Avoiding extremes, most broadcast network shows fell in the middle this year.
In past years, after attending the Fall TV Previews at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, the Parents Television Council has named the three Best and three Worst prime-time broadcast network TV shows of the new fall season.
This year, the situation is different. Of the shows viewed at Paley, only one was truly outstanding, and only one was really bad. But in order to give readers a better picture of the new fall season, here we offer some information about many of the new fall shows.
BEST: Me, Myself & I on CBS
The best new program this fall is a touching story of one man’s life, as seen over the course of a lifetime. Viewers see Alex Riley as a middle-school student at age 14, a newly-divorced single dad at 40, and a recently-retired heart attack victim at 65…yet there are commonalities throughout his life. This program movingly demonstrates how small events at age 14 can greatly shape a life…but also things that seem disastrous at age 14 (or 40) will ultimately turn out okay. The PTC recommends this program as one for parents and children to watch – and discuss – together.
WORST: 9JKL on CBS
On the other hand, the PTC doesn’t recommend this piece of rubbish to anyone. A laughless menage of tired Jewish stereotypes combined with sex and toilet humor, this crass, witless, and borderline anti-Semitic program is a painfully unfunny and unwatchable experience.
ABC has two notable new shows this fall. In the new situation comedy The Mayor, a would-be rap star runs for mayor as a publicity stunt… and wins. This series features light-hearted humor, with a deeper message about responsibility and the need for everyone to be involved in their community. On the new drama The Good Doctor, a brilliant surgeon who is autistic shows that those with disabilities have gifts to share, and deserve a place in society.
Mystery and crime programs are well-represented this fall, with NBC’s documentary series Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders portraying the infamous real-life 1990s case; CBS’ Wisdom of the Crowd offering an intriguing look at the possibilities for technology and social media to help average people battle crime; and ABC’s Ten Days in the Valley a twisty mystery about a child abduction, in which there are no obvious heroes, and everyone has another motive.
Dynasty, CW’s reboot of the venerable 1980s nighttime soap rejects the glossy, over-the-top camp of the original in favor of genuinely nasty characters and sleazy sex, while Fox’s Ghosted tries to restart the 1980s action-comedy genre epitomized by Lethal Weapon by crossing it with The X-Files, with largely satisfactory results.
Three networks have military-themed dramas this fall. Of CW’s Valor, CBS’ SEAL Team, and NBC’s The Brave, the last is by far the best-written and most compelling drama. By contrast, SEAL Team is a poorly-plotted and characterized mess, while Valor’s attempt at a deeper conspiracy story gets lost in the sleazy sexual dealings of its main character. All the shows feature graphic violence inappropriate for children, but for adults, at least The Brave offers some compelling storytelling.
Finally, Fox’s The Orville comes tantalizingly close to being a positive family show, but falls just a little bit short. Created by Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, this humorous science-fiction adventure is an exceptional Star Trek-themed program with top-notch special effects and quality acting and storytelling…but sadly, features just enough inappropriate humor to discourage parents from allowing children to watch. More’s the pity.
Dr. Christopher Gildemeister is the head of research operations for the Parents Television Council,(www.parentstv.org®) a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment.