Category Archives: Television

Fall ’16 TV schedule inside!

Welcome to the fall 2016 TV season, everybody! In this very post, I’ve brought together the new fall schedules for all four major broadcast networks–namely, CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC–as well as The CW. Without further ado, jump after the fold for the full breakdown, and note that all new programs are highlighted in red. READ MORE Fall ’16 TV schedule inside!

FX ends ‘Tyrant’, an important show of our times

After three and two seasons, respectively, FX axed Middle Eastern drama Tyrant and musical dramedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. My thoughts on the former below; spoilers ahead.

I stuck with Tyrant from its humble beginnings, when it was a show about a pediatrician from Pasadena who was quickly thrusted into a heated political landscape in the fictional Middle Eastern country Abuddin. During the show’s initial run, Barry had to acclimate to his estranged family consisting of his despot father and hot-headed brother. In its second going, Barry–now called by his birth name Bassam–worked alongside his brother when their father passed away. Bassam’s brother Jamal had a trigger-finger and was quick to violence, and the show hit its stride when Bassam was able to unlock Jamal’s compassion and dig up long-buried truths between the brothers. In the most recent run, Bassam takes over Abuddin and the show transitions from its familial roots to a hardcore look at the political climate there. It’s about power, and the fallout of gaining too much of it too fast–Barry becomes Bassam the Tyrant, a role he rallied against until he was sitting on the throne. It’s about revenge and sacrifice and forgiveness. That’s what you get when you look at it season by season. As a whole, Tyrant told ripped-from-the-headlines stories about the turbulence in the Middle East, and it gave a voice to those who maybe aren’t so vocal in the news today, supporters of Peace in Islam. It did so with unrelenting realism–death and sacrifice were no strangers to Bassam Al-Fayeed and his family. Far from perfect, Tyrant was a uniquely ambitious TV series in that it told important stories with emotional heft and ramifications that mirror our modern society, and it’s one that I will certainly miss.

Will Tyrant live on? Jump after the break. READ MORE FX ends ‘Tyrant’, an important show of our times

Netflix renews ‘Stranger Things’ for season 2 (“Deleted scene” inside!)

Took ’em long enough! Today Netflix finally made the inevitable official: Stranger Things will return in 2017 with a second season. The 80s nostalgia-infused sci-fi adventure was the streaming service’s breakout hit of the summer, and it was widely expected that The Duffer Brothers would be given the opportunity to explore Hawkins, Indiana, The Upside Down dimension, and beyond with more episodes. In fact, the new season ups season 1’s episode count by one. And get this–all nine episodes have already been titled and the Duffers included the “chapter” names in the Season 2 announcement video embedded above. Can’t help but wonder about “The Lost Brother!”

Now, as excited as we all are about more Stranger Things in the pipeline, the series will be returning without its short-lived and most beloved character. That’s right, I’m talking about Barb. Poor Barb. Barb, who was kidnapped by The Demogorgon and ultimately swallowed up by the creepy-crawlers of the Upside Down. Or was she…

Pop after the break to watch a “deleted scene” from Stranger Things, provided by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It is a riot. #BarbLives. READ MORE Netflix renews ‘Stranger Things’ for season 2 (“Deleted scene” inside!)

My thoughts on Netflix’s summer surprise, ‘Stranger Things’

Well that completely came out of nowhere.

Every now and then, a show comes along that reaches out and grips you with its claws and never lets go. Enter STRANGER THINGS, a new Netflix sci-fi drama. After scrubbing through a trailer last month, I quickly dismissed it and I wouldn’t have given it a chance if it weren’t for two of my friends reaching out and demanding I tune in. Word of mouth can be a powerful thing.

STRANGER THINGS is a true amalgamation of every genre I love. When people ask me to describe it, I gush like this: It’s an adrenaline rush of pure adventure, a tale told from the innocent, wide-eyed perspective of a ragtag team of kids. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller with nuanced scares that make your imagination do most of the work. There’s conspiracy theories and weird science to wrap your brain around. And it’s all set in an eerie town where nothing is exactly what it seems.

In a nutshell: THE GOONIES + THE X-FILES/FRINGE + TWIN PEAKS = STRANGER THINGS

And let’s throw CLOVERFIELD in the mix for good measure; there’s a Monster here that would make J.J. Abrams and even Guillermo del Toro proud.

Holding this all together is a thick coat of nostalgia. From the neon bright opening credits to an original electronic soundtrack pulsing with 80s flair, STRANGER THINGS is intrinsically a warm, inviting series that draws you in with its recognizable throwbacks. (I mean, look at this poster!) What’ll hook you, though, is the utterly unexpected places it will take you. Well, that and the unbelievably talented cast of unknown kids. They will make you laugh, they will make you cry, they will leave you begging for more.

