Summer may be far from over, but everyone is already preparing for autumn by catching up on their favorite television shows before the new seasons kick off and the new series make their debut. So what better way to prepare than deciding what to – and what not to – see this television season? Scroll down and take a look at the television shows we think you either steer clear or watch while it’s still on the air.
– Noah Orent
WHAT TO WATCH
- Scandal (Premieres October 5th on ABC)
I think it’s only fitting to give Shonda Rhimes’ political thriller the No. 7 spot because the upcoming seventh season will be its last. But I do so with a heavy heart. Because, in my mind, there will never be another show like “Scandal”. From the beginning, it’s kept us on the edge of our seats long after the closing credits roll. It’s satiated our collective desire for plot twists and passionate love affairs. It’s echoed current headlines on both a national and a global scale. And despite a few hiccups along the way, it’s always left us wanting more. I, for one, am eager to see how this story will end. To everyone who’s binge-watching past seasons or catching up on Season Six, you should too.
- Empire (Premieres September 27th on FOX)
It’s no secret that soap operas are a dying breed. All they do is ask and answer the same questions: Who died in the bombing/car crash/shootout? Who fathered the secret baby? Who shot J.R.? (Spoiler alert: Kristin did it). The Lee Daniels-created musical drama, however, presented itself as a different kind of soap. It came across as a contemporary Shakespearean twist on the plot devices and plot lines that made other soaps so perennially popular. But while the shock and suspense drew us in with each new episode, the overarching theme of family is what kept us engrossed. It made us care about the Lyons and whether or not they’ll survive next season, the latter being the only thing on everyone’s minds right now. Mine included.
- Inhumans (Premieres September 27th on ABC)
Since its debut in 2008, the critical and commercial success that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded to include, among other things, comic books, short films, and digital series. Now it’s preparing to add the television miniseries to its roster with “Inhumans,” which will premiere in IMAX theatres on September 1st before making its small screen debut on September 27th. While you may be disappointed to learn “Inhumans” only consists of eight episodes, your interest is piqued the minute you see the teaser trailer. It has everything you’ve come to expect from a Marvel movie – loyalty and treachery, love and loss, secrets and sacrifices – and more. Showrunner Scott Buck’s decision to cast “Game of Thrones” veteran Iwan Rheon is an added bonus, as it gives die-hard Ramsay Bolton fans something to look forward to.
- This Is Us (Premieres September 26th on NBC)
The first time I saw “This Is Us,” I cried my eyes out. I found myself moved by the Pearson family and their resemblance to my own family. I related to the issues siblings Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) faced as children and as adults. And that is this series’ strongest quality: It reveals our collective need to connect with others, be they flesh-and-blood or fictitious. We feel a need to find someone who shares the same problems we do, someone who can help us come up with a solution when we are unable to do so. “This Is Us” fulfills said need while simultaneously helping us realize we all share the same struggles regardless of where we live or who we are.
- Young Sheldon (Premieres November 2nd on CBS)
In Part One of my ongoing series revolving around Hollywood’s failure to recognize the so-called Originality Problem, I remarked that most motion pictures are either prequels or sequels. The same can be said for television shows. While I have grown to abhor such things, I believe there are certain exceptions. Case in point: “Young Sheldon,” a sitcom that serves as a spin-off prequel to “The Big Bang Theory”. Not only does it finally shed light on the childhood of socially awkward physicist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), but it also shines a light on rising child actor Iain Armitage, who previously starred in the HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies” and the film adaptation of Jeanette Walls’ memoir “The Glass Castle”. Mr. Armitage’s acting and Mr. Parsons’ voiceover narration make for a perfect combination – promising to make this series a surefire success – and it is my hope that Mr. Armitage continues to impress me as he did in the past.
- The Good Doctor (Premieres September 25th on ABC)
Throughout the last few years, there have been certain shows that highlight individuals with disabilities who overcome the obstacles they face on a daily basis. “Switched at Birth” concentrates on people who were either deaf or hard-of-hearing, “Born This Way” on individuals with Down Syndrome, “Sesame Street” on an autistic Muppet who helps younger viewers learn more about the spectrum. “The Good Doctor,” which revolves around a pediatric surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, continues this trend. While I’m slightly disappointed that showrunners David Shore and Daniel Dae Kim cast a well-known actor as the lead instead of an actor on the autism spectrum, I feel this series will do what its predecessors have done and break the stereotypes associated with this lifelong condition.
