(Editor’s note: This is the first blog in our Fall Preview series that highlights the good, the bad, and the brilliant in the upcoming 2014 Fall television season. All four major networks, as well as the CW and the cable networks will be featured throughout the series. Click the links to view previews of these upcoming shows.)
Welcome to the 19th edition of the Harmelin Media Report’s new TV season review.
This past 2013-14 season, the networks renewed more shows than the prior year: 13 of the 28 new shows were renewed for the upcoming season compared to 10 from the 2012-2013 season. This fall season, the networks will premiere 23 new shows (12 dramas, 10 comedies and one reality show), down from 28 last year. However, 24 shows are waiting in the wings as mid-season replacements if needed.
The critical acclaim and ratings success of crime- and government-based cable dramas such as Showtime’s Homeland, FX’s The Americans and HBO’s True Detective have had considerable influence on some of this year’s network offerings. NBC’s State of Affairs stars Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy, Knocked Up) as a CIA agent working closely with the President, NBC’s mid-season replacement Allegiance focuses on two former Russian spies, and ABC’s new mid-season series American Crime tackles race, class and gender politics as it follows a racially-charged murder, starring Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives, Sports Night) and Timothy Hutton (Leverage, Ordinary People).
Star power can be enough to carry a show, but it is not a guarantee. Unfortunately, for Michael J. Fox, Robin Williams, Sean Hayes, and Dylan McDermott, this was the case – their shows last season did not garner enough appeal for renewals. This year’s cast of stars includes Debra Messing (Smash, Will & Grace) in NBC’s The Mysteries of Laura as a police detective trying to manage her job and two young children; Kate Walsh (Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy) in NBC’s Bad Judge, a comedy about an unconventional judge; and Téa Leoni (Fun with Dick and Jane, Jurassic Park III) in CBS’ Madam Secretary as a recently appointed Secretary of State. Dylan McDermott will return to CBS in police drama Stalker about a pair of LAPD detectives. Academy Award nominee Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) stars in How to Get Away with Murder from executive producer Shonda Rhimes. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (The Help, Fruitvale Station) costars in Fox’s Red Band Society, a coming of age drama about a group of teens set in a hospital. Several high profile names will power the networks’ mid-season replacements including Terrence Howard (Prisoners, Hustle & Flow) in Fox’s Empire as a music mogul running his family’s hip-hop record label. CBS’ new police drama Battle Creek, set in the city of the same name, stars Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Las Vegas). Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis co-star in ABC’s murder mystery Secrets & Lies.
Comic book and superhero inspirations continue their successful trend including Fox’s
highly-anticipated Gotham, starring Ben McKenzie (Southland, The OC) as Detective Gordon, Batman’s crime-fighting comrade. The Flash, a character that appeared in CW’s The Arrow, will be spun off into its own series. ABC will expand its Marvel series by adding Marvel’s Agent Carter for midseason to the existing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. NBC’s entry into this category is DC Comics’ Constantine, which will follow the fantasy drama Grimm on Friday night.
There are comedies on the block as well. ABC has a family comedy called Black-ish starring Anthony Anderson (Law & Order, The Shield) which will lead out of Modern Family. ABC will also introduce two comedies on Tuesday at 8PM – Selfie and Manhattan Love Story. NBC will pair the returning About a Boy with Marry Me on Tuesday at 9PM. NBC’s Thursday comedy block, now only one hour, will feature two new entries, Bad Judge and romantic comedy A to Z. The McCarthys will follow the final season of CBS’ Two and a Half Men. Mulaney will run after Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy, which is the only one of his shows to remain on Fox’s schedule.
This upcoming season’s network programming is set to deliver an extensive variety of offerings which will be essential for the networks to stay competitive. We hope you enjoy this issue with our previews of the programs scheduled for the upcoming television season.