Fall TV “Preview”: Gauging my excitement for all of fall’s new series

The fall television season is just about to begin! To celebrate, I’ll be doing a series of fun features and previews for both returning and brand-new series. I have not seen any of the new pilots or premieres from veteran series, and thus the quotes around preview. No matter, that won’t stop me from doing these bad boys, so let’s get a-previewin’!

In this post of the fall TV preview, I’m going to quickly take a look at each new series. Again, I haven’t seen any of the pilots, but for this post, I’ll be using my generally intelligent brain to determine which series we should all be excited for based on the folks involved, network, timeslot, etc. There’s a lot to go on, even for those of us who haven’t seen things. I think. Yeah, definitely. Anyway, I’m putting the series in groups, starting with must-watch and heading downward in terms of how intently you should pay attention. That seems like a smart way to organize things, right?

The Lost Division: Pilots that look to make great, compelling series (I hope)

Terriers (FX): I still haven’t gotten around to The Shield (I know), but I’m smart enough to know that when nearly everyone says someone is a great writer/show runner like they say about Shawn Ryan, it’s probably the truth. The co-creator Ted Griffin worked on both “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Matchstick Men,” two of my favorite movies of the early ’00s and Donal Logue Michael-Raymond James seem perfectly cast in a series that looks to be gritty but funny. Definite can’t-miss.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO): Is anyone not excited for this? Terrence Winter-penned, Martin Scorsese-directed, full of amazing actors and set in one hell of a period (Prohibition-era Atlantic City) — you do the math. I would be beyond shocked if this series failed with critics or fans alike and somehow sucked.

Lone Star (FOX): This is definitely the most-talked about broadcast drama, perhaps mostly because it seems more like a cable series. There are concerns about Lone Star‘s longevity, especially in the broadcast format, but boy does it sound interesting. Most everyone who has watched the pilot loved it, and that seems like enough for me to go on in the early stages.

The Walking Dead (AMC): I went to more than 20 television panels at Comic-Con and none of them could touch the energy in the Walking Dead room. Not only were the fans receptive to the epic trailer that’s been blowing up the interwebs, but the cast and crew seemed totally invested in making this not only an awesome zombie TV series, but an awesome TV series, period.

The House Division: Pilots that look to make fun, enjoyable series that aren’t always must-see TV, but surely DVR worthy (I hope)

No Ordinary Family (ABC): ABC again goes with high-concept, but unlike some its other newbies, this one seems like a sure-fire win. Ordinary Family features a big-time cast, appealing premise (superhero family!) and solid creative force (Greg Berlanti, Jon Harmon Feldman). Most importantly, it doesn’t seem interested in turning everyone into some powered-up moper like that one awful superhero series on NBC that I won’t mention by name decided to do.

Undercovers (NBC): For whatever reason, my excitement for this series has been waning since I saw the upfront package. I get that it’s supposed to be a light, fun series but after J.J. Abrams moves away from post-pilot, is it going to be anything more? Maybe it’s my bitterness towards the kind of boring Covert Affairs or the fact that this feels like a USA series anyway, but I’m not expecting anything remotely original from this one.

Nikita (CW): I don’t really think we needed another iteration of this story, but folks are high on the pilot and it features a really nice cast (Maggie Q, Lyndsy Fonseca, Xander Berkley) that fills me with some hope. For various reasons, I keep be reminded of the Bionic Woman reboot from NBC a few years back, and that does not fill me with much hope.

The NCIS Division: Series that don’t have a high degree of difficulty, but are probably satisfying when you catch ’em

Blue Bloods (CBS): This familial police drama looks to be more about the family and less about the procedural aspects of being a cop, and that’s definitely a refreshing beat amid a series of generic cop programs. I imagine CBS is hoping this keys in with the same folks who loved The Good Wife, and I hope that it does just that. We need more procedurals that aren’t really procedurals.

Body of Proof (ABC): I actually added this one in an hour after finishing the post because I can’t find a premiere date for the Dana Delaney vehicle that’s sure to be harmless fun. ABC loves Delaney and she can certainly carry a series, even if it’s one with a fairly unoriginal premise and a tepid timeslot (Fridays at 9 p.m.).

Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC): This ABC police procedural originally used the documentary style that made it seem like a dramatized version of Cops only with better characters. However, that’s be subsequently dropped from the pilot, and now I’m wondering if there is anything really unique left in the tank aside from the Detroit location shooting.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS): I scoffed when I heard this series was happening, but everything I’ve seen since then has convinced me that it’s at least worth watching in the early going. The chunk of the pilot I saw at Comic-Con looked really, really great and though there is concern about whether or not the series can look, feel or sound that good on a weekly basis, it’s sure as heck a darn good start.

