I know, I know. Everyone’s very excited to see “Football Back,” and I am as well. However, since football only plays on Thursdays-Mondays, you’ve got to find other ways to fill the rest of your week. Thankfully, there are many shows you MAY want to keep your eyes on this fall, especially with many series’ new seasons fast approaching. Here are some of my top picks for recommended viewing, with special notes for Black Star Power presences in certain shows, and a few “Honorable Mentions” as well –
5) House – Season Premiere: October 3; Mondays, 7 PM, FOX
For six straight seasons, House fans were teased with Hugh Laurie’s Dr. Gregory House and Lisa Edelstein’s boss-lady Lisa Cuddy’s friendship potentially blossoming into something more. Finally, last season, we got our wish. “Huddy” at once presented House with its most difficult task plot-wise to date: having to juggle a sappy but ultimately star-crossed romance between House and Cuddy, but also having to make “the team” interesting. The (brief) addition of the annoying yet ballsy Masters was somewhat fun but short-lived; the budding bromance of Taub and Foreman could have been better emphasized; and the return of Thirteen should have given the season a boost, but succeeded only in humanizing a character thought to be “the other House” in terms of her lack of emotional capacity.
One of the great things about the last season of House was that we FINALLY got to see House showing real emotion – going into a downward spiral after getting his heart broken by Cuddy, making a desperate attempt to fix his leg (and possibly his life in the process), crashing a car into Cuddy’s house in a fit of envy after seeing her with another man. With Lisa Edelstein gone from the cast now, expect House to revert back to his usual wisecracking, asshole-ish ways. I’m also predicting, with Cuddy gone, a potential love triangle involving House, Thirteen, and former flame Foreman. I see Cuddy returning near season’s end for one last goodbye, a la Cordelia in Angel‘s final season.
Black Star Power: Omar Epps will be reprising his role as Foreman, so look for him to turn in at least two strong emotional performances over the course of the season, one especially with Thirteen.
4) Reed Between the Lines – Season Premiere: October 9; Tuesdays, 9 PM, BET
BET’s second attempt at a quality Black sitcom – after last year’s not-so-great-but-still-heavily-viewed Let’s Stay Together – Reed Between the Lines definitely seems like it could be the strong complement to The Game that the network’s been looking for. This one features two seasoned veterans to the sitcom game: Tracee Ellis Ross, aka Joan from Girlfriends; and Malcolm Jamal-Warner, who had success both as Theo on The Cosby Show and later with Eddie Griffin on the UPN show Malcolm & Eddie. According to BET’s website, the show is about “Alex, an English professor, and Carla, a psychologist, as they navigate life’s ups and downs with wit and humor.” Hmm. Cliff & Clare for the new generation, perhaps?
Black Star Power: Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm Jamal-Warner as the titular Reeds Carla and Alex, respectively. Melissa De Sousa – best known perhaps as from the film The Best Man – and long-running Black comedy staple Anna Maria Horsford (who’s been doing this Black sitcom sh*t since Amen with Sherman Helmsley) will also be a part of the show, as well as some younger talent like Nadji Jeter and Zoe Soul.
3) The Playboy Club – Season Premiere: September 19; Mondays, 9 PM, NBC
What’s been marketed as a prime-time television view into the Chicago Playboy Club of the 60s (which featured “Bunnies,” not to be confused with “centerfolds” lol), The Playboy Club is perhaps NBC’s riskiest move yet. This fall, the network will push the envelope with more edgier shows than usual, such as Club and Prime Suspect featuring Maria Bello. Playboy Club is expected to attract male viewership outside of the “Sunday Night Football” crowd (and perhaps lure them away from Monday Night Football) with skin-teases; yet it should also have juicy side storylines going as well. It may generate the kind of appeal Las Vegas had on The Peacock Network nearly a decade ago.
Black Star Power: Up-and-coming actress Naturi Naughton, who has been nicely building up her post-3LW resume with appearances on the big screen (in the Fame remake, Lottery Ticket, and
the most enthusiastic sex scene ever as Lil’ Kim in Notorious), should be a nice standout in The Playboy Club cast.
