Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What to Watch for Fall

Welcome!  The wait is over and my What to Watch guide for FOX's new fall line-up is here.  While the list is small and I have included short bits about the programming we will see later in the season, there are some excellent shows that you should be tuning into now.  FOX came out of the gates first, beginning a week before the other major network channels, thus after three episodes I feel like I'm already settled in, addicted and know just what I would or would not recommend for other viewers.  Below are my descriptions of Bones, Sleepy Hollow, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to give you a taste of exactly what's going on, as well as my personal reviews and thoughts on each show.  I also provide similar series and the overall genre to help you decide if they're right up your alley.  When perusing other blogs or review sites, I have noticed many contain a rating system that is simple but somewhat corny thus I've created one of my own using "integrals" to judge the quality of a series as one- I'm a math nerd and two- the basic definition of the word describes something that is necessary, hence 5 out of 5 "integrals" describes a show that contains all the fundamentals of a hit.  So strap in and take a ride with me as we explore what FOX has to offer this fall! 


Now on its ninth season, I'd be surprised if anyone hasn't heard of or at least previewed this crime/thriller a few times.  While they are up and running with brand new episodes this fall on FOX, reruns also flood TNT so it's easy to catch up with Dr. Temperance Brennan and her team of lab rats working out of The Jeffersonian Institute in Washington D.C. with the help of her pseudo-fiancé/baby-daddy FBI Agent Seeley Booth to solve the grossest crimes out there.  The strictly logical and rarely emotional forensic anthropologist, Brennan lovingly nicknamed "Bones", deals just with that and only that: bones.  Able to spot everything from a bullet hole, puncture points or stab marks to childhood abuse, she studies the human skeleton finding every abnormal marking on its surface to determine not only the cause of death but in addition background information on the victims themselves.  Alongside her is a team of interns whom fight at the chance to learn from Dr. Brennan, they rotate with each case meaning whether it's the talkative Daisy, Arastoo the Muslim or Finn the hick, who are constantly bursting through their given stereotypes, or another, every episode contains the perfect sidekick that jives with the case at hand adding a comedic touch or a life lesson as each episode is tailored to their personality.  In addition we watch them grow over the seasons with the coveted internship under the infamous Bones.  The head of the lab, Camille Saroyan, is a brilliant, overachieving former medical examiner who takes care of all the gelatinous remains normally melted, scorched or oozing off the skeleton for any data available, while also running the team as the de facto assigned leader.  While Cam holds the title of boss, everyone knows Bones is really in charge, however over the past few seasons we have watched Brennan grow as she now has more respect for Cam's abilities and allows her to run the show.  There is also the quirky, brilliant, ex-billionaire, Jack Hodgins whose specialty is particulates, bugs and "dirt", although he hates that terminology as so much can be determined by the specs of soil.  Alongside is his wife and Brennan's bestie Angela Montenegro, a talented artist and a master of computer technology, who recreates the damaged faces and puts a name to each victim while also inputting the tremendous amount of data onto the computers, including her self-designed program, until the unique clues each team member has gathered fit together in a three-dimensional puzzle creating a digital replay of the crime.  While all this constitutes the "how" their companions must still determine the "who" and "why" which is where Booth, Sweets and Caroline enter the picture.  Booth comes in from the law side of the equation and often takes Bones along to interview suspects and examine crime scenes.  However, in the newer seasons we have seen FBI psychologist Lance Sweets become an integral part of the team helping to understand the mind as well as the emotional aspects of the crime as Brennan is often blind to this type of reasoning and has no problem voicing her disapproval and the lack of validity in the "science" of Sweets' profession yet his insights often aid in the case.  So far this season Sweets has decided to take a sort of sabbatical to re-inspect his life-choices after the long running drama with the show's nemesis Pelant.  I'd also like to add that Sweets' "break" never really seemed to happen as he returned to help out with a case and then again when the team went up against Pelant and he is present in the previews for next weeks episode as well.  It appears as if the writers wanted to show that Sweets was effected by Pelant's actions, but didn't actually want him to miss an episode.  This was an epic fail in my opinion as I'm not sure why they'd make such a fuss about him taking time off only to have in present on every case.  The good news is that we don't have to worry about losing Sweets as he never actually left.  A peripheral character, Caroline is the FBI prosecutor with her creole flare, snappy attitude and tendency to call everyone "Cherie" she helps the team understand what is needed to hold up in court ensuring they collect all the data necessary for a conviction.  While each episode is a work of its own, with a new crime, victim, killer and suspects each week, the show has added an underlining story of a man with a vendetta against the Jeffersonian team and their FBI counterparts, criminal mastermind and technical genius, Christopher Pelant.  Although we have seen the drama unfold for a while now with Pelant killing multiple victims, being caught, squiggling his way out of it, coming back for more, having his face shot off by Booth and stitching it up himself, he is still on the run and causing mayhem for the cast.  As the strict, stoic Brennan who doesn't believe in the concept of marriage, as it is just a silly ceremony from an anthropological viewpoint, goes up against her mate, the traditional-catholic Booth who believes in the sanctity of the bond, and finally decides to propose to him in a moment both he and the viewers have desperately been waiting for (as they have been living together for quite sometime in a committed relationship with a daughter).  Pelant steps in and forces Booth to go against everything he believes and feels by threatening to kill five innocent people, including children, if Booth says yes to the proposal as with his wizard-like savvy in front of a computer he is able to hack into any device with a camera and we see in the first episodes of this season he is constantly watching.  To make matters worse, Pelant will execute his nefarious plan if Booth tells Brennan why he is actually saying no, leaving her shocked, hurt and confused, a vulnerable emotional place we have not yet seen before with Brennan.  While the season begins with Bones and Booth going through a rough patch in their relationship due to the refused proposal she overcomes her feelings and learns to trust Booth as they tackle the new cases before them.  I have to add that in the perplexing new episode, in my opinion, this genius was finally killed off by Booth. The reasoning behind my confusion is that up until now Pelant as always been ahead of the entire group, I mean he eluded an entire FBI SWAT team, but now he was killed with only Brennan and Booth's actions which seemed far to easy compared to his lengthy run on the show.  I suspect that the writers wanted to simply get rid of him but I do hope that a new nemesis is introduced as without an underlining story that spans multiple episodes Bones looses a lot of its appeal in my book. 

