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Fall 2012/13 TV Preview

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2012-09-06


I am a TV junkie. Most years I can't wait for the cooler weather and slate of new network TV series each fall brings. There are usually six or seven new shows I'm interested in checking out and find myself spending the last few weeks of summer counting the days until the launch of the new TV season with giddy glee.

Except not this year.

To be honest, the slate of new network TV shows this fall is the bleakest, most uninteresting in memory. The plan of network TV in the 2012-13 season seems to be to concentrate on what draws the most ratings on other networks, like 1980s-style sitcoms, drama-lite and even more reality series than before, and create clone-series around these concepts while ignoring anything new that looks too risky or innovative.

That's not quite true. There are a few network series I'm intrigued by next season like Last Resort on ABC about the crew of a nuclear missile sub going rogue and starting a nation of their own after they refuse to nuke Pakistan; The Mindy Project from comedian/writer Mindy Kailing of The Office and...actually, that's about it.

Revolution on NBC and Elementary on CBS do strike my "genre" nerve a bit. But Revolution seems to be derivative of both Lost and The Walking Dead and Elementary derivative of the BBC Sherlock series. So while I'll probably check out those shows, they'll have to be different enough from what's come before to keep me coming back for more than a few viewings.

The outlook isn't any better for older series either. I still enjoy Raising Hope on Fox and not much else. Last season the sitcoms Modern Family and Happy Endings seemed to broaden out a bit too much for me and I couldn't get back into Cougar Town no matter how hard I tried.

And the creative fate of Community, one of my favorite series of the last decade, seems to be in doubt. Series creator Dan Harmon was dumped from the low-rated series last year and two new producers were brought in to fill his role. And if that's not bad enough, Community was moved from its Thursday night schedule to Friday nights where shows generally get tossed to die.

All told, there's probably no more than an hour or two each week of network TV series I'm planning on watching, and that's a shame. I remember a few years back when there were so many interesting looking shows that I'd have to schedule my night around what I was going to watch live and what I was going to DVR and watch later.

But, apparently, those days of interesting network TV are looooooong gone.

It seems to me that ABC, NBC and FOX are all looking towards the ratings powerhouse of CBS and trying to emulate their shows. If Big Bang Theory, about a group of nerdy scientists and their sexy neighbor, is a hit on CBS then surely Animal Practice, about the wacky patients and doctors of a vet hospital (the show literally stars a monkey), will be a hit on NBC.

And if the CSI and NCIS drama-lite series are hits on CBS, then surely a series about a doctor conned into treating and helping the mob in the on-the-nose titled show Mob Doctor on Fox will be a hit too.

If next season on network TV looks like a bust, what's the alternative? Cable TV, my friends. While cable TV seem to be in the process of being slowly strangled by the weed of derivative reality TV, there are still some interesting shows to check out there too.

I recommend American Horror Story, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League on FX, Young Justice on Cartoon Network and (gulp, dare damage my geek cred by recommending!?) Downton Abbey on PBS. And while I've had my problems with The Walking Dead on AMC as of late, that series is still streets beyond almost anything being offered up on network TV next season.

Oh well, I guess there's always the 2013-14 TV season. Visit me online at DangerousUniverse.com.

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