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New network viewing - Fall 2017

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Looking ahead at the season’s television premieres

The nature of television has changed drastically over the past decade or so. New TV shows used to be the exclusive purview of the broadcast networks, with only the occasional incursion by one of the premium cable channels, and they used to land almost exclusively in the fall.

These days, streaming powerhouses like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu drop entire seasons all at once, inviting viewers to binge on their programming. And while premium cable is still very much in the game of making great TV, even basic cable channels have gotten into the act, with some of the very best television shows of the 21st century arriving via outliers like AMC.

Still, there’s something comforting about the idea of fall television. It’s a throwback to the way things used to be. Obviously, there’s no need for there to be a specific time of year devoted to the new, but it’s the way we’ve always done it … and that’s kind of nice.

Here’s a look at some of the brand-new offerings you can expect this fall. I decided to focus primarily on the broadcast networks since they’re the ones who remain most devoted to the notion of fall premieres, but there are a couple of wrinkles thrown in there as well.

There are extensions of franchises and reboots of old favorites. There are some high-concept sitcoms and some true crime dramas. There’s a fair amount of sci-fi and plenty of superheroes. True crime takes a turn. Oh, and we get a new show from the creator of one of the best TV series of all time.

Have a dozen to whet your viewing appetite.

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The Deuce (HBO)

David Simon created what many believe to be the greatest series in this Golden Age of Television with “The Wire.” His latest HBO outing is aiming to match those lofty heights. “The Deuce” is set in Times Square during the 1970s and documents the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry. Not only is Simon the creator, but he and frequent collaborator Pelecanos have co-written a number of the season’s eight episodes. There’s legitimate star power in the cast as well, with James Franco (playing twins, no less) and Maggie Gyllenhaal anchoring what promises to be a dynamite ensemble. Gritty period drama courtesy of David Simon? Where do I sign up?

Dynasty (CW)

Look, I’m probably not going to watch this show. But I am absolutely delighted that it exists. The folks at the CW excel at producing overwrought, pulpy, soap-operatic nonsense, so they’re the perfect network to reboot something like “Dynasty,” a show that was offering overwrought, pulpy, soap-operatic nonsense three decades ago. As a wonderfully meta added bonus, the show stars Grant Show, who starred on “Melrose Place” which was essentially a Gen-X reaction to shows like “Dynasty” and its ilk. Expect this show to be trash TV in the best, most lurid possible way. If you dig it, you’ll REALLY dig it.

Ghosted (Fox)

I’m picking this show as potentially one of the best new offerings of fall 2017. It’s a high-concept sitcom based around two guys – a skeptic (Craig Robinson) and a genius/true believer (Adam Scott) – as they’re enlisted by a mysterious organization to investigate paranormal happenings in Los Angeles and their possible connection to some sort of world ending evil. The trailers vibe like a sort of “Odd Couple”/”X-Files” mashup, which is basically a dream come true as far as I’m concerned. Robinson and Scott are both excellent talents; their chemistry along with the wild premise ensures that it’ll take a lot for this one to scare me off.

The Gifted (Fox)

FX’s “Legion” was one of the biggest and best TV surprises of the last year or so; it was one of the most compellingly weird and fundamentally comic-bookish comic book television shows we’ve ever seen, a fantastic and tangential dive into the world of X-Men. I’m betting that “The Gifted” captures much of that same soul, albeit maybe a bit more staid considering its place on the big boy network. Still, this story of a family on the run following the manifestation of mutant powers looks to have some of the similar small-scale storytelling surrounded by larger myth-building that is the sweet spot when it comes to super TV. X most definitely marks the spot with this one.

The Good Doctor (ABC)

Yet another “broken genius” show, “The Good Doctor” looks like it has the potential to be one of the lesser lights in that already hit-or-miss subgenre. This time, we have Freddie Highmore starring as a brilliant pediatric surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. Network television has a bad track record with their portrayals of these sorts of characters; while one could argue that the effort is admirable, the truth is that it almost never ends well. The one thing that this has going for it is that it’s almost certainly going to be better than “Wisdom of the Crowd,” the new Jeremy Piven-starring broken genius offering from CBS.

