The fall television season has been up and running for more than a month now, so I thought I’d take this chance to muse on what has turned out to be one of the most interesting falls in recent years. Over the summer, I was thinking that this would shape up to be an unexciting fall since very few of the new shows interested me.
More than a month in, things are much more interesting. Bolstered by the powerhouse that is The Voice, NBC, which has struggled in recent years, was number one in premiere week and has the top rated new show among 18 to 49 year olds according to the Nielsen ratings. That show, Revolution, is a high-concept serialized drama, which normally start high and subsequently erode viewers. That Revolution has managed to keep its audience despite middling critical reviews is quite a feat. Revolution and two of NBC’s comedies – Go On and The New Normal – received full season pick-ups early in the game.
Elsewhere, ratings seem down across the board for both new and returning shows. Normally top-ranked CBS doesn’t have a true hit among their new shows; Vegas and Elementary are doing well but are not up to normal CBS standards. Its Made in Jersey was the first of the new shows to be cut. FOX has a hit in The Mindy Project but a definite dud in The Mob Doctor. And ABC is, well, I don’t know. Critics buzzed about Last Resort and Nashville, and both have had unspectacular ratings.
Below, I offer some thoughts on the new shows I’ve sampled, as well as the continuing shows I follow.
Before the season started, I was most interested in CBS’s Elementary since I’ve become something of a Sherlock Holmes fan within the last year. Well, three episodes in, I gave up. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Elementary – I think I’m just over the whole procedural thing. If I hear of an episode that references more of the Holmes mythology, I might tune in.
Elsewhere, things have been mixed. The promotions for NBC’s Revolution piqued my curiosity, but I was skeptical about its chances of survival. The show has been good but not great, providing some fun for a Monday night. If it uses Giancarlo Esposito and Elizabeth Mitchell more, it’ll be even better.
ABC’s Last Resort was a show I watched solely due to the critical praise. Its pilot was one of the best network pilots in recent memory, but its remaining episodes, while good compared to other shows, haven’t quite matched the level of the pilot. But I’m in it for the long run with Last Resort: I’m invested enough in the characters to give it that much.
As surprising as it may seem, my favorite fall show is not necessarily a new broadcast show. It’s PBS’s Call the Midwife, a charming 1950s-set drama that aired on BBC One in Britain last January. I’m normally no fan of anything to do with the medical field, but Call the Midwife grounds itself in its characters, though the show only starts to focus on them as people the second episode.
Like always, CBS’s The Good Wife and FOX’s Fringe provide me with most of my viewing pleasure these days. The Good Wife is still in top form. I don’t seem to be as bothered by the Kalinda/Nick storyline as many viewers, though I will admit that the one episode that didn’t involve Nick was the season’s strongest outing so far. I’m very curious to see how the rest of the season unfolds.
Fringe has been quite contemplative this year, with some episodes moving slowly, though this isn’t a problem for me. Last week’s episode provided a major shocker and some tears. The decision to move the action to 2036 was truly a bold one, and I literally can’t wait to see how the series is wrapped up come February 1st.
Once Upon a Time has been somewhat fractured in its storytelling this season, with three different sets of stories vying for airtime, though it remains escapist fun. The new characters are hit-or-miss: Mulan, for example, has been fairly wooden, but Captain Hook is loads of fun to watch. I’m still very invested in this one.
And then there’s the reliable The Middle, a true gem of a family sitcom and currently the only comedy show I actively follow. I love the Hecks, and this year has been no different. I won’t bail on them any time soon.
How have you felt about this fall season? What do you make of NBC’s rise? And, of course, which new shows have you been watching?