News Column

The must-see and can-miss of fall TV

September 15, 2013


Sept. 15--With every new fall TV season comes a slew of questions.

What will capture viewers enough to keep them coming back each week?

What show is terribly misguided, poised to flop within a week?

Can high-profile favorites -- such as Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox and James Spader -- lure viewers to their shows? Or will viewers gravitate to one of at least three programs reflecting the trend of boomerang kids -- the adults who move back home with their folks?

And those questions are just for the new shows. We've got a bunch for returning programs, too. How will Ziva leave "NCIS"? Is "How I Met Your Mother" really setting its final seasonentirelyat a wedding? And how will "Glee" handle the untimely death of star Cory Monteith?

That's what's on my mind as I sift through the new programs to attempt the inexact science of predicting the hits and misses of the new season.

Let's give it a whirl.


'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D'

Tuesday, 8 p.m. ABC (Sept. 24)

This one is a no-brainer. It's based on the spy agency in the popular Marvel Comics, the same agency that appeared in "The Avengers," which just happens to be the third-highest grossing film of all time. Oh, and Joss Whedon, the mega producer who directed the film and created "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," is one of this show's creators, too. Clark Gregg, who appeared in the film, reprises the role of Agent Phil Coulson, who leads agents as they investigate and fight the unknown.

'The Blacklist'

Monday, 10 p.m. NBC (Sept. 23)

Imagine James Spader at his creepiest best. You like Spader that way, right? That's why this taut thriller will lure you in. Spader is an ex-government agent wanted by the FBI. He turns himself in and agrees to hand over bad guys on his "blacklist," but only if he can negotiate with one young profiler named Liz (Megan Boone). His motives are unknown. But it's clear this role was built for Spader.


Monday, 10 p.m. CBS (Sept. 23)

Opposite "Blacklist" is an equally tense series starring Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott and Tate Donovan. In just 15 episodes, Collette's Dr. Sanders will have to decide whether she should kill the president, or risk having McDermott's rogue FBI agent kill her family.

'The Michael J. Fox Show'

Thursday, 9:30 p.m. NBC (Sept. 26)

After an Emmy-nominated guest stint on "The Good Wife," let's welcome Fox back to his own show. This one is loosely based on Fox's real life. A man named Michael who has Parkinson's disease decides that after taking several years off from his career to deal with his health, it's time to make a comeback. No, as the title might imply, the character isn't named Michael J. Fox. (It's Mike Henry.) But it doesn't matter. NBC knew what it was doing when it named this heartfelt comedy after the popular sitcom star. Even better, the show looks good.

'The Crazy Ones'

Thursday, 9 p.m. CBS (Sept. 26)

Welcome back another '80s star: Robin Williams. Williams plays an advertising guru who, how do we say it, is a bit zany. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who comes in with her own fan base, is his daughter who tries to keep him on track at work. The real question is whether the directors keep Williams on track. It's a big deal when an A-lister like Williams signs on for a TV show, particularly one that's not on HBO. But let's hope they rein in his craziness a bit and allow some of the depth we've seen in films such as "Good Will Hunting" to shine through.


'We Are Men'

Monday, 8:30 p.m. CBS (Sept. 30)

I still have an aversion to shows with "men" in the title after the onslaught of bad ones a few seasons back. Unfortunately, this comedy starring Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Jerry O'Connell as single guys helping each other in the relationship department does little to convince me that I should change my mind.


Tuesday, 8 p.m. Fox (Sept. 17)

This series by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane already has the dubious distinction of being the first target for cancellation. Let's just say it doesn't look good when an Asian-American advocacy group wants you to re-shoot the pilot before it even airs. But Fox and MacFarlane stand by the comedy about two dads (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) who move in with their sons (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi), and the shenanigans begin.

'The Millers'

Thursday, 8:30 p.m. CBS (Oct. 3)

I want to like this show. It stars Will Arnett of "Arrested Development" and Margo Martindale, who has snagged an Emmy for her dramatic fare in "Justified." But you know how you don't like to hear your parents fight and air awkward topics? Several long minutes are spent on this scenario, and rather than laugh, I cringed.


Friday, 9 p.m. Fox (Jan. 10)

This might be a tough sell in this city. Whether you like it depends on what you think of a screwball comedy about military life. Three brothers serve on the Rear Detachment (Rear D) unit at a fictional Florida Army base. The preview of this show indicates an identity crisis. Is it a funny show about a band of misfits who stay behind when others deploy? Or is it a heartfelt look at deployments and brotherhood? I haven't decided if I want to find out.


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