Now go enjoy this eight hour movie. Happy binging!

‘Game of Thrones’ & ‘O.J.” lead Emmy nominations, ‘The Americans’ joins the race

Today the latest crop of Emmy nominations were announced, and they include the typical fare you’re used to seeing get recognized this time of year, as well as some welcome surprises and sour snubs.

HBO’s widely popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones earned a whopping 23 nominations, leading the pack by a narrow margin; FX’s The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (22 nods) and Fargo (18), as well as HBO comedy Veep (17) aren’t trailing far behind.

The following series vie for Best Drama: The Americans (!), Better Call SaulDownton AbbeyGame of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, and Mr. Robot. That’s right–FX Cold War period drama The Americans, after four seasons on the air, is finally being recognized, and in more ways than one. In addition to landing in the Best Drama field, its stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are in the race for Best Lead Actor/Actress. Both are facing some serious competition. Rhys joins Kyle Chandler (Bloodline), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) in the Best Lead Actor category; Russell makes good company with Claire Danes (Homeland), Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), Taraji P Henson (Empire), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black, for the second consecutive year!), and Robin Wright (House of Cards).

The following series are in contention for Best Comedy: black-ish, Master of None, Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Veep. Best Lead Actors include Anthony Anderson (black-ish), Aziz Ansari (Masters of None), Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth), William H Macy (Shameless), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent). Best Lead Actresses include Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Laurie Metcalfe (Getting On), Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish), Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie).

Over in the Limited Series field, American Crime, Fargo, The Night Manager, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, and Roots were all nominated for a top prize. Yes, many of the OJ actors you loved watching in that series were nominated for their captivating portrayals including Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, Cuba Gooding Jr, Sterling K. Brown, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta. Equally happy to report that AMC’s The Night Manager high praise also extends to its leads Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.

The snubs that leave a sour taste in my mouth including the complete shunning of HBO’s The Leftovers, which came off an incredibly artistic and gripping second season featuring master-class acting and direction; the lack of love for A&E’s Bates Motel is appalling as leads Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore gave painstakingly breathtaking performances this year; also nada for Netflix/Marvel’s Jessica Jones and its stars Krysten Ritter and David Tennant, AMC’s Billions and its stars Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis, and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black which is fresh off another solid season. And then, of course, there’s the yearly tradition of scratching one’s head over the lack of overall recognition for AMC’s The Walking Dead which year after year produces not only ratings gold but also creative powerhouse television. What makes all of these snubs somewhat more palatable is knowing that Louie Anderson squeezed into the race with a wholly deserved nod for his hysterical and nuanced turn as Zach Galifianakis’ mother in FX’s Baskets.

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards airs live Sunday, September 18 at 7pm (EST) on ABC. Click here for the full list of nominees.

Summertime renewals: ‘Preacher’ & ‘Bloodline’ will return

AMC’s Preacher premiered in late May, just as the traditional TV season winded down, and it quickly proved to be wildly entertaining summer fare. Producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, along with Breaking Bad producer Sam Catlin, took the popular comic book series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon and adapted it for the small screen without missing a beat. The darkly comedic drama twists the supernatural genre on its head, weaving a wild tale about good vs. evil featuring a talented cast of misfits including Dominic Cooper’s entitiy-empowered Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga’s bad-ass Tulip, Joseph Gilgun’s hysterical portrayal of an Irish vampire named Cassidy. The already mythos-heavy story will continue when an expanded 13-episode second season arrives next year. Preacher currently airs Sunday nights at 9pm on AMC.

“‘Preacher’ is a special television program and we’re eager to share with fans the rest of this wild first season and, now, an expanded second season,” said AMC head Charlie Collier. “What Sam, Seth, Evan and the entire creative team have achieved in bringing Garth Ennis’ graphic novel to the screen is extraordinary. We look forward to more time with these unforgettable characters be it in Heaven, Hell, Texas or beyond.”

