Fall TV Preview: Who Will Survive Tuesdays, the 'Hunger Games' of New Shows?
Networks are throwing new shows at the wall on Tuesdays, where CBS procedurals reign supreme. Will Selfie, Marry Me, Forever or Manhattan Love Story make any impact?
Tuesday nights are possibly the most unsettled on the network schedule right now. ABC and NBC are both trying out new comedy blocs and driving myriad ensemble casts into the gauntlet to see who survives; meanwhile, CBS has NCIS and a new spinoff, and sits quietly by as the other networks eat each other alive. Still, the reason Tuesday is such a proving ground for young-skewing shows is that the NCIS brand basically ignores the 18-49 demo, so it's up for grabs. Who will last a full year?
8 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Selfie (NEW): This My Fair Lady update from Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory) is bound to attract heavy column inches and many love it/hate it reviews. The title is grating, and the premise even more so: a social-media addicted, image-obsessed meanie (Karen Gillan) hires a stuffy marketing genius (John Cho) to reinvent her image. Gillan dials up the vocal fry to 11 but invests Eliza with just enough sympathy to blow through all the silly Instagram jokes and slightly creepy premise (My Fair Lady doesn't make much sense in the modern day). Selfie is in a murderous timeslot and will be greeted with its fair share of boos, but it has more energy than most of this fall's shows combined. [Premieres 9/30 on ABC]
Manhattan Love Story (NEW): For example, Selfie's timeslot partner on ABC (airing at 8:30) feels dead on arrival, charting the relationship of idealistic klutz Dana (Analeigh Tipton) and cynical jerk-nozzle Peter (Jake McDorman). The two have no chemistry and spend the whole episode hating each other, but unlike NBC's similarly-premised but more charming A to Z, their turn towards coupledom makes no sense. Also, Manhattan? Who lives in Manhattan anymore? [Premieres 9/30 on ABC]
The Flash (NEW): The CW has built up its own little DC universe and done a much better job than the movie version so far. In the mold of established hit Arrow, The Flash takes a B-list Justice League hero, played by Grant Gustin, blasts through his origin story and dubs him the protector of his Central City. If the surprisingly fun cult hit Arrow and this bouncy pilot is anything to go by, The Flash will be a hit, and creative team Greg Berlanti (Everwood), Andrew Kreisberg (Fringe, Arrow) and Geoff Johns (of DC Comics) is a murderer’s row. [Premieres 10/7 on The CW]
Utopia (NEW): Fox's big bet is on this Fall reality show which sees 15 men and women placed in isolation and told to build a perfect society. While being filmed, of course. You can watch them do this online anytime you like, or check in twice a week (it'll also air on Fridays) for compilations of their best moments. Or maybe you won't tune in at all. My big question: if Fox cancels this thing, do the contestants get let out of the isolation chamber? Or do we get a perfect society either way? [Premieres 9/9 on Fox]
Also on this timeslot: Two reliable hits that no doubt will continue to dominate this crowded hour: NCIS (CBS, 9/23) and The Voice (NBC, 9/23), which you'd have to pry out of their respective networks' cold, dead hands.
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Marry Me (NEW): On paper, this should be a pick for critical fave of the year. It's from David Caspe, creator of the dearly-departed Happy Endings, and it features that show's Casey Wilson alongside the great Ken Marino. But much like Happy Endings, it could be a bit of a slow start: the premise is that Marino wants to propose to Wilson, who he's been dating for years, but that it keeps going wrong, mostly because she's high-strung and annoying. Wilson is a wonderful comic actress and there are flashes of a great show, and a deep comic ensemble, here. But the hyperactive, grating opening scenes might throw viewers off. [Premieres 10/14 on NBC]
New Girl: Okay, okay, so season three was a bit of a step down. And yes, it can be tough for zeitgeisty sitcoms to recapture the magic, especially after blowing their big will-they-won't-they. But I have faith that New Girl, even with Jess and Nick broken up, will improve this year. It has a full season of Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) for the first time ever! It's gonna be great! [Premieres 9/16 on Fox]
The Mindy Project: I'm not really sure why The Mindy Project is back, but I've never counted myself as a fan. The latter half of its second season, with Adam Pally added to the cast and Mindy and Danny getting together because why not, was better-received. Mindy's ratings have never been too hot, but it's a young-skewing show that's popular on the internet, so maybe it can make more strides this year. The Tuesday timeslot, again, remains killer. [Premieres 9/16 on Fox]
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Much like Mindy, ABC's blockbuster Marvel show started very slow last year before picking up the pace thanks to some excellent twists (prompted by the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because we live in a very connected media world). It is fully primed to cash in on its fantastic final arc with a barnstorming second season, but will the show's creators throttle back and wait for the next Marvel Cinematic Universe twist to do anything big? Midseason, S.H.I.E.L.D. will be interrupted by spinoff Agent Carter, set in the '40s as Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) found S.H.I.E.L.D., which sounds pretty cool. [Premieres 9/23 on ABC]
NCIS New Orleans (NEW): NCIS: New Orleans is the same uninspired, nicely-packaged military procedural as the other NCIS shows, just with wacky accents. Did anyone watch the backdoor pilot that NCIS: Original Flavor aired last year? Scott Bakula and Lucas Black's Cajun-flavored banter was a hop and a skip away from that Simpsons spin-off episode with Chief Wiggum and Principal Skinner. I'm happy CCH Pounder continues to get work, though. [Premieres 9/23 on CBS]
Also on this timeslot: Marry Me's timeslot-mate About a Boy (NBC, 10/14), which got renewed on the back of solid ratings and reviews but hasn't made much of a splash yet, and Supernatural (CW, 10/7), which is entering its tenth season.
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Forever (NEW): Stop me when you start groaning: this mix of procedural and supernatural drama follows a Brit who's a medical examiner in New York (Ioan Gruffudd) but is also, uh, immortal and unkillable. Every time he dies, he wakes up in the East River. And I guess he solves murders? With the help of a grumpy best friend (Judd Hirsch) and a cop (Alana de la Garza). Forever is a lot of familiar tropes wrapped in a familiar package with a vaguely charming lead to try and anchor it all down. He doesn't. [Premieres 9/23 on ABC]
Person of Interest: This sci-fi procedural has gotten really, really good as it prepares for its fourth season. It was dismissed after mucho hype in season one because it was a little dry, but try catching up with it! It has a creepy overarching universe, it manages to be somewhat preachy about the surveillance state and remain a gripping drama, and Michael Emerson is pretty great (obviously). One of CBS's best returning shows. [Premieres 9/23 on CBS]
Also on this timeslot: Chicago Fire (NBC, 9/23), a solid performer for the network and which established a new bulwark in Dick Wolf uniformed-worker procedurals, now all set in Chicago.