Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New fall TV offerings high on drama, thin on comedies

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Spooky. Sinister. Suspenseful. Spellbinding. Super-heroic.

Sadly, however, with a few notable exception of a few very familiar faces, not all that funny.

That's the early scouting report on a frenzied fall-launch TV schedule that boasts several solid new drama series -- including ABC's much-anticipated Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- but not exactly what you'd call a tidal wave of genuinely amusing, out-loud-laughter-inducing comedy fare.

Over the next few weeks, 28 new shows will premiere on the U.S. networks, and another seven new series will hit the airwaves in Canada (though only a couple are of the scripted variety). That's a lot to digest, even for the most committed consumer of television fare.

But that's where we come in -- it's time, once again, for our annual Fall TV Preview, a week-long analysis of the upcoming television season in which we'll break down each night's lineup in full detail, telling you which shows are worth watching, which deserve to be missed, and even which ones are so bad that you might want to take a quick look for morbid curiousity's sake.

The preview starts inside today's entertainment section, with a look at what's new on Saturday (not much, really) and Sunday (a sparse few newcomers) this fall. And the analysis continues all week long, with in-depth looks at prime time's new offerings from Monday to Friday (and a bonus video "blip" you can scan and watch each day on your smartphone or tablet).

On the drama front, the aforementioned Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. leads a fairly solid pack of new series on the U.S. networks -- this aggressive push by the Marvel Comics empire to achieve the same success on TV it has had in theatres with such big-screen blockbusters as the Spider-Man movies, Wolverine and Marvel's The Avengers gets off to a rousing start with an action-packed pilot episode (Sept. 24) that a Television Critics Association poll identified as the most promising new show of the fall season.

Also expected to make big waves in 2013-14's drama pool are The Blacklist (Sept 23), an NBC thriller that stars James Spader as a fugitive on the FBI's most-wanted list who turns himself in with a bizarre and hidden agenda-driven offer to help the feds catch terrorists; Lucky 7 (Sept. 24), a heartwarming and occasionally gut-wrenching tale of a group of convenience-store employees who learn that winning a huge lottery pool has unexpected consequences; and Betrayal (Sept. 29), an ABC drama about an ill-considered extramarital affair which could pair with returning favourite Revenge to create a powerful Sunday-night programming block.

The comedy crop is pretty thin this fall, but the newcomer creating the most significant buzz is The Michael J. Fox Show (Sept. 26), which sees the beloved Canadian star returning to NBC in a sitcom about a TV news anchor who returns to work five years after having been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Based on the charm and sharp writing of its pilot episode, many are predicting Fox's reunion with the Peacock to be one of the new season's biggest hits.

Also showing promise among the comedies are Welcome to the Family (Oct. 3), an NBC effort that examines the uneasy cross-cultural blending of two families after a teen pregnancy prompts a pair of recent high-school grads to get engaged, and Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sept. 17), which brings Saturday Night Live alumnus Andy Samberg to prime time as a brilliant detective whose odd personality quirks drive his new boss around the bend.

Mostly, however, the 2013-14 roster of comedies falls into the average-to-poor category mix.

That's just a quick glimpse at what lies ahead for TV-watchers this fall. For full descriptions, analysis and predictions about everything that's new on the major U.S. and Canadian networks, turn to today's inside pages (G3) and then check out the Winnipeg Free Press's entertainment section all this week for our annual night-by-night Fall TV Preview.

Read. Clip. Blip. And then flip.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 14, 2013 G1

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Updated on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 7:36 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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