How to Get Away With Murder, Forever, Cristela, Black-ish, Selfie


We are exhausted.

Why? Because we spent our entire Labor Day Weekend re-watching all of the new pilots about to invade your TV screens in the coming weeks. And we did it all for you. (Also, because we have no personal lives. But no matter!)

All this week we're sharing our quick, rapid-fire reviews of the new offerings for the 2014 fall TV season. On Monday, we spilled how we really feel about the CW's two new shows, and today, we're focusing on ABC's new line-up, including Shonda Rhimes' highly anticipated legal drama, How to Get Away With Murder, and Tuesday's two new sitcoms, Selfie and Manhattan Love Story. (Spoiler alert: One is awesome. One is...not.)

Premiere Date: Monday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. (regular time-slot: Tuesdays at 10 p.m., beginning Sept. 23)
Time-Slot Competition:  Person of Interest (CBS), Chicago Fire (NBC)
Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Judd Hirsch, Alana De La Garza, Lorraine Touissant, Donnie Keshawarz, Joel David Moore

Kristin Dos Santos: About how long the first episode felt. Don't bother.

Tierney Bricker: ...More like never. (Give me a break, there are just so many pilots. My wit can only handle so much.)

Chris Harnick: It's traditional procedural flair with a genre twist. Nothing too spectacular to see here.

Sydney Bucksbaum: A show that features Ioan Gruffudd naked, over and over and over again? A complicated sci-fi mystery plot about an immortal who can't die and must keep his true nature a secret? A hot guy with an accent? Oh yes, I am HERE FOR THIS. 

Premiere Date: Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 9:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Criminal Minds (CBS), The 100 (the CW), Red Band Society (Fox), Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Stars: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin and special guest star Laurence Fisburne

Kristin: Probably the best lead-out of Modern Family we've seen in years (not that that's saying anything—last year it was Super Fun Night and Mixology, ahem). Despite a few unfunny plot developments in the first episode, the cast is solid and there were even a few LOLs. About all you can hope for from a network comedy these days.

Tierney: Maybe it's my love for the first Transformers (Hey, it was an awesome summer movie!) and Anderson's scene-stealing role in it, but I really enjoyed black-ish, and think it has the best chance of any recent post-Modern Family show to make it. Will I be tuning in to watch live? Probably not, but the Johnson family has earned a time-share on my DVR.

Chris: Will black-ish break the post-Modern Family slump ABC has been in? Quite possibly. However, I'm drawn to the more off-beat comedies (see Selfie below) so black-ish will probably be occasional viewing.

Sydney: Another pilot I thought I wouldn't be into, on the basis that I didn't think I could relate to the premise. But oh man, did this family hook me in the first few minutes. Call this the new Modern Family!

How to Get Away With Murder
Premiere Date: Thursday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition:  Elementary (CBS), Parenthood (NBC)
Stars: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Katie Findlay, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, Karla Souza, Charlie Weber, Liza Weil

Kristin: There is only one real down side to HTGAWM. No, on second thought, make that two. 1) We are going to have to write a lot about this show because you are going to be obsessed, and it has the longest name ever with the worst acronym in TV history. 2) It's so good, you'll question how much you love Scandal. Yes, THAT GOOD!

Tierney: Sexy, slick and seriously Shonda. While Scandal took about three episodes to find its groove, HTGAWM throws caution to the wind, going from zero to 60 from the very start of the pilot. And it mostly pays off...but I'm hoping I won't be suffering any Shonda fatigue after settling in for her three-hour block of twists, turns and Twitter-breaking Thursday night line-up. (Alliteration FTW!) Plus, it's worth tuning in just to hear Viola Davis seductively say the word "murder" like the cat that just ate the canary. (Also: fellow Harry Potter fans, Dean Thomas is one of stars!)

Chris: It's easy to hear the names Viola Davis and Shonda Rhimes and instantly set your DVR and you should for How to Get Away With Murder. The pilot was a little heavy-handed at times, but with the caliber of talent attached, Murder will be one of the fall's hottest new shows you won't want to miss.

 Sydney: If you like Shonda Rhimes' previous ABC hits, Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, then you'll love this. It's the most Shonda Rhimes-iest show that has ever Shonda Rhimes-ed. If you take all the OMG moments from Scandal, add in the complicated relationships of Grey's Anatomy, and transplanted all that into the legal system, you get HTGAWM. Plus, Viola Davis. This literally cannot fail.

Premiere Date: Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: NCIS (CBS), The Flash (the CW), Utopia (Fox), The Voice (NBC)
Stars: Karen Gillan, Jon Cho, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Allyn Rachel, David Harewood

Kristin: Selfie holds the most promise out of any half-hour comedy this fall, thanks to some genius casting (John Cho and Karen Gillan are spot on), and of course the writing stylings of Suburgatory's Emily Kapnek.  I'll be watching!

