As we mentioned on this week’s Water Cooler Podcast, the Fall TV season feels like it’s going to be a huge letdown when all is said and done. When compared to last year’s rich and robust programming (The AffairThe KnickOutlanderBlack-ish, or Transparent), this year’s offerings offer nothing remotely buzz-worthy or notable – on paper at least. Maybe, though, there will be a diamond in the rough. We won’t know for sure until the credits start rolling.

Until then, here’s a listing of the more notable new shows heading to the small screen in the coming months, starting with ADTV’s most anticipated new series of the 2015 Fall TV Season.

Most Anticipated:

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – 11:35 p.m. – Weeknights – Starts September 8th

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – 11 p.m. – 9/28

Scream Queens – Fox – 9 p.m. Starts 9/22

American Horror Story: Hotel – FX – 10 p.m. – 10/7

The Man in the High Castle – Amazon

Blood & Oil – ABC – 9 p.m. – 9/27

The Muppets – ABC – 8 p.m. 9/22



Life in Pieces – CBS – 8:30 p.m. 9/21

It follows the life of a family with events from each family member’s point of view. So think like a comedic TV version of Vantage Point or The Slap (or maybe just The Slap). Stars Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, Colin Hanks, and Betsy Brandt of Breaking Bad.

Minority Report – Fox – 9 p.m. – 9/21

Based on the 2002 film, this tv show is set 11 years after the events of the movie, in 2065. A precog named Dash (Stark Sands) has the ability to predict crimes, even though the program was dismantled in 2054. Dash has a twin brother (Nick Zano) and foster sister (Laura Regan) who both developed unique gifts before the program was eliminated. Now, they’re using these gifts to help Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) solve crimes. Also stars Wilmer Valderrama (yes, really).

Blindspot – NBC – 10 p.m. – 9/21

It’s the tattooed lady show. A woman (Jaimie Alexander) is found naked and covered in tattoos in Time Square. Each tattoo contains a clue about a crime that the FBI has to solve.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – 11 p.m. – 9/28

Noah has some big shoes to fill (even if it might be a shorter desk).

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – CW – 8 p.m. – 10/12

Just call this one “Felicity: The Musical.” It’s described as a musical comedy about a woman who moves to California to be with her high school boyfriend who dumped her. Created by and stars Rachel Bloom, who’s had videos on Funny or Die. This show was originally produced for Showtime before being picked up by the CW.

Fargo – FX – 10 p.m. – 10/12

It feels weird calling this show a new series, but in the second season, we’ll meet new characters including Ted Danson, Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, and Jean Smart.

Supergirl – CBS – 8:30 p.m. – 10/26

It stars the most forgettable part of Whiplash and also includes Ally McBeal. Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart.

Todrick – MTV – 10 p.m. – 8/31

The man behind the Beauty and the Beast/Gay Pride video is getting his own show.



Bastard Executioner – FX – 10 p.m. Starts 9/9

From Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy creator. This show is historical fiction set in the early 14th century about a knight who vows to lay down his weapon only to be forced to pick up the executioner’s sword. Stars Lee Jones (Aussie actor known for Slut: The Musical), Kurt Sutter, and Katey Sagal.

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris – NBC – 10 p.m. Starts 9/9

An hour-long variety series created by Neil Patrick Harris.

Scream Queens – Fox – 9 p.m. Starts 9/22

From AHS’ Ryan Murphy comes a horror comedy about murders surrounding a sorority. Stars Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Jamie Lee Curtis, and other big name TV stars.

The Muppets – ABC – 8 p.m. 9/22

The Muppets host a late-night show without Jason Segel, and hopefully, Walter.

Limitless – CBS – 10 p.m. 9/22

Based on the 2011 movie starring Bradley Cooper (who reprises his film role briefly in the show), this show follows Brian Finch who takes a pill and is able to increase his IQ up to 4 digits and is able to recall everything he’s ever read, heard, or seen. Stars Jake McDornan of Greek and Manhattan Love Story. Also: Jennifer Carpenter and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

Grandfathered – Fox – 8 p.m. 9/29

Originally called the Untitled John Stamos Project, this show now has a name and a premise. John Stamos’ character finds out he has a son from a one-night stand and that his son has a daughter ALSO from a one-night stand (should have been called The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far). Stars: Paget Brewster, Josh Peck, and Christina Milian.

The Grinder – Fox 8:30 p.m. 9/29

Rob Lowe stars as a former TV star who was on a lawyer show called The Grinder. When his show is canceled, he moves home and lives with his real-life lawyer family and starts to pretend to be a lawyer in court, using what he learned from his TV show days. Also stars: Fred Savage, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, William Devane.

Wicked City – ABC – 10 p.m. 10/27

Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) has his own show now. Set in 1982, it’s about two LA detectives trying to track down two romantically linked serial killers. Also stars Erika Christensen, Taissa Farmiga, and Jeremy Sisto. Anthology series.



Moonbeam City – Comedy Central – 10:30 p.m. –  9/17

Think Archer meets Miami Vice, with voices including Elizabeth Banks, Rob Lowe, Will Forte, and Kate Mara.

Rosewood – Fox – 8 p.m. – 9/23

Stars Morris Chestnut as a private pathologist who also has a heart condition where he will probably die before he hits 40. Also stars Jaina Lee Ortiz.

Code Black – CBS – 10 p.m. – 9/30

This medical drama follows an understaffed and overcrowded emergency room in Los Angeles. Stars Marcia Gay Harden. Also stars Luis Guzman.

American Horror Story: Hotel – FX – 10 p.m. – 10/7

All of the usual suspects are checking in, like Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett, but there is also Lady Gaga. But will audiences check out after last season?



Heroes Reborn – NBC – 8 p.m. – 9/24

It’s Maybe-See Thursday, with the return of Heroes, a show that should have ended when it ended. Most of the original cast is back, except for the Cheerleader (Hayden Panettierre). I guess she didn’t need to be saved after all.

The Player – NBC – 10 p.m. – 9/24

A group of rich people gamble on whether a team can stop crime. Stars Wesley Snipes.

Benders – IFC – 10 p.m. 10/1

Denis Leary produced this show about an amateur hockey team.



Hand of God – Amazon – 9/4

A corrupt judge has a breakdown and believes that God wants him to be a vigilante. Stars Ron Perlman.

Dr. Ken – ABC- 8:30 p.m. – 10/2

Based on Ken Jeong’s previous career as a doctor, this sitcom stars and is created by the actor/comedian.

Red Oaks – Amazon – 10/9

A young tennis player works at a country club during the summer between college years in the 1980s. Executive produced by David Gordon Green, of Eastbound & Down. Stars Craig Roberts of Neighbors and 22 Jump Street.

Truth Be Told – NBC – 8:30 p.m. – 10/9

Follows the lives of diverse couples and their feelings on everything from sex to race relations. Some people might just scroll through their Facebook feed instead. Stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tone Bell, Bresha Webb, and Vanessa Lachey.



Ash Vs. Evil Dead – Starz

A horror comedy created by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Set in the Evil Dead franchise and serves as a sequel to the movies.



Blood & Oil – ABC – 9 p.m. – 9/27 

It’s a soap opera in Williston, N.D., and stars Don Johnson as an oil tycoon. Also stars Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse as the young couple who moves to the town after a huge oil discovery.

Quantico – ABC – 10 p.m. – 9/27

This show has been called “How to Get Away with a Terrorist Attack,” because it uses a similar format to Shonda Rhimes’ hit from last season. We are introduced to a bunch of FBI recruits through flashbacks with a flashforward at the end to reveal one of them masterminded one of the biggest terrorist attacks since 9/11. Stars Aunjanue Ellis as Miranda Shaw, the FBI director at the academy, and Josh Hopkins from Cougartown.



Angel from Hell – CBS – 11/5

Stars Jane Lynch as a guardian angel who’s been watching over a woman all her life (Psych’s Maggie Lawson).

Chicago Med – NBC

Spin-off of Chicago Fire. Stars Oliver Platt.

The Man in the High Castle – Amazon

An alternate history of the world if the Axis powers would have won World War II. The pilot which aired in January was Amazon’s most watched episode since their original programming began.

Master of None – Netflix – 11/6

Aziz Ansari’s new show about a 30-something in New York City. Also stars H. John Benjamin.

Flesh and Bone – Starz – 11/8

From Breaking Bad writer Moira Walley-Beckett comes this show about the world of professional ballet.

Into the Badlands – AMC – 11/15

Martial arts drama starring Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

The Art of More – Crackle – 11/19

First scripted series for Crackle, about world of high-end auction houses. Stars Dennis Quaid, Cary Elwes, Christian Cooke, and Kate Bosworth.

Special Events

Ferrell Takes the Field – HBO – 10 p.m. September 10

A documentary that follows Will Ferrell as he takes the field in five Major League Baseball training games, playing all nine positions for ten different teams in a single day.

Keith Richards: Under the Influence – Netflix Movie – September 18

Beasts of No Nation – Netflix Movie – Friday October 16

High-profile drama about an African soldier starring Idris Elba and directed by Cary Fukunaga.

Live from Lincoln Center – Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton (Working title) – PBS – 10/30

The special will feature Elfman’s iconic scores from Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The Wiz! Live! – NBC – 12/1

Queen Latifah, David Allen Grier, Uzo Aduba, Common, Ne-Yo, Mary J. Blige, and Shanice Williams as Dorothy.

Our friends over at Variety reported an exclusive today that Apple – home of the iPhone, iPad, and the soon-to-be-revamped Apple TV – is strongly considering a move into original programming. The article cites “sources” indicating Apple big-wigs have conducted multiple meetings with Hollywood execs over the past month or so to produce original content for AppleTV. The problem with the article is frustratingly light on details, even contradicting itself later with other “sources” indicating that Apple is simply “flirting” with the idea. Still, it’s a logical next step in the tech giant’s persistent evolution from its computer origins to what appears to be an intended domination of the public’s entertainment budget.

Whatever the outcome, the real winner here is undoubtedly Apple, who is set to announce their new suite of iPhones and, most importantly, what is rumored to be a vastly upgraded AppleTV set box on September 9. Rumor-based publicity has long proven to be catnip for those in the Cult of Apple.

It’s not an outrageous assumption that Apple would shift into an original content delivery model after watching rivals Netflix and Amazon make huge strides into the market with House of Cards and Transparent, respectively, among many other high-profile, Emmy-winning titles. With Apple’s all-but confirmed venture into providing a web-based TV series in early 2016, taking the next step into original programming seems like a no-brainer. Apple could easily justify the rumored $40 per month price tag for 25 channels by offering sought-after original programming. Again, it’s not a huge leap to see Apple heading in this direction, but there have been lots of items since Steve Jobs’s death in 2011 that Apple has apparently explored and abandoned – an iPhone-friendly DVR and an actual TV set but a few of the products rumored to be spinning around Cupertino’s development labs.

My take? The original content story is probably the real deal. Netflix and Amazon haven’t released ratings on their original series so it’s tricky to say, but they have to be making significant inroads into whittling away cable’s grip on television watchers. With Apple joining the fray by offering its own web-based TV service and potential original programming, it could catapult them into a competitive share of the entertainment market, rivaling Amazon and Netflix despite their sizable head start in the field.

The first step apparently comes September 9 when Apple announces the revamped AppleTV, rumored to run anywhere from $149 to $199. According to a series of articles over at Macrumors, the new AppleTV will include the option to install applications from its App Store whereas previously Apple controlled the installation of content on the device. It will also include its famed Siri assistant, home automation, and, importantly, a motion-sensitive remote control to facilitate channel surfing as well as introduce an easy-to-use gaming interface to allure casual gamers. The new device was reportedly scheduled for introduction at its WWDC event in early June, but it wasn’t ready for unveiling at the event. Although this was never confirmed, the early artwork for the event surely pointed to an AppleTV-like device deemed “the epicenter of change,” potentially positioning the AppleTV as the epicenter of home entertainment.

WWDC 2015


Whatever Apple decides to do with original programming, it will most certainly enter the web-based TV market in early 2016, assuming the major networks finally agree to their pricing structure. They’d better be careful too.

Taylor Swift is watching

Everyone interested in the outcome held their breath to see how AMC’s Mad Men would land. Would it end with the widely predicted (without significant evidence, mind you) Manson or D.B. Cooper angles? Would it go the way of The Sopranos and refuse to grant a satisfying conclusion to the beloved-by-television-elitists series? The final episode, fortunately, stayed true to the heart of the series by in some ways resolving the inner conflict of its central character Don Draper / Dick Whitman (Jon Hamm) that has plagued him since day one. It avoided dramatic histrionics or extravagant plot mechanics and focused instead on what people loved about the series most: its characters.

By doing so, I suspect, it has cemented its place, if ever there was a doubt, in the final seven slots for Best Dramatic Series at the 2015 Emmys. Highbrow critics proclaimed it brilliant, echoing most of the Twitter reaction I saw through an entirely informal poll. I’m not here to debate the quality of the series finale, but I do think it was good enough, memorable enough, to stick in voter’s minds. Whether or not it will win is a question for another day, but the battle for Emmy supremacy in the Dramatic Series category will be a tough one given the current vast quality of dramatic television. Common thought has largely settled around seven series, but it feels as if seven more could rise up and take their place. Television dramas are a boom industry right now.

