Every fall brings with it a slew of new shows promising to be the best thing to hit your television screens since “Friends.” This year, networks are touting out tales of superheroes, superheroes before they were superheroes, dysfunctional families and couples who let love bloom. Take a look at one Talon writer’s thoughts on a few of this fall’s upcoming series.
The self absorbed: “Selfie” | Final Verdict: Irritatingly charming
In this loose modernization of “My Fair Lady,” self-obsessed Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) decides it’s time for her to rebrand her image with the help of an image guru (John Cho) after an airplane mishap goes viral. However indicative the title is of the rampant superficiality of this new ABC show, whoever came up with the title should still be ashamed of themselves. The title alone will be enough to turn off viewers who (correctly) assume it’ll be a hollow comedy based on lazy referential humor.
However, all is not lost in this pilot. Between the irritating jokes and caricature-like characters, there are glimpses of the satirical, self-aware humor one can expect from former “Suburgatory” creator Emily Kapnek. Plus, despite what their characters may be lacking, Gillan and Cho might just be able to make the show charming through sheer force of will. If the ratings don’t tank before they are given a chance to grow, that is.
The romcom: “A to Z” | Final Verdict: Prepare yourself for this teenage tear-jerker
“Let me tell you the story of a couple, one of the greats,” the pilot begins and just like that the narrator (Katey Sagal) introduces viewers into the world of Andrew and Zelda. The show promises to present the entire romantic relationship of the likable leads played by Cristin Milioti (The Mother on “How I Met Your Mother”) and Ben Feldman (“Mad Men”). While laughs are noticeably few for a comedy and the quirk the show is going for falls short of success (especially in regards to the pair’s “zany” best friends), the chemistry between Milioti and Feldman so far is proving to be enough to carry the script. Of course, the romantic theme alone is something that will appeal to many viewers, especially fans of the recently finished “How I Met Your Mother,” so this new show will be sure to stick around for a while.
The family-friendly: “Black-ish” | Final Verdict: Funny-ish
As another ABC comedy with an unfortunate title, “Black-ish” centers on an African American upper-middle class family attempting to maintain their cultural identity while living in a predominantly white neighborhood. “Black-ish” inundates viewers with the voice over provided by the father of the family (Anthony Anderson) and seems to think its viewers aren’t clever enough to understand their more nuanced points. The interesting and mildly funny observations are noticeably drowned out throughout the pilot by the narration, easy jokes and the subplot about the eldest son wanting a bar mitzvah. However, once the characters are more fully fleshed out and the show settles into its audience without trying to grab the fans of lead-in “Modern Family,” the show does have potential to be one of the few comedies this season not to get an early cancellation.
The superhero thriller: “Gotham” | Final Verdict: A chilling new series about the dark days of pre-Batman Gotham
Perhaps the most anticipated new show of the fall, “Gotham” bills itself as a serious, gritty drama telling the origin stories of key players in the city of Gotham before Batman. Origin stories, easter eggs and general fan service are part of the fun, so fans of the Batman universe will no doubt appreciate the many (and not so subtle) references to the future of the characters. However, there is a fine line writers have to walk with these stories, especially with a show like “Gotham” where the main attraction is a still-young Bruce Wayne and instead of the Dark Knight.
As of now, the show feels less on par with the tone of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and feels too similar to the plethora of crime dramas already dominating the television industry. The challenge “Gotham” will face going forward will be to stay loyal to the source material while taking the stories in creative directions to cultivate a devoted fanbase. On top of this, it must show the power struggle for Gotham’s criminal underworld. Once “Gotham” fleshes out its characters and builds a riveting world bursting with moral ambiguity, expect “Gotham” to become a permanent favorite.