The fall broadcast TV season offers several programs that appear to be safe for families…and several that definitely aren’t for families at all.
Every year, the PTC attends the Paley Center for Media’s Fall TV Preview event, during which some of the new TV programs premiering in fall are shown. We then offer our evaluation of the new shows, particularly which programs are safe for families and children, and which parents should be certain their children avoid. Here are PTC’s top three picks for Best and Worst series of fall 2015.
All American on CW
Spencer James is a high-school football star (with hopes of turning pro) in the inner-city Crenshaw neighborhood in Los Angeles. But when coach Billy Baker recruits him to play for Beverly Hills High, Spencer finds himself commuting between poverty to wealth and back again, while trying to make and keep friends and life in each. In Crenshaw, he meets with suspicion at his choice; in Beverly Hills, contempt and jealousy from his teammates…as well as a secret motive for the coach’s actions.
All American is a joy, an inspirational, extremely well-crafted and well-acted tale of two worlds, and the young man who moves between them, navigating hazards all the way. The program avoids making either Beverly Hills or Crenshaw look perfect; life in each is shown to come with its own plusses, pitfalls, and perils, all of which require dedication and strength of character to overcome. And by showing that black and white, rich and poor can coexist together, All American is the most inspirational show of the new fall season.
All American premieres Wednesday, October 10th on the CW.
The Neighborhood on CBS
Gruff, sarcastic, and over 50, Calvin Butler is a curmudgeon negative about nearly everything…particularly white people. Proudly African-American, Calvin is disgruntled when Dave and Gemma Johnson, a white couple from Michigan, move into his traditionally black neighborhood. Relentlessly cheerful and upbeat, but totally clueless about African-American life, Dave and Jemma are determined to fit in; but can all parties concerned learn to be good neighbors and get along?
As played by Cedric the Entertainer, Calvin Butler follows firmly in the footsteps of Archie Bunker and George Jefferson, bringing both honesty and humor to his role. Even more admirable is The Neighborhood’s message: given the divisions in society today – over politics, race, and nearly everything else – America desperately needs a show that proves we can all get along…especially one that teaches its message of tolerance and mutual respect with humor. With an important message that can serve as a “teaching moment” for parents,the humorous slice-of-life sitcom The Neighborhood is recommended for families.
The Neighborhood premieres Monday, October 1 on CBS.
The Rookie on ABC
Middle-aged John Nolan’s comfortable small-town life is shattered when his wife divorces him, and he is almost killed in a bank robbery. John decides to finally fulfill his dream of being a police officer, and joins the Los Angeles Police Department. Surrounded by colleagues twenty years his junior, and facing the suspicion and scorn of his superiors, training officers, and fellow rookies, Nolan faces an uphill battle for acceptance as he asks himself the question: can a 40 year-old handle the dangerous and unpredictable world of a cop on the beat?
The wildly popular Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) returns to prime time in this new series which showcases his talents. Fillion brings heart and humor to his role as the “oldest rookie” on the LAPD, balancing comedy and drama in his role as a relatable everyman eager to charge headlong into danger to help others, yet with life experience which proves a valuable asset in dealing with the situations he encounters. Containing only mild language and unremarkable violence typical of a police series, The Rookie is a safe and enjoyable choice for families.
The Rookie premieres Tuesday, October 16th on ABC.
I Feel Bad on NBC
“I cheat on my husband in my sleep. My kids are psychos, my husband can’t find anything, and I eat cold baby food for breakfast.” Thus opens I Feel Bad, an alleged “comedy” revolving around working mom Emet. At home, Emet can’t manage her children, her husband is a bumbling clod, and she has a fractious relationship with her parents At work, she’s the sole woman employed at a video game design company, where she’s subjected to the jibes of her sex-crazed, socially inept millennial nerd co-workers.
I Feel Bad reeks of Hollywood’s hypocrisy. Emet criticizes her male co-workers for designing female characters with “bowling ball boobs,” yet then deliberately invites them to sexually harass her by asking, “Be honest: am I still do-able?” (If that dialogue took place in real life, employees would be hauled into HR, fired, or sued.) Later in the first episode, Emet’s ten-year-old daughter dances for a class, engaging in “twerking,” rubbing her body against a boy’s, and the boy lifting the prepubescent girl and thrusting his crotch into hers. This is in addition to dialouge which routinely refers to “testicles” and “vaginas,” along with other sexual behavior, like Emet’s husband fondling his mother-in-law’s rear. And the show’s producer vows that this is just the beginning, and that future episodes will “explore issues never done on TV before.” I Feel Bad should definitely be avoided by families with young children.
I Feel Bad premieres on Thursday, October 4th, on NBC.
The Cool Kids on Fox
Margaret: “So I wake up on the floor next to a longshoreman, with a rubber tube in my hand. I wondered, ‘Did he get the enema, or did I?’”
Sid: “He used to replace my beta blockers with boner pills.”
Charlie: “That doesn’t sound like a problem.”
Sid: “It was to my poor little pecker.”
The above is what passes for humor on Fox’s The Cool Kids. Set at the Shady Meadows Retirement Community, cranky African-American Hank, flamboyant gay man Sid, confused former addict Charlie, and free spirit Margaret consider themselves “the cool kids,” always looking for a way to subvert the authority of the home’s rules.
Blessed with a brilliant and talented cast of old TV pros like Vicki Lawrence (The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family), Martin Mull (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman/America 2Night, Roseanne) and David Alan Grier (Martin, In Living Color, The Carmichael Show), The Cool Kids saddles these comedy legends with stale, foul-mouthed, raunchy toilet humor, frequent foul language like “bitch” and “ass,” and loads of references to sex and drug use. The Cool Kids is exactly what one could’ve predicted if told, “Fox is making a new sitcom set in a retirement home.” Parents are strongly cautioned to keep their own kids away from these alleged “cool kids.”
The Cool Kids premieres Friday, September 28 on Fox.
Magnum P.I. on CBS
Former Navy SEAL Thomas Magnum works as a private investigator in Hawaii, while living for free on the palatial estate of journalist-turned-best-selling-novelist Robin Masters. Masters’ property manager, Juliette Higgins, is Magnum’s bantering foil, while his fellow SEAL team vets, well-connected con-man Rick and helicopter pilot T.C., help Magnum solve his cases, with danger around every corner.
The latest of CBS’ reboots of classic properties, (see also: Murphy Brown, The Odd Couple, SWAT, MacGyver, and Hawaii Five-0), the new Magnum, P.I. is far from the light-hearted action-adventure original. Instead, this Magnum is filled with
frequent and extremely explicit violence and gore: Magnum finds his friend tortured to death, the camera lingering on the beaten, bloodied corpse in close-up; Magnum is subjected to a graphic beating, collapsing unconscious in pain; both Magnum and Higgins are shot, sustaining bloody wounds (which they nevertheless shrug off like a duck shedding water); and a flashback to an Afghani prison shows a friend cauterizing Magnum’s wound by filling it with gunpowder, then lighting Magnum on fire!
Utterly lacking the intelligent, fun, upbeat atmosphere of the original (not to mention the charisma of Tom Selleck), the new Magnum P.I. is a morose, blood-soaked, totally unnecessary “update.” Viewers should do themselves (and their children) a favor – and watch a rerun of the original Magnum, P.I. instead.
Magnum P.I. premieres Monday, September 24 on CBS.