Tierney: Um, Chris and I are already quoting  this pilot, so that should tell you everything you need to know about my feelings for Selfie. In case you're not getting it: ILISFM. Honestly, it's a premise (a modern-day sitcom take on My Fair Lady?!) that should not work, yet totally does, thanks to Cho and Gillan's chemistry and the writing, with almost every single joke landing. (The plus-size skinny jeans joke featured in all of the promos still makes me laugh. Every. Single. Time.)

Chris: Love. So much love for the Selfie pilot. Even a cringe-inducing vomit scene. It's easy to fall for new comedies based on a strong pilot—we've all done it and either had our hearts broken by a network or the show when its quality dipped!—and I've fallen for the charismatic duo of Karen Gillan and John Cho. Don't be jelly, other new shows.

Sydney: This was a pilot I thought I would totally hate, and would burn out in just a few episodes before its inevitable cancelation like so many others that have come before. But I should have known better than to bet against the combined charm of Karen Gillan and John Cho! From their adorably flawed/perfect-for-each-other characters to the fashion to the notable quotables (Don't be jelly, Linda!), this is easily one of my favorite new comedies this fall. 

Manhattan Love Story
Premiere Date: Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: NCIS (CBS), The Flash (the CW), Utopia (Fox), The Voice (NBC)
Stars: Analeigh Tipton, Jake McDorman, Nicolas  Wright, Jada Catta-Preta, Chloe Wepper, Kurt Fuller


Tierney: Listen, if I wanted to hear the inner-ramblings of a self-absorbed twenty-something going out with the dregs of the dating world, I'd just pay more attention to my thoughts when I am out on a date. Swiping this show to the left so hard and fast I'm nervous it might try and sue me. (Also: New York City deserves better. Like The Mindy Project filming there instead.)

Chris: I use this word a lot, but rarely to describe shows. It was pretty terrible. The whole, "I'm a woman and I think about purses and don't understand things" and "I'm a guy and I think about sex all the time and think I'm the hottest thing ever" was so grating I didn't want to finish the pilot. But I did so you don't have to.

Sydney: While some think the voiceovers used throughout the show by the two main characters are annoying, I think they're the main draw of the show. The internal monologues prove that, while they don't know it yet, they're actually each other's soul mates. Plus, how can you not love Evan Chambers with a beard! Where my Greek fans at?! 

Premiere Date: Friday, Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition:  The Amazing Race (CBS), Whose Line Is it Anyway? (the CW), MasterChef Junior (Fox), Dateline (NBC)
Stars: Cristela Alonzo, Carlos Ponce, Maria Canals-Barrera, Terri Hoyos, Andrew Leeds, Sam McMurray, Jacob Guenther, Isabella Day

Kristin: In person, comedian Cristela Alonzo could not be more loveable. She's unfiltered, funny, and endearing. But something happened on the way to her first network show hitting the air, and I can't shake the feeling that there are way too many cooks in the kitchen on this one. The laugh track? No. The outdated sitcom feel? No. But I'll take Cristela out for drinks any single night of the week and cancel any other plans with anyone. (Sorry, rest of human race!)

Tierney: My biggest pet peeve in this small bubble that is the TV industry is critics rallying behind a star after said star charms the bacon grease-stained pants off of them at an event like the Television Critics Association Press Tour, usually leading to the classic: "I just wish the show was worthy of the star." Well, it's hard to make that argument when the star, the crazy-charming Cristela Alonzo, created, writes and stars in the show. The show itself totally fine, your typical Friday night sitcom, but I barely can remember a character's name aside from Cristela's, and that's mainly because it's the title of the darn thing. 

Chris: Cristela Alonzo is a star. She charmed the pants off of everybody at the 2014 TCA Summer Press Tour. Her personality doesn't quite translate completely to her new ABC series and that's a shame. Just putting this out there: The View is hiring.

Sydney: I really wanted to like this pilot. Executive producer Cristela Alonzo charmed the socks off me during her panel at the summer TV Press Tour, opening up about how far she's come in her life and all the obstacles she's overcome. But unfortunately, as much as I want her to succeed and achieve all her dreams, I just cannot get behind this pilot. It's as obvious and unoriginal as possible. The characters are one-dimensional and the situations are been-there-done-that. I don't see this pilot succeeding, and it breaks my heart.  

Get our rapid-fire reviews of The CW's The Flash and Jane the Virgin, then check back with us tomorrow for CBS' new fall shows!

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