Fall Premiere Hits and Misses: Your Guide to Fall TV

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The cast and producers of ABC’s “Speechless” in Beverly Hills on a press tour of their new series. (ABC/Image Group LA) SCOTT SILVERI (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), MINNIE DRIVER, KYLA KENNEDY, JOHN ROSS BOWIE, CHANNING DUNGEY (PRESIDENT, ABC ENTERTAINMENT), MICAH FOWLER, MASON COOK, CEDRIC YARBROUGH, CHRISTINE GERNON (DIRECTOR)

By SAM DEASSIS

As the cold weather rolls in to welcome Fordham students into Fall, a natural phenomenon comes into play. This phenomenon is the inevitable shift of college students from out on the plaza to the warm, cozy shelter of their dorm rooms. With all of this time indoors, students are able to find more time to more frequently engage in their favorite pastime: binge-watching TV shows.

But there’s only so much “Orange is the New Black” and “Breaking Bad” we can watch and re-watch before seeking something new. And it just so happens that at the same time this television restlessness afflicts the masses, television networks come to the rescue with plenty of new series to get people hooked on. And even more conveniently, iTunes has allowed for free downloading and streaming of the new episodes of many new series. So, you don’t have to steal your friend’s Netflix password anymore—as long as you have an iTunes account, you’re set. It just seems too good to be true, right? Maybe not.

One enjoyable series premiere was an unusual comedy: “Speechless.” Despite the serious sounding title and premise, the pilot of the series is far from sentimental, centering around a special-needs family. The show focuses on a subject normally left isolated from the world of comedy, but“Speechless” takes this unspoken rule in its stride, proving that even a seemingly unfunny topic can be a comedic success if carried out in a tastefully clever manner. Although this description may raise some eyebrows, don’t worry about being offended by someone poking fun at a serious subject. “Speechless” pokes fun at the family of the special-needs child, not at him. “It was surprisingly good,” Melanie Katz, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ‘20, said. “Some of the jokes were pretty silly, but overall it was a fun show to watch.”

On the other side of the spectrum was “This is Us,” a highly-dramatic premiere about the seemingly unrelated lives of several individuals that are then shown to be linked. The show gave viewers a peek into all of the complex struggles endured by each individual character. The episode’s success relied heavily on the emotional connection between the viewers and the characters. But was the show successful in creating this connection? The “relatable” characters weren’t as relatable as NBC would have you think; not everyone is an aspiring actor or a parent to triplets. However, their varying worries and emotions were somehow relevant to the lives of almost anyone. “I thought they did a really good job with introducing the characters,” Victoria Petrik (FCLC) ‘20 said. “I found them to be likable.” Each character’s story was uniquely touching, and the utilization of the concept of connectedness between the seemingly unrelated characters allowed for an especially amazing experience.

A third series premiere that has been hyped up for weeks was “MacGyver.” However, this remake fell a little flat. It was as action-packed as promised, with plenty of violence and unrealistic stunts to keep the common thrill-seeking viewer interested. And of course the premiere included the main component of the original “MacGyver”; there were more than enough invaluable uses of paper clips and other random objects to create tools for the protagonists’ mission. But somehow, the entire emotional and dramatic component of the pilot felt forced and shallow. The characters lacked visible emotional responses to grief, and the comedic lines felt a little overdone. “I watched the original,” Vicky Chen, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ‘20 said. “I think [the new one] is trying a little too hard to be funny and cool.” All in all, “MacGyver” rests its strength on its action, not its acting.

For the average Fordham student, any new addicting TV series is a welcome distraction from an overwhelming college workload. But, it is important to choose the right shows to get into before devoting too much valuable time into a new TV addiction. There are plenty of new shows out this fall for those on the lookout. Although action and resourcefulness may peak your interest, you may want to pass on “MacGyver” for its less than impressive acting. But if you’re looking for the perfect series to give you a sense of emotional connection, “This is Us” might be perfect for you. And for those looking for a clever comedy with an original premise, “Speechless” may be the next big thing. One thing is for sure—no matter what your interests are, this Fall season has something in store for you. Huddle up indoors and enjoy.