It’s time to once again dust off your remote and make room on your DVR, because the 2011 fall television season is officially upon us. With over 20 new series making their way on to the air, figuring out what to watch may be a tad overwhelming.
Luckily, we’ve sat through over 10 hours of premieres and have put together a comprehensive guide for all of the new shows, including their premiere days and, for those interested, a mini-review to let you know whether or not each series might be worth your time.
This year, the general theme from the networks and their new show choices appears to be “stepping outside your core audience.” With each network premiering an assortment of series that wouldn’t typically fall within their expected demographics, it appears that each network is attempting expand their core audience by providing a range of genres with varying sensibilities.
In a sense, ABC may be stepping outside of their comfort zone the least with Man Up!, Once Upon A Time and Pan Am, which are basically within their usual range. CBS is attempting to bring some younger viewers in with 2 Broke Girls and Person of Interest. NBC is once again overhauling a majority of its fall television line-up and believes that The Playboy Club, Whitney and Grimm might help them return to form.
Last, Fox once again represents the most focused network with New Girl, Terra Nova and I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the network has both the best and worst new show of the fall television series, so perhaps some of that focus may have been lost.
In case the mini-reviews aren’t enough to help you decide whether or not you should watch a series, we’ve also included three indicators; green, yellow and red, that also represent our feelings on each show.
Green – Watch it!
Yellow – DVR it!
Red – Skip it! (seriously)
We’ll cover the new shows from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. We start out with ABC directly below, but if you want to jump to the new offerings for a particular network, click on the links below:
Premieres: Thursday, September 22 @8pm
Plot: Everyone deserves a second chance — even a thief, a street racer and a cop who got in a little too deep. After all, the three women who solve cases for their elusive boss, Charlie Townsend, are no saints. They’re angels… Charlie’s Angels. Set in Miami, this fun, glamorous, action-packed take on the 1970s smash hit series introduces us to three new angels, all fearless detectives, head-turning beauties and close friends. There’s Abby (Rachael Taylor), a Park Avenue princess who became a world-class thief. Then there’s Kate (Annie Ilonzeh), a Miami cop who fell from grace, losing both her career and her fiancé. Finally there’s Gloria, a disgraced army lieutenant who has a way with explosives. When one of the angels’ missions ends in Gloria’s tragic death, Charlie persuades them to partner with Gloria’s childhood friend, Eve (Minka Kelly), a street racer with a mysterious past. They may not know each other yet, but one thing’s for sure — Abby, Kate and Eve will always have each others’ backs. “Charlie’s Angels” stars Annie Ilonzeh (General Hospital) as Kate Prince, Minka Kelly (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) as Eve, Rachael Taylor (Grey’s Anatomy) as Abby Sampson and Ramon Rodriguez (The Wire, Daybreak) as Bosley.
Mini Review: The problem with remaking a television series from the 70s is that many of the core plot elements must remain the same (i.e. Charlie). While Charlie’s Angels may have worked decades ago on TV, and years ago on film (I suppose), when it comes to the current state of television, audiences are expecting more than laughable storylines, poorly realized characters reciting terribly written dialogue, and Charlie on a speakerphone used to painfully progress the plot.
Last Man Standing
Premieres: Tuesday, October 11 @8pm
Plot: Today it’s a woman’s world, and this man’s man is on a mission to get men back to their rightful place in society. Tim Allen returns to ABC in this new comedy from Jack Burditt (30 Rock). Men may have built civilizations, invented the locomotive and created ESPN, but they’re about to find out that it’s not a man’s world anymore. You can’t get manlier than Mike Baxter. He’s the marketing director for an iconic outdoor sporting goods store, he loves to have adventures while he’s traveling for work and, of course, he drives a pick-up truck. While Mike is king of the hill at work, he’s the odd man out in a home that is dominated by women — namely his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters, 22- year-old Kristin, 17-year-old Mandy and 14-year-old Eve. After being a stay-at-home mom for years, Vanessa recently returned to the workplace and was quickly promoted (much to the dismay of her primarily male co-workers). As a result of Vanessa’s increased work load, Mike is pulled into more hands-on parenting than ever before. The show stars Tim Allen (Home Improvement) as Mike, Nancy Travis (So I Married an Axe Murderer, Three Men and a Baby) as Vanessa, Molly Ephraim as Mandy, Alexandra Krosney as Kristin, Kaitlyn Dever as Eve and Hector Elizondo (Chicago Hope) as Ed.
