Fall is one of the best times of year. I know a lot of people say that because of their Pumpkin Spice addictions, but I’m not one of those people. I love hoodies and comfy clothes, crisp weather, hot chocolate, and scary movies. I also love the Fall TV premieres. It’s always exciting to see which shows will thrive and which will flounder. While I was watching them I decided to rank them from best to worst.
The criteria were simple. I looked at what the major non-cable networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CW) had to offer in premieres that happened before October 15. I watched three episodes of each show to decide. The results were better than I thought, but there were a few shows that surprised me in either good or bad ways.
What have been your favorites this year? Let me know in the comments and keep reading to see which shows topped (and bottomed) on my list!
Blindspot had me and a lot of other people hooked from the first promo that hit the air. In a similar vein to something like The Bourne Identity, Blindspot tells the tale of a badass chick that has her memory wiped, only to wake up stuffed in a bag in Times Square, naked and covered with fresh tattoos. Each tattoo is a clue to a crime that is happening and it becomes the job of “Jane” and the FBI to figure out the clues to learn more about her and to stop some potentially terrible crimes in the process. You couldn’t ask for a better attempt at a new show. It runs like it’s been on the air for years. It’s seamlessly heart-pounding and entertaining in all the right moments. It’s a keeper, for sure.
*Not surprisingly Blindspot received a full season pickup
Blood & Oil (ABC)
Blood & Oil makes me sad. It’s one of my favorite shows this season and I know it’s going to end up cancelled. It’s on Sunday nights. It’s contending with things like Football and The Walking Dead. No Freshman drama should be put in a spot like that, it’s just not fair. Still this Don Johnson and Chace Crawford led drama about a young couple looking to strike it rich in the oil business is a diamond in the rough. If ABC gave it the chance it deserves it would no doubt pay off. If you love this show, try not to get hooked because it’s highly likely that it won’t even see a full season.
*Blood & Oil was cut from 13 episodes to 10
The thing that worried me most about Quantico when I watched the preview was how the story was going to continue, after the initial story about an FBI recruit that was charged with a terrorist attack, wrapped up. After an episode or two, I quickly stopped wondering about that and just watched the show. The storyline is constantly engaging the viewer. The characters are fun, relatable and full of layers. Most importantly, you never stop wanting to know what is going to happen next. ABC got lucky when they added this to their lineup. It’s a much needed show with the amount of diversity it offers and the overall quality it delivers.
*Quantico received a full season pickup
Life in Pieces (CBS)
Life in Pieces is not like any sitcom currently on the air. This is true for a number of reasons. For starters, the cast is ridiculous. We’re talking Colin Hanks, Betsy Brandt, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, Thomas Sadoski, and Dan Bakkedahl. That’s not including the rest of the cast, which doesn’t include a weak actor. Told in a series of four short segments, Life in Pieces is never short of hilarious moments. It’s rare to immediately fall in love with a show, as pilots are notoriously clunky, but I knew this was a winner from the very first episode. I hope it stays around for a long time to come.
Code Black (CBS)
Look, it’s another medical drama! The medical drama is nothing new, so the charm comes not necessarily from the stories they are telling, but from the characters that you get to know intimately each week. The beauty of this show comes in the form of the staff, which includes Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist, Damages), Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights, Carlito’s Way), Kevin Dunn (Transformers, True Detective), and newcomer Harry Ford. The premise of the show follows the doctors, residents, and nurses of an LA hospital that goes into Code Black (the busiest time in the hospital floor) 300 days a year. I wasn’t expecting much after watching the previews, but I flew through the first three episodes and I really enjoyed it. I hope CBS does the right thing and gives it a full season so we can see where the show goes.
*6 additional scripts have been ordered for Code Black
Coming from the 80s, I have a hard time committing to any sort of sitcom because they just don’t do it the way they used to. I find that I either fall hard (I’m looking at you Raising Hope and The Goldbergs) or I want to pretend that I never wasted my time watching it (The Middle). I did not have high hopes for Grandfathered, because this is similar to every, man doesn’t know how to handle kids, sitcom ever made. John Stamos is a self-absorbed restaurant owner living the high life until he finds out he has a 25-year-old son and a new baby granddaughter. Paget Brewster plays the mom of the 25-year-old. While much of this show is cliché in the most embarrassing ways, the acting chops of Brewster and Stamos, along with much of the supporting cast, create these wonderfully fun and endearing moments. The scripts try to hard, but the acting makes up for it. I’m not completely sold yet, but it’s made me smile and that’s a good start.
*6 additional scripts were ordered for Grandfathered
I loved the idea for the movie Limitless, but was less thrilled about the idea of the television show based on the same theory. I did appreciate the tie-in with Bradley Cooper though and the acting from both Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) and the endearing and amusing, Jake McDorman (Greek). I actually found the show to be better than I thought it would be. McDorman plays a guy with dreams but without focus who ends up taking NZT when he runs into a friend. This leads him down a rather unexpected path that gets him a job at the FBI where he is partnered with Jennifer Carpenter. It manages to be as much about the various crimes they solve as it is about their personal lives, especially McDorman. I don’t know that this will win any awards, but it’s solid television.
