TV Networks Reach For Different Territory This Fall
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. The new fall season is shaping up on network TV and who better to guide us through it than a guy who watches TV for a living, our critic, Eric Deggans. Hi there, Eric.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hey, how's it going?
CORNISH: So to start, give me a sense of what's going on with the networks. Is there a theme or a trend emerging this season in fall TV?
DEGGANS: I think there's a sense that every network has assessed its weak points and they've come up with a bunch of new shows to try and address it. So, NBC has a bunch of comedies that critics like, but they don't get wide viewership like "Community," and even "30 Rock" is starting to fade. So they've come up with broader comedies to try and get a wider audience. CBS has this formula for cop shows and procedurals that seems to be very rigid and so they're trying to stretch that a little bit. And ABC has a ton of female viewers with shows like "Gray's Anatomy" and "Revenge." And they seem to be trying at least one show that might draw some guys to the fold.
CORNISH: So let's get into it. Drama and comedy. Drama's first. Are there any good ones out there that we should have on our radar?
DEGGANS: Well, one of my favorites is the ABC show I was talking about a minute ago, "Last Resort." It is this show that's set on a submarine and this submarine gets these orders to fire nuclear weapons on Pakistan. And Andre Braugher is the captain, he's not sure these orders make sense, so he doesn't obey them and that causes the U.S. government to try to sink them.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LAST RESORT")
ANDRE BRAUGHER: (As Captain Marcus Chaplin ) You see, everyone knew Brezhnev was crazy. Hell, he invaded Afghanistan. The problem was, nobody knew if Reagan was. And if there's one absolute truth to being the man with your finger on the button, that's it. They have to think you're crazy. Here's to being 500-feet under, and half-a-world away from it all.
CORNISH: Ah, good to hear that voice again. Andre Braugher, I remember him on "Homicide" a long time ago.
DEGGANS: Exactly. And, you know, it's got a submarine, it's got Navy SEALs, it's got guys shooting machine guns. I mean, it's got everything that a guy might want in an action-packed, hour-long drama but it's on a network that traditionally is really strong with women.
CORNISH: And then there's the drama, "Nashville?"
DEGGANS: "Nashville." Another favorite of mine because it stars one of my favorite actresses on television, Connie Britton from "Friday Night Lights." And in this one she plays an aging country singer who's suddenly being challenged by Hayden Panettiere, who you might remember from "Heroes." She plays like a Taylor Swift kind of mean girl upstart who's looking to make her mark in country music. And between the two of them, sparks really fly.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "NASHVILLE")
CONNIE BRITTON: (As Rayna James) You're telling me after 21 years at this label if I don't open for your little ingenue, who wouldn't make it as one of my backup singers, that you're not going to support me?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Rayna, I need to know your decision.
BRITTON: (As Rayna James) Well, you can kiss my decision as it's walking out the door.
CORNISH: All right. Hey now. Let's move on to comedies.
DEGGANS: Got to love that. You got to love that.
CORNISH: It's true. All right. Comedies. What are the networks coming up with?
DEGGANS: Well, Fox probably has one of the most anticipated new comedies, it's called "The Mindy Project" and it features Mindy Kaling, who is a former writer and co-star from "The Office," who has centered a show on her own character, this aspiring gynecologist who is enamored with romantic comedies and almost kind of lives her life as if she's in the middle of one.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MINDY PROJECT")
ANNA CAMP: (As Gwen Grandy) That British guy, he is bad news.
MINDY KALING: (As Mindy Lahiri) I do not know that he is bad news. I think he has a good heart. I think he's Hugh Grant in "About A Boy."
CAMP: (As Gwen Grandy) I think that he is Hugh Grant in real life.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: Mindy, I hate to interrupt because I see you're enjoying some well-deserved BFF time. Hello, Gwendolyn.
CAMP: (As Gwen Grandy) Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: Your patient Allison Silverman's going into labor.
KALING: (As Mindy Lahiri ) The one with insurance?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: Oh, hell yes.
DEGGANS: So there you go. I mean it's a comedy that comments on romantic comedies, it comments on the medical profession. I mean, she's taking aim at everybody and it's really contemporary, it feels really fresh.
CORNISH: Eric Deggans is TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. Eric, thank you.
DEGGANS: Thank you.
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