This week marks the official start of the fall TV season. Some series have already gotten off to a start, including
's comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and
's thriller "Blacklist" (with the official trailer above). There are almost too many new shows to keep track of — which is where Times TV critics Mary McNamara and Robert Lloyd can help.
In the conversation below, the pair discuss their new favorites — and, not surprisingly, uncover a few duds along the way.
Mary McNamara: Robert, it's that time of year. The fall pilots are in bloom again (insert Katharine Hepburn accent here), such a peculiar flower. Though not such a dazzling display this year I must admit. Still, there’s plenty to like. I’m already on record having fallen for “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox), so please don’t tell me you hate it, and I agree that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox) is the most promising comedy, though the main character's annoyance factor threatens to go from yellow straight to red. “Blacklist" (NBC) is hands-down my favorite of the new American dramas. It may not be the most original idea on record — “Silence of the Lambs” mercifully minus the cannibalism — but watching
Robert Lloyd: Having encapsulated the entirety of the fall season show by show for the Times Fall Preview, it is (paradoxically) all something of a blur. [Rifles through notes.] Among the broadcast-network series, although most of what's new is no worse than professional, little I've seen seems (at this new-colt stage) likely to create the kind of conversation that surrounds a show like
Mary: Agree re: Nicole Beharie, who is absolutely the find of the season. (Not that she was exactly hidden, starring in movies as she has, but you know what I mean.) There seems to be a slow-grow attitude at play here, especially among the comedies, which may not be a bad thing in terms of quality but is always worrisome in terms of ratings/fear of cancellation. “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC) is appealing in many ways, though the sum of its parts does not add up to a whole, and I can’t wait to see
Robert: I am quite fond of the new
Mary: You’re just saying that because “MasterChef Junior” sent out that cool cupcake kit (but, strangely, no screener). I was very, VERY disappointed in “Super Fun Night,” and not just because Rebel was forced to lose her Australian accent. It felt to me like the mirror image of “We Are Men,” in both the “loser characteristics” of each gender are over-inflated and then made to seem somehow endearing. Agree re: “Welcome to the Family”; I share your overwhelming passion for McCormack, but she is always a welcome presence. I’m jazzed about “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (ABC); though I haven’t seen the whole pilot, it looks gorgeous in a fairy-tale-emo sort of way, a la
Meanwhile, I would like to issue an across-the-board ban on masturbation scenes (there's one in "Reign"). I am sure there are instances in which it is narratively necessary to show a character masturbating, but I haven't seen one yet.
Robert: "Dracula" is just weird enough to make me not automatically hate it; it has so little to do with the original it can be hardly called a remake. (It's more like a steampunk graphic-novel-style takeoff.) As much can be said of "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," I suppose, which is even weirder and has even less to do with the original, though I do prefer my
If overall it feels like a less than challenging fall — sometimes I think they hold the weirder, more interesting shows for winter or spring — it may just be that there are a lot of family sitcoms and only slightly unusual procedurals about. I have given up on guessing what series will gain traction. (