Fall, that great big wonderful season, has arrived – officially, even.
Heck, even the weather in the Valley cooled down a bit this week to at least tease us into feeling all autumny inside.
Fall means cooler temps, changing leaf colors and pumpkins on the porch. It also means a bevy of new and returning television shows on ye olde traditional broadcast networks.
And if “ye olde” sounds outdated, that’s because it kind of is: The new fall TV season is on the verge of going the way of – gasp! – the flip phone, thanks to cable and premium channels that pump out new fare and season premieres of returning shows all year long.
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But there’s still something warm and fuzzy about a traditional fresh season of shows, just like fall itself. There’s a certain comfort in knowing you’re about to re-engage favorite characters who haven’t checked in with you since spring, or meet a whole new set of folks who have the potential to become your new most favorites ever.
The season already has gotten underway, with more new and returning shows slated to debut in the next few weeks. In my house, the buzz has been all about getting back to “Sleepy Hollow,” which returned Monday, and seeing how they’ll handle things over on “The Good Wife,” which returned Sunday.
Those two stellar shows promise more stellar stuff in their new seasons, based on their opening episodes. Sure, Will Gardner is still dead on “The Good Wife,” but the writing lives. And so does Ichabod Crane, whom we finally – finally! – got to see rise from the grave, yet again, on “Hollow.”
Likewise highly anticipated (by my son, anyway) is “Gotham,” a fresh Fox drama that also started Monday and follows Commissioner James Gordon’s pre-Batman years as a young police detective. OK, I might be anticipating it, too, but I’m not as easy a sell on the comic-based fare as my 16-year-old. Still, I have to admit, he’s got a good eye for good television.
Yep, that’s my boy.
There seems to be a bit of a mini-theme running with some of the new shows – middle-age women in important roles. CBS gives us “Madam Secretary,” starring Tea Leoni as a tough-minded secretary of state who’s married and the mother of two teenagers (premiered Sunday on CBS); “Bad Judge” on NBC stars Kate Walsh as a judge who likes her booze and her men (premières Oct. 2); “The Mysteries of Laura” gives us Debra Messing, also on NBC, as a cop and mom to twin boys who are such terrors, no preschool will take them (began Sept. 17); and “State of Affairs” marks Katherine Heigl’s return to TV as a CIA analyst, again on NBC, whose fiancé – also the son of the (yes, female) U.S. president – was allegedly killed by terrorists (begins Nov. 17).
NBC sure seems to be playing the female card this season.
OK, so maybe at age 35, it’s ridiculous to call Heigl middle-aged – after all, she’s a decade behind the other women mentioned above. But it’s also ridiculous to cast her as a CIA analyst. Heck, I didn’t buy her as a surgeon on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Then again, maybe I’m just not a fan.
Who are we kidding? I am so not a fan.
Of the above shows, only “Madam Secretary” sounds even remotely interesting, and that’s because Tim Daly co-stars. And maybe because it has a little “West Wing” sound to it – the president is actually a good guy. But I missed the first episode and will have to catch up to know if it’s worth a spot on my DVR to-do list.
Other shows I’m planning to give a try include (with descriptions courtesy of wire reports):
• “black-ish” started Wednesday on ABC and has a decidedly “Cosby” feel. An upper middle-class black father worries that his family is losing its identity when his teen son wants a bar mitzvah and to join the field hockey team. Dad gets a promotion at work, but realizes it’s because he’s black.
• “Selfie,” beginning Tuesday on ABC, is a send-up of our selfie-obsessed culture, starring John Cho and Karen Gillan as a modern-day Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, who are called Henry Higenbottam and Eliza Dooley here.
• “The McCarthys,” beginning Tuesday on CBS, is an old-fashioned sitcom about an Irish Catholic, sports-obsessed Boston family with a gay son, played by Tyler Ritter. Laurie Metcalf plays the mom.
Honestly, I’ll give the new shows above a look, but I can’t say I’m all that excited about a single one. Good thing there are plenty of returning shows, just in case the fresh fare turns out to be stale stuff.