Hey everyone, time for another column! Last time I looked back at one of my favourite shows of all time, Lost, so this time I felt it fitting to look forward instead, to the upcoming fall season! Consider this your Hypable guide to the shows you need to be watching this fall!
This past fall season, I’ll be honest, had nothing going for it as far as I was concerned. Some returning shows were great of course, most notably Fringe which I believe came back stronger than ever, but really – half the shows on air are past their expiration date, and most of the rest don’t do much for me.
But this year, I have high hopes, because so many of the shows premiering on the different networks sound appealing to me, and while I could be in for another Flash Forward/V disappointment, I’d like to think that at least a few of these will stick! So, in this post I’ll look at some of the upcoming shows that I think will be of particular interest to readers – and that will hopefully find solid places in the ratings!
1) Ringer – The CW
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ioan Gruffudd, Kristoffer Polaha, Nestor Carbonell, Tara Summers
What’s it about? Ringer is about twin sisters Bridget and Siobhan (both played by Gellar), who “seem to be mending their frayed relationship, until Siobhan disappears overboard during a boat trip, and Bridget makes the split decision to take on her sister’s identity” according to the official CW summary. Bridget is a recovering addict who witnesses a murder, but assuming the identity of her wealthy sister doesn’t make her any less safe, as it turns out Siobhan was involved in all kinds of shady business as well.
Why should we care? Well duh, this show stars Sarah Michelle Gellar! Really, this is many people’s main reason for tuning in – and while as a former Buffy fan I completely respect this, I’m sure star factor alone won’t be enough to keep this show afloat. If it sucks, it’s likely that the SMG (/Ioan Gruffudd) pull-factor will only boost the ratings for the first episode or two, so we’ll know quickly if this show bombs. BUT I like to think there’s more to this show than its stars. From the long promo clip released on The CW, Ringer looks smart, sophisticated, and more like a psychological thriller than a teen show – quite a leap of faith for The CW, but a smart one, as this show has the potential to pull in a slightly older female demographic. If it can maintain the story and character depth suggested by the marketing campaign, I’ve no doubt that this will be a very enjoyable, engaging show.
What could bring it down? Only a poor, boring story. SMG is a talented actress and she does well on TV, but I think if this turns out to be more Bones than Buffy, people aren’t going to care. To be clear: I’m not expecting Buffy. Buffy = Joss Whedon as far as I’m concerned, no more no less. But I hope this show is witty, clever and suspenseful, everything SMG deserves, with characters you care about. I hope the writers won’t try to make Siobhan’s acquaintances so mysterious that we won’t get to know them and come to care about them, because in a show with only one lead character you need loveable side characters.
2) Terra Nova – FOX
Starring: Jason O’Mara, Stephen Lang, Naomi Scott, Shelley Conn, Landon Liboiron
What’s it about? The year is 2021 and the world is ending – but it’s cool, cause we also invented time travel! The Shannon family join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to the prehistorically located Terra Nova (“new Earth”), but… there are evil dinosaurs!
Why should we care? Come on – there are evil dinosaurs! No, really, this show looks awesome. Sure, it could be super dumb, but to me it sounds innovative (how many shows are based on time travel? I can only think of Life on Mars), with a potential to be very visually pleasing, and a great venue for exploring the formation of society as we know it, as well as pollution issues (don’t yawn, it’s important, and Avatar did it too). What the show needs is protagonists we care about, but while I don’t know any of the actors in the lineup, I think we’ve got a good chance for a keeper, here. I’m thinking Battlestar Galactica, but with less rather than more technology, and on network television. Should be good. Plus, Stephen Spielberg is an executive producer on this, which is nothing else speaks of some ambition to make this a hit.
What could bring it down? As I said, unengaging main characters. The best sci-fi is the sci-fi which has its characters front and centre and use the spectacular environments and special effects as a vehicle to explore humanity. Also, too many cuts to the budget and we might be seeing less dinosaurs and more clay huts, and this would severely disappoint me.
