Did anyone see the Jim Carrey video, the one where he spouts existential fervor at a bewildered reporter in the New York Fashion Week press line? It’s just got me thinking a lot about what it means to do pretty much anything. Am I screaming into the void here? Does anyone really expect True Detective to be as good as it was when the McConnaissance was in full swing? Time is a flat circle, after all, and the circadian rhythms of all entertainment distract us from what we should all truly appreciate. Or is it a reflection of ourselves, our inner demons and deepest hopes?
Anyway, since executives at all studios end up pushing some stuff to the side in case they accidentally greenlight an absolute turkey for the fall – here’s what shows have been left for mid-season, if ever:
Alex, Inc. (ABC)
Zach Braff has finally given in and is returning to television with this story of a young entrepreneurial radio journalist who quits his job and attempts to build his own startup company. His wife will be played by the rapidly rising Tiya Sircar, who shined in a guest role as the good Eleanor on recent surprise hit The Good Place. It’s great to see Braff back in our homes again, though what this will be beyond that logline is yet to be seen, so there is some trepidation. Hopefully Braff will make this work, or find something new immediately after. Either way, I’m tuning in as soon as it’s slated.
Splitting Up Together (ABC)
Emily Kapnek has become one of my favorite showrunners, after developing lighthearted ABC comedies like Suburgatory and Selfie. Yes, before you think that latter show was a waste of time, it most certainly was not, and had such a deft touch to the modern adaptation of My Fair Lady that the distillation and takedown of the distraction that modern technology provides humans was absolutely brilliant. I, of course, digress, since this is more of a preview of her new show – that finds Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement) preparing to divorce only to find that the proceeding ignite a deep-seated passion within them that had long been lost. It’s a simple premise, that has been done before somewhere, but with Kapnek’s genius writing, I expect at least something left in her that can bring viewers to their screens. Plus ABC keeps giving her chances, for good reason.
By the Book (CBS)
This, of all things, has to be my most anticipated show of the upcoming year. This also, of all things, has the potential to divide like the biggest lightning rod on the air. As with Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, this has a semi-religious bent and a markedly different original title. Before, this was entitled Living Bibically, and given that it isn’t quite about a person who runs a mega-church in Houston or anything, it makes sense why the switched it to an on-the-nose name. Jay R. Ferugson (Mad Men) plays Chip, a distraught film critic who decides to literally follow the word of the Bible after the death of his best friend. I imagine some executives, critics, and even general viewers to balk at that premise, thinking it would be more Last Man Standing than anything else, but my guess from the cast (David Krumholtz, Camryn Manheim) that it’s going to be more of a sardonic look at how ridiculous some of the BIble’s tenets have become over the evolution of society. If nothing else, this will be something everyone will be talking about, good or bad.
Black Lightning (CW)
No new shows seem to be premiering on the CW this fall, which isn’t really a bad thing. It just means that the programs already in place are clearly working, so why not let a good thing sustain? Luckily for some fledgling shows, there’s room after a 13-episode run to pop in and run for their own. Black Lightning is one of these shows – and much in the vein of other superhero shows on the network, it’s about a man called upon to once again fight for justice in his neighborhood. This time it’s Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), who retired nine years earlier after seeing the effects his crime-fighting was having on his family. Now that the family is grown, it just so happens that a gang called The One Hundred is out to terrorize his home, and that means getting back into the business. I’m still in season one of The Flash, and I know all of these Greg Berlanti-developed shows are top notch, but I’m probably going to end up catching this later, like the other ones. If you’re a fan of his stuff, and the CW in general, you’re probably in for a real treat.
Life Sentence (CW)
Now this is a darker premise than I would expect coming out of the CW. While they’ve attempted stuff this dark before, it’s always fallen flat (see: No Tomorrow, a show that begged to be on cable but was marginalized into fluff). My hope is that it doesn’t happen here. Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) stars as Stella, a young woman who milked her cancer diagnosis to its utmost, but when the cancer miraculously dissipates, she must face the life she thought she was going to leave behind, in other words all the bad decisions she made when she “lived like she was dying”. This includes a husband who thought he was in it for the short run, parents who had mourned for eight years and thought they were doing the right thing, and many other issues that will likely be worked out. Come to think of it, this sounds like one of the possible endings for a season two of No Tomorrow, but maybe this will go better.
