The pilot episode of “Emergence” (Tuesdays, ABC) is a crisply crafted hour of TV that would set the stage for an excellent series in an alternate universe where there weren’t already dozens of recent series about the emergence of the next stage of human evolution. Still, it’s remarkable how gripping and likable this hour is. Creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas also helmed “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” a couple years ago – that ultimately grew into a lovable series, even though it was much sloppier out of the gates than this one.
Iwatched the trailers of some notable fall TV premieres so you don’t have to (but they are embedded here if you want to). Here are my thoughts on each, along with a “Go Bananas” Level (on a 10-point scale) of how excited I am for the series. All times Eastern:
It’s not as bad as the case of the old “Doctor Who” episodes that were intentionally destroyed after their broadcast, but in this age where it’s easy for a streaming service to make something available to its subscribers, there are still a lot of TV shows you simply can’t see.
AMillion Little Things” (10 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on ABC) is the least bad network newcomer I’ve reviewed so far. If the search for answers to why a guy (Ron Livingston’s real-estate mogul Jon) jumped off a high balcony to his death grabs you – hey, this premise made “13 Reasons Why” a hit – then it might be worth pursuing. This show handles suicide and depression with a defter touch than you might fear, but also focuses on a narrow swath of the population: well-off folks in Boston.
There 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).
At the end of the pilot episode of “Lost” in 2004, Charlie asks “Where are we?” Over six seasons, we’d get those answers. At the end of the cold open of “The Crossing,” which premieres at 10 p.m. Eastern Monday on TV and was available in advance on the ABC app, sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) stares at the hundreds of corpses washing ashore in his coastal town and asks “What is this?”
For the People” (10 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays on ABC) is competent at what it does, but personally, I’m not wired to enjoy what it does: Through a variety of cases each week, this courtroom drama illustrates the frustrating flaws of the American justice system. We get just enough of a window into the process to feel the same Sisyphean hopelessness as the losing lawyers. The agents, attorneys, judges, jurors – and of course the faceless state — responsible for unjust verdicts aren’t held accountable; we just move on to the next week and the next batch of cases, hoping for a better outcome. It’s real, and it’s frustrating. How enjoyable it is depends entirely on what you’re into.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” (8 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays on ABC) is both the most original show of the fall TV slate and very familiar. Let me explain: On one hand, there’s nothing else like it on TV now. On the other hand, it has many forebearers in the genre of supernatural beings influencing a normal person’s actions. Or sometimes the main character is a supernatural being but appears to be normal.
When I think of Rob Thomas’ TV shows, “Veronica Mars” and “iZombie” immediately spring to mind, but that leaves out what might be his best show: “Cupid” (1998-99, ABC). Remarkable for Thomas’ first creator/executive producer credit, this 14-episode series (plus one never-aired episode) deserves a spot on the short list of great TV shows about romance, and unfortunately it’s also on the short list of shows that are heartbreakingly lost to history.
“Miss Match” (2003, NBC) ranks toward the top of the list of shows that were destined to be sure-fire hits yet somehow weren’t. Alicia Silverstone was Entertainment Weekly’s Fall TV Preview cover girl, the show was the magazine’s pick for Best New Drama (“Arrested Development” was the Best New Comedy, if you’re curious) and it was the only scripted show specifically about romance on TV that season.