*Limitless was picked up for a full season
Some of the problem that people are going to find with Rosewood is that it’s two different stories. On one hand you have the cases that Rosewood (played by a delightfully charismatic Morris Chestnut) is working on and on the other hand you have his personal life. Rosewood suffers from a series of health problems and is not expected to make it much longer, especially since he’s not on the transplant lists for a new heart. That said, I love the diversity on the show and had a good time watching it. There are some kinks, the largest of which is that the show doesn’t feel entirely original. They need something to set this apart and while Morris Chestnut is a good start, it likely won’t be enough. Based on the critic response alone, I would be shocked if Rosewood caught a second season.
*Rosewood actually received a full season pickup
Minority Report (Fox)
While TV is more original these days than movies, it is bothersome to see the amount of movies that are being repurposed into television shows. While some are better than others, the overall landscape is problematic. It’s easier to sell a show that has nothing to compare it to. I’ve never seen the Minority Report films, so this wasn’t a problem with me, but I’m sure others will be able to find faults in the adaptation. All in all, this is a fairly well-acted series. Psychic children that were used in a pre-crime program have become adults and one of them is helping an officer to solve crimes. The biggest problem is that I just don’t care. If it’s on, I might watch it, but if it’s not it might as well not exist.
*Minority Report’s order was changed from 13 episodes to 10
The Player (NBC)
The Player isn’t really bad, per say. The show tries to present the cops and robbers idea in a new way. Rich people bet on crime and whether or not one guy can prevent crimes from happening. In this case, the guy in question is Alex Kane (Philip Winchester), a bad guy turned good, who is fighting to make sure that people don’t get hurt in the crossfire of the crimes that he is trying to stop. The problem is that it’s just not all that interesting. It’s high on action and low on character development. In short, a lot would have to change for it to get better.
*The Player has been reduced to just 9 episodes
Heroes Reborn (NBC)
It’s coming! I watched four episodes of Heroes Reborn, partly because I didn’t realize the first episode was actually two episodes until it was over. It doesn’t matter much though because that extra episode just solidified my feelings about this show. I want to say that this is the Heroes of before. Instead, while there are some similarities, the spark is gone. Too much emphasis is spent on the mysterious “it” that is coming and not enough developing new characters. It just feels like a bunch of characters you don’t know, doing things for some unknown reason. After four episodes of “it” coming I just can’t imagine that it lives up to whatever my imagination could conjure while waiting for “it” to arrive.
The Grinder (Fox)
Where The Grinder suffers the most is in the execution of an already strained story. Two brothers, a lawyer and one who played one on television, are reunited when one comes for a visit after his TV series ends. He decides he wants to continue living as an attorney and basically moves in with his brother and his father, also an attorney, who lives there, as well. No one has exceptional chemistry across the board. The jokes try too hard to be funny and are therefore eye-roll inducing. In the end, it’s not the worst way to spend 21 minutes, but I wouldn’t want to sit through it with the added commercials, as I don’t feel like there is anything to wait for.
*6 additional scripts were ordered for The Grinder
The Muppets (ABC)
I had such hopes for The Muppets. Like most 80s kids, The Muppets were a big part of my life. This show has effectively smashed many of my hopes and dreams. I could get past the cheesy confessional based, behind-the-scenes premise, but the idea that they have completely changed the tone and personality of nearly all the major players short of Statler and Waldorf is just unacceptable. Miss Piggy may still be a diva, but now she’s a cruel, unfeeling, self-absorbed diva that is nothing short of a complete moron. It not only ends up being disheartening, it’s also entirely depressing.
Scream Queens (Fox)
The horror comedy is a fine balance of scares and laughter that is often underutilized and misrepresented. In Scream Queens, Ryan Murphy doesn’t do the genre any favors. As always, his scares are shallow, superficial and boring, and his laughs are well…non-existent. Scream Queens will initially draw people in with the usual big names that work on Murphy shows. However, it won’t take long for people to become bored. If you like seeing disabled people exploited for laughs and the extreme characterization and stereotypical bias against Greek life in school than this might be for you, but otherwise, I’d make a point to skip this. This is definitely one of the most embarrassing new shows on television.
Dr. Ken (ABC)
Watching Dr. Ken was perhaps one of the most painful experiences I’ve had with this set of new fall shows. Not only is the show sexist, the jokes are so baseless and unintelligent that they aren’t even worth telling. The jokes are so bad it’s possible that even the laugh track (which is far too present, just so you know when to laugh) doesn’t want to laugh. I’ve been dreading Dr. Ken since I saw the extended preview and with my limited expectations, it still managed to disappoint. If jokes about minorities, prostitutes, and using a clinic as a plot device works for you then this show will be right up your alley. Otherwise, I highly suggest running the other way. Dr. Ken is as terrible and uninspired as last years crash and burn comedy, Mulaney. You’d be better off watching reruns of shows worth watching.
*Dr. Ken shamefully received a full season pick up
So what’s your favorite new fall show?