As I went through this fall’s crop of new and returning shows, I found it necessary to also bring up all the programs coming up later this season, in the beginning of 2017. So for our final part of the 2016-2017 television preview, we’ll be discussing those shows slated for mid-season:
Oh, great, another Romeo and Juliet adaptation. Well, wait, this one is a sequel of sorts – Juliet’s cousin Rosaline is the main character here. She’s the one Romeo jilts after he discovers Juliet, but in this Rosaline is bethrothed to Benvolio. So it’s a similar story, but we’ll get something more than vague allusions hopefully. It’s also produced by Shonda Rhimes, and she’s five for six out of quality ABC programs so far (Off the Map only lasted one season).
Ten Days in the Valley
Also returning to television is The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick. Sounding a bit like several other recent family mystery dramas, Sedgwick plays a tv producer whose young daughter disappears in the middle of the night. She’ll likely take a cue from her husband Kevin Bacon and his film Death Sentence – and go full vengeance on whoever’s taken her child.
When We Rise
This is a miniseries chronicling the political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a handful of people that pioneered much of the US Civil Rights movement involving the LGBT community. Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, David Hyde Pierce, Rachel Griffiths and Carrie Preston are just some of the many fantastic performers involved in the production, which will chronicle historical LGBT moments starting with the 1969 Stonewall riots.
Time After Time
The last of the many time travel related television shows this season, owing to the Outlander effect, is this adaptation of the 1979 Karl Alexander novel (as well as the 1979 Nicholas Meyer film of the same name). Here Josh Bowman (Revenge) and Freddie Stroma (Harry Potter) replace the original David Warner and Malcolm McDowell roles of Jack the Ripper and HG Wells. If you haven’t heard of the story, HG Wells travels through time to stop a man he’s discovered is Jack the Ripper. I was most intrigued by this when first announced, as the film is a pulp classic, but since it’s been moved to mid-season, we’ll have to settle on Timeless for now.
Perhaps the quirkiest of all the shows this season, we have a twist on that failed Jane Lynch show Angel From Hell from this past season. Instead of a guardian angel, Jenn Elfman’s Alice discovers that her childhood imaginary friend “Mary” has come back. It’s actually more reminiscent, now that I think of it, of that classic ‘90s comedy Drop Dead Fred where Rick Mayall pesters Phoebe Cates, now all grown up and in no mood to take advice from her wacky childhood imagination. If I think of it like that, I’m actually much more interested. On top of that, Jenna Elfman is a much better stand-in for the lead than Russell Brand, who attempted to re-make this in his image much like that maligned 2011 remake of Arthur.
Much subtler than Imaginary Mary, this stars Fargo’s Allison Tolman as a hard-working woman who has a mischievous dog Martin. The dog constantly destroys her favorite things to get her attention, but once Tolman brings the dog to obedience school, they realize they’re the best thing for each other, even at their worst. Sounds sappy, but it could be the right amount of sweet with Tolman’s performance.
Yet another film-to-TV adaptation, this takes the Oscar-winning crime drama that starred Ethan Hawke and the award winner Denzel Washington in one day that implodes the LAPD what with Washington’s character and his corruptive nature. Hawke’s character is played here by newcomer Justin Cornwell, while great character actor Bill Paxton slums (or perhaps wins an Emmy?) in place of Washington. We’ll see mid-season whether this is more Hawaii Five-O or Minority Report.
Katherine Heigl attempts another television show, here as a successful lawyer at a small firm who gets involved with her murder suspect client. Groundbreaking because Laverne Cox is in the cast as well, more importantly to me is the quality of the rest of the cast: Elliott Gould, Dreama Walker and Dule Hill. I was ready to dismiss this because of its simple procedural nature, but the cast knocks it up a notch.
Star Trek: Discovery
I almost forgot, CBS is reviving the Star Trek franchise on television. Technically, they’re bringing it to their online pay service, CBS All Access, so it’s not quite television, but I digress. Bryan Fuller has inherited the helm and just recently promised a female lead, diversity, a callback to the original series in form of an important event (rumors lend themselves to the Klingon War), and that the show is set like a decade after Star Trek: Enterprise. Not much else is known yet, and nothing’s been cast, but expectations are high, especially after it’s become very apparent that the future of the franchise is on the small screen with diminishing returns for one of the best films of the summer, Star Trek Beyond. It’s a shame there, as this show was going to happen no matter what, but now there’s staying power needed from this cast. I have high hopes, and I’m just glad there’s more. Bring on 2017!