3) The Secret Circle – The CW
Starring: Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker, Phoebe Tonkin, Shelley Hennig, Jessica Parker Kennedy
What’s it about? Well, this girl moves to a little town called Forks where it always rains and she meets this really suspicious group of teenagers who… oh, wait. This show is about witches, not vampires! It’s based on a book series by L.J. Smith, who we’ll all know as the author of another CW hit, The Vampire Diaries, and the two shows also have a showrunner in common: Kevin Williamson. It’s about, well, this girl who moves to a little town where it always rains and she meets this really suspicious group of teenagers… but this girl’s name is Cassie, and the group of teenagers are her fellow witches who are super excited she’s there because it means their witch circle is complete and now they can access all their powers.
Why should we care? Well, if I’m being my super grown up, sophisticated 23-year-old self, I really shouldn’t. But I’m not, so I do! I think Secret Circle will have the same pull factor as Vampire Diaries, but strangely enough I anticipate liking Circle more. The characters look fun and accessible, and I like the idea of this group of teenagers all with the same potential struggling to come to terms with new abilities.
What could bring it down? Let’s get real here: this is the CW. I have a lot of love for this network, but there is about a 50/50 chance that this show is going to be brilliant, juicy drama, because sadly there’s also the quota of vapid, pointless mush to fill up – and 90210 can’t last forever. While I love The Vampire Diaries, the first season suffered severely from none-of-these-storylines-really-matter syndrome (clever name, right?) and while it’s gotten a lot better, there’s still an over-the-top-factor that makes it hard to get too invested in the characters and relationships. I want The Secret Circle to make me care about its characters and make story developments matter in the long run, and not to get too sensationalised. Let’s see what happens.
4) Awake – NBC
Starring: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette, Steve Harris, Michaela McManus
What’s it about? The NBC official synopsis tells us: “After Detective Michael Britten wakes up from a car accident with his wife and teenage son, he learns the devastating news that his wife died in the crash. Trying to put the pieces of his life back together, he wakes up a few days later to realize that his wife is very much alive and his son died in the accident! Did he lose his wife or his son? Or neither of them??”
Why should we care: It seems a lot of big shot actors are (re)turning to television this year, and Jason Isaacs is no exception. I’m a big fan of Isaacs, but of course as Flash Forward taught us, getting an acclaimed British stage actor is no guarantee for success. Still, I think the premise of this show looks just triply enough for it to work and still engage people on a week-to-week basis. I think this has the potential to be a great psychological drama with lots of heartfelt moments. I expect the two universes will be expanded to further complicate the mystery as to which is “real”, maybe the writers will engage the audience further with clues or easter eggs.
What could bring it down? I mean, as great as the premise is, you have to wonder how long it can run on for without getting stale and repetitive. Sooner or later there must be some line drawn between the realities, something must be determined about which is the dream and which isn’t. Unless, as I am making my official crackpot theory, there is some huge game-changing twist at the end of the season which totally opens up the show in a whole new way: like finding out that the mother and/or son is also experiencing a double reality, thus making us doubt if Isaacs even survived at all, or if any of them did!
5) Once Upon a Time – ABC
Starring: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parilla, Josh Dallas
What’s it about? A modern-day girl is drawn into a fairytale world when she goes to Storybrooke – which is not your average town. “It’s a place where magic has been forgotten, but is still powerfully close… where fairytale characters are alive, even though they don’t remember who they once were. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell,” the ABC official description tells us.
Why should we care? A modern-day fairytale? Count me in! We already know that Lost-writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are up to scratch, and this show looks interesting for the same reasons that Terra Nova does: the setting is different, it’s a clever mix of contemporary and historical themes, and it has so much potential to give us more than your average who’s-pregnant-and/or-dead-this-week storylines. While I wasn’t a fan of Jennifer Morrison in her last gig on How I Met Your Mother, I absolutely love Ginnifer Goodwin. And I think the description, the costumes, the whole battle for the world thing sounds EPIC. I hope it is!
What could bring it down? If it’s not as epic as it sounds, or if the cast are unable to take the potentially silly storylines seriously. This is the kind of show that you plunge into headfirst, or not at all.
