to take out the trash? You’d probably kill him in his sleep. His lectures would be the worst. Ever. Even worse, though, is that Paxton is stepping into a role played by Denzel Washington in the film version, which was just okay, especially in hindsight. Washington's performance was good, for sure, but the movie version of Training Day was not so good that you would want to relive it every week. The thought of Paxton being condescending to his co-star, Justin Cornwell (who had a cup of coffee on Empire) every week is enough to gouge out an eardrum or two. This show is enough to make you miss Paxton's HBO ode to polygamy, Big Love.
Odds of CBS receiving letters from viewers threatening to boycott any future shows with Bill Paxton: 1-1
TV does not have a great track record of turning classic movies into iconic television shows. There was MASH and that’s about it (sorry, Beastmaster fans). This one just looks like it will suck buttermilk from the get-go. First of all, it feels like it’s jumping on the American Horror Story bandwagon, which is an attractive bandwagon to be sure, but these are some mighty big vials of holy water to fill. AHS has proved that TV can push some pretty weird boundaries, but that’s cable TV. We can’t wait to see how FOX tackles the part where the new “Regan” (who is “Casey” now) masturbates with a crucifix. Geena Davis, who is taking over role as the mom (so masterfully played by Ellen Burstyn in the film), is scary enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies these days. While we’re truly rooting for her to pull off this impending mess of a TV show, there is no way it will live up to the original film and, therefore, will suck not only buttermilk, but probably pea soup, too. Serious prayers are probably needed here.
Odds of Satan himself filing a lawsuit for slander: 3-1
“Hey, network president … I have a great new idea for a show. How about we have a personable, yet quirky star do a show where they have these dialogues with someone who no one else can see or hear? And not something silly like a talking horse. No, this is original …” Go to bed, Hollywood, you’re drunk.
Jenna Elfman is quirky and cute and will act ditzy for money, which is always good, and Rachel Dratch as “Imaginary Mary” is comedy gold. Well, it would be if it were actually Rachel Dratch and not some ridiculous stuffed Muppet-like thing … But ABC will undoubtedly screw this up in the same way they screwed up Trophy Wife in 2014. The gist of this show is that Elfman finally meets the “man of her dreams,” who comes along with three kids. The stress of this situation brings back her imaginary friend from childhood, hence “Imaginary Mary” and hilarity ensue. That is, at least until some idiot writer decides to get all sentimental and have “Mary” start giving good advice to Elfman’s character and we all stop tuning in or setting the DVR to record.
Odds of Seth MacFarlane lampooning "Imaginary Mary" on Family Guy next season: 9-5
Prepare to enhance the oxygen flow to your brain as this yawner gets you ready for bed quicker than a Russian novel about starving in the cold and feeling the pangs of unrequited love. A tech genius with a ticking time bomb in his DNA hires a doctor to run his new hospital that doesn’t quite follow all of the rules. Gag us with a coal-black stethoscope, please. Hospital shows have all kinds of built-in drama, and now that Dermot Mulroney is off of Shameless and done with one of the weirder character arcs in recent pay-cable TV history, why not make him a doctor trying to rein in a billionaire looking to cure his previously incurable disease? Mulroney does “edgy" pretty well and will have a nice short run at using his devilish genius to solve weird medical problems while those of us with a brain say, “Hey, didn’t they try this approach to groundbreaking medicine while they were ruining Grey’s Anatomy?” Oh wait, there was never much to ruin with Grey’s Anatomy, and Pure Genius seems more like pure shit.
Odds of a blatant HIPAA violation in the first episode: 3-2
Perhaps it's time to really address the elephant in the room. All the good shows have been made. TV writers are over. Done. They’ve thrown in the towel. The fact that this list could have been almost entirely populated by shows based on movies or re-treads of old shows is not good, by any stretch of the imagination (or apparent lack thereof). Lethal Weapon is one of these shows that will get some watches based on nostalgia alone, but Damon Wayans (Detective Roger Murtaugh) and Clayne Crawford (Detective Martin Riggs) simply are not Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, who originated the roles in all of the films. Buddy cop shows are tired, and the world was tired of Glover and Gibson before Clayne Crawford was born. Okay, that’s a cheap shot, but at least it’s not racist like, well, never mind. Crawford was excellent on Rectify, for sure, but TV’s version of Lethal Weapon will not see any sequels like its movie predecessor. One season and done, for sure.
Odds that Wayans will slip in an In Living Color quote during season one: 4-1
Man With a Plan
Karma is a killer. Matt LeBlanc is hilarious on Episodes, the brilliant Showtime comedy that will have its final season in early 2017, but he can’t carry a show on his own. Rumors have been swirling about how difficult Chris Evans, LeBlanc’s co-host on the BBC’s Top Gear, found LeBlanc to be difficult to work with. Apparently, he found him so difficult that he quit rather than do another season with LeBlanc. Man With a Plan seems destined for failure out of the gates, even with the writers from That '70s Show on board. The premise is tired, and like so many family sitcoms where “Dad” learns about parenting up close and personal after “Mom” goes back to work, it’s only a matter of time before someone in the writer’s room proposes that they start cloning LeBlanc’s character. Why not just remake Multiplicity, the 1996 movie with Michael Keaton? Keaton’s character in that movie was a contractor like LeBlanc’s character in this lame TV show. Or better yet, how about we reboot Mr. Mom?
Odds that Man With a Plan will be canceled after season one: 2-1
The preview for this Minnie Driver vehicle is a reminder for how ahead of its time The Riches was (FX). That show would go over really well now and, all things considered, will probably be revisited again in the next couple years if Eddie Izzard is not a member of British Parliament by then. Speechless, however, seems to be a nonstop happy dance featuring Driver’s character advocating for the rights of her teenage son, who has cerebral palsy. These types of shows never last, unfortunately, even though the average American could certainly use a good dose of empathy for what anyone who has cerebral palsy goes through on a daily basis. As we work our minds around this one, one thing keeps becoming more and more clear. Driver has a really difficult time creating likable characters. Even in her best roles (Good Will Hunting and Grosse Point Blank come to mind), she’s not someone you can totally root for in the end.
Odds that Driver alienates a key advocate for her son in the first three episodes: 4-3
Those crazy kids at ABC love nothing more than a “fish out of water” sitcom, going all the way back to Mork & Mindy, and well, Fish, just to name two. Diedrich Bader (Lawrence, the awesome next door neighbor in Office Space) and Katy Mixon (April Buchanon on Eastbound and Down) are both pretty great as supporting characters, and this show will prove that point for sure as it seeks to be the first ABC comedy canceled in this year of shows that will receive early cancellations. Originally titled The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport (we can’t even fathom why that title wasn’t used...), the show features Mixon and family moving to Connecticut where everyone, except them, is perfect. America loves nothing more than being reminded about their extra weight for 22 minutes a week, so this one should go over like a lead zeppelin. Will this show last long enough for writers to find something besides Mixon's weight to joke about? Doubt it.
Odds that American Housewife will be cancelled after four episodes: 5-1
Did anyone even like the original movie that came out in 2000 and made a whopping $44 million at the box office? The CW does superheroes pretty well, but the network has had more misses than hits, and Frequency is another one. The network couldn’t even produce a compelling trailer for this hour-long drama, and that is not a good sign. Like the movie, our guess here is that no one will really care enough about this show to tune in after the first episode. There are no household names in Frequency, so no careers will be ruined by this show, although the frequency with which viewers tune into something else on Wednesday nights will be high, very high.
Odds that Frequency has the lowest ratings in the history of the CW: 8-1