The pandemic has wreaked havoc with fall TV scheduling (it’s hard to tell one socially distanced, masked story, let alone fill a slate with them), and also revealed that (no surprise) cable and streaming were better prepared with content in their pipelines than the networks. But while 2020 serves up the thinnest lineup in modern TV history, it’s not a total wash. Here are my thoughts on 13 notable fall premieres, along with a “Go Bananas” Level (on a 10-point scale) of how excited I am for the series. All times Eastern:
Ihad forgotten – or maybe not even fully realized – how good “Dark Angel” Season 1 (2000-01, Fox) is. When it aired, it was overshadowed by genre rivals like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” that were doing notably special work. “Dark Angel” treads more familiar ground, creating a mythology out of the old sci-fi concept of genetically engineered people – namely titular heroine Max (Jessica Alba) — who want to live normal lives. But boy does it ever create post-Pulse 2019 Seattle in convincing fashion.
Adramedy starring Brittany Snow and produced by Jason Katims should be at the top of my list of must-see fall shows, but the preview for “Almost Family” (Wednesdays, Fox) looked somewhere between weird and bad. The pilot episode of this series based on the Australian show “Sisters” (and probably with less input from Katims than his past shows, like “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood”) turns out to be surprisingly not terrible. But it lacks a great hook or winning formula, which explains why the makers of the trailer had a hard time cutting together something that’s easy to define.
Prodigal Son” (Mondays, Fox) does a lot of things right, but they are the same things a lot of other shows have done right. This serial killer procedural/ongoing mystery mix makes nice use of lived-in, almost rundown Big Apple buildings, and the relationships are well defined in the first episode, notably incarcerated serial killer Dr. Martin “The Surgeon” Whitly (Michael Sheen) and his son, profiler Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne, who plays “Jesus” on “The Walking Dead” but who looks way different without the beard and long hair).
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:
The 2010s have been the decade of nostalgia, so much so that a genuine feeling of nostalgia doesn’t come up much anymore. The existence of – and the experience of watching – “BH90210” (Wednesdays on Fox) is a case in point. Seeing all seven major living actors from “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000, Fox) on screen together, as well as Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth watching the original show late in the pilot episode, does indeed kind of make me want to rewatch the original.
Gotham” (2014-19, Fox), which aired its final episode Thursday – and will likely draw more fans on Netflix in this age when shows are perpetually “new,” so I’ll discuss it in present tense — won’t be remembered as a top-shelf superhero franchise in this decade of superheroes. But I have to give it credit for being its own thing. It’s one of very few shows where if I hear someone say it’s horrible, and if I hear someone else say it’s great, I agree with both. Sometimes the quality wavers that much within one episode, and also, a lot depends on your mindset when tuning in.
The latest event series that will likely end up going nowhere – either by treading familiar ground or by being canceled – “The Passage” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on Fox) is at least driven by a nice relationship at its core. Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays special operative Brad Wolgast and Saniyya Sydney plays recently orphaned 10-year-old Amy. Initially, Wolgast is part of the duo that kidnaps the kid for a secret government project, then he thinks better of it and goes on the run with her.
Gotham” (8 p.m. Eastern Thursdays on Fox) starts its fifth and final season in bats**t-crazy fashion (pun intended). In a way, that’s par for the course with this show, but it intends to go out in an especially big way. It’s doing the same risky thing “iZombie” did last year: expanding the scope beyond the city to a national scale (even though the events are contained in the city).
These are the movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year: