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Monday, May 23, 2016

Fall TV Preview: This Is Us is one of the few new shows I'll be watching

The five major networks revealed their 2016-17 schedules last week, and it looks like I'm going to have a lot of free time this fall since almost all of the preview trailers make me want to turn off my TV. And in order to give us all these horrible new shows, the networks had to cancel many old ones, including CSI: Cyber (CBS), Telenovela (NBC), The Mysteries of Laura (NBC) - which at least allows Debra Messing to move on to something much better - Castle (ABC), The Family (ABC), Galavant (ABC), Marvel's Agent Carter (ABC), The Muppets (ABC) and one of my favorites, Nashville (ABC), which airs its final episode on Wednesday (but producer Lionsgate TV is shopping the show to other networks so there is a slim chance that #BringBackNashville might happen).

And here are three interesting network pilots that did not get picked up:

Cruel Intentions, a soapy sequel to the 1999 film with Sarah Michelle Gellar reprising her role as Kathryn Merteuil (NBC has said this show still might see the light of day - perhaps as a summer series)

Me & Mean Margaret, an NBC comedy starring Stockard Channing as a candid and often offensive legendary actress and Gavin Stenhouse as an ambitious 27-year-old lawyer who is forced to babysit her (I would have at least watched the first episode because I adore Ms. Channing).

Pearl, an ABC comedy starring Candice Bergen as a larger-than-life family matriarch (apparently this show will be redeveloped - hopefully still with Ms. Bergen).

Now on to this fall's underwhelming slate of shows that the networks think we want to see. Below you can check out the trailers of three new series that I will be tuning in - for at least their pilot episodes - as well as 15 trailers for shows that I will NOT be watching (all times are Central Standard). You can see a complete fall schedule at

I will, of course, continue to watch Jane the Virgin (8-9 PM on The CW), which was renewed for a third season. And since the networks think we need more father-centric "comedies" like Last Man Standing and According to Jim, here are two more:

Kevin Can Wait (7-7:30 PM on CBS)
I'm just not a Kevin James fan.

Man With A Plan (7:30-8 PM on CBS)
Matt LeBlanc was great on Showtime's Episodes, but now he's signed up for this predictable and unfunny sitcom. At least Jenna Fischer (The Office) - who plays his wife in the pilot - has left the series (she deserves better).

Here is some TV news that did make me happy - ABC renewed The Real O'Neals (8:30-9 PM) for a second season. It's my favorite new sitcom of the year - and the fabulous Martha Plimpton steals the show as the Catholic mother of a gay son. Fox has also renewed the disappointing Scream Queens (8-9 PM) for a second season (the first season was kind of a drag, but I did enjoy the performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and the hilarious Niecy Nash as Officer Denise Hemphill).

Best New Show: This Is Us (8-9 pm on NBC)
Over 43 million people on Facebook have watched the trailer for this dramedy about six people who share the same birthday. It looks like it could be a good series - especially if Milo Ventimiglia's bare ass and a shirtless Justin Hartley continue to be prominently featured. We'll have to wait and see if this turns out to be a big hit for NBC.

Here are two shows that just don't do it for me:

American Housewife (7:30-8 PM on ABC)
This sitcom was originally called The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport, but even with its new generic title, it's still not funny.

No Tomorrow (8-9 PM on The CW)
I predict that this weird show about a cute but crazy guy (Galavant's Joshua Sasse) who believes the apocalypse is coming isn't going to last long against stiff competition in its time slot.

Even without Nashville, Wednesday still features some of my favorite shows - The Goldbergs (7-7:30 PM on ABC), Modern Family (8-8:30 PM on ABC) and Empire (8-9 PM on Fox). But I think I've reached my limit of sitcoms with amusingly overbearing mothers, so I won't be watching Speechless (7:30-8 PM on ABC), a new sitcom starring Minnie Driver as a mother whose son has cerebral palsy.

Scandal won't be returning until midseason due to Kerry Washington's pregnancy, but How to Get Away with Murder (9-10 PM on ABC) will be back for a third season in the fall. Below are three new series that I will not be watching:

Worst New Show: The Great Indoors (7:30-8 PM on CBS)
I really hate the trailer for this new Joel McHale comedy because of its awful laugh track. This sitcom is so not funny - but in its post-Big Bang Theory time slot, I'm sure it will attract a large audience.

