Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"American Horror Story: Freak Show" -- Step Right Up, Ladies & Gentlemen for the Thrill of Your Lives!




Nothing could keep me away from the premiere tonight of FX's newest season -- the fourth -- of their excellently creepy series American Horror Story: Freak Show.  As the show has proven in its past runs, not only does American Horror Story bring on the scary in huge doses, it's also prided itself on presenting impressive and charismatic actors doing some of their best work.  Filmed with impeccable, unpredictable and lushly beautiful production values, this latest skein seems perfectly suited to creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's unique vision, as personified in the opening credits below.



Taking on the milieu of the carnival sideshow world is perhaps a natural for American Horror Story but by no means a guarantee of anything.  HBO tried valiantly a decade ago to mine the colorful and mysterious depths of Depression-era carny life in Carniv├ále, a lovely effort from producer Daniel Knauf (read a great two-part interview with him from The AV Club here) that lasted two seasons and garnered the undying love of loyal fans who still pine for a climax to the sideshow interruptus perpetrated by the network.  HBO's series was set in the 1930s; AHS: FS takes places in the early 1950s when sideshows were beginning to lose audience -- thanks a lot to TV for that -- and which should provide a gorgeous canvas for the producers to work with. At least Murphy and Falchuk know they are out of American Horror Story: Freak Show in a dozen or so episodes and can concentrate on making them the scariest, smartest, weirdest and undoubtedly mesmerizing hours on television, period.  We have no doubt they will succeed.

On a personal note, all of my life I've had a particular interest in all things sideshow, human oddities, carnival, circus and so on; American Horror Story: Freak Show is indeed the best of all worlds for somebody like me,  From what we've seen so far from advance materials, it looks like the show is going to hit all the right notes from sheer fascination (some perhaps morbid but completely genuine) to abject admiration in its treatment of the very special people (author Frederick Drimmer's term from his book of the same name) characters in AHS:FS, most of whom are played by actors with the actual conditions.



Actress Kathy Bates puts on a goatee to play a bearded woman, and Sarah Paulson plus wonderful CGI work allows her to portray dicephalic parapagus twins (two heads, one body, like well-known American twins Abby and Brittany Hensel who had their own show on TLC two years ago).  Actor Evan Peters thanks to prosthetic hand pieces plays a part clearly based on longtime real-life carnival attraction Grady Stiles and his family, Stiles being known on the circuit as "The Lobster Boy" for his ectrodactyly a.k.a. Lobster Claw syndrome. (Unfortunately Stiles was also a nasty piece of work and a convicted murderer to boot.)

Bates, Paulson and Peters are just part of the terrific cast of American Horror Story: Freak Show, a repertory company of thespians some of whom have variously appeared in all or some of the previous seasons of AHS and others who are new to the series.  The splendid Jessica Lange returns as a former famous songstress from Germany who has gathered a collection of different ones around her, Angela Bassett is a triply-endowed seductress, Frances Conroy is a well-heeled matron, Dennis O'Hare and Emma Roberts are grifters, and Gabourey Sidibe is back in a storyline that has her on the trail of her missing mother, played by AHS newcomer Patti LaBelle.  Others new to the series but coming onboard for this newest outing are the wonderful actor Michael Chiklis as a strongman, the always tremendous John Carroll Lynch as a disturbing clown named Twisty -- is there any other kind, you might ask -- and other guest stars including already announced Matt Bomer with more surely to come.  There simply is no better cast anywhere on TV.



Equally impressive and so intensely interesting because of their unique gifts are co-stars British actor/writer/musician Mat Fraser who plays Paul the tattooed seal; Rose Siggins who played Legless Suzi and was featured in a wonderful documentary about her life; actress/model and transgender crusader Erika Ervin who plays a female giantess, and Jyoti Amge, the official World's Smallest Living Woman.  I'm just going to say it -- Jyoti is the cutest thing ever, not just because she is a super-diminutive 24" tall but because she is a bubbly, giggling ball of irrepressible life.



Joyti turned eighteen two years ago --



In addition to visiting the American Horror Story: Freak Show website for great extra features and much behind-the-scenes information, be especially sure to watch the featurettes on Fraser, Siggins and Irvin.  Truly amazing.

American Horror Story: Freak Show premieres tonight at 10pm on FX.  The official show website is located here.

We'll be following up with more on American Horror Story: Freak Show as the series unfolds!





Friday, October 3, 2014

Giorgio Tsoukalos "In Search of Aliens" Season Finale Tonight!




It's not for everybody, but network H2's fascinating documentary series In Search of Aliens comes to the close of its first season tonight.  The ten-episode run which began in late July concludes with an examination of "The Alien Code" including looks at crop circles and other related phenomena.  I've always been drawn to shows of this nature, but I think that one of the chief reasons for anybody tuning in is for the enthusiastic and charismatic work of the host, Ancient Aliens spokesperson and in-and-out-of-this-world explorer extraordinaire Giorgio Tsoukalos.



Tsoukalos, he of the unique hairstyle perfect for someone who's brain is afire with unusual notions and boundless curiosity, makes an appealing guide into this world where he believes that visitors from outer space made contact with Earth eons ago.  This is far from mainstream theory, but at the very least it's intriguing and though you may deem it balderdash -- and perhaps it is -- the Ancient Aliens discipline delves into areas of study that have continued to fascinate many over the centuries.


Anybody who likes mythology, archaeology, anthropology, aviation, zoology, religion and any subject touching these could do a lot worse than coming along for the ride of In Search of Aliens.  So what if it's a little crazy?  Most importantly it's a lot of fun and never dull.

