Fall 2015 Television Preview

The fall is here, which means all the networks and streaming services will be debuting their new fall shows. And, in keeping with my journalistic duty, I have waded through the trailers and pitches for all the new shows, and – frankly – there is a high amount of dreck. But there’s also some intriguing new shows coming down the pike. Here now is my list of what I’m excited by with this fall’s television season, in order of debut…

The Muppets
Tuesdays starting September 22 at 7 pm on ABC

Ever since this was announced I have been giddy with anticipation. Basically it’s taking The Muppet Show and mutating the original variety show format with peeks backstage into the goings on of late night talk show starring Miss Piggy and produced by Kermit. Add to that using single-camera comedy conventions ala The Office, the separation of Kermit and Piggy (with Kermit’s new love Denise looming over the proceedings), and a host of celebrity cameos, and this could be the breakout hit of the fall. And if the first 10 minutes of the pilot are any indication, then the Muppets are here to stay.

The Grinder
Tuesdays starting September 29 at 7:30 pm on Fox

One of the best things Rob Lowe ever did for his career was show off his brilliant comedic chops in Parks and Recreations and as one of the voices in the uneven but funny Moonbeam City. Now, in his first headlining sitcom, he plays an actor who just finished a long run on the legal drama The Grinder. Returning back home Boise on a family visit, he sees that his father and brother have a great life with their family law practice, so he decides to join it as an attorney. Hilarity of course ensues thanks to Lowe’s charming comedic presence. The big news though is the return of the great Fred Savage, as Lowe’s tongue-tied brother Stuart, and William Devane as Lowe and Savage’s father.

Con Man
Starting September 30 on Vimeo

It seems every streaming service is getting in on producing original content and now Vimeo is getting in, with a surprising entry. Co-created and directed by Alan Tudyk, the web series see him as an actor in a former hit sci-fi series who spends his time at conventions (which he loathes) while trying to jumpstart his career and not get upstaged by his former co-star. If this sounds like a riff on Firefly, it is (to the point where fellow co-creator and Tudyk’s Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion is playing the famous co-star). While the humor is meta in the nth degree, the cast is filled to overflowing with a nerd’s dream of cameos (including Gina Torres, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Tricia Helfer, James Gunn, Felicia Day, Seth Green, Sean Astin, and Joss Whedon). It’s meta as hell but is also ridiculously charming.

Mondays starting October 26 at 7 pm on CBS

Say what you will about producer Greg Berlanti, but as a closeted geek and devout comic book nerd, his television shows (Arrow and The Flash) are more in line with DC Comic’s slightly brighter take on superheroes than the Zack Snyder films are. And after establishing the worlds of Oliver Queen and Barry Allen, he now turns his attention to Kara Zor El, the cousin of the world’s most beloved superhero. While I can quibble over some of the continuity changes (having Kara work for a media mogul, the glasses, having Kara be a brunette instead of blonde, bringing Cat Grant and Jimmy Olsen who were Superman’s supporting characters, etc.), I have been impressed by what I have seen so far. And having seen the leaked pilot this summer, I am giddy about this show because it nails the tone so right. And while Melissa Benoist is perfection as Kara, and the supporting cast (Mehcad Brooks, Laura Benatti, David Harewood, and Jeremy Jordan) are wonderful, the big news is Calista Flockhart’s hilarious turn as ur-boss Cat Grant. Best of all, it’s refreshing to see that a lot of thought and care was taken in bringing this DC superheroine to screen and it shows.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead
Starting October 31 at 8 pm on Starz

Depending on your love of horror and comedy, you will either love or hate this. But considering that not only is Bruce Campbell returning to his signature role, but the show is created and executive produced by Campbell and his fellow Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi. And just for fun, it seems that Ash’s new nemesis (aside from all the Deadites raised by the Necronomicon) is a woman whose life has been ruined by Ash’s shenanigans, played by his former Xena co-star Lucy Lawless.

Flesh and Bone
Starting November 8 on Starz

I admit a soap opera about the ins, outs, ups, and downs of a ballet company might seem an odd choice, but there’s too much pedigree involved with with this show to not consider it. In addition to stars Sara Hay and Ben Daniels, the mini-series is created by Breaking Bad alumna Moira Walley-Beckett examining the cutthroat world of classical ballet; a feeling emphasized by the pilot being directed by David Michôd (of the film Animal Kingdom). It looks stark and I can’t wait to see it.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Starting November 20 at Netflix

After the massive success of Daredevil, the next chapter in the Defenders arc continues with the debut of Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), a former superhero who has retired and now has opened a detective agency. Based on Marvel senior writer Brian Michael Bendis’ comic book series Alias (one of the best things he’s ever done), and created by Dexter writer Melissa Rosenberg, and featuring Mike Colter (as Luke Cage), Carrie-Anne Moss, Rachael Taylor, and David Tennant (in a role that I can’t say because of spoilers but holy cow what intriguing casting!), this could be another crown in the Marvel / Netflix crown.

Originally Published on 16 September 2015 as part of “The Idiot Box,” my television column for l’étoile


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