As reviews trickle in for the new fall shows, we can take a quick temperature on some of them based on Monday night’s “Fall Season Preview 2014,” an event hosted by the Television Academy in Los Angeles with five of the country’s top TV critics.
Attending the panel were Robert Bianco (USA Today), Tim Goodman (The Hollywood Reporter), Brian Lowry (Variety), Mary McNamara (Los Angeles Times), and Matt Roush (TV Guide). Here’s what they had to say about some of fall’s new shows.
Red Band Society
Premiere: Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 9 pm
Synopsis: A dramedy set in a Los Angeles hospital’s pediatric ward, where teen patients deal with life-threatening illnesses and bond over their experiences.
Brian Lowry, Variety: You should never have your show narrated by a kid in a coma… It felt like The Lovely Bones and Reversal of Fortune had a baby, but the baby was 10.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: If your narrator is going to be in a coma, don’t allow him to then speak to the other children.
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times: Classic pilot-itis. That show had so much to do in the pilot… I don’t even know whether I like this show or not because I need to see how we’re going to sustain this.
Matt Roush, TV Guide: The fault is not in our stars; the fault is in the overwriting of this show. In the pilot anyway.
Mysteries of Laura
Premiere: Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 10 pm
Synopsis: A New York City detective juggles her busy job with her hectic home life as the mom of twin boys.
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times: I thought it was a joke.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: It’s the kind of light entertainment that networks used to be able to knock out of the park. It’s a mystery-comedy, starring Debra Messing. It should be fine… instead, we hate it.
Matt Roush, TV Guide: It’s beneath her. It’s beneath us. It’s beneath the whole idea of what it means to be a working, single mom… The mystery is how it gets on the air.
Premiere: Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 9:30 pm
Synopsis: A successful family man worries that his four children are losing touch with black culture because they are growing up in an affluent, mostly white neighborhood.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: I don’t think Black-ish the best of the new shows, but it is the one new show that I hope works the most because it goes back to the All in the Family days, trying to do a sitcom that says something.
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter: There’s more truth to the characters.
Matt Roush, TV Guide: Black-ish has a point of view… it’s trying to tell a story about a moment in our society and how an affluent African-American family might feel that it’s losing its identity.
Manhattan Love Story
Premiere: Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8:30 pm
Synopsis: A romantic comedy exposes the differences between men and women through the unfiltered thoughts of a couple who just started dating.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: I hope ABC doesn’t hear what we think.
Matt Roush, TV Guide: You can’t even tell them to stop talking because they’ll keep thinking.
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter: I was like, ‘Shut up; stop talking,’ constantly.
Premiere: Thursday, Oct. 2 at 9:00 pm
Synopsis: A tough and respected criminal-court judge in Los Angeles has an unorthodox style and a bit of a wild private life.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: I thought the pilot was hideous… If it’s still on the air at episode five, call me and I’ll watch.
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times: We saw Bad Judge and it was called Bad Teacher… Can we come up with some different bad behavior?
Matt Roush, TV Guide: You’re smarmy, then you’re schmaltzy. Make up your mind.
Premiere: Thursday, Oct. 2 at 9 pm
Synopsis: Adapted from the British series Broadchurch, Gracepoint follows a pair of mismatched detectives investigating the murder of a young boy in a seaside town in northern California.
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter: This is an English-language show that’s been remade into an English-language show. The unfortunate thing for Fox is that the acting is not nearly as good as it is in the original. The pacing is different — it’s off. I don’t know why anyone would watch Gracepoint when you could just watch the original and be done with it.
Matt Roush, TV Guide: It might not be shot by shot, but it’s plot by plot… it’s worth a look if it’s your [only] look.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: You try to tell the same story and the same characters… and it just doesn’t fit.
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times: The biggest problem for me is that they brought David Tennant in, who played the same role [in Broadchurch], to play this role… you just saw him!
Jane the Virgin
Network: The CW
Premiere: Monday, Oct. 13 at 9:00 pm
Synopsis: A chaste young woman is accidentally impregnated via artificial insemination.
Matt Roush, TV Guide: This is something I’ve never said in all the time I’ve covered TV: my favorite shows are on The CW this fall… Jane the Virgin and Flash are both really well done pilots. Jane the Virgin is probably the most surprising show, not just because of its title, but because it’s a cool show.
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter: I was surprised the most about Jane the Virgin. That was the one that stood out to me the most. Loved that.
Robert Bianco, USA Today: It’s refreshing, especially on that network, to see someone who is not 90 pounds and is incredibly well-spoken.
You can see a video of the event replay on the Television Academy website.