From The Good Place to Designated Survivor, here are fall's must-watch TV shows
“Fall is here
TV shows are here
To make our break-time woes...
At the risk of offending Chuck Mangione (who probably won’t be as pleased with the above lyrics set to his instrumental piece as much as he might’ve enjoyed the 'Morning’s Here' rendition from an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S), let’s all agree that September is a great time to be a TV show nerd! It’s been three months since the Game of Thrones season finale aired, we’ve caught up on all our favourite summer shows (Mr Robot, Baby Daddy, American Ninja Warrior, OJ: Made in America, Suits, The Night Of), binge-watched season four of Orange Is The New Black, and discovered a new gem and our latest obsession: Stranger Things. This is good, the couch seat is warm and we’re settled into it: bring on the fall line-up of TV shows! Comedy, drama, dramedies, miniseries, we’re in it for the long haul now. Or, well, at least for the next 8-10 months! So what do we have to look forward to this season?
Must-watch new show: Comedy
The Good Place
Anyone who enjoyed Parks and Recreation (and who didn’t! It was awesome!) must watch this show. From the creator of Parks, and Brooklyn Nine Nine (Michael Schur) comes this insanely delightful and thought-provoking comedy about life in the, well, afterlife. Kristen Bell (forever Veronica Mars to geeks, and the voice of the iconic Disney character Princess Anna from Frozen, to the less initiated) plays Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who dies and wakes up in the pretty-but-sterile afterlife to realise she’s one of the lucky ones who’re in “the good place”: where you have palatial homes, lots of frozen yoghurt, automatic translation when someone speaks to you in a foreign language you don’t understand, and where swear words are converted to “nice” words when you utter them (“fork”, “bullshirt”...you get the gist).
Eleanor is given a guided tour by the architect of the good place Michael (played by TV legend Ted Danson), who explains that everyone in the good place has earned the kind of points required to be there (including Eleanor, who’s there because of her tireless work as a lawyer getting innocent people off death row). You earn positive and negative points for every action you commit on Earth: -731.26 points for sexually harassing someone, and a whopping -433115.25 points for committing genocide; on the other hand, ending slavery is worth a cool +814292.09 points! Sure, eating vegan will get you +425.94, but never discussing your veganism unprompted is worth much more at +9875.37 points. The show gives us a first look at this freeze-frame worthy assortment of points a few minutes into the first episode (episodes are called “chapters”, as if you’re reading a particularly quirky book).
Eleanor is shown her new home (which is surprisingly small and strangely decorated with pictures of clowns), and meets her “soulmate” Chidi (who’s a Senegalese ethics professor, played by a hilariously deadpan William Jackson Harper). All of this is great until Eleanor realises she’s wrongfully there: she’s not the saintly defense attorney Michael thinks she is; back on Earth, she was a sales rep who peddled scam medicines to old people, and was an all-round shitty person.
She confides in Chidi; now that she has seen what the good place is like (and has heard the horrifying metal screeching/people screaming sounds from “the bad place”), Eleanor desperately wants to hold on to her spot in the undeserved yet infinitely better place. As the season unfolds, we see the effect her presence has on the good place (she’s unwittingly wreaking havoc in there — think flying shrimp and giant bugs) as well as Eleanor’s efforts to learn to be a better person. She’s the snippy outsider who’s sceptical of this new place and the true “goodness” of the people who’ve gotten there. And we can’t wait to explore it further with her!
Overall: A- (This show makes you think about ethics and objectivism humorously: what’s really 'good'?).
Acting: A+ (Bell, with her incredible delivery and inherent awesomeness, is obviously the perfect person to play this role. Danson and Harper are both great as well).
Comic quotient: A+ (You’ll be freezing the screen and rewinding multiple times to catch a sight gag or a joke. Hilarious!).
Also watch these new comedies:
- Atlanta: Danny Glover’s intimate inner city look at the city’s rap scene. Glover, in all his post-Community glory.
- Better Things: Co-created by Louie alum Pamela Adlon and Louie CK himself. Need we say more?
- Speechless: A self-assured and funny family sitcom about the DiMeos, with a teenage son who has cerebral palsy. Stars Minnie Driver.
Returning comedies that are totally worth your time (in order of awesomeness): Younger, Modern Family, The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Blackish, Superstore, Fresh Off The Boat.
Returning comedy that isn’t necessarily worth your time, but you’ll watch anyway: The Big Bang Theory.
Must-watch new show: Drama
Raise your hand if you watched and loved Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer on 24. Because there are too many raised hands to count, we’ll just continue on and tell you that he’s back, this time as the titular designated survivor of a bomb attack on the US Capitol during a State of the Union address that kills the President and almost the entire government, making him an unlikely President.
Sutherland plays Thomas “Tom” Kirkman (because every US President with a “posh” first name needs a more common-man nickname: hello Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt!), a former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the designated survivor. Trading guns and a leather jacket for a suit, glasses, and a stoic nature would’ve been difficult for an actor without Sutherland’s underrated acting chops, and he delivers perfectly.
There’s only been one episode so far, but it’s set it up at a pretty darn interesting stage! Also, the show skipped the pilot stage completely (that’s what you get when ABC is creating a show with Kiefer “24” Sutherland), and was ordered straight to series. Clearly, the network that’s given us dramas such as S.W.A.T, NYPD Blue, Lost, and Desperate Housewives (as well as comic legacies such as Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Full House, and Modern Family) has enough faith in it. And we think we do too!
Overall: A (Kiefer Sutherland. Enough said!).
Acting: A (Kiefer Sutherland playing an unlikely US President. Enough said!).
Drama quotient: A (Kiefer Sutherland being made President after a bomb attack obliterates the US government. DUN DUN DUUUUN!).
Also watch these new dramas:
- Marvel’s Luke Cage: We saw him on Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Now he’s here with his solo show.
- Westworld: Directed by the younger Nolan brother, Jonathan Nolan. Based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie of the same name. About a futuristic theme park where killer robots come to life. Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.
- Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life: They’re back! It’s been nine years since we said goodbye to the Gilmores, and Netflix is playing guardian angel once again by reviving the fast-talking, pop-culture referencing mother-daughter show for a four-episode series. Everyone’s back, Stars Hollow still looks picture-book pretty, and both Amy Schumer and John Oliver have responded to Lorelai’s teaser questions. Can’t wait!
Returning dramas that are totally worth your time (in order of awesomeness): Homeland, The Walking Dead, Elementary, Scream Queens, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Flash.
Returning drama that isn’t necessarily worth your time, but you’ll watch anyway because it stars Priyanka Chopra: Quantico.
So there they are. We’ll be on our couch eating popcorn and chicken wings, if you need us!