The fall television season is now upon us, and the offerings seem pretty underwhelming for the most part. From A Gifted Man and Pan Am to Terra Nova and Grimm, Jace Lacob breaks down which new shows you should be watching this fall and which will have you running from the room.
The 2011–12 television season has some strong and risky programming on tap, but unfortunately, most of that won’t be premiering until midseason, as the broadcasters are holding on to some of their more creatively dazzling prospects until the wintertime. Which leaves the fall season in a bit of a rut, really. What is largely on offer is pretty dull and formulaic, with a few notable exceptions (though even those will make you yearn for the day when NBC finally rolls out Awake and Smash).
Yes, there are cringeworthy comedies (Man Up! and Whitney, there you are!), police procedurals (Poppy Montgomery is an ex-cop who remembers everything except the day her sister was murdered), franchise reboots (it’s Charlie’s Angels … in Miami), familiar faces (Sarah Michelle Gellar returns in Ringer), and whatever Grimm is supposed to be, but there are also some shows that take chances, such as Showtime’s political thriller Homeland, ABC’s high-flying period drama Pan Am, and CBS’s medical/supernatural hybrid, A Gifted Man, to name a few.
And then there’s Fox’s Terra Nova, which boasts no fewer than a dozen executive producers (including Steven Spielberg) and finally arrives on screens months behind schedule. (First it was announced as a midseason show for last season; then, after that idea was scrapped, the two-hour pilot was meant to air in May, which also didn’t happen.) I was torn about whether Terra Nova was one to watch or one to skip; ultimately, it’s one to take a wait-and-see approach with, as the redone pilot felt less Lost and more, er, Land of the Lost. The prehistoric/time travel/adventure/mystery hodgepodge follows a family who escapes the dystopian conditions of a desolate future by traveling back in time to breathe the fresh air of the titular prehistoric settlement. But, honestly, with subpar–Jurassic Park special effects, it’s hard to see what all of the numerous delays and fuss have been about.