Fall TV preview: See the first episodes of Fox's The Mob Doctor and NBC's Revolution with reviews
The new TV season doesn't officially start until next Monday. But with so many previews, special broadcasts and early starts on tap over the last few weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking it's already kicked off.
On Sunday, we dropped our huge Fall TV preview, featuring capsule reviews of the 21 new shows debuting this fall on network TV. And I picked this week because it was right in the middle of some key starts -- NBC kicked off its most important comedies last week, and there's more debuts on Fox and NBC this week. Click here to check out my analysis of three major trends in fall TV; look here for my bite-size snark about what's working an not in the new shows.
And it all gets going tonight with two shows: Fox's Mob Doctor and J.J. Abrams' Revolution on NBC.
Here's a little more detailed look than what we could fit in the paper on Sunday, including an answer to the all important question: TiVo or Ti-NO?
The Mob Doctor, 9 p.m., Fox -- There may be no new show on network TV more neatly summed up by its title. Which means My Boys alum Jordana Spiro deserves serious props for making her character — a top-flight surgeon forced to work for criminals on the side — compelling and exciting, despite the foreshadowing. But this show also exhibits the problem hobbling most new network TV series this fall; talented casts -- in this case, the highly underrated William Forsythe as Spiro's mob benefactor -- hamstrung by ludicrous concepts and substandard writing. And only network TV could make a show about a woman from the only neighborhood on Chicago's South Side with no black folks in sight.
TiVo or Ti-NO? Can a leading surgeon vault from pulling off complex heart operations to pulling screwdrivers out of the heads of thugs with no one in her life getting wise? Maybe, but she can't really make a TV show about all that stuff believable, which is why I'm going to Ti-NO here.
Revolution, 10 p.m., NBC --They had me until the sword fights. Superstar producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek reboot) tries TV once again with a post apocalyptic drama on life in a world 15 years after every form of power mysteriously stops working. Why that turns the fabled ballpark for the Chicago Cubs into an ivy-covered relic — one of the pilot's best, but most head-scratching visuals — goes unexplained. The show's heroine is a not-so-thinly veiled version of Hunger Games' arrow-slinging star Katniss Everdine, in this case hunting for a long lost relative to help free her brother from the clutches of a vicious warlord. Why I, a bona-fide sci fi nerd, didn't care more about any of this is the key reason why TV often fumbles in making such shows clever enough for hardcore fans but accessible enough for regular folks.
TiVo or Ti-NO? When Katniss uncle and barkeep-turned-reluctant hero Billy Burke picked up a sword to start wasting bad guys, I actually laughed out loud. Even Breaking Bad alum Giancarlo Esposito as your typical, mustache-twirling, post-apocalyptic warlord can't save this one. And despite a few critics who suggested the presence of tea party politics in the background -- Esposito as the Obama-ish dictator fulfilling nightmares of tyranny -- that's giving this show credit for a subtle vision it shows little evidence of deploying anywhere else. Ti-NO.