Welcome to Part Two of my “Introduction to the 2011 Fall Season.”
NBC is taking viewers back to the 60s with its retro-drama The Playboy Club. Not one to be one-upped, ABC is time-traveling to the same era with the Christina Ricci-headed Pan Am. And to top it off, ABC and producer Drew Barrymore are bringing the 70s phenom Charlie’s Angels into modern day Miami with TV alums Rachel Taylor (Grey’s Anatomy) and Minka Kelly (Parenthood).
Another adaptation NBC is introducing this fall is Prime Suspect, based on the British series starring Helen Mirren. The new series stars Maria Bello. Bit of trivia: Bello is another Coyote Ugly alum to hit TV, following Tyra Banks (America’s Next Top Model), Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) and veteran John Goodman (Damages, Roseanne).
Fairy tales are of keen interest this season, with Once Upon a Time and Grimm on ABC and NBC, respectively. The former, co-starring Big Love’s Ginnifer Goodwin, features a woman with a troubled past who is drawn to a small town where fables may just be real. The latter, inspired by the tales of the Brothers Grimm, features a group of hunters fighting to keep humanity safe from the supernatural.
Irony? Grimm will air on Friday nights at 9 p.m., directly opposite the CW’s Supernatural which follows two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) – also hunters who fight the supernatural (hence the name …). Personally, I have been with Supernatural from day one and eagerly anticipate its seventh season. If you are going to choose one of these shows, that’d be my recommendation.
Another theme of the new season seems to “manly men,” with several new male-centric comedies: ABC’s Last Man Standing, featuring the return of Home Improvement’s Tim Allen; Man Up, also on ABC, about three modern men trying to get in touch with their inner tough guys; and CBS’s How to Be Gentleman, getting Entourage’s Kevin Dillon quickly back to work.
That’s not to say the ladies don’t have their place this year. Brothers & Sisters’ Emily Van Camp returns in the new ABC drama Revenge, which the network is widely promoting with the enticing tease “When everything you love has been stolen from you, sometimes all you have left is revenge.” ABC’s dark comedy Suburgatory follows a teenage girl’s transplant to the suburbs. And the CW’s Hart of Dixie, starring The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson, centers around a wannabe-big city doctor who finds herself left to practice in the deep south (think a little Doc Hollywood).
The CW (the network’s predecessor, The WB, was home for Charmed for eight seasons) is also bringing witches back to the small screen with The Secret Circle, starring Life Unexpected’s Brittany Robertson as 16-year-old Cassie, who discovers her elite school classmates in New Salem are all witches. I’ll be curious how this show portrays witches, seeing as how True Blood took great liberties with them this summer, as does another CW show, The Vampire Diaries. But hey, at least they’re kicking butt!
Two cable favorites returning soon are Dexter, which will feature the return of Battlestar Galactica’s Edward James Olmos, and AMC’s The Walking Dead, which has had to deal with creator Frank Darabont’s abrupt exit and will premiere with a 90-minute epic episode.
Other new shows include CBS’ A Gifted Man, starring Patrick Wilson (Watchmen); NBC’s Free Agents, featuring Hank Azaria who will be pulling double duty here along with his many off-camera personas on The Simpsons; the CW’s H8R, hosted by Mario Lopez, who seems determined to keep pace with Ryan Seacrest in the jobs department; and ABC’s new comedy Happy Endings.
So there you have it. Lots to choose from, higher buzz about some more than others, high expectations as always for all. But unlike those days of old I spoke of before when series got an entire season to make an impression and gain an audience (Cheers, was far from successful it’s debut season…), shows premiering today get maybe 2 episodes and if they don’t hit, they’re gone.
Putting my two cents in, I’d check out Ringer, Revenge, Up All Night, Person of Interest (though I’ll have to visit it later as I’m already committed to two shows in that time slot), maybe Terra Nova (it’s only 13 episodes) and Once Upon a Time out of curiosity.
I myself am eagerly waiting for the return of Supernatural, Hawaii Five-0, Castle, Nikita, Chuck, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Glee, Criminal Minds and Fringe. All are available on DVD and also may be airing online, in syndication or available on iTunes and Netflix, so check any and all of them out, especially during those deathly long “hellatuses” we passionate viewers have come to loathe, especially left with awesome, scream-inducing cliffhangers. Man, are those torture … but fortunately, far, far from now. For now, let’s get to those premieres!
Happy viewing, folks!