Joining Mad Men is the perennial nominee Game of Thrones. Even a little more than halfway through its fifth season, there is scarce doubt that the fantasy series will rank at the top of Emmy ballots. The size, scale, and ambition of the series alone propels it there. And some even say its the series’ best season yet. Of course, there are many vocal detractors no doubt disappointed in the rebuilding of the series after the seismic and extremely bloody Season Four. True, most of the characters in Season Five tend to travel around the Game of Thrones map preparing for their next big battle – the multi-pronged attack on Winterfell. Also, there’s yet another tricky rape storyline that featured the beloved Sansa Stark Bolton, but a similar rape controversy did not sideline the series in Season Four. The creative team will dazzle us as they tend to do with a dramatic battle episode somewhere around episode nine, I suspect. This episode will serve as the chief submission for the series, and any possibility as to its omission from the final seven will be eliminated.

House of Cards is most likely the third safe nominee. The Netflix series premiered in late February to general critical approval, rating a 76 on Metacritic. But critical acclaim has never been the series’ strongest suit as evidenced by its complete shut-out in the recent Critics Choice TV award nominations. Still, its high gloss drama and its recent shift in power toward the House of Cards women make an effective case for inclusion – even if the overall quality was a bit more uneven this season. Emmy voters do love the familiar and no one works a room like Kevin Spacey, so this one stays in the top seven, despite falling a few notches.

No matter your opinion of the show, Downton Abbey will be in the top seven. You can count on that. Since moving from the Outstanding Miniseries or Movie ghetto to the Drama Series headlining category, it has consistently received nominations despite broad acknowledgement in its waning quality. Why is that? Chalk it up to older voters in the Television Academy and a British contingent that coagulates around their own. Still, this year, the series won an unexpected SAG award for its ensemble, providing a show of strength as the series heads toward its final season. It won’t win this year, but it will show up, blocking far more deserving nominees in the process.

I suspect that Emmy voters will pay little attention to the bizarre category shenanigans and rule chicanery that places Netflix’s Orange is the New Black in the Drama Series category after campaigning in the Comedy Series categories last year. The creative team appealed the decision and was denied. Still, it is my personal opinion that the show does belong in the Drama Series categories anyway. The material is dark, heavy, and often tragic. While the modern scenes can be funny, most of the flashbacks deal heavily in heartfelt melodrama (re: Poussey’s military brat love affair, “Crazy Eyes” abandonment by her adoptive parents, Lorna’s “reluctant” fiancee, etc), so the show feels more comfortable in the Drama Series categories. It will be recognized here because it’s hotter than ever, racking up awards from the Producer’s Guild (for Episodic Comedy nonetheless) and the Screen Actor’s Guild (for Ensemble in a Comedy Series and Female Actor). Also, its third season drops during the nomination window, guaranteeing all sorts of publicity and excitement around it.

The final two slots are a little more murky. Fox’s ratings giant Empire feels like a good bet given the attention paid to a number of its successes. Cast primarily with African-American actors, Empire was the rare true breakout TV series, fueled by dozens of op-ed pieces and millions of Tweets, that climbed in the ratings week after week. Additionally, its soundtrack has performed well on the Billboard charts, and it will most likely time its home video release with a high-profile campaign during the voting season. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun. There’s no denying its soapy (re: Dynasty) roots, and people will definitely feel like rewarding it this year before the inevitable escalation in catfights and decline in overall quality take hold. With such a strong year for diversity on television, how can the Emmys ignore Empire?

Finally, the last slot could go to any number of possibilities.

CBS’s The Good Wife has a surprising number of backers on Twitter (not a metric by itself) and still receives a great deal of press for its latest season. Yet, the series itself hasn’t been nominated since 2011 when it became a victim of the surge in award-worthy cable shows. I’m not feeling a resurgence of affection or an “attention must be paid” attitude that would push it beyond its stiffer competition, but it is a possibility. Star Julianna Margulies won an unexpected Dramatic Actress Emmy just last year showing love still exists for the show.

AMC’s Better Call Saul could ride some of that residual Breaking Bad good will into the nominee’s circle. The ratings have been very strong for the freshman series, and, more importantly, the quality of the series has been uniformly good (if not consistently great). The producers should be very careful in making their Emmy submission selections and choose one of the episodes that deftly bridges the gap between both series, proving Saul can stand on its own outside of the Bad shadow. If one of our seven major predictions falls out, then this is probably the series most likely to advance.

FX’s The Americans third season was beloved by all who saw it for its dramatically pungent story lines and brilliant acting. Trouble is: not many people saw it, and the degree of difficulty is very high for a series that has yet to receive major Emmy recognition going into its third season. ADTV loves the show, and we continue to advocate for its greatness. Yet, we can’t ignore the signs and the history. Sad to say, if it hasn’t happened yet, then it ain’t gonna happen now.

Homeland became the butt of jokes in its third season with its wildly unfocused (putting it mildly) storytelling and unbelievable plot twists (even for this show which often dabbles in unbelievability), and its Emmy fortunes suffered accordingly, losing the Drama Series slot for the first time in its short life after winning Drama Series in its freshman season – breaking the Mad Men winning streak, mind you. However, Season Four has been widely received as a vast improvement in quality, restoring a little of that Season One magic by jettisoning extraneous plot lines and unnecessary characterizations and refocusing on the political intrigue that attracted viewers and Emmy voters in the first place. Plus, there could be some goodwill toward the series after its beloved supporting actor James Rebhorn passed away, a fact that the series acknowledged within the plot. I’m not predicting it to make it into the final seven yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did – it won an unexpected DGA award this year.

JustifiedOutlander. BloodlineBoardwalk EmpireThe FallPenny DreadfulBates MotelSons of AnarchyDaredevilThe KnickBroadchurchThe LeftoversManhattanRectifyOrphan BlackMasters of Sex. All of these series offer compelling arguments as to why they could be threats to the final seven, yet most of them have equally compelling detractions. Genre pieces. Extreme violence. Lack of buzz. Unreliable quality. Difficult to sit through. Any of these reasons could knock most of these series out, but you cannot count them completely out of the overall conversation, even if it is unlikely that any of these series – which all have passionate supporters in their various corners – will actually make it into the final Emmy conversation.

No, the final slot – and, admittedly, the weakest slot in the bunch – goes to Showtime’s drama The Affair, a series I have consistently advocated for since it premiered last October to critical acclaim (an 85 on Metacritic). After it won two unexpected Golden Globes for Drama Series and Drama Actress (Ruth Wilson), it seemed a slam dunk for a nomination. Then, SAG gave it a big goose egg. As did the recent Critic’s Choice TV award nominations. Given its fall berth, it may be too “out of sight, out of mind” for Emmy voters. As I could be completely alone (sitting right here on a shaky tree branch with the peeps in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – a dubious tree branch companion to say the least) in my adoration of the show, I’m completely prepared to be 100 percent wrong about going with this show in my predictions. And I’m completely prepared for the comments and Tweets telling me how wrong I will be. Still, after recently re-watching some of the series for a piece I wrote on Maura Tierney, I cannot deny how extremely great the show is. Let’s hope the Emmy voters see it my way. Suck it, haters.

