Television, What to Watch
Sep 17, 2013

FALL TV PREVIEW: IT’S A MAN’S WORLD

It’s a man’s world again! Will 2013 be the year of the Father? For the past few years there have been strides by women who seemed to have taken over prime-time comedy. The sitcoms were for women, written by women, about women or the creator themselves. Most notably: The Mindy ProjectWhitneyTwo Broke Girls, and the B in Apartment 23. What happened? This fall most network sitcoms are created and written by men, about men, and in particular, about the bond between fathers & sons.

There appears to be a swing of the Hollywood pendulum toward more men centered shows looking to nab or hold onto the male audiences that seem to be defecting to cable TV, the Internet and/or video games. Someone once said, “That every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.” That seems to sum up the new season.

The Goldbergs– Tuesday ABC September 24- 9:00 PM- ET/PT- This comedy created by Adam Goldberg is set in the 1980’s. The sitcom unfolds as the coming of age memoir of Adam (Sean Giambrone). It is based on the home movies that the creator Goldberg made of his own family in childhood. The sitcom is a loud, warmhearted comedy about a family headed by Adam’s hot –tempered father Murray (Jeff Garlin) and his cool grandfather( George Segal) trying to get by. They scream and squabble, but eventually pull together. The success or failure of the show will be whether the viewers can identify with them and their Big Hair, Bad Clothes and 80’s nostalgia.

The Michael J Fox Show– Thursday NBC September 26- 9:30 PM- ET/PT- Michael J. Fox plays Mike Henry, a stay at home dad with Parkinson’s who retired to focus on his health and family. He is pushed by his wife (Betsy Brandt) and children to go back to work as a local news anchor after being home for five years. It is inspired by Fox’s own experiences and celebrates fatherhood while trying to demystify the disease. NBC is banking on Fox’s popularity to keep this show in the lineup.

Sean Saves The World –Thursday NBC October 3- 9:00 PM- ET/PT- Sean Hayes plays a divorced gay single dad who is trying to juggle work, a pushy mom (Linda Lavin) and a teenage daughter. He is determined to become the world’s best father after his14 year old daughter moves in with him. Can Sean Hayes and Linda Lavin get enough laughs to keep this show afloat?

The Crazy Ones– Thursday CBS September 26- 9:00 PM- ET/PT- Robin Williams, the Oscar and Emmy winning star, plays an eccentric advertising executive who has a straight-laced daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and a like-minded surrogate son (James Wolk). “We needed an actor who could convey genius, insaniaty, and comedy, tempered with humanity” says series creator David E. Kelly. He will surely get it from Williams who has great chemistry with Gellar and Wolk and is sure to have a following. Can you hear, Mork from Ork!

The Millers– Thursday CBS September 26- 8:30PM- ET/PT- Will Arnett plays Nathan Miller, a news reporter who makes the mistake of telling his parents Tom (Beau Bridges) and Carol ( Margo Martindale) that he just got divorced. It leads to disaster when his parents decide to split too, with his mom moving in with him. His dad then becomes an annoying-bird brained father. This comedy goes for the big laughs and delivers in the pilot but only time will tell however if the show can move beyond the “fart” jokes and take advantage of this solid cast of actors.

Back in the Game– Wednesday ABC September 25- 8:30 PM-ET/PT – James Caan is a retired baseball coach who becomes a surrogate father to his grandson, after his divorced single daughter (Maggie Lavson) and him move in. Father and daughter reconnect when they start coaching a little league team together. This theme is very familiar, it worked well in Trouble with the Curve, but I’m not sure for how long it can keep the viewers attention.

Dads– Tuesday FOX September 17- 8:00 PM- ET/PT- Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi are video game developers whose lives are disrupted when their fathers Martin Mull and Peter Riegert team up to annoy the heck out of their grown but immature sons. Dad’s has drawn some criticism for its crass, sexist and racially insensitive jokes. It remains to be seen if they can clean up their act for future episodes.

These are the most obvious examples of male-dominated shows, but there is hardly a show that doesn’t have a father or father figure in the lead role. This also seems to have created a lot of work projects for older male actors. As for the rest of the fall programs there are always the testosterone heavy police shows to round out the schedule including a few new ones.

Brooklyn Nine- Nine– Tuesday FOX September 17-8:30 PM- ET/PT- Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher could be TV’s newest odd couple. Braugher shines as a by-the-books captain who clashes with Samberg who plays an immature smart- mouthed detective. This sitcom definitely shows some promise and could be this year’s best new comedy.

Ironside-Wednesday NBC October 2-10:00PM-ET/PT- This remake of the 1960’s police procedural hit stars Blair Underwood as the detective in the wheelchair which was made famous by Raymond Burr. It remains to be seen how many original viewers will tune in, although, Blair makes for a compelling lead even if you don’t remember the original series.

The Blacklist- Monday NBC September 23-10:00PM-ET/PT- Three time Emmy winner James Spader returns to TV as Raymond “Red” Reddington- one of the most- wanted fugitives who strikes a deal with the FBI. “Red” will help them take down super-criminals who have thus far avoided capture. The catch- he will only work with a pretty rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen(Megan Boone). Spader is mesmerizing and this could be the best new drama of the season.

And last but not least…

Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-Tuesday ABC September 24-8:00PM-ET/PT- Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) reprises his Avengers role in the Joss Whedon TV drama- despite his death in the film. He assembles a team of top-secret agents who are tasked with protecting the public from threats to humanity. ABC is banking on the devoted audiences from The Avengers film to cross-over and watch them on the TV. There is enough wit, flash and action to get audiences to come back for more.

Writers tend to write about what they know. Men in their 30’s and 40’s appear to be now at the helm of the television industry. Will this trend continue, or will the strong women writers of the past few years come back to reclaim their place in future time-slots?