Netflix’s Bloodline is an interesting beast. In its debut season, the dark family drama told an incredibly compelling story about what happens when lies and deception bubble to the surface amidst a tight-knit family. It utilized tantalizing voice-overs and layered flashbacks to uncover the mysteries hiding behind all-too-believable characters embodied by an all-star cast including Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, and Sissy Spacek. By the end of the season–spoiler alert–Mendelsohn’s scene-stealing Danny Rayburn perished and I wasn’t so sure the show could go on without his menacing presence. Season 2 picks up right where things left off, and Danny does return in flashbacks (as expected), and perhaps more surprisingly he haunts the Rayburns in the present when his son, Nolan, crashes on the scene. The second run worked, sure, but I did not find it to be as compellingly stirring and engaging as before. Without Danny as a living, breathing antagonist to the rest of the Rayburn family, I felt the plot to be meandering and lost at times. Even still, the Rayburns without Danny are still an interesting bunch to follow, and with that said, there’s apparently more story to tell now that Netflix has officially greenlit a third season.

“Todd [Kessler], Daniel [Zelman], and Glenn [Kessler] have created a riveting family saga featuring one of the most talented ensembles in the history of television,” said Cindy Holland, VP Original Content at Netflix. “We can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for the all-too-human Rayburns.”

Stick it here for more summer renewal news. READ MORE Summertime renewals: ‘Preacher’ & ‘Bloodline’ will return

What to watch this summer: ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Mr. Robot,’ ‘You’re the Worst’ & more

School’s out and to celebrate this fine occasion, I’ll be recommending a handful of quality TV shows to keep you busy in front of the boob tube over the long, dog days of summer. The months of June, July, and August play host to many of your favorite returning series including Orange is the New BlackMr. Robot, and You’re the Worst. Haven’t heard of them? Stop playing neighbors with Patrick Star and get with the programs! Release dates, times, and trailers are posted after the break. READ MORE What to watch this summer: ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Mr. Robot,’ ‘You’re the Worst’ & more

TV items: ‘Nashville’ picked up by CMT, ‘Orphan Black’ renewed for final season & ‘Curb’ returns

When ABC decided to cancel Nashville after four seasons, I was a bit distraught. The season four finale did wrap up most of the dangling threads and everyone pretty much had their happy ending, except for Juliette Barnes, of course, whose cliffhanger involved her jet going missing. A part of me thinks I could have gone on just fine if that was the end of Nashville. Over the years, the country music drama weaved in and out of being a soapy mess. The series, at its best, focused on the music and the trails and tribulations of making it in the music industry. At its worst, it focused on completely unrelated dramatic twists including Juliette going haywire with postpartum depression and, most recently, Rayna James’ eldest daughter emancipating herself from the family. Soap operas can have fun with drama like this, but when it starts to completely deviate from the soul of the series, that’s when viewers (like me, at least) begin to lose interest.

And yet, that feeling of being distraught wouldn’t budge and the reason is simple, really. A Nashville fan from the beginning, I wadded through the creative ups and downs, knowing I’d eventually reach the series’ natural conclusion. Though most characters did get their happy ending, it was clear that the season finale was not constructed to serve as a series finale. Its various relationships are important to the plot, including Rayna and Deacon and Scarlet and Gunnar finally embracing their inevitable soul mate statuses with each other. But here’s the thing: Nashville can’t end without celebrating the music that makes it so special. I went into this show with a public disregard of country music; simply wasn’t a fan. Nashville managed to convert me, so much so that I went to see the actors perform music from the show live at one of Nashville‘s popular tour stops. The show couldn’t just end without a proper goodbye, and that includes unforgettable music performances that hopefully harken back to season 1’s gems including but not limited to those touching duets by Scarlet and Gunnar.

This brings us to the exciting news at hand: CMT has picked up Nashville for a fifth season, and studio Lionsgate TV intends to produce additional seasons of the show “for years to come.” The renewal also includes a deal with Hulu; the streaming service will air new episodes of Nashville the day after they air on cable. Season 5 will be led by new showrunners, Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, and the plan is to pump out a full 22-episode season (as opposed to the 10-13 most cable networks do these days). Nashville lives on, and for someone who has invested four seasons of time with these characters and their stories, this is music to my ears.

Jump after the break to get the scoop on Orphan Black and Curb Your Enthusiasm. READ MORE TV items: ‘Nashville’ picked up by CMT, ‘Orphan Black’ renewed for final season & ‘Curb’ returns

Upfronts: Preview The CW’s fall schedule including ‘Supergirl’ & one-hour romantic comedy

The CW, CBS’ sister network, is the little network that could, sustaining itself mostly with superheroes and vampires over the years and more recently with critically acclaimed comedies. For the upcoming 2016-17 TV season, the green-hued net has 3 new dramas and 1 new comedy entering the fray, so let’s take a look.