Giorgio Tsoukalos wouldn't be having such success with his Ancient Aliens series and now In Search of Aliens if he weren't a compelling personality, and he definitely is one.  Reality and documentary series rely on the hosts to provide the glue to keep audiences tuned in, and Giorgio provides plenty of staying power.  He delivers the same kind of special magic to his area of interest as the late beloved Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin used to bring to his animals, and I don't think there could be a higher compliment.  Deeply committed to his thesis, unceasingly curious, possessing powerful panache and a sense of adventure that can't help but make you enjoy going along for the ride, Giorgio Tsoukalos is what puts In Search of Aliens way above the pack.



Tsoukalos knows marketing -- his early career was working as a promoter of bodybuilders -- and that experience plus his clearly natural flair for knowing how to entice an audience keep In Search of Aliens endlessly interesting.  What we get to see in this series as opposed to his also terrific Ancient Aliens series (he's a consultant and on-air personality) is his skilled on-camera work and also his tremendously effective interaction with the people he encounters on his journeys.  He seems to get the best out of his contacts, winning them over with his honest delight in the quest at hand and the breadth of his studies.  (That, or else there's lots of unusable footage on the cutting room floor.)  Tsoukalos may be cut from the cloth of Harold Hill -- a clever and likable con man -- or maybe he's really onto something deep and historic, but either way I can't think of anybody I'd rather tag along with during the journey.



In Search of Aliens will air its season-ender tonight at 10pm, preceded and followed by more episodes of the series.  They are also available online at the In Search of Aliens official website.





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Forever" in Our Heart: Our First Love Letter to a New 2014 Series





After watching the first two episodes of ABC's new drama Forever, we are moved to declare our affection for this charming series.  We wanted to get our feelings out there early because we all know how hard it is for a new show to find a footing and a fan base.  If there's any way we can get you to start watching this one we will have done our duty!

Forever -- about a police medical examiner who happens to be over 200 years old and counting...he's immortal -- has aired two episodes so far.  It seems weird to say that the premise of a show about an immortal man sounds a lot like several other shows, but there are elements of Forever which bring to mind other series.  Most particularly New Amsterdam, a Fox show a few years ago which starred Game of Thrones' Nicolaj Coster-Waldau as a never-can-die NYC cop, Sleepy Hollow, and probably Highlander and others, too.  What makes Forever worth checking out is something that's been picked up in a few reviews of the series, namely a  leading man that's closer to Doctor Who than New Amsterdam's cop or various vampires who never kick the bucket.



Viewers who like standard police procedurals will probably find something to love in Forever, though this series doesn't look like it will be wallowing in the gratuitous blood and TV-safe gore of most of that genre. Those shows thrive on conjuring up nasty deaths to sufficiently titillate an America thirsting for TV that's at least a little more violent than what's on the news, and the procedurals fill that gap with sadistic glee.  I call that sad trend "granny gore" --  plenty enough blood to keep the old folks' own blood percolating, though what a despicable excuse for entertainment.



Audiences who crave the thrill of the whodunit will be attracted to Forever for those plotlines, old-fashioned but seasoned with a bit of Castle or Bones-like charisma (though the producer has promised no hanky-panky between the leads, for which I say hurrah.)  If you're a fan of The Mentalist or Elementary then Forever may also hit you where you like it, with its smartypants lead character being able to figure out things that nobody else can.  Those Sherlock Holmes-ish impulses are on display but also tempered with what could be the most compelling aspect of Forever, its humanity. and that's where it intersects with Doctor Who.



Somewhat tragic yet triumphant leading characters lend a melancholy tinge to some series.  We watch and delight in Doctor Who knowing that the fellow we love playing The Doctor won't be around forever, he will regenerate into someone else though always as The Doctor, giving the character immortality if not the actor playing him.  In Forever, we're faced with a lead who has been afflicted or cursed with immortality and seemingly has had enough of life.  He would welcome the end of it, owing to the unceasing sadness of always having to say goodbye as those around him pass away.

What Forever has, like Doctor Who, is a reflective heart, a kind center, a decency that I don't see much of in the shows that mostly like to smear blood and guts on the audience and foment dread.  Give us something with a bit of charm, not because we can't take the other, but because we're sick of watching TV that's making producers rich while damaging society in a real way.  When you can count on one hand the shows that aren't ankle-deep in shredded flesh, it's time to let something in for a change.



So, maybe Forever is just a police show with a little twist, but it's a nice twist, and played to perfection by the utterly appealing and gentlemanly Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd -- pronounced Yo-an Griffith -- with able assist from Judd Hirsch and Alana De La Garza. Gruffudd & Hirsch's relationship is sweet and that's nothing to apologize for  Give Forever a try.  It airs Tuesdays at 10pm on ABC-- tonight!-- and you can catch up on ABC's website and OnDemand.



If  you're interested in reading more of what people are saying about Forever -- but please make up your own mind -- here are some links: The New York Times review of Forever here; Variety's not-overly-enthusiastic review here; Entertainment Weekly's review here; Flavorwire on the show here; New Orleans Time-Picayune here; USA Today here; The Los Angeles Times here; NY Magazine's Vulture here; Fashion & Style here; Bleeding Cool here; The Hollywood Reporter here; Collider here; Den of Geek here; IGN here; a nice article on Give Me My Remote here; The American Journal here, and an aggregation on Metacritic here.

Forever may have what it takes to become a people's favorite, but it will take more than that to keep it on the air.  Let's see if Forever can make it for the long haul...but something short of forever, eh?




P.S.:  And for another recommendation from us, try out Selfie which premieres tonight, if only for the talents of John Cho and Karen Gillan. ABC at 8pm Tuesdays.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

The 2014 Fall TV Season Day-by-Day

In a TV world where more of us are eschewing broadcast networks for Premium Pay TV or cable networks, the Fall season certainly means less, but it still means something.  We've been gorging on summer series like The Strain and Tyrant on FX, Extant on CBS, The Knick on Cinemax and so on, yet for anybody who's a real TV fan the start of the Fall season still brings back memories of anticipating the TV Guide Fall Preview issue where all the upcoming delights would be unveiled.


