PITCH: L-R: Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the all-new “Scratched” episode of PITCH airing Thursday, Dec. 1 (8:59-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.CR: Ray Mickshaw / FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co.

Mid-Season Check In: The Best and Worst of Fall’s New Shows

Conviction, Designated Survivor, Panels, Pitch, This is Us, Timeless, Westworld

Fall’s new shows have all taken a small break, so it’s the perfect time to check in and see how they are doing. Some shows have immediately knocked it out of the park, while others had promise but fell flat.

Below, some of our writers share their thoughts on this season’s batch of new shows. Join the discussion by leaving your thoughts in the comments!

Unexpected Favorite

Charles: This Is Us. At first, I thought it was going to be a sort of cheesy show. I was thankfully wrong. It is so much more than that. At the heart of it, it is a family drama, but it has so much heart thanks to performances from Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, and Sterling K. Brown, among others. How they seamlessly go from the past to the present is brilliant, and I can’t wait to see what happens to The Big Three.

Christine: For me, it’s The Good Place. I was a bit hesitant about it based on its premise, however, the writers have done a great job creating this alternate reality of Heaven and Hell, complete with likable and funny characters.

Ted Danson is funnier than he’s been since Cheers, and Kristen Bell on my television every week just makes my heart happy. This one is great, and I really hope it finds a bigger audience when it returns in January.

Lauren: For me, it’s The Exorcist! I didn’t go into this season looking for a new show, but I found myself really loving the psychological suspense and the personal, family drama that accompanied the possession plot.

It only had a ten-episode order, but I am holding out hope that it gets renewed because I feel like a lot of horror fans would enjoy it.

Lizzie: Timeless. I legit thought it would be just another time-travel show, and Legends of Tomorrow (which is probably the most improved of the old shows, but that’s another story) had soured me for time-travel because, yeah, 0 consequences. Except there are consequences on Timeless.

And there’s a smart female lead, and diversity, and an OTP in the making, and amazing friendships and, and ….yeah. Watch Timeless.

TIMELESS -- "The Capture of Benedict Arnold" Episode 109 -- Pictured: (l-r) Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn, Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)
TIMELESS — “The Capture of Benedict Arnold” Episode 109 — Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

Nora: I have to agree with Lauren on this one and choose The Exorcist. Taking something as iconic as The Exorcist movie (and book) and making it into a TV show was a pretty risky move and one that paid off. The cast is terrific, the cinematography is amazing, and the mood is heavy and atmospheric.

There are genuinely scary moments, which I appreciate as a fan of horror. I’m thankful that the show balances the scares with powerful performances. Nothing feels like a gimmick.

Ali: I could easily second The Good Place, but I found myself consistently most excited to find Better Things on my DVR.  Pamela Aldon’s performance is brilliant, and the show tackles topics like motherhood, career, and aging in refreshingly realistic but hilarious ways.

Milka: Pitch. I know nothing about baseball and never expected a show about a baseball team to be so interesting — after becoming aware of my interest, I was reminded of the feelings I had when first encountering Friday Night Lights. Sure, Pitch is VERY different from FNL, but it uses the members of the team somewhat similarly in creation of relationships, family drama, and so on.

By focusing on a female character in an environment that has always been seen as male-exclusive allows the writers of the show to really dig deep into questions about gender, and I think Pitch has so far done brilliant job with it. I really hope this show is picked up for a second season and thus given a chance to develop further.

Allison: Sweet/Vicious. I went into this show nothing absolutely nothing about the premise, and I was in love with it before the pilot was over. This show provides us with some great female characters, and what I love most about Jules is that she brings her pink backpack with her when she goes to kick ass.

Jules is a vigilante who still likes all of her sorority activities. Don’t even get me started on the epic friendship that is Juphelia.

Biggest Disappointment

Christine: American Housewife. I WANTED to like this one. But I had so many issues with the types of comedy that they use – sometimes I want a little less snark and a little more fun. I expected more than a show LITERALLY about a heavy housewife.

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Lizzie: Conviction. I liked the idea, but the execution was horrendous. I mean, I wish I had deep, dark issues to discuss here, but my main problem is that it’s boring. It’s so boring it’s not even background noise, it legit just puts you to sleep.

Charles: The Great Indoors. I had hopes for this show since I am a huge Joel McHale fan but it is just basically another plain CBS comedy. It feels like it could be more but right now it just isn’t funny sadly.

Nora: I know that this is a controversial pick, but for me, the biggest disappointment was This is Us. That being said, I only watched an episode, but the pilot didn’t compel me to watch more. I don’t think that This is Us is bad, but I didn’t feel the pull to watch it again, which is sad, because I really wanted to love it.

When I really like a show, I can’t wait to see the next episode, or I find myself thinking about it days later. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen when I watched This is Us.

THS IS US — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Ali:  How could a show about journalism and feminism in the sixties let me down?  Unfortunately, even though Good Girls Revolt had some really wonderful moments, it also lacked any of the subtlety that would have made it a great show.

It beat its viewers over the head with every message and had absolutely no chill about featuring Nora Ephron as a character.  Every time she was mentioned on screen, the actors practically stared straight into the camera and winked.

Milka: I have to go with Charles’s reply and say The Great Indoors. I am a HUGE Joel McHale fan and love him in Community, which is why I was very excited about The Great Indoors when I first heard about it. The press the show got before its release wasn’t very praising, and after seeing the pilot I understood why. Total waste of McHale’s talent!

