The concept of a fall television season is pretty outdated by now, given that new shows debut nearly every month on one platform or another. Streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime just throw things out there whenever they please; cable networks have never seemed to have defined seasons; and even the old broadcast networks have fall, winter, summer and “limited run” shows. It’s downright confusing for a child of the rabbit-ears generation like me.
|Wow, Mom and Dad--it's the Fall TV Season!|
But, okay, right now we have a treasure-trove of new stuff to look at: new shows, old shows coming back with new episodes, beloved canceled shows moving to new platforms. There is much too much content for me to cover it all with a blog post; I recommend a subscription to TV Guide to keep up with everything. I do have a few observations, however.
1) Some great shows have been saved from cancelation by the streaming services. Lucifer, starring Tom Ellis, a light-hearted paranormal crime dramedy, was picked up by Netflix when Fox canceled it. I was cheering, because I love the characters in this story of the sexy Devil who quits his “job” in Hell and sets up in a nightclub in L.A., then falls for a detective in the LAPD. Word on the street is that Star Trek star William Shatner helped save this show by tweeting his support to his millions of Twitter followers.
Our Spacefreighters favorite,The Expanse, was similarly plucked out of the Syfy Channel discard file by Amazon Prime after a fan campaign. It’s almost enough for me to buy that Prime contract, though I’ve been resisting all these years.
2) Manifest, another paranormal drama built along the lines of Lost orThe 4400, debuted this week on NBC. A commercial airliner disappears on a routine flight from Jamaica to New York, then reappears five years later. The people aboard haven’t aged a day; to them, no time has passed, they’ve just gone through a little turbulence. Their readjustment to daily life is complicated not only by what has happened in the time they’ve been gone, but by the fact they’ve acquired supernatural abilities in the meantime.
The first episode was intriguing in a variety of ways, and not nearly as headache-inducing as Lost. The show definitely has a religious or spiritual vibe, though; I found that interesting, but some may find it off-putting.
3) Speaking of Lost, a new show about a maverick hospital administrator seeking to make sweeping changes in the way health care is delivered at a big public hospital in the city describes New Amsterdam, on NBC. I’m a sucker for medical shows, so I tuned in, only to be so confused I had to turn to my iPad for clarification.
The star of the show is Ryan Eggold (formerly of The Blacklist):
Could he be the long “lost” brother of Matthew Fox, star of “Lost?”:
Weird, right? Not that I would kick either one of them out of bed for eating crackers, as my mama used to say.
4) The best medical show on television is still ABC’s The Good Doctor, starring Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), the story of an autistic surgical resident with genius-level med skills and almost no people skills. Highmore is brilliant as Dr. Shaun Murphy, and his supporting cast stretches to come up to his level. Lisa Edelstein (House) joins the cast as the oncologist treating the brain tumor affecting Dr. Murphy’s mentor, Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff). If you aren’t watching this show, start now.
5) Science fiction has cresting on television for a couple of years now, but it appears that wave has receded. No new shows have made the list (unless you count Manifest, which I wouldn’t, really.) Many have been canceled or shunted to streaming services. The hot trend is “emotional family” stuff, following the success of This Is Us (A Million Little Things), heavy crime drama with an anti-terrorist twist (FBI, based on the success of SEAL Team, Blindspot and Quantico), or reality TV (too many shows to mention).
The top 20 most popular shows are absolutely dominated by “unscripted” shows—talent competitions, football, “bachelor/bachelorette” crap, game shows. The only breakthroughs are aging comedies (Big Bang Theory, and its spinoff, Young Sheldon) and, rarely, a few episodes of the shows I mentioned.
My advice? Don’t look for a career as a television writer, especially if you write SFR.