2015 Fall Preview: Wednesdays and Thursdays

Rosewood s1 cast

While there are several new series premiering this fall on Mondays (check out Deepayan Sengupta’s roundup here) and Tuesdays (check out my roundup here), there are only a handful of new Wednesday and Thursday offerings. Here’s what to look out for, and what to avoid, this fall on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Created by Todd Harthan
Premieres Wednesday, September 23rd at 8pm (ET) on Fox

Private pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr. (Morris Chestnut) is a popular guy, with everyone but Det. Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz), the decorated police officer who’s recently returned to her hometown of Miami. Rosewood—Rosie to his friends—is a brilliant pathologist who runs a state-of-the-art lab with his sister Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and her fiancée, Tara Milly Izikoff (Anna Konkle). With his keen eye for detail and winning personality, Rosie is an asset Det. Villa can’t afford to waste, despite her frequent frustration with his unwillingness to listen to or follow instructions.

If that description sounds familiar, it’s because this is a show most TV fans have likely seen before, yet another Very Special Civilian Helps By-The-Books Cop Solve Cases series. The premise and setup offer nothing new, so like so many others in this procedural subgenre, Rosewood’s success or failure will come down to its cast and style. Fortunately for the series, it has a strong lead in Chestnut, who embodies Rosie’s Carpe Diem philosophy and brings a fantastic energy to the role. Though she’s saddled with the much less engaging no-nonsense partner role, Ortiz works well and has a good rapport with Chestnut; it’s easy to see Rosewood becoming a long-running procedural for Fox in the vein of Bones, should viewers find it. The show has a breezy tone and takes full advantage of its Miami setting, and features a diverse and likable cast. However for many, this won’t be enough to make the series stand out in such a crowded field. Rosewood starts solidly, though not memorably enough to recommend it above its fellows, but procedural fans looking for a new VSCHBTBCSC should check it out, as should those looking for more representation on television, particularly on procedurals.

Code Black s1 promo

Code Black
Created by Michael Seitzman
Premieres Wednesday, September 30th at 10pm (ET) on CBS

Set in the busy ER of L.A.’s Angels Memorial Hospital, Code Black follows tough ER Residency Director Dr. Leanne Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) as she puts a new crop of residents through their paces. Head nurse Jesse Salander (Luis Guzman) and the talented Dr. Neal Hudson (Raza Jaffrey) complement Dr. Rorish’s stern approach with the residents with their more approachable demeanors, but even with these capable mentors, the residents are in for an intense year, working to save as many patients as possible in Angels’ frequently overcrowded ER.

PopOptiq does not have access to this pilot, but the material available presents Code Black as a gripping, if very familiar, medical drama. Harden and Guzman are fantastic actors who should be able to make the most of the material and while there looks to be little distinguishing this show from others of its subgenre, fans of medical procedurals or dramas who prefer the more somber tone of ER to the at times whimsical or comedic Grey’s Anatomy may appreciate this show’s comparatively no-nonsense approach. Titling the series “Code Black”, the term for when the ER has more patients than beds/resources/staff, implies it will prioritize shock and over the top situations to characterization, but that’s just speculation. Based on the trailers and descriptions of the series, fans of medical procedurals will likely want to tune in. Those looking for something new or unique should probably look somewhere else.

Created by Zander Lehmann
Premieres Wednesday, October 7th on Hulu

Very little information is available for Casual; Hulu hasn’t even released a trailer yet. However, the involvement of executive producer Jason Reitman, who also directs the premiere, will likely be enough to intrigue many film and TV fans. This 10-episode comedy stars Michaela Watkins as Valerie, a divorced mom of who, along with her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr), lives with her brother Alex (Tommy Dewey). Frances Conroy also stars, as Valerie and Alex’s controlling mother. As PopOptiq does not have access to screeners for Casual, and there is so little information available about it, we’re unwilling to give any particular impressions on the series, however Watkins has been a reliable comedic performer for years and should make a fantastic lead, provided she’s given good material to work with. Note: We will update this entry should more information become available

Heroes Reborn s1 promo image

Heroes Reborn
Created by Tim Kring
Premieres Thursday, September 24th at 8pm (ET) on NBC

