Here's the third piece of the TV season preview, ranking some hybrid shows. The previous blogs list the comedies and the serious dramas:
By MIKE HUGHES
There really is an in-between world that TV keeps trying to
On one end are the heavy-duty, cable-style dramas; on the other
are comedies. Somewhere between are dramas that add youthful bursts of humor,
romance or boom-bang action.
Now the CW network – which is rarely best at anything –
seems to have found that spot. Here are some of this fall’s hybrids, rated on a
“Jane the Virgin” (7)
For the first time since “Ugly Betty,” someone has found a
charming, witty way to adapt a Latino telenovela. The story is broad – a doctor
accidentally inseminates a virgin. Still, “Jane” makes it almost believable,
while adding extra touches. Gina Rodriguez – unknown outside Sundance Film
Festival circles – is wonderful; other characters, especially her mother and
grandmother, add humor and emotion.
(9 p.m. Mondays, CW; starts Oct. 13)
“The Flash” (6)
After a childhood of trying to outrun the bullies, Barry
Allen is struck by lightning; he’s soon the world’s fastest human. Some scenes
– including a motivational speech by The Arrow – get in the way; also, super-speed
tends take the fun out of chases. Still, there are spectacular effects and
strong emotions, some of it centered on Barry’s dad, played by John Wesley Shipp,
who was the TV “Flash” in 1990.
(8 p.m. Tuesdays, CW; Oct. 7)
“The Red Band Society” (5)
Hollywood has a fresh interest in youth and mortality, via
movies (“The Fault in Our Stars,” “If I Stay”) and TV (“Chasing Life”). Now
comes a sort of medical “Breakfast Club”; in a hospital ward, mismatched teens
have nothing in common except illness. They argue, laugh, party, cope, aided by
a sharp-tongued nurse (Octavia Spencer) and a kindly doctor (Dave Annable). The
result is erratic, but interesting.
(9 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox; Sept. 17)
“The Mysteries of Laura” (5)
In the TV tradition, Laura (Debra Messing) is a smart cop
with a crumbling personal life. Her sons are nasty, and not in a TV-funny way; her
estranged husband is oblivious. It would be easy to dismiss the show, but “Laura”
has a charming star and a talented producer-director. As he did with “Chuck” and
“Human Target,” McG gives the show a jaunty feel.
(8 p.m. Wednesdays, NBC, starting Sept. 24; but debuts at 10
p.m. Sept. 17)
CBS is already Genius Central, thanks to “Big Bang Theory
and “Elementary.” Now it has high-IQ sorts who are hired by a Homeland Security
to occasionally save the country. In the “Big Bang” tradition, there’s also a
beautiful waitress (Katharine McPhee) to explain life to them. Created by the
people who did “Fringe” and “Sleepy Hollow,” it’s a good concept that strains
believability during its first hour.
(9 p.m. Mondays, CBS, Sept. 22)
ALSO: Alongside the 23 new scripted series, the commercial
broadcast networks have exactly one new reality show. “Utopia” dumps 15
eccentric strangers in the wilderness and gives them a year to build a
civilization. Fox debuts the sow from 8-10 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7; then, for a
while, gives it one-hour spots at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.