Sunday, October 4, 2015

Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?

Being somewhat of a TV junkie, I always look forward to the start of the new season every September. So far, the 2015 of new and returning shows is turning out to be a real letdown.

With today's announcement that MacGyver is being rebooted by CBS, it's official that there are absolutely no original ideas floating around Hollywood. Seriously, I'd rather see a TV series based on MacGruber, the Will Forte SNL parody sketch. The 2015-2016 season's new slate of shows certainly bears the mark of this lack of originality, so let's start with the two series that were preceded by films and/or novels.

Minority Report (FOX) - A reboot of the 2002 Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg sci-fi collaboration, which picks up about a decade after the events of the film. One episode and I was finished with this snoozefest. Not engaged by any of the characters, the premise for the story, or the writing. The 2012 television version of another Cruise film, "The Firm," was 1000 times better, even though it was one of the most poorly rated network shows in history. Report opened to tepid numbers, and I expect it to be gone soon.

Limitless (CBS) - The Bradley Cooper/Robert DeNiro film was a modest hit, and overall a decent movie, which was itself based on a novel. Now, the idea is retread again in the form of a Cooper-produced network series, in which he also guest stars in the same role he played in the film. The show is quirky and has potential, but the first two episodes have been uneven, and there were a couple of glaring writing goofs in the pilot. CBS has already ordered a full season slate of episodes, so I figure I may as well give it a chance, but I'm hoping they ratchet up the action in a big way very soon.

From there, we go to a new show that shares a title with a past film, yet has no relation to that previous work...

The Player (NBC) - Nothing to do with the Robert Altman film, it took me all of 1 minute to realize that this effort was a steaming pile of crap. Then about 15 minutes in, there was a brief moment where I thought, "Hmmm...this could get interesting." But, it didn't. Wesley Snipes' co-starring acting performance was as wooden as his face is plastic. Next.

Not exactly reboots, but there are a couple of Tuesday-night FOX comedies that star some familiar faces from the 80's...

Grandfathered (FOX) - John Stamos stars as a pretty boy entrepreneur who suddenly learns he not only has an adult son, but also a baby granddaughter. This one is trying really hard to be funny, and the pilot succeeded in certain spots, but there's a lot of work to be done. I'm not totally buying into Stamos' performance yet. It may take a few more episodes to reach a final verdict.

The Grinder (FOX) - Apparently, the creator of this show convinced Fred Savage to return to acting. My question is, "Why?" Where Grandfathered is trying too hard to be funny and engaging, this effort, co-starring Rob Lowe, doesn't appear to be trying at all, and unfortunately, it's succeeding in that vein. I'll hold out for another one or two episodes, but I sense a short leash here, and I have a funny feeling that the network may sense the same thing.

And then of course, there's the obligatory hospital drama. And I use the term "drama" loosely...

Code Black (CBS) - Marcia Gay Harden stars as the head of one of the country's busiest Emergency Rooms. You'd figure with all that activity, that the pilot would be more action-packed. Instead, it was a whole lotta nothing. I didn't care about a single character. Luis Guzman did add some flare as a senior nurse. It's nice to see him with what looks like could be a juicy role after years of being the "I know I've seen that dude in something" guy. But I'm not sure how long this one is going to last. I'll give it one or two more shots.

Then, the show that's not a remake, retread, reboot, sequel, or prequel, but somehow feels like it's been done before...

Blindspot (NBC) - A woman is discovered in the middle of Times Square with no recollection of who she is, and mysterious tattoos stamped all over her body. Now, the FBI uses her tattoos, along with her unique brand of skills, to solve cases, save lives, and hopefully unravel the riddle of who she really is. Back in 2002, FOX aired a short-lived drama called John Doe, starring future Prison Break alum, Dominic Purcell as a guy who wakes up naked on an island with no memory of who he is, and who subsequently uses his unique brand of skills to assist the local police department in solving crimes. Sound familiar? OK, so he didn't have the tattoos. All things considered, this is so far, my favorite new show of the season. I just wonder if the two totally unknown leads can carry this series to success. I guess it depends on where they go with the central mystery.

And that leaves...

Quantico (ABC) - A bunch of new FBI recruits are suddenly all suspects in a terrorist attack on American soil. Sounds like it could have promise, right? Until you realize that showrunner, Joshua Safran was also responsible for previous efforts like Smash and Gossip Girl. This turns Quantico from what could be a tension-filled thriller, into a cheesy soap opera. The question will remain, will it be two parts soap and one part thriller, or the other way around. That may determine how long I hang out here on Sunday nights.

It seems like even my favorite returning shows, like Blacklist, Modern Family, and Big Bang Theory are starting out on a stale note. Here's hoping things will turn around quickly.