Fall is here, and so is our annual Back To TV Week! Listen. There are good TV years, and there are bad TV years. 1994 saw the premieres of Friends, E.R., Party of Five and The Magic School bus, for instance. Alas, this is not Back to 1994 week, and let’s just say the cable and network offerings of 2017 are a bit more checkered. That’s why we’re using the red light/green light approach: shows that probably are not worth your time get a red light. Shows you might want to give a shot depending on what you’re into get the yellow light. Green light shows could still end up disappointing us, but they deserve a chance.
Airs: Mondays, 8:30/7:30c, CBS
Premise: Mark Feuerstein lives in an apartment between his parents’ apartment and his brother’s apartment.
RED LIGHT: This looks bad, the reviews are bad, but it gets a yellow light if you really loved Raymond, I guess.
Airs: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC
Premise: It’s like a procedural, but with military behind enemy lines.
YELLOW LIGHT: Early reviews reference “jingoism” and “rah rah conservatism” so I’m going to take a pass, thanks. If you’re a big fan of military dramas, then this is nothing groundbreaking but maybe it has a place in your schedule.
Airs: Wednesdays, 9/8c, The CW
Premise: It’s Dynasty, but now and with a Latina stepmother.
YELLOW LIGHT: If you like campy soaps, this is just the thing for you. If that’s not your thing, the light just turned red.
Airs: Sundays, 8:30/7:30c, Fox
Premise: A nonsense person (Adam Scott) and an incredulous person (Craig Robinson) ghostbust Los Angeles to help out the cops. It’s a comedy.
GREEN LIGHT: It’s like The X-Files but Ghostbusters but Adam Scott. I will absolutely give it a try.
Airs: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox
Premise: Kids have mutant powers; parents have to go underground due to government threats. It’s in the X-Men universe.
GREEN LIGHT: This is said to be the most-anticipated show of the year, and it piles on special effects, a solid cast, and an interesting premise. It doesn’t sound like a genre I’m usually into, but I also would have said that about Orphan Black and look where we are now.
The Good Doctor
Airs: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC
Premise: Freddie Highmore, who is an adult now, is a pediatric surgeon with autism.
GREEN LIGHT: Premise sounds good, cast sounds good, reviews are decent – why not?
Please note: in our post of Fake New Shows of 2019 – it’s a good post, go read it – we had the following:
In this TV adaptation of Jerry Maguire, Jerry is played by that British kid from Finding Neverland (Freddie Highmore).
The Gospel Of Kevin
Airs: Tuesdays, 10/9c, ABC
Premise: God needs Kevin (Jason Ritter) to save the world.
YELLOW LIGHT: It does not sound great, but Jason Ritter’s all right? If anything, I learned that a place of my brain remembers that OTHER show about an unlikely everyperson with a mission from God – Joan of Arcadia. Anyway, the premise also includes Kevin’s recent suicide attempt and him living with his widowed sister and niece, so I’m going to … not, I guess, unless people start raving.
Law & Order: True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Airs: Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC
Premise: Literally the whole deal is in the title. It’s an anthology thing.
GREEN LIGHT: Thing you should know about me: I often fall asleep to true crime documentaries because someone spray-painted over my soul or whatever. And for 8 weeks this fall, I will be falling asleep to this one.
But really, 90s crime series and specials, from O.J. to Jonbenet, have been all the rage, so this feels right on-trend. Also, it’s not a 90s crime anthology without a respected actress in a perm wig.
Airs: Fridays, 9/8c, ABC
Premise: I swear, none of it made sense to me – but presumably if you’re into the Marvel universe it does.
RED LIGHT: There is, of course, a niche of people who will love this, but if you don’t already know that you’re one of those people you can skip this. Face it, Friday night is not a time slot for a show the network has great confidence in.
Airs: Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30c, ABC
Premise: A rapper runs for office as a stunt but he gets elected – then he is good at it!
GREEN LIGHT: I’d watch Daveed Diggs in anything, and this premise sounds like a lot of fun once I get past my instinctive shudder at the phrase “runs for office as a stunt but gets elected.”
Me, Myself & I
Airs: Mondays, 9:30/8:30c, CBS
Premise: This is the story of the same man at age 14 in 1991, in the present day at 40, and in the future at 65.
GREEN LIGHT: First of all, Bobby Moynihan. Second of all, 90s flashbacks. Third of all, a future-jump to the 2040s. This sounds fantastic, and I hope it lives up to its promising premise.
Airs: Thursdays, 9/8c, Fox
Premise: It’s the future, and a crew is on a spaceship, but it’s kind of a crappy spaceship. It’s a dramedy.
RED LIGHT: This could go one of two ways. If successful, it will bridge the comedy and sci-fi genres; if not, it will alienate fans of both. Unfortunately, first reports lean toward the “not.”
Airs: Thursdays, 10/9c, CBS
Premise: A SWAT lieutenant has dual loyalties – the streets and the police.
YELLOW LIGHT: On one hand, this is the very definition of “done before.” On the other hand, Shemar Moore. If you’re a police procedural fan then you might want to at least catch the pilot.
Airs: Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS
Premise: It’s a SEAL team.
YELLOW LIGHT: Word is people are really looking forward to this one. It’s not my cup of tea, but if it’s yours then you’ll probably also want to look into The Brave, profiled above.
Ten Days In The Valley
Airs: Sundays, 10/9c, ABC
Premise: The producer of a cop drama has a cop drama of her own when her daughter goes missing.
GREEN LIGHT: Reviews are good. Even better, this is a limited series – 10 episodes – which is the TV sweet-spot of taking your time with a story without drawing it out into unnecessary twists and turns.
Will & Grace
Airs: Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC
Premise: Will and Grace! Jack and Karen! Willandgraceandjackandkaren! Again!
GREEN LIGHT: Could this be the return of Must-See TV? Reboots have a spotty record, but this one looks like the real deal as long as it can avoid the Fuller House pitfall of making EVERYTHING into a winky nostalgia reference.
Wisdom Of The Crowd
Airs: Sunday, 8/7c, CBS
Premise: Solving crimes with a crowd-sourcing app.
YELLOW LIGHT: I’m bored of “X expert uses Y to solve crimes!” shows, but reviews are decent, so if that genre appeals to you then think about adding this one to your lineup.
Airs: Monday, 9/25, 8:30/7:30c, CBS
Premise: Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, but young – a child genius in the late 80s, starting high school.
GREEN LIGHT: If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory – because based on ratings, a LOT of people are fans of The Big Bang Theory. It doesn’t appeal to me at all, yet Young Sheldon looks really sweet. The child genius and 80s-throwback elements seem fun, and the pilot tested well. It’s enough to make me wish they had given the kid a different name and taken away the Big Bang Theory element, though I get that that is a huge draw for a lot of people. Fact is, Young Sheldon seems watchable whether you watch Big Bang or emphatically do not watch Big Bang.
I have a feeling that someday we will be saying that we liked Iain Armitage back when he was still Iain Loves Theatre.