Good Place (7:30-8 PM on NBC)
Here is another dismal sitcom, which wastes the talents of Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.

Pitch (8-9 PM on Fox)
This new series about the first woman to play Major League Baseball looks like it might have enough dull drama for a two-hour TV movie - but not for an ongoing series.

The last Friday night series I regularly watched was NBC's Friday Night Lights, but now I will be tuning in (or DVRing) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (8-9 PM), which The CW renewed for a second season. It's up against FOX's new version of The Exorcist, which looks really bad and stars the Academy Award-winning Geena Davis.

Since the fall of 2002, there has been at least one Sunday night network show that I've watched - but not this coming fall. Below you can check out Son of Zorn (7:30-8 PM on Fox), a new sitcom airing after The Simpsons that I'm sure will amuse some folks.

Midseason TV
Network television looks like it could be - hopefully - much better in 2017. Here are six series that I plan to watch at least their first episode:

Great News (NBC) starring Andrea Martin as an overly involved New Jersey mom who gets an internship at her daughter's workplace, a cable news network.

Midnight, Texas (NBC), a supernatural drama based on a series of books by Charlaine Harris (whose Sookie Stackhouse books were adapted for HBO's True Blood).

Riverdale (The CW), a teen drama based on the Archie comics and starring Luke Perry as Archie Andrews' father.

Star (8-9 pm on Wednesdays on Fox), a musical drama created by Empire's Lee Daniels and starring Queen Latifah as Miss Carlotta, the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon who becomes a surrogate mother to three girls with musical dreams (the Dreamgirls-esque trailer doesn't look very original, but I'm willing to give the show a chance).

Still Star-Crossed (ABC), a period drama from Shonda Rhimes that picks up where William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet left off.

Trial & Error (NBC), a spoof of crime documentaries about a high profile murder trial in a small southern town (the cast includes John Lithgow, Krysta Rodriguez, Sherri Shepherd and Jayma Mays).

And here are six new midseason shows that I will not be watching:

Downward Dog (ABC)
This sitcom told from the point of view of a lonely and philosophical dog seems like it should be set in 1993 and star John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.

Imaginary Mary (ABC)
Jenna Elfman hasn't had a hit sitcom since Dharma & Greg went off the air in 2002 - and I doubt that this series will change that.

The Mick (7:30-8 PM on Tuesdays on Fox)
A brash, two-bit hustler from Rhode Island must assume guardianship of her sister’s three children - haven't we already seen this familiar premise before (Family Affair/Uncle Buck/The Bernie Mac Show)?

Shots Fired (7-8 pm on Wednesdays on Fox)
This dark drama reminds me of ABC's American Crime with Helen Hunt starring as Felicity Huffman.

Time After Time (8-9 pm on Sundays on ABC)
This Jack the Ripper drama is based on the 1979 film of the same name starring Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen - and you can watch that in less than two hours.

And there are still many more new network shows that don't excite me, and they include APB (Fox), The Blacklist: Redemption (NBC), Bull (CBS), Chicago Justice (NBC), Conviction (ABC), Designated Survivor (ABC), Doubt (CBS), Emerald City (NBC), Frequency (The CW), Kicking & Screaming (Fox), Lethal Weapon (Fox), MacGyver (CBS), Making History (Fox), Marion (NBC), Notorious (ABC), Powerless (NBC), Prison Break (Fox), Pure Genius (CBS), Taken (NBC), Timeless (NBC), Training Day (CBS) and 24: Legacy (Fox).

But I'm going to end this post on a positive note by mentioning four television projects for next season that do sound promising:

Big Little Lies (HBO), a limited series based on Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel (which I enjoyed reading) about three women whose apparently perfect lives unravel to the point of murder. The cast includes Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgård.

Feud (FX), Ryan Murphy's new anthology series that will center around the backstage battle between Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) during the making of their 1962 film, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Judy Davis also stars as Hedda Hopper).

I'm Dying Up Here (Showtime), a dramedy created by Jim Carrey that is set in the famous Hollywood comedy clubs of the 1970s. The cast includes Melissa Leo, Sebastian Stan and Cathy Moriarty.

When We Rise (ABC), an eight-hour miniseries written by Dustin Lance Black that tells the history of the gay rights movement, starting with the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The cast includes Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Carrie Preston, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Denis O'Hare and David Hyde Pierce.

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