FALL TV 2014: HYDROGEN’S VERDICT ON WHAT TO WATCH

MADAM SECRETARY (CBS)

MADAM SECRETARY (IMG: CBS)

THE RUNDOWN: Téa Leoni makes a foray into television, starring as the new White House Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord, rising to the post after a tragic and suspicious plane crash kills the previous Secretary. Think The West Wing-meets-Scandal. Tim Daly stars as her husband, Henry McCord, and the show shifts between the demands of McCord’s workload and home life, but presents a strong woman, handling them both ably. At the core of this drama is a woman you want t get to know. Politics surrounds her, and makes for its own riveting drama, but at its heart, this is a series Elizabeth McCord.

Morgan Freeman, who was looking to get into the TV game serves as an executive producer here, along with Lori McCreary and Barbara Hall who also serves as writer on the show.

PREMIERE: SUNDAY, SEPT 21, 8 P.M. ET/PT, CBS

GOTHAM (FOX)

GOTHAM (IMG: FOX)

THE RUNDOWN: FOX’s much buzzed about Gotham, a sleek, high production value, Batman prequel, takes us back to the very beginning, with the night Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed, both scarring and shaping the future of the young Bruce who will later become the Caped Crusader. But Gotham’s focus is on detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), an idealist on the fast track to being Commissioner. He is tasked with solving the Wayne murders along with partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue).

The dark visuals of Gotham are breathtaking, no doubt, probably drawing comparisons to the Batman film franchise. But surprisingly, with television as the vehicle, this iteration holds up in look, to the films, as no expense was clearly spared here. The story also holds up quite well from the outset with clever casting adding to the show’s appeal, starting with the show’s star Ben McKenzie, the scene-stealing Donal Logue, David Mazouz as a young Bruce Wayne, Jada Pinkett-Smith as the brilliantly villainous Fish Mooney and Robin Taylor who channels the Penguin.

PREMIERE: MONDAY, SEPT 22, 8/7 C, FOX

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (ABC)

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (ABC)

THE RUNDOWN: Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) brings her force-of-nature gifts of storytelling to television. Davis stars as charismatic Law Professor Annalise Keating at a prestigious Philadelphia college, gets tangled in a murder plot, along with four of her law students from her class, “How to Get Away with Murder,” that could not only change their individual lives, but shake the entire university. The highly anticipated legal nail-biter, comes from Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy executive producers, Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers. With ABC promoting it’s hot Thursday line up as TGIT (Thank God Its Thursday), you can also call it Shondaland, as all the network’s primetime shows on Thursday nights, will have Rhimes fingerprints all over them.

PREMIERE: THURSDAY, SEPT 25, 10 P.M., ABC

GRACEPOINT (FOX)

GRACEPOINT (FOX)

THE RUNDOWN: In this 10 episode miniseries, Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn and David Tennant (Dr. Who), star as detectives tasked with solving the mysterious murder of a young boy in the sleepy town of Gracepoint, unaccustomed to such events, this one affecting many lives in the close knit community where everybody knows something. Gracepoint is a remake of Chris Chibnall’s UK drama series, Broadchurch, which also starred David Tennant, this go around, taking on an American accent. Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) and Nick Nolte also star.

PREMIERE: THURSDAY, OCT.2, 9/8 C, FOX

RED BAND SOCIETY (FOX)

RED BAND SOCIETY (FOX)

THE RUNDOWN: Steven Spielberg, who has enjoyed television success with Falling Skies, brings the dramedy, Red Band Society to Fox, starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer as a no-nonsense caretaker of sick young patients in an extended care unit of a Los Angeles hospital. The series, narrated by comatose Charlie (Griffin Gluck), centers around this diverse group of kids who form intense bonds as they battle various ailments. Leo (Charlie Rowe) has lost a leg to cancer. Jordi (Nolan Sotillo) is also striken with cancer. Emma (Ciara Bravo) is anorexic and cheerleader Kara (Zoe Levin) is the resident mean girl. It is fair to assume that outside the sanitized walls of the hospital, this band of young people wouldn’t naturally come together, but in adversity, they find connection, which is at the core of Red Band Society.

