Autumn: the season for pumpkin spice and tv shows

It’s that time of year again, the time when we’re knee deep in new shows.

Since my schedule is pretty much just job hunting and dinners with friends, that has left me some time to check out some of the newest shows. Generally I try to wait until at least November to attempt this, since new shows are constantly getting canceled right out of the gate, and it hurts to fall for something only to loose it.

But boredom free time is a great motivator to watch tv.

Obviously I have not seen every new show, and a few have yet to even premiere (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Rhys Meyer’s Dracula, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and pretty much every CW show). But here are a few of my current favorites from the newest batch.

One other note: it’s also not great to judge a show right away, since they often take time to find their footing. But I’m generally looking at potential and immediate gut-reaction.

Sleepy Hollow (Fox)

I love shows with a heavy mythology, especially when it’s not overly complex (Lost was great, but also unable to answer half of their own questions). From Fringe and Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the show is partially a modern retelling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” but mixed with Biblical mythology and just a hint of Rip Van Winkle. That last bit is because one of the main characters, Ichabod Crane, is a Revolutionary War soldier who woke up in modern times. He teams up with current Sleepy Hollow police lieutenant Abbie Mills to stop demons from destroying the world. The plot sounds a bit contrived, but the effects are great, the spooky tone is perfect for this time of year, and the chemistry between Ichabod and Abbie (played by Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie) is wonderful. He’s a sassy man-out-of-time with a great accent. She’s a takes-no-bullshit sarcastic badass. And the best part: despite being from the late 18th century, Ichabod barely bats an eye over the fact that his partner in world-saving is a black woman. Actually, wait, no, the best parts are when he reacts to modern technology. And when he discovers the prevalence of Starbucks.

The Michael J Fox Show (NBC)

First off, Michael J Fox does not age. Second, I am so glad he’s returning to TV. And he’s done it in a genius way. In this new sitcom, he plays Mike Henry, a well-known New York City news anchor who left TV after being diagnosed with Parkinsons, now returning after a five year absence. Art does like to imitate life. Thus Fox puts his Parkinsons out there, deals with it in humorous ways, and moves on. The show isn’t about his diagnosis. It is, like any good sitcom, about the quirky family dynamics. And while two of this three children tend to annoy me more than entertain, Fox and his on-screen wife (Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt) are hilarious.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

Imagine the quirkiness of the characters of a show like Community or The Office (complete with cheesy life lessons, pranks, and incompetence), and put them in an environment where they not only have power over other people, but where they are necessary for safety and order. That’s this show, about the losers and lazies that make up a police department in Brooklyn. Led by SNL vet Andy Samberg, the cops in the show act more like overgrown children. Yet somehow this works. I expected to not like the show, but it does a surprisingly good job of balancing humor with heart, making sure that the characters always do the right thing despite still being slightly bumbling and even at time amoral. Though it is still early, I have high hopes for the rest of the show.

The Crazy Ones (CBS)

I love Sarah Michelle Gellar, but so far (after only 2 episodes) she’s the weakest part of this comedy about a Chicago advertising agency and it’s “crazy” employees. And if Buffy herself is your weak link, you must be doing something right. No surprises in that the best part of the show is Robin Williams, in his first lead TV role since Mork & Mindy. As Gellar’s character’s dad, and the head of the company, Williams is the “craziest” in the most hilarious ways. And his rapport with a copywriter played by James Wolk is comedy gold. Another example of a comedy that I feel will only get better with time and as the cast and writers find their footing together, The Crazy Ones has a lot of potential, but more than that it has Robin Williams acting insane and doing impressions. So basically, it’s a win.

Agents of SHIELD (ABC)

Did you really think I wouldn’t mention this one? Based in the same universe as the Marvel superhero movies (The one last seen in The Avengers), the show focuses on a newly formed elite squad within the spy agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D, headed by thought-to-be-dead fan-favorite Agent Phil Coulson (also known as the great Clark Gregg). With Joss Whedon at the helm, you can expect the normal Whedon fare: quirky characters, a lot of badass women, snark and quips galore, and meta commentary on the genre. For example, Coulson first appears by stepping out of the shadows in a trope shocking entrance, only to comment that he thinks a lightbulb has burned out. But unlike other Whedon shows, this one is backed by the extremely popular Marvel franchise, so it seems like a guarantee that it will not get canceled. Which means that while the show is still not quite what it could be, it has the chance to reach a point when the team of loners finally gets to the point where they can work together (think Buffy season 2) and we can move on to some awesome storylines. And hopefully those will include some lesser known Marvel comics greats (*crosses fingers and prays for Jessica Jones*).

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