- Star Trek: Discovery (Premieres September 24th on CBS & CBS All Access)
As I previously mentioned, I believe that there are certain exceptions when it comes to television shows that fall into the prequel/sequel category. Much like “Young Sheldon,” I consider “Stark Trek: Discovery” to be one of those exceptions. Not much is known about this particular chapter in the franchise, but the diverse ensemble cast and the premise’s broad story arc – a cold war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation that took place a decade before the events of the original series – were more than enough to peak my interest. The fact that this is a chapter in the most popular sci-fi franchise of our time is an added bonus, as it promises to draw us back into the universe that captivated our attentions as children and continue taking us beyond the stars to “where no man has gone before”.
WHAT NOT TO WATCH
6. Law & Order True Crime (Premieres September 26th on NBC)
Having seen the mothership series and three of the four spin-offs, I can say with absolute certainty that the “Law and Order” franchise is starting to lose its touch. The half detective-half district attorney format – which is what made the original series so popular when it first premiered – has grown repetitive and tired to the point where nobody cares about the killer’s identity. And while I’m curious to see how creator Dick Wolf adapts the true crime angle to the first season of his latest series, which will dramatize the trial of convicted murderers Lyle and Erik Menendez, I still have my doubts. Especially since it’s going to showcase that irritating “dun dun” sound.
5. Ghosted (Premieres October 1st on FOX)
When I saw the trailer for “Ghosted”, a supernatural sitcom starring celebrated comedians Craig Robinson and Adam Scott, I was struck by its uncanny resemblance to “The X-Files,” the science fiction drama that has taken the world by storm. There was the exact same thing in both series: the true believer, the cynical skeptic, the shadowy government organization. Even the “monster of the week,” which has been featured in an innumerable number of television shows, is implied. It is a surefire sign that, much like the cinematic industry, the television industry has fallen into the lamentable practice of failing to come up with original ideas.
4. Dynasty (Premieres October 11th on The CW)
In my last article, which is the first in a series concentrating on Hollywood’s failure to recognize the Originality Problem, I mentioned that every other major motion picture is a prequel, sequel, remake or reimagining. The same can be said for every other television series. And The CW’s “Dynasty,” which is based on the 1980s soap opera series of the same name, is no exception. There are so many callbacks to its predecessor that your brain becomes unable to tell the difference between the original and the upgrade. The stereotypical cliches and shallow characters fail to make up for this, instead inducing a feeling of nausea that’s difficult to avoid and even more difficult to relieve.
3. The Orville (Premieres September 21st on FOX)
Since its premiere in September 1966, “Star Trek” has spawned innumerable spin-offs and rip-offs. Seth McFarlane’s latest series “The Orville,” which follows the dysfunctional crew of an exploration starship, falls into the latter category. The promotional commercial alone screams cliché. If you want something that screams true science fiction, watch “Star Trek: Discovery” and leave “The Orville” to continue on its journey to nowhere.
2. Once Upon A Time (Premieres October 6th on ABC)
I have watched this fantasy drama from the very beginning and am at the point where I’ve lost all interest. Forgive me if I sound a tad biased, but that’s the truth. Every new season has showcased the selfsame plot devices and plot lines that make the onscreen proceedings unbearable to watch. There’s a shred of hope clinging to the upcoming seventh season, which is being advertised as a soft reboot, but I wouldn’t waste time on this one. Not unless you want to see the exact same thing for the seventh year in a row.
1. Wisdom of the Crowd (Premieres October 1st on CBS)
The crime drama is constantly evolving. “Wisdom of the Crowd” – which revolves around a cutting-edge app that allows the public to work together in order to solve crimes – is proof of this fact. But the premise, which looks like a carbon copy of the short-lived procedural “APB,” is so abominably boring that one loses interest from watching the promotional commercials alone. In my opinion, series creator Ted Humphrey should have stuck with what he was good at and continued writing television instead of creating it.
Whatever you prefer to watch, make sure your on the lookout for these shows. Watching or avoiding them may make a big difference.