It has been years since the opening weeks of a new television season truly “belonged” to broadcast – but it seems that this year, in particular, the “other guys” have been coming on especially strong, with big news, bold moves and some of the most exciting new shows of 2014.
Here’s a look at a few, with more to come tomorrow.
“Transparent.” Overnight, Amazon is the new Netflix. During premiere week, arguably one of the most competitive of the year, it dropped the entire first season of its brand new comedy drama “Transparent,” featuring the performance of the year by Jeffrey Tambor as Mort Pfefferman, a divorced father of three adult children who decides to become his authentic self – a woman named Maura. It is no exaggeration to refer to it as the most highly acclaimed new series of the fall season. Lingering outrage over the inexplicable snubbing this year and last of the brilliant Tatiana Maslany of BBC America’s “Orphan Black” by voting members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is the only thing stopping me from naming Tambor as the first likely Emmy winner at next year’s awards. Watch this show appear on every important Top Ten list in December.
“The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” Speaking of stealing the networks’ thunder, Sunday will bring with it the season premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (along with its addictive live after-show, “Talking Dead”). The buzz for this show is already greater than that for any other series currently on television. Close behind on the media hot meter is the return tonight of FX’s multiple award-winning franchise “American Horror Story,” this time subtitled “Freak Show” (pictured below). I haven’t seen the episode, but just watching the clips in all those very effective commercials I’m already feeling the same way about Sarah Paulson (playing conjoined twins) as I am about Jeffery Tambor.
“Doctor Who.” Six episodes in and I’m still not sure how I’m feeling about Peter Capaldi as the latest regeneration of the title character in “Doctor Who.” I hope to fully come around, but so far it feels to me as though the part is still being written for Matt Smith. Maybe it’s just the stories that have left me cold. I still wish the “Who” creative team had opted for a younger Doctor, perhaps an older teenager, which would have been something completely new for the franchise. All concerns aside, I am enjoying the slow-growing relationship between the Doctor’s latest companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), and her colleague Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). And even when it’s a bit off, “Who” remains one of the most imaginative series in the history of television.
“Dallas.” Was it something I said? Not 72 hours after my column about “Dallas,” in which I urged TNT to not only renew it for a fourth season but to find a new creative team that might correct the damage that had been done to this cherished franchise, or to at least produce a wrap-up movie that addressed the multiple cliffhangers in the final episode of the series’ third season, including the surprise demise of Christopher Ewing, the network up and cancelled the show. This is no way to end the sweeping saga of the Ewing family, which has been playing out in various ways since 1978 and still has a lot of life left in it. In last week’s column I suggested that another network pick up “Dallas” if TNT were to cancel it and run with it – and I specifically urged CBS to consider doing exactly that. In all seriousness, I find it difficult to believe that “Dallas” done right wouldn’t work on CBS, especially as part of its Friday night lineup, where it made history in the Seventies and Eighties.
“You’re the Worst.” Speaking of questionable moves, FX last week decided to send its sensational new comedy “You’re the Worst” over to FXX for its second season. Meanwhile, it’s other big new comedy of 2014, “Married,” will remain on FX. I think they got it wrong. “Worst” is the funniest and sexiest new comedy of 2014. “Married” is the opposite in every way. “Worst” deserves a prime position on the glorious FX Networks’ mother-ship. “Married,” which shouldn’t have been renewed in the first place, should have been the one to go to FXX, currently the home of multiple “Simpsons” marathons that are remarkably enticing, but not much else. If FX paired “Worst” with “Louie” it would have the best hour of comedy on television.
In tomorrow’s column: DirecTV’s “Kingdom,” Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0,” FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” Showtime’s “Homeland” and more.
Ed Martin is the Editor of MediaBizBloggers. He is also the television and video critic for MyersBizNet.
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