New Fall TV 2016 Scorecard: Week 1

Every year, the networks give us a buffet of new shows to feast our eyeballs on! Here's the first six (or, at least, the first six that are in my wheelhouse), from last week!

Fall TV 2016 Week 1

1. The Good Place - Eleanor wakes up in The Good Place (sort of heaven, but all earthly religions only got 5% right), despite being low-grade terrible her whole life. Not evil, but selfish and petty and thoughtless from beginning to end. She's given a house, matched with a literal soulmate--Chidi, from Senegal--and convinces him to help her learn how to be good so that she can stay, since her being there by accident keeps causing instabilities in the perfect balance of her "neighborhood".

Thoughts:

  • Super cute! Kirsten Bell somehow manages to be disarmingly cute while being totally awful, and the humor is madcap and a little fever-dream bizarre.
  • Chidi is also adorable, and way more educated and moral than she is, which causes him three stomach aches in the first episode.
  • Ted Danson is something like Willie Wonka without the slight creepy edge, and it's lovely.
  • It's maybe too cute to live--it reminds me of Selfie and Pushing Daisies a little, both of which I adored, but were barely given a chance.
  • A remarkably complex world for a goofy afterlife comedy, and the plot keeps on unfolding!
  • 2. Lethal Weapon - Murtaugh is just getting back to work after having a heart attack and open heart surgery the very day his wife delivers their unexpected last baby, and finds himself teamed up with crazy new import from Texas, Riggs. They hate working together, have wildly different styles, but Riggs needs family and Murtaugh has enough to spare, and by the end of the pilot they've solved a big case and made a truce.

    Thoughts:

  • Way, way more serious than the movies, despite all the jokes and laughs--which are pretty good.
  • Takes Rigg's suicidal urges as a major plot point, not a sort of early character moment; he spends most of the episode actively trying to go out a hero so he can do something useful with his death.
  • Their poor boss is going to have an ulcer by the end of the first season, for real.
  • Surprisingly hooky--I never expect much from remakes, but this takes the premise and runs with it as a new thing with it's own feel, and doesn't feel shaky or copy-cat at all.
  • Riggs is so broken. It's insta-feels. His arc will be so interesting to see.
  • 3. Designated Survivor - After the capital is bombed during the state of the union, only the Housing Secretary lives, and he becomes the new president while they're still trying to put the fire out--less than 24 hours after he'd been asked to step down from his position and take up one far away from the capital. No one is taking responsibility for the bombing, no one believes in him, and his family has no idea what to expect.

  • I'm not generally a fan of political thrillers, but this one had Maggie Q and Peter Outerbridge, who I love, and I was pleasantly surprised: it's tense, intense, and the fact that he's basically a nobody but actually knows more than people let on because he takes his job seriously makes it super interesting.
  • His daughter is flipping adorable, and his son is cute but also borderline delinquent, as if being fired before being signed in isn't enough of a scandal.
  • The whole sequence where he's swept up and signed in and no one will tell him anything is brilliant; it shows the chaos perfectly while humanizing the characters bigtime.
  • Kierffer Southerland playing someone who isn't a total badass is nice.
  • Who done it, times a million, and it looks like things are just getting started. Conspiracies and power-grabs on all sides, but it's great that he doesn't want war. I hope he can defend that position!
  • 4. Bull - When a case needs to be won, there's a group who can figure out exactly how to make sure it is, using "mirror juries" and high-tech computers and psychology.

  • Really the only new show this week I didn't click with; it's chilly--the characters aren't all that distinctive and come across as callous and uncaring.
  • Also not super on board with the idea that rich people can just buy a trial regardless of who's right or wrong.
  • Feels basically manipulative rather than engaging, which is offputting.
  • 5. MacGyver - Previous to the original MacGyver show, this is young Mac at the very beginning of the Phoenix Foundation. This week, they save the world from a paleolithic virus that's been weaponized, and is being sold off to the highest bidder of the US's meannest enemies.

  • The nostalgia is strong with this one--there's a nod to the whole Mac-holding-a-rocket thing from the original, there's a sassy voiceover, there's two separate paperclip tricks and they mention fixing something with chewing gum--but mostly it's a new and modern thing. Starting over, not copying. If they can keep that line between cute callback (call-forward?) and original story, it should do fine.
  • What's the opposite of a Phoenix? We've barely even met the badguys and it's looking interesting.
  • Has the same sort of fast-paced goofy-smartness as Scorpion, and being from the same channel it could crossover pretty easily, tone-wise.
  • His best friend and room mate doesn't know what he does; his bodyguard once dated his new pet hacker's mom; his new hacker is on parole from jail. Perfect set-up for interpersonal stories!
  • Thornton is a part tailor made for Maggie Q but she's on a different show; let's see how she goes.
  • 6. Van Helsing - Three years after a vampire apocalypse, human survivors are barely hanging on, but there's a legend of a human warrior who will save them. Meanwhile, the title character has been in a coma for the whole apocalypse, her Marine guard is basically a shut-in, the doctor taking care of her has been turned, and when new people take shelter with them, things get unstable.

  • Seems to have good worldbuilding, and tries really hard with atmosphere, but not a lot happens for a lot of the pilot, and that's a point against it. It's skirting being dull; last season, Hunters didn't pick up until after everyone had given up on it, so hopefully this show isn't going to follow that example.
  • It's strange having the main character unconscious almost the whole time. Is she even the main character?
  • Christopher Heyerdahl, Syfy Channel pro, is one of the main group of survivors, and there's already something going on with him; also, so far, there's not a lot of creepy creeper about him. Is this his first nice-person role in years, or have we just not seen his bad side yet?
  • How can a bare handful of survivors get back at a whole world of vampires, tho, even if she is what the legend says?
  • Also skirts being brutal for no real reason; did we really need to see a teenager smash her friend's head in over and over when the point was made fine with one or two smashes?
  • What did you think of this week's shows? What other shows did you catch this week? Share in the comments!

    By Samantha Holloway

    About the author

    Samantha is a freelance writer, editor and book and TV reviewer. She's currently in gradschool and working on her first novel, and one day she'll rule to world. Or marry her TV. Whichever comes first. Follow! twitter.com/pirategirljack.

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