Once again, we’re preparing for the new fall season by checking out all the new network shows and giving our patented snap judgments. This time it’s FOX, and we’re just barely beating their first premiere of the season to the gate. We were pretty stressed about that, but we pulled it off. So let’s take a look at FOX, including one of the season’s most promising comedies, an X-Men show, and, well, The Orville.
There’s no trailer available for this midseason entry. It’s a procedural about first responders created by Ryan Murphy. It’s impossible to make any kind of judgment based on what we have, but Murphy is pretty much a guaranteed miss for me at this point. Still, I can’t imagine that his is going to be a traditional Chicago (Blank) take on the genre and there’s going to be some twist like it’s a musical or they’re all in Hell or something. Not going to get me to watch it, but there’s probably some weird business coming.
Oh, this is more like it. This comedy stars Adam Scott and Craig Robinson as a true believer and a skeptic (respectively), recruited by a secret organization to research paranormal activity. I’m a sucker for a high concept comedy, the stars are two of my favorites, and the trailer is really funny. This is easily my most anticipated network show of the season. My only real worry is that FOX has struggled with their high concept shows lately. Son of Zorn, Making History, The Grinder – all very good and weird shows that didn’t have a chance. Hopefully the once and future home of the X-Files can sell this to people, but doesn’t it feel like it would maybe be better served by pairing it with Brooklyn Nine-Nine rather than nestling between The Simpsons and Family Guy? Or even rearrange Sunday night so it’s next to Last Man on Earth?
Look, I’m just spitballing here because I’m so in love with the idea of this show and I want to watch Adam Scott and Craig Robinson argue and fight ghosts for years.
Hey, it’s an X-Men TV show! Without any X-Men in it! Considering that the other X-Men show is FX’s Legion where the X-Men are never even mentioned, that’s a step forward for the franchise. It’s actually a show about a family with mutant children on the run from the government and the underground group who helps them. Which is a pretty X-Men idea. There are a bunch of weird things here. For one thing, they mention in the trailer that the X-Men might not exist anymore and producer Bryan Singer indicated that this show may not be in the same timeline as the movies. And given that the movies so far include at least two separate timelines and, if you want things to make any kind of sense, actually more like five…. Look, none of this makes sense anymore. At this point, if you want to know if one piece of X-Men related media is in line with another piece of X-Men related media, assume the answer is ‘no’.
The show involves some C- and D- list mutants from the comics (a couple of whom appeared in the far-future sections of Days of Future Past and should not be this age in 2017 but none of this matters), and boasts a pretty decent cast. I’m actually more excited about showrunner Matt Nix (Burn Notice, The Good Guys) then I am about the mutant stuff. That said, the trailer is not very good. It’s kind of incoherent – a lot of people shooting energy beams at robot spiders and a bunch of characters saying things without context. At this point, even the least successful X-Men thing has still done pretty well, so maybe that’s all they need to do. But I wanted to be psyched for this show and instead it’s kind of just… there.
This was a nice surprise – a comedy from Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez focusing on the commercial flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Now, I don’t know how you turn that into a series – one source says the season is about a single weekend, another says each episode is a weekend. Either way, it seems like a reach and I’m going to assume they have something up their sleeves. The trailer is funny and showed off some solid casting. Anybody expect Dylan McDermott to turn up in a comedy? Since this is a midseason series, it hasn’t been advertised yet and I went into the trailer completely cold and I ended up interested enough to check it out.
Seth MacFarlane created and stars in this Star Trek parody and that’s probably already enough information for you to know whether or not you’re watching this. I can’t stand MacFarlane’s work from Family Guy on down, so there’s no chance of me tuning in. Despite a good supporting cast, this just looks dismal – the jokes in the trailer are unfunny and obnoxious and the extended versions showing up as ads on FOX are even worse. Way too many reaction shots of people not being able to believe how quirky this new captain is. I feel sorry for the contrarian Star Trek fans who’ve already proclaimed that this is a better version of Trek than Discovery. It’s not. My views on MacFarlane have softened a little over the years – I still think he mostly produces bad entertainment, but I think he also just leans into what his fans want. He’s capable of caring about things unironically (see his albums of Broadway standards) but he has cultivated a fanbase that doesn’t want anything other than takes on Family Guy. To some extent, the actually kind of interesting A Million Ways to Die in the West is about this, but that movie flopped because people wanted more Ted (aka Family Guy with a Teddy Bear). It seems like he wants to do something that isn’t Family Guy, but his fanbase won’t accept it. So anybody who thinks this is going to be an affectionate parody of sci-fi tropes needs to prepare themselves for the reality that MacFarlane has to play to his audience and his audience only wants him to crap on things.
This medical drama boasts an impressive cast and not much of a premise. From what I can tell, it seems to be about a titular resident (Manish Dayal) starting at a hospital where people are actively covering for the fact that the chief of surgery screwed up and killed somebody on the table. There also seems to be this weird emphasis on the new guy unlearning everything because apparently knowing things about medicine gets in the way of doing medicine. Which seems grossly irresponsible. And the way I’m describing this seems like it might be something sinister and it’s maybe up to the Resident to put a stop to it, but the trailer plays all of this as inspirational. It doesn’t look good to me and I don’t see anything in the trailer that’s going to make people want to make a point of watching it.
What I’m Watching – Obviously Ghosted is a must-see and L.A. to Vegas has me interested. I’ll give The Gifted a shot but it’ll have to impress me fast because there are a million other superhero things right now.
2016 Follow-Up: We looked at twelve new shows last year at this time. Of those, two were considered to be miniseries (Prison Break and Shots Fired, though the possibility of another Prison Break mini) and the reality competition Kicking and Screaming was treated as a one-and-done. Four shows survived to Season Two, though most of them were on the bubble – The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon, The Mick, and Star. That leaves five cancelled shows. 24: Legacy and A.P.B. flopped hard. Pitch was quite good but landed on the wrong side of the bubble. And my much-loved Son of Zorn and Making History just didn’t make it. At least Zorn had a shot but FOX mishandled History so badly it was DOA before it even premiered. I’m still angry.
Next week we’ll look at NBC!