TEN BEST FALL TV SHOWS
“Breaking Bad” — AMC, Aug. 11
Even though in recent years the entire notion of a “TV show” has been turned on its head, fall is still a time when the new seasons begin on networks, cable channels and streaming services. The best of the lot is “Breaking Bad” on AMC. The saga of Walter White, a high school chemistry professor who starts cooking meth to pay for his cancer treatments, has taken so many twists and turns through its five seasons — the run that began Aug. 11 will be the final episodes — it’s hard to imagine where it will all end up. But be assured I’ll be watching.
“Boardwalk Empire” — HBO, Sept. 8
In just its third season HBO’s Prohibitionera crime drama “Boardwalk Empire” captured me with its historical accuracy, sharply drawn characters and exquisite use of tension and release. Atlantic City, NJ politico Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, has a fine mess to clean up when he returns to television.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” — ABC, Sept. 24
Among the trash pile of network TV pilots this year is one that intrigues me, a 60-minute action-based drama about the fictional and secret government agency from Marvel comics that seeks to regulate superhuman activity. Nick Fury won’t be a regular character — though Samuel L. Jackson who played the role in The Avengers movie, has said he’d be willing to guest-star. Joss Whedon, who directed The Avengers and a slew of other sci-fi, horror and action projects, is behind this one, so it looks promising.
“The Walking Dead” — AMC, Oct. 13
The cable channels have it all over the networks when it comes to quality. That’s because they have the freedom to circumvent FCC regulations to which the networks must adhere. A fine example of this is “The Walking Dead,” a show AMC adapted from a graphic novel of the same name heavy on gore, violence and adult themes. It resumes Oct. 13.
“Brooklyn-Nine-Nine” — Fox, Sept. 17
That’s not to say the networks don’t put out some good stuff. This sitcom about Brooklyn’s 99 th police precinct taps “Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg and some other TV veterans in what looks like a promising pilot. The location should make for some great hipster jokes.
“Eastbound & Down” — HBO, Sept. 29
The cable channels, particularly HBO, pull no punches in their sitcoms. This one, about a former big-league fastballer from Shelby played by UNCSA grad Danny Mc- Bride, features nudity, drug use, unbelievably colorful language and other mature themes. Now in its fourth season, it’s one of the few shows that makes me laugh out loud.
“Modern Family” — ABC, Sept. 25
This one puts a contemporary spin on the good, old-fashioned family sitcom featuring three distinctly charming households — same-sex couple Cam and Mitchell with their adopted daughter Lily; Mitchell’s father Jay, who has married the much younger Gloria and taken in her son Manny and their new baby Joe; and traditional family Phil and Claire, with their three kids Haley, Alex and Luke. It is so much funnier than it sounds.
“Monday Night Football” — ESPN, Sept. 9
People laughed when ABC decided to run pro football games in prime time, but “MNF” has aired to record audiences ever since the first broadcast in 1970 — an urban legend states that crime goes down nationwide while the games air. The first matchup, an NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins, should prove no exception.
“The Newsroom” — HBO, July 14
Media insiders have fun ripping this Aaron Sorkin newsroom drama to shreds for inaccuracies and overwrought situations, but I admit I’m a fan of Will McAvoy, the Atlantis Cable News anchor played by Jeff Daniels. Hard to believe he’s the same guy from Dumb & Dumber.
What I won’t be watching
Reality shows, Lifetime movies, most cop and detective shows, shows spun off of movies, shows spun off of other TV shows, anything with “very special episodes” and anything that has to do with fashion models, singing other people’s songs, real housewives, rural morons, bachelors/bachelorettes and sharks. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for “Game of Thrones,” “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” “Portlandia,” “Louie” and “Mad Men” to return.