Bones is basically your run of the mill crime drama, similar to Castle, The Mentalist, Blue Bloods and every other show within the plethora of similar programming, so if this is your genre it's right up your alley.  What makes it unique is that we also have a dysfunctional main character who is high in smarts but lacks social skills, similar to Sonya Cross in FX's new hit The Bridge, along with lovable sidekicks as well as a different side of crime as it focuses on the bones via forensic anthropology rather than the cop angle.  Due to this, over the seasons I have learned quite a lot and have become much more familiar with the human skeletal anatomy.  I'd like to add that if you're interested in this field a few great reads are Mary Roach's Stiff and Spook, comedic looks at what happens to the body after death, as well as Dr. Bill Bass & Jon Jefferson's Death's Acre which is a more scientific view of the field.  Bones is also riddled with personal heart-wrenching moments as it crosses into the "feel-good" drama category and many episodes will have you moved by the story.  As far as a review goes, it's good.  I don't have many criticisms or raves as it simply sits in the middle of my radar.  While not the first program I will be rushing to watch on my DVR, as similar to the other shows in the genre it has simply a different case different week mentality, it doesn't have me on the edge of my seat or unable to wait for next week however, each episode is always watched and thoroughly enjoyed.  With characters who are easy to fall in love with, interesting cases and long-running storylines Bones is perhaps one of the best in its genre and will always have me coming back for more.  As many sites have silly ratings systems I thought I'd create one of my own and Bones gets a 4 out of 5 integrals on my scale.  Tune in Mondays on FOX and join the ride of this wonderfully lovable and somewhat unique crime drama!

