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2016/17 TV Preview

New series

It’s been a long while since I can remember the last time I was as disinterested in the crop of new TV series that are set to start debuting on network TV this fall. Usually, there’s at least something I can look forward to, some series I can get excited about. But honestly this year looks like it’s going to be mostly a bust on the networks.

The Good Place

The Good Place

All that I’m looking forward to on network TV this fall is the comedy The Good Place on NBC starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell about a woman that died and accidentally went to “the good place” rather than the hot one and Star Trek: Discovery on CBS. Though this sixth Trek TV series is set to only air once on CBS before it moves to their streaming service.

And there’s a few new shows I’m looking forward to on cable and streaming too, one of which is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is on BBC America and is based on the Douglas Adams (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) book of the same name. This new TV version of the Adams novel is being written and produced by Max Landis (Chronicle). On Netflix is Marvel’s Luke Cage that’s a sort’a spin-off of the Jessica Jones show about a man, Cage (Mike Colter) who’s super-strong with super-tough skin that brushes aside bullets who decides to clean up the streets of New York.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to scoff at on network TV next fall than to look forward to.

If the last few years the networks have been trying to turn as many come books into TV series as they could, then this year it’s all about turning once popular movies into TV series, or rebooting once popular past TV series into modern ones. Which I have no problem with, except that nothing I’ve seen from any of these new shows makes me thing that the networks have anything other than a bunch of creative duds on their hands.

Time After Time

Time After Time

Based on the movie of the same name, Time after Time on ABC features author H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) building a time machine in 1893 and traveling to present day 2016 New York City to find Jack the Ripper who’s also travelled to New York City in the same time machine. Convenient, ain’t it? If the movie version was a love story between Wells and a modern day woman, then the TV version seems to be setting the two up as a male/female investigative duo ala Castle, Blindspot, The Blacklist, etc., etc., etc.

Emerald City on NBC is the latest attempt at a network to create a TV version of the Wizard of Oz story that various channels have been trying to do since at least 2002. This version of the Oz story has Dorothy being swept off to a totally reimagined and harder version of Oz that seems to be a mashup of Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time.

Fox has two shows based on movies set to premier this fall; The Exorcist and Lethal Weapon.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist

The Exorcist looks to be essentially the story of the novel/movie about a girl possessed by a demon — with a little bit of things like The Conjuring thrown in for good measure. My one question about The Exorcist is if the entire season will be about the girl’s possession, or if each episode will be about some other evil forces possessing some other poor souls? It doesn’t help matters that The Exorcist is the second “possession” series on TV with Outcast also about demonic forces already on Starz.

The TV version of Lethal Weapon seems to take the zanier elements of the movie from Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) having a death wish which makes him practically fearless and his older, world-weary partner Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.) who has to deal with Riggs and is “too old for this @#$%.” But somehow I’d imagine that if it does take the zanier elements of the Riggs character that it’s not going to use the movie version of him being suicidal and his substance abuse problems. You know, all the stuff that made him seem human and not some cartoon character.

Frequency on The CW, takes the elements of the 2000 movie where someone from the present, here Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List), is able to talk with their father from 20 years in the past via a ham radio. And because she’s able to send information to her father in the past she’s able to change events in her present. But if other time travel movies/TV series have taught us anything, it’s that meddling in the past will being about unintended consequences in the present/future. Time After Time should take note!



On CBS there’s a series based on the movie Training Day and one on the 1980s TV series MacGyver. Much like with the movie, the TV version of Training Day follows a young, idealistic police officer (Drew Van Acker) sent to spy on a seasoned, up to no good, “King Kong ain’t got [email protected]#$ on me” detective (Bill Paxton).

MacGyver (Lucas Till) is a younger take on the character but with the overall concept of the original series — solving crimes/rescuing people/stopping terrorists by making whatever’s needed with what’s on hand to get the job done — intact. I was a huge fan of the original MacGyver as a kid, but somehow I doubt that this middle-aged man is going to be a fan of this new version of the show.


Returning series



If new series this year look crummy at least there’s a slew of great and interesting shows to look forward to.

Out of the gate early this fall are ABC comedies The Goldbergs, black-ish and Fresh off the Boat. While black-ish and Fresh off the Boat get a lot of good press for their diversity and somewhat controversial storylines, I’m more concerned with whether or not the shows are funny or not and these are.

