Fall Network TV Preview 2019: Something familiar

It seems we’ve stood and talked like this before. We looked at each other in the same way then, but I can’t remember where or when.

Before you write me off as a nut, those are lyrics to a very old song. Here it is covered by the incomparable Lena Horne:

It’s the perfect theme song for this year’s fall broadcast TV season. Although the networks have seem to finally lurched awake from their fevered dream of rebooting every ’80s and ’90s show possible, that doesn’t mean they’re willing to reach out with anything fresh.

Friends if you really want to push the envelope, head on over to satellite TV. Broadcast is purely for folks who like what they’ve gotten before. There’s nothing wrong with that.

If you liked (this…) then you’ll like…

Take a look at this crop of 35 shows debuting on major broadcast networks. I’m sure you’ll agree that ther’s something for everyone who likes old TV shows. (Since I’m one of those people, I’m hardly complaining.)

The Kenan Show (NBC): Hm, a standup comedian in a family sitcom. I’m literally at a loss for which of the 25 other sitcoms this rips off to highlight.

Carol’s Second Act (CBS): I admit I’m looking forward to this show, but then that’s because I liked Everybody Loves Raymond, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Scrubs. Mix those shows in equal parts and you’ll have this one.

Indebted (NBC): Multigenerational half-hour sitcom! What a concept! Mama’s Family probably did it best but it’s certainly been done over and over again.

Council of Dads (NBC): If you liked thirtysomething, Parenthood, and more recently This is Us, you’ll love this show which promises to bring the same hammer-to-the toes pain to stories about older men.

Broke (CBS): This is about a guy who loses everything and has to move in with a quirky family member. Again, I’m just at a loss as to which of the 50 other sitcoms like this I’ll compare it to.

Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS): Here’s another one I’m actually looking forward to, even though it sort of seems like Mike and Molly meets Bridget Loves Bernie.

For Life (ABC): I could just as easily put this in the “Crime” section but it’s just too similar to a show called Kaz which aired briefly in the 1970s.

Nancy Drew (CW): Technically not a spinoff or reboot, just an idea that’s been done to death.

Not Just Me (Fox): About as close as it gets to an original idea. People come together after a shared shock and surprise, but in this case it’s that they’re actually related because a doctor used his own sperm at a fertility clinic.

Perfect Harmony (NBC): Looks like Glee in church, mixed in with Bradley Whitford doing his Bradley Whitford character.

Outmatched (Fox): It’s a family sitcom where the kids are smart. Really, I don’t even know where to start.

Sunnyside (NBC): He’s a politician that helps people in his community. Cue literally every show in the 1969-1970 TV season.

The Unicorn (CBS): A middle-aged guy starts to date. Seriously.

United We Fall (ABC): Wait, this isn’t Indebted? Another multigenerational family sitcom.

The Baker and the Beauty (ABC): So, this is a show based on an Israeli show. The guy is supposed to be an ugly duckling and he gets into a relationship with a supermodel. Wish-fulfillment to the max, folks.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC): You might think this is a riff of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist but you’d be wrong. It’s more like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Redhead with lots of imaginary musical numbers.

A little bit of spinoff in my life

Of course broadcasters couldn’t go a year without spinning off shows from other shows. After all this is Hollywood. I’ll simply list them here. If you know the show they’re spun off from, you’ll probably like them. If you don’t, you won’t.

9-1-1: Lone Star (Fox)
Batwoman (CW)
Katy Keene (CW)
FBI: Most Wanted (CBS)
Mixed-ish (ABC)

Cartoons aren’t just for Saturdays

After all, The Simpsons is the longest running comedy in history. There’s something just too appealing about a show where you could replace a voice actor if you wanted to. For example:

The Great North (Fox)
Bless the Harts (Fox)
Duncanville (Fox)

Crime does pay

Of course it wouldn’t be TV without shows about lawyers, cops, private investigators, and that ilk. Here’s a few examples:

Stumptown (ABC): The network’s already pushing this one hard. It’s a hard-boiled PI like Mannix or Jim Rockford, but she’s a female! What a twist!

Bluff City Law (NBC): Jimmy Smits plays a lawyer again, I think for the fourth time. Only this time it’s in “Bluff City.” (Cue a spike in Google searches to find out which southern city has that nickname.)

Tommy (CBS): A woman becomes chief of police. How very 2019.

All Rise (CBS): This show seems to imply that judges and court officials are people, too. I agree with that, but what about the literally thousands of hours of TV that seems to contradict that?

Deputy (Fox): He’s a cop who doesn’t fit into today’s sensitive society. Wow, didn’t see that coming.

Evil (CBS): It’s a psychological thriller about demonic possessions. Yeah, a little weird for a crime drama but you know it’s basically the same plot as all the rest.

neXt (Fox) Something about cybercrime and a rogue AI. This could be in the “retread” column as CSI meets Terminator 2.

Lincoln (NBC): The Bone Collector becomes a TV show.

Prodigal Son (Fox): This guy solves crimes because he knows how killers think. Maybe I should have put this in the “retread” section.

Emergence (ABC): There’s a sheriff, there’s a child, there’s some sort of accident.

The dynasty of Dynasty

Why not throw in a juicy family soap? That’s never been done before, right? This trend never seems to die but it’s really not overdone this season. So far just Filthy Rich (Fox) fits the bill.

That’s all she wrote

How many of these shows will last out the fall? Statistically it’s going to be about four. Of course, I’ll be back in a few months with my report card. In the meantime, check out our older fall preview coverage or, if you’re really into nostalgia, this slideshow of literally every fall preview cover of TV Guide up to 2017.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.