An Independent Look at Fall TV

Presenting your favorite tools of procrastination.

Creative Commons photo by Ángel Raúl Ravelo Rodríguez. Source: Flickr

Well, it’s that time of the year again! All of us are running around, shopping for classes, looking for those interesting gen-eds, and getting excited about fun electives. However, Indy readers know that what is far more important is composing your fall TV schedule. In our hectic schedules, I always like the reprieve of a good half-hour comedy, so let’s focus on those. All of the major networks have announced their fall TV lineups, and while some old favorites are still on our radar, there are some new shows that definitely deserve a viewing.

Old Favorites

New Girl (FOX Tue, 9:00/8:00c): Fox’s surprise hit, New Girl, has a lot of potential this season. Zooey Deschanel as the quirky, awkward, yet loveable Jess, has recently been nominated for an Emmy. She has also been delivering consistently controlled performances, keeping her inherent quirks in check while still maintaining an impeccable comic timing. The supporting cast, especially Max Greenfield (also nominated for an Emmy in a supporting role), has also come into its own. Greenfield’s Schmidt is the kind of unlikable character that you end up loving anyway. Happily, the supporting characters are not mere props, and in fact often make Jess more tolerable. While the first season has established the characters and their equations quite well, it will be interesting where the show takes these extremely likable characters. The best part about them is that they are all flawed, and quite dark and twisty if you really think about them, which makes it even more fun to imagine the storylines that might be in store this season.

Parks and Recreation (NBC Thurs, 9:30/8:30c): In this NBC single-camera sitcom, Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope. She is an immensely likable government employee who rises from the position of a bureaucrat in the Parks department in the small town of Pawnee to the city’s mayor. This season will see Leslie Knope with a lot of power. It will be interesting to see how the story changes, especially since a lot of Parks and Rec is based on the red tape that government officials face. Easily NBC’s funniest show, Parks and Rec is grossly underrated. This is the season that just might change that.

Community (NBC Fri 8:30/7:30c): TV’s funniest cast and most inventive show is back for another season. This time, Community has new show-runners (Dan Harmon, the creator, was fired after last season). The fans are now wondering if the show will change under the direction of these new executive producers. There is a solid chance that the show will bend under the need for higher ratings. This season is crucial for Community’s survival on TV. However, that might mean that the show will not be what fans have come to love.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS Thurs, 8:00/7:00c): Why mess with perfection? Because, even that can get boring. That is what the show realized two seasons ago, when they introduced two new girls to the cast of Big Bang. Mayim Bialik, as Amy Farrah Fowler, seems to have done the impossible — she has become the perfect love interest for Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon is incorrigible, but Amy keeps him grounded. Shamy has become one of TV’s most loved couples, and this season is crucial to the development of this relationship.  What seemed like a risk two years ago now goes to prove that perfection can be further perfected.

Modern Family (ABC Wed 9:00/8:00c): It was lovable for the first three seasons, then, strangely, last season became monotonous. Even with one of the most talented (and diverse) casts on TV, Modern Family could not rise beyond the typical sitcom trappings. This season will be important for the show to re-establish itself as the ingenious comedy that it once was. It still has the Emmy nominations, but this season needs to justify them.

Rising Stars

The New Normal (NBC Tue 9:30/8:30c): A gay couple decides to have a baby. They pick a young mother, struggling to re-invent her life, to be the surrogate. Her young daughter is a social networking nerd. Her mother is a bigot. NeNe Leaks makes a memorable appearance in the pilot. The heart of the show is, however, Andrew Rannells as Bryan Collins. The scenes where he pines after a baby are adorable. Finally a show where the gay couple is not the odd couple, this show has a lot of potential to change how TV portrays gays characters. Gay men might be ubiquitous in TV now, but that doesn’t mean that they are treated in the same vein as their straight counterparts.

Partners (CBS Mon, 8:30/7:30c): From the creators of Will and Grace comes another comedy about a gay and a straight friend who are also partners in an architecture firm.  However, this time they are both guys. There isn’t anything novel about the show, but Michael Urie is hilarious as Louis, the gay half of the platonic duo. Jack was obnoxious in Will and Grace to make a statement. Louis is over the top, however, because that’s just him. There is a markedly different treatment of the gay couples in this show as well. They are not a novelty (à la Modern Family), but rather refreshingly, the norm.

The Mindy Project (FOX Tue, 9:30/8:30c): Mindy Kaling is not new to TV. Having made a mark in The Office, she is back with her own show.  Kaling plays a physician trying to balance her work with her love life, all while dealing with the over the top situations she often puts herself in. Kaling’s brand of comedy is unique, and she is not afraid to make a fool of herself. If there ever was a worthy successor to Liz Lemon, it just might be Mindy.

Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@college) would have reviewed more shows, but as a pre-med he’s already hit his TV limit for the semester.