So, that makes my predicted nominees as follows (in alphabetical order):

  • The Affair
  • Downton Abbey
  • Empire
  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • Orange is the New Black

Where do you think I’ve gone wrong? What shows am I discounting or under representing? Feel free to comment below and share your predictions.

HBO’s Game of Thrones returns Sunday, April 12, and it runs a significant risk at, rumors and book knowledge aside, disappointing the masses whose expectations have been molded by the previous seasons. Viewers trained on the series’ penchant for dramatic, bold strokes of shocking plot twists will undoubtedly be on the lookout for that next big shock (and, if we’re being honest, that next big death). Still, I have confidence that the creative team of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will find ways to balance the politics and palace intrigue with dramatic, violent outbursts.

But it is largely the unexpected surprises that incur my obsession, partially because I endure the sometimes (here come the tomatoes) tediously dense passages of dialogue for the great violent outbursts. Hey, it’s not just me – I have a friend who watched all of Season One and still had no idea what Winterfell was. I’m not quite that bad, but I am known to use a Wikipedia page or two for a quick primer.

Full disclosure, I have never read the A Song of Ice and Fire books. I tried, believe me, I did. There’s something about Martin’s prose (and Tolkien’s before him) that becomes akin to Wile E. Coyote holding up his stop sign. Nope, this is not for you, Clarence Moye. And it never will be.

Given that, many of the novels’ most famous moments were completely new to me. So now that Season Five is upon us, I thought we’d take a look at the major surprises the series has pulled off to those previously uninitiated in the world of Westeros. And before we proceed, just so you know, over its four seasons I have grown to obsess over all aspects of the series – not just the gory deaths.

Naturally, spoilers abound for anyone who hasn’t seen the show.

6. Wait… Hold up… Aren’t They Brother and Sister?

Giving credence to the time-honored phrase “incest is best,” the pilot episode introduces us to Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime. Their introduction as I remember it was innocuous enough – the Lannisters visit the Starks at Winterfell in a meeting that sets so many events into motion that its frankly dizzying to consider. And the episode closes with young Bran Stark nimbly scrambling up a crumbling tower. He’d been told not to, but he did it anyway. It’s the kind of thing young kids do, for those of you who have none.

But what he encounters in that tower has been largely burned in my brain ever since. Jaime. Taking Cersei. From behind. Perhaps the moment may not have shocked you as much as it did me, but it established Cersei as unapologetically “keepin’ it real,” bloodline style. When Jaime deals with Bran by pushing him out of the window, you’re completely aware that we are not in Hobbit territory here. This is dark. This is dirty. And it only built from there.

5. Melisandre Pops Out a Shadow Assassin.

Season Two brings us Melisandre, a priestess of the Lord of Light and a character that, initially, I thought would turn out to be something of a tease. She stands behind Stannis Baratheon in his quest to win the Iron Throne, but yet her allegiance always, at least to me, had the weight of a snake oil saleswoman. She claimed to have magical powers and the power of prophecy, but that always felt rather shady to me. Particularly when she begs Stannis to have sex with her to celebrate the Lord of Light or something like that.

But when she revealed a nearly overnight pregnant belly to Stannis’s right-hand man Davos, we all knew something shifty was about to go down. Later, in a dark cave with Davos looking on, she writhes and contorts from the pain of childbirth. When two shadowy black hands appear from between her legs and pull a shadow figure from her womb… well… Shit got real.

4. The Eye-poppingly Graphic Death of Oberyn Martell.

Oberyn Martell was an interesting character that featured prominently in Season Four. Appearing in Westeros in time for Joffrey’s wedding, he had a few things going on. First, he was unabashedly bi-sexual, so when he paid a visit to the local brothel, he was given to sample from a wide banquet of treats of the flesh. Second, he had a not-so-hidden agenda regarding seeking revenge for the rape and murder of his sister at the hands of a Lannister bannerman. Honestly, he kind of had a Princess Bride “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” vibe about him.

Toward the end of the season, he volunteers to fight in support of Tyrion Lannister’s trial by combat effort, a battle he decidedly does not win. In fact, not only does he not win, but he’s done in by his own arrogance, thinking he’d felled the Red Viper. His death is spectacular, though, in that he’s punched in the face, his eyes are gouged out, and his skull is crushed by the man-mountain. If you gotta go… Don’t go like that.

3. Just About Everything That Happens at The Eyrie.

Sitting on the sit of a massive mountain chain, the Eyrie is the domain of House Arryn, primarily occupied by Jon Arryn’s widow Lysa and her son Robin. When we first meet Lysa, she’s breastfeeding her son. He’s somewhere around 10. To paraphrase an old adage, if you’re old enough to reach up and pull it out, then you’re too old for it in the first place. Anyway, the breastfeeding is an appropriate event because it betrays Lysa’s mental state and Robin’s physical dependency on his mother.

That’s a minor moment in what’s to come. Once Petyr Baelish rescues Sansa Stark from the Joffrey’s wedding fallout, he brings her to the Eyrie as Petyr is now married to Lysa. Sansa’s presence at the Eyrie stirs a jealous rage within Lysa that makes her unbearable as a character. There are a handful of scenes where Lysa berates Sansa for minor offenses, and those are especially hard to take given the significant obstacles already put in Sansa’s path during the run of the series. So, perhaps it’s not as “shocking” as it is completely gratifying when Petyr, after rescuing Sansa from “flying through the moon door” (ie – being pushed out of a giant hole in the floor into the vast below), puts an end to Lysa’s insanity by sending her sailing through the moon door. Aside from the fate of Joffrey, there has never been so much pleasure from so much death.

On a side note, another surprising turn at the Eyrie is Sansa’s evolution following Lysa’s death. She apparently learns how to play the game and finally seems to be becoming a woman. It is her trajectory in Season Five that excites me the most.

2. The Death of Ned Stark

Aside from my most shocking moment of Game of Thrones, the death of Ned Stark is perhaps the most widely discussed moment of the series. Actor Sean Bean was the biggest name in Season One, and no one (again, outside of those who read the books) expected his demise at the hands of the newly crowned King Joffrey. When Ned is led to the public execution, you regard the scene with the traditional sense of “Something will happen. This cannot take place.” Yet, it does. The blade comes down as his two daughters look on in horror. Later, his head is placed on a spike around the castle walls, partially for the benefit of Joffrey’s painful torture of Sansa Stark. Killing off the main character isn’t a new conceit by any measure, but it does give you the sense that the series isn’t playing around. Anyone is fair game for the blade. Or knife. Or burning. Or arrows. Or head crushing. Or poison. Take your pick.

