My 5 Most-Anticipated Network Shows of Fall 2013
On it goes – just as the summer blockbuster season gets started, it’s time to cast our attention ahead a few months to the new TV offerings coming next season. At the annual Upfronts meetings several weeks ago, the major networks rolled out the trailers for their latest crops of TV. As usual, the majority of the new programs will likely be cancelled before they finish their first season. But there are a few promising ideas mixed in with the false starts.
I’m particularly drawn to Almost Human, a new sci-fi buddy-cop show from Fox, and Intelligence, an action-espionage program from CBS. What follows are my picks for the most interesting TV concepts starting up on network TV in the fall. I’m leaving cable channels off the list purely because they almost always outgun the networks in terms of creativity and storytelling, and I figure it’s only fair to weigh TV shows on even playing fields. Read on for the shows I’ll be checking out, and to leave your thoughts in the comments!
1. The Blacklist (NBC, Mondays at 10/9 C)
I’m a huge fan of espionage-themed movies and TV, so the concept behind The Blacklist grabbed me right away. James Spader stars as criminal mastermind Raymond Reddington, who abruptly turns himself in to the federal government, striking a deal to help them catch all their most-wanted targets. He’s teamed with a young agent played by Megan Boone, and the two of them take advantage of Reddington’s impressive stockpile of information and contacts to nab difficult targets.
There’s a bit of danger that The Blacklist could end up feeling a tad formulaic, especially if the show falls back on a “case of the week” structure. But if the promised overarching narrative of the reasons behind Reddington’s surrender is developed properly, this could be a real hit for NBC.
2. Believe (NBC, Midseason, Timeslot TBA)
This show gets a spot on my list mostly because of the talent behind the camera: Believe is produced by J.J. Abrams (the current King of the Geeks) and with a pilot written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. It follows a young girl with supernatural powers on the run from shadowy people who want to control her. Assigned to protect the girl is a former death row inmate played by Jake McLaughlin, and the two travel across the country trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.
Technically, Believe isn’t a new show for the fall, but it’s premiering mid-season (around January) alongside one of my other picks, CBS’ Intelligence. In any case, Believe is poised to spin some interesting supernatural mysteries of the kind J.J. Abrams’ fans will flock to, as long as the show doesn’t get too bogged down in its mythology.
3. Almost Human (Fox, Late Fall, Mondays at 8/7 C)
As long as we’re talking J.J. Abrams, I figured I’d mention his other contribution to the upcoming season of TV: Almost Human, a buddy-cop sci-fi series on Fox. The program stars Karl Urban (Star Trek) as John Kennex, a grumpy near-future cop who disagrees with his police force’s new policy on pairing officers with android partners. Urban’s character is forced to work with a older-model android played by Michael Ealy, who happens to be designed with a more experimental A.I., making him temperamental and, for Kennex, relatable.
By being a bit of a genre mash-up, Almost Human will end up borrowing from both its sci-fi and cop show roots. Like most sci-fi series, there’s a risk that the show’s attempts at world-building will distract from character-building. And the police perspective will probably mean the program will follow an episodic structure rather than a serialized one. Potential pitfalls aside, I’m hoping the team behind Fringe, some of whom are also producing this show, can deliver another hit.
4. The Crazy Ones (CBS, Thursdays at 9/8 C)
Typically, I don’t go in for network comedies - I find most of them end up getting stale after a couple of seasons. Even so, I’m holding out that the new Robin Williams series on CBS, The Crazy Ones, pans out. Williams stars as an ad executive working in a agency alongside his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Basically, the setup of the show simply works as a vehicle for Williams’ trademark insanity, which I think any fans of his will appreciate – at least for a little while.
The question is whether The Crazy Ones can develop any of its characters beyond their basic descriptions in the press materials. This doesn’t just apply to the other characters at the ad agency, but also to Williams’ character Simon Roberts, who could easily turn into a pastiche of all his previous routines. Call me cautiously optimistic on this one.
5. Intelligence (CBS, Midseason, Mondays at 10/9 C)
The simple presence of Josh Holloway as the star of this espionage-themed actioner was enough to earn a place on this list. From 2004 to 2010, Holloway was one of the standout performers on Lost, as the tortured con man Sawyer. Now, Holloway ditches the Southern accent to play an ex-Special Forces soldier who has a microchip implanted in his brain, giving him the ability to pull up real-time information databases in his head and use them to track down criminals.
It might sound like a lame B-movie idea, but the production values seem fairly top notch, and CBS indicated its confidence in the series by picking it up for a full season. Clearly, they’re looking at the success of their similarly-themed show Person of Interest and hoping to press their advantage with their viewers. Hopefully, Intelligence won’t take itself too seriously, and the onscreen partnership between Holloway and Meghan Ory (who plays his Secret Service handler) will have some decent chemistry.
That’s it for my 2013-2014 picks – which ones are you excited for, and which ones do you think will survive past their first season? Are there any series that I didn’t mention that you’re looking forward to? Join the discussion in the comments section, and if you liked this post, share it with your friends and followers!
Recent Posts on TV: