Fall television season promises mix of old and new
New series to compete with returning favorites
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 16:09
The arrival of September brings fresh notebooks, back-to-school jitters and, most importantly, the start of the fall television season. This year, as series old and new hit the small screen (or Hulu), there is a diverse mix of shows to choose from. Here is a quick look at a few noteworthy comedies and dramas airing this fall.
The Blacklist (NBC, premieres Sept. 23)
This new, high-concept show revolves around Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), a former government official and now one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives, who turns himself in and offers to help track down various criminals and terrorists. The catch: He mysteriously refuses to speak to anyone besides newly minted agent Elizabeth Keene (Megan Boone). Spader’s most recent foray into television came on season eight of “The Office” (2005-2013) as crazed boss Robert California; without an established ensemble cast to compete with, Spader has the space he needs to let Red flourish as a character. With early positive reviews, “The Blacklist” could potentially be a much-needed hit for the ratings-poor NBC.
Homeland (Showtime, premieres Sept. 29)
Fresh off of big Emmy wins for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, “Homeland” returns this September to intense speculation about the fates of Carrie Mathison, Nicholas Brody, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and the entire Brody family in the aftermath of the terrorist attack that closed out the season two finale. A recent trailer gave fans a brief look at what’s in store for their favorite characters, including Dana (Morgan Saylor) taking nude photos of herself, Carrie making a return to the hospital, Brody sporting a new bald look and Saul going to Capitol Hill to testify before congressional committees. One thing we know for sure? Showrunner Alex Gansa confirmed at the Television Critics Association press tour that Brody will not be appearing in the season’s first two episodes, though he would not comment on when exactly the accused Marine will be back.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, premieres Sept. 24)
The title may be a mouthful, but this new drama by “The Avengers” (2012) director Joss Whedon has already received considerable attention – and not just for its long name. The show itself (which is consistent with previous Marvel Studios films) follows fan-favorite Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) in a post-Avengers world as he teams up with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to, according to the show’s website, “investigate the new, the strange and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.” Notably, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” marks Whedon’s return to television; the director-producer-writer – beloved by fans for his shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1996-2003) and cult favorite “Firefly”(2002-2003) – has been focusing on his many film projects for the past several years. With a rabid fan base already established thanks to both Whedon and Marvel’s previously successful ventures, as well as hype from a San Diego Comic Con screening, the show seems poised to rake in high ratings during its first season.
Mom (CBS, premieres Sept. 23)
A new show from well-known producer Chuck Lorre of “Two and a Half Men” (2003–) and “The Big Bang Theory” (2007–), “Mom” stars comedy darling Anna Faris as Christy, a newly sober single mother working at a restaurant. In addition to dealing with her boy-crazy daughter and zany colleagues, Christy’s life is further complicated by the return of her estranged mother Bonnie (Allison Janney). Lorre’s shows, which often garner big ratings, are not known for their nuanced humor, aiming instead for broad, perhaps obvious, comedy. “Mom” seems no different; a TVLine.com critic said, “All the bawdy boxes get checked, including vivid sex jokes and rather specific drug humor.” The chemistry between Faris and Janney, however, has the potential to make or break the show. Both women are talented (Janney was a scene stealer as a boozy mother in this summer’s “The Way Way Back”), but whether they can make this show work is to be determined.
Parks and Recreation (NBC, premieres Sept. 26)
“Parks and Rec” fans were the recipients of some unfortunate news this summer: Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe, who play Anne Perkins and Chris Traeger respectively, will leave the series after the 13th episode of the show’s upcoming sixth season. Executive producer Michael Schur told Entertainment Weekly what this season will look like for Anne and Chris: “Their main thrust for the first chunk of episodes is just being a couple and dating – and also obviously, trying to have a baby,” he said. In the meantime, fans can look forward to a season premiere set in London and a slew of guest stars, including “Orphan Black” actress Tatiana Maslany as a love interest for wannabe-playboy Tom Haverford. Heidi Klum, Kristen Bell and Henry Winkler will also be appearing at various points in the season.