The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Feature: American TV Autumn Preview

It’s the most wonderful time of the (TV) year…


It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The leaves are not yet brown, the pumpkins are not yet ripened, the fun size Mars bars are not yet half price. Oh yes, you guessed it—it’s TV premier season. It’s been a long dry summer without regular instalments of the lives of characters my subconscious considers real acquaintances, and with only Orange is the New Black to tide us over until the Autumn, the reappearance of all these shows is a sight for painfully sore eyes.

The drama staples have come out of the gate very strong. The Good Wife has returned for what feels to me like the beginning of the end for Alicia Florrick and her rag-tag team of lawyers who just can’t seem to make it work. After last season’s complete upheaval, the story and character going forward is really working with fertile ground. The Emmys awarded Julianna Margulies Best Actress for her role, and rightly so; there is no other show right now that marries high intensity drama and comedy so well. As far as writing and layers go, The Good Wife can’t be beat. The similar, yet inferior, Scandal has also returned with what looks to be an exciting season, filled with distant looks and fast-talking women in suits. Comedy wise, I don’t think the good stuff kicks in until January, so for now, we have Big Bang and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to keep us warm in these cold months. It’s going to be a long winter.

There are some interesting pilots set for the coming weeks, with some cool names popping up. Bad Judge seems like it could be an intriguing adventure with the fiery-haired Kate Walsh, and with a producing team of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, this could be one of the new favourites. Speaking of fiery haired mavericks, Debra Messing stars as a tightly strung detective that gets the job done in time for the school run in The Mysteries of Laura. This seems less promising to me.

What piqued my interested the most is something that’s been referred to for a while as ‘The Untitled Tina Fey-Ellie Kemper Comedy’. Everything about this title represents what is good in the world. Tina Fey? Ellie Kemper? Untitled? What a combination. Now rebranded, perhaps wisely, as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, this show could turn out to be a pretty decent 30 Rock replacement, with a bizarre cast and deep New York roots. Some of you comedy nerds with a keen eye will probably be familiar with Casey Wilson, probably most known for Happy Endings, aka the less popular New Girl. She’s starring with Ken Marino in Romantic comedy Marry Me. I give it one season.

On the drama front, Vince Gilligan’s new detective show Battle Creek is inevitably going to face Breaking Bad comparisons, and will most likely not match it, but I’m willing to start a new adventure with Vince. He seems like a guy who knows where he’s going. If there’s only one thing that people say about me, it’s that I love a good maverick. Make them a female Secretary of State and I’m sold! I clearly have high hopes for the Morgan Freeman-produced Madame Secretary. Maverick women in positions of power seem to be a touchstone for this season of pilots, and I’m sure as hell not complaining.

We’ve lost a lot of good shows over the last two years—let us take a minute to remember those dear friends:

Breaking Bad; it lived a good full life, loved and missed by those who knew it well. It took some perseverance, but it was well worth it in the end.

30 Rock; ah! So misunderstood. You really had to give it a good chance, but once it got in your soul, there was no letting go.

Dexter; never was there such a kind and sensitive serial killer, truly one in a million.

The Office; probably the saddest loss of all, and those final days were a struggle for us all, but, oh the laughs, our one true soup snake. Thank you, and now a song from U2.

Basically, the TV landscape is looking a bit rocky right now, but there are some gems in there. And with this being the last season of Parks and Recreation, there’s a big gap in the network sitcom market. There has to be a show waiting in the NBC wings ready to take over, or more likely, have low ratings for three seasons and then consistently medium ratings for its final five years.

So maybe give some of these a go if they take your fancy. There’s got to be a diamond in the rough, and you could be that guy who “watched it before everyone else”. Congrats.