The fall season for TV is pretty much completely underway, with very few shows left to premiere. Plenty of new shows have premiered on both the cable networks and nationwide broadcasts, and while some were predicted to receive the stellar reviews they have, including Westworld and Atlanta, there are some shows that have proven to be happy surprises. Let's take a look at some of the most surprisingly entertaining and well-made new shows of the Fall season.
Let's be honest, nobody expected Lethal Weapon to be much of a success. Not only do TV shows based on movies have a hard time making any real impact, including duds like Rush Hour and Bad Teacher, but they also rarely live up to their source material. While Lethal Weapon is still not nearly as classic as the movies, it is still an incredibly fun, stylishly directed and reasonably well-made adaptation.
The chemistry between stars Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford is solid, the action is explosive and fast-paced, and the humor is really well-written and delivered. With a decent 62% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and averaging just under 10 million views a week, Lethal Weapon is easily one of the biggest surprises for the season. Here's a trailer for the action-packed buddy cop comedy:
All of the ads for this show promised that it would have some funny moments, but because it seemed very much like co-creator Louis C.K.'s own FX series, Louie, it seemed like it would lack a sense of originality. But the pilot and every episode since has proved that not only does it subvert the typical sitcom formula, but it's able to deliver gut-wrenching comedy as well as insightful drama.
For a cable comedy, the show has performed decently in the ratings, improving over the last couple of weeks. In addition, the series has earned critical acclaim with a "Certified Fresh" 94% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and earned a second season renewal within two weeks of the pilot's premiere. The subversion of the family comedy genre and the hilarious lead performance/writing from star/co-creator Pamela Adlon truly makes this a hilarious and brilliant surprise. Here's the trailer for the FX comedy:
This is probably the least successful show in terms of ratings, which are remaining steady, but are still low in its 9 p.m. Friday night time slot. However, the Fox TV adaptation of the classic horror novel and film has earned a "Certified Fresh" 77% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. A rating it deserves, thanks to its moody atmosphere, tense pacing, solid effects and strong performances from its cast.
The only thing tougher to do well than a film-to-TV adaptation is a horror remake, and Fox's The Exorcist proves it can hold up against both challenges and be an effectively creepy and thrilling new series. Here's the trailer for the Fox horror adaptation:
Wait, wait, wait. Did he just say the MacGyver reboot is a surprising new show? Yes, I did, but let me explain. First of all, this is not a great show, but because it's a reboot, the bar was already set very low for it, and it is able to surpass expectations. The show is a very fast-paced joy ride for those looking for action, it brings a lot of the humor from the original show, as well as the character's intelligence in getting out of tight situations with something as simple as a paperclip.
Though the show's procedural format is something of an issue compared to other CBS action/dramas, the reboot of the classic MacGyver series has enough style and humor to surprise many audiences. Here's the trailer for the CBS reboot:
The newest CW rom-com has not been very hot in the ratings, but has earned a "Certified Fresh" rating of 89% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. But what makes this show a true surprise is that in addition to being funny and clever, it can actually appeal to all audiences.
While rom-coms are typically aimed towards a female demographic, No Tomorrow is actually chock full of humor and ideas to keep the men invested in the show as well, making this a truly fun and light-hearted surprise. Here's the trailer for the comedy of apocalyptic proportions:
The only true issue I saw this show having pre-premiere was a lack of a lasting premise, aside from the genius "first female pitcher in the MLB." But this show has proven to last and surpass expectations from both critics and audiences, earning a "Certified Fresh" 93% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story's structure has a lot of solid themes, great humor and gut-wrenching twists, as well as phenomenal acting — especially from leads Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. It'd be nice to see it last for more than one season. Here's the trailer for the sports drama:
The main reason this show is a big surprise to me, personally, is because I have yet to see the web series from which this show was spawned. HBO has always been a channel to give the artistic a chance to tell their story and do it how they'd like, and their decision to pick up High Maintenance for a thirty minute, 6 episode season was no exception to this goal.
Not only is the series a visually imaginative and brilliant show to watch, but every storyline is always captivating to watch and intelligent in its script. In addition to the visual style and ingenious stories, the humor is brilliant and hilarious, and the performances from its cast is great, making it a stunning surprise for those not familiar with the original web series. Here's a trailer for the HBO comedy:
Son Of Zorn
This was another show that I had a lot of faith in but still expected it to fall flat in the premiere. However, the show has surpassed its expectations thanks to a wildly original idea that's supported by some truly funny writing and performances. Even though Jason Sudeikis' role is primarily as a voice actor, he brings such a witty and gut-bursting energy to the role of Zorn that it makes it hard not to find enjoyment in the show from his character alone.
What really makes this a surprising show is the smart and well-blended combination of 2-D animation and live-action performers. Though the series has earned a mixed reception from critics, holding a 57% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it still holds a lot of promise to develop over the rest of the season. Here's the trailer for the new Fox comedy: