The broadcast networks have almost 30 shows debuting this fall, including new sitcoms from Michael J. Fox and Sean Hayes, a new CW showcase for another Amell and Marvel-ous adventures for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.
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THE SHOW | NBC’s Ironside (Wednesdays at 10/9c; premieres Oct. 2)
THE COMPETITION | CBS’ CSI, ABC’s Nashville and FX’s American Horror Story: Coven (new)
THE CAST | Blair Underwood (The Event), Pablo Schreiber (The Wire), Spencer Grammer (Greek), Neal Bledsoe (Smash), Brent Sexton (The Killing) and Kenneth Choi (Sons of Anarchy)
THE SET-UP | Underwood stars as Det. Robert Ironside, a top cop who, after a bullet lands him in a wheelchair, leads a hand-picked team of “specialist” crimesolvers (played by Schreiber, Grammer and Bledsoe). It’s exactly like the late ’60s/early ’70s NBC drama of the same name, except that it’s set in New York City versus San Francisco, the composition of Ironside’s team is different and the circumstances surrounding his life-changing shooting (Raymond Burr’s title character was felled by a sniper) are not at all similar. Cho and Sexton play Ironside’s boss and onetime partner, respectively.
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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | This is a good if not dazzling procedural, with a pilot that efficiently lays out the backstory by alternating between the Case of the Week (featuring Brian D’Arcy James as a shifty broker) and well-parsed flashbacks to Ironside’s shooting. Underwood makes for a commanding, telegenic lead, but the verdict on the other characters is TBD, since the premiere sheds little light on neither their origins nor their “specialties” (though Grammer’s Holly emerges as quite the marksman, and tends to grab more screentime). Sexton, as on The Killing, is highly watchable, while Cho carries the burden of playing the “I’m Going to Challenge Your Unorthodox Methods, Even Though You Always End Up Right” supervisor.
As expected, Ironside’s special set of circumstances is addressed early and often, as he chides a goon for calling him a “cripple,” discovers a (barely hidden) clue thanks to his lower-to-the-ground perspective and finds much time for sexytimes with a lithe fitness instructor.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | While I was personally more interested in NBC’s ill-fated 2010 reboot of another retro drama, The Rockford Files, Ironside is a safe bet for the network, assigning a “known” title to a solid procedural with a good cast, and leading out of Law & Order: SVU. It will, however, have trouble “igniting” the Wednesdays-at-10 time slot the way Chicago Fire did (for an NBC series, that is).