As time roils us forth into the ether, there are at least several new entertaining vessels to get us by as we await our shuffle past the mortal coil.
Obviously, several of the comedies will lighten the mood, but those dramas will surely bring us back down to earth. Here are eight of my most anticipated new shows of the 2017-2018 television season:
9JKL (10/02, CBS, Mondays at 8:30)
Everybody Loves Raymond, but in an apartment. That’s my first impression, although I have to temper that by mentioning the former version lost its luster rather quickly with repetitive plots. I think, in hindsight, and defter hands this will be better. Mark Feuerstein plays a divorced actor who moves in to an apartment sandwiched between his parents and brother’s family. The highlight here is likely to be Elliott Gould, who shined in the shortlived Mulaney, as well as pilot-hopper Liza Lapira. The cast is solid and the plot is pretty standard, so it could go either way. I think Feuerstein (Royal Pains) puts it over the edge, especially given the fact the show is based on his real life situation. Personality can spill through our screens.
Me, Myself and I (10/30, CBS, Mondays at 9:30)
Long time SNL actor Bobby Moynihan is branching out, in this comedy that showcases one man’s life over 50 years by highlighting three distinct periods: the youth (Jack Grazer), the middle years (Moynihan) and the older years (John Laroquette!) I’m very, very excited to see Laroquette return to television, and hopeful this will last not just for his sake, but Moynihan’s. He deserves it after so long with SNL, and it’s a high concept with romantic potential that the How I Met You Mother fan in me will love. Also, what’s this? Jaleel White is back too? Urkel? This has pretty interesting potential…
Ghosted (10/01, FOX, Sundays at 8:30)
Adam Scott? I’ll follow him anywhere. Craig Robinson? One of the funniest actors with a great range. Put them together as a ghost-hunting team in Los Angelese and you have my most anticipated comedy of the upcoming television season! Robinson is a skeptical disgraced cop who is forced to team up with a fallen college professor (Scott) to investigate paranormal activity floating through the city for a strange group calling themselves the Bureau Underground. I figure parodies of stuff like Ghostsbusters abound, and I was already there when they started out “Adam Sco-“.
Orville (9/21, FOX, Thursdays at 9)
Seth MacFarlane is a god at FOX, one of the stalwarts of animation in the 21st century. His landmark show Family Guy will go down as one of the best non sequitur pieces of pop art, while spinoff The Cleveland Show and patriotic parody American Dad are apt follow-ups. His live-action efforts? Not so much. He whiffed on reinventing the western with A Million Ways to Die in the West. He barely registers in Hellboy 2 and The Tooth Fairy. He hit it out of the park with Ted and squandered all his good fortune by cashing in on a terrible, unnecessary sequel. So how will his live-action, big-budget, sci-fi soap opera fair? FOX is banking on this being the cornerstone of their freshman fare, and lucky for us previews have left good feelings. I’m wary because I was anticipating West to be the film of summer 2014, but with MacFarlane being one of the biggest Trekkies alive, I think the space parody is safe in his captain’s chair. If nothing else, this should have a great first season.
The Mayor (10/03, ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30)
Given the current political spectrum, which is a phrase I’m not even thrilled to type, it’s inevitable that this premise might come up. Remarkable then that this was being developed before the events this past November. The premise is good to begin with, as a young entrepeneurial rapper (Brandon Michael Hall, Search Party) concocts a perfect scheme to boost his visibility: run for mayor of his small California town. When he actually wins, he must put together a viable plan or face the stark reality he stumbled into. Absolutely brilliant premise, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before (it may have, correct me if it has). On top of that, Yvette Nicole Brown (underutilized on Community) and Lea Michele (Glee) join Hall in the comedy. I’m wary, but have high hopes that this will a breakout hit, the next Parks & Rec or The West Wing.