Mini Review: After fond memories of Home Improvement, Tim Allen’s return to television may not be everything you’d hope it to be. While Allen certainly shines in the pilot, one can easily tell that he’s still a bit rusty in his return to the sitcom medium. That being said, there’s still enough promise shown in the pilot that the series might take a turn for the better as it progress.
Premieres: Tuesday, October 18 @8:30pm
Plot: Three modern men try to get in touch with their inner tough guys and redefine what it means to be a “real man” in this funny and relatable comedy. Will’s grandfather fought in WWII. Will’s father fought in Vietnam. Will plays Call of Duty on his PS3 and drinks non-dairy hazelnut creamer. So what happened to all the real men? They’re still here — they just smell like pomegranate body wash now. Meet Will (Mather Zickel). His evolved, sensitive nature is why his awesome wife, Theresa (Teri Polo), married him. But Will and his friends find themselves wondering — in a world of Axe ads and manscaping — what does it really mean to be a guy anymore? Will is more interested in finding the perfect gift for his son Nathan’s (Jake Johnson) 13th birthday than in doing his job selling insurance; sensitive soul Craig (Christopher Moynihan) still pines for his college ex, Lisa; and Kenny (Dan Fogler) clamps down on his anger and asks himself, “What would Tobey Maguire do?,” when his ex, Brenda (Amanda Detmer), starts seeing a guy (Henry Simmons) who is everything he’s not and much better looking. After Craig crashes Lisa’s wedding to try to win her back, they are all faced with an opportunity to Man Up and be like their forefathers. The show stars Christopher Moynihan as Craig, Mather Zickel (The Cape) as Will, Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) as Kenny, Teri Polo (Meet the Fockers) as Theresa, Amanda Detmer (What About Brian) as Brenda and Henry Simmons (Shark) as Grant.
Mini Review: Man Up! comes across as a mixture of Modern Family and last year’s canceled Fox comedy Traffic Light - which is a good thing. With Dan Fogler serving as the ManUp!’s boisterous comic relief, there are more than enough laughs to be had in this 30-minute series. While the use of the show title as a thematic element is a bit heavy handed in the pilot, this is something that will most certainly be corrected in subsequent episodes.
Once Upon a Time
Premieres: Sunday, October 23 @8pm
Plot: From the inventive minds of “Lost” executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis comes a bold new imagining of the world, where fairy tales and the modern-day are about to collide. And they all lived happily ever after – or so everyone was led to believe. Emma Swan knows how to take care of herself. She’s a 28-year-old bail bonds collector who’s been on her own ever since she was abandoned as a baby. But when the son she gave up years ago finds her, everything starts to change. Henry is now 10 years old and in desperate need of Emma’s help. He believes that Emma actually comes from an alternate world and is Snow White and Prince Charming’s missing daughter. According to his book of fairytales, they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen’s curse, which trapped the fairytale world forever, frozen in time, and brought them into our modern world. Of course Emma doesn’t believe a word, but when she brings Henry back to Storybrooke, she finds herself drawn to this unusual boy and his strange New England town. Concerned for Henry, she decides to stay for a while, but she soon suspects that Storybrooke is more than it seems. It’s a place where magic has been forgotten, but is still powerfully close… where fairytale characters are alive, even though they don’t remember who they once were. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell. “Once Upon a Time” stars Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love) as Snow White/Sister Mary Margaret, Jennifer Morrison (House MD) as Emma Swan, Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting, SGU Stargate Universe) as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, Lana Parrilla as Evil Queen/Regina, Jamie Dornan as Sheriff Graham, Jared Gilmore (Mad Men) as Henry, Josh Dallas as Prince Charming/John Doe and Raphael Sbarge as Jiminy Cricket/Archie.
Mini Review: Wonderfully magical and completely captivating, Once Upon A Time brilliantly transitions beloved fairy tale characters into an earnest prime time television series that the entire family can watch and enjoy.
