Guys, I'm excited. As an adult who is no longer subject to the agrarian calendar, the Fall TV Premiere season is pretty much the best time of the year. The leaves are changing, pumpkin-flavored treats are back on the shelves, my autumnal wardrobe is my most dashing and, best of all, the television is once again a gateway to endless hours of entertainment and storytelling.
In case you've forgotten how this
works, here's a refresher. Each week we here at Wood's Stock will be
watching the latest fall premieres (all new series and a few returning
favorites), which we will then evaluate with a two-step model.
the episode will be given a letter grade based on its quality,
consistent with the other reviews commonly posted on this website.
based on that premiere episode we will issue one of three
classifications for the amount of attention we predict you should give
to coming season: "Subscribe" meaning you should commit to watching
weekly, "Keep and Eye On," meaning it's too early to decide how a show
will be, or "Kill and Bury," meaning you should terminate with extreme
All set? Here we go.
Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
month ago if you had told me I would end up saying "subscribe" to
Sleepy Hollow I would have said....well I would have said "ok, but I'm
definitely going to hate 'Dads'."
Frankly, I didn't know what to
expect from Sleepy Hollow and frankly, I still don't. Written by Star
Trek's Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and directed by Underworld's Len
Wiseman, the pilot episode is a slickly produced, 44-minute gonzo smash
of mythological conspiracy, supernatural mystery and buddy-cop
shenanigans. Oh yeah, and it features no less than five decapitations,
one of which makes gleeful use of a clever first-person camera view.
"Guillotine Cam," as it were.
It begins in the throes of the
revolutionary war, where British defector-turned-American-spy Ichabod
Crane encounters, skirmishes with and beheads a hulking Redcoat with a
battle axe, getting injured in the process. Next thing he knows, he's
waking up in a cave and stumbling into a strange land with electricity,
automobiles and a Starbucks at every corner.
But the Redcoat, now a
headless horseman, wakes up as well and quickly dispatches with the
town sheriff. Suspicion is immediately cast on the apparently-insane
Crane, but a local beat cop begins to sense that things are not what
they seem and enlists his help to track down the real killer.
Hollow" goes a step further than the children's tale, envisioning the
Headless Horseman as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and
setting our heroes in the middle of an age-old battle between the forces
of good and evil, in which our world naturally hangs in the balance.
question is whether Sleepy Hollow will sustain it's madness or be
consumed by it. Many of these high-concept spookfests fizzle, but here's
hoping Fox's new creation continues to be bloody good fun.
Class: Subscribe, before this train flies off the rails
months now the buzz on Dads has been that it's awful. One media
watchdog group asked the network to reshoot what it viewed to be racist
scenes, to which Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly responded by
telling critics to be "patient," essentially implying that yes, the
pilot is garbage but it gets better.
Having seen it, Dads isn't so
awful, it's just aggressively mediocre. Shot in a bargain-bin
laughtrack and multi-camera style that sticks out of the Fox's single
camera Tuesday lineup like an Asian schoolgirl at a business meeting,
Dads tells the story of two man-child game developer bros (Seth Green
and Giovanni Ribisi) who reluctantly take in their down-on-their-luck
man-child fathers, because COMEDY! Oh yeah, and The Social Network's
lovely Brenda Song is also along to serve as both eye candy and as a
catalyst for insensitive and racially-stereotypical jokes, because
Dads is the product of the team behind Family Guy and
American Dad, and proves the old adage that some jokes only work when
cartoons say them. It's also no surprise that the plot, characters and
production are so two-dimensional.
Class: Kill and Bury
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
if the characters on The Office had guns and arrested criminals and you
get a sense for the tone of this workplace comedy/cop procedural
hybrid. SNL's Andy Sandberg stars as Jake Peralta, the young detective
with a gift for police work despite his schoolyard antics and disdain
for authority. Last Resort's Andre Braugher stars as said authority,
whose appointment as commanding officer over Brooklyn's 99th precinct
serves as the entrance into the storyline, with Braugher taking a
tough-as-nails approach to management in order to shape things up.
and there's a murder, but it's mostly an afterthought since we have to
acquaint ourselves with the characters, including Peralta's obligatory
will-they-won't-they love interest partner, with whom he shares a
flirtatiously competitive repertoire, and the always welcome Terry Crews
as a lame-duck Sergeant shaken up by the dangers of police work after
his daughters were born.
The tone is light and the jokes mostly
land, with the show-runners sprinkling in just enough sentimentality
between the shenanigans to keep things from dipping into a Police
Academy parody land. Qualms, I've got a few, but I'm willing to give
Brooklyn the benefit of a doubt.
New Girl (Fox)
and Jessica are finally together, now what? Apparently the answer to
that question is run to Mexico so they can further delay facing the
complications of their roommate/romantic relationship. That naturally
leads to the kind of overblown nonsense you would expect, as the two
prove they're "all in" by making a series of increasingly poor decision.
in the loft, Schmidt is still struggling to decide which of his two
lady loves to commit to. We all know it's going to be Cece, but why make
easy decisions quickly when it can be postponed for maximum comedic
Oh, and Winston continues to not be a character so
much as he is a convenient plot device the other characters can interact
with and bounce their plots off of. In this episode, which feels like
like a premiere than it does a back half pre-finale burner hour, we
learn that Winston apparently loves puzzles. But surprise, he's actually
terrible at them.
A poor showing that hopefully doesn't signal what's to come in season 3.
Class: Keep an Eye On. Oh who am I kidding? Subscribe for Schmidt.
The Mindy Project (Fox)
like its sister-series New Girl, The Mindy Project was all but
unwatchable when it first premiered but managed to find a voice and
deliver an appealing product. Unlike New Girl, however, it never quite
materialized into something that demands to be seen, IMHO.
continues to be the case in this, the first episode of season 2, which
finds Mindy happily enjoying her stint in Haiti alongside her reverend
boyfriend before a case of gall stones quickly lands her right back in
Manhattan where she started. "What a surprise," says no one, "I really
thought that season finale cliffhanger was going to take the show in a
whole new direction."
Same goes for the Reverend, whose time in
this world is written on the wall. This show doesn't really function
with Mindy in a stable relationship, plus we're obviously building
towards the inevitable pairing with Chris Messina.
But hey, look
who the cat dragged in? It's James Franco, playing a James Franco-type
doctor who is little more than a meta-caricature of role Franco plays on
General Hospital. I'm glad we can look forward to his and Mindy's witty
banter before he signs off to produce his latest impressionist art
installation. At least then we'll get the joy of Adam Pally, who signed
on for a season-two stint and who I see every night when I dream of a
world where Happy Endings wasn't canceled.
Class: Keep an Eye On