TV upfronts season is like your birthday–if your family celebrates your birthday by giving you some gifts you want and some stuff you absolutely do not want, while also keeping you in suspense over whether they’re going to take away and destroy some of your favorite toys/gadgets. But, whether you lost your favorite show in the greenlighting/cancelling melee that is upfronts season, there are plenty of shows hitting the silver screen this fall and winter to (possibly) fill the void left by finished or cancelled series. However, not all of these upcoming shows are going to be hits. While some, like Fox’s Gotham, are bound to get second seasons based on the buzz that’s already been building for months, others will fall by the wayside and may not even be worth checking out.
As someone who loves television, I try to check out as many pilots as possible, but in the current TV culture where there are more shows than days in the year, it’s hardly practical to watch the pilot of every single new series. Instead, I try to watch all the trailers and read all the synopses for upcoming series and pick out all the shows that seem to have potential. After this upfronts season, I find myself with 20 series to check out in the fall (on top of all the shows already on my watch list). From there, I’ve narrowed down those to the top ten of which pilots I’m most anticipating. While this is by no means a list of shows that will definitely, absolutely be successful, these are the ten pilots I’m most excited to watch.
Fox’s Mulaney was written and created by its titular star, John Mulaney, an Emmy-award winning writer and comedian. The show seems to be slightly biographical as it follows a stand up comedian who is hired to write for a comedy legend and game show host played by Martin Short. Along with work troubles, John also struggles to make time for his two best friends/roommates.
In the world of television, it’s an old tradition for stand up comedians to transition to sitcoms — or other scripted television shows/movies. But, while Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and other greats have made the transition successfully, can John Mulaney? Mulaney’s standup is relatable and hilarious, I’ll give him that. However, it doesn’t seem as though Mulaney has brought any of that humor to his new television series, which seems to be another run-of-the-mill sitcom with cliche characters. I’ll be giving Mulaney a chance because his standup is fantastic, but I’m also trying to keep my expectations low.
Starring Viola Davis as a tough criminal defense professor, How to Get Away with Murder follows ambitious law students who become entangled in a murder plot. From Shonda Rhimes, creator Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder will be added to ABC’s Thursday night lineup along with Rhimes’ other shows.
As a semi-fan of Rhimes’ Scandal, I will definitely be checking out How to Get Away with Murder. The show sounds like an interesting take on a lawyer drama — and possibly more relatable to me as someone in my early 20s since it follows law students. However, Rhimes’ shows tend to lose me with their, at times, over the top drama. So, while I’ll certainly watch the pilot of How to Get Away with Murder, I don’t know whether I will stick with it for very long.
Based on a true story, CBS’s Scorpion follows Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) and his ragtag group of nerdy prodigies who operate as a think tank for Homeland Security. The premise is that Walter’s group is called upon to solve complex problems in the technological modern age. In the trailer, the group members are shown solving a security issue, with each of the characters having their role to play according to their strengths.
It’s hard to invest in police procedural shows because they tend to lack an overarching narrative. The only continuing stories on these types of series are character stories, and if I can’t relate to the characters, I can’t get invested in the show. For instance, the first season of Elementary was a standard procedural but Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) were interesting to watch and follow as their partnership developed. I’ll be checking out Scorpion because the characters intrigued me within the trailer — plus the concept is cool — and I hope they’ll keep me interested.
Based on the Hellblazer comics published by Vertigo and DC, NBC’s Constantine follows titular character, John Constantine (Matt Ryan), an occult detective. Because of Constantine’s abilities to see and deal with the supernatural, he is tasked with defending humanity and saving the world from the gathering forces of darkness.
With all the comic book series coming to television in the fall (and joining continuing DC and Marvel shows), Constantine stands out the most. With its tone, characters, and supernatural elements, Constantine isn’t like anything else on television — or like the 2005 film Warner Bros released based on the same comics. But, it does seem to fall in line with the supernatural crime series that have become popular in recent years, such as Fox’s runaway hit, Sleepy Hollow. Though I haven’t read the comics, I am interested to see how this story translates to television.
ABC’s upcoming musical comedy show set in the renaissance period (yes you read that correctly) follows Galavant (Joshua Sasse), a knight who seeks revenge on King Richard (Timothy Omundson) for stealing his one true love. As far as out-of-the-box premises go, Galavant certainly isn’t the type of series that gets green lit too often.