Never have we had more shows or more information available about those shows, and The Flaming Nose TV Blog wants to help you sort it all out.  This is our day-by-day look at the schedule, concentrating on the new shows.  We learned long ago that people don't watch networks, they watch shows.  Now with delayed viewing becoming completely normal and expected, maybe even what time and day a show is on means almost nothing.  And yet...it does.  There is still the sense of success when initial viewing is big, just like a movie debuting to big box office on opening weekend.

So let's go!

SUNDAY    SUNDAY    SUNDAY

Sunday  
7pm
7:30p
8p
8:30
9pm
9:30p
10p
10:30
      ABC
America's Funniest Home Videos
Once Upon a Time
Resurrection
Revenge
    CBS
60 Minutes
Madam Secretary
The Good Wife
CSI

CSI: Cyber
       NBC
Football Night in America
Sunday Night Football

            FOX         

NFL
The Simp-sons
Brook-lyn Nine-Nine
Family Guy
    Mu-laney
Local


Bob's Bur-gers
       CW
Local
Local
Local
Local

  

CBS:  At 8pm The Eye debuts one of two series this season about characters in the Hillary Clinton-esque mode, namely a troubleshooting highly placed government figure who's a woman.  Madam Secretary stars Tea Leoni (Deep Impact, Jurassic Park III, Tower Heist, Fun with Dick and Jane, The Naked Truth, The Family Man), Tim Daly (Wings, Hot in Cleveland, Private Practice, The Sopranos, The Mindy Project,  From the Earth to the Moon),  Zeljko Ivanek (True Blood, Revolution, John Adams, Argo, The Bourne Legacy, Tower Heist, The Event, Damages, Heroes, Big Love, Oz). Geoffrey Ahrend (Body of Proof, Trust Me), Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, Gossip Girl), young actress Kathrine Herzer (Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Bored to Death, Frasier), and Patina Miller (upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, All My Children, on Broadway in Sister Act and Tony-winner in Pippin).  (The always terrific Keith Carradine (Fargo, Dexter, Damages) is in the pilot but isn't showing up in the credits of further episodes, alas.)



The challenges balancing her professional position and her private life are supposed to be a big part of Madam Secretary. (You know how the worst parts of series with men in power positions are often the parts about the home life?  Guess what?  Those parts are not particularly any more interesting when the main character is a woman.  Just saying.) This show looks like a perfect example of a well-produced network show. That also somewhat takes away the notion that you'll be seeing anything particularly unexpected and of course it's an 8pm show which puts certain expectations into place. Producer/writer Barbara Hall (Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Northern Exposure, I'll Fly Away, Army Wives) has extensive and impressive credits which have not disappointed.  There's probably nothing wrong at all about Madam Secretary but we'll see if there is anything especially right about it, either.  Good lead-in with 60 Minutes for the older mostly female viewers who will be attracted to this.

Madam Secretary premieres September 21st.  Official show website is here.


Later in the season CSI: Cyber takes the 10pm CSI spot.  More on CSI: Cyber as it near the air.

FOX:  Fox is interspersing live-action comedies into its animation block, moving the successful Brooklyn Nine-Nine to 8:30p following The Simpsons and then newcomer Mulaney at 9:30p following Family Guy.

Mulaney stars comedian/actor/writer John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live, Kroll Show, I Love the 30s) as an up-and-coming comedian/writer whose career path steers him to writing for a game show hosted by an aging egotistical ex-stand-up sensation. (Episodes open -- like on Louie and Seinfeld --with some stand-up from Mulaney.)  Co-starring cast is good: Martin Short (SCTV, Primetime Glick, Three Amigos, Weeds, Damages, Clifford, Innerspace), Elliot Gould (MASH, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Long Goodbye, California Split, Capricorn One, Bugsy, Ocean's Eleven, Friends), Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live, ER), comedian Seaton Smith and Zack Pearlman (The Inbetweeners, Key and Peele, The Power Inside).



There doesn't seem to be much positive buzz about Mulaney, not because John Mulaney isn't a funny guy but early responses have been of the "ho hum" variety.  Going against football won't be easy in any case.  Mulaney will have a hard time finding an audience let along making one laugh.

Mulaney premieres October 5th.  Official show website is here.


MONDAY    MONDAY    MONDAY


Monday
8pm
8:30pm
9pm
9:30pm
10pm
10:30pm
ABC
Dancing with the Stars
Castle
CBS
The Big Bang Theory/
2 B G
2 Broke Girls/
Mom

Scorpion
NCIS: Los Angeles
NBC
The Voice

The Blacklist
State of Affairs
FOX         
Gotham
Sleepy Hollow
Local
Local
CW
The Originals
Jane the Virgin
Local
Local


ABC:  Keeping with its successful formula.

CBS:  Moving back to one hour of comedy.  The Big Bang Theory anchors at 8pm until football ends and TBBT returns to its Thursday night slot, at which point  2 Broke Girls slips back to 8pm and returning Mom gets the 8:30 slot.

9pm brings a new drama Scorpion based on the real life of Irish super-genius hacker/entrepreneur Walter O'Brien whose elite team of brainiacs solves hopefully fascinating crimes with an eccentric and adventurous spirit.  Scorpion stars Elyes Gabel (World War Z, Game of Thrones, Body of Proof), as O'Brien (sounding not so Irish anymore), Robert Patrick (The X Files, Terminator 2, True Blood, The Unit) is a government agent, Eddie Kaye Thomas ('Til Death, American Dad!) is a behavior specialist, Jadyn Wong (Being Erica) is a mechanical whiz, Ari Stidham (The Crazy Ones) a statistics expert, and Smash star Katharine McPhee plays the waitress mother of a super smart young boy (shades of Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate).




