Fall TV 2014: 4 New Shows to See and 4 to Skip
It’s that time of year again: the networks are readying their fall lineups of TV programs, jostling to see which new concepts will take off with audiences. Which shows will survive to finish their first seasons or get second ones? It’s always difficult to tell – for example, of the 5 shows I flagged as my most-anticipated last year, only 1 returned in 2014.
Nevertheless, to help you sift through the two dozen new series launching over the next few months, here’s a double-barreled list of 4 shows that may be worth your time, and 4 shows that will likely waste it.
WHAT TO SEE
An American adaptation of the popular British detective show Broadchurch, this series features the previous version’s star, David Tennant, in a new role. Early buzz suggests this could be a big hit, due partly to Tennant’s popularity as the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who, his co-star Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), and compact, addictive storytelling reminiscent of HBO’s True Detective. (View trailer)
Likely one of the most talked-about shows of the new season (at least among the ever-increasing fans of the superhero genre) is the new series that examines the origins of Batman and his rogues’ gallery. While the show centres on Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his day-to-day work on the GCPD, there will be appearances from a young Bruce Wayne, and lots of episodes devoted to where Batman’s enemies came from. No matter how it’s received, I’m enough of a Batman fan that I’ll probably devour the first season and then clamour for more – Fox’s cancel-happy reputation be damned. (View trailer)
CBS can seem like the Procedural Network at times, and so it’s no surprise that they’re trying out a show that follows I.T. geniuses solving Internet security crimes. The show gets a mention here, however, because it’s set in an industry that has long been poorly represented on screen – if Scorpion can incorporate authentic hacking sequences while making us care about its characters, the show may distinguish itself from all the other detective shows on TV. (View trailer)
Early reception to the Peacock’s graphic novel adaptation is mixed so far. Some reviewers are cautiously optimistic; others are comparing it unfavourably to dark magician John Constantine’s poorly-received cinematic portrayal by Keanu Reeves in 2005. It seems like this show may end up relying on a word-of-mouth buildup: if Constantine impresses fans of the Hellblazer comic, they may convince enough of their friends to watch the show that NBC will keep it on their slate. For me, the casting of Lost’s Harold Perrineau as Constantine’s guardian angel should get me through at least the first couple of episodes. (View trailer)
WHAT TO SKIP
Unfortunately for ABC’s new drama Forever, a gimmicky premise and 25% of the former Fantastic Four ensemble won’t be enough to snag me (or a substantial portion of the medical drama audience, I’ll wager). Ioan Gruffudd plays Dr. Henry Morgan, an immortal medical examiner who studies death to try to understand why he can’t die. It’ll be a big surprise if Forever can exceed what seems like a heavily formulaic structure, which ought to make it feel especially interminable. (View trailer)
Remember my earlier comment about the Procedural Network? CBS isn’t doing much to dispel that label with the launch of Stalker, which follows LAPD detectives on the trail of obsessive and violent criminals. The most this series can aspire to with that kind of premise is broadcast filler – something to help fill up the schedule between the network’s bigger hits. I suspect that the spookiest thing about Stalker is lead actor Dylan McDermott’s freakish inability to age – maybe he belongs over on ABC’s Forever instead? (View trailer)
Bad Judge (NBC)
I’m not the first to note Kate Walsh’s fun contribution to FX’s Fargo, but I suspect that by switching over to network TV on NBC’s Bad Judge might restrict her too much. The show is a legal spin on a familiar tale: a hard-partying authority figure must face the consequences of their lack of discipline, this time when a Circuit Court judge (Walsh) is left to look after a kid whose parents she imprisons. Bad Judge might flaunt Will Ferrell and Adam MacKay as creators, but I doubt audiences will feel much of their influence in the final product. (View trailer)
State of Affairs (NBC)
I’d normally be willing to try out any show with a political or espionage thriller vibe, but in all the years I’ve been aware of Katherine Heigl’s work, I can’t say she’s enough to draw me to a new series, even one about a CIA analyst preparing the daily security briefing for the President. I’m also not opposed to director Joe Carnahan, who makes entertaining thrillers like The Grey, but he doesn’t seem like the right fit for a program that aims to dive into complicated issues like foreign policy and domestic security. State of Affairs ultimately reads to me like an interesting concept with the wrong talent attached to it. (View trailer)
What do you think of my See/Skip picks for the Fall 2014 TV season? Are there any other notable hits or misses in the making? Join the discussion of the upcoming TV season in the comments section, and if you liked this post, share it with your friends and followers!