Gotham - Season 1 Episode 5

You Should Be Watching: New TV Picks (Part 2)

After months of steadfastly enduring a summer TV schedule September can be the most exciting thing in a television lover’s life, but it can also be stressful and more than a little overwhelming. Like that recurring anxiety dream where you’re back in school only to realize you’ve neglected to go to a single class and it’s exam time, the fall and mid-season new TV schedules can strike panic into the hearts of viewers that don’t want to make it to next summer and suddenly realize exactly how much they missed out.

Luckily, you can sleep easy this year. Elena Lowe and I have done your dream homework and compiled a list of new shows airing some time between now and spring of 2015. These are the best bets and sure things of the new TV season, so be sure to mark them in your nightmare-agenda book.

To start off, here are the seven that get me super excited to sit on a couch and laugh, cry or cower under a blanket while basking in the glorious glow of non-summer TV.

Gotham

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When and where?

CTV, Mondays at 8:00 PM

Quick – What’s it about?

There is a larger world at work in the Batman universe than just the caped crusader and his rotating selection of wards and gadgets. But what is Batman without the Dark Knight? If we use Fox’s Gotham as an example, it’s Jim Gordon versus the emerging rogue’s gallery. Once again re-imagining the origins of Bruce Wayne’s undiagnosed PTSD, Gotham poses the question: what if the future Commissioner (Ben McKenzie) was the detective assigned to the case of who shot the Waynes in the Theatre district?

Why so excited?

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At this point it’s a given that Batman has the best comic book villains, and that’s because each is a madhouse reflection of a certain aspect of the traumatized child beneath the cowl. Sure, Gotham is set before Bruce Wayne went full-on Death Wish, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get what we love from a good Batman story out of it. With the promise of new origin stories concerning Penguin, Scarecrow, Catwoman, Joker, Riddler and Poison Ivy, the only part of Batman that won’t be on prominent display is his sweet car and a much needed therapist.

Would I like this?

If you like Batman, but would rather not have to deal with a Bat-rasp then this show is for you. Also for people who have a burning need to finally see a non-Danny-DeVito-esque version of Penguin (Cobblepot is played by Robin Lord Taylor this time and he is easily the best part of the show). If you’ve been reading the recaps, you’ll know that the first few episodes were a bit of a slog, but Gotham recently found its footing with a couple of really fun episodes.

Constantine

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When and where?

Fridays at 10:00 PM on Global starting on October 24.

Quick – what’s it about?

Remember the 2005 movie Constantine starring Keanu Reeves and Shia LaBeouf? I’m sorry I reminded you. But don’t worry: NBC is going to try and help you forget that filmic slap in the face once and for all this October with its series of the same name. Based on the Hellblazer comic books, the series will follow John Constantine, already damned to Hell and trying to live a life sans-demons, getting pulled back into the battle for balance between good and evil.

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Why so excited?

Matt Ryan from Criminal Minds plays the titular expert of all things occult, which is already a good sign since he fits the part visually and has a sweet British accent. Another plus in the show’s favor is that it’s airing on NBC’s Freaky Friday Night schedule, a time slot that was recently given significant elbow room in terms of scary standards and practices thanks to an auto-cannibalism scene in the most recent season of a little show called Hannibal.

Would I like this?

If you’re a fan of the Hellblazer comic book series this looks like the show you’ve been wanting for a while. Otherwise, if you prefer anti-heroes over superheroes, and get excited that horror is finding a home on TV again then you’ll be into Constantine.

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Aquarius

Aquarius Duchovny

 

When and where?

TBA 2015 on NBC (no news on who gets it in Canada yet)

Quick – what’s it about?

Aquarius  is the show that has me most excited when time comes for mid-season replacements: a period crime drama starring David Duchovny as an L.A. detective in 1967 investigating a missing persons case that inevitably leads him to the Manson Family. Duchovny’s Sam Hodiak is too square to get any information out of the hippie leads he encounters, so he has to buddy up with rebel undercover cop Brian Shafe, who is described on NBC’s website as “a man who’s more comfortable rolling a joint than patrolling a beat.” It’s the True Detective  formula applied to  a multiple season format, but with enough nostalgia and Duchovny that it stands to have a bit more humor.

Why so excited?

In terms of highly serialized crime dramas, Aquarius pitches like a homerun: dark subject matter on a network that seems bent on cornering the television horror genre; a lead who has a proven track record both in horror and as a lovable FBI agent that can lighten any mood; and a boatload of morbid nostalgia that doubles as dramatic irony in a series that will hopefully have a firm end date in place when time comes around for renewal. As a midseason replacement, there is no trailer for Aquarius yet, but you can imagine one yourself by putting Helter Skelter on repeat, closing your eyes and picturing that classic Duchovny “FBI, freeze!”-face.