Already being dubbed a "fun procedural" rather than the typical blood and guts variety, Scorpion clearly hopes to bridge CBS' two major strengths -- crime and comedy.

Scorpion premieres September 22nd.  Official show website is here.


NBC:  The Voice remains strong at 8pm.  At 10pm The Blacklist also holds its successful slot until mid-November when State of Affairs will takes its place; The Blacklist will return to Thursdays later.  

State of Affairs stars Katharine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy, Knocked Up, Roswell) as a top-ranking CIA official whose job it is to keep the President (played in a very forward-thinking optimistic casting choice) by Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, True Blood, Copper, Desperate Housewives) on top of world affairs.  State of Affairs also stars Tommy Savas (The Last Ship, Hollywood Heights, and online series Psycho Girlfriend, The Online Gamer, Extra Butter, Please), Adam Kaufman (Without a Trace, Taken, Dawson's Creek), Iranian American actress Sheila Vand (Argo), and David Harbour (WGN's Manhattan, The Newsroom, Rake, Pam Am, Quantum of Solace).



The you-love-her or you-hate-her fan status and fractious professional reputation of star Katharine Heigl probably would make the behind-the-scenes of State of Affairs as engrossing as what's on the screen.  (Her mother is one of the executive producers.)  Will the TV audience take to Heigl again after her unhappy separation from Grey's Anatomy several years ago?  If State of Affairs works, all will be forgiven.

State of Affairs premieres November 17th.  Official show website is here.

FOX:  One new Monday show at 8pm, up against lots of competition but predicted to succeed.  Gotham tells the pre-Batman story of the famous comic book city, full of weirdo villains and one overworked police detective named Gordon.  Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) leads the cast as Gordon, starring with Donal Logue (Law & Order: SVU, Vikings, Sons of Anarchy, Copper, Royal Pains), Jada Pinkett Smith (Hawthorne, Collateral, The Matrix Revolutions, The Matrix Reloaded, Ali, The Nutty Professor, A Different World, A Lowdown Dirty Shame), Zabryna Guevara (Burn Notice, 3 lbs., The Guilt Trip), Sean Pertwee ()Elementary, Equilibrium, Dog Soldiers, David Mazouz (Touch) as a young Bruce Wayne, John Doman (Rizzoli & Ives, Person of Interest, Borgia, Law & Order: SVU) Robin Taylor (Another Earth, Accepted), Virginia Cartagena (The Bedford Diaries) and newcomers Camren Bicondova and Cory Michael Smith.





Comic book shows are the younger viewers equivalent of older audience's love affair with police procedurals -- instantly appealing and setting hearts aflutter with promising hopes of melodramatic action and great-looking production values. Gotham looks to deliver on all counts. Though it will probably get beat up opposite The Big Bang Theory when it's running on Mondays in the Fall, there is really nothing else on for male viewers to love once that goes.

Gotham premieres Sept. 22nd.  Official show website is here.

CW: New series at 9pm with Jane the Virgin, based on a popular telenovela from Venezuela.  It's got a typically melodramatic telenovela-ish premise, too -- an innocent young woman just starting her way up in the world suddenly finds herself pregnant after being accidentally artificially inseminated in her doctor's office. The premise is deliberately outlandish and Jane the Virgin is getting unanimous raves from early viewers, especially for the performance of its titular star Gina Rodriguez (The Bold and the Beautiful, Filly Brown, Army Wives, Sleeping with the Fishes). Co-starring with Rodriguez are Andrea Navedo (Law & Order: SVU, Golden Boy, How to Make it in America, Law & Order, Guiding Light, One Life to Live), Ivonne Coll (Teen Wolf, Switched at Birth, Joan of Arcadia, The Godfather: Part II), Justin Baldoni (The Bold and the Beautiful, Blackout, Everwood), Brett Dier (Ravenswood, The L.A. Complex, Bomb Girls), Yael Groblas (Reign), and Bridget Regan (White Collar, Beauty and the Beast, The Legend of the Seeker, The Black Donnellys).



Lots of time period competition for Jane the Virgin, but if the buzz is positive enough and viewers can at least be persuaded to put it on their DVR list the show could break through.

Jane the Virgin premieres October 13th.  Official show website is here.


TUESDAY    TUESDAY   TUESDAY

Tuesday
8pm
8:30pm
9pm
9:30pm
10pm
10:30pm
ABC
Selfie
Manhattan Love Story
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Forever
CBS
NCIS
NCIS: New Orleans
Person of Interest
NBC
The Voice
Marry Me
About a
Boy
Chicago Fire
FOX         
Utopia
New Girl
The Mindy Project
Local
Local
CW
The Flash
Supernatural
Local
Local

ABC:  Two new comedies lead off the night.  8pm's Selfie has a terrific cast -- red-headed British actress Karen Gillan (fan favorite for her role as Amy in most of the Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes) and John Cho (the new Mr. Sulu in Star Trek, Harold and Kumar) star in this tale of a narcissistic internet sensation who enlists a marketing guru to help her change her life and online image.  Character names are Eliza and Henry with direct thanks to G.B. Shaw, Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, of course.  Co-stars include David Hardwood (Homeland), Broadway actress Da'Vine Joy Randolph, and Allyn Rachel (Weeds).



