The New Fall Season: Thursdays

Fall TV 2014

Fall TV 2014

We’re looking at the new TV season day by day all week and come to a day where football has blotted out a traditional strong night for network programming and a whole night of shows from a single producer causes a new tilt. A remake of a strong UK miniseries has some worried, but it may be one of the most promising things of the bunch anyway.

NEW SHOWS

“How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC, 10 p.m., starts tonight). The latest from Shonda Rimes’ production company stars a familiar figure: A dour, prickly woman who is hard to like. Viola Davis stars as a no-nonsense law professor who terrifies students and tries to teach criminal law by getting them to imagine how to commit crime. That makes it a procedural in reverse, with time for the gratuitous sex and intrigue ShondaLand brings us. It’s tough to find likable people. And paired with two other shows the same night, it’s way too much at once.

“Gracepoint” (Fox, 9 p.m., Oct. 2) seems at first an audacious copy of the excellent British series “Broadchurch” with the same star, David Tennent, working the case with a different cast in California. And while some casting choices seem to undermine the UK version — with Anna Gunn a more glamorous choice for detective — other choices, including Nick Nolte, seem well-suited. As easy as it would be to dismiss as an unworthy copy, it at least has a great source material to work from, and a pledge from producers that it will diverge from the UK storyline, much as “The Office” eventually did. (Besides, very few of us even saw “Broadchurch”). So if this opens a new direction for network procedurals, I’m holding out hope for it.

“A to Z” (NBC, 9:30 p.m., Oct. 2). The too-cute romantic comedy brings together Cristin Miloti (the eventual “Mother” in “How I Met Your Mother”) with Ben Feldman (the unstable young ad man in “Mad Men”). It didn’t help that I saw the pilot the day after Feldman’s violent exit from “Mad Men,” but with 24 episodes themed to letters in the alphabet, the gimmickry overtakes any sweetness. And the humor is more crass than it needs to be.

“Bad Judge” (NBC, 9 p.m., Oct. 2). Like the canceled “Bad Teacher,” this NBC comedy at least has an honest title. Kate Walsh of “Grey’s Anatomy” portrays the kind of fictionalized career woman, who really likes to drink, party and sex it up like an (imagined) ┬ácollege girl when out of her robe. It’s not any more credible a premise than it is funny or engaging in its execution. Ug.

“The McCarthys” (CBS, 9:30 p.m., Oct. 30) isn’t so bad actually — a family sitcom that’s led by the real skills of Laurie Metcalf as the needy mother. The family seems post-gay in that the central character’s sexual orientation isn’t the central point of each joke and the family all accepts him fine. Really, the oddest thing in the pilot is that the family is so upset that the son may be moving to Providence — which isn’t exactly across the country; it’s about a half hour drive from Boston.

RETURNING

“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m., tonight), “Bones” (Fox, 8 p.m.), “Vampire Diaries” (The CW, 8 p.m., Oct. 2), “The Biggest Loser” (NBC, 8 p.m., started Sept. 11), “The Millers” (CBS, 8:30 p.m., Oct. 30), “Reign” (The CW, 9 p.m., Oct. 2), “Scandal” (ABC, 9 p.m., tonight), “Two and a Half Men” (CBS, 9 p.m., Oct. 30), “Elementary” (CBS, 10 p.m., Oct. 30), “Parenthood” (NBC, 10 p.m.),

 

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