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New TV shows to watch (or not)

Observer Staff | Monday, September 23, 2013

“Masters of Sex”

Premieres Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10 p.m.  on Showtime

“Masters of Sex” is to Biology majors what “Game of Thrones” is to fantasy nerds. Expect nudity and a riveting plotline from this Showtime drama. Beyond the somewhat risqué title, “Masters of Sex” is truly a show that focuses on science but mixes in allure, akin to Bill Nye the Science Guy on “Dancing with the Stars” this year. “Masters of Sex” tells the story of trailblazers William Masters, played by Michael Sheen and Virginia Johnson, played by Lizzy Caplan, who did groundbreaking research in human sexual reproduction and sexual disorders in the 1950s. Amidst “Mad Men”-esque housewives and the falsely pristine American dream, Masters and Johnson were the first to delve into the taboo of sexual experience, studying 10,000 instances of human sexual behavior. Their work continues to spark the interest of the scientific community, and now, it seems promising that it might spark interest on TV. 

Chances are that with this show, you’ll learn something you can apply in your Evolution and Society class or your Human Biology class or your Gender Studies class . . . or elsewhere. 


Prediction: Not-so-PG pleasure to be renewed for future seasons


“The Goldbergs”

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. on ABC

Instead of another show about a modern, untraditional family making it through life in our fast, technology-based world, ABC is premiering “The Goldbergs,” a new series set in the 1980s following the life of a normal, dysfunctional and hilarious family.  Between the helicopter mom played by Wendi McLendon-Covey, the hot-tempered father played by Sean Giambrone and their three kids, the Goldberg family is full of chaos and constant screaming.  Created by Adam F. Goldberg and directed by Seth Gordon, it only has four episodes scheduled so far, so its future is a bit unexpected. Because of its uniqueness and relatable story line, however, I think this comedy will survive, at least for this first season. Especially for those who lived through the 1980s, this show will be a hit that reminds them of their glory days.


Prediction: One-season wonder


“Michael J. Fox Show”

Premieres Saturday, Sept. 26th at 9 p.m. on NBC

Michael J. Fox is back in a starring television role this year with NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show.” Fox will play Mike Henry, a former news anchor who gave up his career after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But after five years at home with his with wife, played by Betsy Brandt from “Breaking Bad,” and family, he decides to return to work. The show shares parallels with Fox’s own life, as he decided to lessen and eventually leave his role on ABC’s “Spin City” in the late 1990s after announcing his own diagnosis of Parkinson’s. The sitcom will air on Thursdays at 9 p.m., and NBC is clearly confident it will be a success, as it has already purchased all 22 episodes for the first season.


Prediction: Full season pick-up



Airs Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. on Fox

Continuing on the heels of a completely unnecessary American standards album and the success of the “Ted” title font, Seth MacFarlane expands his Fox empire by trying his hand at another live-action sitcom.  The draw of “Dads” comes from its hopeful youngsters: MacFarlane’s best bud Seth Green and creepy, tough guy Giovanni Ribisi. With old-timers Martin Mull and Peter Riegert playing the youngsters’ respective dads who move in with their kids, the show seems an obvious commentary on the effect of rising life expectancy on the unaffordability of retirement. 

If the actors transcend the material, they’ll take what little they are given in terms of writing, jokes, all that, and their superior acting will make it bearable.  On the other hand, if they just live up to the standards of their scripts and the plot, or overact (ie. chew on the scenery), it might be entertaining to watch as a train wreck because of how bad it will be. Also, look forward to many stale jokes at the expense of Brenda Song’s character, as the pilot’s significant stereotyping has already been the subject of complaints by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.

Prediction: 10 seasons


“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on Fox

With the premiere of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” having aired last Tuesday, there is just enough time to catch up for this Tuesday’s episode, and I suggest you do just that. The ensemble NYPD troop may be well-worn territory, but this single-camera sitcom captures it in a fun, light-hearted manner. This refreshing take on the overdone cop drama is to be expected from the one-time show runner of “The Office” and creator of “Parks and Recreation,” Michael Schur. Andy Samberg stars as a childish detective butting heads with his new captain, played by veteran Andre Braugher.  The dynamics of the entire cast come naturally, with the first episode already taking on the confidence of a well-developed series.  After the recent success of Fox’s ensemble comedies, including live-action “New Girl” and animated “Bob’s Burgers,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” shows a lot of similar promise.

Prediction: Might just hit the spot