Fall TV and Movie Guide
So much is happening in the Fall. School is starting; leaves are changing; winter is coming. Yet among all of this seasonal upheaval, there is one sacred constant. No, I am not referring to the High Holy Days. And I am not even referencing the return of the NFL. I am talking, of course, about the Fall TV season, a time when networks unleash their shiny new toys, and try to justify the millions of dollars they put into developing countless pilots over the spring and summer in the hope of hitting the jackpot with this year's critically acclaimed drama about a psychologically troubled male lead character. And while most of our favorite shows won't hit the small screen until springtime (Louie/Game of Thrones anybody?!), some of our returning favorites are still littered among the barrage of new content. So, without any further to-do, here is one man's completely subjective and biased list of which new shows to be excited for, which old ones we should welcome back, and perhaps a show or two that we would do well to stay away from. This is your Fall 2014 TV guide.
Mulaney (Fox)—For those of you who watch stand-up comedy (yes, I'm speaking to you five), you may know John Mulaney from his ridiculously funny stand-up special New In Town. If you watch SNL, you can thank him for our beloved creepy party-promoter, Stefon. So, if you fall into one of those two categories, you'll understand why I'm so psyched for this show. For the other 90% of you, you'll just have to trust me on this one. Mulaney plays the semi-autobiographical eponymous lead, an aspiring comedian who shares an apartment with two friends and performs stand-up comedy at various points throughout the show. Yes, I know. It sounds like an updated version of Seinfeld. However, being one of the funniest people around right now yields certain advantages, such as the benefit of the doubt. I know I'll be tuning in.
Gotham (Fox)—RYAN FROM THE O.C. IS PLAYING JIM GORDON. Sorry, I just had to get that out of the way. Gotham will join new series such as Flash, and slightly less-new series such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, as a part of DC’s and Marvel's insatiable hunger for world domination. Gotham is an origin story; not necessarily of Batman, but of his city. Instead of focusing on the Dark Knight, the show centers around Detective Jim Gordon (whom, as I calmly intimated above, is being played by Benjamin McKenzie of The O.C.) as he navigates the crime-filled city of Gotham in order to find the murderer of Bruce Wayne’s parents, encountering corruption and deception along the way. This piece of dialogue should be enough to convince you to watch:
Young Bruce: “I'm learning to conquer my fear.”
Gordon: “Fear doesn't need conquering. Fear tells you where the edge is.”
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)—Finally! A chance for guys to take part in the awesomeness that is Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal) without having to watch a show whose demographic is women in their 30's and 40's. Murder is essentially House for law, and it centers around Annalise Keating (Viola Davis, The Help), a law professor, as she manipulates and enlightens her students in an attempt to teach them, well, How To Get Away With Murder.
Red Band Society (Fox)—Remember that kid Astro from X-Factor who told Simon to stop looking at his mom? Yeah, so he has a show now. He stars alongside Octavia Spencer (The Help) in this Steven Spielberg-produced (like every movie ever) dramedy that focuses on a group of teens with cancer and other serious diseases living in a children's hospital. If you saw/read John Green's The Fault In Our Stars, and loved it because of its portrayal of teens with cancer as, you know, normal, and not just people created to teach us “normal” people an Important Lesson, then this show is a must-watch.
Do Not Watch (New Shows)
Selfie (ABC)—This show looks terrible. Reasons to avoid: 1) It's called Selfie. 2) No, wait, it's actually called Selfie. 3) The main character sounds like the woman from the “#SELFIE” song that came out this year...but she's not being ironic. 4) Actual hashtags pop up throughout the show. 5) Reasons 1 and 2. I cannot emphasize this enough. Would you watch a show called YOLO?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)—Brooklyn was created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation), and follows Detective Jake Peralta as he and his fellow hilarious detectives solve crimes in New York's fictional ninety-ninth precinct. Just in case you missed that, that's Andy Samberg literally playing a professional cop, the people that brought you Parks and Rec, and just as a little something extra, the are-you-kidding-me-how-could-someone-possibly-be-this-strong-that’s-just-ridiculous guy from the Old Spice commercials, who makes all men secretly question their masculinity! And did I mention it won the Golden Globe last year? Watch this.
