Illustration by Arielle Antonio.
Illustration by Arielle Antonio.

 

Wondering which of the new fall shows are worth adding to your weekly routine and which over-hyped additions to avoid at all costs? You’re in luck. I watched all the fall TV premieres so you didn’t have to! All right, I watched all the fall TV premieres so I didn’t have to work on my thesis. And yes, I didn’t watch all of them, just most of them.[tooltip text=”See note at the end.” placement=”top”]*[/tooltip] Here’s what you can’t miss, what you might want to tune into and what will make you cringe this fall:

 

[section label=”Can’t miss.”]Can’t miss.

If your tastes are a little more highbrow, then you’ll want to check out Showtime’s “The Affair” for sultry, literary viewing. An hour-long drama, the tension in the first five minutes of the pilot alone promises a gorgeously-directed, well-acted show, like if “True Detective” were about an affair instead of a serial killer. Told through overlapping but mismatched his-and-hers narratives, “The Affair” sets up dark questions about marriage, happiness and indiscretion.

Which of fall’s rom-coms should you add to your schedule? Romance was clearly a big seller during pilot season, as four new ones premiered: “A to Z,” “Manhattan Love Story,” “Marry Me” and “Selfie.” If you choose only one, go with ABC’s “Manhattan Love Story,” about a budding New York romance partially told through the internal monologues of our leads, played by Analeigh Tipton (“America’s Next Top Model,” “Crazy Stupid Love”) and Jake McDorman (“Greek,” “Shameless”). The pair have the rare combination of chemistry and comedic timing, the writing is unexpectedly sharp and who doesn’t love a little love story set in one of the biggest cities in the world?

For action and adventure well-told, look no further than FOX’s “Gotham,” the ominous, visceral depiction of Gotham City pre-Batman, when Detective James Gordon (played by Benjamin McKenzie, “The O.C.,” “Southland”) was the sole beacon of hope. This one could eventually go the way of melodrama, but its premise is fascinating; we learn the creeping, violent backstories of Gotham’s most famous villains, and McKenzie — he of stoic face and ice-blue eyes — plays a convincing, likable Gordon.

The biggest standout of the season is the CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” Normally home to cheesy, guilty pleasure shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and “Hart of Dixie,” the CW pleasantly surprises with this “Ugly Betty”-esque telenovela/fairy tale fusion, which tells the story of a charismatic and virginal Latina twenty-something who — via a mix-up at the gynecologist — finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. The show is adorable, modern and funny, and star Gina Rodriguez lights up the screen in a way newcomers rarely do.

 

[section label=”Give it a shot.”]Give it a shot.

If you find a little more time left in your appointment TV schedule, consider adding ABC’s “Black-ish” and NBC’s “Marry Me” to your list. “Black-ish” follows an African American family that is trying to enjoy an upper-middle-class lifestyle while retaining their inherent black identity. Anthony Anderson (“Law & Order,” “The Shield”)  is perfectly cast as the “my family is going to be black, not black-ish” dad, and the show is set up to be both hilarious and culturally significant as a commentator on black identity in contemporary America. Veteran comedians Casey Wilson (“Happy Endings”) and Ken Marino (“Party Down,” “Children’s Hospital”) helm “Marry Me,” about a long-dating couple who finally gets engaged (in the most humorously ill-timed proposal ever). With pilots slightly less promising than the above four, these two merit keeping an eye on.

 

[section label=”Skip it.”]Skip it.

FOX’s “Mulaney” caused me physical pain, as comedian John Mulaney rocks stand-up and seems like a likable guy. Likable his new show is not. This unfunny “Seinfeld” knockoff tries too hard, its jokes are recycled from Mulaney’s stand-up and the pacing leaves much to be desired.

The American version of the BBC’s “Broadchurch,” FOX’s “Gracepoint” is worth skipping so you can instead watch the excellent “Broadchurch.” The pilots are almost identical, except where “Broadchurch” excels (and has lovely British accents), “Gracepoint” has less charm and more clunky acting. Worse yet, FOX stole “Broadchurch” star David Tennant and made him play the same role in “Gracepoint” but with an American accent — let’s fire whoever made that stilted decision.

The Mother (actress Cristin Milioti) and Michael Ginsberg (actor Ben Feldman) collide in NBC’s “A to Z,” my least favorite of fall’s rom-coms. As the title implies, the show follows the story of Andrew and Zelda’s (we get it, their initials are A and Z) relationship down to the letter. Unfortunately, the stars have zero chemistry, making it hard to invest.

 

In a fairly mediocre season, there are certainly some standouts (and no one can deny enjoying a good guilty pleasure show with all the bad reviews to match). Now go forth and conquer all fall TV has to offer — by now you’ve racked up a few episodes to binge-watch while procrastinating on your latest project.

* Case in point, I have not seen ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and I don’t know why. Should I be watching? You tell me.

 

6 Comments

  1. Wanna know who gave Tennant the role in Gracepoint? Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall who executive produced it.
    Before you spout off, you might do some research…

    The plot is NOT exactly the same. Gracepoint is 10 episodes – Chibnall originally pitched a 10 episode series to ITV and they gave him 8, so Gracepoint gives him the opportunity to put back in the material he had to cut, which will eventually lead to a different killer.