Another entry in the “Chicago” franchise, but this time with lawyers. Bleh.
another supernatural town drama from True Blood novelist Charlaine Harris. Not much is printed on it, and though I loved this type of potboiler, I’m not really feeling it after True Blood spun its wheels. I’m getting a little tired of that sort of storytelling, and given NBC’s penchant for not treating their shows well recently, I half expect that this won’t do well, even if it does make it to series this winter.
Yet another re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz story, and much like Peter Pan, that story is beginning to wear thin on audiences. Here Tarsem Singh brings his visionary aesthetic and frequent collaborator Vincent D’Onofrio as the rueful Wizard. Dorothy is also a cop, something I’ve actually seen a number of times elsewhere, just not on TV. Perhaps this could be good, but given everyone’s recent track record and society’s dismissal of Peter Pan, I don’t expect this public domain tale to catch on.
This is the workplace sitcom we all wanted – Danny Pudi and Vanessa Hudgens star as insurance agents dealing with the superheroes that exist in their world. Simple premise, riding on the coattails of the comic book insurgence, but nonetheless has the most comedic potential of any of the shows on network television this season. Alan Tudyk and Kate Micucci also show up, so that adds quality to an already promising template.
Trial & Error
a comedic version of Doubt, where John Lithgow plays an accused murderer on trial and the law firm that bumbles along through the legal system. Actually sounds decent? It’s weird, the better looking comedies were held back by NBC – though that’s been their standard.
I’m not so sure how I feel about this. I only ever watched the first two seasons of the original 24, but much like the recent X-Files season, it might be unnecessary. The show lends itself to have a reboot with an entirely new cast, as this one does (newcomer Corey Hawkins, Miranda Otto, Dan Bucatinsky and Jimmy Smits) and those actors are quite good, so I might actually give this one a chance.
The synopsis behind this show sounds delightful – a boring history teacher discovers time travel and subsequently causes irrevocable changes in the founding of America by romancing Paul Revere’s daughter. My good friend Mike Heyliger just opened my eyes to the wonder that was Happy Endings, and one of the brilliant actors from that short-lived classic was Adam Pally, who stars here as the professor alongside Leighton Meester, famous from that guilty pleasure Gossip Girl. This may be the one I’m most intrigued by for mid-season, based on premise alone. The actors only add to it.
As we approach the inevitable end of the nearly perfect television program It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it’s with great reservation that I anticipate all its players subsequent programs. Rob McElhenney has popped up on Lost and will for some reason direct the upcoming Minecraft film. Glenn Howerton cameoed for a quick kill in 2008’s terrible horror The Strangers but had recurring roles on The Mindy Project and Fargo. Charlie Day has had the best post career, with roles in Pacific Rim and Horrible Bosses. He’ll do fine. Danny DeVito will likely fade into the sunset, wandering the earth or some such nonsense. Kaitlin Olsen has her first major project outside of the show here, and in my opinion, it’s the best trailer of the ones released. It has all the hallmarks of a great outlet for Olsen’s comedic talents, and can showcase another wacky hit for FOX. Olsen here plays a free spirit who ends up responsible for her sister’s children when that sister vacates the country on federal fraud charges. Sounds like gold to me.
Much like my apprehension towards the reboot of 24, I’m always wary of just restarting shows since X-Files disappointed. Of course, with Prison Break, I understand that many fans were left in the lurch when that ended abruptly on a cliffhanger. I never took in the show myself, but hopefully fans will be satisfied with the continuation here. Because of the previous season’s ending, I’m actually all for this one.
Looks to cash in on Empire’s success, even though it was being developed before it – by Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious). It also features Benjamin Bratt and Queen Latifah, who I like, so I hope it does find success – but I’ve never been into small town success stories. Looks better than Empire to me, actually, so go figure. Of course I just thought of Star Fox because of this image, and now I want a Star Fox tv show.
Interesting premise, where a shooting occurs in a racially charged southern town. I’m fine with the on-the-nose timely story, and a cast including Stephen Moyer, Sanaa Lathan, Helen Hunt and Richard Dreyfuss sounds good to me. Also, it’s only a ten-part mini at this point, so I like that it won’t be drawn out further than it needs to be.
Ah, if you know me, you know my love for Justin Kirk in Weeds knows no bounds. So I always look forward to the next thing he does. I even watched all nine episodes of the awful Animal Practice. It pains me to dismiss this show as just another procedural, then. Unfortunately, this reminds me of CBS’ fall-planned premise Pure Genius, that finds a clever young man throw his knowledge at a hospital’s problems, hoping to solve them. In A.P.B., Justin Kirk plays a tech billionaire who thinks he can throw his technology at a police precinct’s problems after his friend becomes an unsolved murder there. I give this one points for heartache potential, and for having Justin Kirk back on my television, but I fear it’s going to be too flashy and too little substance for its own good.
