My answers in EMMY magazine's Fall TV critics poll: Slamming Whitney, praising Jessica Lange
When an editor at Emmy magazine asked me to be part of their TV critics poll on the new fall season, I was honored; some of the industry's leading voices provide their opinions for this annual feature.
This year, the roster included TV Guide's Matt Roush, USA Today's Robert Bianco, the Boston Globe's Sarah Rodman, The Detroit News' Mekeisha Madden, Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Storm, The New Orleans Times Picayune's Dave Walker and AOL Tv's Maureen Ryan.
Because the magazine doesn't put its contents online, I can't show you what everyone else said. But I can give you my answers to their questions -- written in July before I wrote this year's Fall TV preview or had much time to marinate on all the Fall TV issues exploding around us now. See what you think.
1. What is the best new series and why? (This refers to a series starting in the fall).
Unfortunately, TV best new series aren’t starting in the fall; they’ve all been pushed back to midseason. Still, among the fall titles, Fox’s Terra Nova looks exciting, with movie-level special effects on TV budgets; CBS A Gifted Man has a magnetic lead in St. Petersburg raised Patrick Wilson and engaging concept; and Fox’s The New Girl has the queen of adorable, Zooey Deschanel. That critics can’t choose one, may be the TV season’s biggest problem.
2. What is the worst new series and why? (This refers to a series starting in the fall).
Many contenders for this title. CBS’ How to Be a Gentleman is predictable, crass and unappealing; ABC's Charlie’s Angels is an uninspired reboot that captures none of the original’s kitschy spirit; NBC’s Whitney traps a vibrant standup comic in a shrill showcase.
3. What series was canceled that should have been renewed?
Fox’s The Chicago Code should have survived the season; an intriguing cop drama with powerful leads in Jennifer Beals and Jason Clarke, along with TV’s best villain in Delroy Lindo’s Alderman Gibbons.
4. What series was renewed that should have been canceled?
I’ve never understood the appeal of American Dad, beyond Fox’s unwillingness to snark off Seth MacFarlane while pruning the Criminal Minds spinoff, CBS should put have another moribund copy out of its misery: the joyless CSI: NY.
5. What is the most marvelous trend in TV?
Best trend in TV is giving voice to so many different female-centered projects, presenting well-rounded visions of female characters.
6. What is the most maddening trend in TV?
Television’s inability to produce more than one or two shows with a non-white star. Black people, Hispanics and Asian Americans can play more than best friends, spouses and bosses. Really.
7. Who is the TV executive most worthy of respect?
Fox’s Kevin Reilly seems to really understand programming and industry trends without pandering or cynicism; CBS’s schedulers, led by Kelly Kahl and Nina Tassler, seem to have a hammerlock on the interests of their audience.
8. Who is the most promising performer? (This refers to an actor in a new fall series who has not had a prominent role on TV before.)
Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings (left) show a lot of promise as the two buddies at the heart of CBS’ riches to rags sitcom 2 Broke Girls.
9. Who is the most savvy showrunner?
If he can make TV audiences love Ashton Kutcher as much as Charlie Sheen and save CBS’ hit Two and Half men, Chuck Lorre will deserve some kind of medal. If they negotiate shooting in Australia, massive special effects and tremendous industry skepticism to deliver a quality series, Terra Nova’s Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria will earn similar props.
10. Who is the most welcome returning star (This refers to an actor in a new fall series who has had a prominent role on TV before.)
Jessica Lange is magnetic, chewing scenery as a Blanche DuBois-style faded Southern beauty on Ryan Murphy’s FX series American Horror Story; Lost co-star Michael Emerson’s twitchy energy makes CBS’ Person of Interest an intriguing drama filled with possibilities.