Fall TV 2016

Yes, it is that time of year again… time to assess the new batch of shows and see how many stay part of my weekly life. I’ve been putting off this post simply because I fell behind my watching due to travel, but seems like I can’t really push this much further, so here we go…

Still watching

This is Us
Surprisingly good writing and plotting and probably the strongest start of the season for me. It has also managed to sustain its quality through its early episodes as well. The writers keep the structures changing and reveal characters in ways that remain unexpected and entertaining. One thing really going for it is the cast, who run with the scripts brilliantly.

Suspect this will flare out eventually for me. The humor is often a little too obvious, but they always seem to just balance it before the end of the show to something digestible. It may well find its feet for the longer haul and get me fully committed. For now, it isn’t a bad half hour.

A surprisingly weak opening for such a hotly anticipated show. Generally, there are some interesting mystery aspects, but a lot of obvious plot points and moments, and some very bad (forced) writing. Even after several episodes they haven’t found their feet. If I continue to watch, it is purely out of masochism to see what the heck the bigger mysteries turn out to be. What is interesting is seeing how this show differs from Frequency in how it deals with changes to a timeline.

Some interesting writing and the show is unafraid to make some bold choices. Obvious choices at times, sure, but still willingness to go dark. The real question is whether the premise can be sustained for more than a single season without it feeling recycled. So far, so good, even when they make easy, stupid choices to force the plot along. Comparing it to Timeless in how the world works when time changes is also a bit of fun. I’d be a lot happier with this one if they’d get the police aspects right.

Haley Atwell and Shawn Ashmore got this show another shot from me. They set up plenty of possibilities. Though it had a weak opening, it has plenty of paths to take. The danger lies in it giving in to the more Soap Opera edges of the overall tale. If it dips too far in that direction, I’ll be bailing, despite some of the fun dialogue and intriguing (if often containing flawed procedure) mysteries.

Luke Cage
Large comic book universes take advantage of wide readership to try different sensibilities and styles. While Daredevil and Jessica Jones are part of the same world as Luke Cage, each has its own rhythm and flavor. Though set in the present, Cage rings with echos of black exploitation films, but through a lens of Jackie Brown. It isn’t a fast-paced story for its first two thirds, and not exactly unpredictable, but it is intriguing and full of big characters. By the last third of the run, it is moving at a breakneck pace. I would have preferred a more self-contained end to the cycle rather than such an obvious play into its next season, but up till then it was fun. Also, having finished after the election, it had some particularly strong resonance in the last couple episodes. As part of the Marvel world, it is a fascinating sliver.

This quasi-remake is a violent and slightly forced drama. I can’t quite decide if it is worth my time or not, but the mysteries set up by the end of the first episode were enough to bring me back to find out more. And more did come. It could still quickly lose me if they get too obvious or trite, but since this came from the mind of Johnathan Nolan, I’m willing to keep moving forward.


The Exorcist
A rather creepy incarnation of the world Blatty introduced to the world decades ago. It manages to keep the sensibility of its origins while forging new paths and potential. It may not sustain, but the darkness isn’t suffocating and the mystery is involving. However, it also just didn’t keep me coming back.

Rides the wave of CSI and NCIS but from a jury picking and manipulating point of view. It exposes the seedier and sadder ideas behind our justice system, if not the realities. But the personalities just aren’t strong enough to carry the story for me and the tales themselves are just not that intriguing. Frankly, it is more upsetting to see how the system can be gamed for those with the money to do so than any thin enjoyment of solving the mysteries was for me (especially as some I solved in the first 2 minutes or less).

It just ain’t Aaron Sorkin. Basically, a fast talking soap opera with people I couldn’t believe. I had no interest in getting behind or caring about them.

Just doesn’t have the writing or the personalities to carry this reboot. Utterly non-credible as well.

Lethal Weapon
Similarly here, the personalities aren’t quite strong enough. However, in this case, it is more the writing. The characters just aren’t believable and the plots and moments too predictable.

No Tomorrow
No way. Painful opening, interesting idea. But not even Gigi Rice and Joshua Sasse could save it.

Pure Genius
It wouldn’t be impossible to get more wrong about the medical world than this show does, but it would be hard. If you view this as a fantasy of how we’d like to have things work, fine, but it just isn’t even a little close. Added to that the writing is mediocre and the acting, particularly of the leads, is weak, so why bother to waste time on it?

Agents of Shield
Big Bang Theory
Black List (rapidly killed my interest and is off my list)

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