Stay Tuned: In new fall TV, ‘Stumptown’ is a standout
The fall TV premieres are finally here, and the broadcast networks are pulling out all the stops with competing lawyer shows, several comedies, and an army vet turned PI who wins the week.
Dispatches: Weekly TV news
Ryan Seacrest will return as host of “American Idol’s” upcoming season. Seacrest has been the show’s host since the franchise began in 2002.
Country music star Brad Paisley will host and executive produce “Brad Paisley Thinks He’s Special.” The hour-long prime-time variety special will air on ABC later this season and feature performances from Kelsea Ballerini, Jonas Brothers and others.
Contenders: Shows to keep on your radar
CBS and NBC want your attention in the courtroom. On “All Rise” (Sept. 23, CBS, 9 p.m. ET), the focus is Judge Lola Carmichael, (Simone Missick) a deputy district attorney, who plans to shake things up in her new role. Over on NBC, Jimmy Smits plays Elijah, a celebrated Memphis lawyer, whose estranged daughter returns to the family fold and his law firm in “Bluff City Law” (Sept. 23, 10 p.m. ET). Of the two, my pick is “All Rise.”
In “Bob Hearts Abishola,” (Sept. 23, CBS, 8:30 p.m. ET) a divorced businessman from Detroit has a heart attack and falls in love with his cardiac nurse, a Nigerian immigrant named Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku). It’s a refreshing take on sitcom romance from powerhouse producer Chuck Lorre (“Big Bang Theory”).
“Prodigal Son” (Sept. 23, Fox, 9 p.m. ET) features Michael Sheen as Dr. Martin Whitly, an imprisoned serial killer whose son Malcolm (Tom Payne) works as a profiler with the NYPD. With an anxious edge to it, the premise interestingly explores what it takes to manage dark impulses.
On ABC, it’s half-hour sitcom “mixed-ish” at 9 p.m. ET (Sept. 24). A solid spin-off, it’s the backstory of “black-ish’s” Bow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross).
“Stumptown” (Sept. 25, ABC, 10 p.m. ET) is based on the comic book drama of the same name and follows Dex Parios, a Marine veteran with a drinking and gambling problem who works as a P.I. With a strong supporting cast and an excellent performance from Cobie Smulders as Dex, it’s an appealing procedural drama.
Sept. 26, is a night of sitcom premieres, and of the four, two have potential. “The Unicorn” (CBS, 8:30 p.m. ET) stars Walton Goggins and because of him, rises above what could be a predictable premise about a widower and father who re-enters the dating scene. “Sunnyside” (NBC, 9:30 p.m. ET) is reminiscent of “Community” and while it’s not as funny as that show, the study group characters have potential. “Carol’s Second Act” (CBS, 9:30 p.m. ET) is predictable with too many age jokes but deserves a mention for star Patricia Heaton’s charming likeability. Not a sitcom, but worth a look is “Evil” (CBS, 10 p.m. ET), a show that takes some inspiration from the “X-Files” with its spirituality versus science vibe. Leads Katja Herbers and Mike Colter have chemistry.
Ryan Murphy teams up with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan for dramedy “The Politician” (Netflix, Sept. 27). Memorable characters and a talented cast make Murphy’s first contribution to the subscription service a success.
Report Card: A look at ratings winners and losers
Winners: Netflix has renewed “Glow” for a fourth and final season.
Losers: The “Emmy Awards” hit a new ratings low.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @mcstaytuned.