RELATED: Waiting for a Ratings Superhero
The critics look at what stood out, for better or worse:
In a season where comedy was judged an improvement over last year’s lackluster crop, Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg as a talented but goofball cop with a new straight-laced boss (Andre Braugher), was deemed the most promising. Critics liked the rapport between the two leads and hoped that this could be the show that finally works for Braugher, whose Last Resort sank early on ABC last fall.
On the drama side, NBC’s The Blacklist was the most praised, almost exclusively because of James Spader’s turn as one of the FBI’s most-wanted criminals who mysteriously turns himself in and offers to help catch a terrorist, on the condition that he work with a rookie female agent he seemingly has no connection with. And NBC giving it the prime slot after The Voice increases the odds that it could actually be a hit.
ERIC DEGGANS, ‘TAMPA BAY TIMES’: “I always love to see Andre Braugher play against type and do comedy, and I like his rapport with Andy Samberg.”
TIM GOODMAN, ‘THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’: “The Blacklist is intriguing because of James Spader.”
Several shows made this list, including ABC’s Lucky 7, The CW’s Reign and NBC’s reboot of Ironside. But despite Seth MacFarlane’s impressive track record in animation at Fox, his live-action debut Dads (along with his Ted cowriters Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) was the most unanimously decried by critics, who described it as “tone deaf,” “abominable” and “physically painful to watch.” One even worried that the series, about two friends whose annoying fathers move in with them, would be so D.O.A. as to stunt its promising lead-out, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Critics also expect CBS’ woes in the Monday 8:30 p.m. time slot to continue with the single-camera We Are Men, which, despite a good cast of Jerry O’Connell, Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Chris Smith, led to such a terrible pilot. Mike & Molly, which is without a premiere date, may not remain on the bench for long. NBC’s Sean Saves the World, which stars a brand name in Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes, was panned for being formulaic and stale. ABC’s limited series Betrayal, meanwhile, was deemed dull and an uninspired clone of the show it follows, Revenge.
DAN FIENBERG, HITFIX.COM: “Dads on Fox is horrible. It’s lazy, it’s desperate, it manages to traffic in dozens of confused stereotypes in only 22 minutes. There’s nothing there that’s going to make it get better. It’s there because Fox likes one person.”
MATT ROUSH, ‘TV GUIDE’: “[We Are Men] is just completely unappealing. It’s got some people there who have some talent, but together they’re just a miserable ensemble.”
Rebel Wilson became a critical darling for her breakout film roles in Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect, but critics were mostly turned off by her television debut, Super Fun Night. Several felt the premise, which has Wilson playing a junior attorney who has a standing date with her two antisocial best friends every Friday night, didn’t play to the Aussie actress’ strengths. And while some were willing to see where it goes, others thought perhaps there’s good reason CBS passed on the project when the network developed it last season.
MAUREEN RYAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: “I love Rebel Wilson, but it just didn’t work. I didn’t like how any of the characters were pitched, didn’t think any of it was funny. I hate things that make me actively dislike a performer who I really like. Everything about her that I like felt really badly used by that show and so I found that disappointing.”
ROBERT BIANCO, ‘USA TODAY’: “I imagine this one will divide people, but I’m interested in seeing more of Super Fun Night. [Wilson] is kind of an unusual TV presence. I’d like to see where that goes.”
POTENTIAL SLEEPER HIT
Two seasons ago, critics doubted there was room on the schedule for one supernatural drama, let alone two. But this fall, both Once Upon a Time and Grimm are entering their third seasons (the former has even spawned a spinoff). Critics say Fox’s Sleepy Hollow could be next in that line of unexpected hits, with a plot—centering on a hunky Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) who awakes in present-day and must unravel a mystery that dates back to the founding fathers—that could just be ridiculous enough to work.
ROUSH: “Sleepy Hollow is going to go one of two ways—a fascination to a cult audience and be the next thing, or it’s going to be the next Zero Hour where it’s so preposterous that it will be dismissed quickly.”
GOODMAN: “Sleepy Hollow is ridiculous, but sometimes you just have to go with a show like that for fun.”