This fall, Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW where it will join producer Greg Berlanti’s crop of DC-based superhero shows including ArrowThe Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. CW head Mark Pedowitz promises the “biggest [crossover event]” is in the works. Supergirl will continue on in its Monday-at-8 timeslot followed by Jane the Virgin. On Tuesday, The Flash will open for new hour-long romantic comedy No Tomorrow and on Wednesday, Arrow will aim to attract viewers to new drama Frequency, an adaptation of the 2000 science fiction thriller. Thursday pairs the hot Legends of Tomorrow with veteran Supernatural (which is entering its 12th season!), and Friday sees The Vampire Diaries joined with the low rated but critically touted Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is relocating from Monday.

The single new series being held for midseason on The CW is Riverdale, a live action drama based on the characters from Archie Comics, also produced by Greg Berlanti. For fans of The OriginalsReigniZombie, and The 100, fear not; though they are all being benched in the fall, they will return sometime later in the season.

Jump after the break to view the full fall schedule and preview The CW’s new fall and midseason series with video clips and descriptions. READ MORE Upfronts: Preview The CW’s fall schedule including ‘Supergirl’ & one-hour romantic comedy

Upfronts: Preview CBS’ fall schedule including Kevin James, Matt LeBlanc & Joel McHale sitcoms

CBS is the last of the Big Four Networks to present its fall schedule and preview its new series slate. In all, The Eye has 5 new dramas and 3 new comedies coming soon, and of the 8 new programs, six are ready to go come fall.

ABC’s new entertainment president Channing Dungey doubled down on single-cam sitcoms, and CBS’ newly appointed entertainment head Glenn Geller is following suit by also injecting two weeknights with two-hour comedy blocks. The Big Bang Theory, the most-watched comedy on TV, will anchor Mondays in September and provide a solid lead in for the new Kevin James (King of Queens) multi-cam sitcom Kevin Can Wait2 Broke Girls and The Odd Couple will follow, and returning procedural Scorpion will close the night at 10. When Thursday Night Football concludes in late October, Kevin Can Wait will move into the 8pm slot and it will be paired with another new stay-at-home dad sitcom, Man with a Plan, toplined by Matt LeBlanc (Friends). New legal drama Bull, inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil and starring Michael Weatherly (NCIS), gets sandwiched between NCIS and offshoot NCIS: New Orleans on Tuesday. Wednesday is home to SurvivorCriminal Minds, and, Code Black. In late October, Big Bang will anchor another night, Thursday, and help draw eyeballs to Joel McHale’s (Community) fresh laugher, The Great Indoors. Returning sitcoms Mom and Life in Pieces complete this second two-hour comedy block on the Eye’s schedule, and new hospital-set drama Pure Genius bookends the night at 10. Friday will open with a modernized version of MacGyver and it will lead into returning crime procedurals Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods. With The Good Wife over, Sunday’s lineup now looks like this: NCIS: LAMadam SecretaryElementary.

New series being held for midseason include dramas Training Day–starring Bill Paxton and based on the film but taking place 15 years after it–and Doubt, a legal procedural and Katherine Heigl’s (Grey’s Anatomy) return to network TV (Orange is the New Black‘s Laverne Cox co-stars).

Jump after the break to view the full fall schedule and preview CBS’ new fall and midseason series with video clips and descriptions. READ MORE Upfronts: Preview CBS’ fall schedule including Kevin James, Matt LeBlanc & Joel McHale sitcoms

Upfronts: Preview ABC’s fall schedule including Kiefer Sutherland as POTUS

ABC is network number three to present its new series for the upcoming 2016-17 TV season. There are 5 new dramas and 4 new comedies on deck, and of the nine new series, five will debut this fall. The upcoming season marks a changing of the guard in Alphabet city as Channing Dungey takes over for Paul Lee as the net’s new entertainment president.

In one of her first big moves as network head, Dungey cancelled a significant number of ABC’s shows including the long-running Castle and Wednesday night staple, Nashville. Leading out of Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights now and replacing Castle is a new procedural toplined by Hayley Atwell, Conviction; Atwell, ironically enough, is the former star of ABC’s now-cancelled Agent Carter. Comedy is a big deal for Dungey, and viewers should take notice. A two-hour comedy block has been added to Tuesday, and veteran The Middle is relocating there from Wednesday to serve as the opening course. It will lead into new sitcom American Housewife and the returning Fresh off the Boat and The Real O’Neals. Closing out the final hour of the evening is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., now in the 10pm hour. A second two-hour block of comedy follows on Wednesday, and the network now entrusts The Goldbergs to kickstart the funny. It will open the night for another new sitcom, Speechless, which is followed by vet Modern Family and breakout hit black-ish. Taking over Nashville‘s Wednesdays-at-10 vacancy is new political drama Designated Survivor with Kiefer Sutherland (24). This fall, “TGIT” takes a backseat since Scandal is being held until midseason (likely because star Kerry Washington is pregnant with her second child). Sandwiched between Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder is new legal drama Notorious (and no, it is not executive produced by Shonda Rhimeshence the halting of TGIT). But fear not–TGIT will return in midseason when both Scandal and another Shonda show The Catch return to the schedule. Friday remains dominated by ABC’s single-cam sitcoms Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken, and Sunday looks familiar with Once Upon A TimeSecrets and Lies (finally returning for its second season), and Quantico.

