When it comes to TV antenna and satellite dish viewers, what are the best new shows of the year? There are a handful from which to choose.
Each fall, the TV networks roll out their first round of new TV shows. After a long summer of reruns and vapid reality shows, many of us look forward to the unveiling of each year’s new schedule. We’re more than a few weeks into the new TV season, so to speak, and some might be wondering what are the best shows on broadcast TV. While individual tastes always vary, there always will be standouts among the fall’s TV season. Being the TV geeks that we are, Solid Signal takes a look at the week’s TV lineup and what works… and what doesn’t.
The first official day of the work week gives us three new TV series – Kevin Can Wait (CBS), Conviction (ABC), and Timeless (NBC). The winner by far is Timeless, which follows the adventures of a history professor, scientist, and soldier as they attempt to stop a criminal who’s stolen a time machine. This show is much better than what’s been reviewed so far, both for its originality and can’t-wait-for-next-week’s-episode type of suspense. It can get preachy at times, but that comes with the territory of network TV. It’s sure to be a hit with fans of Fringe, X-Files, and similar shows.
The title of best new TV show on Tuesday nights is a tie between American Housewife (ABC) and This is Us (NBC). American Housewife is a sitcom that stars Katy Mixon (Eastbound & Down and Mike&Molly) as Katie Otto, a middle-class housewife who struggles to find her place in a town dominated by wealth and privilege. I applaud ABC for casting the curvaceous Katy Mixon in the lead role, which typically reserved for emaciated starlets.
On the other end of the spectrum is This is Us, which I’ve written about in another post. This drama features very real and flawed people confronting very real problems without gags and a laugh track. I find the show’s stripped down approach, ensemble cast, and emotional take on a variety of topics to be a much-needed counterbalance to vapid sitcoms that rehash decades-old jokes. The series features an ensemble cast lead by Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham), Mandy Moore (In the Deep), and Chrissy Metz (Entourage).
With four new shows competing for viewers, Wednesday night was a bit tougher to call. In the end, the Buckler Award for best new TV show goes to ABC’s sitcom Speechless. This series, starring the lovely Minnie Driver (Grosse Pointe Blank), focuses on the non-traditional and rather irreverent DiMeo family. The family moves to a town that has the ideal school for their son J.J., who has cerebral palsy. The family’s blunt nature with annoying townsfolk create the many comedic and cringe-worthy moments for which the show is known. It’s this unique twist that ultimately inspired me to cast my vote in the show’s favor.
Because it was up against two tepid sitcoms, ABC’s Notorious is the winner for best new broadcast TV shows on Thursday night. The show, stars Piper Perabo (Looper) and Daniel Sunjata (Grey’s Anatomy), examines the relationships between criminal law and the media. It’s based off real-life criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live producer Wendy Walker.
Admittedly, Notorious has the same, slick packaging and approach as many other TV legal dramas that have come before it. The show wins the best of Thursday night slot because The Good Place (NBC) and Pitch (Fox) are rather bland and not-so-funny sitcoms. The real winner here is the network, which has another popular show to help sell advertising space.
Friday night television is a study in irony, insomuch that the two new TV shows on this night are remakes. First there’s The Exorcist, which is a TV series based off the 1973 horror film of the same name. Then there’s MacGyver, which is a re-spin of the action-adventure TV series which aired from 1985-1992. Personally, I’m not a fan of remakes of films and TV shows of my youth. These efforts are too often marred by forceful attempts to insert some current socio-political agenda into shows that are part of our collective pop culture memory. This might stir up controversy, but it doesn’t make for compelling entertainment.
If I had to pick a winner, I’ll go with The Exorcist because it stars the lovely Geena Davis. I’ve been a fan since first seeing her in Family Ties back in 1984. To further add to the irony, TV’s The Exorcist is more of a reimagining while MacGyver stays close to its original source material. Thing is, I never was a fan of Richard Dean Anderson, his mullet, or his ability to make a bomb out of pine cones, toilet paper, and a roll of dental floss. I’m more likely to watch Blue Bloods on Friday nights, but that’s not in the spirit of this piece.
With no new Saturday night shows on broadcast TV, we move to Sundays. Here I feel forced to pick a winner, much like I did with Thursday and Friday night’s offerings. So, without any further ado, the Buckler Award for Excellence in New Broadcast TV goes to… Son of Zorn (Fox). This is hardly a distinction, though, since the show didn’t win on its merits, such as they are. Son of Zorn is the winner be default since it’s the only new TV series to air this fall on Sunday nights.
It’s not that Son of Zorn is without its merits. The show combines animation with live action and offers some clever parodies of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and other 1980s cartoons. Beyond that novelty, the show wears thin with the old fathers-and-husbands-as-clueless-but-lovable-shlubs trope. The series stars Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses 2) as the voice of Zorn, and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Edie, Zorn’s ex-wife.
What’s Your Best of Broadcast?
So there are my picks for the best new shows on broadcast TV. Whether you agree with my top picks or not, it’s easy to see that broadcast TV still offers plenty of entertainment throughout the week. This makes cutting the cord a viable alternative to pricey cable TV. Cutting the cord delivers free HDTV, after all! Now that you know my picks for this year’s “Best in Broadcast,” I’m curious to know what shows you enjoy receiving with your TV antenna.