Whole Truth (ABC): I had no desire to see this series until Maura Tierney joined the cast, and now I’m talking myself into the idea that it could be a Good Wife-esque procedural that is tightly written and appealing to viewers of all ages. Of course, ABC seems to put out a lot of mediocre series like this every year and it could be a complete bomb.

Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC): No one’s seen anything from the newest L&O franchise, but I’m not sure we have to. It will be what we expect it to be, except the new cast and shiny new locale will dress up early episodes in an “interesting” way.

The FlashForward Division: Series that look great on paper, but have too many red flags to suggest they’ll have an easy road ahead

Running Wilde (FOX): Just like most of you, I want this to be one of my most anticipated series. With so much Arrested Development weight being thrown around (Mitch Hurwitz, Jim Valley, Will Arnett, David Cross), it can’t go wrong, right? Oh yeah, I saw Sit Down, Shut Up too. I’m concerned about Arnett’s ability to carry a series on his own, considering he’s been more than annoying in recent stints on 30 Rock, and the fact that the series is still being re-tooled on the fly can’t be overly uplifting.

The Event (NBC): I’m not going to get tricked this time. From March of 2009 until last fall, I spent a lot of time getting hyped up for ABC’s FlashForward and had to face the harsh reality that the people making that series had no idea how to make things interesting or the characters likable. I’m sick of high concept series trying to convince me there’s any steak behind the sizzle and though I’m certainly watching The Event, I will have to see more than cryptic ad slogans to make me feel as if I’m not wasting my time.

My Generation (ABC): Another high-concept series that seems very promising on paper but I can’t bring myself to really care about because we’ve seen similar projects crash and burn (hello, Reunion). I loved The Unusuals from this series’ creator, Noah Hawley, but no one watched that series and unless this one is full of melodrama, I can’t expect it to be any bigger than The Deep End.

Outlaw (NBC): I remember this Jimmy Smits-led series racing up the pick-up list during pilot season, but then the pilot was said to be totally re-shot and it was placed on Fridays. It could be smart of NBC to key in on an older demographic who likes Smits, but his last series, Cane, was a failure and his appearance on Dexter resulted in that series’ only real lull. Are we sure Smits can carry a major series on his own now?

The One Tree Hill Division: Series that aren’t generally thought of as “bad,” but have an audience…somewhere

Chase (NBC): The people behind this series turned a lot of people off when they said Chase is unique because there haven’t been many U.S. Marshall series on recently (guess they didn’t watch the awesome first season of Justified), but for whatever reason, I think it could be a hit with general audiences. NBC needs a simple police series to hang its hat on and if this one doesn’t go too dark and stays in the now more popular NCIS wheelhouse, it could work. Kelli Giddish is the female Alex O’Loughlin in the sense that TV execs really want us to think she’s a star, and perhaps she is.

Mike and Molly (CBS): I know that there are some critics who liked the pilot, despite the barrage of fat jokes. I can’t imagine I’d be one of those people, especially as an individual who doesn’t find the Chuck Lorre-brand of “humor” funny.

Raising Hope (FOX): Greg Garcia also has a certain brand of humor (class-based), one that I have always found myself ambivalent towards. Thus, you shouldn’t be surprised that I really don’t care to watch this series, even if Garret Dillahunt is playing a surely-crazy grandpa. I still can’t get over Garret Dillahunt playing a grandpa.

Hellcats (CW): It’s the TV version of “Bring It On!” With Aly from Aly & AJ! It’s going to do for cheer what Glee did for high school glee clubs! I’ve read varying takes on this Tom Welling-produced drama, but it seems like there some people out there who will like this series. I’m not sure if I’m one of them, but I’ll definitely be willing to do check out a few episodes. It can’t be worse than The Beautiful Life: TBL, right?

The Brothers Division: Series that appear to be very, very bad and don’t deserve your time

S**t My Dad Says (CBS): It’s odd to see CBS as the network taking a fairly toothless, but entertaining popular culture phenomenon and turning it into a terrible series, but here we are. William Shatner as a grumpy old dad is not something I really care to see. At all.

Better With You (ABC): This feels like a terrible ABC Friends-riffed comedy that ABC would have done at any point between 1998 and 2008. I had hoped that the glorious comedy slate of 2009 would teach the Alphabet how to pick up good comedies. Guess not. Poor Joanna Garcia.

Defenders (CBS): Jim Belushi, Jerry O’Connell and a Vegas setting? Sign me up! But seriously, this surely has to be somewhat high on our radars, if only to see how magnificently it fails. I understand CBS’ desire to come up with something that skews young and doesn’t involve investigating crime scenes, but I cannot imagine that this is it.

Outsourced (NBC): *Shivers*

Alright folks, there you have it. What would you change about my list? What new series are you most looking forward to this season?

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