New series being held for midseason include another Shondaland show, Still Star-Crossed, the third time-travel series to come out of this year’s upfronts, Time After Time (following NBC’s Timeless and FOX’s Making History), and sitcoms Downward Dog and Imaginary Mary (for former including a talking dog, and the latter a completely animated character). Mary is the second live-action/CGI hybrid to debut this week, following FOX’s Son of Zorn. Special event programming include a David Blaine magic special, Ali: The Champion, a special honoring boxer Muhammad Ali, limited series When We Rise, and a three-hour filmed musical event, Dirty Dancing.

Jump after the break to view the full fall schedule and preview ABC’s new fall and midseason series with video clips and descriptions. READ MORE Upfronts: Preview ABC’s fall schedule including Kiefer Sutherland as POTUS

Upfronts: Preview FOX’s fall and midseason schedules, including new ’24’ & ‘Prison Break’

FOX followed NBC out of the gate in presenting its next programming slate for the 2016-17 TV season. In total, the now American Idol-less network is showcasing 8 new dramas, 3 new comedies, 2 new reality series, and a live musical. Of the 13 new shows, four will premiere this fall and the remainders will air in midseason or later. Sound familiar? NBC is playing up stability in the fall, too, debuting only three new series early on and saving the rest for next year. Unlike the other networks, however, FOX shares its fall and midseason schedules at the Upfronts, so we have a clearer picture here as to when benched series will see the light of day.

This fall, FOX’s schedule is unmistakable. Gotham and Lucifer open Monday. Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl provide a comedic launchpad for Ryan Murphy’s fun horror fest Scream Queens on Tuesday. On Wednesday, new drama Lethal Weapon is paired with broadcast juggernaut Empire. Thursday sees crime procedural Rosewood leading into the final season of Bones. Another new drama based on a popular film franchise, The Exorcist, gets the Friday-at-9 slot following Hell’s Kitchen, where it will go head-to-head with NBC’s Friday night genre fare, Grimm. Animation Domination Sunday includes the return of Bob’s BurgersThe SimpsonsFamily Guy, and at 8:30 a new half-hour sitcom, Son of Zorn, which is an eccentric live action/animated hybrid from Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Last Man on Earth). A live presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) and Victoria Justice (Victorious), will air sometime in October, just in time for Halloween.

Perhaps the most anticipated new series next season, the exciting return of 24 and Prison Break, are being saved for midseason premieres. In 24: Legacy, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer is out and The Walking Dead‘s Corey Hawkins is in as the new lead. Typically FOX announces midseason premieres as we get closer to winter, but the new 24 is a special case because it has snagged the coveted post-Super Bowl slot; it will premiere Sunday, Feb. 5 immediately following the big game, and then it will fall into its regular Monday-at-8 timeslot the day after. The next chapter in Prison Break is being billed as a six-episode event series and it will air Thursdays-at-9 leading out of Rosewood come early 2017; the entire gang is back and it looks incredible. Other new series being held for midseason include dramas APB with Justin Kirk (Tyrant), MLB-backed Pitch from EP Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love), racially charged Shots Fired, and Lee Daniels’ Star, plus comedies The Mick with Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny) and fun time-traveller Making History with Adam Pally (Happy Endings). Reality series Kicking and Screaming and My Kitchen Rules come later, too. And for all your Sleepyheads out there, Sleepy Hollow will return to Friday next year.

Update (5/20): FOX has made some tweaks to its upcoming schedules, just days after announcing them at the Upfronts. Baseball drama Pitch will now premiere in the fall (alongside the new MLB season, so that makes sense), and this pushes Bones to winter. And that, in turn, pushes Prison Break to spring, when it will air on Tuesday instead of Thursday. Got it? Good. The fall and midseason schedules below have been updated to reflect these changes.

Jump after the break to view the full fall schedule and preview FOX’s new fall and midseason series with video clips and descriptions. READ MORE Upfronts: Preview FOX’s fall and midseason schedules, including new ’24’ & ‘Prison Break’