The pilot is available to view now -- click here -- and I think you'll find that although it's 100% steeped in "here today, passe tomorrow" net jargon, the level of acting talent is well above the norm and keeps it interesting in spite of everything else that's annoying (which is a lot).  John Cho is terrific (as always) and Karen Gillan demonstrates that her success in Doctor Who was no fluke.  Though like many contemporary comedies there is too much gratuitous gross-out humor and sexual innuendo (especially for an 8pm show), there's something charming there.  O, wouldn't it be loverly if Selfie could be a success?  Don't count on it, though.  Time slot competition has many thinking Epic Fail, understandable as long as they don't blame it on Cho and Gillan. (What I didn't like is that Selfie and Manhattan Love Story, the show that follows it, seem to think it's okay to make fun of less attractive women, a fairly hateful practice that isn't funny at all really.  It's a nice step up from killing women for ratings on all the crime procedurals, though.)

Selfie premieres September 30th. Official show website is here.

At 8:30pm ABC premieres the half-hour relationship comedy Manhattan Love Story which deconstructs a budding romance between a NYC man and woman.  Starring Analeigh Tipton (Hung, web miniseries The Power Inside, America's Top Model, Buttwhistle) and Jake McDorman (Shameless, Are You There, Chelsea?, Greek, Quintuplets) as the couple, Manhattan Love Story uses lots of interior monologues to get us inside the heads of this love-addled duo.  Co-stars include Nicolas Wright (White House Down, Accidentally on Purpose), Jade Catta-Pretta (Californication, web comedy series Daddy Knows Best), and Kurt Fuller (Parenthood, Psych, The Good Wife, Scandal, Midnight in Paris, Supernatural, Wayne's World, Anger Management).



If you'll take Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, too, then you'll love the fact that Manhattan Love Story actually is doing a lot of filming in NYC locations. Also not predicted to fare well for competitive as well as early buzz reasons.  

Manhattan Love Story premieres September 30th.  Official show website is here.

ABC moves Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to 9pm, and at 10pm debuts Forever, the story of a NYC medical examiner with a crazy little secret -- he's immortal. The talented Ioan Gruffudd (Ringer, Glee, W., The Fantastic Four, Horatio Hornblower in a series of TV movies) stars as the 200-year-old doctor, alongside a good cast which includes Judd Hirsch (Numb3rs, Taxi, Independence Day, Damages), Alana De La Garza (Do No Harm, CSI: Miami, Law & Order, All My Children), Lorraine Toussaint (Orange is the New Black, The Young and the Restless, Body of Proof, Friday Night Lights, Ugly Betty, Saving Grace), Joel David Moore (Bones, Medium, Avatar), and Donnie Keshawarz (Homeland, The Sopranos, Damages, 24).



The tone appears to be quirky from the looks of the promo, but Ioan is always terrific to watch.  Forever is up against solid competition but should be worth a look to genre aficionados and fans of Fox's Sleepy Hollow, a show with another long-lived fellow, and maybe fans of Elementary who love a good British accent.  The pilot is online and OnDemand for early viewing.  I watched it, and as I predicted, Ioan is adorable, the premise is intriguing, there is chemistry between Gruffudd and De La Garza, and an actually quite touching relationship between Hirsch's character and Gruffudd's whose nature is explained near the end of the pilot. It's worth the price of admission, I think.  We're officially rooting for Forever to make it though industry odds-makers aren't holding their breath.

Forever sneak previews on September 22nd but regularly airs Tuesdays. Official show website is here.

CBS:  Only one new entry at 9pm, the latest in the NCIS collection. This time CBS is getting into the "Laissez les bon temps roulez" spirit with NCIS: New Orleans starring TV veteran Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise, Quantum Leap, Behind the Candelabra, Desperate Housewives, Chuck, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Murphy Brown).  Co-starring with Bakula are Lucas Black (Sling Blade, American Gothic, Ghosts of Mississippi, Crazy in Alabama, Friday Night Lights, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), Zoe McLellan (NCIS, Dirty Sexy Money, JAG) and C.C.H. Pounder (Avatar, Sons of Anarchy, Warehouse 13, NCIS, Law and Order: SVU, The Shield, Millennium).



NCIS fans will find no trouble in staying put on CBS for this new spin-off.

NCIS: New Orleans premieres September 23rd.  Official show website is here.

NBC: One new entry at 9pm, the half-hour comedy Marry Me, about a couple who've loved every moment together except the time he tried to propose, starring Ken Marino (Party Down, Eastbound & Down, Children's Hospital, web series Burning Love, Reaper, Veronica Mars, Dawson's Creek, What I Like About You) and Casey Wilson (Happy Endings, Saturday Night Live, The Hotwives of Orlando web series).  Co-stars include Sarah Wright Olsen (Parks and Recreation, Mixology, Mad Love, 7th Heaven, Quintuplets), John Gemberling (Super Fun Night, Broad City, The Heart, She Holler), Tymberlee Hill (The Hotwives of Orlando, Drunk History, Grey's Anatomy, Numb3rs) and Tim Meadows (Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, Suburgatory, Glory Daze, Mean Girls).



Comedy competition from New Girl over on Fox, but Marry Me is for a slightly older audience looking for laughs.  it's kind of like the junior version of Everybody Loves Raymond, say, sans kids.

Marry Me premieres October 14th. Official show website is here.

FOX:  Fox adds in a new 8pm show with Utopia, already premiered on Sept. 7th. It's a reality-based competition show (based on a Dutch hit) with the premise of throwing a dozen or so strangers together, transporting them to primitive isolated environment (in California) and charging them with the task of starting a civilization from scratch over a year's time. If you like to see Survivor-like competition and don't like singing, Utopia fits the bill.



Official show website is here and it's elaborate.

