Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall TV Starts Now!

When I was young, everybody launched their fall TV seasons in one fell swoop. And that swoop was my favorite time of the year. Now things are premiering all over the calendar with no specific week, not even a specific season, to point to. But that doesn't mean things don't get exciting on the TV front when September gets here. Favorites return, new shows hit the air, the new shows that hit the air one week disappear forever the next... It's that time again!

If you were interested in Fox's Utopia -- a "social experiment" disguised as a reality show -- well, it started September 7 to dismal ratings and may not be around long. Two other newbies -- Red Band Society, with Octavia Spencer as a snappish but really warm-hearted head nurse in charge at a hospital wing full of very sick children, and The Mysteries of Laura, with Debra Messing as a mom who is also a cop (a mop?) -- debut on Wednesday, September 17.

And then there's Madam Secretary, a political drama with Tea Leoni as a woman pushed from academia onto the national stage as the new Secretary of State. That one premieres on CBS on Sunday the 21st, right before The Good Wife returns and we find out if Alicia wants to run for State's Attorney. CBS is pairing its feistiest, most powerful women on Sunday. And why not?

Fox's buzzworthy Gotham is about Commissioner Gordon, Batman, and the usual villains (Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman, etc.) but before Gordon was the commish, before Bruce Wayne adopted his superhero alter ego and before the baddies got their supervillain IDs. It begins when Detective Gordon tries to solve a murder -- the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce's parents. Ben McKenzie will star as Gordon, with teenager David Mazouz as young Bruce Wayne. Also in the cast are Donal Longue as Harvey Bullock, Gordon's partner on the force, and Jada Pinkett-Smith as crime lord Fish Mooney. You can check out Gotham for yourself on Tuesday, September 22.

Tuesday the 22nd will also see the premiere of Scorpion, about computer geniuses solving world problems from behind their desks, and a sneak peek at Forever, with Ioan Gruffudd as a mysterious man who works in the New York City morgue, examining corpses to try to figure out why he's been around for more than 200 years. If you like Forever, you'll have to wait till September 30 to get episode No. 2.

NCIS New Orleans, with Scott Bakula at the head of the team investigating military crime in the Big Easy, shows up on the 23rd, with black-ish, a family comedy with Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as the heads of the household, on the 24th. Anderson plays Andre Johnson, who worries that his family's affluence and suburban lifestyle means they're losing touch with the culture he grew up with, while Ross plays his wife, Rainbow, and Laurence Fishburne is apparently old enough to play the granddad in the mix.

Executive producer Shonda Rhimes already has Grey's Anatomy and Scandal on ABC on Thursday nights, and she'll be adding How to Get Away Wwith Murder, starring Viola Davis as a brilliant, sexy criminal law professor with a messy personal life and an even messier criminal defense practice, on the 25th. Davis is a terrific actress who elevates whatever project she's in. Let's hope for good things for her and How to Get Away with Murder, even if the ads look really specious in terms of the criminal law advice she's handing out. Discredit the witnesses, introduce a new suspect, bury the evidence, and apparently lie, cheat, suborn perjury and obstruct justice. Okay then.

The last two new network shows taking a bow in September are Selfie, an upside-down Pygmalion-sitcom, and Manhattan Love Story, a rom com that goes inside the heads of a man and woman beginning a new relationship, both on Tuesday, September 30.

Selfie casts Karen Gillan -- Doctor Who's Amy Pond -- against type as a vapid celebutante trying to improve her public image by hiring John Cho's arrogant Henry Higgins, and the casting makes it more interesting than the premise.

In addition to this slate of new shows, you'll find returning favorites like Dancing with the Stars (tonight), New Girl and The Mindy Project (tomorrow), The Good Wife on Sunday, The Big Bang Theory, Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow and The Voice next Monday, Chicago Fire, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, NCIS and Person of Interest next Tuesday, and -- get ready -- Chicago PD, The Goldbergs, Law & Order SVU, The Middle, Modern Family, Nashville and Survivor, all on Wednesday September 24. After that, it's Bones, Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood and Scandal on Thursday the 25th, The Amazing Race, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O and Shark Tank on the 26th, the first Saturday Night Live of the new season on the 27th, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, CSI, Family Guy, Masters of Sex, Once Upon a Time, Ray Donovan, Resurrection, Revenge and The Simpsons on the 28th, and Castle, Mom and NCIS Los Angeles on the 29th.

If your favorite is in that bunch somewhere, many happy returns of the season! And if it isn't, stay tuned in October to find the ones you love.

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