Fall TV Reviews: Nancy Drew (The CW)

And here we are at the end of the road. The last new fall show to premiere. Another one of the ones I’ve been anxiously awaiting. I grew up reading Nancy Drew novels with my mom beginning around age 4. When I started kindergarten, they were my favorite series to read at school. Let’s see how this update pans out.

Premise: Nancy Drew (Kennedy McMann) is a recent high school grad from small-town Horseshoe Bay. She used to enjoy solving mysteries, but then her mom died. Now, she just spends her days waiting tables at The Claw and occasionally having sex with a hot guy named Ned. Then she gets pulled back into solving mysteries when Tiffany Hudson, the wife of local shady guy Ryan Hudson (Riley Smith) is found dead right outside the diner where she works. The mystery takes a turn when they keep getting pointed in the direction of “Dead Lucy,” a local ghost beauty queen.

The Good: This pulls a lot of influences from “Veronica Mars,” “Twin Peaks,” and of course since it’s the CW, “Riverdale.” All of these things are very good, in my opinion. All of the key elements that make Nancy Drew great are there. Nancy is strong and independent with more vulnerability than she was given in the novels. She’s a more fleshed-out character. All of the characters honestly are.

The Bad: This has some supernatural elements that I don’t know if I love yet. If you’re looking for a completely faithful adaptation of the novels, this isn’t it. George and Bess are major characters, but they aren’t Nancy’s best friends. Not yet at least. Ned is more of a “bad boy” than he was in the books. Depending on your attachment to the source material, that may color your opinions on this adaptation.

For me, everything that makes Nancy Drew enjoyable is there. She has always been a timeless character and this is no exception. Most other adaptations have not been very good, in my opinion. I’m absolutely on board for the rest of the season. You can catch “Nancy Drew” on the CW Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m.

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Fall TV Reviews: Bless the Harts (Fox)

Okay, this one may be the one where I don’t finish the episode. If there is anything that is truly my kryptonite, it’s animation. I loathe “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” I would leave the room anytime my friends wanted to watch “Futurama” when I was in college. People have told me I might like “Bob’s Burgers,” but what I’ve seen of it has not really sparked my interest. That lands us here at “Bless the Harts.”

The Premise: Jenny Hart (Kristen Wiig) is the mother of a family who is just trying to get by. Also in the voice cast are Maya Rudolph as grandma Betty, Fortune Feimster as neighbor Brenda, and Ike Barinholtz as Jenny’s boyfriend Wayne. Oh yeah, and the great Kumail Nanjiani as Jesus.

The Good: The voice cast is phenomenal. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are great as the two main characters. The series was created by Emily Spivey, who has previously written for “Saturday Night Live,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “The Last Man on Earth.” The storylines are relatable. I do like the touch of Kumail Nanjiani as Jesus, who basically serves as a confidant for Jenny.

The Bad: I just truly hate animated shows. I find them so thoroughly boring. It’s only a 21-minute episode, but I found myself drifting off about 10 minutes in. It’s nowhere near the worst show I’ve seen from Fox’s Animation Domination lineup. It’s actually probably the best one I’ve seen. I just don’t ever want to see another episode of it. Ever.

If you do like animated shows, you might want to check out “Bless the Harts” on Fox Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m.

Fall TV Reviews: Kids Say the Darndest Things (ABC)

I almost didn’t include this one in my round up, but decided to stick to reviewing all new shows. This is one that feels like it’s been on forever. Mainly because I remember watching the old iteration of it hosted by Bill Cosby when I was a kid. Clearly, that didn’t really age well for reasons. Before the Bill Cosby iteration, this was hosted by Art Linklater in the 60s(?), I think.

Premise: This iteration is hosted by Tiffany Haddish. She does a variety of on-the-street segments and in-studio interviews with children. They say things. She reacts. It’s a very basic set-up.

The Good: Tiffany Haddish is extremely likable and she is game for anything. She does well with interacting with the kids and setting them up to say crazy things. They show some old clips of the Art Linklater version, which are fun.

The Bad: There’s really nothing bad here. There’s a reason this is paired with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on Sunday nights. You can turn on the TV for two hours, do something else, and just periodically jump in. When you’re paying attention, it’s funny. You won’t miss anything if you tune out, though. Honestly, you could tell me this show has been on 10 years and I’d believe it. It’s not anything particularly fresh or original. It’s just the same show that’s been airing off and on for years.

You can catch “Kids Say the Darndest Things” on ABC Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m.

Fall TV Reviews: Batwoman (The CW)

The CW joins in for the last week of premiere fun. Their full lineup rolls out this week, starting with the newest addition to the Arrowverse: “Batwoman.” This is the fifth show to join the Arrowverse. I currently watch three of the other four: “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” I’ve never gotten into “Arrow” for the same reason I’m not particularly excited for “Batwoman.” I like my superheroes to be quirky and fun, not dark and gritty. Anything that has the word “Bat” in its title is going to be dark and gritty. I’ve never been interested in the Batman universe. There are some things that make this show somewhat interesting to me, though. Let’s get into it.

Premise: The show centers around Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), cousin to Bruce Wayne. You might have heard of him. The Kane family runs Crow Security, which has been providing security for Gotham City ever since Batman disappeared three years earlier. When Kate’s former girlfriend Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy) is kidnapped, she sets out to find her. On the way, she encounters this episode’s villain, Alice (Rachel Skarsten). And yes, that’s Alice as in Alice in Wonderland.

The Good: It was not nearly as grim and gritty as I was expecting. I wouldn’t say there was humor in it, but it did not get as grim as I was expecting. Ruby Rose is very likable as Kate and I want to see her succeed as Batwoman. I also like the touch with Rachel Maddow voicing the gossip columnist. There was a twist at the end that I actually really enjoyed.

The Bad: It was still plenty grim. Everything was pretty dark and humorless, which is a shame because Ruby Rose has a great dry wit. I definitely found my attention wandering for a lot of it. I prefer it to anything else involving the Batman-verse. It’s just not something I want to watch on a weekly basis.

If you want to catch the newest addition to the SuperFlarrow-verse, you can watch “Batwoman” on The CW Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m.

 

Fall TV Reviews: Almost Family (Fox)

The bulk of premieres have aired already, so I’m in the home stretch of this project.

Premise: A prominent fertility doctor (Timothy Hutton) is discovered to have used his own sperm to impregnate a large number of clients. His daughter (Brittany Snow) then finds a couple of women who are biologically her siblings (Emily Osment, Megalyn Echikunwoke). It’s based on a popular Australian show called “Sisters.”

The Good: This comes from Jason Katims, one of my all-time favorite television creators. Katims is the one responsible for “Parenthood” and the completely amazing “Friday Night Lights.” I have no doubt the relationships are going to be deep and complex. The dialogue is going to be natural and insightful. I already want to know what happens next. Each of the three main sisters has an interesting hook to them and I want to see how their stories unfold. I’m fully on board for the duration of this show.

The Bad: It’s such an icky concept. They really did not need the twist where Brittany Snow’s hook-up from the day before came into the clinic to see if he is potentially her brother. At the end of the episode, Hutton is arrested for potential sexual assault. They need to quickly downplay the “how” of everything and just focus on what happens next.

Like I said, I’m fully on board with this show. They had me from Jason Katims. You can catch “Almost Family” Wednesdays on Fox at 8:00 p.m.

Fall TV Reviews: Emergence (ABC)

This is the last one of the shows on my bubble list. On the one hand, I love a good conspiracy theory show. On the other hand, I’ve been burned by so many of them. Anyone remember “Flash Forward?” How about “Resurrection?” “Revolution?” “The Event?” “V?” “The Nine?” No? I do. Because I watched all of them. And I got no answers there.

Premise: Alison Tolman stars as Jo Evans, the police chief of a small town who gets called to the scene of a plane crash. There she finds a young girl who has no visible injuries and has absolutely no memory of who she is. A fake NTSB comes poking around the crash site and they want the little girl. So, rather than call Child Services, Jo takes the little girl home with her and hides her. When a couple shows up claiming to be the little girl’s parents, Jo realizes they are not who they say they are. She then sends her whole family into hiding.

The Good: The writing couple that created this show (Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters) have been behind a couple of my favorite canceled shows in recent memory. They write compelling premises, but they don’t have any very many shows that have gone on to the second season. Alison Tolman is a super compelling lead character and I want her to be a superstar.

The Bad: When you have someone as inherently likable as Donald Faison, you don’t put him in the role of the jerk ex-husband. And Clancy Brown is always the bad guy in these things, not the cuddly grandpa figure. Also, I kept yelling at the TV that she needs to call a freaking social worker instead of literally kidnapping a child. It reminded me more of the shows that I only kept watching because I didn’t give myself permission to stop. I loved “Manifest,” which premiered last year. This was not as good as “Manifest.”

This will be the only show from my bubble list that does not move to my weekly watch list. I want better for all of the cast and writers than this show is offering. If you are searching for a vaguely bland conspiracy show, you can check out “Emergence” Tuesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m.

 

Fall TV Reviews: Carol’s Second Act (CBS)

If there was a show I was dreading more than Bob (Hearts) Abishola, it was this one. A broad multi-cam sitcom filmed in front of a live audience and starring Patricia Heaton? This is my literal kryptonite. If I make it to the end of the 20 minutes, it will be an actual miracle.

Premise: Patricia Heaton stars as Carol Kenney, an older woman who starts a second career as a doctor after retiring as a teacher. It’s funny because she’s old, you see?

The Good: It ended. There were occasionally commercial breaks that gave me a break from the show. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

The Bad: It was so much worse than I imagined it would be. I can’t. This was truly atrocious. It was like a bad SNL skit that never ended. The punchline to every joke was that Carol’s old. Of course, she was the one who saved the day because she was the only one who listened to the patient. Someone please free Kyle MacLachlan from this show.

I would rather watch a full season of Bob (Hearts) Abishola than I would a single second more of this crapfest. This wasn’t just mildly bad. This one made me angry with how bad it was.

If you occasionally want to hate the world, you can watch Carol’s Second Act on CBS Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m.