CW: The CW opens Tuesday with a new adaptation of the DC comic book hero The Flash, spun-off from their series The Arrow.  When scientist Barry Allen is caught in a particle accelerator accident and lies in a coma months, it wouldn't be a super hero story if he didn't wake up with a mysterious power, which he does -- he has super speed.  Grant Gustin (Arrow, Glee, 90210) stars as The Flash, alongside costars Candice Patton (The Game, Man Up, Entourage, Heroes, The Young and the Restless), Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries, Australian series The New Inventors), Danielle Panabaker (Justified, Arrow, Necessary Roughness, Bones, Shark, The Crazies), songwriter/actor Carlos Valdes (Arrow), Tom Cavanaugh (Ed, The Following, Royal Pains, Scrubs, Trust Me, Eli Stone, The Capture of the Green River Killer, Love Monkey), and Jesse L. Martin (Rent, Smash, Law & Order, The Philanthropist, Ally McBeal, 413 Hope St.).  In a nice and informed nod to the first adaptation of The Flash which ran for a season on CBS in 1990, actor John Wesley Shipp who played Allen in that version will be seen in this version as the father of The Flash.





Coming off CW's success with The Arrow and being a true alternative in the time period, The Flash is getting positive buzz.  It's a perfect CW show and it might even be pretty darn good.

The Flash premieres October 7th.  Official show website is here.


WEDNESDAY  WEDNESDAY   W'DAY

WED.
8pm
8:30pm
9pm
9:30pm
10pm
10:30pm
ABC
The Middle
The Goldbergs
Modern Family
black-ish
Nashville
CBS
Survivor

Criminal Minds
Stalker
NBC
The Mysteries of Laura
Law and Order: SVU
Chicago PD
FOX         
Hell's Kitchen
Red Band Society
Local
Local
CW
Arrow
The 100
Local
Local


ABC:  The network introduces one new comedy at the tail end of their comedy block.  black-ish stars Anthony Anderson (Treme, Guys with Kids, Law & Order, web series Matumbo Goldberg, K-Ville, The Shield, The Bernie Mac Show, All About the Andersons, Big Momma's House, Life) as an upper middle-class African American father with concerns that his family is assimilating a little too much into the gentrified class.  Tracee Ellis Ross (C,S,I., Girlfriends, Reed Between the Lines, Labor Pains) co-stars, alongside Laurence Fishburne (C.S.I., Hannibal, Man of Steel, Contagion, Thurgood, Mission: Impossible III, Mystic River, The Matrix trilogy, What's Love Got to Do with It?, Pee-wee's Playhouse), and Yara Shahidi (The First Family, Alex Cross, In the Motherhood),



Sitting in a beautiful spot to succeed if it's got what it takes -- right after Modern Family -- black-ish has the potential to work as a wide appeal show, hitting the funny bone of all family comedy-loving viewers regardless of ethnicity.

black-ish premieres September 24th.  Official show website is here.

CBS:  The network premieres its new crime drama Stalker at 10pm.  Starring Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Hostages, American Horror Story, Olympus Has Fallen) and Maggie Q (Nikita, Priest, Balls of Fury, Live Free or Die Hard, Mission:Impossible III), Stalker focuses on a special Los Angeles police unit investigating stalking incidents. Co-stars include Victor Rasuk (Godzilla, ER, How to Make it in America, Lords of Dogtown, Raising Victor Vargas) and Mariana Klaveno (True Blood, Devious Housewives, Dexter).



CBS is proven great at providing audiences with all the ingredients to create real-life nightmares.  While producers say this one won't be all about women getting chased by psychos, there is still something vile about the concept and this country's obsession with violent crime as entertainment. Is it the audience getting what it really wants or the producers pushing it down their throats?  If you believe in a free market then let it all hang out, right?  Sociologically speaking, that America likes its violence juxtaposed with commercials says nothing good about this culture. I think we can safely say that there are a lot of Americans who simply love guns to death and like to see them brandished, especially against a genuine boogie man.  If they can't shoot to kill themselves, then a little vicarious firepower courtesy of the broadcast networks is a dandy stand-in. Despicable kudos to CBS for using the hoodie image, with its horrifying real-life connection in the Travon Martin vigilante crime, to lure in the viewers,

Stalker is poised, lurking in the bushes, ready to capitalize on America's paranoia and hurtle to an easily-predicted ratings success. I'll pass on this one, thanks.

Stalker premieres October 3rd. Official show website is here.

NBC: Wearing a Columbo-esque raincoat, Debra Messing (Will & Grace, Smash, The Starter Wife, Prey, Ned and Stacey) leads the cast of The Mysteries of Laura, an hour-long detective/family dramedy starting the night at 8pm.  Debra's co-stars are Josh Lucas (The Lincoln Lawyer, Poseidon, Sweet Home Alabama, A Beautiful Mind), Laz Alonso (Southland, Deception, Breakout Kings, Jumping the Broom, Avatar, Fast & Furious), Janina Gavankar (The Vampire Diaries, The League, True Blood, Arrow, The L Word) and Max Jenkins (web series Gay's Anatomy).



Despite Messing's fan following, early buzz is not positive for The Mysteries of Laura, either from the competitive angle -- it's a slot NBC hasn't had success in -- or what's on the screen so far.

The Mysteries of Laura has an early preview on September 17th at 10pm then moves into its 8pm slot.  Official show website is here.

FOX:  Get out your handkerchiefs for Fox's new 9pm hospital-set dramatic heartwarmer Red Band Society.  Adapted from a Spanish -- actually Catalan -- series, Red Band Society deals with the camaraderie of a group of seriously ill teenagers under treatment together. Teen viewers are expected to embrace the content and the cast which includes Octavia Spencer (The Help, Mom, Fruitvale Station, Raising the Bar, Ugly Betty), Dave Annable (666 Park Avenue, Brothers and Sisters, Reunion) and newcomer Rebecca Rittenhouse as the medical staff.  The ailing teens are played by Griffin Gluck (Back in the Game, Private Practice, The United States of Tara), Nolan Sotillo (Prom, Corey and Lucas for the Win), Charlie Rowe (Never Let Me Go, Pirate Radio), Astro (The X Factor, Earth to Echo), Ciaro Bravo (Nickelodeon series Big Time Rush), and Zoe Levin (Trust, Beneath the Harvest Sky).



