Posted in Arts, Top Arts

Fall TV Reviews

New shows and returning favourites light up the airwaves

Fox's latest fall TV offerings feature Pitch which is the story of the first female Major League Baseball player Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury, pictured left).
Fox's latest fall TV offerings feature Pitch which is the story of the first female Major League Baseball player Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury, pictured left).
Image Credits: Fox

How to Get Away with Murder

If you thought the third season of How to Get Away with Murder would come with fewer twists, time jumps, and murders, then you are in for disappointment.

The show found its niche and formula in season one, and the premiere used all its signature moves. We have no idea who the dead body is, how it happened, or who on the team did it. My guess is the new character they’ve added: insufferable, know-it-all Drake, who has an answer for everything.

Frank is MIA, Annalise and Nate are together, and Wes has a new girlfriend (she seems nice, but his history says we should stay vigilant and suspicious). We’ll get the usual smattering of episodic cases with the larger plotline of the nameless murder victim. This season is certainly shaping up to deliver the same twisted, what-the-fuck goodness we love.

Lethal Weapon

A TV show reincarnation of the popular movie series, Lethal Weapon isn’t as terrible as I thought it might be. It’s a cop dramedy that sees the two leads as a stereotypical bickering married couple, who get their adrenaline fixes in the line of duty.

It opens with heartbreak and tragedy that really shapes Detective Riggs’ character and behaviour — he’s the kamikaze. Detective Murtaugh, after a near-death experience, is the cop who plays it a little too safely, always monitoring his heart rate.

The dialogue is witty, and the plot — though a little predictable if you’ve watched enough cop procedurals in your life — is decent. The writing is better than average, and despite a focus on the comedy, the show does discuss more sombre themes like depression and suicide. However, it’s the relationship of snappy comebacks and camaraderie masked as animosity between Murtaugh and Riggs that’ll keep you coming back.

Lucifer

The second season of Lucifer opened strongly, hitting all the classic notes one would expect following the success of its first season. The soundtrack was on point, and the first episode was enjoyable even though it lacked the added oomph one might expect from a season premiere.

The one-liners were hilarious, Detective Decker was suspicious, and Lucifer was his usual devilishly attractive yet self-absorbed self. Decker’s husband Dan, who at the end of last season was arrested, was released and let back on the force, much to the detective’s surprise.

Maze went AWOL for a while to find herself and her place in this human world, but she’s back to kicking ass and taking names with a demon’s flair.

And that cliffhanger we got at the end of last season? Well, it looks like we may not have to wait all season to figure out who “Mom” is.

MacGyver

For those of us not around in the late-‘80s, the reboot of MacGyver brings the scientific creativity of Angus MacGyver to a new generation. Mac is a covert operative for the US who uses his extensive scientific knowledge and improvisational skills to “MacGyver” his way out of sticky situations. Yes, this is where that term comes from.

In this show, voice-overs are regularly used. They explain the science behind wrapping a coil around a cylinder of metal to make an electromagnet, and Mac’s thought processes as he makes and uses his gadgets.

It’s an intriguing show, and they’ve already set up for their season-long story arc, thanks to a betrayal and some custody-escaping. But other than the MacGyver quality, it could be just about any other secret agent spy show. In that respect, it’s not bad. It’s just not doing anything new.

Modern Family

The eighth season of Modern Family started off with a solid premiere. The Dunphy clan started out in New York, where we left them at the tail end of last season. With typical Dunphy antics, they hung out in the big city until Father’s Day. Phil and Claire bailed on a closet convention for an NYC weekend away, and the trio of kids faked going home to spend more time in the Big Apple. Guess how long those secrets held up.

Mitchell and Cam had a very different holiday away, with Cam’s grandmother on her deathbed and Mitchell being the person she hates more than anything. Add to this comedic jumble Manny developing Stockholm syndrome feelings for his aunt, and it’s easy to say this episode was funny and highly entertaining.

