What to Watch: Fall TV 2012

It’s September, and the new fall TV schedule is just around the corner. A vast number of new shows, unfortunately, doesn’t guarantee a lot of good new shows. After combing through early reports, I started making a list of shows that might be worth watching. As I watch previews, shows tend to drop off the list quickly, so it’s getting shorter by the day. Of course, my first-place pick last year was “Awake,” which was quickly canceled, so what do I know? Here are a few fall shows that might have potential:

“Arrow” A reboot of the Green Arrow story, Oliver Queen goes missing after a shipwreck. Years later he is found, changed; he has a secret vigilante identity. Word on the street is, even though The CW runs toward teen television, this darker version of the Green Arrow is directed at an older audience. Likely to be violent, but appears to be aiming at a strong good versus evil theme. It’s getting some good buzz. October 10, The CW.

“Elementary” This new version of Sherlock Holmes includes a (gasp!) female Dr. Watson played by Lucy Liu. Jonny Lee Miller plays Sherlock, and if you’re not up in arms on behalf of Benedict Cumberbatch and the BBC “Sherlock” series, you might just like it. Holmes is a recovering addict; Dr. Watson has been appointed his “sober companion.” September 27, CBS.

“Go On” Matthew Perry (“Friends”) is a sports radio personality who recently lost his wife. He must participate in group therapy to satisfy his employers that he’s ready to go back on the air. Anyone remember Bob Newhart’s group therapy? If this show bears any resemblance to that, count me in. Of course, it seems a given that the show will push the envelope, alternating between silliness, crudeness, and painfully honest grief. We’ll just have to see how it goes. September 11, NBC.

“Last Resort” Andrew Bragher (“Homicide”) is an excellent actor leading a well-received show that could very well run aground. A U.S. nuclear submarine is ordered to fire on Pakistan; Bragher’s character refuses, and the sub is fired upon. Very Tom Clancy, yet here’s where it gets dicey—the sub conveniently goes to an “exotic island” where the crew can regroup and attempt to clear their names. “Lost,” meet Jack Ryan. September 27, ABC.

“Nashville” A female country star of a certain age is seeing her star power fade, while a hot young star is burning up the charts. Guess what? They have to work together. This could be soapy and catty. But it also stars two beloved actresses—Connie Britton, who won hearts as Tami Taylor on “Friday Night Lights,” and Hayden Panettierre, the cheerleader superhero from “Heroes.” It will be popular, no doubt. Will it be good television? Time will tell. October 10, ABC.

Those are the shows I have some hope for. There are quite a few others I have no hope for. I’ll name some names:

NBC’s “Revolution” looks like a desperate attempt to cash in on the popularity of The Hunger Games. Coming midseason to the same network, Anne Heche stars as a modern prophet, Desperate Housewives-style, in “Save Me.” Spare me.

ABC’s “Zero Hour” stars Anthony Edwards as a skeptic going on a hunt to find his abducted wife, but it involves symbols and ancient societies a la The DaVinci Code. “666 Park Avenue” appears to involve a possessed apartment building that will give its residents all they desire as soon as they make a pact with the devil. Did we learn nothing from Adam and Eve? That never works out well.

And then there’s the one that really made me sad. A couple of years ago, my local bookstore had a display of Candace Bushnell’s The Carrie Diaries, a young-adult prequel to her book-to-TV blockbuster Sex and the City. Because, apparently, teens need to know how Carrie got to be Carrie. Now it too is a TV show, also called “The Carrie Diaries,” on The CW. But here’s the worst of it: young 1980s high school senior Carrie is played by AnnaSophia Robb, from the movie versions of Because of Winn Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia, and Soul Surfer. One can only hope the show rises above its history.

What television shows will you be watching or avoiding this fall?

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