Fall TV Preview: MARRY ME

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Starring: Casey Wilson (“Happy Endings”), Ken Marino (“Children’s Hospital”), Sarah Wright (“Parks and Recreation”), John Gemberling (“Broad City”), Tymberlee Hill (“The Hot Wives of Orlando”), Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”), Dan Bucatinsky (“Scandal”) and JoBeth Williams (“Hart of Dixie”)

Genre: Single-camera comedy

Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 14, 9:00 p.m., NBC

Direct Competition: “NCIS: New Orleans” (CBS), “New Girl” (Fox), “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC), “Supernatural” (CW)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): Jake and Annie are meant to be, or so they think, before each of their marriage proposals go south.

Initial Reaction: “Happy Endings” was ah-mah-zing, and Casey Wilson and Ken Marino are never not funny, so what’s wrong with “Marry Me?” Well, outside of the actors portraying its central duo, just about everything else. [Read more...]

Fall TV Preview: JANE THE VIRGIN

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Starring: Gina Rodriguez (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Justin Baldoni (“Everwood”), Brett Dier (“Ravenswood”), Andrea Navedo (“How to Make It in America”), Yael Grobglas (“Reign”), Ivonne Coll (“Teen Wolf”) and Jaime Camil (“Devious Maids”)

Genre: One-hour comedy

Premiere Date: Monday, October 13, 9 p.m., The CW

Direct Competition: “Scorpion” (CBS), “The Voice” (NBC), “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox), “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): This American telenovela tells the tale of Jane, a twenty-something who finds out that she’s been artificially inseminated by mistake.

Initial Reaction: And the award for new fall program I wouldn’t have expected to include in my top five goes to… “Jane the Virgin!” [Read more...]

Review: CRISTELA

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‘Cristela’ Doesn’t Have to Be Old-Fashioned to Appeal as a Throwback

Sitcoms built around stand-up comedians ruled the late ’80s and early ’90s, with some of television’s best-ever programs stemming from the trend, such as “Roseanne” and “Seinfeld.”

This fall, the trend is back in play.

Former “Saturday Night Live” scribe John Mulaney stars in Fox’s newest sitcom, “Mulaney,” while Cristela Alonzo stars in “Cristela,” premiering tonight on ABC. The Alphabet Network’s latest attempt at a multi-cam shows promise, but it fails whenever it veers towards the past and returns with antiquated punch lines. [Read more...]

Fall TV Preview: THE FLASH

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Starring: Grant Gustin (“Arrow”), Candice Patton (“The Game”), Jesse L. Martin (“Law & Order”), Rick Cosnett (“The Vampire Diaries”), Danielle Panabaker (“Justified”), Carlos Valdes (“Arrow”) and Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”)

Genre: One-hour drama

Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 7, 8 p.m., The CW

Direct Competition: “NCIS” (CBS), “The Voice” (NBC), “Utopia” (Fox), “Selfie”/”Manhattan Love Story” (ABC)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): A book smart twenty-something is struck by lightning, which grants him the supernatural ability to run faster than the speed of light.

Initial Response: Of all of this year’s new comic-based programs, “The Flash” is most sure of what it wants to be.

Conclusion: “Gotham” takes itself too seriously, and “Constantine” isn’t strong enough to come off as slick as it does. Unlike those programs, “The Flash’s” identity appears fully realized from the get-go. This is a superhero drama that’s light on its feet and often humorous. It doesn’t need to be anything more than that to be a decent show, and an asset for the CW. There’s a wildly talented cast at play, including a capable leading man in Gustin, and appealing supporting players in Cavanagh, Martin and Panabaker, but the show feels like it’s being made for a super-specific, teenaged audience. It’s an amusing pilot, and among this year’s better hour-longs, but it’s not for me.

Side note: Valdes’ character wears two different “Big Bang Theory” t-shirts in just the pilot. Three cheers for corporate synergy?

Watch Live, DVR or Skip?: Watch live if you’re already a fan of “Arrow,” or if you just happen to be a sucker for anything related to comic books. Unless you’re a fan of standard CBS fare, or tired reality show competitions, there’s no better option Tuesdays at 8.

Fall TV Preview: A TO Z

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Starring: Cristin Milioti (“How I Met Your Mother”), Ben Feldman (“Mad Men”), Lenora Crichlow (“Back in the Game”), Christina Kirk (“Girls”), Henry Zebrowski (“Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”) and Katey Sagal (“Sons of Anarchy”)

Genre: Single-camera comedy

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 2, 9:30 p.m., NBC

Direct Competition: Thursday Night Football/”The McCarthys” (CBS), “Gracepoint” (Fox), “Scandal” (ABC), “Reign” (CW)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): It’s love at first sight for Andrew and Zelda. It’s “How I Met Your Mother,” except it’s not.

Initial Reaction: This is your typical romantic comedy, but a good one at that!

Conclusion: The comparisons to ‘HIMYM’ are inevitable. Andrew is a romantic at heart (“Classic Schmosby”), while Zelda starts off afraid of commitment, which is directly tied to her parents (á la Robin Scherbatsky). Sagal also steps in for Bob Saget as the omniscient narrator. The thing is, that’s okay. There was a point in time when ‘HIMYM’ wasn’t frowned upon, and those early years aren’t any less fantastic despite what became of the show in its later seasons. Milioti was the best part of season nine, which made it utterly difficult to accept the route taken by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays to close their show. She’s every bit as delightful in “A to Z.”

