Fall Season Brings Primetime Premieres To Networks

Watch For New Shows That Debuted on ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS This Fall


Published: October 7, 2010

What is it that makes people excited about fall? For some it’s the weather finally dropping down to a comfortable temperature, the leaves becoming a beautiful collage of browns, greens and gold or even the imminent approach of the holiday season. But for television junkies like me, fall means new primetime shows on the tube. This fall season brought a variety of newcomers to the networks including “Undercovers” (NBC), “Raising Hope” (Fox), “No Ordinary Family” (ABC), and “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS). All were anticipated, some were actually worth the wait, and others left me waiting for something else to come on.

Martha Plimpton as new grandma Virginia Chance on Fox’s “Raising Hope.” (Fox/MCT)

NBC, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

In this action drama, two ex-agents living a normal married life are brought back into the field to help rescue a fellow agent. “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” for TV anyone?

Boris Kodjo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw play the spy-lovebirds Steven and Samantha Bloom. With dynamic chemistry, the couple is lovely to watch. The Blooms work as caterers who left the intelligence business to achieve normalcy in their lives after getting married. But when they are asked to help take down an organization and rescue an old friend, the two must learn how to balance both their domestic and not-so-domestic lives.

At first glance, the show seems cliché: two spies working to bring down the bad guys while making sure the desserts are ready for the next reception. But the juxtaposition of the character’s lives becomes a comical focus, bringing flirtatious banter and satire to the show. Supporting characters such as CIA field agent Bill Hoyt played by Ben Schwartz helps keep the comedy going.

With sex appeal and lighthearted jokes, Kodjo and Mbatha-Raw are fun to watch. Who knew leading double lives could still be a source of comedic relief?

Raising Hope
Fox, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

Lucas Neff plays Jimmy Chance, a 25-year-old living with his parents and hoping to someday make something of himself. What he doesn’t count on is becoming a father after having a one-night stand with a felon. By accepting to raise his baby, Jimmy feels it’s his chance to do something good for someone else, in this case his daughter.

Dark, satirical humor keeps the audiences laughing with apprehension as the show tries to convey how unprepared Jimmy is to raise his baby girl. However, questionable incidents, such as the baby not being strapped properly in her car seat, causing her to dangerously tumble over, may leave some viewers uncomfortable. Other incidents, including Jimmy throwing up all over his infant the first time he changes her diaper, are even less predictable and would make any parent watching the show wish they could call child protective services on this fictional father.

Aside from the borderline criminal parenting, the show is a refreshing comedic spin on the “single unknowing parent raises a child” story. The family is even more interesting to watch as they scramble to reorganize their lives, causing them to check their morals and living standards at the door. The baby may turn out be the best thing that could have happened to them.

No Ordinary Family
ABC, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

What can help bring a seemingly estranged family closer together? Superpowers, of course! This hour-long sci-fi drama centers on the Powells’, a typical family who seems to have a problem reconnecting. In order to spend some time together, the father, Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) organizes a family vacation to Brazil. Upon visiting the Amazon, the Powells’ plane crashes. Luckily no one is hurt, but the family will never be the same.

The obvious question here is, “What’s the difference from the last popular sci-fi show, ‘Heroes?’”

Although the concept isn’t entirely new, the show found ways to bring in its own unique quality. It does a good job blending commonality with the supernatural. Rather than random individuals gaining powers, it’s a family-oriented show, so you can see how the new powers will affect them individually and as a nuclear unit. On one side, many viewers can relate to the Powells’ family problems. On the other, you can wonder how Daphne Powell (Kay Panabaker) will deal with her newfound telepathy in high school.

It’s exciting to watch the Powells’, but how long will it be until we get tired of seeing Jim stop a bullet or his wife Stephanie (Julie Benz) run faster than the Flash? Maybe the producers have something up their sleeves. If not, “No Ordinary Family” will probably conclude similarly to “Heroes:” off the air after season four (or sooner).

Hawaii Five-0
CBS, Mondays at 10 p.m.

This new show is a re-make of the 1970s drama of the same name. Set in the beautiful backdrop of Hawaii, Detective Steve McGarrette (Alex O’Loughlin) comes to the island to investigate his father’s murder, but falls onto another case probing an organization involved in illegal arms distribution. He needs backup, so he recruits Detectives Danny Williams (Scott Caan), Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), and Kona Kalaukau (Grace Park).

Throughout the premiere it became obvious that fleeting character introductions were more important than character or plot development. Instead of providing a significant background of each cop, the detectives are asked a few questions and given a “welcome aboard” handshake. This means-to-an-end storyline was frivolous and unrealistic, even for a pilot.

The drama and action is fairly good, but irrelevant and misplaced scenes,  such as Williams and McGarratte suddenly sitting around confessing why they love their detective work, takes the focus away from the plot, leaving the viewer ready to change the channel. The producers attempt to break the constant drama with comedy, but the jokes and “witty” remarks come up empty.

Perhaps the first episode was weighed down by character intros as a practical necessity, but hopefully the dramatic plot and action will regain full focus in future episodes. Still, can the writers think of some better jokes, please?