    Chibnall and the rest of the producers made a conscious decision to have the first episode and a half track Broadchurch very closely because it was the best way to introduce the audience to the characters, the town, and the mystery… but even before the first episode had ended there were differences between the two and those differences have gotten greater with each episode.

    I am a HUGE fan of Broadchurch. I have watched it at least 2 dozen times in its entirety… I am enjoying Gracepoint just as much because I am enjoying the differences between Hardy & Carver and between Anna Gunn’s Miller and Olivia Colman’s.

    I bet you’re the type who thinks “Oh I’ve seen Hamlet, I don’t need to see another person do it ever again” … and if you’re not, then why are you saying don’t watch this. Tennant has said that for him this was just like that – doing a new production of a play he’s done before with different actors.

  2. Watching the TRAILERS for “Mulaney” were physically painful for me. How you managed to get through the pilot I’ll never know.

  3. After watching Mulaney’s stand up I was excited to see what was to come with his show. I was pretty disappointed as well. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed the same jokes being delivered in almost the same order as they were in the New In Town stand up special.

    As for Gracepoint, because I’m a fan of Tennant I actually am enjoying the show so far. Technically his Dr. Who accent isn’t his natural one either so the American accent doesn’t bother me so much. I have heard others suggest Broadchurch to me however. I will have to check it out. I’m sure if I like Gracepoint then I’ll like the original even better. Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. FOX “stole” Tennant and “made” him speak in an American accent? No. He WANTED to do it. And he had Meryl Streep’s voice coach. There WAS NO PILOT. It was never offered to be picked up or not, but filmed as a completed project with ten episodes. It was a deal between Chris Chibnall, the original writer, Shine Productions who produced and FOX. Chibnall can hardly “steal” his own work. They “stole” David Tennant? Lovely British accents, eh? I see. You’re one of those people whose anglophilia saturated brains translates anything British as superior. In this case clearly it’s not. Gracepoint is already showing more realism. And by episode 3 it’s clearly going in places Broadchurch SHOULD have. Did you really think a spritz bottle and a little wipey wipey with a paper towel would rid Danny’s body or evidence such as fur, feathers, traces of animal blood, fibers from the hut and fibers transferred from Joe to Danny’s clothing? Because it wouldn’t. NOT TO MENTION THE PHONE NUMBER FOUND IN THE LINING OF DANNY SOLANO’S JACKET IN GRACEPOINT. Hardy’s condition would never be treated with pills when he’s having an acute attack, pills are too slow acting. There are other flaws, too many to list. I may love it but let’s not pretend Broadchurch is perfecr and Gracepoint isn.t. In some ways Gracepoint is BETTER. There, I said it. The story diverges in more than one way. Characters are more in-depth, we meet Carver’s daughter, plot-lines diverge and the ending and killer are different. GOOGLE, DO YOU USE IT? No, you read that rag The Mirror and vomit back their ridiculous dreck back at us.Either you having been NOT been watching Gracepoint beyond episode one or if you have you might want to stop playing with your phone and pay attention. The differences began to appear as early as episode one(cause of death) and slowly build. In fact in episode one we see a clue, a paper where we later learn in episode 3 Danny and torn off a piece and written someone’s phone number on it obviously on the night of his death. . By the last ten minutes of episode three it’s perfectly clear Chibnall is giving us the alternate story — the story he WANTED to tell but couldn’t because ITV would only give him eight episodes of Broadchurch–in Gracepoint. Clunky acting? Were you drunk? I bet you don’t even know James Strong, the original director in addition to Euros Lyn and Game of Thrones director David Petrarca is working on the show. I own Broadchurch, I know it by heart, I love it, but it isn’t perfect. Next time how about writing about a show on IT’S OWN MERITS and without your anglophile blinders on. Or better yet, just skip it, you lack the imagination and vision to grasp a story as good as Gracepoint. Maybe you should stick to Vampire Diaries and Once Upon a Time.

  5. WTH? It is always abundantly clear which of the Broadchurch whiners have actually watched Gracepoint and which have not and which ones know what they are talking about and which ones do not. This one clearly has not and does not. Fox has not “stolen” David Tennant. He and Chris Chibnall and James Strong all were back working on Broadchurch as soon as they all were done working on Gracepoint. Chris Chibnall and David Tennant have given numerous interviews about Gracepoint and explained their choices that both have made in writing and shooting Gracepoint. The result is a more complex story line and a lot more character development than occurred in Broadchurch. It is quite possible to enjoy both.

  6. Allow me clarify for all you Gracepoint/Broadchurch folks. The writer made it very clear that she only watched the premieres of these fall television shows. If you’ve watched more of Gracepoint than she has and have other ideas, that’s just absolutely great. Good on you, mate! But bringing up later episodes as part of your defense of the show is without merit because that’s not the basis of this article. Just FYI. And congratulations on spoiling some things for the folks who haven’t watched the show and were moderately interested.

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