The great thing about Modern Family is, because it’s almost three different sitcoms in one, they rarely have a bum episode. Luckily, this was not one of them.

Notorious

Notorious is set to become one of my new favourites. It tells the story of Julia, the producer of a much-watched news outlet that’s funny, flirtatious, and dramatic. The show has received generally unfavourable reviews by critics, but I’m going against them because, while it’s full of flash and fluff, it’s not implausible.

The show follows the relationship between Julia and Jake, an attorney who trades favours with Julia in order to control the media’s narrative of his cases and the public perception of his clients. It shows the “dark side” of how one woman (Julia) gets to quite literally produce the news. She decides what people will watch, and consequently what they will learn and care about.

It’s got a decent dose of mystery, with its undertones of a crime procedural. If you’ve seen Scandal, it’s a little like that, in that Julia and Jake manipulate the situation to suit their own interests.

Pitch

Pitch follows the life of Ginny Baker, the first woman to ever start an MLB game. As a pitcher, she’s mastered the screwball from a young age, and has used that special pitch to make the big leagues. She comes complete with a troubled backstory: a father who pushed her too hard into something she wasn’t even sure she wanted to do, to fulfill his dream of playing in the majors.

So it deals with some daddy issues, but it also deals with sexism — a particularly troublesome part of the sporting world — and it does so in an intelligent way. Ginny navigates her dismissive teammates like a pro, and deals with the skeletons in her closet as she does.

You don’t really need to like sports to enjoy Pitch, since the show is about more than just baseball. It’s about women doing what men do — and doing it just as well, if not better.

Speechless

Speechless is everything you didn’t know you wanted in a comedy show. Centred on the DiMeo family, composed of Maya and Jimmy, the parents, and Ray, J.J., and Dylan, their three kids. The DiMeo’s patchwork dynamic contributes to the comedy, but the core of the comedy surrounds people with disabilities.

I don’t mean that in a they-make-fun-of-people-with-disabilities way. J.J. has cerebral palsy and, as a result, can’t speak. Instead, he uses a laser pointer and a board of words and letters to communicate. Through J.J., and the actions and behaviour of the people in his life, the show manages to provide lighthearted insight and awareness of how people with disabilities are treated by the general public.

It’s an incredibly well-written sitcom. It’s respectful yet funny, drawing attention to the flaws in how people are treated, and showing by example how those people should be treated instead. I highly recommend it.

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory opened its 10th season (good lord, has it really been that long) with a wedding episode. After eloping last season, Penny and Leonard are finally having the ceremony that all their friends and family can attend — and it makes for a pretty hilarious start.

There are a few sappy moments when the vows are being read, and others pitch in to show their love, but overall it was a steady cruise from joke to one-liner and back again throughout the episode. Immigration, marriage, and parents having sex are all fair game in this episode.

With Penny’s and Leonard’s families meeting for the first time, there is plenty of in-law comedic relief, and Sheldon’s always dependable for a socially awkward laugh or two. All in all, if the rest of the season follows suit, this could be a good run for the comedy.

Van Helsing

Remakes are very popular this TV season, and with that wave of inspiration comes the remake of Van Helsing. Centred on Vanessa “Van” Helsing, the daughter of the original Abraham Van Helsing, the show immediately thrusts you into the middle of the vampire apocalypse.

Van is somehow immune to vampire bites and has an insane healing ability, but the first part of the episode has her mostly lying on a table uselessly under heat lamps.

If you’re looking for sparkly, lovesick vamps, this is not your speed. Van Helsing’s vampires most closely resemble zombies in their single-minded quest for fresh blood. So, aside from the vampiric twist, it doesn’t seem to be doing much differently than the zombie apocalypse shows we’ve been taking in for years now.

There is a good amount of potential, with the woman lead, and a bunch of people cooped up together. That always spells drama. And blood. So if you’re squeamish, pass.

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