Rapid Fire Reviews, ABC


It's the most wonderful time of the year!

In a little less than two weeks, the 2016 fall TV season will officially kick off, bringing with it the return of all of our favorites, as well as more new shows than your poor DVR has the room for. Not sure how to go about deciding which new series is worth the space on your DVR and which you ought to avoid like the plague? Well, have no fear. Your pals on the TV Scoop Team are here to help. We're offering up our short and sweet (and sometimes snarky) rapid-fire reviews of all the new fall offerings from the five networks. Up first? ABC, with new comedies American Housewife and Speechless, as well as dramas Designated Survivor, Conviction, and Notorious.

Kiefer Sutherland, Designated Survivors


Designated Survivor
Premiere Date: Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Code Black (CBS), Chicago P.D. (NBC)
Stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Maggie Q, Kal Penn, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, and Tanner Buchanan
Premise: Kiefer Sutherland becomes the President of the United States after a terrorist attack kills all higher-ranking government officials during the State of the Union address, leaving him as the designated survivor. 

Tierney Bricker: One of my favorite new shows of the fall, the pilot delivers on the premise, with Kiefer Sutherland showing off a whole new side (Bye, Jack Bauer!) and proving why he's one of TV's best leading men. Gripping and intriguing, I'm excited to see Sutherland's new term get off to such an epic start.

Chris Harnick: Perhaps the best new pilot of the season, I was instantly intrigued to see more. Given the scale and scope, I expected more from the sets (the wreckage is LOL-inducing), but I guess that can be forgiven for now…

Jean Bentley: I will watch every single minute of this show, which I think had one of the top three pilots of the year. It started out sort of like the beginning of Battlestar Galactica, except, like, not in space and with 100% more Kiefer Sutherland.

Lauren Piester: Loved it. The concept of this show is terrifying, but Kiefer Sutherland's calming presence (along with a well written pilot) always makes terrorist attacks a lot more bearable.

Billy Nilles: Perhaps one of the freshest concepts of the season, this show hooked me right from its very terrifying cold open. Seeing Kiefer Sutherland play someone low on the totem pole thrust into leadership is a neat subversion of expectations for the man who kicked ass as Jack Bauer. And I'm always here for a good conspiracy. Consider me all in.



Premiere Date: Monday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Scorpion (CBS), Timeless (NBC)
Stars: Hayley Atwell, Shawn Ashmore, Eddie Cahill, Merrin Dungey, Manny Montana, and Emily Kinney
A hard-partying former first daughter (Atwell) is hired to reform her image by leading a team that reexamines cases where people may have been wrongfully convicted. 

Tierney Bricker: While I'll miss Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, I love seeing her take on a modern, edgier role in Conviction, which sets her up to be a former First Daughter-turned-Olivia Pope-esque fixer, righting the wrongs of the justice system with a sarcastic flair. I just wish it would've gotten Scandal's fall time-slot.

Chris Harnick: Tragically tropey characters make up this pilot, but Hayley Atwell is so insanely charming I would watch her in anything, especially Agent Carter season three (not giving that up!). Conviction has promise and is worth checking out if you are a fan of Scandal, law procedurals, Hayley Atwell's American accent.

Jean Bentley: I want the very best for Hayley Atwell. This…this is not it.

Lauren Piester: I wanted to love this more than I did. I'm here for Hayley Atwell always, and I didn't strongly dislike anything about the pilot, but if Agent Carter had to die so that this show may live, it wasn't worth it. I also keep getting it confused with Notorious. Darn you, one word titles!

Billy Nilles: Do I think Hayley Atwell's talents are deserving of a more worthy series? Absolutely. But this will fit nicely into the recently-vacated Castle timeslot, giving ABC procedural fans exactly what they want, but with a bit more edge this time around. (AKA, a main character with a cocaine habit.)



Premiere Date: Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Supernatural (CW), Pitch (Fox), Chicago Med (NBC)
Stars: Piper Perabo, Daniel Sunjata, Kate Jennings Grant, J. August Richards, Ryan Guzman, Sepideh Moafi, Kevin Zegers, and Aimee Teegarden
Perabo and Sunjata play a TV producer and a lawyer who work together to control the media and the justice system, while also dealing with their own personal relationships. 

Tierney Bricker: I'm all about the sparks between Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata (Slow-burn, please!) AND the media and the law in this somewhat of a throwback drama. It feels very late '90s-early aughts, which sometimes works for AND against it (a manila envelope filled with illicit photographs is a little two thousand and late), but will likely find a home on my DVR.