The Goldbergs and black-ish return September 21 and Fresh off the Boat October 11.

Ash vs. Evil Dead

Ash vs. Evil Dead

I was a huge fan of the Starz series Ash vs Evil Dead right up until the very end of the final episode of the first season when things kind’a fell off the rails. That series deals with sad-sack Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) who accidentally released evil spirits from the bound in human skin Book of the Dead. And in Ash vs Evil Dead it’s up to Ash and his two friends Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) to figure out a way to undo what he’s done.

The show was everything I’d ever wanted in an Evil Dead TV series with over-the-top action, comedy and lots of gore. But that ending, it was so out of tone with what had come the previous nine episodes that it really frustrated me. That being said, I’m ready for loads more wise-cracking Ash in a second season of Ash vs Evil Dead which starts back up September 23. As long as they do some ‘splaining about that ending I’ll be back for more gore!

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Existing alongside the current film franchises, the animated Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD tells the story of what was going on in the galaxy when the evil Empire was consolidating power and trying to wipe a nascent rebellion out. The stories of Rebels can be surprisingly deep and emotional for a series we already know the end to. Hint — none of the characters of Rebels show up in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope so… Star Wars Rebels returns September 24.

The British series Black Mirror is available on Netflix October 11. This anthology series that originally debuted back in 2001 that’s a bit like The Twilight Zone but updated for modern day originally didn’t have a series run here in the US until Netflix picked it up a few years ago. And boy am I glad they did — this show about what happens when technology and all its uses goes wrong is consistently one of the best things on TV. Black Mirror can be so intense that I’ve yet to be able to go back and watch old episodes again even though I loved them the first time around.

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

The alterna-history The Man in the High Castle returns to Amazon Prime December 16. I was surprised as to just how interesting a show High Castle was since I’d never really been interested in any of the other original Prime series. Here, it’s an early 1960s where Germany and Japan won the second world war and now occupy most of the planet, the US included. These two superpowers are engaging in a Cold War of sorts with what’s left of the US set to be the battleground for World War III. Except that events in the first season of High Castle reveal that this may just be one reality of many, one where the allies won the war (ours) and others where Germany or the Soviets won it all.

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

Another sci-fi series The Expanse returns to SyFy this January. Based on the book series Leviathan Wakes, The Expanse takes place in a future where mankind has colonized most of the solar system and has brought along all of the problems we have here on the Earth like racism, war, disease, hunger… But all this pales in comparison to what starts happening when something’s released on an asteroid outpost that threatens to consume all of humanity.

Also sometime in January a fourth season of the PBS series Sherlock is set to return with, I’m assuming, four new episodes. The series has been on since 2011 and has so far aired a paltry 13 episodes of TV. They may be “paltry” but they’re also darn good!

And the show I’m looking forward to most returning next season is Better Call Saul on AMC, the third series about how lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) goes from a guy trying to go good to someone who’d have people killed if it would earn him any money which is set to debut sometime early next year.

Direct Beam Comms #24


The Goldbergs, Fresh Off the Boat & black-ish

AJ Michalka and Troy Gentile of The Goldbergs

AJ Michalka and Troy Gentile of The Goldbergs

Last week, the ABC series The Goldbergs and black-ish ended their third and second seasons respectively while Fresh Off the Boat ends its second season this Tuesday. I enjoy watching these shows but honestly, I’m not sure I can point to one single moment last season from any of them that was memorable to me. That’s not criticism of these series since there are usually several times each episode that I literally LOL. But I’m not sure if it’s because there are so many episodes of TV here, between the three of them there’s 72, or if it’s because these shows are really like the lite-sitcoms of the 1980s, but there’s not a single moment in either The Goldbergs or black-ish or Fresh Off the Boat that sticks out to me.

To me, Fresh Off the Boat is an enjoyable show but is most like a 1980s sitcom with the characters being almost over-the-top and it being very heavy on the “situation.” And while I think that The Goldbergs and black-ish are better shows, to me The Goldbergs works best when the creators of that show find their own stories. But I get the sense that they’re being pushed to do more “event” style episodes like ones that pay homage to Dirty Dancing and Risky Business which are a bit contrived.

