It’s been a rough couple of seasons for broadcast network television. Programming competition from cable and streaming services is at an all-time high, resulting in the era of There’s Too Many Shows.
You’d think that, in response, the broadcast networks would raise the quality and imagination going forward into the new fall season, and give viewers a reason to come back. Problem is, you’re thinking. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC? Not so much. (Who would have believed a decade ago that The CW, The C damned W!, would become the visionaries?) Not only have they given up on thinking; the networks have just given up, period: The majority of their proposed 2016-17 season new shows—a relative term, as there’s nary a “new” idea among them—look like complete garbage.
A sampling of what’s to come this fall:
Conviction (ABC): A hot lawyer (Hayley Atwell) goes to work for a hot district attorney (Eddie Cahill). Glad ABC canceled Agent Carter so Atwell could do a legal show, a TV rarity.
Notorious (ABC): Oh look, a hot lawyer (Daniel Sunjata) and a hot news producer (Piper Perabo). It’s about “the unique, sexy and dangerous interplay of criminal law and the media,” but more like “filler until Scandal returns.”
Designated Survivor (ABC): A low-level cabinet member (Kiefer Sutherland) suddenly becomes the president of the United States. Hey, you asked, “What could be worse than choosing between Clinton and Trump?”
American Housewife (ABC): Katy Mixon (Mike and Molly) is a brash housewife in the prim suburbs. American Housewife used to be titled The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport, but that almost made it sound original.
Speechless (ABC): Minnie Driver is a harried mom with a special-needs son—and it’s a comedy! This must be Driver’s revenge against TV ’Merica for the cancellation of About a Boy.
Frequency (The CW): Remake of the 2000 movie, this time with a female cop (Peyton List) connecting with her dead dad in the past through a ham radio. Kudos to The CW for not updating it to a haunted Snapchat app.
No Tomorrow (The CW): An uptight girl (Tori Anderson) falls for a free spirit (Joshua Sasse) who believes the world is ending in eight months. An optimistic timeline, even on The CW.
Bull (CBS): And another legal drama, based on “Dr.” Phil’s early days as a trial consultant. Michael Weatherly jumped off the NCIS money train for this?
Kevin Can Wait (CBS): Former awful sitcom star Kevin James returns from awful movies with an awful new family sitcom. It will run for 10 seasons on CBS.
Man With a Plan (CBS): A laugh-tracked family sitcom virtually identical to Kevin Can Wait, only with Matt LeBlanc in the stay-at-home-dad role. It will run for 10 weeks on CBS.
MacGyver (CBS): Reboot of the 1985-92 TV series, not 2010’s MacGruber. I’m as disappointed as you are.
Pure Genius (CBS): A tech billionaire (Augustus Prew) and a renegade doctor (Dermot Mulroney) start a cutting-edge hospital to treat sickies for free. From executive producers Jason Katims and Bernie Sanders.
This Is Us (NBC): “From the writer and directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love … sometimes life will surprise you.” Hard pass.
Timeless (NBC): A scientist, a soldier and a history professor race to stop a time-traveling terrorist from rewriting the past and, therefore, the future … or something. Maybe a bit “thinky” after The Voice, NBC?
The Good Place (NBC): Now-dead Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tries to be a better-ish person with the help of an “afterlife mentor” (Ted Danson). Is that Adult Swim weed making the rounds?
The Exorcist (Fox): This should go as well as Fox’s Frankenstein remake, Second Chance—remember that? Exactly.
Lethal Weapon (Fox): Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.) ride again! Only the iconic line “I’m getting’ too old for this shit” has been replaced with “Rush Hour never happened.”
Son of Zorn (Fox): Animated warrior Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) returns to the live-action suburbs to make peace with his ex-wife and son. Yeah, the Adult Swim weed is definitely making the rounds.