The broadcast networks have more than two dozen shows debuting this fall, including a new Shondaland drama, Katherine Heigl‘s TV comeback, a third NCIS and a trip to Gotham. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.
Next up on our list….
THE SHOW | ABC’s black-ish (Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c; premiere date TBA)
THE COMPETITION | CBS’ Criminal Minds, NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, Fox’s Red Band Society (new) and The CW’s The 100
THE CAST | Anthony Anderson (Guys With Kids, Law & Order), Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal), Yara Shahidi (Scandal‘s Young Olivia), Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown and Marsai Martin
THE SET-UP | Successful ad exec “Dre” Johnson is irked. His tween son Andre has adopted the name Andy (and a field hockey habit), his littlest kids don’t acknowledge their only other black classmate’s race…. All told, as he puts it, “I’m gonna need my family to be black — not black-ish.” Cue show title, lowercase letters and all!
THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Penned by Kenya Barris (The Game, TV’s Are We There Yet?), black-ish holds the promise of being the best Modern Family companion show that ABC in recent years actually thought to schedule in that time slot. And for the first half of the (overly narrated) pilot, I was really enjoying what I was seeing — especially when Dre illustrates points to an absurd level (e.g. the imagined tour bus marveling at an upper-middle class black family), or when he reacts to the specific nature of an otherwise coveted job promotion. But then the episode got quite silly, with a subplot about son Andre’s wish for a bar mitzvah. Oy!
Still, there’s much to work with here. Anderson is very entertaining and Ross is a fine wife-ly foil, though he does need to stop calling her “babe” every single time he addresses her. (Verbal tics make my teeth itch.) Fishburne, as Dre’s laid-back, racetrack-loving Pops, is a very welcome touch — and not just because this role is sooooo far removed from what he’s been up to on NBC. That said, I hope the show always keep a foot firmly planted in Dre’s workplace, if only to broaden his world/interactions.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | ABC surely is at the point where all they can hope for from a Modern Family lead-out is that it does no worse than the previous one. black-ish should meet that low bar, being a better fit than Mixology and far more amusing than [shudder] Super Fun Night.