Sleepy Hollow

Here begins an eerie tale much deeper than it seemed.  Where The Legend of Sleepy Hollow collides with the American Revolution, witchcraft, a secret conspiracy with founding-father George Washington himself and the tale of the apocalypse in connection to the book of Revelation, FOX's new interpretation of a classic is anything but boring.  While the original tale, written by Washington Irving has few of these tributes, the new program goes much deeper and is much more twisted.  Irving's story is a tale of two men competing for the hand of the beautiful maiden Katrina.  One suitor, Ichabod Crane, plans on ending the feud and proposing to the girl, a strange event interferes.  After a party of haunting ghost tales has him on edge, while riding home through a cursed area of the woods he is approached and chased by the infamous headless horseman.  The seemingly impossible figure hurls his head, which rides with him atop the saddle, at Ichabod and the outcome is left unknown.  However, the following day Crane has vanished with the only remnants of him are his unaccompanied horse and a smashed pumpkin in the place of the where the head had been.  Many believe that it was simply the other suitor who was the cause of the disappearance of Ichabod Crane in order to have Katrina to himself and while a plethora of supernatural and paranormal interpretations have been created over the years, Sleepy Hollow offers a surprisingly fresh new look at the tale that is both complex and deep.  I will be taking a closer look at Sleepy Hollow over the season, which will include a more in-depth version of the original tale, information about the various other demons and witches that have real folklore origins as well as thoughts, theories and more about where I think the story is heading so please check back for weekly extensions of the show. 

How Sleep Hollow differs from the original short story is for starters, Ichabod is not in a rivalry for his love but rather already won her over and is married to the lovely Katrina.  Crane was also part of a secret battle, led by George Washington himself, in which it was not only the British whom they were battling, but are also involved in a much more important war between two covens of witches, one good and one evil, in an epic fight for the fate of all of mankind.  While in Irving's tale Ichabod is not the kindest of men and is an American, in FOX's new drama he is a kind, gentle man worthy of fighting on the side of good as well as a Brit who had become a spy for the colonies.  While rumors emerged in these Revolutionary times of an immortal opponent, Ichabod comes face to face with this man, recognizing him by a scar on his hand and a Hessian tattoo, and cuts off his head while also succumbing to his wounds from the battle.  Awoken in a mausoleum of sorts over two-hundred years later, Crane finds himself in modern-day Sleepy Hollow more than a bit out of place.  He quickly learns that Katrina was in fact a witch, aligning herself with the side of good, who cast a spell on her beloved husband allowing him to resurrect when the battle for all the souls on Earth reemerged, in addition she herself is not dead either but trapped in a land between worlds.  Unfortunately, Ichabod's resurrection coincides with the headless warrior's awakening reeking havoc on the small town and murdering the sheriff, who knew far more about this epic war then he ever revealed.  This is where superstition collides with biblical beliefs, as the horseman is one of the four to bring on the apocalypse, representing death.  However, the sheriff's protégée, Lieutenant Abbie Mills lies at the center of events as she herself had witnessed one of the evil demons as a child alongside her sister and is one of the two witnesses spoken of in the book of Revelation who will play a critical role in the war against good and evil alongside Ichabod.  Although Crane is at first sent to a mental hospital, as he believes he is from the eighteenth century, he quickly becomes Abbie's new partner, as we see in many other police dramas such as Castle and The Mentalist, and together they use her police skills and resources, alongside Crane's knowledge, combined with their visions to overcome individual battles in each episode.  While the horseman is taken care of for the moment in the premiere, they go up against various demons and witches in mini-duels making every episode unique and able to hold its own, while the underlying battle, said to be a lengthy one to lapse seven years, continues.  As they know more Abbie begins to believe in the supernatural forces in front of them as well as her part the story and they become more equipped to handle each challenge.  Atop that, they find the deceased sheriff's files and discover Abbie's sister Jennifer's was aiding the sheriff who was preparing her for this epic battle which provides a helping hand in uncovering the mystery and learning what they must do to save all of mankind. 

