PopMatters’ 2014 Fall TV Preview: Wednesdays

Get a taste of Fall 2014's new shows on Wednesday evenings, with a little analysis on their odds for renewal.

Wednesday nights will be tough for all of the the new series on the major networks this fall. The schedule is full of old favorites that viewers will have to be persuaded to stop watching in order to try something new. The key question here is obvious: are any of these new shows worthy of your time?


The Mysteries of Laura [NBC] vs. Survivor [CBS], The Middle and The Goldbergs [ABC], Hell’s Kitchen [FOX], and Arrow [The CW]

A NYPD detective (Debra Messing) deals with her impending divorce, two mischievous young sons, and the daily grind of solving crimes in this light-hearted dramedy/procedural.

She’s a lady! A cop who is a lady! NBC wants to pound that into our heads so badly that they used Tom Jones’ 1971 hit in their official trailer. This is 2014, however, so that fact of gender isn’t very surprising or original. Similar to plenty of shows on Lifetime or other basic cable networks, the main character is an expert crime-fighter and tired, yet loving mother, who still manages to say witty things and wear the occasional bathing suit. Basically, The Mysteries Of Laura is comfort food TV for a specific audience. Unfortunately, ABC’s family-friendly line-up is likely to smash it into cancellation.

Watch it if you like: Judging Amy or Rizzoli & Isles.

Premieres September 24th.



Red Band Society [FOX] vs. Criminal Minds [CBS], Modern Family and Black-ish [ABC], Law & Order: SVU [NBC], and The 100 [The CW].

Teenage patients live, love, and bond in the children’s ward of a hospital. Rounding out the cast is Olivia Spenser, who co-stars as the tell-it-like-it-is head nurse.

Imagine Glee without the snark and singing. A bit smarter than the average teen drama, the everyday problems of these geeks, jocks, and cheerleaders, complicated by their various health problems makes for predictable, yet compelling television. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind crying during a TV show, try it out.

Despite its Oscar-winning pedigree, (Steven Spielberg is an executive producer) don’t expect Red Band Society to beat CBS or ABC in the ratings race. However, it is likely to overtake The CW’s teen audience for that hour, perhaps helping its chances for renewal.

Watch it if you like: The Fault In Our Stars or Glee.

Premieres September 17th.


8:30PM CST

Black-ish [ABC] vs. Criminal Minds [CBS], Law & Order: SVU [NBC], Red Band Society [FOX], and The 100 [The CW].

A suburban man (Anthony Anderson) worries that his family is losing their “blackness” in this sitcom.

Black-ish is currently the most controversial new show of the year, with cringe-inducing moments such as when the husband tells his bi-racial wife she isn’t really black. (Her response? “Tell that to my hair and ass.”) Still, this mostly comes off like a collection of discarded Modern Family plotlines. The most watchable thing about this show is Laurence Fishburne’s sarcastic grandpa character, who could have carried a whole series by himself. Though its terrific timeslot will keep it afloat, Black-ish’s main problem isn’t that it is bad, but rather that it’s just not good.

Watch it if you like: My Wife & Kids or Modern Family.

Premieres September 24th.



Stalker [CBS] vs. Chicago P.D. [NBC] and Nashville [ABC].

Two detectives (Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott) specialize in finding and catching stalkers in this procedural.

If you were fond of Maggie Q’s Nikita, then you’ll probably enjoy her beating up creeps and making clever remarks here as well. Her character has a mildly interesting backstory and little chemistry with the dull McDermott. Otherwise, this is nothing that you haven’t seen on any number of CBS crime dramas. Expect it to have a highly rated debut, but viewers may not stick around long enough for it to warrant a second season.

Watch it if you like: Criminal Minds or Killer Instinct.

Premieres October 1st.


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