New Show Superlatives (Fall 2013)

Most of us have a high school yearbook somewhere among the other garbage that we keep for no real reason. If you ever dusted off one of your yearbooks, you could skip to the superlative section and get a pretty decent snapshot of that year. Brains, brawn, humor, drive, and beauty were all represented among the senior class. While high school superlatives don’t carry a lot of weight with people as they age, it’s a fun exercise for the student body to try to assess the latest crop of impending graduates.

Much like your high school class, I thought it would be fun if I assessed the latest crop of incoming TV freshman. While these superlatives are not the same as the ones in your high school yearbook, I can assure you that they carry the exact same amount of importance as your high school superlatives. I’ll let you decide for yourselves how important that is to you. Let’s hand out some superlatives.

Most Likely for Me to Watch and Defend… And be Cancelled: The Blacklist
 

Keen and Reddington - The Blacklist

I’ve been depressingly spot on with my previous two nominees (Awake and Last Resort) so this superlative is potentially a kiss of death. However, The Blacklist is a far more accessible show than either one of the previous two. In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I have to mention a large part of my interest in the show stems from Megan Boone being incredibly charming in interviews. Even still, the show has some interesting elements, and I probably have a higher opinion of James Spader than most people.

However, there is some potential for trouble here. Last year’s Monday at 10 show for NBC (Revolution), had a far more complimentary disposition to The Voice. The Blacklist promises to be on the darker side of things. Dark and twisty dramas haven’t exactly been doing gangbusters for NBC during the 10 PM hour in recent seasons. When coupled with the fact James Spader doesn’t carry the juice he used to, you have a recipe for a defunct show. I hope I’m wrong, but I can see the writing on the wall.

Most Likely to Not be Watched By the TV Czar: Back in the Game
 

back in the game cast abc 06

I’m not entirely opposed to the premise of this show. Everyone likes a well-intentioned, loudmouthed dad. Further more, I’m not opposed to Maggie Lawson making some money. She has solid comedic timing and can competently deliver emotional moments if needed. Everything about the show seems perfectly fine. I’m sure it will be comfortable, pointless, and occasionally amusing.

However, I can’t watch James Caan do this anymore. It’s the TV equivalent of watching Joe Namath hobble around for the Rams in 1977. It’s just a profound bummer. At this point, there is a whole generation of people who don’t even know who this guy used to be. I hope James really loves acting, or he really needs the paper. In any event, I can’t bring myself to watch.

Most Likely to be the Worst Show of the Season: Betrayal
 

betrayal cast abc 08

This one, as they say, has all the makings. You’ve got an actress who has proven to be overmatched in starring roles (Hannah Ware), a plot seemingly pulled directly from a romance thriller, and James Cromwell gunning to eat up every single scene he’s in. That’s before we even get to the actor playing our cuckolded husband whose 2013 credits include a guest star role on Body of Proof, this show, and a hot guest starring role on Under the Dome as “Thug #3”. Get excited for Betrayal everybody!

(Note: An earlier version of this article insinuated Chris Johnson was the male lead when he is one of the supporting players. The lesson is that I’m an idiot.)

Most Ridiculously Fun Show of the Season: Sleepy Hollow
 

Those that watched the premiere on Monday got a strong dose of what a lot of TV critics have been saying: This show is absolutely bonkers, but in a really fun way. More than ever before, we are thrown in front of television dramas that claim they’re rising above the dreck only to drown in its own self-righteousness (I’m looking at you, Mr. Sorkin). Sleepy Hollow doesn’t have any designs on being the next prestige drama. The premiere is so over the top that the enjoyment of the actors is pouring through the screen. On the internet, we like to talk in high-minded ways about television A LOT (I’m as guilty as anyone), but Sleepy Hollow is the perfect show to remind us about the ultimate goal of any television series. Television is entertainment. Not everyone is going to entertained by Sleepy Hollow. It is, after all, profoundly ridiculous on nearly every level. However, it not only knows exactly what kind of show it is, but the show wallows in it with a child-like glee. On a Monday night when you’re fried from the return of the work week, you could do a lot worse.

Most Likely to be an Overhyped Flop: The Crazy Ones
 

The Crazy Ones Pilot (5)

At first glance, there’s a lot to like about CBS’s The Crazy Ones. It’s got an Oscar winner, a TV legend, and the extraordinarily affable Bob Benson James Wolk. However, take a little closer look. Robin Williams’ last relevant moment was in a guest role on Louie if you’re being generous and Good Will Hunting if you’re being pissy. Either way, I haven’t run into anyone recently clamoring for more Robin Williams (only more cowbell). And while James Wolk is a handsome alien dead set on disarming the human race with his affable demeanor, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s last TV role didn’t exactly light the world on fire.

Please note, this isn’t an attack on the show’s quality. Merely an understanding of the limits of the appeal of Williams and Gellar. It really could be fantastic, it has the CBS gloss to it, and it’s not exactly going up against Lost circa 2007.

Most Intriguing New Show: Dads
 

I’m just kidding. This show is hot garbage.

Most Intriguing New Show: Hostages
 

Hostages CBS

There’s a possibility this show is also hot garbage. Most critics you come across will not have the finest things to say about this show. It’s not the most intriguing show of the season because of its content, but because of the network that’s airing it. At this point, CBS has full dominion over the network landscape. It’s got the biggest scripted series on television, and ratings that make Bob Greenblatt and Paul Lee cry. With NBC and ABC in complete shambles, and Fox recovering from a horrible season, CBS has emerged as the winner of Network Thunderdome. Now, if it can draw ratings to its own version of an “event series”, then this whole thing will be over.

Most Likely to Succeed: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
 

marvels agents of shield abc 01

It’s all there on the table. Whedon, Marvel, and only NCIS to stand in its way (though there won’t be a lot of audience overlap outside of my friend Matt). Granted, Whedon won’t be handling the day-to-day, and none of these actors are Robert Downey, Jr. Of course, many people have rightly pointed out that people weren’t crazy about RDJ handling Iron Man duties when he got started either. Regardless of the quality of the show, people will be drawn to it. We’re too far down the road with Marvel to turn back now. It will garner support in the early going based solely on brand recognition. If it’s only competent, it’s a ratings smash for ABC. Even if it proves to be incompetent, it may still be a ratings smash for ABC. Such is the nature of the Marvel machine.