After a much hyped first season and increasingly maligned next three, Heroes went off the air in 2010. The story of humans with unique genetic gifts (let’s get real, they’re super powers), Heroes promised a sweeping, international story combined with gripping, personal character portraits. It premiered with an infectious, comic-book inspired energy but eventually lost fans when it failed to deliver on several accounts, making NBC’s pickup of a sequel series, Heroes Reborn surprising to many. This new series picks up several years after the Heroes series finale, and one year after a major terrorist attack has turned popular sentiment against Evos (evolved humans, a.k.a. our heroes) and pushed them underground. Noah Bennet (Horned Rimmed Glasses guy, Jack Coleman) has tried to move on with his life, but finds himself drawn back into the world of conspiracies when Evos start disappearing and rumblings of an ominous Event looming on the horizon become too concerning to ignore. With a new batch of Evos driving much of the story and HRG looking up old friends and foes in his search for answers, Heroes Reborn is confident it can deliver on the promise of the first season of Heroes while avoiding the pitfalls that bogged it down later in its run.

It’s almost eerie how easy it is to fall back into the world of Heroes; this series feels very comfortable and given the distance of the past five years, it’s easy to get excited about its return, remembering the good times and skipping over the bad. As in the original, Coleman is strong here, a confident and accessible lead; centering the portions of this series connected to the original on HRG was a canny move by creator Tim Kring. There are also plenty of new characters and an intriguing, post-Heroes world to explore. Much of the start of Heroes Reborn recommends it. However, there’s little to suggest viewers won’t be taken on the same merry-go-round they experienced with Heroes, and while the series is being touted as a 13-episode miniseries, it feels much more like a relaunch than a one-and-done miniseries. Fans of Heroes will enjoy Heroes Reborn, and those willing risk the same excitement and potential disappointment should hop onboard as well, but anyone who still feels burned by the original should most definitely steer clear and wait to hear whether the miniseries sticks the landing before diving in.

The Player s1 promo image

The Player
Created by John Rogers and John Fox
Premieres Thursday, September 24th at 10pm (ET) on NBC

In The Player, the supremely wealthy come to Las Vegas to have fun, and when the casinos start to lose their excitement, they ante into a game with higher stakes: betting on predicted crimes. The House predicts crime, its mind-blowing technology collating information into the world’s largest database, The Pit Boss keeps things running smoothly, and The Player uses every tool at their disposal—besides alerting anyone to the game—to prevent the predicted crime in play, with The Dealer able to access The House mainframe to assist The Player as requested. Popular security expert, and former military man, Alex Kane (Philip Winchester) is drawn into the game by Pit Boss Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes) and Dealer Cassandra King (Charity Wakefield), and must decide if he’s willing to take on a lifetime contract to be the newest Player.

This action-packed procedural balances entertaining set pieces with a mostly light and breezy tone, throwing Kane into ridiculous situations and watching him find a way out. Winchester, Snipes, and Wakefield make for a fun central trio, and enough mystery surrounds each character, and the game itself, that the writers should have no trouble fueling at least the first season’s overarching storylines. Unfortunately, any of the superficial charms—and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a show for its superficial charms—of the series are outweighed by its aggravating treatment of one of its guest characters, and the way that is used to propel Kane’s choices. The element I’m dancing around, so as to avoid spoilers, smacks of lazy writing and plays into one of storytelling’s most tired and annoyingly common tropes. The writers have dug themselves a huge hole and it’s very unlikely they have the cards up their sleeves it would take to turn this weakness into a strength. Viewers looking for action and style over substance may enjoy The Player, but it’s hard to recommend to anyone else.

Created by Jim Serpico and Tom Sellitti
Premieres Thursday, October 1st at 10pm (ET) on IFC

Not everyone appreciates Paul (Andrew Schulz), Anthony (Chris Distefano), Dicky (Mark Gessner), and Sebalos’ (Ruy Iskandar) love of hockey. The quartet play for amateur team The Chubbys and Benders follows their exploits on and off the ice. Jack’s non-hockey playing wife Karen (Lindsey Broad), for one, doesn’t always understand Jack’s commitment to the team and the sport in general. This eight episode series shows the ups and downs of sports fandom and participation; The Chubbys may not be great, but what they lack in skill, the make up for in passion.

While PopOptiq has yet to see screeners for this series, based on the material available this hang-out comedy looks to be in much the same vein as FXX’s The League, with humor coming primarily from the characters, but complemented by viewers’ familiarity with the sport. Hockey lovers will likely enjoy this series, but those uninterested in the sport may find little to connect to. IFC has made a name for itself with its niche, very tonally specific comedies and Benders looks to be continuing this trend.

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