NEW YORK (CNS) — CBS, the most widely watched of the traditional networks, will be bringing 22 of its established shows back for the new season while adding five fresh ingredients — three dramas and a duo of comedies — to its so-far successful mix.
But the folks at Black Rock, as the company’s New York headquarters is known, aren’t just hedging their bets. With one freshman program renewing a long-lapsed gender opportunity and another attempting to vary CBS’ well-worn format for sitcoms, the Tiffany Network’s suits do seem to be putting at least a toe or two beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone.
“Limitless,” Tuesdays, 10-11 p.m., premiering Sept. 22
Based on the 2011 film of the same name, this a sci-fi thriller focuses on Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), an aspiring musician who’s suddenly enabled to access 100 percent of his brain capacity thanks to a neuro-enhancing drug called NZT. The series extends the plot of the movie, and Bradley Cooper, the earlier version’s star, returns for a cameo reprise of his role as Edward Morra. The fast moving, visually interesting and well-crafted pilot finds Brian, the suspect in a murder, teaming with FBI agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter) to solve the crime of which he’s been accused. The leads — Brian’s involvement with the feds, and therefore with Rebecca, will be ongoing — are believable and likable while the show as a whole offers a new spin on the classic procedural that adult fans of the genre will likely appreciate. Mature themes and some violence preclude endorsement for family viewing, however.
“Code Black,” Wednesdays, 10-11 p.m., premiering Sept. 30
This medical drama presents its fictional setting, the emergency room of Los Angeles’ Angels Memorial Hospital, as the busiest such facility in the nation. The pilot follows the hospital’s new residents on their first day under the supervision of two established doctors, tough Leanne Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) and caring Neal Hudson (Raza Jaffrey). The novices also receive guidance from highly experienced head nurse Jesse Sallander (Luis Guzman). Though the tension is meant to build toward the recurring crisis signaled by the alert of the title, which warns of the arrival of mass casualties, there’s little to get excited about in this second-rate retread. The dialogue, story lines and characters are all commonplace and underdeveloped. The typical thematic and visual incidentals of the genre, moreover, make this mediocre addition to it less than kid-friendly.
“Supergirl,” Mondays 8-9 p.m. beginning Nov. 2, premieres 8:30-9:30 p.m. Oct. 26
With this DC Comics-based adventure series, CBS finally brings a Wonder Woman-style female exemplar back to TV in the person of Superman’s equally superior cousin, Kara (Melissa Benoist), aka Supergirl. After chronicling Kara’s alien origins, the pilot introduces us to her normal routine here on Earth where the twenty-something strives to disguise her true identity while working as an assistant to media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Her co-workers include friends — and eventual confidants — Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) and James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), the latter a famed photographer and former staff member of the Daily Planet (of course). As Kara’s efforts to remain anonymous suffer a setback due to an emergency involving her foster sister Alex (Chyler Leigh), Benoist’s outstanding performance serves as the foundation for a promising entry that, despite some touches of stylized violence, should prove suitable for a broad range of age groups.
“Angel From Hell,” Thursdays 9:30-10 p.m., premiering Nov. 5
A less than divine comedy about matters supposedly celestial, this newcomer finds sweet but highly focused dermatologist Allison (Maggie Lawson) crossing paths, seemingly by accident, with Amy (Jane Lynch), an outrageous magician who claims to be Allison’s guardian angel. Though Amy’s crude, putdown-prone personality smacks more of the netherworld than the heavens, her prophecies all prove true while her extensive knowledge of Allison’s past seems inexplicable. Though the final scenes of the pilot give some basis for hope that an ultimately positive message may emerge from the proceedings, the wait may prove trying for adults. As for youngsters, they should steer clear entirely.
“Life in Pieces,” Mondays, 8:30-9 p.m., premiering Sept. 21
An attempt at innovative form hardly distracts from the gritty content of this comedy series which apes ABC’s hit “Modern Family” in all the wrong ways. As the title suggests, the story of one clan is told in four separate segments, one centering on parents Joan (Dianne Wiest) and John (James Brolin), the other three built around their children: sons Matt (Thomas Sadoski) and Greg (Colin Hanks) and daughter Heather (Betsy Brandt). Given the vulgar tone of the program — the humor takes in the hunt for casual sex, the anatomical aftereffects of childbirth and the onset of menstruation — wise viewers are unlikely to stick around long enough to find out whether the varied strands of the story can ultimately be tied up successfully. Despite the fact that a brief foray into irreverence is followed up by a definite, though ill-defined, affirmation of faith, the antics surrounding that respectable moment can be recommended to no one.
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Macina is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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