And while black-ish can, at times, be a much deeper show than either The Goldbergs or Fresh Off the Boat are, it can fall into the tropes that were popular in past sitcoms like the “very special” episode and “someone’s unexpectedly pregnant” that were staples of series past.

Grade: B for all


Recently, Crackle began offering all 85 episodes of the classic animated series Robotech streaming via their service. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I watched Robotech from start to finish, but I plan to spend this summer filling some of my TV time catching up on this show that’s one of my favorite of all-time.

With the fall TV season slowly winding down and options for things to watch dwindling by the week, there’s a few new series I want to checkout in May.

Preacher Sunday, May 22 at 10PM (EST) on AMC

The cast of The Preacher

The cast of The Preacher

I hate to admit it, but I’m mostly ignorant on just what the Preacher comic and new AMC TV series is about. Checking out the marketing materials for the show and reading articles on it, Preacher seems to be a version of Hellblazer, except instead of a demonologist the main character is a priest who smokes, drinks and is otherwise self-destructive all while battling the unknown. That being said, having watched some of the promos for the show, Preacher seems to be less supernatural than I’d always assumed the comic was. Like the show really could just be about a hard-drinking preacher where, as it’s put several times in one promo, “anything can happen.”

Which is kind’a a bad thing. If the people involved in the show can’t properly describe what it’s about in a sentence or two, other than to say “anything can happen,” to me that doesn’t bode well for the show as a whole/moving forward. How can you create a compelling show if you’re not sure what it’s about?

DC Comics describes the comic series as:

After merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Texan preacher Jesse Custer has become completely disillusioned with the beliefs to which he had dedicated his entire life. Now possessing the power of “the word,” an ability to make people do whatever he utters, Custer begins a violent and riotous journey across the country. Joined by his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip and the hard-drinking Irish vampire Cassidy, Custer loses faith in both God and man as he witnesses dark atrocities and improbable calamities during his exploration of America.

So who knows what the TV version will be about? Still, I’m interested enough in this one to check it out.

Wayward Pines Wednesday, May 25

The cast of Wayward Pines

The cast of Wayward Pines

The first season of this horror/sci-fi show about a small, isolated town in the Northwest US and all the weird goings-on there was interesting enough to me. It had some nice, unexpected, twists and turns and with the story of the first season being told in ten episodes start to finish felt about right. And now comes a new, second season with a new story and new lead actor. The first season featured Matt Dillion while the second has Jason Patric in a different story also set in Wayward Pines.

…the 10-episode, second season will pick up after the shocking events of Season One, with the residents of Wayward Pines battling against the iron-fisted rule of the First Generation.

Which, admittedly, doesn’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the first season of the show. But like I said, the creators of Wayward Pines took the series to some unexpected places and while the show wasn’t great, at times it was a fun one to watch.


Star Trek Beyond Trailer #2

Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens

On the Horizon

Currently, I’m working on articles about; animated films of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the movie Independence Day, the weird movies of 1986 and the movie Aliens which isn’t weird but is also from 1986. 😉

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes debuts on screens.
  • 1979: Dawn of the Dead opens in theaters.

What to watch: Winter ’13/’14 edition

Is it just me, or is the fall TV season just a poor lead up to the winter one, when the interesting series launch?

Mob City poster

Mob City poster

Mob City (TNT) Wednesdays at 9

Hurry up to catch this one before it ends. It seems like TNT doesn’t have a lot of confidence in this little gem by “burning off” two episodes of Mob City every Wednesday night for three weeks when this one will be done quickly. Though in an odd quirk of fate this is exactly what happened to series creator Frank Darabont’s last show too; The Walking Dead. AMC didn’t have much confidence in that show either and only ordered six episodes of The Walking Dead too before committing to any more. And the last time I checked The Walking Dead is doing okay.

The Goldbergs (ABC) Tuesdays at 9

The one new show I watch from this fall is The Goldbergs. It’s not a great show, but it’s good and I get a laugh or two out of each episode which makes this one worth it for me.

Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC America) 12/25

Christmas Day will see the departure of Matt Smith, current Doctor Who, and the introduction of new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi. The big question is when Smith leaves if a lot of the new fans of the show who watch Doctor Who for Smith will leave too?

Community (NBC) Thursdays starting 1/2

Community creator Dan Harmon returns to the show he created, then was thrown off of, then rehired to for a fifth and final (?) season this January. I’m hugely excited about this one. Now, if only I could forget that non-Harmon fourth season of Community altogether.