This show is a winner and has so much more to offer than I originally expected.  While the previews gave hope for an interesting new spin on the old tale of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman, the depth and integration of other well-known folktales and beliefs are what makes this show stick out.  A premise of the original story mixed with a dash of biblical references and a large portion of supernatural mystery it will have you entertained from week to week.  The outline of Sleepy Hollow is similar to other crime dramas as Ichabod and Abbie face a different individual battle each episode which offers new mysteries each week.  This makes the show appealable to audiences fond of that genre, but instead of the usual human killer, it's filled with supernatural obstacles.  In addition, they lay out the possibilities of multiple seasons, describing a seven-year war between the forces of good and evil that will determine the fate of the world.  While the show is dark and spooky, I won't even have my kids in earshot of the television for some scenes, there is also a comedic flair as Ichabod is quite out of his element in this new time discovering the inventions over the past two centuries like a child's fascination with understanding how to flip a light switch for the first time.  This provides occasional laughs and a lighter tone similar to Castle or The Mentalist.  I'm not into shows such as The Vampire Diaries but I suspect that it is similar to others in the supernatural genre.  Almost a darker Once Upon a Time or Grimm, mixed with formats similar to CSI or Criminal Minds, I suspect that if you're into crime or police dramas, mysteries, horror flicks or suspense, this show will sparkle amidst the rest as it possesses a bit of each!  As far as a rating this gets 5 out of 5 integrals on my scale as it is smart, entertaining, intriguing and diverse.  Tune into Sleepy Hollow Mondays on FOX and check back here as this will be one of the shows that I follow each week!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is set up as the normal life of a detective as the main location is the precinct along with minor scenes at the location of the various crimes they investigate.  The show revolves around the surprisingly intelligent Jake Peralta that, similar to Psych, if not for his complete lack of maturity would be the "Golden Boy" of the precinct with great observational skills and a savvy crime-solving ability who has become used to his lax ways under the previous supervisor.  The season begins when Captain Ray Holt enters as a replacement for his predecessor, with his strict rules and no-nonsense discipline forces Peralta to step up while actually teaching him valuable lessons about being a detective.  Let's not make it sound too mushy; Holt's first lesson is to professionalize the station by introducing a tie policy in which Peralta uses the whole half-hour finding ways to obey, but still rebel like wearing the item underneath his shirt and just when it finally seems as if he has complied we found he was not wearing pants.  However, Holt is always a step ahead knowing just how to deal with Peralta's goofiness.  Peralta's female counterpart, Detective Rosa Diaz, is also witty and takes on the role of his competition within the nine-nine.  Diaz is able to keep up and at times surpasses Peralta in a contest tracking who can close more cases that appears as if it will continue throughout the season.  The other characters are a mix of detectives, sergeants and other professions inside the precinct and they fill up the rest of the episode with static stereotypes or extreme character traits.  The group is comprised of Sergeant Terry Jeffords the angry African American with a soft soul, Detective Amy Santiago a once street-kid who suffers from rage issues and appears to have joined the force to avoid prison, Detective Charles Boyle who I can only describe as a doofus who will never be of the same caliber as Peralta, Gina Linetti a secretary who has moved up the chain and now acts as Holt's personal assistant with a quirky sense of humor that comes off as the lack of any sense of humor who has developed an expertise greater than junior detectives due to her tenure at the precinct, and Hitchcock who plays the typical older cop who refuses to retire although he's way past his prime.  Every episode includes a new case or debacle and can stand alone as there isn't really an underlining story as I assume is the case with most comedies.  However, I suspect that as the season progresses we will see Peralta grow with the help of Captain Holt and although meant to be mainly humorous there does exist a feel-good storyline as well.  The mentor-mentee relationship is unique and as Holt possesses the only firm real-life character he acts as an anchor to the craziness around him while also having his own comedic moments normally at the cost of Peralta's pride somewhat evening the stakes and maintaining his spot as head of the precinct.        

While I'm not much of a comedy-watcher and honestly haven't tuned in since way back in the Seinfeld and Friends days, aside from a few episodes of The New Normal, nor do I normally watch shows based on the actors, I made an exception when I saw that Andre Braugher was staring in this new cop-humor show and decided to make an exception while attempting to broaden my horizons.  I hoped it would be of likeness to Psych, [USA's veteran show about a faux-psychic who actually has an amazing sense of observation and memory, however due to his child-like ways no one takes him seriously thus he claims that visions are the basis of his amazing case-solving skills], Brooklyn Nine-Nine is nothing of the sort.  Although Braugher's character is stoic, deep and real grounding the show and maintaining my favorable opinion of him, the remainder of the cast plays like a puppet show gone wrong with two-dimensional stereotypical archetypes.  In addition, the show has no music or soundtrack between scenes which makes the transitions choppy and overtly forced.   It also lacks a laugh track or live audience making it unclear if most situations or comments are supposed to be perceived as humorous or if an awkward confusion is the goal.  Similar to Psych the lead detective who drives the show, Jake Peralta, is more intelligent than his companions but his clear disregard of protocols and overall lack of respect for his job transforms him into a Beavis of a character.  Overall it's not a winner in my opinion however, as I am not an aficionado of this genre fans of other similar comedy shows may fall in love with it instantly.  In line with my attempt to branch out of my normal style of television I have also begun to watch The Crazy Ones, look for my upcoming review in my What to Watch on CBS, which makes me laugh and has restored my faith in a good whole-hearted comedy which sadly Brooklyn Nine-Nine has not been able to accomplish.  I'll give it a 2 out of 5 integrals as far as a rating goes as though it doesn't achieve more than the occasional chuckle, it does have me transfixed attempting to figure out whether or not the writers intended certain scenes to actually be humorous for any audience.  If you love comedies, I'd say check it out but if you want to feel fulfilled or happy rather than mystified I'd recommend Chicago Fire or NCIS instead.    

