Fall TV: First Impressions of 2016’s Slate
It may be summer, but Fall is just around the corner.
The broadcast Networks are vying for your attention with almost 20 new shows this year, so isn’t it time you gave some thought to what you’ll be watching when the nights close in?
Luckily, ScreenSpy is keeping (regularly updated) notes on all the not-for-review pilots sent our way over the summer months.
From time travel action adventures to solid legal dramas and everything in between, what you’ll find below are our no nonsense first impressions of what’s on offer this Fall from ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX.
If it’s on TV this Fall, we’ve got you covered.
THIS IS US (NBC, Tuesdays 10/9c)
WHAT’S THIS ONE ABOUT?
This is Us is a gentle ensemble drama (with strong comedic notes) following the fortunes of a collection of people who all share the same birthday. At first glance there seems to be little uniting this disparate group, but a clever and touching pilot gradually reveals their connections — which we’re not going to spoil for you here.
Dan Fogelman serves as writer and executive producer. Jess Rosenthal, Charlie Gogolak and directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra also executive produce.
A terrified couple about to experience the birth of triplets, a handsome actor who yearns to be considered more than just eye candy, a lonely woman with body issues who has all but given up on finding love, and an adoptee about to make contact with his estranged birth father for the first time — any of one these storylines might have made for a compelling pilot in its own right, but This is Us chooses to weave all of them into a coherent and touching tale of connection and the triumph of the human spirit.
WHO’S IN IT?
The cast includes Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan and Ron Cephas Jones.
Like Gerald McRaney’s wonderful turn as Doctor K in the pilot episode, This is Us won us over with a combination of gentle confidence and old school charm. But it’s not just McRaney who stands out here. Milo Ventimiglia sets the bar with a truly memorable performance — and one his cast mates seem to have taken as a personal challenge to raise. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll wonder, as you catch your breath between all those dramatic and comedy-filled moments, what the hell this show is actually about.
That’s because This is Us’ central theme is a little fuzzy. It’s like Love Actually without the countdown to Christmas. The preference here is for slow reveals and surprising connections to carry us from one beautiful beat to the next.
While we’re not yet sure where the show will take us from week to week, or how and when the paths of some characters will cross again, we know we want to find out. We only hope the coincidences and surprise connections continue to be played with subtlety.
The question remains. Can strong performances and a wonderfully executed pilot episode overcome one of the most nebulously-themed pilots we’ve screened this season?
This is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC (9-10 p.m. ET) beginning October 11; Series Premiere: September 20 (10-11 p.m. ET).
WHAT ELSE IS ON AT THIS TME?
Half hour comedies on ABC, Bull on CBS, Scream Queens on FOX, No Tomorrow on the CW.