Allison: I’m going to echo Lizzie and Nora’s reply. This is Us and Conviction were two shows I really wanted to love. They have great casts, but unfortunately, the shows did nothing for me. Conviction was ridiculously boring and none of the characters made any kind of impact.

This is Us was just a let down. It had been hyped up, and it fell flat for me. There wasn’t anything that made me want to keep watching.

Needs Improvement

Charles: For me, it might be Designated Survivor. Now I’m not saying it needs a whole bunch of changes because it doesn’t. It just needs little tweaks here and there.

I will say, however, the mid-season finale was the best episode of the season, so I think Designated Survivor is slowly going from a good show to a great show.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - "The Interrogation" - When shots ring out at The White House during a Governors Summit, President Kirkman's plans at electing a new Congress are thrown into turmoil, while Agent Hannah Wells continues investigating the Capitol bombing and makes one of her most shocking discoveries yet on ABC's "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST). (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg)

Ali: This may be a bit controversial considering that so many put Pitch down as as their clear frontrunner, but I expected more from the sports drama. Don’t get me wrong — I think Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar are phenomenal and the concept is refreshingly different from what’s on TV right now.

It’s a perfectly good network drama, but I think it could be a great one. In season two I’d like to see a little less obvious and uninspired relationship drama and a little more character development for the stellar supporting cast.

AllisonTimeless still needs to do some tweaking. The mystery of Rittenhouse is helping, but we are still essentially chasing one guy around in time. I’m glad we are getting some Rittenhouse answers, and Flynn has turned out to be not as evil as we initially thought. Hopefully, Flynn kidnapping Lucy will shake things up, and the Rittenhouse answers will keep coming.

Clear Frontrunner

Christine: Easily it’s This is Us. From its outstanding cast to its heartfelt story about a family told over thirty years, it’s the show you’ve been looking for if you’ve missed Parenthood. Every episode unfolds something new about a character that will somehow leave you in tears by the end of the hour.

Not only that, but the writers have managed to create a lovely mystery about the family history, one that we’re still learning about weekly. It’s just good television. Isn’t that really what we need these days?

Lauren: It’s easily This is Us! I loved it from it from the first episode! When you can present a series of characters in just a nonlinear and still very tight and focused way, that shows a team of talented writers. The acting on this show is amazing, and I have absolutely loved some of the monologues and the editing that occurs throughout.

It’s a work of art, that I take in and sit with each week. I don’t want to analyze it. I don’t want to pull it apart. I want the writers to tell me the story and let it unfold like the rare orchid that it is.

Lizzie: I’m sorry to be the voice of dissent, but …eh, it’s between Pitch, Timeless, and Designated Survivor. But since I already raved about Timeless, and there are way more people raving about Designated Survivor in general, I’m going to take this time to talk Pitch.

The show aired just ten episodes, and they crammed such an amount of good messages, strong writing and just plain old inspiration in those ten episodes that I’m really, really hoping they give it another season. A full one. Ten episodes is just not enough.

PITCH: L-R: Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the all-new “Scratched” episode of PITCH airing Thursday, Dec. 1 (8:59-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.CR: Ray Mickshaw / FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co.
PITCH: CR: Ray Mickshaw / FOX.

Charles: I’m going to go with Pitch. I thought it would be a good show, but I didn’t expect how great it would be. The performances are top-notch, led by Kylie Bunbury who is a star in the making. Also Mark-Paul Gosselaar is in the best role of his career as veteran Mike Lawson.

I wish it had gotten more than ten episodes, and I hope so much that Fox renews it for a season 2 as there is so many more stories left to tell.

Nora: Both Westworld and Atlanta are my frontrunners and I’m bummed that both won’t be back for a while. I knew that I would like Westworld when I saw the trailer for it, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Westworld is thrilling, suspenseful, intriguing, puzzling, and had some pretty damn impressive hosts.

I have liked Donald Glover for a long time, so watching Atlanta was a must. The show is a perfect mixture of funny, thought-provoking, surreal, and poignant. One of the best episodes of 2016 came courtesy of Atlanta too, “B.A.N..”  

Milka: I think I have to go with TBS’s Search Party. What initially caught my attention was not only the involvement of Alia Shawkat, but also the premise that instantly made me think of true crime podcasts/documentaries.

From the very first episode onwards it is easy to see that this show is about much more than its true crime premise and the mystery that comes with it, and throughout its ten-episode first season, Search Party digs into questions of identity, self-representation, modern life, and so on. Search Party has been renewed for second season, which makes me massively excited!

Allison: I’m going to give this to Designated Survivor. The suspense keeps growing with every episode, and the mid-season finale was an exceptional hour of TV. Yes, the show has had its rough patches, but they have adapted. The drug dealing son storyline, for instance, was thankfully squashed.

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What did you think of this season’s new fall shows? What was your unexpected favorite, and which show was a disappointment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


Allison Nichols

Allison is in a love affair with television that doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon. Slightly damaged fictional characters are her weakness. She loves to spend her free time curled up with a cat and a show to binge-watch on Netflix. Currently, she's obsessed with From Dusk Till Dawn, Wynonna Earp, and she'll never be over her Gilmore Girl's obsession. In addition to Tell-Tale TV, Allison also writes for TVFanatic. Follow her on Twitter: @AllisonBlairN

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