2) The Good Wife – Season Premiere: September 25; Sundays, 8 PM, CBS
One of the most slept-on yet compelling TV dramas on television today, CBS’s The Good Wife has enjoyed an incredible two seasons that have been filled with twists, turns, excellent one-liners, and lawyer drama without legal-jargon overdose. Buoyed by a strong showing from lead woman Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife is a show ultimately about a woman, Alicia Florrick, trying to rebuild her life as a lawyer following her District Attorney husband Peter (Law & Order: CI alumnus Chris Noth) being embroiled in an affair scandal. The second season’s cliffhanger was even better than the first’s, with the sexual tension that always existed between Alicia and fellow firm cohort Will Gardner bursting the thermostat. Alicia became a good girl gone bad – check the above promo poster – after it was discovered the secret Kalinda had been trying to keep all season long, was that she, too, had slept with Peter.
This season looks to pick right up where last season’s finale left off, after the hotel door closed on Alicia and Will. Lockhart-Gardner not-so-kindly booted out Michael Ealy after he attempted to spearhead an internal takeover, but I expect Ealy to return with a vengeance. There will definitely love triangle action going on as Peter and Will vie for Alicia’s affection and loyalty, as well, as Peter will possibly be going after a higher government position and Will will be focused on making the firm bigger. Expect crony Cary to be a problem; for Kalinda to ooze sexiness and (hopefully) redeem her great friendship betrayal; and for Eli Gold to show even more of his “softer side” (not really) as Parker Posey joins the cast as Gold’s ex-wife.
The only problem The Good Wife faces? Being moved this season to the “Sunday night death slot,” hence being forced to compete with Desperate Housewives on ABC and to possibly lose its male audience to Sunday Night Football on NBC. This slot killed CBS darling Cold Case, so hopefully The Good Wife will hold its own.
Black Star Power: Expect Michael Ealy to return, possibly with another firm and defending a case or two against Lockhart-Gardner. Also, don’t be surprised if Anika Noni-Rose returns, no doubt seeking advice from the always cunning Eli Gold.
1) Boardwalk Empire – Season Premiere: September 25; Sundays, 9 PM and 11 PM, HBO
HBO stays winning when it comes to historical dramas. It started with Band of Brothers and continued into The Pacific and John Adams. However, it’s possible nobody saw Boardwalk Empire, a send-up of Prohibition-era dirty tricks and politics – peppered with historical figures like Nucky Thompson, Arnold Rothstein, and Lucky Luciano – taking off as well as it did. Propelled forward with smart plot twists, exceptional character arcs, big name production from gangster-movie-staple Martin Scorcese, and the most conflicting anti-heroes ever in Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi, in a well-deserved Golden Globe winning performance) and Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk pretty much demanded that viewers tune straight to HBO following Sunday night football games.
The second season looks to be even more drama-filled, especially following last season’s epic conclusion. Margaret Schroeder and Nucky’s relationship will no doubt grow even more complicated, and Jimmy and Nucky’s brother might well be plotting to pull the carpet of Atlantic City out from underneath Nucky’s feet before he knows what hit him. Detective Nelson Van Alden will still be obsessed with busting Nucky and Jimmy, but might well now be facing a divorce and an illegitimate child at the hands of Nucky’s former mistress. And Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein will definitely pose a problem. I’m hoping for an appearance from someone as F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Black Star Power: Michael Kenneth Williams, formerly known as Omar from The Wire, grew to become an electrifying presence on Boardwalk as Black community figure Chalky White. I expect to see more of that greatness from Williams, especially as Chalky starts to want more power and not just be responsible for providing Nucky with “the Negro vote.”
Honorable mentions –
* Law & Order: SVU: With Mariska Hargitay getting limited screen time as Jennifer Love Hewitt joins Captain Cragen’s crew, this is the first season I’m NOT excited about SVU. It hurts even more that Chris Meloni, better known as Detective Stabler, will no longer be on the show to complement Hargitay’s Benson. I just don’t know how to feel about this, but I’ll tune in.
* SouthLAnd: TNT was very smart in picking up this drama after it was dropped by NBC, and with Jada Pinkett Smith’s HawthoRNe now in limbo, Regina King will have to carry the reigns as the “strongest Black lead woman” on cable television. I’m excited to see where the show goes this season, though.