The Fall TV Season, 2015 – reviewed by George

Well, we certainly have had an interesting new season, and there are still more new and returning shows to come. I’ve already reviewed Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris and Limitless, and they continue to please and entertain me. Taking dramas first, I have other favorites among the new ones and here is a list of the ones I like, in order from most favored to less favored:
Blindspot – Great premise and excellent development of the premise, and two great stars in Jaime Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton.
Quantico – Wonderful plot, wonderful opponents in Priyanka Chopra and Josh Hopkins, and a wonderful tell in the first few moments of the Pilot with that shot of Chopra lying on top of the wreckage of the building she is accused of blowing up. They had me from that shot.
The Player – I’ve liked Phillip Winchester since NBC’s version of “Robinson Crusoe”, though I was apparently the only person in North America who was watching. The set-up here seems to me to owe a great deal to “Transporter – The Series” with Chris Vance. Chris had Charly Hubner as a mechanic, Phillip has Wesley Snipes as a pit boss. Chris had a female contact who fed him info, played first by Andrea Osvart and later by Violante Placido, and Phillip has the very same thing as played by Charity Wakefield as a dealer. But still I really like this show.
The Last Kingdom – This show owes a debt to “The Vikings”, but the cast is definitely a degree or two cleaner. Basically this is the tale of the Danish invasion of Britain from the Brit POV, and with a very sympathetic hero. And as with all BBC productions it is impeccably done.

Other new dramas I am watching, with less dedication, are:
Masterpiece: Indian Summers – This is no “Jewel in the Crown”, but it is pretty good, with its tale of hideous racism directed against the very inhabitants of the country where the British live. And it features a bravura job from Julie Walters as probably the most racist character of all.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – I like the musical numbers a lot, but the rest of the show doesn’t make me laugh the way it should. Rebecca Bloom, though, is a wonder.
Heroes Reborn – it’s good to see some of the old heroes back, and there are some others I miss, but the real problem here is that my interest in the first, the original, show waned as the seasons went by and the show seemed weaker and weaker. So it’s hard not to expect the same thing with this retooled show.
American Horror Story: Hotel – Every season except for the first I watch a few episodes, get impatient or bored, and quit. I’m still watching this one because of Lady Gaga, and for no other reason.

AND there are the returning dramas I’m very dedicated to:
Cop and Spy shows: The Mysteries of Laura, Chicago PD, The Blacklist, Gotham, and Homeland.
Sci-Fi and Comic Book shows: Dr. Who, The Flash, Arrow, Haven, The Leftovers, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Walking Dead. Plus I have a special salute for Continuum, which just wrapped with a Series Finale.

New comedies: Blunt Talk – I like this one a lot. Patrick Stewart and Adrian Scarborough are clearly a dynamic duo of comedy.
The Muppets – a huge disappointment. Yes, I only watched the first episode, but it was so bad, why would I ever give this show another chance? Friends keep telling me that they now have a guest star each week, like years ago, and that it’s very funny, but I don’t care. And anyway it’s too late – The Muppets is on opposite Best Time Ever and The Flash, and Thanks be to God, my DVR will only let me watch ONE show and record ONE show, and any other setup would mean there would be so many recorded shows to watch that I would never be able to leave the set, not even to eat or to hit the head.
Instant Mom – I LOVE this show! The writing is really top-drawer, and the performances are exciting to behold. I guess Hollywood is full of talented child actors, but the kids on this show are simply phenomenal. Okay, technically this is not a new show – it’s in its second season. But I just discovered it this summer, and am too wild a fan (and too new a fan) not to list it here.
I like Grandfathered a lot, but can’t watch it because it is opposite (yes, once again) Best Time Ever and The Flash. If its companion in the time slot were stronger I would be seriously challenged to find a solution, perhaps even having to resort to watching on-line (I truly hate watching on my computer, and yes, I have a large widescreen-shaped monitor, but I still hate it). Said companion is The Grinder, which irritated the hell out of me. As long as I identified with Fred Savage, the saner character, I was upset with the way he was treated by his brother, played by Rob Lowe. The show became bearable when I started identifying with Lowe, since it was obvious about halfway through that Savage really needed the help. But overall I just did not enjoy the show and I did not laugh one single time. My conclusion: a waste of my time.
Truth Be Told – premieres tonight. More later.

Returning Comedies: I’m not watching many comedies. As a general rule I find the cable comedies much, much funnier than the network stuff, and most of what I love in this category is shown in the summer months. So this boils down to only two programs:
Jane the Virgin – technically this is a telenovela, but the narrator is so funny that it becomes a comedy telenovela, and I really like it. I actually like the telenovela format much more than I thought I would, and the bigger-than-real-life shenanigans are very entertaining. Kidnapping a baby from the Maternity Suite! Murder by Pouring Cement on the victim! Stealing a sperm sample from the Sperm Bank! A drunken Vegas wedding! A singing act on a cruise ship! Jane being blackmailed by the nuns at a Catholic School! It’s outrageous, and I crave it.
Undateable – which is now Undateable Live. This is a funny show about the grating and grudging friendship between a girl-magnet and a hopeless guy who needs his help. The fact that it’s a one-set show that takes place in the hapless guy’s bar is only a plus, because it allows for an assortment of funny bartenders and customers – and girls. AND they have managed the transfer to a live broadcast beautifully, using the studio audience with a form of mad genius.

Documentaries? I’m not a fan, generally, but after being off for I think 4 seasons, Project Greenlight has reappeared with a choice of winning director that seemed really perverse and practically guaranteeed to produce a big failure of a movie. Of course, in true reality TV fashion, the producers have chosen the director who would give the project the most drama, the most conflict, and quite possibly, despite the many unwilling compromises he has had to make, the best movie. I suggest  that anyone reading this keep abreast of progress and when the movie is scheduled to be shown (on HBO, the home of this doc), be sure to watch it. Late-breaking news: the movie is titled The Leisure Class, and is scheduled to premiere on Monday, November 2.

Addenda:
1. Saw Truth Be Told last night, and realized that it was episode 2, and that I had seen it last week. Since it made totally NO impression on me the first time, and not much last night, I guess on Friday I will watch Undateable Live and then have time for a ninety-minute recorded show before watching Grimm (returns October 30).
2. Apparently pretty much everything I’m watching is doing okay except for The Player, which is taking a beating from How To Get Away with Murder. I watched How To faithfully last season, but the season finale, where we learned that while WES killed Sam, it was FRANK who killed Lila, at Sam’s instruction (Sam yelled: “You owe me!”). And as we faded into the sunset Rebecca was dead and Frank and Annalise were assuring each other, “Well, I didn’t do it!” How corny! And anyway, the principle rule of mystery writing is to make it at least a little possible for the reader or viewer to solve the crime. I do not need, admire, or approve of tales that think it good to be unfair to the fan in order to surprise. I just get angry. I vowed that night not ever to watch this mess again. Thank goodness I’ve got The Player (at least for a few more weeks) to watch in this time slot. And after that I’ll go to bed early.

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