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC)

Sure, this is a miniseries, but it’s also the initial offering for what promises to be an ongoing crime anthology series extension of Dick Wolf’s massive (and massively popular) “Law & Order” franchise. This first installment – eight episodes in all – dramatizes the trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez, brothers accused of murdering their parents back in 1996. The lurid sensationalism of the crime made for prime tabloid fodder and endless speculation. The always outstanding Edie Falco stars as the defense attorney who represented the brothers. This will likely prove to be one of the most well-made offerings of the entire season – one that will have plenty of people talking.

Marvel’s Inhumans (ABC)

As someone who is in the bag for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s strange that I’ve never managed to connect as fully with the smaller screen representations of Marvel magic. It remains to be seen whether this newest offering will find a way to resonate. It’s the story of the Inhumans, Royal Family of Attilan, as they’re forced to flee their land and help save the world. As to whether it’ll work, well … the characters don’t have the cachet that many other Marvel properties offer. Oh, and the hero doesn’t actually speak. It’ll be an uphill climb for sure. The comparisons to the solid work Fox is doing with the X-properties aren’t going to do them any favors.

Me, Myself & I (CBS)

This show is either going to be surprisingly fun or an utter dud. It’s the story of one Alex Riley; the kicker is that the narrative operates at three different points in his life. There’s 14-year-old Alex in 1991, there’s 40-year-old Alex in the present and there’s 65-year-old Alex in the year 2042. It’s an idea that might have some legs; the flexibility offered by three different periods alone has real potential. It’s a chance for “SNL” alum Bobby Moynihan (Alex at 40) to headline a TV show and an opportunity for us to enjoy the magnificent John Larroquette on our TV screens once again. Here’s hoping that CBS can reign in its broad tendencies and allow this one some nuance.

The Orville (Fox)

If it seems that Fox’s newest offerings have a bit of a sci-fi bent, well – it’s because they do. “The Orville” is one more brick in the speculative wall. The show – created by and starring Seth MacFarlane – is a comedic homage to “Star Trek.” MacFarlane plays Ed Mercer, captain of the exploratory starship Orville. His first officer is his ex-wife. Hijinks ensue. One’s enjoyment of “The Orville” is likely going to coincide closely with one’s feelings about MacFarlane in general; you like him, you’ll like the show. His live-action track record is pretty checkered, so we’ll have to see how this one plays out. Still, there’s potential here.

Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

As a lover of science fiction, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the many iterations of “Star Trek.” Not to the extent of some superfans that I know – Hi Dennis! Hi Greg! – but I’ve always been down with the voyages of the Enterprise and her successors. “Discovery” is premiering on the CBS broadcast network, but subsequent episodes are appearing only on the CBS All Access streaming service. Set roughly a decade before the original series, it will reportedly center around a burgeoning cold war between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets. There hasn’t been a “Star Trek” TV show since “Enterprise” ended in 2005; I’m betting the world is ready for more.

Will & Grace (NBC)

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of “Will & Grace” during its initial run. Not because of any feelings with regards to the show’s quality, mind you – a show winning that many Emmys is undoubtedly a good watch – but rather because it simply flew under my radar. However, the show’s impact on the pop cultural landscape was certainly significant. And with the original quartet at its center returning to the airwaves after over a decade, we can likely expect some updated (and extremely popular) antics from Will, Grace, Karen and Jack as they bring their madcap screwball energy to a new generation.

Young Sheldon (CBS)

It has become popular in many corners of the comedy nerd internet to decry “The Big Bang Theory.” But regardless of how little the humor snobs might like it, it is one of the most-watched programs on broadcast television and going strong entering its 11th season. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re getting “Young Sheldon” – essentially a prequel following the formative years of “TBBT” main character Sheldon Cooper. It’s another Chuck Lorre joint, so while some might decry the humor as unhip, formulaic and forced, we’re almost certainly going to be spending the next few years watching Sheldon grow up. Welcome to “Bazinga Begins.”

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