Premieres: Sunday, September 25 @10pm
Plot: Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series. In this modern world, air travel represents the height of luxury and Pan Am is the biggest name in the business. The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world. Not only are these flyboys and girls young and good looking, but to represent Pan Am they also have to be educated, cultured and refined. They’re trained to handle everything from in-air emergencies to unwanted advances – all without rumpling their pristine uniforms or mussing their hair. There’s Dean (Jonah Lotan) – a cocky, charismatic and ambitious new pilot – the first of a new breed not trained in the war. On the sly against company policy, he’s dating Bridget, a stunning beauty with a mysterious past. A rebellious bohemian, Maggie (Christina Ricci) turns into a buttoned up professional for work so she can see the world. Rounding out the crew are flirtatious Collette (Karine Vanasse), the adventurous Kate (Kelli Garner) and, finally, Laura (Margot Robbie) – Kate’s beauty queen younger sister, a runaway bride, who recently fled a life of domestic boredom to take to the skies. “Pan Am” stars Christina Ricci (Penelope) as Maggie, Kelli Garner (Going the Distance) as Kate, Karine Vanasse (Polytechnique) as Colette, Margot Robbie (Neighbours) as Laura, Jonah Lotan (24) as Dean and Michael Mosley (Justified) as Ted.
Mini Review: Like another period drama premiering this season (The Playboy Club), there’s much more to Pan Am than what the description reveals. Unfourtunatly, the inclusion of numerous characters with a lack of overall focus prevents Pan Am from flying high. That being said, there are signs that the series may right itself as more episodes air.
Premieres: Wednesday, September 21 @10pm
Plot: Wealth, beauty and status define the people in this town, but one woman is willing to destroy everyone for the sake of revenge. Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp) is new to the Hamptons. She’s met some of her wealthy neighbors, has made a few new friends and seemingly blends into the town. But something is a little odd about a young girl living in a wealthy town all on her own, and the truth is that Emily isn’t exactly new to the neighborhood. In fact, this was once her old neighborhood, until something bad happened that ruined her family and their reputation. Now Emily is back, and she’s returned to right some of those wrongs in the best way she knows how – with a vengeance. “Revenge” stars Madeleine Stowe (We Were Soldiers, The Last of the Mohicans) as Victoria Grayson, Emily Van Camp (Brothers & Sisters, Everwood) as Emily Thorne, Gabriel Mann (The Bourne Identity) as Nolan Ross, Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Clear and Present Danger) as Conrad Grayson, Ashley Madekwe (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) as Ashley Davenport, Nick Wechsler (“Roswell”) as Jack Porter, Josh Bowman (“Prowl”) as Daniel Grayson, Christa B. Allen (13 Going on 30) as Charlotte Grayson and Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl) as Declan Porter.
Mini Review: While this modern-day take on “The Count of Monte Cristo” may appear to be a stereotypical teenage drama that would air on The CW, Revenge surprisingly presents an intriguing plot, mature storytelling, and a clearly defined direction of focus that will leave you wanting to see more.
Premieres: Wednesday, September 28 @8:30pm
Plot: Single father George only wants the best for his 16-year-old daughter, Tessa. So when he finds a box of condoms on her nightstand, he moves them out of their apartment in New York City to a house in the suburbs. But all Tessa sees is the horror of over-manicured lawns and plastic Franken-moms. Being in the ‘burbs can be hell, but it also may just bring Tessa and George closer than they’ve ever been. Tessa (Jane Levy) and George (Jeremy Sisto) have been on their own ever since Tessa’s mom pulled a “Kramer vs. Kramer” before she was even potty trained. So far, George has done a pretty good job of raising Tessa without a maternal figure in their lives, but suddenly he’s feeling a little out of his league. So it’s goodbye New York City and hello suburbs. At first Tessa is horrified by the big-haired, fake-boobed mothers and their sugar-free Red Bull-chugging kids. But little by little she and her dad begin finding a way to survive on the clean streets of the ‘burbs. Sure, the neighbors might smother you with love while their kids stare daggers at your back, but underneath all that plastic and caffeine, they’re really not half bad. And they do make a tasty pot roast. The show stars Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order) as George Altman, Jane Levy (Shameless) as Tessa Altman, Carly Chaikin (The Last Song) as Dalia Royce, Allie Grant (Weeds) as Lisa, Alan Tudyk (V) as Noah Lerner and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Dallas Royce. Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live) guest stars.
Mini Review: Suburgatory is a painfully slow-paced series that attempts to squeeze laughter out of a setting that’s not exactly all that humorous. While there are a few chuckles to be had, the time spent waiting to reach these brief moments of levity could be better spent watching something else.