1. The Red Wedding.

Sure it’s a cliche. The world screamed out in unison at the massive body count immediately following the wedding of Edmure Tully to a daughter of Walder Frey. Perhaps even those who knew the progression of the novels were surprised at the brutality of the scene as “The Rains of Castamere” began to play. Suddenly, Robb Stark’s pregnant wife, Talisa, was stabbed repeatedly in the stomach. Then, a rain of arrows pierced many a body cavity as Robb Stark himself was stabbed in the heart. Finally, his mother, Catelyn – a fan favorite since day 1, had her throat sliced from ear to ear, leaving her to bleed out all over the floor. And, most heartbreaking, Robb Stark’s direwolf, Grey Wind, is struck down just as you think Arya Stark, in hiding to avoid the calamity, will free it.

The bloody wedding is a conceit that runs through all entertainment – Dynasty‘s Moldavian Massacre springs to mind. But here is another instance where Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin show you that they’re not playing around. This is an epic series that plays it very real. Few characters escape unscathed, physically or emotionally, and that’s one of the primary reasons the series is so profoundly great.

When I saw the headlines about The Daily Show’s new lead anchor and his offensive tweets, I just assumed this was the natural backlash that has become so unfortunately popular in the age of Twitter and the Internet. Someone finds success and you must hate on them. Immediately.

But then I read the articles, in order to form an educated opinion, and was gravely disappointed by what I read. Not by the offensive nature of Trevor Noah’s tweets, but by how deeply unfunny they were, unrelated to race, LGBT issues, or feminism. Did some frat dude write these? Surely, not a well-respected South African comedian with the strong international presence. I couldn’t help but think: This is the guy who’s taking over for Jon Stewart?

Taboo humor can be done. Comedy Central’s Roast of Justin Bieber is proof of this, as no topic—or figure—was safe from being poked fun at during the show that aired on March 30. Jokes about abortion, African Americans, pedophiles, lesbians, and older women were all on the table, and the only negative headline resulting from this show was a joke about Paul Walker getting cut. Maybe this was because of the nature of the Roast, where it’s a no-holds-barred, two-hour, anything-goes-fest for the network. It’s the Christmas of comedy, where comedians don’t have to worry about being censored because the more offensive, the better.

None of Trevor Noah’s tweets were anything as offensive as what Martha Stewart said to Ludacris during the Roast (“You have three kids with three different women. May I suggest pulling out some time and finishing on some highly absorbent Martha Stewart bed linens?”). And if anything, Martha Stewart has gained some mad street cred since her appearance. She’s not losing fans, but gaining them. So is the real issue with Trevor Noah’s tweets not that they’re offensive but that they’re offensively unfunny?

Let’s face it. Noah has some HUGE shoes to fill, especially since he’s young (Stewart was in his late 30s when he took over for Craig Kilborn) and has only made a handful of appearances on the show he’s going to take over. Comedians like Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore went through a much more vigorous vetting process before moving on to their bigger projects. What makes Noah so special?

That’s probably the brunt of the hate on Noah’s tweets. The world collectively going, This all you got? Yet, we must remember that Jon Stewart has become Jon Stewart because of a hilarious supporting team of writers, not just because of his singular self. If Twitter were around when Jon Stewart was just starting out, surely he would have had some shitty jokes as well (after all, he openly admits to his shitty acting in movies like The Faculty and Playing by Heart). We follow social media accounts like @stephenathome based on the idea that Stephen Colbert is tweeting these directly, when really, like most celebrity accounts, tweets are calculated and probably consist of a lot of team workshopping before anyone clicks “send” or more aptly “schedule.”

Comedians are not without their controversies on Twitter. Figures like Jenny Johnson and Gilbert Gottfried have been accused of crossing the line with their jokes, and they rebounded because that’s what comedy is about: breaking boundaries and then retreating. But with Noah, the Twitter attackers were out to dig up these jokes from the get-go, especially since most of the controversial tweets were from two or three years ago, when perhaps Noah was still finding his voice.

Before Trevor Noah’s Twittergate, I just assumed Comedy Central knew something we all didn’t know yet about this rising star. And I suspect there’s a strong chance they still do, otherwise they wouldn’t give this guy TV’s second most beloved gig behind The Tonight Show. But we must all remember that every comedian makes mistakes. It’s only now that there’s a timeline the public can refer to and pinpoint these missteps.

What’s sad is that he deleted one of his funniest, and most appropriate, tweets following this “scandal”: “Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all of the characters on Twitter.” If he sticks to honesty like this, he’ll be an asset to The Daily Show. But if I were him, I’d stay off the medium for a while and wait until he has a team of writers to bounce ideas off of.


Let me preface this post by saying I am a huge fan of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and that I think NBC made a huge mistake in passing on this gem of a show. The series is a testament to female strength, both on-screen in the form of the Mole Women and off-screen in the form of the influence of Tina Fey.

It saddens me to see so many articles about race being a problem on the show. Sure, Dong is kind of a stereotype, but *spoiler alert* he wins Kimmy’s heart. How many television shows make the leading man in a white female protagonist’s life a sweet, Asian dude? Long Duck Dong would have been proud.

And related to that dated Sixteen Candles reference, there’s a more pressing, obvious issue with the show other than race: Kimmy Schmidt’s retro timeline.

While I love the idea of Kimmy’s captivity being like a 15-year time capsule, some of the jokes don’t line up. As someone who’s around Kimmy’s age and would have been 15 at the same time she was, some references simply don’t work if we’re supposed to believe Kimmy went into the bunker in 2000.

For example, Kimmy talks about Yo MTV Raps, which aired from 1988 to 1995. She speaks of it as if it were on the air right before she went into hiding. If we’re to believe the show exists in 2015, this feels a little off. If anything, Kimmy should have been talking about Total Request Live, which started in 1998.

Also, the only book she had to read in the bunker was The Babysitters Club’s Dawn and the Surfer Ghost from 1993, which comes into play in an episode where Jacqueline Voorhees’ stepdaughter Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula) gets caught plagiarizing the story as her own.

This feels off on many levels. Babysitters Club hit its height in popularity in the mid-‘90s, when the film came out. Also, the book was aimed toward late-elementary school students, even though it was about middle-schoolers, similar to the way girls who read Seventeen are rarely 17 (they usually move on to Cosmo at that point). Since all of the girls are around the same age in the bunker (except for Latina maid Donna Maria Nunez), it’s questionable that any of these young women would be interested in reading this book at this point in their teenage lives. Even more questionable, that a Millennial like Xanthippe would discover the book and read it when there’s modern-day competition like The Hunger Games (although maybe Xanthippe got tired of teen dystopia novels).

Even Kimmy and Titus’s relationship with Columbia House seems dated. Many ‘90s kids can recall eagerly awaiting for CDs to arrive in the mail—not cassette tapes, which is what the two roomies anticipate. CDs were the dominant culture. Kimmy may feel like a jog through Central Park with a Walkman is the most up-to-date technology, but most teenagers in the late ‘90s had portable CD players. Even the fact that she listens to EMF’s “Unbelievable” from 1991 feels disconnected (has she been in the bunker for 25 years?).

