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This article was published 22/9/2014 (1950 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With a roster of new shows that includes a fast-moving hero, a slow-moving British drama, a hard-to-swallow reality show and a can't-miss series spinoff, Tuesday's lineup is a very mixed bag indeed.
Starring: Grant Gustin, and Candice Patton
Premise: An adaptation of the long-running DC Comics saga that follows Barry Allen, a brilliant CSI investigator who is involved in a freak lightning-strike accident that transforms him into the world's fastest man.
Lowdown: The CW, the U.S. network that brought you Arrow, takes the superhero genre in a slightly different direction — faster, lighter and more open to including humour in its storyline — and the results are very entertaining.
Quotable: "I feel powerful in it. I feel really cool in it. It's awesome." — series star Grant Gustin, describing what it's like to don a superhero costume.
Bottom line: Don't blink, or you might miss this show's sprint from unknown to hit-series status.
Fox/Citytv/premièred Sept. 7
Premise: Fifteen adventurous Americans are transported to a remote location, where cameras will follow them for a year as they attempt to create and maintain a new society.
Lowdown: Based on a popular Dutch TV format, Utopia represents a big investment for Fox because the series' game plan calls for twice-weekly telecasts and non-stop online coverage for an entire year. Before it premièred, no one was speaking publicly about the "Plan B" options if the show's ratings tanked... which they have.
Quotable: "It's a very grand idea. It's about all the fundamental pieces of a society: law, sexuality, religion, politics, and so on. Clearly, I would be very disappointed, but I'm not placing a bet on this show not working." — Fox's head of alternative programming Simon Andreae, expressing optimism for Utopia's future, shortly before the series première.
Bottom line: With audience numbers declining steadily before the rest of the new fall shows arrived, one can only wonder how bad things will get when viewers have dozens of other options.
Starring: Karen Gillan and John Cho
Premise: A Twitter-age spin on the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady tale, in which social-media star Eliza Dooley realizes she has no real-world friends and asks co-worker and marketing guru Henry to help her "rebrand" herself by learning how to connect with actual human beings.
Lowdown: Coming, as it does, from Suburgatory creator Emily Kapnek, one might have expected this comedy to have elements of heart and warmth. Instead, Selfie feels like an attempt to latch onto a trendy pop-culture phenomenon that's trying too hard to be relevant and funny.
Quotable: "We started off talking about relationship shows and potential romantic comedies, what the modern obstacles are, and the presence of technology in relationships — the ever-present phone and laptops and tablets at dinner tables and bedrooms and every sort of occasion." — Kapnek, describing the show's Internet-age inspiration.
Bottom line: Eliza's a big project, and she might not be in prime time long enough for Henry to finish the job.
Starring: Analeigh Tipton and Jake McDorman
Premise: Two New Yorkers — one a lifelong resident, the other a new arrival from Atlanta — are set up on a blind date (which goes badly) and embark on the awkward path toward a relationship. The gimmick: we can hear what they're thinking.
Lowdown: As comedy-show contrivances go, the out-loud inner dialogue is well, contrived. The characters in this destined-for-datehood coupling are so stereotypical — he's a boorish, boob-obsessed dude, and she's a wide-eyed, purse-focused, technophobic innocent — that they need something to make them memorable, but the out-loud musings are more an annoying distraction than a scene-enhancer.
Quotable: "The premise of the series is the distance between what we think and what we say in our relationships with our family and at work. I think the concept is working. We're going to stick with the device. We will hear their thoughts through the entire run of the relationship." — executive producer Jeff Lowell
Bottom line: Big Apple; small chance of success.
(premieres Oct. 17 on Global)
Starring: Casey Wilson and Ken Marino
Premise: A couple makes a not-so-smooth transition from "dating" to "engaged," thanks to their shared tendency to say exactly the wrong thing at precisely the right time.
Lowdown: Despite being one of those shows whose pilot is so packed with exposition that it leaves you wondering where it can go next, Marry Me shows promise because its two stars have great chemistry and the series' writers seem to have found the right balance.
Quotable: "I think the show, going forward, is not really about a wedding or a marriage, necessarily. It's just about a couple and their friends and their parents and stuff like that, and we'll be doing general stories." — series creator David Caspe, who based this series on his real-life courtship of and marriage to star Casey Wilson.
Bottom line: Nearly 50 per cent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Nearly two-thirds of all new TV series are cancelled in their first year. This show could beat the odds on both counts.
Starring: Scott Bakula, Lucas Black, Zoe McLellan, CCH Pounder and Rob Kerkovich
Premise: A spinoff of the ratings-topping NCIS franchise that follows the agents in the bureau's New Orleans field office.
Lowdown: Wisely employing an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach as it expands the NCIS footprint in prime time, CBS serves up a new series that stays completely faithful to the stalwarts that inspired it. The cast, led by veterans Bakula and Pounder, is excellent, and the setting is even more enticing than the ones explored in the other NCIS properties.
Quotable: "It's really about the DNA of the city, and the whole Gulf Coast. Every story we start to break, you feel that (flavour) come in. So the mysteries are infused with a kind of culture and soul ... you feel the city in every beat, and it starts to inform the characters, as well." — executive producer Jeffrey Lieber on what makes this spinoff unique among NCIS-branded shows.
Bottom line: The NCIS blueprint is time-tested and reliably entertaining, and this Big Easy extension of the brand is as close to a sure thing as TV can muster. It will be a big hit.
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stephen Rea
Premise: The grown daughter of an Israeli/English arms dealer, who witnessed her father's assassination 30 years earlier, attempts to transform the family business while navigating the politics of Middle Eastern industrial diplomacy. All the while, she has secrets and long-suppressed emotions that haunt her every move.
Lowdown: This imported British drama is meticulously crafted and deliberately paced, but those who are willing to fully invest in its eight-episode run will be richly rewarded. Gyllenhaal is riveting as a woman whose past ordeals affect her present behaviour more than she or her friends and family are willing to admit.
Bottom line: A complex and multi-layered yarn that seems particularly relevant in light of the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
(premièred Sept. 22 on CTV)
See Monday's preview for full details.
New Girl (premièred Sept. 16, Fox/Citytv)
The Mindy Project (premièred Sept. 16, Fox/Citytv)
NCIS (Sept. 23, CBS/Global)
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Sept. 23, ABC/CTV)
Chicago Fire (Sept. 23, NBC/Global)
Person of Interest (Sept. 23, CBS/CTV)
Rick Mercer Report (Oct. 7, CBC)
This Hour Has 22 Minutes (Oct. 7, CBC)
About a Boy (Oct. 14, NBC/Oct. 17 on Global)
firstname.lastname@example.org Twtter: @BradOswald
After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.