The leaves are beginning to turn colors, the air is becoming crisp, homework is piling up and overzealous mothers with nothing better to do are decorating for Halloween. In short, autumn hath once again arrived, and that means new TV!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
NBC – Tuesdays at 8 pm
Helmed by the great and powerful Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”), this long anticipated ABC drama follows the famous Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) from the recent Marvel films as he assembles a small team of agents to deal with super and strange phenomena in the world – a task made all the more important after the alien invasion of New York in “The Avengers.”
Though based on a world inhabited by iconic superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man, Whedon stated on multiple occasions this show will not be a vehicle for primetime name-dropping and guest appearences. This is a show about people without superpowers being super nonetheless. And as a Whedon creation, viewers can count on fascinating group dynamics, realistic characters, plenty of wit and probably a plot twist or two. While, yes, action will abound, this show is ultimately about the characters.
While live-action superhero-related TV shows are nothing new (CW’s “Smallville” and “Arrow”), “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is the first show to stem from and tie to a universe established already throughout several independent films. Marvel is indeed building a universe, and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” constitutes the next big step in the exciting process.
FOX – Premieres Monday, Nov. 4
Similar to the 2004 film “I, Robot,” based on the works of science fiction author Isaac Asimov, Fox’s new show “Almost Human” takes place in a not-too-distant future of human-robot interaction. Produced by J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek,” “Fringe”), “Almost Human” follows John Kennex (Karl Urban, who portrayed the character ‘Bones’ McCoy in Abrams’ “Star Trek” films), a detective who, upon waking from a coma, finds his leg replaced by a prosthetic and a world inhabited by androids. In order to reprise his role on the force, Kennex must work with a synthetic partner named Dorian (Michael Ealy), an android who may possess more ‘human’ qualities than appearance. Along with over-the-top action, impressive production value and weekly laughs, this show promises to explore the question of what it means to be human through the yin-yang dynamic of the emotionally closed-off Kennex and his honest and humorous android companion.
NBC – Mondays at 10 pm
Meanwhile, back in the world of cerebral criminal dramas, NBC’s new drama “The Blacklist” features three-time Emmy winner James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former government agent turned master criminal who turns himself in to the FBI for unknown reasons. Reddington offers his criminal-hunting expertise to the FBI (liver and fava beans, anyone?), but with a single caveat: he will only work with Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), an FBI rookie who has no idea why Reddington singled her out. While perhaps not terribly original in terms of a premise, this NBC crime thriller seems worth checking out, if only to see Spader inhabit the role of a master criminal.
NBC—Fridays at 10
Competing with CW’s new show “The Originals,” a “spin-off of Vampire Diaries,” NBC’s “Dracula,” offers a bit more vampiric promise than does its teen drama counterpart. From the producers of “Downton Abbey” and the director of “The Tudors,” “Dracula” follows the reimagined original vampire to Victorian London, where he hunts down those responsible for betraying him centuries prior while posing as an American entrepreneur seeking to enlighten London with technology. Toss into the mix John Harker and his companion Mina Murray, who Dracula thinks is the reincarnation of his murdered wife, a network of conspiracy, and some really cool-looking fight scenes, and you have what might make for one of TV’s best new programs.
But alas, not all new TV can be good TV. Here are a few new programs to think twice about before investing in them your valuable time. I’m not saying they look bad–just not as good as some others.
FOX–Mondays at 9
While penned by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the scribes behind Abrams’ “Star Trek” and “Live Free or Die Hard,” FOX’s new horror/comedy show “Sleepy Hollow” could quickly become a forgettable program that will outlive its welcome by Halloween or secure a seat for itself among TV’s gallery of supernatural dramas. Mimicking Washington Irving’s short story only in character names and, at times, tone, “Sleepy Hollow” follows the newly revived Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) who, after suffering a wound from and then beheading a British Soldier in an iron mask during a battle of the American Revolution (yes, the revolution that had nothing to do with Irving’s story), awakens in the present to stop the headless horseman, who turns out to be Death, one of the four famous horseman of the apocalypse. Though watching Crane deal with the technological and cultural changes of the ‘future’ may be intriguing for a few episodes (his partner is an African American woman, for example), the success on the show will hinge on its ability to balance suspense and comedy while consistently offering viewers original plot arches concerning the now-vogue impending apocalypse theme.
The Tomorrow People
CW—Wednesdays at 9
After the success of “Smallville” and “Arrow,” the CW is launching yet another superhero-esque television program: “The Tomorrow People.” Being the next step in human evolution and gifted with alliterative superhuman powers like telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation (remind you of any other famous superhero premise?), hunted by government officials and a dorkishly named paramilitary group (seriously, sound familiar yet?), and dedicated to creating for one another a family of acceptance (…wow), the Tomorrow People simply want to survive. The show will follow Stephan Jameson (Robbie Amell) as he—a Tomorrow Person—discovers his powers, finds the other Tomorrow People, discovers clues about his father’s mysterious disappearance, and, as if the show wasn’t clichéd enough, struggles with siding with the Tomorrow People or working with Ultra, the group hunting them, in exchange for a peaceful life. Whereas I could sort of defend “sleepy Hollow,” I foresee only cancellation in this X-Men rip-off’s future.