The Gifted (10/02, FOX, Mondays at 10)
Superheroes have been big business for the past two decades, and as we settle into this latest X-Men franchise piece, we have to ask ourselves, when does the madness end? No, really this family drama disguised as mutant metaphor looks like it has the chance to be pretty good, if for no other reason than the talented actors behind the parents – Stephen Moyer (True Blood) and Amy Acker (Angel). With a heavy television pedigree behind the showrunner Matt Nix (The Good Guys, Burn Notice) you can expect there to be fairly solid action, although given it’s on a basic cable channel it may be a bit demure. Crazy exploding Dan Stevens this may not have.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (10/03, ABC, Tuesdays at 10)
I have to point out that this used to have a much better title, The Gospel of Kevin, but apparently that’s too preachy to belong on television. I don’t even think the show was going to be too heavily Christian, but still, the title flowed much better. If they were so hard-up to change it, they could have tried a heaven-related pun like Kevin Can Wait, or Seventh Kevin, but of course no one listens to me when pilot season comes ’round. Anyway, just to remind you of when he was on Joan of Arcadia 16 years ago, Jason Ritter stars as a self-centered man who is visited by a guardian angel who leads him down a better path. Not much different from Joan, but perhaps Ritter’s charm will save this potential debacle.
The Good Doctor (9/25, ABC, Mondays at 10)
So here’s the thing: last year’s preview included two shows that were clearly going to be a huge waste of time: FOX’s APB that featured my personal hero Justin Kirk as a genius who helped influence Chicago police with his fortune-infused tech, and CBS’s Pure Genius that featured no one in particular but had an abysmal plot where the rich pretty boy genius who infused the hospital tech with his fortune…was also dying. I hated them, but wanted at least Justin Kirk to have a chance. With that in mind, here’s another one that’s sort of the two combined. Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) is an autistic(!) savant who comes from his quiet country isolation to a prestigious hospital in order to, I don’t know, save lives or something. One of my favorite actors, Richard Schiff, is the advisor at the hospital that goes to bat for him in the first place, and later when he pisses everyone off. Remember anyone else who couldn’t relate to people but was the local genius that needed to be cultivated by a mentor who believed in him? I may give this a chance for Schiff, but this may not be enough to watch in my House.
Now that we’ve covered the new shows, here’s a quick update on some returning shows I think will continue to bring joy to millions, if not thousands:
Lethal Weapon (9/26, FOX – Tuesdays at 8)
After much debate with my family and friends, I’ve decided that it’s simply okay to have another iteration of the classic cop buddy comedy that follows Murtaugh and Riggs. This version of Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.) is less cohesive, but still charmingly aloof, and the more said about Clayne Crawford’s performance as Martin Riggs, the better. He brings a fresh air that doesn’t overshadow Mel Gibson’s brilliant original, and he makes something completely fresh out of a lived-in role. If you can stomach the fact that this is happening, and separate it from the majestic quadrilogy, you’ll be in for a surprising treat, a deft mix of drama, action and comedy.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9/26, FOX – Tuesdays at 9:30)
Falling into its fifth season, this cop comedy procedural has discovered a strange rhythym. As we return to the 99, Jake Peralta (star Andy Samberg) and Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) have been framed for bank robbery, and are stuck in jail – but are likely to be freed by the other misfits in their precinct, including characters played by Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti and Joe Le Truglio. Speaking of Lo Truglio, he’s the character that’s devolved the most – his antics are a bit too ripe for consumption, so here’s hoping they figure out what to do with him. He used to be a well-rounded person, but he’s become a caricature of inanity. Everyone else has luckily maintained their personable charm, so there’s no doubt the fifth season will continue the trend.
The Good Place (9/28, NBC – Thursdays at 8:30)
What a surprise this little show turned out to be – the faithful were rewarded with an angelic revelation late in season one that Ted Danson’s architect was not a goodly one, but rather a devil playing tricks on his hellish subjects by pretending that their paradise was intrisically flawed. His game was caught by Eleanor (Kristen Bell), a terribly ruinous human being who thought she was a mistake in the machine, but really she was just one of many terrible people played against each other by the demon Danson. Given the Lost-style reveal towards the end, there’s no telling if they’ll acquire new viewers, but a second season was all we could ask for now that we want to revel in Eleanor’s mission to unseat the nefarous architect. If nothing else, this should flip the script for at least one more year before the idea gets stale. If not, I’m behind whatever these writers throw our way.
