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Opinion: Anna Gunn, Adrien Brody, Andy Samberg make up TV’s faces of fall

Jada Pinkett Smith puts on her bad girl sneer as she plays the evil diva, Fish Mooney, on Fox's "Gotham," its retelling of the Batman myth, premiering Sept. 22. Credit: Courtesy of MCT.

Jada Pinkett Smith plays Fish Mooney on Fox’s ‘Gotham.’
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

In an Internet age where audiences are used to having their every need catered to, it should be no surprise that this fall’s TV lineup is a mishmash of shows.  From shows that take pages straight out of comic books to dramas to documentaries, there’s something for everyone.

Comic book shows should be a constant across the airwaves this fall. There are new ones like Fox’s Batman origin story “Gotham,” to Warner Brothers’ “Arrow” spinoff (“Arrow” will be returning to TV itself) “The Flash,” and finally, NBC’s dark “Constantine.”

And old shows like AMC’s smash hit “The Walking Dead” and ABC’s Marvel Universe take-off “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will also be back on.

Here’s a quick take on which of these comic-inspired shows you should look out for.

“Gotham,” premiering Sept. 22, features the always underrated Donal Logue and Jada Pinkett Smith and has already received a number of rave reviews. It also has just been named the “most promising new show” by the Television Critics Association and appears to be a sleek, dark take on the Caped Crusader’s beginnings and Commissioner Gordon’s past, so I will definitely be checking it out.

I’m not so sure about the return of “The Walking Dead,” though. In my opinion, the show took a real tailspin after the first season, and critics haven’t responded to the last few seasons nearly as well either.

Other new shows creating a buzz include Amazon’s “Transparent,” Showtime’s “The Affair” and Fox’s “Gracepoint” — an adaptation of the acclaimed British TV series “Broadchurch” starring Anna Gunn from “Breaking Bad.”

“Transparent” has an intriguing premise, as it features the hysterical Jeffrey Tambor of “Arrested Development” playing a man who struggles with revealing that he is transgendered to his children. It’s first episode is already streaming on Amazon Prime.

But “The Affair” seems to be most intriguing of the bunch. It follows the story of an extramarital relationship and stars Dominic West, who’s best known for his role as rugged cop Jimmy McNulty on HBO’s classic series “The Wire.” Its teaser, featuring sound bites of the couple seemingly being interrogated about some kind of an ominous accident, has definitely aroused my curiosity. “The Affair” debuts on Showtime on Oct. 12.

The miniseries — documentary or otherwise — is also making a strong comeback this fall. PBS’s new seven-part Ken Burns documentary series “The Roosevelts,” HBO’s Foo Fighters American music retrospective “Sonic Highways” and the History Channel’s Adrien Brody vehicle “Houdini” are among the highlights.

“Houdini,” a two-part miniseries, already aired to critical acclaim and is available on the History Channel’s website, while “The Roosevelts” debuted Sunday on WOSU. Unsurprisingly, it has also received laudatory advance reviews. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says that it “boasts an energy and vision (Theodore Roosevelt) himself would have admired.”

And going off of Ken Burns’s excellent track record on shows like “The Civil War,” I have to believe that his series focusing on Teddy, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt will be no exception.

“Sonic Highways” is the Foo Fighters’s innovative visual accompaniment to the band’s forthcoming album of the same name. The album and show were recorded in eight different cities, ranging from Washington, D.C. to Chicago to Los Angeles, and it features notable artists and musicians from each city. Some of them include Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Pharrell Williams and Carrie Underwood. And the show’s trailer even includes President Barack Obama adding his two cents about American music. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s excellent 2013 documentary “Sound City” proved to be a passionate time capsule providing sharp insight into the music industry, past and present, so this should count as appointment television for each one of its eight episodes. “Sonic Highways” makes its HBO premiere on Oct. 17.

Some other returning shows include HBO’s 1920’s mobster drama “Boardwalk Empire,” Fox’s Golden Globe-winning comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” CBS’s political drama “The Good Wife,” Comedy Central’s edgy hit “Key & Peele” and Fox’s surprise hit “Sleepy Hollow.”

“Boardwalk Empire” is the show I am most looking forward to following this fall. Its strong ensemble cast, lush, gorgeous production and intricate plotting really came together to make its last season its strongest, so the stakes are on for its final eight-episode season. Its first two episodes have already aired, and it’s on HBO on Sundays.

3 comments

  1. Jeffrey Tambor’s character on “Transparent” is a trans woman, so a more accurate version of that sentence would be “playing a woman who struggles with revealing that she is transgendered to her children.”

  2. Grace, my apologies for the error there. Didn’t quite know how to phrase it, being that Tambor’s character was a man prior to revealing herself as a woman, but thank you for correcting me.

  3. No worries, Martin! It’s a totally understandable mistake to make, especially because it’s obvious you weren’t trying to be like, malicious or anything. I hope I didn’t come across as antagonistic; mostly I wanted you to know in case you ever come across this sort of thing again.

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