Positive buzz from some for this, even as early watchers admit to maudlin touches which many potential viewers may not mind or even notice. Think of it like Glee in hospital johnnies minus the singing.

Red Band Society premieres September 17th.  Official show website is here.


THURSDAY  THURSDAY  THURSDAY

Thursday
8pm
8:30pm
9pm
9:30pm
10pm
10:30pm
ABC
Grey's Anatomy
Scandal
How to Get Away with Murder
CBS
Fall: Football
The Big Bang Theory
The Millers

Two and a Half Men
The McCarthys
Elementary
NBC
The Biggest 
Loser
Bad Judge
A to Z
Parenthood
FOX         
Bones

Gracepoint
Local
Local
CW
The Vampire Diaries
Reign
Local
Local

ABC:  Thursday nights on ABC are a producer Shonda Rhimes trifecta, with her previous hit series Grey's Anatomy -- entering its 11th season -- and Scandal -- coming into its 4th -- leading up to her newest drama How to Get Away with Murder.  With a story revolving around a brilliant and elusive law professor who embroils her students in a real-life murder mystery, How to Get Away with Murder promises thrills as stylish for the legal arena as her other shows have brought to the worlds of medicine and politics.  


Viola Davis (The Help, Beautiful Creatures, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Eat, Pray, Love, Knight and Day, United States of Tara, Law & Order: SVU, the Jesse Stone movies) leads a cast which includes Charlie Weber (90210, Underemployed, Everwood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Billy Brown (Sons of Anarchy, Hostages, The Following, Dexter, Lights Out, Cloverfield), Alfred Enoch ( Dean Thomas in several Harry Potter movies, Sherlock), Jack Falahee (Slider, Twisted, Escape from Polygamy), Katie Findlay (The Carrie Diaries, The Killing), Aja Naomi King (Emily Owens, M.D., Black Box), Mexican actress Karla Souza, Matt McGorry (Orange is the New Black), and Liza Weil (Scandal, Gilmore Girls, ER).

Positive buzz is strong and hopes are high that How to Get Away with Murder will experience a double halo effect and make Thursdays solid for ABC.

How to Get Away with Murder premieres on September 25th.  Official show website is here.

CBS: At the end of October, post-Thursday football, CBS unveils a new comedy at 9:30pm.  The McCarthys is about a very close and very Irish sport-loving family in Boston whose dynamics change when one of their non-identical twin triplet boys announces he's gay.  Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne, The Big Bang Theory, HBO's Getting On, Easy Money, Desperate Housewives) stars as mother McCarthy, with Jack McGee (Common Law, Moneyball, Common Law, Players, Rescue Me) is the father, Kelen Coleman (Men at Work, The Newsroom, The Mindy Project, The Office) is their daughter.  The triplets are played by Tyler Ritter (John Ritter's son, Jason Ritter's brother, Grey's Anatomy), Joey McIntyre (The Hotwives of Orlando, Boston Public, 90210) and stand-up comic Jimmy Dunn.



Coming at the tail end of CBS' strong Thursday comedy line-up, The McCarthys sits in a strength position.  Sitcom competition is NBC's rom-com A to Z which sets up male-oriented The McCarthys as the one true choice for that demo.

The McCarthys premieres October 30th. Official show website is here.

NBC:  Two new comedies beginning at 9pm.  First up is Bad Judge, wherein Kate Walsh (Private Practice, Fargo, Grey's Anatomy, The Drew Carey Show) plays a good time girl by night, unorthodox but brilliant judge by day. Co-starring are John Ducey (Jonas, Will & Grace, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch), Tone Bell (Whitney), Ryan Hansen (Bad Teacher, Party Down, 2 Broke Girls, Veronica Mars, The League, Burning Love) and Miguel Sandoval (Medium, Entourage, Alias).



She's a tarty tort...er. a torty tart for sure...but fostering a little miscreant, too?  Too much.  Early buzz isn't very positive, with not a great lead-in and besides evidently The Blacklist is supposed to inherit the 9 - 10pm timeslot later in the season, so this too probably shall pass.  How quickly and painfully-- or not -- we'll when the audience jury is in.

Bad Judge premieres October 2nd.  Official show website is here.


Buzz is better from some sources for the 9:30pm entry A to Z, a rom com starring Ben Feldman (Mad Men, The Mindy Project, Medium, Living with Fran) and Cristin Miloti (How I Met Your Mother, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Sopranos) as "meet cute" couple who after a rough start find they are meant for each other.  Co-stars include Christina Kirk (Girls, D.E.B.S.), Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street, web series Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, I Love the 2000s), Hong Chau (Treme, Trenches web series), Lenora Crichlow (Back in the Game, Being Human) and Parvesh Cheena (Sean Saves the World, The Book Club, Outsourced), with off-camera narration by Katey Sagal.



The gimmick to the premise is that the show examines the relationship from A to Z -- we get the A to Z of the characters Adam and Zelda -- and let's hope that the series lasts long enough to make some headway into the alphabet.

A to Z premieres October 2 but the pilot is online now for early viewing.  Official show website is here.

