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Fall 2014 television season already prevailing over that of 2013

by Hannah Benson, ’15

After last year’s dismal television season (only 13 out of the 47 shows introduced by major networks in 2013 will be returning), hopes are high for this season’s fall premieres. One of the most hyped shows is FOX’s Batman prequel, Gotham, which aired for the first time on Sept. 22. Surprisingly, the series follows everyone in the city of Gotham but Bruce Wayne, who is dealing with the immediate aftermath of his parents’ death. The show is beautifully filmed but stuffed with obscure, unnecessary references to the original Batman comics. Jada Pinkett Smith’s character unironically says things like “Who’s this cool glass of milk?”

FOX’s sitcom New Girl was once lauded as the funniest show on TV–then it was bogged down by a number of questionable plot decisions (adding a new roommate, splitting up the show’s main couple, rendering one character a reclusive cat-owner after an off screen breakup). With its fourth season, the show is attempting to return to its routes with inconsequential storylines about Zooey Deschanel’s Jess and her quirky roommates.

Showtime’s The Affair, set to premiere on Oct. 12, has received wild critical acclaim. It starts in a familiar place––rich white people on a seemingly never-ending beach vacation––but uses unconventional storytelling to hurtle away from overdone themes.

ABC’s newest sitcom Black-Ish follows the father of an upper-middle-class black family who worries his children have lost touch with their heritage. The show is witty and sympathetic. Unfortunately, most viewers have given up on ABC after last year’s bombs (think Lucky Seven, Killer Women and Mind Games.)

A new mystery series starring Viola Davis, however, may bring positive attention back to the network. How to Get Away With Murder premiered to 14 million viewers on Sept. 25. It follows a professor at a prestigious Philadelphia university who, along with a group of her best students, becomes entangled in a murder plot.

CBS’ new action drama Scorpion opened on Sept. 22 in the coveted post-Big Bang Theory time slot. Loosely based on the life of computer expert Walter O’Brien, the show chronicles the adventures of a group of eccentric geniuses who come together to solve global issues. With a 48 out of 100 on review compilation website Metacritic, the future for this series is looking grim.

One sophomore show poised to become a breakout hit is FOX’s Golden Globe-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Starring Andy Samberg as a talented but childlike detective and Andre Braugher as the precinct’s stony new captain, attracted hordes of devoted fans due to its rare non-cynical approach and diverse ensemble cast.

The series that FOX has been plugging the hardest, however, is Red Band Society, which premiered on Sept. 17. The series is based off of a Spanish show, although it may come across as an attempt to cash in on the success of The Fault In Our Stars. Some advertising for the series has sparked controversy––most notably posters that refer to Octavia Spencer’s character as “Scary Bitch”––and the messages are subtle as earthquakes, but it’s refreshing to find a show that doesn’t rely on shock value to drive the plot.

Mulaney, a new FOX sitcom starring a fictionalized version of comedian John Mulaney, is replacing American Dad. The Seinfeld comparisons are inevitable: the main cast dwells in New York City; the show is presented to a live studio audience; each episode is peppered with footage of Mulaney performing stand-up comedy.

The 2014 television season seems to be introducing more potential hits than the 2013 season.

Image caption: From left to right: Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson and Hannah Simone pose in character for New Girl promotional photos. After the addition of a new roommate, the makeover of two more and the breakup of the series’ main couple, many believe the series has plummeted downhill.

Image courtesy of Series Addict