I love September. People stop asking me to go do things out in nature, which saves my pasty Irish skin from the harsh rays of the sun and allows me to sit inside with my one true love, the old boob tube.
Since most of you fine readers have personal lives and don’t have the time to research these shows like I do, I have a full breakdown of all of the new shows in my sixth-annual “Boob Tube Breakdown.”
This year seems to be one filled with the most clichéd, uninspired shows imaginable. As network TV continues to die a slow death thanks to cable and the Internet, it seems like the suits have decided that instead of fighting back, they should simply greenlight the laziest shows out there and take an early lunch.
So pour a tall glass of your favorite adult beverage and lets wade through these together. As always, some of these shows will be good, some will be bad and quite a few will be promptly canceled. It’s an exciting time to be a couch potato, so let’s see what the TV Gods have to offer this year:
666 Park Avenue
ABC (Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 30 at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: What would you do to have everything you desire? Step inside 666 Park Avenue, New York’s most seductive address. We all have some burning needs, desires and ambitions. For the residents of The Drake, the premier apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, these will all be met – for a price – courtesy of the building’s mysterious owner, Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn). But be careful what you wish for, because the price you have to pay is your soul.
My take: I’m skeptical. Can this idea work without Al Pacino chewing scenery, Charlize Theron doing a horrible southern accent and Keanu Reeves’ turning in another unintentionally hilarious performance?
NBC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m.)
Synopsis: Animal Practice is a new comedy centering on Dr. George Coleman (Justin Kirk, Weeds, Angels in America), a top veterinarian with an impressive list of famous animal patients at the Crane Animal Hospital – a bustling New York City veterinary practice where it often seems as if the patients are running the place. Despite his unorthodox style, George has an undeniable gift with animals of all kinds – except the human kind. Much to his chagrin, George recently learned that his ex-girlfriend, Dorothy Crane (JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Better with You), has inherited the family business and is now George’s boss. Whip-smart and ambitious, Dorothy shakes up the hospital as she brings order to the chaos and butts heads with George’s animal-friendly administration.
My take: A genius doctor with no bedside manner. An ex-girlfriend boss who has to reign him in. Do they think that a bunch of adorable animals will distract us from the fact that this is a cheap ripoff of Hous … oh my god, the monkey is wearing a doctor’s coat. It thinks it’s people.
Ben And Kate
Fox (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: What happens when an exuberant dreamer who always says “yes” moves in with his overly responsible little sister to help raise her five-year-old daughter? Ben and Kate, a new single-camera ensemble comedy, follows a pair of odd-couple siblings and their friends as they push each other out of their comfort zones and into real life.
Kate Fox (Dakota Johnson) followed the rules all her life … until she got pregnant in college and dropped out just shy of graduation. After the birth of her daughter, Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), Kate put her 20s on hold. Now working as a bar manager to make ends meet and maximize her time with Maddie, she’s uber-prepared for every possible catastrophe – except for the arrival of her older brother, Ben Fox (Nat Faxon).
My take: This show is here to teach us an important lesson: kids ruin everything.
NBC (Premieres: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: From renowned, Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf (Law & Order brand) and creators Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, the writing team behind 3:10 to Yuma, comes the high-octane drama Chicago Fire, – an edge-of-your-seat view into the lives of everyday heroes committed to one of America’s noblest professions. For the firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51, no occupation is more stressful or dangerous, yet so rewarding and exhilarating. These courageous men and women are among the elite who forge headfirst into danger when everyone else is running the other way and whose actions make the difference between life and death.
Synopsis: With Dick Wolf involved, I have to assume that every single fire was started by the seemingly unimportant guest star introduced in what at the time felt like an inconsequential scene in the beginning of the episode.
CBS (Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: Elementary stars Jonny Lee Miller as detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases.
Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson. A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance. However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients. He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he’s devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs. But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator.
Sherlock’s police contact, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson, knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team. With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crime, it’s simple deduction that he’s going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it’s elementary that it’s a job for Watson.
My take: What level of school must you have completed to be a television executive? Elementary, my dear Watson.
NBC (Airs: Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Synopsis: Matthew Perry (Friends, Mr. Sunshine) stars as Ryan King, a recent widower and sports talk radio host ready to get back to work after the loss of his wife. Ryan’s alpha-male boss, Stephen, played by John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), has a different plan in store for Ryan, making him attend grief counseling before returning to the air. A reluctant Ryan finds himself in a support group for “life change,” where he meets an oddball cast of characters, all with their own backstories filled with varying degrees of loss.