I’ll be damned if you come across a more charming new program this fall. The chemistry between Milioti and Feldman is instantaneous, and it’s a joy to watch them in scenes together. Crichlow, one of the bright spots of last season’s “Back in the Game,” is utilized even better here as the gullible best friend to Zelda, while Zebrowski does a good job playing what could have been an obnoxious role with the right amount of restraint.

“A to Z” has a tough road ahead if it wants to survive the fall. It’ll premiere against Thursday night football and “Scandal,” with the latter being its most difficult obstacle for female viewership. “The McCarthys” and “Gracepoint” seem like non-threats.

Unlike other fall comedies, “A to Z” actually made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. And with it set to lead into “Parenthood,” it’s guaranteed a spot on my already hectic Thursday night viewing schedule. I look forward to following Andrew and Zelda’s love story for however long it lasts.

Watch Live, DVR, or Skip?: Watch this one. Please.

Fall TV Preview: STALKER

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Starring: Maggiq Q (“Nikita”), Dylan McDermott (“Hostages”), Victor Rasuk (“How to Make It in America”) and Mariana Klaveno (“True Blood”)

Genre: One-hour drama

Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 1, 10 p.m., CBS (Global in Canada)

Direct Competition: “Chicago P.D.” (NBC), “Nashville” (ABC)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): Nikita and Derbel McDillet solve icky harassment crimes. [Read more...]

Fall TV Preview: MANHATTAN LOVE STORY

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Starring: Analeigh Tipton (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”), Jake McDorman (“Shameless”), Nicolas Wright (“White House Down”), Jade Catta-Preta (“Californication”) and Kurt Fuller (“Better with You”).

Genre: Single-camera comedy

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 30, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Direct Competition: “NCIS” (CBS), “The Voice” (NBC), “Utopia” (Fox), “The Flash” (CW)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): A misogynist (McDorman) and a cliché (Tipton) fall for each other after a series of unfortunate events.

Initial Reaction: The overuse of voiceover is glaringly obvious in the wake of an underdeveloped script.

Conclusion: Analeigh Tipton was so charming in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” so what’s the excuse for her blandness in “Manhattan Love Story?” I don’t blame her, though. I also don’t blame Bret Harrison lookalike, Jake McDorman, for his equally bland performance. The show’s central duo has very little to work with, and the cold open (he’s strolling down the streets of New York rating women, while she’s strolling down the streets of New York rating handbags) is primitive of what I’m talking about. He’s a misogynist. She’s a cliché. To add to the romantic comedy cliché of it all, she’s a starry-eyed twenty-something overwhelmed by her move to the Big Apple.

The characters in “Manhattan Love Story” are remarkably one-dimensional. Perhaps if the pilot spent more time letting us get to know them, and less time listening to their voiceovers, we’d sympathize with either one of them when the pilot wants us to be sympathetic. To make matters even worse, Tipton’s best friend couple/roommates are just awful, awful people. Gosh, just, terrible people.

If I liked these characters, or cared for them in any way, then I’d give this show a few weeks to find its sea legs, but by the end of it, I liked them even less. For the sake of everyone involved, I hope a second version of the “Manhattan Love Story” pilot comes about that reduces the use of voiceover and adds new scenes to help develop its central duo. The supporting characters need a total rewrite.

Watch Live, DVR or Skip?: Skip this and re-watch “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” instead.

Fall TV Preview: SELFIE

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Starring: Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”), John Cho (“Star Trek,” “Harold and Kumar”), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Angriest Man in Brooklyn”), Allyn Rachel (“Weeds”) and David Harewood (“Homeland”).

Genre: Single-camera comedy

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 30, 8 p.m., ABC

Direct Competition: “NCIS” (CBS), “The Voice” (NBC), “Utopia” (Fox), “The Flash” (CW)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): A social media celebrity has a #FirstWorldProblem, makes John Cho suffer her bulls–t. [Read more...]

Fall TV Preview: HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

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Starring: Viola Davis (“The Help”), Billy Brown (“Sons of Anarchy”), Alfred Enoch (“Harry Potter”), Jack Falahee (“Twisted”), Katie Findlay (“The Carrie Diaries”), Aja Naomi King (“Black Man”), Matt McGorry (“Orange is the New Black”), Karla Souza, Charlie Weber (“90210?) and Liza Weil (“Bunheads”)

Genre: One-hour drama

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 25, 10 p.m., ABC (CTV in Canada)

Direct Competition: Thursday Night Football (September-October) / “Elementary” (October 30-) (CBS), “Parenthood” (NBC)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): A law professor teaches a group of promising students how to play dirty to ensure the law stays on their side. [Read more...]

Fall TV Preview: black-ish

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Starring: Anthony Anderson (“Guys with Kids”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Girlfriends”), Laurence Fishburne (“Hannibal”), Yara Shahidi (“Scandal”), Marcus Scribner (“Wendell & Vinnie”), Miles Brown (“Shameless”) and Marsai Martin.

Genre: Single-camera comedy

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 24, 9:30 p.m., ABC

Direct Competition: “Criminal Minds” (CBS), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC), “Red Band Society” (Fox), “The 100? (CW)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): Andre (Anderson) is on a mission to ensure his family identifies with their race and culture. Hilarity ensues? [Read more...]