Fall isn’t just back-to-school time. It’s fall TV season time, as new series roll out across broadcast and cable channels throughout the months ahead. Here are five promising offerings for you to check out with – or maybe before – you watch with your family this month.
This documentary (reality) competition series follows two aspiring filmmakers, Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci, as they each work to create a film from the same material. The Chair shows the two through the process of creating, marketing and even the theatrical release of both films – which will air on Starz. The winner gets $250,000. Dawson is an internet star with a successful YouTube comedy channel. Martemucci is a writer, actor and filmmaker who recently received critical recognition for her independent film Breakup at a Wedding, which she co-wrote, produced and starred in. How will their creative visions differ? How are their decision-making skills? How do they handle the pressure? It could make for a thought-provoking series and for good discussions at home about staying true to yourself, your creativity and your ideas.
Henry Danger (Nickelodeon, 8 p.m., Sept. 13)
Nickelodeon will debut two Saturday night live-action comedies, hoping to lure in tween and younger viewers. The best of the two shows is Henry Danger, about a 13-year-old boy who lands a job as superhero sidekick. He’s an earnest and winning kid, and now he has a double life as an eighth grader and a crime fighter. That’s a big secret to keep, but it seems he is up to the task. It seems it might just be a step up from the usual kid sitcom. (The second show, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, features 10-year-old quadruplets who do a lot of bickering and drive their parents crazy. It would have been more interesting if real-life quads played the kids, but these are just four precocious kid actors playing kids who act out. It’s not a step up from anything.)
The opening music of this miniseries is reminiscent of Downton Abbey, but this is a Ken Burns production, so it’s no soap opera. The Roosevelts chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three forces of nature in American politics, each in their own way. The series runs for two hours each night over seven nights and it should provide a fascinating look at three family members whose names we know well, but whose demons and struggles haunted them in ways we maybe never knew.
Red Band Society (Fox, 9 p.m., Sept. 17)“Everyone thinks when you go to a hospital life stops. But it’s just the opposite. Life starts.” That’s the message from Red Band Society, a teen drama with a twist – it’s set in a pediatric wing of a hospital. The narrator is a 12-year-old boy in a coma. The kids – most of whom are teens, are all battling some serious ailment – cancer, anorexia, heart issues. And as they face the problems, they bond. Octavia Spencer plays the main doctor overseeing them. The trailer gives off a frank, sweet vibe and a portrayal of teens on TV in a way we’ve haven’t seen in series television. We’re betting there will be a lot of tears along with the laughter on this one. Let’s hope it also delivers some good messages about health, respect and caring along the way.
Black-ish (ABC, 9:30 p.m. Sept. 24) As we struggle to talk about race in our country (see last week’s blog post about Ferguson), this show is tackling it head-on. Anthony Anderson plays Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson, who has a great job, a beautiful wife, four kids, and an upscale home in suburbia. But he worries that his children may be losing touch with their cultural identity. This is all about race and society and raising kids in today’s multi-cultural world. Whether it’s done well or it’s a miserable flop, it will likely be talked about – for its title alone, if nothing else.