The Best and Worst of Fall TV
This week, the broadcast networks unveiled their new lineups for the fall TV season at their annual upfront presentations. Based on brief clips and trailers of the new shows, here's a roundup of the most (and least) promising new shows.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): Because it's Andy Samberg's post-SNL breakout-to-be. Or at least that's what it looks like. In this show created by Parks and Recreation's Mike Schur, Samberg plays a raffish detective in a comical spin on the procedural crime drama – a millennial Barney Miller. And what a great cast: Andre Braugher plays against type as the station's new chief, and stand-up comic Chelsea Peretti co-stars.
Intelligence (CBS): Because Josh Holloway was a badass as Sawyer on Lost, and he looks just as badass here. He plays an agent for U.S. Cyber Command that has a chip implanted in his brain that allows him access to computer mainframes, satellites, and other techno-gadgetry. It looks very CBS in that it'll likely be utterly middle-of-the-road but rock-solid dependable.
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC): Because I think we all forgot just how great a comedian the former Alex P. Keaton is. The Peacock is high on this sitcom (ordering it straight to series before even shooting a pilot), and based on the preview, their confidence was prescient and well-placed. Fox plays an anchorman who returns to work after years off-camera following his Parkinson's diagnosis. Not only does it appear to play up Fox's real-life diagnosis, but it does it in a way that isn't cheap. The most promising-looking comedy of the fall.
Mom (CBS): Because even though it comes from Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) and portends to be the kind of broad multi-cam sitcom CBS has been doing forever, this might be the one to prove us all wrong. Hear me out: Anna Faris, who plays the titular recovering-alcoholic mother, is one of the most undersung comedic actresses of our time. Really. And her rapport with Allison Janney, who plays Faris' mother, even in the brief clips, looks golden. I'm ready to give it a chance.
Once Upon a Time In Wonderland (ABC): Because even just four minutes of this spin-off is already better than Once Upon a Time. In this umpteenth retelling of Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice is locked up in a padded cell after her time in Wonderland, and her asylum is ready to perform a procedure - Claire Danes in Homeland-style - to make her forget. But not before she gets help from her friends in Wonderland, who bust her out and take her back down the rabbit hole. This looks to be better than the recent Tim Burton movie in that it will actually be, you know, good.
Mixology (ABC): Because this looks like the classic example of concept over character. Ready for this? The entire season will be set during one night at a bar where an extended group of people meet one another for the first time. It's a bold concept that is difficult to pull off, but in the right hands, is not impossible. These are not the right hands.
The Millers (CBS): Because Will Arnett made a huge mistake. In this Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl) comedy, he plays a guy who has hidden from his parents that he's gotten divorced from his wife – until they try to move in and find out. And then they get divorced, too. Hijinks! Margo Martindale plays his mother and makes fart jokes!
The Originals (The CW): Because I couldn't list all of The CW's new shows. Just kidding! (But not really. Grim.) The Vampire Diaries has its redeeming values – no other show on television, except maybe Shonda Rhimes' Scandal, burns through as much plot with as much skill as it does. But this spin-off, about … something, comes across as an unaware parody. C-Dub made the unfortunate decision to preview an unintentionally hilarious scene where a characters proclaims, "I have the ability to know when women are pregnant!"
We Are Men (CBS): Because we shouldn't live in a world where we have to write "Creepy Shalhoub." Four guys (who include Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O'Connell, and Kal Penn) live in the same apartment complex and bond over their recently divorced status. They're all very randy and daffy and occasionally shirtless. Which, fine, whatever, but even in the short clips, there's something skeezy and hollow to the group's camaraderie – a playboy Monk doesn't help.
Welcome to the Family (NBC): Because good intentions shouldn't be enough for a series pickup. When two college freshmen become pregnant and engaged, their families (who include Mike O'Malley) are forced to come together and make peace. Stories of blended families (this one being white-Hispanic) work best when they're not so on-the-nose and aren't too quick to grab the obvious joke. This doesn't look like it's better than that.