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What's on TV this fall?

April 18, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
There isn't much to watch on TV these days, at least not if you don't have cable. Even if I did, most of the cable shows don't sound too tempting, though I do kind of wish I could have watched "A Game of Thrones" on HBO last night. I guess I'll just have to wait for that one to come out on DVD or be streamed on Netflix.

Is there anything more interesting on the horizon? Well, this is "pilot season," when all the prospective TV shows that might appear on the air this fall are being shot and network executives are looking them over. I looked at a run-down of some of the shows in development and saw some prospects, along with quite a few sow's ears.

Promising prospects:

I'm most interested in a FOX prospect called "Locke & Key," about a widow who moves to a haunted mansion with her three children. The rooms in the house contain keys to otherworldly dimensions and there is an evil entity trying to interfere. It's based on a popular graphic novel series I haven't read, but it sounds like it could be a perfect companion for FOX's "Fringe" on Friday nights. The descriptions I've read suggest the plot is a lot more scary than cute.

Also of interest is CBS's "The Ringer," starring Sarah Michelle Gellar of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame. Gellar's character is on the run from the mob and decides to hide out by masquerading as her rich twin sister, only to discover that someone is trying to kill her twin too.

FOX's "The Finder," about a former military policeman who can find anything, is billed as a spin-off of FOX's popular series "Bones," which means I'll at least give it a look.

ABC's "Georgetown," apparently a soap about young people in Washington, D.C., might just bear some resemblance to "The West Wing," another show I liked. If it's only half as smart as "The West Wing," it still might be worth watching at least the pilot.

NBC's "Reconstruction," formerly titled "The Crossing," seems to be a western about a Civil War veteran who is crossing the country just after the war has ended and is welcomed as the reluctant savior of a difficult town. Maybe someone is hoping to play off the success of the movie "True Grit?" There hasn't been a western on TV in a good long while. It sounds interesting. Of course it may be too offbeat to ever make it on the air.

ABC's "Poe" is a 19th century period piece with author Edgar Allen Poe as a detective a la Sherlock Holmes. I like Sherlock Holmes stories and I like Poe, so this could be a winner. I have a feeling ABC is trying to ride the wave of interest in the British TV series "Sherlock" and the next "Sherlock Holmes" movie.


Judging by the pilot descriptions, networks are interested in male-skewing comedies, female buddy cop shows, and fantasy and magic rather than hard science fiction.

ABC's "Hallelujah" is about a Southern town torn apart by a battle between good and evil. It will feature a gospel choir that will break in throughout the episode and function as a Greek chorus. Lots of critics like the idea, but the concept reminds me of a 1990s series called "American Gothic" that was canceled after a season. I think the Southern gospel choir could get mighty annoying before too long, too. Consider this one a maybe.

"Once Upon a Time," also on ABC, is about a little boy in a town where fairy tale characters are real. He seems to be the real life Snow White's offspring. This also sounds like it could be pretty tedious, depending on the writing. On the other hand, it could be funny in a "Shrek" sort of way.

NBC's "17th Precinct" is a cop show, but one where they use magic to solve crimes. This sounds like a real mismatch of genres. The people who like fantasy and science fiction probably aren't going to be that interested in a police procedural and the people who like police procedurals are going to take one look at "17th Precinct" and say "What the heck?" I'm the rare viewer who likes police procedurals and science fiction and fantasy, sometimes all jumbled together, so I'll give the show a chance if it makes it on the air. I'd predict its swift cancellation if it does end up airing, though.

ABC's "Pan Am" is a soap opera about 1960s stewardesses that seems to be trying to ride on the coat tails of the success of the cable series "Mad Men," which is set in a 1960s advertising agency. I like "Mad Men" and the costumes and set design for this show look kind of cool, so I will probably watch it at least once. Its success will depend on the quality of the writing and the acting and on how well it can set itself apart.

There are also the usual assortment of cop shows, including one with a pair of half-sisters as cop partners; tired family comedies (one revolving around Little League baseball) and high school musicals attempting to be the next "Glee."

And then there are the "What were you smoking when you came up with THAT idea" shows.

ABC is looking at a comedy called "My Frickin' Family" about a young couple annoyed by their in-laws. How well do they think a title like that is going to fly? It sounds like every other annoying bad sitcom you've ever seen.

ABC's "Bad Mom," starring Jenna Elfman, sounds like another charmer. Elfman's character has let her mom raise her kids for her but now her mom wants her life back and Bad Mom has to do the heavy lifting herself.

FOX's "Touch," stars Kiefer Sutherland as a man who discovers his mute, autistic son can predict the future. How many ways can THAT go wrong? Probably more than you and I can think of right now.

FOX has another stinker in development called "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" about moms who are afraid their bratty teenage daughters are turning into the mean girls who tormented them when THEY were in high school.

I'll pass, thanks.

The networks should decide which, if any, of these shows makes the cut for the fall season during the next month or so.


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