Chris Harnick: It's taking everything in me not to write this as noTORIous (Tori Spelling's impact). This pilot felt like it was 32 hours long, but around hour 27 I gave in and fully embraced the improbable ride. Damn you murder mysteries! Almost all of ABC's shows are so spot on ABC, but this is the ABC-iest.

Jean Bentley: There's a reason this super-fun, soapy legal/newsroom drama earned a spot between two of your favorite Shondaland shows—it's because it's got that same fun, sexy TGIT vibe. I can't wait for more.

Lauren Piester: Sure, it's a typical ABC drama about an unlikely team up between two hot people of different professions, but I got really into it and I'm looking forward to more. It feels somehow both timely and old school, which may not make a lot of sense but does make it fun and comforting to watch, like any good ABC show.   

Billy Nilles: Big shoes to fill, stepping into Scandal's timeslot. Does Notorious live up to the pressure? It's certainly comes close. It's an intriguing premise about two people working together who probably shouldn't, given the ethical requirements in their respected fields, and Daniel Sunjata is a dreamboat who I'll gladly watch in just about anything. It does have an air of TGIT-lite about it, but that's not a bad nothing. They can't all be Scandal.

Speechless, Minnie Driver


Premiere Date: Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 8:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Survivor (CBS), Arrow (CW), Lethal Weapon (Fox), Blindspot (NBC)
Stars: Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kennedy, and Cedric Yarbrough
Driver plays a mom who will do anything and yell at anyone in order to create the best possible life for her husband and two kids, one of whom has cerebral palsy. 

Tierney Bricker: Another strong-willed mom added to ABC's power line-up of family sitcoms? All about it. And she's played by Minnie Driver? Icing on the cake. This could've been very cheesy, but it wasn't, and it's the perfect addition to the Wednesday night line-up. 

Chris Harnick: Again, another good job by ABC at giving us something other than the typical family sitcom. Minnie Driver is fine here, but it's not something I will regularly tune in for. If you like family comedies, this is up your alley.

Jean Bentley: ABC does family comedies right, and this latest slightly offbeat addition fits in well with the other lovingly quirky clans that populate the network. Definite season pass thanks to Minnie Driver and the fact that star Micah Fowler spoke of the series at TCA with such obvious delight and infectious enthusiasm that I could not help but get excited too.

Lauren Piester: I love everything about this sweet show. It's a little different from the other comedies on the network, but still fits in, and I believe the hell out of this family.

Billy Nilles: I'm pretty much a sucker for any of ABC's family comedies. And Speechless fits in perfectly. Minnie Driver shines as a mom fiercely dedicated to her son with cerebral palsy, and Micah Fowler is a joy to watch as the son in question, JJ. Kudos to ABC for continuing to remind us that families may come in all shapes and sizes, but they're always funny.

Katy Mixon, American Housewife


American Housewife
Premiere Date: Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: NCIS (CBS), The Flash (CW), New Girl (Fox), The Voice (NBC)
Stars: Katy Mixon, Diedrich Bader, Meg Donnelly, Daniel DiMaggio, Julia Butters, Carly Hughes, and Ali Wong
Mixon plays a strong-willed woman trying to raise her imperfect family in a what appears to be a perfect suburb in Connecticut, filled with yoga moms and green juices. 

Tierney Bricker: So I went into this one a bit skeptical, but was pleasantly surprised. Katy Mixon has charm for days, and it's on full display here. Still, some of the jokes are a little predictable (Skinny women wear not one but TWO Fitbits!), so I'm hoping to see the show eventually match its star, but it's off to a good start.

Chris Harnick: This will fit right in on ABC. It's very on brand and cute, but not my cup of tea.

Jean Bentley: I know this had a slightly controversial title before, but I found this show both sweet and very, very weird. And funny, of course, though I hope that the harping over Mixon's character's weight will subside as the show finds a comedic rhythm. (We get it! She's slightly larger than the other moms!) It's earned a spot on the preliminary DVR rotation, but we'll have to wait and see if it stays there.

Lauren Piester: I thought I was totally going to hate this show, based on its former title, The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport. I was still annoyed every time that title was said in the pilot, but I really did love this show as I stuffed several Domino's marbled cookie brownies into my face and laughed at everything Katy Mixon said. This review is both an endorsement for this show and for Domino's marbled cookie brownies.

Billy Nilles: The weight-based jokes really began to wear thin (no pun intended), so here's hoping the show pulls back on that front moving forward. Katy Mixon is an incredibly engaging lead, and the family comedy does seem to fit right into the ABC fold. This could be the network's spiritual successor to Suburgatory, with its cracked-lens view of the town of Westport, CT. I'll give it a few weeks to see if it can get there.

Check back tomorrow for our thoughts on all that CBS has to offer!

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