Fall TV 2018: Thoughts on 8 new shows and how long they will last (Commentary)


here are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).

Honestly, I can’t find a sure-fire great show in this batch of newcomers. But here are my thoughts on eight of the most hyped series and my predictions on how long they’ll last, in order of premiere date (all times Eastern):

“I Feel Bad” (9:30 p.m. Thursdays, NBC, continues Oct. 4; the first two episodes already aired and can be found on NBC.com) – It’s nice to see “Hey, I know that person from somewhere!” actors Sarayu Blue (“No Tomorrow”) and Paul Adelstein get lead roles, and it’s awesome that there’s no laugh track. As far as modern sitcoms go, this one seems painless, and possibly worthwhile as a break from all the grim dramas. On the other hand, “Office” or “Parks and Recreation” reruns will probably yield more chuckles.

How long will it last? One season.

“Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m. Mondays, CBS, starts Sept. 24) – To its credit, this remake starring Jay Hernandez seems to capture the cheesy action charms of the Tom Selleck original. And whether people like you and me watch these CBS reboots or not, they are doing quite well. (I looked it up: “Hawaii Five-0″ and “MacGyver” are still airing.)

How long will it last? 10 seasons.

“Manifest” (10 p.m. Mondays, NBC, starts Sept. 24) – Perhaps the most remarkable legacy of “Lost” is the sheer number of “Guys, where are we?” clones that have come out in the 14 years since it premiered. What’s odd is that audiences have rejected most of them – leaving the shows canceled and the stories unfinished – but every year sees networks take another stab at it. Here’s how rote they’ve become: “Manifest’s” premise of a group of people arriving from another time is similar to last spring’s “The Crossing.” Even if the network could guarantee a conclusion to the story, it’s hard to muster excitement anymore. (And then at midseason, you can try again with Fox’s “The Passage.”)

How long will it last? Six episodes.

“A Million Little Things” (10 p.m. Wednesdays, ABC, starts Sept. 26) – The latest big-network, big-city, big-concept, big-cast drama has an ephemeral premise, but not necessarily in a bad way. As the story opens, Jon (Ron Livingston) commits suicide, something none of his family or friends see coming. Then the show turns into a lesson on important little things in life, but with a darker tinge. It’s not exactly a whodunit, but more of a who-pushed-him-to-do-it. Of all the shows on this list, “A Million Little Things” has the best chance of becoming something worth your time.

How long will it last? 13 episodes.

“God Friended Me” (Sundays, CBS; premieres at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 30, then switches to 8 p.m. Oct. 7) – I liked this show last season when it was called “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.” To be fair, “God Friended Me” tightens up the spiritually laden premise so it’s more digestible: God friends Miles (Brandon Michael Hall) on Facebook and recommends other friends, such as Cara (Violett Beane), who he meets and saves from death. The preview – basically a mini-episode – is refreshingly sweet, and the two leads are easy to like. Unfortunately, every story beat is completely predictable.

How long will it last? Two seasons.

“All American” (9 p.m. Wednesdays, The CW, starts Oct. 10) – Not long ago, “Friday Night Lights” and now-star actor Michael B. Jordan covered the territory of a black kid from the slums being recruited to join the prep football team on the wealthier side of town. “All American” looks like a scarier take on the premise, as Spencer (Daniel Ezra) tries to fit in with students and teammates who are often openly hostile. The portrayal is valid, but being compared to “FNL” doesn’t serve this series well.

How long will it last? Thanks to its partnership with Netflix, CW shows rarely get a quick ax, so I’ll guess four seasons.

“The Haunting of Hill House” (Oct. 12, Netflix) – I’m not sure I’m up for another extremely dark and downbeat story, but the concept of following the lives of adults who spent their childhoods in a haunted house is a nice hook. And there’s no denying the expert set and lighting design showcased in the trailer.

How long will it last? Three seasons.

“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Oct. 26, Netflix) – This is a rare reboot that’s creatively justified, because it’s in a completely different genre: horror instead of a laugh-track sitcom. Casting an actress (Kiernan Shipka) who resembles Melissa Joan Hart is a nice touch. Despite having dumped the too-cheesy “Riverdale” from my slate, I might take a peek at this spinoff, which doesn’t seem tightly linked to the other Archieverse series.

How long will it last? Four seasons.

What fall TV shows are you most looking forward to? Share your thoughts below.

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