6) Alcatraz – FOX
Starring: Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill
What’s it about? Our lead character Rebecca Madsen (Jones) is assigned to a homicide case, in which the suspect is a former Alcatraz inmate who died decades ago. Dun dun dunnn. “Madsen turns to Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast, Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto (Garcia), to piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The twosome discovers that Sylvane is not only alive, but he’s loose on the streets of San Francisco, leaving bodies in his wake. And strangely, he hasn’t aged a day since he was in Alcatraz.” Double-dunnn.
Why should we care? Mostly cause of Jorge Garcia and J.J. Abrams, for whom Alcatraz is the latest show in a line of successful series like Alias, Lost and Fringe. Like with Sarah Michelle Gellar, I have no doubt that a lot of people will tune in out of star loyalty, in this case to Jorge Garcia. But the show looks interesting, too, and I think it has the potential to be engaging, clever and suspenseful.
What could bring it down? Honestly, I have quite a few reservations about this already. Jorge Garcia has a certain pull factor but he’s not the main character in this show – and he didn’t exactly do wonders for the ratings of How I Met Your Mother or Mr. Sunshine when he guest starred there. Plus, the main mystery of the series seems very singular, and the Alcatraz setting is – while keeping with the claustrophobic tone – very confined and thus could get boring. How are they going to keep the story fresh? I worry, because I really want to like this show, but it hasn’t even started and I already have my doubts. I fear it’ll be too procedural, CSI-style, although with a female lead and family secrets we could be looking at a Ghost Whisperer type of situation, which would be preferable.
7) New Girl – FOX
Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Hannah Simone
What’s it about? A “comedy about sexual politics,” New Girl is about a recently single, somewhat bizarre (if the trailer is any indication) girl who moves in with three guys – and hilarity allegedly ensues.
Why should we care: A lot of people care because of Zooey Deschanel, yet another big movie star making the jump to television. I personally think that if this show is going to live up to the hype it’ll be because of the three male leads, who I think will ultimately make or break this comedy. It’s going to be quirky, different, and hopefully insightful at the same time, and maybe Zooey Deschanel will bring some of her decidedly indie style to primetime, and help bridge the gap a little between the two formats.
What could bring it down? Comedies need to make people laugh (obviously. Look for my ‘Comedy for Dummies’ release any day now), and if New Girl is too off-beat, I fear that America in general won’t get it. Zooey Deschanel is adored by all, but she’s definitely a character, and I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if her quirkiness will fit the primetime format. Then again, Ugly Betty did alright.
8 ) Pan Am – ABC
Starring: Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner, Karine Vanasse, Jonah Lotan, Michael Mosley, Margot Robbie
What it’s about? Following the success of Mad Men, Pan Am is another period drama set in the 1960s, but follows the “rise,” if you will, of the Pan American World Airways. It’s about sex, gossip, intrigue and other good stuff like spies (!), but in a historical setting and in the context of pilots and flight attendants.
Why should we care? By all accounts, this show is going to be brilliant. Period dramas are hot right now, and Pan Am has attracted the likes of Christina Ricci to star in it. And it’s going to have sexy pilots and stewardesses. Considering the success of Mad Men, I think although Pan Am was founded already back in the 30s, it’s a smart move to set the show in the 1960s. It was a time of long cigarettes and other flamboyancy, pastels and traditional American idyllic homelife – undercut by (welcome!) social changes like the stirrings of women liberation movements and the increase of racial equality. A show in this time period that seems to be more woman-centric and soap opera-ish should be well received.
What could bring it down? This show focuses, in the words of TV Guide, on “sexy stewardesses.” I mean, how deep can it be? It’s a soap set in the air, like Desperate Housewives with wings – which might be a plus for some people, but I’m not really into soaps, so we’ll see. It could get real vapid and pointless real fast.
And there you go. It’ll be fun to look back after these shows have premiered and see if the previews have in any way been able to indicate what the shows are going to be like. I’ll probably end up liking only Hart of Dixie, and not any of the shows actually on the list! But for now, they sure look promising, and like they can challenge you to think – which is really the main thing I’m looking for in a TV show.
Which shows are you guys looking forward to, and that you might want us to cover here on Hypable? Are your most anticipated on the list or did I leave them off? Shout out in the comments!