Fall TV 2014: ‘Gotham’ and a handful of other shows worth checking out (Commentary)

A year ago, I announced that the lineup of new fall shows was the worst in two decades, and although I ended up liking (and now mourning, since they were canceled) “Almost Human” and “Super Fun Night,” I think my prognostication was accurate. Now I’m here to say that the fall of 2014 looks worse. The good news is that, aside from “Almost Human,” the networks’ axes fell lightly, so a decent number of favorites will return. Here are my picks for three new shows to check out, along with a few returning shows of note:


1. “Gotham” (7 p.m. Central Mondays on Fox, starts Sept. 22) – At first blush, this is “Batman” overkill in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy (2005-12), which was itself redundant (the Two-Face and Catwoman stories notably offered nothing new). But a case can be made that the “Batman” mythos has never been presented the way “Gotham” intends to do it: It’s not campy like the 1960s TV show or animated like the classic 1990s series, so it should delve deeper into characters than any screen incarnation of the saga. Even though the central character, Bruce Wayne, is just a kid, I think police detectives Gordon and Bullock will make up for that. “Buffy” used to be hit-and-miss with its seasonal Big Bads, but “Gotham” has a proven roster. First up is the Penguin, and I like how the show intends to pepper in young versions of other faves like the Riddler, Catwoman and Poison Ivy.

2. “Star Wars: Rebels” (8 p.m. Mondays on Disney XD, starts Friday, Oct. 3) – Disney’s handling of “Star Wars” irks me, as the company has canceled “The Clone Wars,” the Expanded Universe books and comics and the 3D movies since purchasing Lucasfilm. And since this show doesn’t feature any familiar characters (whereas “Clone Wars” had Obi-Wan and Anakin), it’ll be hard for me to not see the crew of the Ghost as Disney-approved “Star Wars” characters for the kiddies. On the other hand, “Clone Wars” head honcho Dave Filoni is overseeing “Rebels.” Also giving me hope: The art design is said to draw heavily from Ralph McQuarrie’s brushstrokes, and there’s at least an outside chance that some characters and storylines from “Clone Wars” could be continued in this series that takes place a decade or so later.

3. “Play It Again, Dick” (CW Seed, starts today) – Like “Rebels,” this is an entry from a franchise I love that I can’t get totally excited about. What happened to the ongoing series of “Veronica Mars” movies that Rob Thomas hinted at when the first one came out earlier this year? Instead, we get this web series about Ryan Hansen (played by the actual actor of that name, of course) pitching a series about his “Veronica” character, Dick Casablancas. Other “Veronica” actors guest-star in what I imagine will be a meta romp in the vein of James Van Der Beek’s turn as “himself” on the gone-too-soon “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23.” But I’d still rather have more “Veronica Mars” movies.


1. “The Mindy Project” Season 3 (8:30 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox, starts tonight) – Everyone’s talking about the Danny-Mindy pairing, but I’m more interested in Morgan trying to set Mindy up with Rob McElhenny from “Always Sunny” (no word if he’s in Fat Mac or Thin Mac mode). Regardless of what “The Mindy Project” does with its title character’s love life, I have confidence that the writing will remain sharp and it won’t fly off the rails like “New Girl” did after the Jess-Nick coupling.

2. “The Walking Dead” Season 5 (8 p.m. Sundays on AMC, starts Oct. 12) – It should be immensely satisfying to watch Rick’s crew get revenge on the Termites for locking them in a train car. And if rumors of cannibalism are true, it seems the writers have found another fresh angle from which to explore life in the apocalypse.

3. “Parenthood” Season 6 (9 p.m. Thursdays on NBC, starts Sept. 25) – Last season, Jason Katims’ gem about parents, children and family fell from my No. 1 spot to merely a top-10 entrant, but I still adore it and I know I’ll miss it terribly when it’s gone after this season. At that point, I’ll probably be ready for a series rewatch.

4. “The Simpsons” visit “Family Guy” (8 p.m. Sept. 28 on Fox) and “Futurama” visits “The Simpsons” (7 p.m. Nov. 9 on Fox) – I canceled “Family Guy” from my DVR queue a few years back (the episode where Brian eats poop turned me off), but I’ll be tuning in to see the Simpsons visit Quahog. Even more so, I’m looking forward to Bender and the “Futurama” gang time-hopping into Springfield. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad “The Simpsons” is still around for its 26th season, but between the two shows, I think “Futurama” had the deeper well of ideas.

What new and returning shows are you looking forward to this fall? Share your thoughts in the comment thread below.