Aiming to Please

The upcoming television season is likely to both excite and disappoint audiences. As always, with a slew of new shows premiering in the next few weeks, we will no doubt see some new fan favourites, as well as some instant failures. However, the promise in the television landscape also lies with the series making their long-awaited returns.

CBS returns with the likes of How I Met Your Mother (Sept. 24, 8 p.m.) and The Big Bang Theory (Sept. 27, 8 p.m.), but also brings in a promising new drama in the form of Vegas (Sept. 25, 8 p.m.). The show follows a sheriff, played by Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, The Parent Trap), as he tries to bring lawfulness to Las Vegas in the 1960s. Starring opposite Michel Chiklis (The Shield, No Ordinary Family), Quaid makes his television debut with the type of role that seldom comes his way. We’ll have to wait and see if the show’s premise and cast lives up to its promise.

NBC also returns with the familiar fan favourite The Office (Sept. 20, 9 p.m.) and the criminally under-watched Community (Oct. 19, 8:30 p.m.). They also bring in a slew of new comedies. Among them is Matthew Perry’s new dramedy, Go On (Sept. 11, 9 p.m.), which follows a sportscaster trying to come to terms with his wife’s death. We have become all too familiar with Perry turning up for short-lived sitcoms since Friends, including Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine—and the pilot for Go On does little to raise expectations.

FOX brings back big hitters like Glee (Sept. 13, 9 p.m.) and The X Factor (Sept. 12, 8 p.m.), with newly appointed judge/mentor Britney Spears. FOX also returns with Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl (Sept. 25, 8 p.m.) and premieres its heir apparent, The Mindy Project (Sept. 25, 9:30 p.m.), starring and written by Mindy Kaling of The Office. Following Mindy as she struggles through her love life, the show may not have the instant appeal of New Girl, but it certainly has the potential to stretch beyond one season.

The best that the new season has to offer comes in the form of returning dramas. AMC’s zombie series The Walking Dead (Oct. 16, 8 p.m.) goes into its third season with little expectation after a lacklustre second season, but it still has an ardent fan base. Also making a return is Showtime’s Dexter (Sept. 30, 9 p.m.), going into its penultimate seventh season.
Although some think the show’s quality has wavered recently, last season’s finale suggests that the show will go out with a bang.

HBO, seemingly synonymous with quality television, brings back Boardwalk Empire (Sept. 16, 9 p.m.) for a third season. It stars Steve Buscemi (Fargo, The Big Lebowski)—finally getting the fandom he deserves—as Nucky Thompson, a politician and alcohol distributer in prohibition-era Atlantic City. While unlikely to be held in the same reverence as The Wire or The Sopranos, Boardwalk is still a stellar addition to HBO’s lineup.

The fall television season will likely follow the pattern of most others: fan favourites returning and new favourites forming. The fates of many shows also hang in the balance as NBC’s Community goes into its fourth season without a promise of a fifth, and Parks and Recreation (Sept. 20 , 9:30 p.m.) continues to struggle in the Nielsen ratings despite being one of the most consistent comedies on television (and with one of the best casts to boot).

The influence of Canadian viewers won’t be felt directly, since ratings are only calculated from US televisions, but fandom and strong word-of-mouth can still make an impact.

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