That’s not to say that Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t excel at any of the references. Some of them are on the mark, including Kimmy mentioning Tamagotchis, which would have been a part of her generation. Also, Hanson was popular, but where are groups like the ‘NSync and the Backstreet Boys, which you KNOW Kimmy would have a say on (I picture her as a Lance Bass kind of gal)? She has Vanilla Ice and Hootie and the Blowfish on her 30th birthday playlist, but where are the Spice Girls and Britney Spears?

Again, these false references don’t stop me from loving this show. After all, there’s a suspension of disbelief that goes with pop culture. Movies like The Wedding Singer utilized ‘80s references from all over the decade, from J.R. being shot (took place in 1980) to Madonna being the rage (her first album didn’t come out until 1983), and still, it’s an enjoyable watch.

The only difference with Kimmy Schmidt is that when you’re placing a character 15 years from a particular event, it should feel authentic, especially when 18-to-34-year-olds are most likely to binge-watch—a demographic who lived through the time period.

Jimmy Fallon’s tenure on The Tonight Show turned one year old this week and, while I’ve been critical of the host and the show in the past, I have to admit he’s doing something right. He’s easily the highest rated show going, especially in the coveted 18-49 demographic. So, if he’s not serving up my cup of tea, that’s a me problem and not a Jimmy problem, right? Right.

I’ll get to the good parts in a minute, but first let me get the bad out of the way. A year later (and after 5 years as host of Late Night), Jimmy remains a terrible interviewer. His boyish innocence and puppy-like enthusiasm probably make him a publicist’s dream, but to actually watch him gushing over every guest is kind of unbearable to those of us with at least a single cynical bone left in our bodies.

His monologues aren’t his finest hour either. Even back in his Saturday Night Live days, Jimmy was always at his best bouncing off the other cast rather than delivering punchlines.

Luckily, The Tonight Show plays to Fallon’s strengths, namely that innocence and enthusiasm. While on the surface it has all the trappings of a traditional late night talk show – the curtain, the monologue, the band, the desk, the guests – Fallon leaves his imprint on Tonight in the margins in between. These are the moments that go viral on YouTube and no doubt help drive the ratings of the show. Instead of talking at the water cooler about what Carson did the night before, people share YouTube videos with their friends on social media. This is the very audience all TV networks want to attract and this is the audience that Fallon seems to have a knack for appealing to. A good example is a bit from the show’s first week on the air which quickly went viral and remains one of the show’s most popular moments… though in light of the recent bad news with Brian Williams, it plays a little differently than it did then:

Tellingly, moments like this have more to do with the show’s writing than they do Fallon himself. Where Johnny Carson’s version of The Tonight Show and even more so David Letterman’s versions of Late Night and The Late Show all depended mightily on the personality of their hosts, Jimmy is less assertive. He’s more a conduit for a sense of goofiness and play that lets celebrities shine if they choose to play along. A good example is the Lip Sync Battles he does with a number of willing guests. The first notable one was Emma Stone:

This is such a popular YouTube-able feature, it’s getting its own show. And what makes it work is the willingness of a popular celebrity to let his or her hair down and play along as though we’re all at the same sleepover at Jimmy’s house. To his credit, Fallon creates the welcome environment, but audiences tune in to see the celebrity “friends.” And I don’t mean that as a criticism, per se. These shows have always been about showcasing celebrities and whatever project it is they’re currently selling.

This idea of a sleepover with parlor games often carries over into (or takes the place of) traditional interviews which we’ve already established Fallon sucks at. Instead of engaging guests with questions, Fallon plays games with them. Here he is in a memorable bit with Jennifer Lawrence that doesn’t tell us much about Lawrence or what she’s up to, but gives her a chance to show her personality and make us feel like we’re all buddies.

When I was a kid, getting to stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson made me feel like I was doing stuff my parents did. They smoked and told jokes I didn’t get and I loved every minute of it. In high school, staying up to watch Late Night with David Letterman was doing something my parents hated. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon feels very different. Like all of pop culture for the last 30 years, it’s more interested in what the kids are doing. Maybe it’s just because I’m my parents’ age now, but I doubt it. It’s a different world now.

I have to admit, I bristle at a lot of this stuff. Whereas Letterman was creating a weird sort of pop art that wasn’t just a reflection of his times, it actively shaped them, Fallon feels like the ultimate extension of the massive publicity machine that drives so much of TV. Letterman mocked celebrity while Fallon nurtures it and, even more importantly, allows us the audience to feel like we’re a part of it. It’s a lie, but it’s a comforting, social-media-friendly lie and Fallon is able to pull it off without a trace of cynicism or irony. Maybe that’s his gift. And really, what’s wrong with that?

By now, Netflix bingers are well into Friends, after the series was released in its entirety on Jan. 1. They’ve surely passed “We were on a break!” and are well on their way to Ross’ red-sweater paternity test.

However, as a huge Friends fan, there’s one thing that’s always bothered me about the series—that being the over-the-top saccharine ending with a chase to the airport and three cliffhangers in a matter of 10 minutes (Will he get to the airport? Will she get on the plane? Will she get off the plane?).

True Friends fans know this was kind of a cop-out. After all, how many times did Ross and Rachel almost get back together only to break up? What made us think they didn’t break up once they got to Central Perk after the final “key” scene? Surely, they were going to argue over whether to move to Paris or not.

And yet, the Friends finale from 2004 has remained relatively unscathed from fans compared to NBC comedy comrade Seinfeld. In fact, in a recent Grantland podcast with Bill Simmons, Larry David addressed how much grief he got with the finale from 1998, saying, “I thought it was clever.”

And it was clever. Way clever. It took risks, it garnered laughs, it wrapped things up. It did everything a good finale should do, and yet that particular episode is much more divisive than the weaker Friends finale. Why is that?

For one thing, there was no happy ending. Elaine and Jerry didn’t get together (although who really wanted to see that?). George didn’t finally grow up. Kramer didn’t get a job. No one had kids. Larry David’s ending served almost as a punishment for the personalities that collectively represented America’s uninhibited id. (There’s a reason why a Rutgers professor is teaching these characters.) Maybe in some way, audiences felt like they, too, were being punished.

Friends took the easier way out, the crowd-pleasing one. Everything that was expected to happen, happened. The only surprises were pleasing ones (Twins! She got off the plane!). What’s most frustrating was that for a show that was pretty original (lesbian weddings, surrogate babies to your brother), it used the cliche romantic comedy ending, which  30 Rock ended up doing better (“I was about to do the whole run to the airport thing, like Ross did on Friends and Liz Lemon did in real life”).