Though the flop that was NBC’s Smash seemed to sour many networks on musical shows — despite Glee’s long-standing success — ABC seems intent to try their hand at a different and less serious musical drama with Galavant. There are only two directions in which this series can go: absolutely terrible or absolutely fantastic. I doubt there will be any in-between, but I’m not sure which direction to put money on quite yet.
Based loosely on the memoir of the same name by Eddie Huang, Fresh Off the Boat follows the Huang family as they move from Washington D.C. to Orlando, Florida so that Eddie’s father, Louis (Randall Park), can open a steak joint. Set in the ‘90s, much of the show’s humor derives from Louis embracing the American Dream, while Eddie’s mother, Jessica (Constance Wu), pushes back against it. Meanwhile Eddie (Hudson Yang) and his brothers attempt to fit in at their new school.
Though I’m not a huge fan of sitcoms in general, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat looks absolutely hilarious — I actually laughed out loud while watching the trailer. It seems to have a different kind of humor than most sitcoms and, for that reason, feels like a breath of fresh air. However, my general problem with sitcoms is that there isn’t enough character development and overarching narrative to keep me invested week-to-week so I’ll be interested to see whether Fresh Off the Boat can keep me coming back.
Another show based on a DC comic (though not a superhero story), iZombie follows Liv (Rose McIver) a med student who becomes a zombie. In order to hide her secret, but still devour brains to stay alive, Liv takes a job in the Seattle Coroner’s Office. Soon, she also discovers that when she eats a deceased person’s brains, she absorbs some of that person’s memories, which she uses to help solve murders.
Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, wrote the pilot script for iZombie so the show sounds extremely promising. It certainly falls into The CW’s usual programming — supernatural drama geared toward the 18-34 demographic. Though the police procedural aspect of iZombie is different for the network, they have found success in a similar show: Beauty and the Beast. With Thomas’ entertaining writing and the supernatural aspect of the show, iZombie has the makings of a successful series — or, at least, one I’ll enjoy.
A Batman television show without Batman?! That’s crazy! Except it’s not. Gotham will follow James Gordon, played by Ben Mckenzie, as a young cop on the city’s police force. The show will also feature younger versions of Bruce Wayne as well as well-known DC villains such as Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Penguin, and Riddler.
I was skeptical of Fox’s Gotham for the simple reason that I didn’t know a show could sustain itself in a Batman world without featuring the caped crusader himself. However, after watching the trailer, I’m a bit more excited for the show’s premiere. It seems to fall in line with other dark, gritty superhero stories — and is not too far from the tone set by DC’s other television show, Arrow on The CW. I’m interested to see how Gotham differs from Arrow as well as other comic book television series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fans of superhero movies and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been waiting for an Agent Carter television series since Marvel Studios released a one-shot with the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray. Now Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) will be hitting the silver screen in the middle of the 2014-2015 season. Agent Carter will run 8 episodes on ABC during the mid-season break of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Though the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had its problems, the show found its footing in the last run of episodes — after the show’s tie in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, since Agent Carter doesn’t take place in the current MCU timeline, the series will have more liberties. Additionally, with such a short season, the showrunners will need to keep the show’s plot concise and to the point (one of the major criticisms of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that some episodes felt useless to the overarching narrative). I have high hopes for Agent Carter, though, and I’m excited for its premiere.
From the creators of Arrow, The CW has been testing the waters for The Flash spinoff series for a few months. Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) first appeared in a two-part episode in the middle of Arrow’s second season, which ended with Barry returning to Central City and falling victim to a lightning strikes caused by S.T.A.R. Labs’ particle accelerator. The first season of The Flash will revolve around the mystery of Barry’s mother’s murder, for which his father was accused.
As a fan of Arrow, I was excited to learn about its spinoff, especially because Barry’s first episodes on the original show were fantastic. From what fans have been shown of The Flash — which is a substantial amount with a 5-minute long extended trailer — it seems to fit perfectly into the world created by Arrow, but is different enough that viewers won’t get bored. Gustin, especially, brings Barry Allen to life in a way that’s fun to watch. Spinning off of Arrow’s success, The Flash will certainly be a fantastic and entertaining series.
Aside from these ten series, there are another ten pilots I will be checking out this fall: Weird Loners, Hieroglyph, Marry Me, A to Z, Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, Madam Secretary, Stalker, and The Messengers.