Synopsis: I just created a new rule: if a show’s synopsis uses the phrase “oddball cast of characters,” avoid it at all costs.
Guys with Kids
NBC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: Guys with Kids is a new comedy from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jimmy Fallon about three 30-something dads who try to hold onto their youth as they face the responsibilities of having kids. Thankfully, Gary (Anthony Anderson, Law & Order), Chris (Jesse Bradford, The West Wing) and Nick (Zach Cregger, Friends with Benefits) have each other to help navigate the highs and lows of fatherhood – while still trying desperately to remain dudes.
My take: The fact that Jimmy Fallon has an Emmy Award is almost as depressing as the fact that this clichéd, awful show will air on Wednesday nights in primetime while Community has been relegated to a Friday night death sentence.
ABC (Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m.)
Synopsis: 500 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, the U.S. ballistic missile submarine Colorado receives their orders. Over a radio channel, designed only to be used if their homeland has been wiped out, they’re told to fire nuclear weapons at Pakistan.
Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) demands confirmation of the orders only to be unceremoniously relieved of duty by the White House. XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) finds himself suddenly in charge of the submarine and facing the same difficult decision. When he also refuses to fire without confirmation of the orders, the Colorado is targeted, fired upon, and hit. The submarine and its crew find themselves crippled on the ocean floor, declared rogue enemies of their own country. Now, with nowhere left to turn, Chaplin and Kendal take the sub on the run and bring the men and women of the Colorado to an exotic island. Here they will find refuge, romance and a chance at a new life, even as they try to clear their names and get home.
My take: I get Captain Chaplin demanding confirmation of the orders. But what was XO Kendal thinking? “Look, I know you just relieved the captain of duty and everything, but are you guys for real right now?”
Made in Jersey
CBS (Premieres: Friday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m.)
Synopsis: Made in Jersey is a drama about a young working-class woman who uses her street smarts to compete among her pedigreed Manhattan colleagues at a prestigious New York law firm. Martina Garretti finds her firm’s cutthroat landscape challenging, but what she lacks in an Ivy League education she more than makes up for with tenacity and blue-collar insight.
After just a few weeks, firm founder Donovan Stark takes note of Martina’s ingenuity and resourcefulness, as does third-year chair Nolan Adams, who is part of Manhattan’s royal literati; Riley Prescott, a second-year at Stark & Rowan and the daughter of the former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden; her sassy secretary, Cyndi Vega; and River, a former LAPD detective turned firm investigator. With the support of her big Italian family, including her sexy older sister Bonnie and her encouraging mother Darlene, Martina is able to stay true to her roots as a bold, passionate lawyer on the rise in a new intimidating environment.
My take: So they are remaking My Cousin Vinnie, but with a girl in the lead role? If star Jessica Blank starts dating Marisa Tomei, I might give it a shot.
ABC (Premieres: Friday, Nov. 2 at 8:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: Country music superstar/actress Reba (Reba, Tremors) returns to television as a wife and mother whose world is turned upside-down when she discovers that her country music legend husband has a cheatin’ heart.
On her way to becoming a country star herself, Reba put her career on hold to raise a family. Husband Bobby always emphasized family values in his music, but with the very public discovery of his numerous affairs, Reba decides to not stand by her man. Now, with a divorce pending, Reba packs up her sharp-tongued southern mother, Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin, Laugh-In, Damages, Desperate Housewives, West Wing, Nine to Five, Nashville), and her two kids and U-Hauls it straight to sunny California to begin a new chapter in life. Leaving Nashville in the rear view mirror, they start over at their Malibu residence — the last remaining asset they have, and Bobby’s former secret love nest.
My take: No, that’s not a typo. This show is actually debuting on ABC, not The CW.
The Mindy Project
Fox (Premiere: Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: The Mindy Project is a biting new single-camera comedy from Emmy Award-nominated writer/producer and New York Times best-selling author Mindy Kaling (The Office) that follows a woman who, despite having a successful career, is unlucky in love and desperately needs to get her personal life back on track before her friends and colleagues are forced to stage an intervention.
