By Ashley Bergner
Box Office Buzz
These days, most of the buzziest TV shows seem to be happening on cable — from AMC’s meth drama “Breaking Bad” to HBO’s gritty medieval fantasy “Game of Thrones.” The BBC’s “Doctor Who” — once a sci-fi cult favorite — seems to be growing in mainstream popularity, and AMC’s zombie series “The Walking Dead” is generating ratings that would make even the “big three” television networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — envious.
However, this fall there do seem to be some potentially big new series on broadcast TV, and while I usually focus more on upcoming movie releases, I’m pretty excited about the line-up of fall shows this year. From the return of the CW’s superhero drama “Arrow” to the Marvel spin-off “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” there are some exciting premises — and some interesting risks — on TV this fall. Here are the new and returning shows I’m most looking forward to, and I’m curious to know what your top picks are as well!
Arrow: Season 2 (The CW)
Premiere date: Oct. 9
After his rescue from a dangerous island where he was marooned for five years, playboy Oliver Queen seeks to redeem himself — and his town — by going undercover as a hooded vigilante known as the “Green Arrow.” The first season of this show, based on a DC Comics character, may not have been flawless, but it was exciting and fun. Stephen Amell proved to be a likable lead as Oliver Queen, striking a nice balance between Christian Bale’s brooding Batman and Robert Downey Jr.’s wisecracking Iron Man. David Ramsey also was a nice foil for Ammel as Oliver Queen’s bodyguard-turned-sidekick John Diggle, and fans quickly fell in love with Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity Smoak, an IT expert who joins Oliver’s team.
The show-runners for “Arrow” seem to be genuinely interested in what fans like/don’t like about the show, and I’m hoping season 2 will be even better. Although it personally hasn’t bothered me, some did complain about the show’s “villain of the week” format and for the potential for this format to become repetitive over time. I would like to see the show-runners maybe mix up the format a little more, perhaps with a smaller number of villains appearing in longer story arcs.
Fans also have complained about some of the characters, primarily Oliver’s younger sister Thea and her boyfriend Roy Harper. I do think these characters serve a necessary role in the story, and I liked them a little better as the first season progressed. Hopefully the writers will continue to deepen and tweak their characters. Viewers also didn’t seem to buy into the romance between Oliver and his on-again, off-again girlfriend, an attorney named Laurel Lance. Whether it’s intentional or not, I do think Oliver’s character has more chemistry with Felicity. Fans seem to be rooting for an Oliver/Felicity romance, so it will be interesting to see how the show runners handle this dynamic in the second season.
In short, “Arrow” last season was a good show, but I believe the show-runners have the potential to take the series to the next level and make it even better. I’m looking forward to seeing them unravel the mystery of why Oliver was marooned on the island, and how he will grow as a “superhero.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Premiere date: Sept. 24
Marvel can seemingly do no wrong these days — all of their superhero films have found success at the box office, culminating in a mash-up, “The Avengers,” that pulled in more than a billion in revenue worldwide. Now, Marvel is trying to apply that formula to the small screen with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The show takes viewers behind the scenes of the top secret agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., which “assembled” the Avengers team to combat super-powered threats. The new show doesn’t feature superheroes — rather, it shows us what life is like for “everyday” agents like Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who appeared in the “Avengers” lead-in films.
Geek icon and “Avengers” director Joss Whedon has been involved with the show’s development, which is a promising sign, and I’m excited to see a spin-off for Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson, a character who’s become a favorite among fans. I’m also curious to see how they tie the show into the Marvel films and what famous characters/villains might show up in the series.
Although Marvel has become a successful brand in cinema, it will be interesting to see if they can find that same level of success in television. Viewers clearly love watching Marvel superheroes like Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, but will they also tune in to a show about lesser-known characters? Then again, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man were once thought of as “B-list” superheroes before their movies became blockbusters, so Marvel has a shot at working its magic here as well.
Almost Human (Fox)
Premiere date: Nov. 4
Merging the science fiction and crime genres, “Almost Human” is about a cop living in futuristic Los Angeles. Humans in LAPD are being paired with life-like androids — a prospect the human officers aren’t always thrilled with. Karl Urban stars as a detective named John Kennex who wakes up after being trapped in a coma for more than a year. Despite suffering from PTSD due to his traumatic injuries, Kennex returns to work and is paired, against his wishes, with an android. After rejecting his first robot partner, he’s paired with an android named Dorian (Michael Ealy) who exhibits human emotions. The two learn to work together to solve crimes and also unravel the mystery surrounding Kennex’s injuries.
Crime dramas are fairly common these days, so it’s nice to see one with a different twist (in this case, a sci-fi setting and the addition of android cops). The series is being executive produced by J. J. Abrams, and while I’m not certain how much direct involvement he’s had in the project, I’m a fan of his work. Karl Urban also has plenty of geek cred, having also appeared in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
What could set this show back is the fact that while it does have a unique twist, it is still a crime drama, and the market is fairly saturated with those types of programs already. It will need to quickly stand out and grab viewers’ attention. I think Karl Urban is perfectly capable of carrying a show, but will he be enough of a draw for general audiences to motivate them to tune in? I am intrigued by the concept for this show, and I’d like to see it succeed.
So, what shows are you most looking forward to? What do you think will be the best new show? What ones are most likely headed for cancellation?