It's time to set your DVRs! That's right, TV's fall season is picking up steam, bringing back old favorites like "Fargo" and "Empire," while introducing new shows like "Supergirl" and Neil Patrick Harris' variety show, "Best Time Ever."
Joe Adalian, West Coast Editor for our partners at Vulture.com, joined us on The Frame to sift through the deluge of new television. He talked about Neil Patrick Harris and the place of variety shows on TV today, as well as Comedy Central's life after Key & Peele, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
The fall TV season is about to kick into high gear. Is there anything that you're really excited about?
[laughs] Eh ... critic is not my role, so I'm more excited to see how shows perform and whether they're big bombs or big hits. "The Muppets" on ABC is tracking through the roof, not surprisingly — it's a brand that's almost 50 years old.
I'm curious to see about Neil Patrick Harris's new show, "Best Time Ever," though I always want to call it "Best Night Ever." But that would be too logical a name. They're saying it's an attempt to bring back variety, but I'm not convinced it actually is variety.
And we're not sure that variety ever worked, at least in a modern iteration.
I'm actually a proponent of the genre. I believe that variety can work, and I think it's working right now in late night. Jimmy Fallon does a variety show, James Corden is doing an element of a variety on CBS with "The Late Late Show," and I think the format can easily work in primetime if done well. And I think it's a great way to cut through the clutter, as it's something you don't have to binge-watch.
But unfortunately, I think networks like NBC feel they need to make everything into a big game show, a big reality show, or a big contest with judges. To me, that's not variety. That's spectacle, and that could do spectacularly, but we'll see.
Comedy Central has lost Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Key & Peele. They've got a lot of work to do, so what are the prospects for Comedy Central?
They're in a start-over mode. "Key & Peele" is certainly a big loss for them creatively, but ratings-wise it's ... not a massive hit. And the ratings for Larry Wilmore's show have been down a lot since Jon Stewart left, and he now needs to re-prove himself. And of course the new host of "The Daily Show" needs to completely prove himself. Comedy Central's hoping that younger viewers will really gravitate to this new show, which means they may lose some overall viewership while building a new audience.
Mindy Kaling's "The Mindy Project" is moving to Hulu. Which streaming services are going to make a big splash in the fall?
I mean, they all are. They're now producing so much content that they're definitely having an impact on people's viewing habits. For example, Hulu will have a commercial-free option. It used to be that, if you missed a show on a broadcast network and you wanted to catch up on Hulu, you had to put up with all sorts of commercials. Now you can pay $12 and get no commercials, and I'm really curious to see if that has an impact on the linear ratings for broadcast networks, now that people can just shift a day and watch on Hulu.
In terms of actual original content, there's a lot that looks good. I've seen four episodes of Aziz Ansari's new show, "Master of None," which premieres on Netflix in November. I think it's really good — it's a little "Curb Your Enthusiasm," a little like Woody Allen in the '70s, as told through the eyes of Aziz Ansari and Allen Yang, his co-showrunner.
I'm also looking forward to two new shows on Amazon. They've got "Red Oaks," which is an sitcom set in the '80s that premieres next month, and "Man in the High Castle," which imagines a world where the Axis powers actually won World War II.