Funny, impatient and politically incorrect, Mindy Lahiri (Kaling) can quote every romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan that exists. She loves the good ones and the bad ones, because the girl always gets the guy. Mindy is determined to be more punctual, spend less money, lose weight and read more books – all in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded perfect woman … who can meet and date the perfect guy.
My take: I liked the British version better.
In all seriousness though, I think Mindy Kaling is incredibly funny and talented and, out of all of the shows debuting, I’m most hopefully for this one. Which means Fox will cancel it after eight episodes.
The Mob Doctor
Fox (Premieres: Monday, Sept. 17 at 9 p.m.)
Synopsis: For most physicians, the Hippocratic oath is sacred. But for one Chicago doctor, who is indebted to the mafia, saving lives isn’t her only concern. The Mob Doctor is a fast-paced medical drama focusing on a young female surgeon caught between two worlds as she juggles her promising medical career with her family’s debt to Chicago’s Southside mob.
Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) is a top resident at Chicago’s Roosevelt Medical Center. Smart and self-assured, she’s heralded as one of the country’s most promising young surgeons. But family ties keep her glued to her Southside roots. To pay off her brother’s life-threatening gambling debt, she makes a deal with the devil and agrees to work “off book” for the mafia men she once despised.
My take: Dr. Devlin is going to set the record for most patients ever who “fell down some stairs.”
ABC (Premieres: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: Music legend and entertainment icon Rayna Jaymes has been one of the industry’s top female vocalists for two decades. After working tirelessly to elevate her game, Rayna suddenly discovers her passion for the business is not enough to compete with the new generation of talent lighting up the charts. She is reluctant to accept the emerging trend in the business and refuses to be steamrolled by her longtime label, which she helped build. When they give her an offer she can’t refuse, Rayna is forced to accept the harsh reality that she’ll have to start over and reinvent herself if she plans on being relevant.
My take: Even the thought of star Connie Britton in chaps and a cowboy hat isn’t enough to make me care about this show.
ABC (Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) just wants the best for his wife Debbie (Jami Gertz) and their three kids. That’s why he’s moving them to Hidden Hills, New Jersey, a gated community complete with its own golf course. Marty is certain that their new home will be a dream come true. And then, they meet the neighbors.
The residents of Hidden Hills are a little … different. Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) introduces himself as the “leader” of the community. Then, he presents his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) and their two sons (yes, they’re named after famous athletes – Dick Butkus and Reggie Jackson).
After Debbie and Marty frantically try to make sense of the weird neighbors – very European? A cult? Amish athletes? – they discover that the entire Hidden Hills community is comprised of aliens from the planet Zabvron. Turns out the Zabvronians have been holed up in Hidden Hills for the past 10 years, awaiting instructions from back home. And the Weavers are the first humans who have ever lived amongst them.
My take: That synopsis got a little Shyamalan on us at the end, didn’t it? Aliens – who saw that coming? Unfortunately, this sounds more like Devil M. Night Shyamalan than Sixth Sense M. Night Shyamalan.
The New Normal
NBC (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: These days, families come in all forms – single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors … It’s 2012 and anything goes. Bryan (Andrew Rannells, Girls, The Book of Mormon) and David (Justin Bartha, The Hangover) are a Los Angeles couple, and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed, loving partnership, there is one thing that this couple is missing: a baby.
And just when they think the stars will never align, enter Goldie (Georgia King, One Day), an extraordinary young woman with a checkered past. A Midwestern waitress and single mother looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother (Emmy and Tony Award-winner Ellen Barkin), Goldie decides to change everything and move to L.A. with her precocious eight-year-old daughter. Desperate and broke – but also fertile – Goldie quickly becomes the guys’ surrogate and quite possibly the girl of their dreams. Surrogate mother, surrogate family.
My take: This show was created by Ryan Murphy, the man responsible for Glee and Nip/Tuck. So the odds that their surrogate baby is born with lobster claw hands is surprisingly high.
CBS (Premieres: Monday, Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: Partners is a comedy based on the lives of creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, about two lifelong best friends and business partners whose “bromance” is tested when one of them is engaged to be married. Joe is an accomplished architect who leads with his head and not his heart, especially in his love life.
That’s in stark contrast to his gay co-worker, Louis, who is spontaneous, emotional and prone to exaggeration. Both have found joy in their love lives: Joe is newly engaged to Ali, a beautiful and sophisticated jewelry designer, and Louis’ companion is Wyatt, a vegan nurse who Louis insists is just a promotion away from becoming a doctor. As news of Joe’s engagement settles, time will tell if their business and personal bond can adapt to the addition of two other important relationships.