Helix (SyFy) Fridays starting 1/10

Ronald D. Moore, the creator of the Battlestar Galactica reboot series, returns to TV with Helix on SyFy. This series looks to be part The Thing mixed with the movie Contagion and some zombies thrown in for good measure But fear not, Moore is good at handling material that seems already done/tired like he did so well with BSG.

True Detective (HBO) Sundays starting 1/12

This series follows two detectives (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) as they spend 17 years hunting a serial killer. Which sounds a bit like Zodiac, but if this series can channel even a smidgeon of the greatness of Zodiac it’ll be one to watch.

Sherlock (PBS) Sundays starting 1/19

What started out as a PBS/BBC series aimed at adults quickly found an younger and non-traditional PBS audience making Sherlock as popular and culturally relevant as Doctor Who is with the teen/hipster set. Will this third season of Sherlock be more popular than Downton Abbey, another hit on PBS? I think it might.

House of Cards (Netflix) Available 2/1

When we last left Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) he had destroyed more than a few lives on his attempt at becoming Vice President of the country. There were enough twists and turns in the first season of the series that I’m genuinely unsure as to where the second season of House of Cards is headed.

Keri Russell takes aim

Keri Russell takes aim in The Americans

The Americans (FX) February

I adore this series about Soviet spies in Washington DC that’s set in the early 1980s. It’s the perfect mix of action and a true heart felt story about making relationships and families work. With guns and explosives too.

Hannibal (NBC) “Midseason”

I get the feeling that no one’s watching this show because of it’s title and it seemingly a money-grab at the The Silence of the Lambs movie franchise. Which is a real shame, series creator Brian Fuller and cast are doing some wonderful, weird and interesting things with Hannibal which is unlike anything else on TV right now.

2013 Fall TV Update

The fall TV season is now in full swing and I can finally declare that overall it’s uneven at best. It’s true that many of the more interesting series don’t premiere until much later in the season but from what I’ve seen this fall I’ve been underwhelmed.

Here’s essentially every series I’m currently watching, or have recently watched:

The cast of The Goldbergs

The cast of The Goldbergs

The good:

Making Monsters (Travel Channel): I so love this show about Distortions Unlimited, a company that makes and sells horror items for Halloween and horror attractions. It’s a good representation of the realities of working in a creative industry where there’s always another pressing deadline and projects get changed and changed and changed right up until the very end.

The Goldbergs (ABC): This is a enjoyable comedy about the 1980s that’s highly watchable. I just wished the series creators didn’t have to add the Modern Family “awwwwwwww” moment that closes out the end of each episode here too.

American Horror Story (FX): The first season of American Horror was brilliant and the second started off pretty awful but turned into something decent. The third season, titled Coven, had me hooked from the first scene. But we’re just one episode in so it’s tough to know if in the end this series will be as good as the start.

Community (Syndicated on Comedy Central): It’s amazing how much I look forward to Community, especially since Comedy Central airs four episodes each Friday night in order from the beginning of the series.

The blah:

Stephen Merchant in Hello Ladies

Stephen Merchant in Hello Ladies

Hello Ladies (HBO): Stephen Merchant’s series about a hapless man looking for love in image obsessed Los Angeles is interesting and it uses many of the cringe-worthy storytelling devices Merchant helped create in the UK version of The Office. But where The Office had a lot of heart and some relatable characters, for the most part Hello Ladies has neither.

Agents of SHIELD (ABC): The first episode of SHIELD was interesting enough that it had me wondering if this show might be working on more than one level? Two more episodes in and I can say that SHIELD is strictly a one level series. It’s action adventure premise is more akin to 1980s shows like The A-Team or Riptide rather than having any nuance. If you want to see baddies get their lights punched out by the good-guys on a weekly basis, and there’s nothing wrong with that, then Agents of SHIELD is for you.

The uninteresting:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): This series “feels” a lot like Parks and Recreation. And while a lot of people like Parks and Recreation, I’m not a fan and I gave up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine two weeks in.

Eastbound & Down (HBO): I’ve only kind’a sort’a liked Eastbound since it premiered back in ’09. And four seasons in I’m finding the Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) character a bit more grating than usual and am just about ready to give up on it.