In his fall network TV preview, Stuart Sweet said broadcast is for “folks who like what they’ve gotten before.” Isn’t that the whole point? People want to see their favorite shows return with brand new seasons. So, on that point, I think that Stuart’s complaining was a bit over the top, as usual. He was right when he said (wrote) today’s “new” shows aren’t new at all. They’re either retreads of successful shows from the 1970s, ’80s, or ’90s, or a rehash of those series’ formulas. When it comes to enjoying this fall’s new season of shows, you really have to pick your shots.
The Streaming Guy Does Network TV?
Yes, it’s true. I took a break from my usual coverage of the streaming world to talk network TV. Look, I have a TV antenna on my roof, and Mrs. Buckler and I still watch some TV. Besides, I couldn’t let Stuart spin his tales of woe without offering a counterpoint. In this world of streaming your favorite, commercial-free content, network TV can seem a bit old fashioned. That said, old guys like Stuart and me grew up watching TV, both over-the-air and cable. We both have our favorite shows, and everyone knows that mine are better.
There’s a certain comfortable nostalgia to watching an episode of your favorite show on TV on the night it airs. Knowing that millions of other people are watching it “with you” makes you feel like your part of something you can’t see but you can feel. Streaming doesn’t offer that feeling. It’s a completely insular experience of you dialing up what you want to watch when you want to watch it. That’s great, too, but I still think there’s room in the TV landscape for both.
CBS Fall Lineup
While pickings are slim at the “eyeball network,” I’m looking forward to a few CBS shows coming back this year. This biggest one is Blue Bloods, which debuts its latest season at 10 PM on Friday, September 27. Thirty years ago, I would never have believed that I would watch a TV show starring “that jerk from New Kids on the Block.” That said, Mr. Wahlberg has ditched his feathered mullet and bad song-and-dance act for the more respectable role. His hard-charging detective Danny Reagan adds some much-needed excitement to the solemn but lovable Reagan family.
I’m interested in two more shows returning to CBS this fall. There’s 48 Hours, which airs at 10 PM, September 28. This show has always done a great job of presenting its cases in compelling and touching ways. Along the same lines, there’s also 60 minutes, which airs at 7:30 PM (EDT), beginning Sunday, September 29. I grew up watching this news magazine TV program with my parents and grandparents, and I continue that tradition with my family.
ABC’s Fall Lineup
I’ll be the first to admit that the alphabet network doesn’t have a lot going for it this fall. From the banal to the boring, ABC has it with this year’s lineup. Dax Shepherd’s 15 minutes of fame have long passed him by, making Bless This Mess an exercise in futility. And what could I possibly find interesting about Dancing With the Stars? Answer: nothing. Before I fall down into the pit of bitterness that’s already claimed Stuart, I’ll point out that ABC has three shows worth watching this fall:
The Conners (September 24)
Grey’s Anatomy (September 26)
20/20 (September 27)
Now, in the interests of being true to myself, I can’t glow on about two of these shows. The Conners just isn’t the same without Roseanne, but I’m invested enough in the rest of the family to keep watching… for now. Grey’s Anatomy is really a Mrs. Buckler fave. (Such is the price a pay to continue being a happily married man.) What I am looking forward to watching will be playing is 20/20. What can I say? I’m a sucker for well-produced human-interest stories in a slick, news magazine format.
What’s Going on at NBC
The Peacock network really only needs one show, and that’s This is Us. I know I’m not the only one who’s addicted to this weekly tearjerker. Yes, This is Us is that good, and most of NBC’s others shows aren’t. I mean, the network has three first responder shows set in Chicago, and bunch of other series that aren’t worth mentioning. There are two standouts though: Dateline NBC (September 27), and The Blacklist (October 4). We’ll continue to watch those while ignoring the rest of the network’s silly shows.
Fall on FOX is Less Than Fabulous
I remember when the FOX Broadcasting Company was awesome. It was in 1987, when the network was still new. Back then, my Sunday nights were all about watching two awesome new shows: 21 Jump Street and Werewolf. Well, that was a long time ago, and FOX hasn’t continued that tradition of energetic new programming. The Masked Singer? Really? It has to get better than that. Sadly, it hasn’t.
If I had to pick one FOX show I’d want to keep watching this fall, it might be Bob’s Burgers. This quirky animated sitcom has replaced The Simpsons, a FOX show that used to be great. What can I say? I get a chuckle out of the continuing odd-ventures of the Belcher family. The new season of Bob’s Burgers airs on September 29.
The CW? What’s That?
That’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. I know what The CW is. It’s the TV network that literally doesn’t have one show worth watching. The lion’s share of its programming is made up mostly of superhero shows. Full disclosure, I’m over superhero movies. I mean I’m really over them. When I was a kid who read these comic books, I might have appreciated them more. As an adult, I think there are just too many superhero movies and series made. Out of all of them, Netflix’s The Punisher was the only one worth watching, but that’s not on The CW… or anywhere else now.
Is there not one CW series I could watch? Well, Riverdale looks like it could be a mildly amusing distraction. I mean, who wouldn’t like a dark twist on a comic book they’ve read as a kid? If I plan to watch Riverdale, it won’t be on The CW. I’d simply tune in on Netflix. Sure, I’d be a season behind, but I wouldn’t have to watch the commercials or bother fast forwarding through the commercials. Then again, this show has been on Netflix for quite some time and I haven’t bothered with it yet, so I’ll probably keep it that way.
So, That’s About It
Of course the networks are going to flood the airwaves with more shows than any one person cares to see. It’s all about appealing to as many viewers aka consumers as possible. It’s the only way the networks can justify those high advertising costs to their paying clients. Rather than complain about the crap, I say pick the shows you want to watch and enjoy them. For another view on this topic, you can check out Stuart’s post about the new fall lineup. Remember, he’s suffered for his art, and now it’s your turn.