Several actors from shows I loved in the past are featured in the fall broadcast network line up, obligating me to watch at least a few episodes out of loyalty. My coworker recently told me, “Your problem is that you love too many actors.” And that’s true. Please make sure my gravestone reads: “She loved so deeply that she was forced to watch more television than is healthy for an adult seeking to live a full life.”
The fall TV schedule seems heavily influenced by networks seeking to replicate the success of This Is Us. One can imagine that every successful network pitch referenced the NBC hit, because all of these shows contain some maudlin elements. Some of the shows I really enjoyed, but there isn’t anything that I would be distraught over not seeing again. A good trend seems to be strong female characters. And apparently there’s more diversity to be found in broadcast television this season: “eight fall shows are led by actors of color (there were four last fall).” Let’s take a look.
A Million Little Things (This Is Us but with suicide instead of accidental death and a group of friends instead of a family)
My connection here is James Roday, of the cult favorite Psych. In his new role in this ensemble cast, he uses much of the same sarcasm and abrasive charm that he did as Shawn Spencer. The show is centered on a group of four male friends, but the women in their lives are fleshed out characters with their own shit going on, which is cool. The pilot takes on more than it needed to: in addition to this group reeling from a friend’s suicide, the show introduces several twists and mysteries. But I really enjoyed the constant swing between heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud gallows humor and I’m worried about the dismal reviews this show got from critics. I guess we shouldn’t get too attached.
Manifest (This Is Us meets Lost meets police procedural)
Oh boy. This is Me wondering what is going on in this show. A plane takes off in 2013, goes through rough turbulence, then lands in 2018. For the passengers, no time has passed and they haven’t aged, but they were presumed dead by the world and everyone in their lives moved on. Oh they also now have some kind of power. That they use to solve crimes. All I could think about while watching is how pissed I’d be to get off a plane and find out I no longer had an apartment and my family gave all my stuff away because they thought I was dead.
New Amsterdam (This Is Us in a hospital)
In all fairness, hospital shows have always had tearjerker storylines, it’s literally about life and death. You may remember that I’m best friends with Ryan Eggold, who stars as the new medical director at a public hospital, so I’m especially happy to see him at the helm of a fall show. He doesn’t have time for bullshit or bureaucracy because he only cares about the patients. He’s kind of an anti-House though, because his catchphrase is “What can I do to help?” I liked it and I’ll keep watching it.
God Friended Me (This Is Us with religion)
Not as stupid as I thought it would be but still pretty stupid. Dude is an atheist and his dad is a preacher. Then God adds him on an unnamed social network and sends him friend suggestions for people he is supposed to help. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World did this concept a million times better and I’m still mad it got canceled.
FBI (This is just a regular law enforcement show)
I swear it took me three days to get through the first episode. I don’t know a single thing about any of the characters except I guess one lady’s husband is dead. Damn you Jeremy Sisto for being in this show, I will give it at least three episodes but basically it’s just like a cop show but with federal crimes.
New Girl creator Liz Meriwether and executive producer J.J. Philbin (daughter of Regis) reunited for this sitcom starring Leighton Meester, who showed her comedy chops in the short-lived Making History. It starts off pretty rough but by the end they had me. There are some hilarious moments in the pilot, which actually works as a stand-alone episode of television. In 22 minutes they made a nice little short story that would be satisfying even without more episodes to follow. The ending is sappy but I’ll allow it.
This show is so rude because it stars Damon Wayans Jr. from Happy Endings, and it has “happy” in the title, but it is not in fact the greatest comedy ever, Happy Endings. Although Damon’s character is kind of a hybrid of Brad/Dave/Penny, an unexpected combination that just might work. Damon is a talented comedian and I also love Amber Stevens West (from Greek), but in the Year of Our Lord 2018, a laugh track just kills the vibe and makes shows feel dated. Damon and Amber are a married couple in their 30s who take in a famous young actor (pop star?) looking to live a simpler life. That’s really it so far. It’s possible this could grow into a funny show, but it would be due to the talent of the leads and not the writing.
Lethal Weapon Reboot
Season 1 of Lethal Weapon was so good that I could never have accepted the loss of Clayne Crawford’s Martin Riggs immediately after. Season 2, however, lost the chemistry between Riggs and Murtaugh, reportedly because of on-set tension between Crawford and Damon Wayans. Seann William Scott has replaced Riggs as Murtaugh’s new partner, and so far I am NOT too old for this shit. (One assumes he spells Sean with two ns purely for purposes of symmetry with his other two names). Wisely, instead of just pretending nothing happened, the first episode was all about Roger grieving over Riggs’ death (yeah that’s a spoiler but what did you think would happen, he got shot and the actor was fired). Season 3 is off to a good start. Also Maggie Lawson from Psych was featured in the S3 premiere.
Murphy Brown Reboot
Jake McDorman, one of the few actors I follow on social media, joins the cast as Murphy’s son. He was in the beloved ABC Family show Greek. He’s also the only actor in the premiere who doesn’t shout his lines like he’s reading them off a cue card. That’s why I’m using a gif of him in Limitless instead of a Murphy Brown trailer, because the trailers are all terrible. Candice Bergen is okay, but lord, the supporting cast is awful and the writing is flat. I’m personally not in a place where I want to watch a show about the current news – the entire first episode is about Trump, and Hillary Clinton makes a cameo – but maybe there’s an audience for this. If you want to watch a great show that pulls from current events, go watch The Good Fight instead, which is consistently the best hour of television each week when it’s airing.
Magnum PI Reboot
If anyone is going to love this show, it will be me, but so far the verdict is still out. The first three minutes suck so I’m going to ruin it for you. They’re on some rescue mission that involves parachuting in from space (ugh) and other unrealistic actions scenes – but it turns out to be a scene from Robin Masters’ book so it was over the top. Seriously just fast forward until you see four guys in a room hanging out. What I like: Higgins is a woman and she is a badass B who can kick ass. Rick is Dave Rose from my favorite show of all time, Happy Endings. He brings the much-needed humor.
My hang up here is Thomas Magnum. This first episode assumes that we love him and his charm without earning it. You gotta make us like him in this iteration, because in the pilot he comes off as a kind of a jerk. Like he cares about his friends and does some nice things, but it’s not enough. We’ll see how this plays out moving forward.
I realize I’m probably the only person here who watches a lot of network television. But since I live alone, I use the TV for company, so what I want most in a program is characters I’d want to hang out with. What are you guys watching? Emmy-winning cable premiere television shows with lots of gratuitous nudity and cursing? Feel free to share this post with your parents, who no doubt watch as much CBS as I do.