It’s been, if I’m to be perfectly honest, a disappointing season of fall television. Promising shows like The Mindy Project haven’t lived up to their potential. Sophomores like Homeland have given me heartburn, even if they still have credit to draw on. And even a new show I love, Nashville, hasn’t attracted viewers in numbers that would make me feel secure about its future. As with baseball, this is a wait until next year kind of game, which is why I was so excited to get my hands on Josef Adalian’s guide to the dramas in development for the 2013-2014 fall television. These are seven of the non-S.H.I.E.L.D. shows that have me feeling most excited, which doesn’t mean that they’ll actually make it to the air, or be good when they get there, or last. But hope springs eternal, and here are the things that will carry me through the upcoming hiatus and hopes of better when we return in midseason.
1. LA Woman (NBC): Graham Yost, who runs Justified, on a network, with what sounds like a female main character, in a spy drama? Yes please. Maybe they can get Carla Gugino, who’s been spending a lot of time on television as a guest star of late, to star and make us all remember Karen Sisco.
2. Meridian Hills (The CW): I like feminism, Mila Kunis, and period pieces, so the idea of Mila Kunis producing a period piece about the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment that’s about feminism invading the country club, sort of like The Help but without all the condescending soft racism and stereotyping, sounds like something that would make me very happy. Also like the strangest thing to make it on air ever, if that actually comes to pass. But I’m glad to see Kunis’s Seth MacFarlane-assisted clout’s at least going to some interesting chance-taking.
3. Untitled Surgeon General show (NBC): As someone who interviewed not one but two surgeon generals when I was in high school, and who loves David Kessler’s A Question of Intent , I am naturally predisposed to be excited about the idea of this project. For the rest of you who aren’t similarly hilariously dorky? This show has the potential to do two different things: come up with a way to make a medical procedural that’s about health policy, and offer up a reminder that there are parts of the federal government that do things other than try to catch terrorists.
4. Untitled George Washington show from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson (NBC) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Fox): My belief that we should have a lot more Revolutionary War and colonial America in our popular culture is a matter of public record. Washington isn’t necessarily the character I’d choose, but the Hudson River Valley is a fascinating place. And I’m glad to see some networks making the effort to tap a weirdly untapped part of our history and cultural memory.
5. Sex Diaries adaptation (ABC): Since I complained yesterday that our television has gotten more violent and more interested in violence without any corresponding interest in sex and sexuality, I’m curious to see what will come of this adaptation of one of New York Magazine’s most famous features. Also, just from a format perspective, I’m curious to see how ABC adapts the feature. Will we spend an episode on a character? Have the show follow a small bundle of characters whose sex lives are interacting with each other? Pass off from miniseries to miniseries?
6. Wired (The CW): With the exception of The Big Bang Theory, television spends a lot of time wedging geeks into stories as medical examiners, or quasi-hackers, or nerds at the edge of social circles. I like the idea of a show that recognizes that geekiness is also a big business, and tells an origin story about the rise of Silicon Valley. Think the Nolan Ross stuff that’s been the best part of Revenge this season, but with more room to breathe.