That’s probably one of the biggest differences between the two classic shows. Seinfeld was a show that did things its own way, whereas Friends appealed to what audiences wanted to see. Seinfeld unapologetically killed off one of its only redeemable characters, while Friends boosted its ratings by randomly adding Joey into the Ross and Rachel love story. While both shows are hilarious and textbook ‘90s comedy, they both had very different ways of execution. In the end, the Seinfeld finale proved that audiences really do like their happy endings and want a say in where their favorite characters end up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Elvis Presley was born 80 years ago today so let’s take a look back at his first year on television when the still young medium launched him into superstardom and helped him define the very image of mid-19th-century popular music as the King of Rock and Roll. Take a look at the performances below between January and September of 1956 and watch a young man become an icon.

On January 28, 1956, the then 21 year-old singer made his very first TV appearance on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. He’d recorded his first single, “That’s All Right” for Sun Records, a mere 18 months before and his most recent, “Heartbreak Hotel” for RCA/Victor, had been released the day before. Introduced by Cleveland DJ Bill Randle who promised a television history-making performance, Presley performed Bill Haley’s “Shake Rattle & Roll”, Big Joe Turner’s “Flip Flop & Fly” and Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman.”

The broadcast garnered an 18.4% ratings which, though much less than The Perry Como Show‘s 34.6%, was good enough to earn Presley 5 more spots with the Dorseys.1 He returned on February 4th to perform Arthur Gunter’s “Baby Let’s Play House” and Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti”

The second show earned an 18.2% share vs. The Perry Como Show’s 38.5%.2 Elvis came back to The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on February 11, 1956 and he performed Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” and Elvis’ own hit single “Heartbreak Hotel” backed by the Dorsey orchestra.3

What’s interesting is the relatively modest crowd reaction to both the announcement and the performance of “Heartbreak Hotel.” The single didn’t hit number one on the charts until late April and Elvis’ legend was still growing. That would all change in a few weeks.

He next appeared on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on February 18th performing “Tutti Frutti” once more along with his own “I Was the One”, the B-side of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

It was another month before Presley would appear on Stage Show, but obviously the singer was really starting to break though. On March 17, he returned for another performance of “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Heartbreak Hotel” and the crowd reaction is noticeably more intense. The screaming starts at the mere mention of “Heartbreak” and is repeated throughout the energetic performance.

For Elvis’ final Stage Show appearance on March 24, the day after his debut album Elvis Presley was released, the singer was scheduled to perform “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Heartbreak Hotel” as he had the previous week, but Carl Perkins had been injured in an automobile accident on his way to perform that same night on the competing Perry Como Show, so Presley performed Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters’ “Money Honey” instead out of deference to his friend.4

While Presley’s run on Stage Show didn’t move the Nielsen meter all that much, it was enough to get the attention of NBC’s popular Milton Berle Show for which Presley recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” before a group of sailors aboard the USS Hancock in San Diego on April 3.

The same day, Presley filmed a color screen test at Paramount lip syncing the same number. He would release his first film Love Me Tender for 20th Century Fox later in 1956.

Elvis returned to The Milton Berle Show on June 5 to do a little comic bit with Berle and to perform his cover of Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” and this is the moment where he really left his mark on television and started to achieve national prominence.

Performing without his guitar at the behest of Berle, Presley’s gyrations caused a stir in the audience and freaked out TV critics. Writing in the New York Times the next morning, Jack Gould dismissed him as no better than a rock and roll stripper:

“Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability. His specialty is rhythm songs which he renders in an undistinguished whine; his phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner’s aria in a bathtub. For the ear he is an unutterable bore, not nearly so talented as Frankie Sinatra back in the latter’s rather hysterical days at the Paramount Theatre. Nor does he convey the emotional fury of a Johnnie Ray.
From watching Mr. Presley it is wholly evident that his skill lies in another direction. He is a rock-and-roll variation on one of the most standard acts in show business: the virtuoso of the hootchy-kootchy. His one specialty is an accented movement of the body that heretofore has been primarily identified with the repertoire of the blonde bombshells of the burlesque runway.”5

Despite the scorn from the establishment, his appearance catapulted The Milton Berle Show over The Phil Silvers Show in the ratings for the first time ever.6 The controversy around the performance itself only cemented Presley’s status as a superstar. He had officially arrived in middle class living rooms all across the country.

Though Ed Sullivan, the reigning king of variety shows, declared Presley “unfit for family viewing”7 and refused to book him, Steve Allen had his own brand new variety show running in the same Sunday night time slot as The Ed Sullivan Show and he jumped at the chance to have Presley on his July 1 program. Wanting the ratings but perhaps not the controversy, however, Allen brought Presley out as “The New Elvis” in hat, white tie and tails as if to reassure suburban audiences the young man would not corrupt their children. Elvis first performs “I Want You, I Love You, I Need You”, his May single which hit #1 on the Country charts and #3 on the Hot 100. Then he’s reduced to a comic figure, having to sing “Hound Dog” to an actual hound dog in a top hat.

During rehearsals for the Allen Show, an interviewer for Rock ‘n Roll Stars magazine asked Elvis about the sexual nature of his performances and he either played coy or was genuinely surprised at the reactions he was getting:

“I never even think of that when I’m singing,” he said. “After that Milton Berle show, I asked my mother, ‘Was I vulgar?’ If anyone would know, my mother would know if I’m vulgar, wouldn’t she? She said ‘No, you weren’t vulgar, but if you keep working so hard you’ll die before you’re thirty,’ but she said I ain’t vulgar. I never do more than wiggle my leg when I sing. If all that was true what some people said after the Milton Berle Show, I’d be in an institution as some kind of sex maniac. It just ain’t so.”

Then just before he was called by Steve Allen for the final rehearsal of his number, Elvis told me:

“I’m holding down on this show. I don’t want to do anything to make people dislike me. I think TV is important so I’m going to go along, but won’t be able to give the kind of show I do in a personal appearance.”

“If it isn’t that old black magic called sex that makes the girls scream ‘Oh, Elvis, I think I’m going to die,’ what is it?” I asked.

“Beats me,” the newest pin-up boy said with a shrug. “All I do is sing and dance a little.”8

Immediately after his performance on The Steve Allen Show, Elvis appeared on the the interview program Hy Gardner Calling. Hy asks him about his fame and the controversy over his TV performances and Presley comes across as a shy, unassuming, slightly bewildered kid who just wants to play music. “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong… I don’t see how any type of music would have any bad influence on people when it’s only music… I mean, how would rock ‘n’ roll music make anyone rebel against their parents?”

Controversy aside, when the numbers on the Allen performance came in, they were huge. The show scored a 20.2 compared to The Ed Sullivan Show‘s 14.8.9 That sealed the deal. Sullivan could no longer ignore Elvis so he booked him for three appearances for a then unheard of sum of $50,000.10

The first show on September 9th, the season premiere, was guest-hosted by Charles Laughton filling in for Sullivan who was laid up after an automobile accident. Elvis’ first number was “Don’t Be Cruel.” Contrary to everyone’s memory that Sullivan would only shoot Presley from the waist up, that restriction only applied to the third of Presley’s Ed Sullivan appearances at the behest of network censors.