The X-Files (FOX)
That’s right, Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will once again grace our television boxes in the search for the truth. What’s expected is that there will be a little more levity in the writing, while accounting for the likely short amount of episodes once again. The likelihood is also that this will at long last be the final run of cases for the extended FBI pair, as all involved (Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson) have stated that this and the last short season were in place of a trilogy capper that never came. It would actually be great to see Kumail Nanjani involved again, or someone else like the inimitable Rhys Darby, but perhaps it would be better if they don’t go full nostalgia – something like the recent third season of Twin Peaks would work fine. We don’t need to get existential, and it would be nice to get some actual closure – perhaps for Fox’s sister – but I think it will still be nice to see the greatest working federal agents one last time.
LA to Vegas (FOX)
Another great premise left by the wayside for January or beyond, this tells the short woeful tale of those red-eye pilots and stewardesses that are stuck on the flight between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Debauchery all around them, the hard-working employees must leverage themselves against their better judgment, although that will likely not go as planned. Dylan McDermott stars as the beleaguered perpetual captain, stuck from rising up to a better flight plan alongside a wacky in-flight crew and weekly passengers that are drunk or hungover. One of them is Peter Stormare, so expect some strangeness.
The Resident (FOX)
Matt Czuchry was consistently the best parts of scenes he was in on The Good Wife, holding his own against heavy hitters like Julianna Marguiles, Christine Baranski and the show’s MVP, Archie Panjabi. Now that it’s over (and he made it the whole way surprisingly), Czuchry has the chance to be the main star himself in this hospital drama where veterans like Bruce Greenwood continually tell him that he’ll have to compromise his morals to do the right thing for the hospital to stay in business. Given that he’s a maverick, it’s pretty obvious that Czuchry’s doctor, Conrad Hawkins, will bow to the whim of executives. Instead, he’s definitely going to be in it for his patients. Emily VanCamp will follow his lead as another new resident, and this kind of writes itself…so this may not be the best show. However, with a cast like this, it deserves at least a second opinion.
AP Bio (NBC)
As news broke that this show had been optioned for a slot in NBC’s schedule, the most important thing to note was that star of the series Glenn Howerton still had a job over at FX, namely being the star of their flagship show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. As the season over there ended, Howerton claimed that he wasn’t sure what would happen, but given that all five cast members are signed for at least two more seasons, there’s no doubt that the show will continue. The thinking here goes that they’ll push the next season back since co-star Kaitlin Olsen has her own show over at FOX, The Mick and they’ll see how AP Bio goes. The plot itself is enticing, as Howerton plays a high school teacher (obviously of AP Bio) who was cheated out of his dream position at a prestigious university. He then begins to use his brilliant honor students to enact revenge on his rival who claimed the job, much to the chagrin of the high school’s principal, played by Patton Oswalt. For me, this is a dream comedy, so I’m on pins and needles hoping this comes sooner than later. On top of that, the producing team of Seth Myers and Lorne Michaels seems to be already approved for air.
The Handmade Project (NBC)
Normally I’m not one to be too excited about a reality show – I’ve never had one in a preview before. This one’s different, however, and one I may give a chance for a handful of episodes. Nick Offerman, star of Parks & Recreation, has always had a knack for woodworking, a love he shared with his alter ego Ron Swanson. He’s built a brand in his comedy on defining oneself by developing and harnessing a skill, such as woodworking. Only naturally, the progression towards NBC giving him a show where he can showcase that skill in front of millions of Americans has finally come to fruition. He’ll be joined by his Parks co-star Amy Poehler as they weave their way through contestants who shall compete to make the best furniture or other wooden products. I look forward to Offerman’s sardonic yet straightforward mentorship, as it has always fit well with Poehler’s bubbly optimism. For once, NBC may have done something right.