Riverdale (10/11, CW – Wednesdays at 8)
I’ve unfortunately not caught up on this OC-meets-Twin Peaks adaptation of the fluffy good-hearted Archie series, but I know that it’s been a game-changer for the CW. I anticipate the crew to ramp up the drama, the camp and the suspense for a second season as we watch the friendship between Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) blossom while Archie (KJ Apa) squirms. Now that the mystery behind Jason Blossom has been solved, there will surely be another Veronica Mars style story brewed to continue the trend of mysterious teen adventure on the sharpest channel on basic cable.
Designated Survivor (9/27, ABC – Wednesdays at 10)
I’ve got to admit, I’ve sort of lost track of this show about halfway through the first season, and as of early August have yet to pick it back up. There’s no telling if this show will truly be the tense action drama we all hoped it would be as it started last fall, but suffice it to say Kiefer Sutherland is startlingly dapper as President Kirkman. If only the show had a tighter episode order, maybe they would get to the point earlier. As much as I loved Maggie Q in Nikita, she’s even better here, but she’s stuffed into unnecessary cliffhanger plots that force her to waste time getting to the answer she’s looking for. It’s also as if ABC believes they have another 24 on their hands, when it should look to its own past in the much overlooked Geena Davis vehicle Commander in Chief. If it’s anything like that – and it is – ABC should capitalize on the attention they’re getting and promote the show whilel balancing a tighter script count. This show is a great show stretched into a basic procedural, but it could be so much more.
Gotham (9/21, FOX – Thursdays at 8)
You’ll see my review of Mr. Robot season two later next month, but you’ll undoubtely know that I’ve tied both series together mentally. I haven’t watched an episode since early in season two, but the show has rolled on with its own ideas. I know I wanted it to go a certain way, that Mr. Robot obviously went, but there’s a certain charm to the camp behind what Gotham has done. Standouts Cory Michael Smith and Robin Taylor have grown to be fan favorites, and they finally figured out what to do with their young Bruce and Selina characters. Gratefully, they seem to have decide on what shall become of this version of Batman, and I may have to check in again to see if they’ve lived up to what we all wanted.
Great News (9/28, NBC – Thursday at 9:30)
I caught the pilot episode of this so far, and I was expecting a vapid reeactment of Network played to laughs through star Briga Heelan’s vamping. Luckily there was a quiet dignity behind the 30 Rock-ripoff plots, so I expect there was a good reason to renew on NBC’s part besides the desperation Bob Greenblatt has been exuding by groveling to Tina Fey and Aaron Sorkin. Great News is genuinely a good show, and I expect it to be great despite the expectations to fall by history’s wayside. Standouts Andrea Martin, John Michael Higgins and surprise Nicole Richie are what keeps this middle-tier show afloat.
Bob’s Burgers (10/1, FOX – Sundays at 7:30)
Of the many surprises in the past decade, none got me as much as Bob’s Burgers lasting this long. I was a huge fan of Loren Bouchard’s second show Home Movies, and particularly the gruff voice actor who played the anti-Mr. Feeney, Coach McGuirk. Transferring to a basic cable channel looked to be an unexpected and likely short stay, but Bouchard took the family sensibility that Home Movies had and infused it with some Simpsons-esque snark. The charm that resulted is especially exemplified in the adorable relationship with daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal) and her father (H. Jon Benjamin, who voiced McGuirk). It added the remarkably relatable character Tina, who has gone through a slow blossoming puberty over the course of the show. There’s nothing more delightful on basic cable, and it’s a calm animated opposite of darker stuff like Rick & Morty or Archer (also Benjamin!)
Well that’s all for now….tomorrow we’ll take a look at the cable shows, especially that juggernaut Netflix, which seems to debut something new every week. Don’t burn out before you shine, internet!
On Sunday we’ll discuss the mid-season shows we’re most anticipating, and I’ll give you five shows across the board to avoid!
Golden age forever!