He followed up with “Love Me Tender” the title song from the film which would be released a month later.

And finally he performed “Ready Teddy” and yet another rousing rendition of “Hound Dog.”

As everyone knows, the ratings for Presley’s first Sullivan appearance were enormous. NBC didn’t even bother to run The Steve Allen Show that night and ran a movie instead. It was well they did because 82% of the audience, 60 million people, tuned in to see what the fuss over this young man from Tupelo Mississippi was all about.11 A legend was born and rock and roll, society and culture would never be the same.

The networks have done some purging since the fall 2014 premieres (see: ABC’s Manhattan Love Story and NBC’s A to Z) to make room for these new midseason shows.

So what looks good, bad, and plain ugly? Here are my predictions.

What Will Survive

A.D. – NBC – Sunday April 5
According to the plot description, this series picks up where The Bible mini-series left off.
Reason: Bible shows always seem to do well on NBC. And it already has a platform, with The Bible (the show, not the actual book).

Agent Carter – ABC – Tuesday Jan. 6
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) gets her own spin-off. Think Alias meets Mad Men.
Reason: Audiences are ready to embrace a new female TV hero, and that hero may be Ms. Carter.

Battle Creek – CBS – Monday March 1
Hey, Dummy. It’s a buddy cop comedy starring Dean Winters (Dennis Duffy of 30 Rock) and Josh Duhamel.
Reason: If it’s one thing CBS viewers love, it’s a cop show. Bonus points for recognizing Mayhem from the Allstate ads.

Better Call Saul – AMC – Sunday Feb. 8
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) gets his own spin-off after Breaking Bad.
Reason: Breaking Bad was a cultural phenomenon. Even before the show was announced, fans wanted Saul to get his own series.

CSI: Cyber – CBS – Wednesday March 4
Yet another show in the CSI franchise.
Reason: Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Look at NCIS: New Orleans which premiered last fall and ranks as the most-watched new series.

Fresh Off the Boat – ABC – Wednesday Feb. 4
Just as ABC’s The Goldbergs tackles the ‘80s, FOTB hopes to tackle the ‘90s. It follows a Taiwanese family moving to America during the decade that gave us the Macarena.
Reason: ABC seems to do well with representing modern families—and not just the Emmy Award-winning series. This looks to continue the diversity trend started by Black-ish.

Man Seeking Woman – FX – Wednesday Jan. 14
A surreal look at dating, starring Seth Rogen’s buddy Jay Baruchel.
Reason: This show looks to fill the quirky void left by Wilfred. Plus, it has a movie star.

The Odd Couple – CBS – Thursday Feb. 19
A remake of a classic, this one includes Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon.
Reason: After Mr. Sunshine and Go On, Perry’s due for a hit. This could be it.

Schitt’s Creek – POP – Wednesday Feb. 11
Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara star in TVGN’s first scripted comedy about a video store magnate and his family as they move to the crap town they bought in the ‘90s.
Reason: Looks a little like Arrested Development, so don’t expect huge ratings, but definitely a cult following.

Younger – TV Land – Tuesday March 31
A 40-something (Sutton Foster) poses as a 26-year-old in order to get a job.
Reason: It’s every woman’s dream: being older and looking younger. And it’s written by every woman’s favorite TV writer: Darren Star.

What’s on the Bubble

American Crime – ABC – Thursday March 5
It’s jury duty. With Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton.
Reason: Despite the interesting premise, apparently the case deals with racial motives. With racism a real hot-button issue, will audiences want to watch a fake case? Plus, since it’s on ABC, it will probably lack any real grit.

Babylon – SundanceTV – Thursday Jan. 8
Brit Marling is tasked with bringing Scotland Yard into the age of Twitter. Basically, it’s a British cop comedy from Danny Boyle.
Reason: Did I mention it’s a British cop comedy from Danny Boyle?

Empire – FOX – Wednesday Jan. 7
Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Hinson round out the cast of this modern drama loosely based on King Lear. It’s about a music honcho who’s trying to figure out who to leave his empire to.
Reason: It looks great. Sounds great. But FOX is not having a good year. While it’s getting decent reviews, could it be a one-hit wonder?

The Last Man On Earth – FOX – Monday March 1
Will Forte is the last man on earth, looking for another human being. It’s a comedy.
Reason: The success of this show will largely depend on how much audiences love Forte.

Secrets & Lies – ABC – Monday March 1
Ryan Phillippe gets caught up in the murder of a child in his neighborhood.
Reason: Murder is big on ABC (see: HTGAWM), but solving a child’s murder sounds a lot like the ill-fated Gracepoint, the remake of a highly acclaimed BBC show.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix – Friday March 6
A woman (Ellie Kemper) escapes from a cult and heads to New York City.
Reason: NBC passed on this comedy, created by Tina Fey.

Togetherness – HBO – Sunday Jan. 11
Two couples live under the same roof and try not to kill each other. This is not a sitcom.
Reason: Mumblecore creators the Duplass Brothers created this series, but will the independent-movie schtick stick with HBO audiences? Maybe.

What Will Be Canceled

12 Monkeys – SyFy – Sunday Jan. 16
TV remake of the ‘90s sci-fi film that starred Brad Pitt.
Reason: Even if it’s really good, most people are only interested in SyFy when it comes to sharknados.

Allegiance – NBC – Thursday Feb. 5
An American war hero doesn’t know that his family is Russian double agents.
Reason: If people want to get their fill of Russian espionage, they’ll tune into FX’s The Americans.

Backstrom – FOX – Thursday Jan. 22
Dwight Schrute is finally getting his own show based on a Swedish novel about a detective who hates everyone.
Reason: It looks like a rip-off of House.

Galavant – ABC – Sunday Jan. 4
A medieval musical in the same vein as Spamalot.
Reason: While the trailer was charming, all of the good moments seem to be in the preview. Plus, the theme song has a lot of people like me on suicide watch.

Odyssey – NBC – Sunday April 5
It’s NBC’s version of Homeland starring Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) and Peter Facinelli (Twilight).
Reason: Knowing NBC, it’s probably more like the second-season version of Homeland.

One Big Happy – NBC – Tuesday March 17
She’s a lesbian (Elisha Cuthbert). He’s gay (Nick Zano). They decide to have a baby together. Then, he gets a girlfriend.
Reason: This sounds like it’s 2015’s The New Normal.

The Slap – NBC – Thursday Feb. 12
One small incident (bet you can’t guess what it is) sets off a chain of events within a family.
Reason: Parenthood, this is not. This remake may have worked in Australia, but not even Peter Sarsgaard will save this. Plus, the film Carnage is proof that one-event plots don’t always work with American audiences.

Weird Loners – FOX – Tuesday March 31
Four people become friends in New York.
Reason: This premise is staler than that cup of Central Perk coffee Gunther left out from the ‘90s.

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