ABC’s latest batch of female-centric ensemble dramas and The CW’s first full original slate won the most accolades from critics giving first-blush reviews of the fall season.
Critics were asked which fall schedules and pilots looked most and least promising. Every network had its fans and its detractors, but ABC got the most positive votes due to the presumed strength of “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff “Private Practice” and promising trailers for “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Cashmere Mafia.”
The only ABC fall drama pilot that had been widely seen, however, is “Pushing Daisies,” which received high marks. The story of a baker who can bring the dead back to life, “Daisies” is a hit with critics, although they fear they’ll have an uphill battle convincing viewers to watch the show.
“The best pilot since ‘Lost,’” declared Robert Bianco, USA Today. “‘Pushing Daisies’ has enormous creative potential. Its ratings potential, unfortunately, seems much less certain.”
Wrote Matt Roush, TV Guide: “A complete original and total delight. The hard part is explaining it to anybody and conveying its whimsical charms adequately.”
After coming down hard on The CW’s fall performance in the winter poll, critics were surprised how much they enjoyed The CW’s pilots—especially “Reaper,” about a 21-year-old slacker who has to work as a bounty hunter for the devil because his parents sold his soul.
“The CW’s new shows are mostly brand-appropriate, even though they’re not exactly top-10 material,” wrote Mr. Roush. “‘Reaper’ and ‘Aliens in America’ look like great fun that will resonate with The CW’s target audience; while ‘Gossip Girl’ is rather exasperating with its self-absorption, it’s reminiscent of The WB’s glory days, which seems smart.”
Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly added: “The CW has low expectations going for it and high talent—‘Reaper’ is one of the season’s best new shows.”
Critics were torn on Fox and CBS.
Fox received few comments, with one critic declaring its pilots unwatchable due to an annoying piracy warning stamped across the center of the screen during entire episodes. A couple of critics noted “New Amsterdam” and “K-Ville” had strong potential.
CBS’ fall season received plenty of feedback, but the result was heavily mixed. Critics have knocked the network for playing it too safe by airing procedural crime dramas, but are unsure whether fall shows such as the musical “Viva Laughlin” and vampire detective drama “Moonlight” are the right solution.
“If people don’t like vampires and singing casino owners, it’s apparently going to be the fault of TV critics,” wrote Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Daily News.
“The new [CBS] shows smack of a 50-something mom trying to get hip,” snarked John Griffiths, US Weekly.
Others praised CBS’ efforts. “It’s taking the kind of risks we haven’t seen in at least a decade,” wrote Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal.
One CBS pilot, the family crime drama “Cane,” had several fans. “‘Cane’ is the best conceived and written series that I have previewed,” wrote Julio Martinez, Latin Heat magazine.
Though NBC’s spy dramedy “Chuck” had some fans, the network’s pilots overall left critics unimpressed. “NBC’s shows look a lot like each other, and a lot like the ones from last year that were canceled,” wrote Kate O’Hare, Tribune Media Services.
Though NBC executives had hoped the ouster of former programming chief Kevin Reilly would not be seen as a vote against the network’s fall season, critics cited the shakeup in their comments. “The NBC schedule helps me understand why Kevin Reilly lost his job,” wrote Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel.
One critic, Tanya Kersey of Black Talent News, criticized CBS in particular and the other networks in general for the lack of minority cast members in their pilots. “Most of the shows are not diverse enough, and if you look at the most popular shows—‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Lost,’ ‘Heroes’ and ‘Ugly Betty’—they all have very diverse casts,” she wrote.
- Watch clips of all the fall pilots
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- Critics Poll Results: Series
- Critics Poll Results: Movie, Miniseries or Special