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Stephanie is a contributing writer to “The Hudsucker.” By day, she is a teaching assistant at Kumon, attempting to convince young children that 36 is indeed less than 37, but by night, she turns into an intrepid Instagram food photographer.

Fall Premiere Roundup: Which New Shows Are Worth Watching?

It’s officially fall, and you know what that means! The leaves are falling off the trees, peacoats and umbrellas are making their first appearances, and most important of all, the new series premieres are all ripe and ready for the picking!

Image Credit: FOX Broadcasting

Image Credit: FOX Broadcasting

For those of you who spent September doing ridiculous things like leaving your house and actually completing homework, fret not; I’m here to clue you in on which new shows to watch, and which ones to avoid at all cost. (Unfortunately, I’ll only be dishing on five of the new shows this fall has to offer – I leave my house sometimes too, okay?)

The Mindy Project – As a huge fan of The Office’s Mindy Kaling (like seriously, she could spend twenty-two minutes reading Fifty Shades of Grey in a Kermit the Frog voice and I would still watch), I knew I would love this sitcom. It was just going to be a matter of whether I would have good reason to – and thanks to Kaling’s fantastic writing and a very promising supporting cast, I most definitely do. Kaling plays Dr. Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN attempting to keep her (hopefully) insured patients happy, all the while struggling to deal with her flailing love life. The Mindy Project could survive on Kaling’s charms alone – I mean, her character keeps a chocolate fountain in her office and refers to her coworker’s misplaced crush as “it’s like if Hermione liked Voldemort.” However, co-stars Chris Messina (The Newsroom), as the curmudgeonly Danny Castellano, and Ed Weeks, doing his best Hugh Grant impression as Jeremy Reed, are worth tuning in for as well. B+

Image source: CBS

Elementary – When CBS announced earlier this year that they were creating a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes – amidst great ire from BBC’s Sherlock fans everywhere – it sounded like it was dead on arrival. After all, Sherlock already owned this corner of the market (you know, that “Sherlock Holmes with a cellphone” market) and CBS is known as the network of bland crime procedurals and Two and a Half Men. But goshdarnit, if Elementary didn’t prove us all wrong. Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone), as the famous detective, throws himself into the role with reckless abandon; giving us a performance that borders on impetuous childishness – and it works like gangbusters. Meanwhile, Lucy Liu’s casting as the gender-swapped Joan Watson is perfect; her reserved Watson works as a great foil for Miller’s Holmes, and it’s always nice to see more Asian Americans represented on primetime television. As long as Elementary focuses on developing the Holmes-Watson partnership and keeps its cases-of-the-week interesting, this consulting detective will not be going out of business. A-

Image credit: CBS

Partners – If you were a fan of Max Mutchnick and David Kohan’s Will & Grace back in its heyday, you might just be a fan of their new project, Partners. Based on Mutchnick and Kohan’s real-life friendship, Partners shares a lot of elements with W&G; it focuses on an overly codependent relationship between two people – it just happens that one of them is straight, and one of them is gay. However, a lot of what made W&G work ten years ago is actually working against Partners in 2012 – it feels like a formula that we’ve seen before, and the multi-camera format and the writing just seems dated. The only thing keeping me tuned in is the partnership of the always delightful Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), who gives a somewhat wooden performance that is either a comedic choice or just plain phoning it in. I see it as the former, but I could just be distracted by his beautiful face. C+

Image credit: FOX

The New Normal – If you’ve ever watched an episode of Glee, you know that creator Ryan Murphy is invested in two things: gay issues and utterly obvious storytelling. If you were hoping that his new show, The New Normal, wouldn’t be quite the same, then you’re out of luck. In fact, I would argue that that’s all Normal is: a gay-rights parade not-so-subtly disguised as a TV show. The show centers on David and Bryan, a gay couple looking to start a family with a surrogate mother. But what could have been a refreshing, progressive alternative to the heteronormative television landscape today, in Murphy’s hands, ends up being a never-ending Special Episode in which every single plotline leads to a contrived lesson on homophobia, racism, ableism, and… having great sex after you’re 50? (I don’t even know – it was a storyline in one episode. Don’t ask.) And this is all embodied in Ellen Barkin’s character, Jane, whose only purpose seems to be to wander in once in a while and bark offensive, bigoted statements at the other characters. It’s actually ridiculous to the point where you wonder why they haven’t filed for a restraining order yet. The only saving grace of Normal is the dream team of Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon) as David and Bryan respectively, who provide the show with some much-needed heart. C-

Image source: ABC

The Neighbors – Having unleashed all of my vitriol on The New Normal, all I’ll say about The Neighbors is that it’s a harmless good time. You can understand why I had my doubts about the premise of this show: a family moves into a suburb, only to realize that all their neighbours are aliens. Like, from outer space. And if they clap their hands, they reveal their true green, slimy forms. It sounds like a show that would be better off on Nickelodeon (and at times, it is). But thanks to dedicated performances from Toks Olagundoye and Simon Templeman as the creatures from outer space, the show has its moments of quirky brilliance. Olagundoye, in particular, is an absolute delight to watch, whether she’s casually tossing dirty dishes out the window (apparently aliens can’t use dishwashers) or stirring up drama in a gold lamé dress (because aliens learn behaviour from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, of course). C+

The Mindy Project airs Tuesday nights at 9:30/8:30c on FOX.
Elementary airs Thursday nights at 10/9c on CBS.
Partners airs Monday nights at 8:30/7:30c on CBS.
The New Normal airs Tuesday nights at 9:30/8:30c on FOX.
The Neighbors airs Wednesday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.

 

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