PREMIERE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT.24, 9/8 C, FOX

THE AFFAIR (SHOWTIME)

THE AFFAIR (SHOWTIME)

THE RUNDOWN: The psychological effects of an affair lie at the heart of SHOWTIME’s latest drama, The Affair, starring Dominic West as Noah, a New York City school teacher and novelist, seemingly happily married, but his dependence on his father-in-law’s wealth leaves him resentful. Alison (Ruth Wilson), is a young waitress struggling to piece her fragmented life and shaky marriage back together after tragedy. The drama unravels from Noah’s and Alison’s perspectives in the Montauk, Long Island-set drama that will have people talking. Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney also star.

PREMIERE: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 10PM ET/PT, SHOWTIME

A TO Z (NBC)

A TO Z (IMG: NBC)

THE RUNDOWN: This is How I Met Your Mother meets 500 Days of Summer as Katey Segal plays narrator of the series about a couple, Andrew (Ben Feldman) and Zelda (Cristin Millioti) who will date, we are informed, for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour. For lovers of How I Met Your Mother, Cristin Millioti channels the ‘Mother’ who falls in love with HIMYM‘s protagonist.

PREMIERE: THURSDAY, OCT. 2, 9.30/8.30 C, NBC

BLACKISH (ABC)

LAURENCE FISHBURNE, TRACEE ELLIS ROSS, ANTHONY ANDERSON, EXEC. PRODUCER LARRY WILMORE AND CREATOR KENYA BARRIS (IMG: FREDERICK M. BROWN/ GETTY IMAGES)

THE RUNDOWN: More a commentary on culture than race, though the latter cannot be ignored, Anthony Anderson (Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson) and Tracee Ellis Ross (Rainbow Johnson) star in this anticipated sit-com, bringing needed diversity to primetime comedy, about an African American family raising their four kids in an affluent, mostly white neighborhood. While their kids want to fit in, and assimilate in their surroundings, Johnson desperately attempts to keep them grounded in their own heritage. That dichotomy provides plenty of fodder for laughs which come easily. Lawrence Fishburne also stars as ‘Pops’, Dre’s father.

PREMIERE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 24, 9.30/ 8.30C, ABC

JANE THE VIRGIN (CW)

JANE THE VIRGIN (CW)

THE RUNDOWN: Gina Rodriguez stars as Jane Villanueva, a religious young Latina who is saving herself for marriage. That is until the unexpected happens, and she is accidentally artificially inseminated during a routine check up and becomes pregnant. The biological donor as it turns out, is married and the new owner of the hotel where Jane works…and her former crush. And so the drama ensues in this original series set in Miami.

PREMIERE: MONDAY, OCT. 13, 9.P.M., CW

RETURNING FAVORITES…

SLEEPY HOLLOW (FOX): Monday, September 22 at 9:00 p.m. on FOX

SLEEPY HOLLOW (IMG: FOX)

SCANDAL (ABC): Thursday, September 25 at 9:00 p.m. on ABC

GREYS ANATOMY (ABC): Thursday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC

PARENTHOOD (NBC *FINAL SEASON): Thursday, September 25 at 10:00 p.m. on NBC

THE VOICE (NBC): Monday, September 22 at 8:00 p.m. on NBC

THE BLACKLIST (NBC): Monday, September 22 at 10 p.m. on NBC

NEW GIRL (FOX): Currently airing on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX

ABOUT A BOY (NBC): Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 9.30 p.m. on NBC

THE GOOD WIFE (CBS): Currently airing, Sundays, 9 p.m. on CBS

MODERN FAMILY: Wednesday, September 24 at 9:00 p.m. on ABC

MODERN FAMILY (IMG: KEVIN MAZUR/ WIREIMAGE)

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