The Newsroom (HBO)—This will be The Newsroom's third and final season, and I expect it to be its best yet. The Newsroom follows the optimistic (if you’re a cynic, read: naive) members of a fictional news program in their pursuit of giving America the “real news,” free from the constraints of media politicization, ratings-mongering, and corporate self-interest. It really came into its own last season after ditching its “this is how this news story should have been covered” framework that it boxed itself into, and instead started developing actual story lines. This is a controversial choice, but it really comes down to one thing: do you love Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Social Network)? If you do, watch. If you don't, what is wrong with you?
Community (Yahoo)—No one knows when Community will return to us for its sixth and final season (well, then again, it wasn't even supposed to have a season four, so who knows?). Some say this Fall, some say they won't even start writing it this Fall, and some say Yahoo didn't actually bring the show back to life and this is all one cruel trick they're playing on us Greendale students. Ok, that last one is actually just my own irrational fear. But there's tons of stuff that has to be answered this season: Will Donald Glover (Troy) come back, or is he too busy being super depressing as Childish Gambino? Will it be revealed that the whole show is actually a movie being directed by Abed? These are the hard-hitting questions, the answers to which lay just around the corner. So watch it. Or don't. As they say in their trailer, in a homage to Back To The Future, “Ratings? Where we're going, we don't need ratings.”
Do Not Watch (Returning Shows)
Modern Family (ABC)—This one is more of a protest than anything. Look, I loved the first two seasons of Modern Family just as much as the next guy. I even think that last season was moderately funny as well. But there is no excuse for Modern Family beating out Veep for this year's Best Comedy at the Emmy's. And while I know that is not Modern Family's fault, I have to punish somebody.
TV isn't the only thing to be excited for this Fall. Here is a smorgasbord of six movies you should be excited for, based on previews and Hollywood Buzz, coming soon to a theater near you.
This Is Where I Leave You (September 19)—Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Adam Driver (Girls), and Tina Fey star in this movie that was probably a response to some Hollywood exec saying “We need more movies about sitting shiva.” The Altman siblings don’t like each other very much. Their lives are all in varying degrees of disrepair. And, to make matters worse, their father just died, with one final request: for his children to return home and sit shiva for him under one roof. Hilarity (along with “them feels”) ensues. Based on the book This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Important sidenote: Ben Schwartz (CollegeHumor, Parks and Rec) appears as a Reform Rabbi; the movie is literally worth seeing just to watch his sermons.
Gone Girl (October 3)—Yes, you've passed it every time you've walked into a Barnes & Noble the last six months. Well, your determination to not read this critically-acclaimed crime thriller has paid off, because it's hitting the big screen this Fall. Gone Girl is directed by David Fincher, and follows Adam Dunne (Ben Affleck) as he tries to clear his name from his wife's suspected murder after she goes missing on their fifth anniversary.
Birdman (October 17)—What happens when someone who had all of the world's love and attention suddenly doesn't matter anymore? That is the fundamental premise behind Birdman, a movie following a retired actor, once famous for his portrayal of a super-hero, as he copes with his new reality of living on the periphery. He struggles with issues of family, ego, and identity in the weeks leading up to his planned return to relevancy, in the form of a new Broadway play. Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Stone star.
Interstellar (November 7)—Christopher Nolan (Inception, Dark Knight Trilogy), Matthew McConaughey (alright, alright, alright, alright), Anne Hathaway (first person ever to win an Oscar for a movie trailer), world starvation, and space exploration. Oh, and just as a proverbial cherry on this diabetes-inducing sundae, the beautiful and magical Michael Caine reading glorious poetry in the trailer. I'm not sure why I'm even writing words still. You should be seeing this movie.
Mockingjay: Part 1 (November 21)—The final chapter in the epic dystopian series about children killing each other, and related political shenanigans. Oh, wait. They're doing that annoying move where they split the last book into two movies? Whatever. Katniss is back and more suicidal than ever, as she leads begins to lead the revolution of the Districts against the Capitol. But really, the only thing that's relevant here is that this movie has Jennifer Lawrence. J-LAW. End of discussion.
The Imitation Game (November 21)—Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch!!!) is a British mathematician hired by his government to break Nazi Germany's Enigma Code, thereby potentially single-handedly destroying the Nazis and ending the war. This film follows his whole life, from unhappy teenager to the fast-paced days when he and his team try to break the German code. Keira Knightley also stars.