Geiger's Culture Counter: Fall TV doesn’t need to be good
35, 52 and 36. Those are the respective scores for television shows “Marvel’s Inhumans,” “Me, Myself and I,” and “The Orville” on Metacritic, which averages a bevy of critic’s reviews and places them on a 100-point scale. Things aren’t looking too good for the small screen right now; however, I’m okay with that.
Critics are calling this fall’s slate of premieres the worst in a decade. They cite that big, prestige debuts are in the spring instead of fall now as one of the main reasons for the dullness. Because a show has to air half of their episodes before the end of May and the entire run before ballots are due in June to qualify for awards, April has become the Emmy-equivalent of Oscar season. That’s fine by me because I’m still playing catch-up.
I can use the free time of dead air to clean out my DVR, which has programs from 2015 waiting to be watched. I have yet to see the “Roots” reboot, “The Night Manager” miniseries, the whole second season of “Colony” and the last eight episodes of this year’s “Doctor Who.”
Speaking of awards, based on the Emmys it looks like I have to set aside time for both “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies”—with the former’s original novel still sitting unopened on my shelf.
On the digital side of things, my Netflix queue and HBO Go watchlist are growing like weeds. I didn’t get around to the latest “House of Cards,” I’m two seasons behind on “Orange is the New Black” and I haven’t had the opportunity to binge “GLOW” or “Ozark.”
I’ve seen plenty of critics—and pseudo-critics like myself—express both pain and pleasure at the sheer amount of quality television available. Remember when newspapers published airdates? Imagine how many pages would be needed if they did that today. A breather is more than welcomed.
Entertainment writers are also saying that because last year’s fall was good this one is bad. The well-rated programs create a void of talent and available timeslots. Yet I don’t quite see it that way. I agree that some of the new shows aren’t that great, but that doesn’t mean the season as a whole suddenly suffers. All of those beloved programs are still on the air.
The second seasons of 80s-scifi-love-letter “Stranger Things” and heartstring-tugger “This is Us” return to please fans. And though I can’t talk about much without spoiling the stellar start, I’m glad to see “The Good Place”—easily one of the most ambitious comedies in a long time—come back after that unbelievable finale.
It’s been a while since “Louie” has graced our screens but we have frequent co-star and producer Pamela Adlon’s “Better Things” to deliver the same vein of bittersweet tales. Many TV shows have tried to portray life with a disability, and failed, yet ABC’s “Speechless” manages to balance humor with tact. Actor Micah Fowler, who actually has cerebral palsy, plays high schooler JJ DiMeo in a highly dysfunctional family trying to navigate life. Created by Scott Silveri, who has an older brother with cerebral palsy, the show handles the usual sitcom plots with a unique and sensitive style.
While those shows are back for their sophomore year, others are gracefully bowing out. “Halt and Catch Fire” will no longer give us a glimpse of the early life of technology as its final season comes to a close. From computers to videogames to search engines we’ve followed the creative Cameron Howe, sly Joe MacMillan and entrepreneurial Donna and Gordon Clark for three years. Aside from Walking Dead, this is the last of AMC’s early forays into prestige programming and marks the end of an era. Something will eventually fill airtime, though.
Tomorrow viewers will see the revival of “Will and Grace” after an 11-year absence. I was a bit too young to fully understand it as it aired yet I’ve seen enough reruns on the back of airplane seats to appreciate the show. It’ll be interesting to see how a pioneer of gay characters on television will be affected and adapted by today’s political climate.
Also highly anticipated is “Curb Your Enthusiasm” breaking a hiatus after six years. Because “Seinfeld”—which “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Larry David co-created, produced and wrote—has been absent since 2011, David’s humor of the mundane has been sorely missed. I predict Sunday night will be pretty, pretty, pretty good.
There are other great, more senior shows continuing that I haven’t mentioned like “Mr. Robot,” “Fresh off the Boat,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Just because there are a few duds doesn’t mean the whole fall lineup is rotten.