My take: If only Joe had played football as a kid, he’d know you should never lead with your head. Everyone knows that when tackling, Ray Lewis always leads with his heart.
NBC (Premieres: Monday, Sept. 17, at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: What would you do without it all? In this epic adventure from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Supernatural‘s Eric Kripke, a family struggles to reunite in an American landscape where every single piece of technology – computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights – has mysteriously blacked out forever. A drama with sweeping scope and intimate focus, Revolution is also about family – both the family you’re born into and the family you choose.
This is a swashbuckling journey of hope and rebirth seen through the eyes of one strong-willed young woman, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos, Being Human), and her brother Danny (Graham Rogers, Memphis Beat). When Danny is kidnapped by militia leaders for a darker purpose, Charlie must reconnect with her estranged uncle Miles (Billy Burke, The Twilight Saga), a former U.S. Marine living a reclusive life. Together, with a rogue band of survivors, they set out to rescue Danny, overthrow the militia and ultimately re-establish the United States of America. All the while, they explore the enduring mystery of why the power failed, and if – or how – it will ever return.
My take: Another J.J. Abrams show – Lost – focused on the idea of science versus faith. That struggle is applicable here. If you are a man of faith, you’ll believe that Abrams has a grand plan for this show and that it will become the next great sci-fi epic. If you are a man of science, however, you’ll play the odds and realize that a) Abrams probably pitched a rough outline for this show before walking away to focus on his next project, b) it’s on NBC, a network in chaos that will struggle to promote the show and retain viewers for it and c) even if it does stick around long enough to deliver answers on the many mysteries it will introduce, there’s a good chance most of those answers will feel forced and incredibly lackluster.
CBS (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis star in Vegas, a drama inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a fourth-generation rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s, a gambling and entertainment mecca emerging from the tumbleweeds. Ralph Lamb wants to be left in peace to run his ranch, but Las Vegas is now swelling with outsiders and corruption which are intruding on his simple life.
Recalling Lamb’s command as a military police officer during World War II, the Mayor appeals to his sense of duty to look into a murder of a casino worker – and so begins Lamb’s clash with Vincent Savino, a ruthless Chicago gangster who plans to make Vegas his own. Assisting Lamb in keeping law and order are his two deputies: his diplomatic, even-keeled brother, Jack, and his charming but impulsive son, Dixon. Ambitious Assistant District Attorney Katherine O’Connell, who grew up on the ranch next to the Lambs, also lends a hand in preserving justice. In Vegas, two powerful men – Lamb and Savino – are engaged in a fierce battle for control of the budding oasis, and for both of them, folding is not an option.
My take: I wasn’t excited about this show until that “folding is not an option” pun at the end. Now I’m hoping that Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis can fill the void left from canceling CSI: Miami.
“The victim was last seen two hours ago at a high stakes poker game. He got into a dispute with another player and walked off. We found him here in the bathroom. It appears someone drowned him in the toilet.”
“It looks like it was a,” dramatically puts on sunglasses, “straight flush.” YEEAAAAAAH!!!
As I said above, I’m most cautiously optimistic about The Mindy Project. Fox has a fairly solid track record with sitcoms and Mindy Kaling is a very talented writer. I’ll also give Animal Practice a shot because I think Justin Kirk is great on Weeds and I’m a sucker for Annie’s Boobs.
I like the idea of Terry O’Quinn playing the devil, so I’ll give 666 Park Avenue a shot solely based on my man-love for him, though I don’t have high hopes for it. And I’ll try Revolution because I’m a sucker for J.J. Abrams, though my money is on it either being canceled before any mysteries are solved or it just being an unfocused trainwreck in general.
The Neighbors will, mercifully, be the first show to be canceled this season. Guys with Kids will be inexplicably popular and people will use it as another example of why I’m wrong about Jimmy Fallon. I will remain unconvinced.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Boob Tube Breakdown – Fall TV Preview 2011
- Murphy’s Law – Boob Tube Breakdown 2010
- Murphy’s Law – Boob Tube Breakdown 2009
- Murphy’s Law – Boob Tube Breakdown (Midseason Replacements Edition)
- Murphy’s Law – Boob Tube breakdown