Fall TV Preview: Part 2

Fall is soon to be upon us, and with the changing of the leaves come new television pilots as well. With more than 30 different shows premiering, Cadenza chose its most anticipated pilots to preview. This is the second part of our fall TV preview.

The Blacklist (NBC, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.)


James Spader is a pro at playing creepy characters, but this time he’s taking his devilishness to a whole new level. Spader stars in NBC’s upcoming drama “The Blacklist” as Raymond “Red” Reddington, one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. In the pilot, Reddington walks into FBI headquarters and surrenders, insisting that both he and the FBI want to take down terrorists. He agrees to provide the government with information about a terrorist plot on the condition that he only speaks with rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone, “Law & Order: Los Angeles”). Reddington soon reveals that he has his own extensive list of elusive criminals that he’s been hoping to take down: the eponymous “blacklist.” Mysteries abound—why is he surrendering now? Why is he so keen on Keen? Why has he been cultivating this “blacklist” in the first place?

“The Blacklist” already stands out from all the other FBI/crime-fighting shows on the air due to the story’s depth. Spader seems like he’ll do a good job walking the fine line between benevolent informant and conniving criminal, all while keeping a shroud of mystery around Reddington’s true motives. The tense yet nearly codependent relationship between Reddington and Keen also seems like an integral element of the series, enriching the story with very human moments. You may think that if you’ve seen one crime-fighting show, you’ve seen them all, but let this be a warning not to put “The Blacklist” on your own TV blacklist. –Katharine Jaruzelski

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC, Sept. 26 at 8:30 p.m.)


This season marks the return of many actors to the television screen—Robin Williams to “The Crazy Ones,” Sean Hayes to “Sean Saves the World” and now Michael J. Fox to NBC’s creatively titled “The Michael J. Fox Show.” The Emmy Award-winning actor stars as Mike Henry, a news anchor who decides to return to work after taking a few years off to cope with Parkinson’s disease. Obviously, the show’s plot is essentially a fictionalization of Fox’s own life—Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the early ’90s and has done limited acting work between then and now. It’s hard to make a debilitating disorder funny, but judging by the trailers, Fox and his onscreen family seem to do just that. In one teaser, Mike’s wife, Annie (Betsy Brandt of “Breaking Bad”), grabs a serving spoon out of his hand while he’s trying to serve dinner, saying, “Can you not have a personal victory right now? We are starving!” In fact, most of the sitcom revolves around Mike’s family life, which he must learn to balance with his renewed career. Brandt is smart and snappy as Mike’s long-suffering wife, and Katie Finneran (best known for her Broadway career) will surely be a scene-stealer as Mike’s narcissistic sister, Leigh. Even though “The Michael J. Fox Show” deals with some serious themes, at its heart, it’s a lighthearted family comedy that will probably do very well this season. –Katharine Jaruzelski

Betrayal (ABC, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m.)

If you like “Scandal” or “Revenge,” “Betrayal” is likely to be a new favorite of yours. The show follows Sara Hadley (Hannah Ware from “Shame”) and Jack McCutchen (Stuart Townsend from “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”), who, after a chance meeting, find themselves drawn to each other. Despite both being married, the two become entangled in a dangerous affair and soon find themselves on opposite sides of a complicated murder trial. Sara’s husband, Drew (Chris Johnson, “The Vampire Diaries”), is a successful prosecutor, while Jack has married into the powerful Karsten family, which he represents in the murder case. As the two lovers begin their affair, things quickly escalate and tensions rise.

Executive producer David Zabel hopes that viewers will both get behind and hate the adulterous affair between Sara and Jack like they have in “Scandal” as the affair will be the main hinge of the show. In the same way that “Grey’s Anatomy” combines romantic and medical drama, “Betrayal” is both a romantic and legal drama. For now, the show is only ordered to have a short season of 13 episodes but has hopes of more seasons to follow. The series looks to be a promising, new, primetime soap-style drama. –Caroline Gutbezahl

Super Fun Night (ABC, Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m.)


“Always together, always inside.” “Super Fun Night” tells the story of three best friends who, after diligently following that motto for over a decade, decide that their Friday Fun Nights are finally going to be upgraded. After years of drinking wine and watching movies at home, the socially awkward, pseudo-adult women decide to infiltrate the frightening Manhattan social scene armed with light-up underwear and knives to defend themselves from creepy guys. Rebel Wilson of “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids” fame is taking the Mindy Kaling route by writing and starring in “Super Fun Night,” which is, while entertaining, isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as one would expect. The trailer relies on a few hackneyed bits such as the old “let’s put on sunglasses so the bouncer doesn’t recognize us” and “oh no, my dress ripped open!” tropes but does present some realistic situations in a humorous light. Because so much of Wilson’s humor comes from her delivery, this aspect of the show may be a bit muddled until she actually figures out what’s going on with that on-and-off American accent. In my opinion, this star vehicle could have been much improved if executive producer Conan O’Brian had insisted that Wilson stuck to her recognizable Australian accent. And after Wilson’s unexciting performance hosting the MTV Movie Awards last spring, it’s probably fair to say that, like her character’s so-called Friday Fun Night, her show will also need a bit of retooling in order to keep audiences coming back each week. –Kimberly Henrickson

Sean Saves the World (NBC, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.)


It’s the age-old problem: how does one balance work life with home life? We’ve seen it on television before, but have we seen it with a single, gay dad whose daughter moves in with him for the first time? We will now. Beginning Oct. 3 on NBC and following the trend of actors playing a character with the same name and similar characteristics but is not the same person (I’m looking at you, “Mindy Project”), “Sean Saves The World” stars Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”) as a gay father whose 14-year-old daughter (Samantha Isler) moves in with him. The series will follow Hayes’ character as he juggles being a new full-time single parent with a job in which his boss deems him as “an example for everyone.” In Hayes’ return to NBC, he managed to find a very funny cast. Linda Lavin (“Alice”) plays his mother and Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911!”) plays his boss. The trailer is full of their dry, demeaning and hilarious lines, which I chalk up to great acting and a talented writing staff. “Sean Saves The World” looks silly but also heartfelt. This multi-camera comedy joins NBC’s Thursday night line-up, along with “Parks and Recreation” and two other new comedies, “Welcome to the Family” and “The Michael J. Fox Show.” –Elena Wandzilak

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.