2016 Fall TV Capsule Reviews

AwardsDaily TV takes a brief look at some high profile 2016 Fall TV shows

Now that Emmy season is over, it’s time to immediate dive into the 2016 Fall TV season. This year, it feels especially packed with new shows, so it’s hard to keep up with everything. Networks and streaming platforms are debuting their their new content in the next few weeks, so, believe me, there’s so much to check out.

What makes the grade so far this season? What will we quickly delete from our DVR? Here’s a list of shows we’ve checked out in the last few weeks.

Designated Survivor

2016 Fall TV
(Photo: ABC)

Everything you need to know about Designated Survivor you already know. This project is the latest in a series of high-concept series that run the risk of burning too bright too fast after a literally explosive pilot episode. Like Quantico before it, Designated Survivor offers up an admittedly gripping central premise – the U.S. Capitol explodes during a State of the Union address. What, I suspect, will ultimately save this show from burn out is its accomplished central performance by Kiefer Sutherland. He plays the titular designated survivor, the one cabinet member held back in case of said catastrophic event, as a timid but well meaning politician. He’s the kind of guy whose Buddy Holly glasses may be geek chic but not “presidential.” The pilot works well enough, but I’m frankly a little dubious (aside from Sutherland’s performance) as to how long the series can sustain momentum beyond the central “whodunnit” plot. – Clarence Moye



(Photo: Netflix)

Every relationship is different and features different dynamics, so it’s fitting that Joe Swanberg’s new comedy, Easy, is a series of different stories. Featuring a large and famous cast, the show is accessible and very funny. It reminds us that a lot of romances go hand in hand with comedy. The first chapter stars Elizabeth Reaser and Michael Chernus as a married couple who’ve been with each other since college. They struggle to navigate their sex life while balancing family and work. In the second episode, a tryst between a lesbian couple leads to unexpected conversations about veganism. Other episodes include Malin Akerman, Orlando Bloom and Dave Franco. This isn’t unchartered territory, but both the writing and performances feel honest and genuine. – Joey Moser


The Good Place

(Photo: NBC)

Everything about The Good Place appealed to me. Kristen Bell? Check. A heavenly setting. Literally. Check. The promos reminded me of a pseudo-Pushing Daisies—a comedy set in a realm where a lot of fantastic stuff could happen with a lot of colorful characters. So why does The Good Place bore me so much? Is it because Bell can’t really shake her good girl image to play a bitch who was killed by an erectile dysfunction truck ad (one of the best jokes from the pilot)? As a woman who is re-routed to the wrong afterlife, Bell’s Eleanor tries to identify as a good person in order to avoid getting sent to hell (or the hell equivalent on network television). It has a lot of potential, so maybe the first episodes were just a misstep? – Megan McLachlan



(Photo: ABC)

Speechless would be nothing without the comic timing of star Minnie Driver. She’s so great in her frank delivery of this insanely ADD mother that you literally can’t imagine the sitcom without her. Driver plays Maya DiMeo, the matriarch of a complex family unit who basically moves around a lot. What complicates matters is that DiMeo has a teenage son with cerebal palsy, so the pattern instability is perhaps not the best choice for the family unit. Driver sells the material completely, though, and pulls the audience along as hilarity ensues. The rest of the family unit hasn’t quite fallen into place yet, but that’s ok. Speechless fits in nicely with ABC’s current stable of family sitcoms that ask audiences to look at family units quite different from their own. It’s good enough for a few more looks. – Clarence Moye


This is Us

(Photo: NBC)

In the tradition of Parenthood, This is Us caters to the NBC audience that’s into “Cry Porn.” (Note: “Cry Porn” is a show that causes your Facebook feed to blow up with “I’m not crying—you’re crying” and “sobbing uncontrollably” every Tuesday night.)  However, given the show’s big twist, This is Us might work better as a stand-alone short film than an episodic show, as the preview for the second episode looks more like a Victory Lap rather than taking us into any new territory from the first episode. It’s sappy, sweet, and doesn’t appear to be very plot driven, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then pass the tissues. – Megan McLachlan



(Photo: ABC)

Remember the old saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?” I’m not sure that is the case with the ABC news drama Notorious since it can’t hold a candle to the Shondaland dramas that surround it. Sure the marriage between the law and the media is probably a complicated one, but the show proves that sometimes salacious material should be left to the professionals. If you are yearning to see hot people walk quickly down hallways, this is the show for you. If you are wanting to see Piper Perabo do her best The Catch-like smirking, tune into ABC on Thursdays. There are two deaths in the pilot and a small discovery about an escort agency. And that’s not even part of the central plot. Sure, Perabo and Daniel Sunjata have chemistry that could potentially go somewhere, but it’s the most manufactured and unbelievable “will they or won’t they” I’ve seen in a long time. Notorious fits the Shondaland landscape (hot bodies, sexual tension, twists aplenty, etc.), but it doesn’t earn its slot, because it’s just a knock off. If it decides it wants to have an identity of its own, it could succeed in earning the attention it so desperately wants. – Joey Moser

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