This is the show I am looking forward to the most out of all of these shows in the entire list. I’m not even the biggest fan of the Archie comic series, but I’ve followed the basic storyline over the years in snippets, and it looks like they’re assembling the pieces together to make the most accessible version of the product in light of today’s audience. In fact, Greg Berlanti – who is manning the CW ship basically – says the show will be very much like that other classic small town Twin Peaks. It figures to take its cues from part of the Archie mythology in which Jughead did some noir-style sleuthing. If that sounds ridiculous as it does to me, than come aboard this ship, because I’m ready to sail. Cole Sprouse (of Nickelodeon fame) is set to play the normally denser Jughead, while mostly newcomers litter the rest of the Archie landscape, which will also include the three Josie and the Pussycat band members and newest member to the fray, openly gay Kevin. I haven’t even gotten to the best part: in true Berlanti fashion, he’s cast ‘90s soap stars to parent these newcomers. Beverly Hills 90210’s Luke Perry will be Archie’s father, Resurrection Blvd’s Marisol Nichols is Veronica’s mother, and Twin Peaks alum herself Madchen Amick will feature as Betty’s matriarch. Can Berlanti do no wrong?
Barry – Bill Hader as a Marine who comes home and, dissatisfied with his life, becomes a low-rent hitman. When he goes to LA on a job, he discovers a welcoming community of hopeful up-and-coming actors.
Crashing – Pete Holmes stars as a man whose wife has just left him. Not much else, though the wife is Lauren Lapkus, so I’m into this based on liking both main actors.
Sharp Objects – the only Gillian Flynn novel left to be adapted, it’s also the least likely to be suited for series. I would have much preferred Dark Places to be a TV show, though I’d also rather that to just be better in general. Here’s to hoping Amy Adams is more Gone Girl than Dark Places then. Perhaps a mini would be good here, and it’s likely that anyway.
Room 104 – After losing his show Togetherness, Mark Duplass is sticking with HBO with a new comedy that focuses on one room in a seedy motel. An anthology show, Room 104 will highligh a new hotel guest every episode. The Duplass brothers hope to point out the “If Walls Could Talk” world weariness of travel and other hotel visitors.
I’m Dying Up Here
Jim Carrey developed this comedy about a bawdy comedy club owner, played by Melissa Leo. Clark Duke, Ari Graynor, Michael Angarano play up-and-coming comics who frequent the joint, while guest stars include Sebastian Stan, Robert Forster, Alfred Molina and Dylan Baker as Johnny Carson
The landmark ‘90s mystery returns to television, with much of the original cast returning. David Lynch balked at the limited run, so Showtime expanded the episode count. I’m currently going through season 2, so I don’t know what to expect…but really, do any of us?
Super Sad True Love Story – set in a near-future dystopian New York, two people find each other. Seems a little too twee to me, but Showtime typically knows what they’re doing when it comes to comedy, and not knowing anything about it yet I don’t want to write it off. Oh, and apparently Ben Stiller is producing and possibly directing!
Ryan Murphy brings us another anthology, this first season focusing on the massive Hollywood fight between Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? If it’s anything like the recent hit American Crime Story, we’re seeing a monopoly in FX dramas for Murphy.
Dan Stevens, Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart star in this dark mystery set in the world of the X-Men. If you’re a fan of that world, I hear it’s a must-see. I actually don’t want to know anything going in, as it looks to be better than the recent abysmal X-Men: Apocalypse – and this isn’t as shiny as the Marvel series. My point is it doesn’t look to feel like the old WB soaps like Xena and Hercules.
Tom Hardy plays a diamond smuggler in the 1800s. I’m already there. This picture alone is bat-shit crazy. We’re in for something special soon.
Real-life British explorer John Franklin attempted to traverse the Arctic in order to open up the Northwest Passage in 1845, but sadly the ship went missing. The Terror is a fictional account that involves the crew being chased by a monster. Right in AMC’s wheelhouse, right? It’ll fit in right alongside the Walking Dead series.
A multi-generation tale of a Texas oil family, this was originally set to star Sam Neill as the patriarch. While I’m sad over what might have been, Pierce Brosnan took over the role, and that is somehow even more intriguing – especially since Brosnan eventually took James Bond in the ‘90s over Neill.
Whew! That was one hell of a fall television preview. I think I’m going to try and be more succinct next year, just bring you my top ten shows or something. I don’t like how extensive this was, even if I could rattle off premiere dates from the top of my head. Anyway, hope you all enjoyed and check out some of these new and returning programs.
Let me know in the comments section what you thought!