Here Comes Fall TV

2011 Edition

by Michael Landweber

17 August 2011


The new TV season is fast approaching. This year, the networks collectively have tapped a whopping 46 new series for the fall and midseason: 25 dramas, 17 comedies, and four reality shows. Most of them will fail. Some may never air. Regardless of what any network executive might whisper sweetly in an advertiser’s ear, no one knows which will catch the imagination of the viewing public.

This year’s new shows include fewer straight up procedurals about cops, doctors, and lawyers than usual. And only a few comedies involving young people cohabitating in urban environments. Instead, we’re looking at multiple high concepts.

With that in mind, and nothing to go on but the network’s misleading blurbs and trailers, here are all the new shows ranked in the order that I’ll consider watching them. 



Set Your DVR for a Season Pass Now


Terra Nova (Fox, drama, Sept. 26)
Don’t pay attention to the troubled production rumors. It’s Steven Spielberg, dinosaurs, and time travel. We’ve destroyed the world in the future, so we need to go back to the Paleolithic past and reboot humanity. If this isn’t awesome, something has gone horribly wrong. 



The Show They’ll Cancel After One Season, Leaving Viewers With No Closure


The River (ABC, drama, midseason)
Winner of the most intriguing premise with the least descriptive name. A TV personality goes missing on a wildlife expedition in the Amazon, and his family goes to find him after his beacon mysteriously sends a signal. Hints of supernatural shenanigans abound. Hopefully, this isn’t the latest in a long line of serialized shows trying to be Lost, starting fast, fading in the middle, and getting cancelled. But don’t despair: it’s another one from Spielberg, this time with an assist from the guy who made Paranormal Activity, which suggests some scary thoughtful fun. 



Let’s Hope This Show Hasn’t Been Fucked Up by a Studio Executive


Awake (NBC, drama, midseason)
Holy Sliding Doors, Batman. A man wakes up from a terrible accident to discover his wife is dead and his son is alive. But when he goes to sleep, he wakes up in an alternate universe where his wife is alive and his son is dead. He’s also a cop who solves crimes in both worlds with different partners. It sounds like some idiot from the studio needed an emotional hook because the science fiction premise was “too smart.” Let’s hope that’s not the case. 



You Know You’re Going to Watch It, So Stop Pretending You Won’t

The X Factor (Fox, reality, Sept. 21)
I don’t want to hear it. You all watch American Idol and you’ll watch this too. For a bit anyway. It does kind of feel like tuning in for Evel Knievel’s comeback jump over Snake Canyon. But the possibility of a Simon Cowell crash and burn (combined with a Paula Abdul meltdown) makes for more interesting viewing than your average singing show. 


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