Alibi V.29 No.35 • Aug 27-Sept 2, 2020 

Idiot Box

Falling Apart

A brief glimpse at the new fall 2020 TV season

LA’s finest

Given the current state of Hollywood is more or less identical to the current state of America (quarantined, wearing masks and trying its damnedest not to catch the ’Rona), it’s no surprise to see that the soon-to-debut fall TV season is looking a bit … curtailed. Some networks are waiting until the first quarter of 2021 to spring the new stuff, in hopes that they can actually film something between now and then. Others are sticking with their old lineups as much as humanly possible. Others have come up with novel new ways to shoot TV shows. (Expect a lot of shot-on-Zoom sitcoms and movies in the next 12 months, people.)

So what sort of new network entertainment awaits us in the last quarter of 2020? Let’s explore.

FOX

Several of the producers and directors behind “This Is Us” offer up the “fact-based” (more like, “fact-inspired”) thriller “Next.” John Slattery (“Mad Men”) stars as a Silicon Valley tech genius whose artificial intelligence experiment goes all supervillain. The Southern Gothic soap opera “Filthy Rich” stars Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”) and Gerald McRaney (“Simon & Simon”) in the melodramatic tale of a backstabbing family fighting over a Christian broadcasting empire. Some 17 years after Bad Boys II, Gabriel Union’s tough cop character Syd gets her own TV series spinoff, teaming up with Jessica Alba (“Dark Angel”) for the cop drama “L.A.’s Finest.” Neil deGrasse Tyson continues to fill in for astronomer Carl Sagan in the third installment of “Cosmos,” titled “Cosmos: Possible Worlds.” Scheduled for midseason: “Call Me Kat” with Mayim Bialik plus the animated series “The Great North” and “Housebroken.”

ABC

ABC has dumped much of its staple sitcom lineup. (“Bless This Mess,” “Single Parents” and “Schooled” got axed, “Modern Family” and “Fresh Off the Boat” ended their runs.) That reduced the network’s sitcom offerings to a single night. David E. Kelly (“Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Legal”) shows up to add to the drama, though, with “Big Sky.” He produces while Kylie Bunbury (“Under the Dome”) and Katheryn Winnick (“Vikings”) star as a detective and an ex-cop, respectively, who team up to locate two sisters kidnapped by a truck driver. (If the show is successful, they’ll be failing to do so for years to come). “Call Your Mother” is a sitcom starring Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”) as an empty nester who tries to reinsert herself into her grown kids’ lives. Finally, The oft-repeated shopping/game show “Supermarket Sweep” (1965-67, 1990-95, 2000-05) returns with ex-”SNL” star Leslie Jones as host.

NBC

The “Law & Order” franchise gets its umpteenth iteration with “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” (OK, there have only been six series before this one, but still.) Beyond that, we get a lot more “The Voice,” “Dateline” and “Sunday Night Football.” Midseason should see the flashback sitcom “Young Rock” (based on the childhood of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Ted Danson in the self-explanatory sitcom “Mr. Mayor” and the “remotely produced” (shot on Zoom, most likely) comedy “Connecting” set (expectedly) in the “age of Coronavirus.”

CBS

Indefatigable sitcom machine Chuck Lorre (“Cybil,” “Grace Under Fire,” “Dharma & Greg,” “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Mom,” “Mike & Molly,” “Young Sheldon,” “Bob Hearts Abishola”) offers up his newest with “B Positive” starring Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) as a newly divorced dad (and therapist) who gets a kidney donation from a “rough-around-the-edges” woman from his past (Annaleigh Ashford from “Masters of Sex”). The Edward Woodward action series “The Equalizer,” reimagined as a movie series starring Denzel Washington, gets reimagined again—this time with Queen Latifah as the enigmatic ex-superspy who uses her skills to help people with nowhere else to turn. We already had the Silence of the Lambs spinoff “Hannibal,” so it’s only natural we’d get the Silence of the Lambs spinoff “Clarice.” Rebecca Breeds (“Pretty Little Liars”) takes over for Jodie Foster as the FBI serial killer hunter. The show is set six months after the movie. No word if Mr. Lecter will show up.

The CW

Given the dearth of new programming, The CW is holding out until January before premiering its “fall” shows. In the meantime the network will rely on carry-overs from other networks, including “Swamp Thing” (DC Direct) “Tell Me A Story” (CBS All Access) and “Dead Pixels” (Britain’s E4). Starting in January, though, “Superman & Lois” adds DC Comics’ most iconic hero to the CW lineup of “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Batwoman,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Black Lightning.” Jared Padalecki (“Supernatural”) takes over ass-kicking duties from Chuck Norris in the “Walker, Texas Ranger” reboot “Walker.” The network also plans to add two more scripted series at “midseason” (whenever that is now), starting with a reboot of the ’70s martial arts series “Kung Fu.” (Naturally, it’s now set in the modern day and the main character is a woman. Reboot!). That’s followed by “The Republic of Sarah” from Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man), a dramedy about a rebellious high school teacher who convinces her small New Hampshire town to secede from the United States in order to protect it from a greedy mining company.