Would I like this?

If you aren’t turned off by the arguably exploitative Manson Family aspect of the show that anchors Aquarius in historical genre fiction, this will appeal to you if you like The X-Files (especially episodes without aliens or monsters) and disturbing buddy detective shows like True Detective.

The Flash

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When and where?

Tuesdays at 8:00 PM on CTV

Quick – what’s it about?

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is struck by lightning (or is it??), gifting him with super speed. The result: a hero who might just go on to save the universe by running on a cosmic treadmill. I might be over selling the levity here, but as a CW series about a guy in red that can run really fast you can expect plenty of melodrama, inside references to the source material and a lot of problems that can be solved with the liberal application of feet to the ground (in the first episode, Barry tries to defeat a tornado by running in the opposite direction of the vortex).

Why so excited?

Yes, this is the third superhero show on my list, but for good reason: of the three new series based on DC Comics properties, this spinoff of CW’s Arrow is the only one that can’t possibly drown in self-seriousness (and the only one co-starring Canadian comedic actor Tom Cavanagh as a villain).

Would I like this?

If you’re tired of superhero adaptations bleeding seriousness to the point of near self-parody then The Flash is for you. Also for fans of other CW DC adaptations like Smallville and Arrow can expect more of the winning formula. 

Last Man on Earth

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When and where?

TBA 2015 on Fox (no word on Canada yet)

Quick – what’s it about?

Creator and writer Will Forte is the last human being on the post-apocalypse planet searching the United Sates for any other signs of life. Last Man on Earth is a super high-concept single camera comedy with a pilot directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Why so excited?

Chris Miller and Phil Lord have a great CV when it comes to high-concept comedy. Christened as cult TV royalty thanks to their early 2000s series Clone High, the duo have recently proven that they’ve still got it with The Lego Movie and the exceptional pilot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This season they are directing the highest of comedy concepts: Will Forte on his own.

Forte created the series, so even though the trailer shows a collection of admittedly broad physical bits, there is a lot to get excited about. Right now he’s the only announced cast member, which is appropriate considering the premise, but it’s still really exciting. For my money, no other actor this side of Bill Murray is capable of making me laugh so hard by just being lonely.

Would I like this?

It’s a pretty good bet that if you like Miller and Lord’s previous work (Clone High, Lego Movie) you will at least like the pilot, but if you like Will Forte’s weirder SNL work this should be high on your list of things to watch.

Blackstrom

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When and where?

TBA 2015 on City

Quick – what’s it about?

I have always harboured a secret wish to see Rainn Wilson prove that he can be a lead and this might be the best chance he’s ever had. Thankfully, Blackstrom isn’t a code name for the long rumored Dwight Schrute spin off from The Office, but an adaptation of a Swedish novel series about a so-unbearable-it’s-almost-charming detective. From the executive producers responsible for Bones, the show follows Wilson’s Everet Blackstrom as he heads up the Portland PD’s special crimes unit.

Why so excited?

My hope is that Blackstrom will shoot for the moon and land somewhere in between House and the best buddy cop procedurals. In any case, it will finally give us an opportunity to see Wilson working with drama-comedy material instead of reprising the same decade-old cubicle nerd schtick that made him famous.

Would I like this?

There aren’t many crime procedurals that go for laughs over discomfort these days, so if you want a weekly show about detectives that isn’t about cannibals or flat circles of time, check out Blackstrom.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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When and where?

TBA on NBC in 2015 (I’m thinking Thursdays though)

Quick – what’s it about?

Tina Fey is back in a writers room and Ellie Kemper is on screen in what looks like NBC’s best bet in comedy this year. Fey is co-executive producing and writing with fellow 30 Rock alum Robert Carlock in a series about Kimmy Schmidt: a cult survivor that decided to take back her life by making it big in New York City.

Ellie Kemper’s character snags a job as a maid in the Upper East Side, befriends a guy who makes his living as a Times Square robot and, armed with pure optimism and the naivete of an ex-cult member, Kimmy Schmidt takes on the kind of adventures one can only find Tina Fey’s cartoonish version of New York.

Why so excited?

Tina Fey waxing on the craziness of New York? Ellie Kemper playing a wide eyed former crazy person? A potential Thursday night comedy to replace Parks and Rec after this final season? This show better be good, because if it’s not then we’re back to the drawing board in terms of how to create exceptional original comedy series.

Would I like this?

This one is all about ingredients. If you liked 30 Rock and enjoyed Ellie Kemper in The Office (she was easily the best late series addition to the cast) then Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  should have your attention

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