What to watch out for:

I'll make this short and simple as there is only one show to watch out for on FOX this year.  While hits like The Following will be returning and other new comedies and dramas will be premiered, most of the action isn't coming until 2014.  While I can't go as far as "recommend" or "condemn" Almost Human, as I have only read the synopsis and viewed a few previews, it does look like an interesting new show and I'd like to give you the low-down on its storyline so you can decide for yourself.   

Almost Human

I have mixed feelings about this new thriller as while it appeared slightly corny on the previews, Almost Human, not to be confused with Syfy's Being Human, seems like FOX's replacement for the beloved Fringe as creator J.J. Abrams teams up with a great cast in a futuristic I, Robot meets Blade Runner crime drama.  The story is set in 2048 which will give viewers a different backdrop as well as a whole new world of offenses and bad guys who commit them.  Almost Human centers around the damaged cop John Kennex who was severely injured following a massive attack on the department.  After emerging from over a year-long coma, he discovers that not only was his partner killed but Kennex also lost a leg in the incident.  As most futuristic shows go, they have invented high-tech prosthetics and fit Kennex up with an artificial leg.  However, amongst John's issues is a hatred for the new robot technologies which are now a part of his own body and rather than suffering from what we know today as organ rejection, when the body basically boycotts its new part, this lead character experiences a "psychological rejection" of his replacement appendage.  In addition, the damaged Kennex has a variety of trauma from the attack including depression, PTSD and OCD.  To make matters worse, when returning to the line of duty he finds that he will not be assigned a human partner, but a robot, as that is the new standard.  At first his new artificial counterpart is normal issue and due to its computer-like intelligence it deduces a hidden secret about John which causes him to refute this partner.  Luckily, he is paired with a discontinued droid, Dorian, that possesses human emotions, a trait in which it's creators consider a flaw.  However, it is this "flaw" the ability to feel, relate, be hurt or elated that allows John to overcome his robot aversion and with his artificial limb he sees himself now as half-human inhabiting a strange limbo in which Dorian shares.  The show seems to have the format of different case different week similar to most series in this drama (The Mentalist, Bones, Castle, Blue Bloods, etc.) but also contains an underlying story where the two discover more information about the attack that killed John's partner and took his leg as well as what is described as "a larger mythology of this new world".  What I do look forward to is the fact that the crimes they solve will not be like ones we see in most crime dramas, similar to Sleepy Hollow they won't be up against normal killers, but future nemeses using high-tech gadgets within the background of a completely different world.  In addition, I gathered from the previews that there will be banter and a comedic twist as even though Dorian has emotions he is still a droid with special tech himself making him not your typical human.  I'm excited to see this futuristic backdrop, technologies and the criminals they face as well as a lead character that has a plethora of issues, Kennex, which reminds me of a Monk-like persona, who will stir up various issues within their team as well as discovering just how human-like Dorian is.  Be on the lookout for Almost Human premiering November 4th on FOX, taking Bones' timeslot as it will move to Fridays! 

Thanks for reading my What to Watch on FOX this fall and be on the lookout for posts throughout the week for each of the other network channels which can be found by utilizing the banner at the top of my blog or simply typing in skh followed by the network (example:, I also have an alpha version of my website running at which will serve as a centralized hub for all my posts.  In addition, be on the lookout for killer posts on FOX's hit Sleepy Hollow where I will go more in depth about the original tale, the biblical references and the various demons and witches they encounter throughout the season.  As always comments are welcome and I reply to all so please feel free to share your thoughts below.  I hope I was able to give you a good idea of what's out there as well as solid, fair reviews to aid in your viewing pleasure!  Enjoy!   

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