So many people getting new shows! Here’s Ted Mosby, high school drama teacher! Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) is set to lead a new Glee-esque telecast set within a school that is on the verge of losing its drama program to budget cuts. Radnor rallies the troops with fellow teacher Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing). Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) leads the cast of students, and we’re sure to see her singing skills showcased, among other talented youngsters. This seems like a great idea, and enough time has passed since Glee that it won’t be stepping on any toes.
Law & Order: True Crime (NBC)
Are they even trying anymore? I mean, when Law & Order as a franchise first appeared before us all the way back in 1990, everyone joked about how the stories were ‘ripped from the headlines’. They even brazenly started referencing that themselves, and soon no one cared that Chevy Chase was guest starring as a thinly veiled version of Mel Gibson or they were finding three girls who’d been trapped in a basement for decades finally getting free. Obviously, everyone is okay with that by now, and given the current trend of high-profile criminal cases getting their own anthology series, it was somewhat unsurprising the Dick Wolf-produced series would head in this direction. The good news: Edie Falco is coming back to television as real-life lawyer Leslie Abramson, who has defended Phil Spector as well as this 8-episode mini-series subjects, the Menendez brothers. Anthony Edwards (ER) will be coming back not only to television, but his moneymaking home NBC, as the judge who oversaw the case, which sought to discover whether the young siblings murdered their parents in 1996. Julianne Nicholson and Josh Charles will pop in as well, and the whole thing sounds like a nice binge-watch eventually.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Somehow, I must have missed that this was actually premiering September 27 – I believe it was erroneously labeled in the Wikipedia list for the upcoming fall season and I never spot checked before the first part of this preview went out.
Good Girls (NBC)
Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes) was set to star in this riff on the Bad Moms situation…except this time the girls decide to plan a heist on their local supermarket. I don’t know what Perkins opted out, but her replacement is a delighful surprise – Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks. She joins original co-stars Mae Whitman (Parenthood) and Retta (Parks and Rec) as the heist goes bad and they’re recognized by the manager, played by Matthew Lillard (Twin Peaks). The premise seems solid enough, and maybe the move to mid-season pulled Perkins, but the messiness still worries me for the show’s prospects.
Later, there will be several shows, that are yet to be scheduled:
True Detective (season 3, later 2017 or early 2018, stars Mahershala Ali!)
Barry (HBO, early 2018, hitman Bill Hader joins a Los Angeles improv troupe!)
American Lion (originally set for 2017, stars Sean Penn as Andrew Jackson!)
Here, Now (undated, probably 2018, Alan Ball returns with a family drama)
The Terror (AMC, set for 2017, historical horror in the Arctic)
Atlanta (FX, 2018, probably setting season 2 at some point in the summer?)
American Crime Story: Versace (FX, 2018, skipping Katrina may have been good?)
Archer: Danger Island (FX, 2018, the seminal animated program does it again)
Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Amazon, unknown, just put it on my television already)
I was going to have a top five worst shows of this upcoming season, but I could only bring myself to discuss one – Widsom of the Crowd, a Jeremy Piven-starrer that has the former Entourage Emmy winner using his technological prowess and endless stream of funds to improve the outdated San Francisco police force’s assets. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s basically last year’s FOX drama APB, which saw former Weeds Golden Globe nominee Justin Kirk playing a rich technology buff that supplied the Chicago PD. Unfortunately for CBS, that did not work, and this version looks even more smug – somehow. The good news is that supporting actors include Natalia Tena (Harry Potter) and Monica Potter (Parenthood) so it may be a bigger hit, but it really shouldn’t be if Kirk didn’t get his chance. At least the car chases will be better in San Fran, right?
Well, that’s it. Remember to take heed to my warnings and excitement and then go ahead and spend the rest of the year in front of the tube. I hope this at least provides you with some sort of relief from the outside world, maybe?