FOX:  For the 9pm time period the network borrows a show and a star from the UK as the acclaimed limited series Broadchurch (it ran on BBC America here) becomes the limited series Gracepoint and David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Royal Shakespeare Company: Richard III) comes with it to star alongside Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad, Deadwood, The Practice).  The story examines the repercussions from the murder of a young boy in a small town.  Tennant -- unfortunately minus his great Scottish accent -- reprises his role as a police detective, Gunn is his partner,



They lead a cast which includes Kendrick Sampson (The Vampire Diaries, Greek), Kevin Rankin (Breaking Bad, Dallas Buyers Club, White House Down, Unforgettable, Justified, Big Love), Madalyn Horcher, Josh Hamilton (The Bourne Identity, Louie, American Horror Story, Outsourced), child actor Jack Irvine, Jessica Lucas (Pompeii, Evil Dead, Friends with Benefits, Melrose Place, 90210), Sarah-Jane Potts (Felicity, Keen Eddie), Kevin Zegers (The Colony, Titanic: Blood and Steel, Gossip Girl), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Parkland, Homicide, Picnic at Hanging Rock) Virginia Kull (The Following, Boardwalk Empire), Hollywood veteran Nick Nolte (The Thin Red Line, The Prince of Tides, Mulholland Falls, 48 Hours, North Dallas Forty among many others), Michael Pena (Cesar Chavez, American Hustle, Tower Heist, The Lincoln Lawyer, Battle Los Angeles, Eastbound & Down), and Stephen Louis Grush (Lucky 7).

Imitation is the most sincere form of television, as comedian Fred Allen famously said (and this was in the very early days of the medium!), and this season is no exception.  The original Broadchurch was a critical and audience favorite but on a more niche network and with English accents, so let's go for a do-over, the thinking goes. Will Broadchurch lovers opt to partake again of the mystery with Fox's Gracepoint?  Evidently lots of direct similarities but some differences, too.  Decent lead-in but also plenty of competition.  No matter what, you can hardly get better actors than Tennant and Gunn, but we wish he didn't have to swallow away his brogue.

Gracepoint premieres October 2nd. Official show website is here.


FRIDAY     FRIDAY     FRIDAY

Friday
8pm
8:30pm
9pm
9:30pm
10pm
10:30pm
ABC
Last Man Standing
Cristela
Shark Tank
20/20
CBS
Amazing Race
Hawaii Five-O
Blue Bloods
NBC
Dateline
Grimm
Constantine
FOX         
MasterChef Junior
Utopia
Local
Local
CW
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
America's Next Top Model
Local
Local



ABC: ABC pairs up returning sitcom Last Man Standing with the new Cristela, from title star/writer/producer Cristela Alonzo (The Book Club web series, Mind of Mencia writer).  Alonzo plays a Latino law student who's facing some flack from family members who are wondering when she'll finally actually become a lawyer.  Alonso's co-stars include Carlos Ponce (telenovela Dos Hogares, Nickelodeon's Hollywood Heights, Deuce Bigolo: European Gigolo, 7th Heaven), Maria Canals-Barrera (The Wizards of Waverly Place, Curb Your Enthusiasm, American Family), Terri Hoyos (Cold Case, Parks & Recreation, Town & Country), Andrew Leeds (NCIS: Los Angeles, Bones, Nip/Tuck), Sam McMurray (ABC Family series The Fosters, Scandal, Breaking Bad, The King of Queens) and popular stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesias.



Cristela will be the only sitcom in the time period, but could get lost if Last Man Standing doesn't pull its weight at 8pm.  Early Buzz is that Alonzo is terrific and talented but that Cristela is fairly run-of-the-mill.  At least there's another nod to Latino culture on our mainstream TV screens but is that enough to set this apart and make it a success?  Good intentions won't be enough if there aren't enough viewers.

Cristela premieres October 10th.  Official show website is here.

NBC:  At 10pm more comic book-inspired mayhem with the debut of Constantine based on DC's popular Hellblazer series.  John Constantine is a weary demon hunter already consigned to hell who finds renewed purpose when his friend's daughter comes under supernatural attack and he's the only one who can help her survive.  Welsh actor Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Armistice, The Tudors) plays the title character (which nobody is mentioning much was also played by Keanu Reeves in a not-particularly-successful 2004 movie adaption with the same name.) Charles Halford (True Detective, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Event), Harold Perrineau (Lost, Sons of Amarchy) and Lucy Griffiths (True Blood, the BBC's Robin Hood series, Don't Look Back) co-star.



NBC's Grimm would seem to be a perfect lead-in for Constantine. Both shows have that special combination of dark humor and scary thrills that genre audiences often crave, a quality lacking in last season's unsuccessful version of Dracula which debuted in the same time period. Though likely viewers may be out scaring up their own version of fun on Friday nights, nobody is afraid to use the DVR and delayed viewing may turn Constantine into a big winner.

Constantine premieres October 24th.  Official show website is here.

FOX: Fox offers up a second hour of its new show Utopia at 9pm.  See Tuesday for Utopia description.


SATURDAY  SATURDAY  SATURDAY

Saturday
8pm
8:30pm
9pm
9:30pm
10p
10:30p
ABC
Saturday Night College Football
CBS
Comedytime Saturday
Crimetime Saturday
48 Hours Mystery
NBC
Primetime Encores
Primetime Encores
Primetime Encores
FOX         
7pm: Fox Sports Saturday
11pm Animation Domination HD
CW
Local
Local
Local
Local


Mostly sports and encores for folks who forgot to program their DVRs.  


OVERVIEW    OVERVIEW    OVERVIEW

It's a battle between comic books and by-the-numbers crime procedurals for eyeballs, the first hoping to capture them before they need reading glasses, at which point the procedurals can take over.

Most of all, we would recommend not limiting your viewing to the five broadcast networks -- FX probably has the most stylish dramas, including the newest season of American Horror Story coming up in October, but USA and TNT may also come up with some interesting concepts along the way.  Pay networks continue to offer interesting choices, too. and the delivery services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon also are getting into the act.

Bask in this flourishing of TV choice while you can.  Already there are not-so-subtle rumblings about how much all this television is costing to produce, and how is the industry going to make it financially feasible in the long run.  Talent costs more, production costs aren't going down, and viewers don't seem to be exactly willing to fork out exponentially more money for this unprecedented bounty.

Until the dust settles, enjoy the view!