Revisiting the Collective: The Potential New Hits and Misses of the 2014 Fall TV Season

(CS: I had originally been sticking to reposting more evergreen columns from The Collective Publishing days, but I thought it might be fun to look at a prediction piece, and now with 8 years past, see how accurate I was with my prognosticating.)

A few weeks back I looked at five network TV series premiering this fall that I believe may be worth checking out. Of course, the big networks are rolling out several more new shows and have high hopes that many of them will turn out to be giant magnets to draw in flocks of people to their TVs. (CS: With the rise of streaming service creating exclusive shows and movies, there is barely a Fall premiere season anymore, with a year-round release of series being the new thing.) It is more likely that most of these shows will be long forgotten by this time next year.

History shows it can be pretty hard predicting what will be the next mega-hit (most didn’t expect Sleepy Hollow to be one of the lone bright spots for FOX last year) (CS: It ended up lasting four seasons, but there was some major drama surrounding the exit of the female lead after season three that likely hurt the series) and sometimes just as surprising what doesn’t resonate with an audience (hopes were incredibly high last year for Michael J. Fox’s return to a network series). (CS: I enjoyed that sitcom as a light and breezy time, but I mostly forgot to tune in after the first few episodes.) It can still be fun predicting the fate of some of the new network TV series. Below I’ve selected four shows that I think will turn out to be the most popular new series and four shows that will have disappeared from the schedule by the time we start hearing Christmas music playing at the stores. 

Black-ish: Sitcoms are still the one form that some consider networks can beat cable, (CS: Where cable and streaming have excelled is dramedies like Ted Lasso, Succession and Atlanta) so I should probably wager at least one comedy hit. This year most of the sitcoms seem to be hampered by cute and creative premises that seem better suited for a motion pictures rather than storytelling that needs to span several 22 episode seasons. (CS: Aha, I remember that stint where it was overly focused premises that would have made great 1980s concept movies but a real challenge to get past even 6 episodes. Sort of like many of the Star Wars and MCU series now.) The concept of a Black man being afraid of his children losing touch of their cultural identity thus unleashing a barrage of strategies for them to reconnect is broad enough to be something that can incorporate countless stories without veering too far off course. Plus Anthony Anderson is hilarious and Laurence Fishburne can provide some solid laughs while being a big enough name to attract some eyeballs. Also there aren’t any other sitcoms on network television with a predominately Black cast and so if it ends up reaching its potential of being both funny and endearing than it could reel in several demographics. (CS: Not only did I nail it as a hit, since it lasted 8 seasons, but it also had three different spin-offs with varying success.) 

Gotham: I’m extremely confident this series will have one of the highest rated premieres of all the new series, but the challenge is if this heavily hyped show will be able to sustain an audience. (CS: I was all in for half of the first season, but the meandering storytelling and 'hey! look it is that well-known character before they're well-known' wore me out.) There is a chance that once it becomes clear Batman is destined to have acne and a voice change (one far more awkward than Christian Bale’s) that viewers will abandon it in droves. If I’m right in predicting this will try less to be a “comic book” show and more a stylized crime-noir show that delves into pre-Commissioner James Gordon’ internal and external warfare with morality and crime than the potential quality and uniqueness may draw in the viewers. It also has a pretty solid cast that presents some interesting interpretations on well-known characters with actors like Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. It has strong support (and hopes) from FOX and an immense marketing campaign, so it is all up to the show exceeding the quality of the pretty entertaining trailers. (CS: It ended up lasting five seasons, with the first season having strong ratings at the start to be the second best rated new network series. I'd say I got another right.) 

How to Get Away with Murder: ABC is wrestling through a rough patch trying to uncover new hits, but executive producer Shonda Rhimes has had the golden touch with rating winners like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. (CS: Then a few years later they lost her to Netflix, where I couldn't tell you what shows she produced there.) It just so happens her two hits will be on the same night and precede this show, so her fans will be encouraged to stick around to give it a shot. The trailer seems to promise doses of thriller and mystery along with the soapy goodness that made the other series popular. On top of that there is super-talented performer in Viola Davis to add some prestige, and she looks great as the tough and no-nonsense professor that possibly pushed her students over the edge. (CS: I stuck with this one for about half a season as well, and I enjoyed the performances, but the soapy bits dragged stuff down and were more tedious than fun for me. I also just really suck at sticking with series, since most of my watching time even in 2014 was devoted to movies I'd review for the podcast.) The series will likely try to pull-off many surprise twists and turns to set social media ablaze with speculation and shock, and has lots of potential to be the big new ratings and critical darling. (CS: This was the biggest hit among the new shows in 2014, and was a big rating hit its first two seasons. It ended up lasting 6 seasons, so another win for 2014 me.) 

Scorpion: It feels like the geeks of Big Bang Theory thrown into the similar plot of Blacklist and Person of Interest, and it just so happens all those shows are major hits. I’ve made it rather clear in the past of my own apathy towards procedural television that always feels like something predictable and unchallenging to have playing in background while one folds laundry or while trying to find change in the couch. I also have to confess that the dramas that nab the highest ratings on the networks tend to follow the “case of the week” format. (CS: I lasted two episodes on this one, as it proved to be exactly what I had assumed and feared.) The premise of nerdy super-geniuses uniting to take down the world’s worst criminals follows the modern trend of “nerds are cool” with some superhero flavoring that should attract a large and broad audience. (CS: It lasted four seasons, but the first three seasons delivered really strong ratings for the time and was a major hit. It looks like I nailed a clean sweep on my predictions of hits. No idea why I never tried doing this again, other than my Collective Publishing days were unknowingly coming to an end very soon at this point, so I covered TV far less.) 


Manhattan Love Story: The premise of being able to hear the inner-thoughts of a newly dating couple is unique and witty, but also one that might grow tiresome even after 22 minutes. This is an example of a concept that probably was better suited for a movie rather than entertainment that tells stories on a weekly basis. (CS: Again, this was a huge issue for Network TV for a few years as they were desperately trying to find high-concept ideas to compete with streaming and cable.) It might be a tough one to keep an audience unless the writing ends up being incredibly funny, or if they decide to abandon the original premise (which would then just turn it into the several other long term couple sitcoms that are arriving this fall). (CS: It was cancelled after 11 episodes and done before Christmas, so another win for 2014 me.) 

Forever: A 200 year old New York medical examiner who seemingly dies on a regular basis and resurrects naked in bodies of water is at least a different take on the procedural. Though it might end up being popular with the undead skinny dipping crowd, it has the misfortune of being in the same time slot as last year’s smash hit Blacklist, which also shares the same genre. There also is a good chance it will become really irritating seeing the main character constantly die and jump out of water several times in a single episode, but that is also the only thing that makes this show stand-out against the other crime-solving dramas.(CS: It ended up lasting one whole season, so did better than my done before Christmas prediction. It actually started out with strong ratings but quickly dipped over the season, which makes me think the premise did grow tiring for viewers.)  

Selfie: Karen Gillian and John Cho are great, which is a shame they’re stuck starring in a shameless attempt at being trendy and hip. The title of the show alone will be outdated in a few years (CS: Selfies is still a thing but not as prevalent as it was eight years ago) and the trailers seem to point at the creator trying to incorporate social media to seem cool rather than really understanding it. The short promotional material was an endurance test, and I wouldn’t wish a sitting through an entire episode on anyone. I also could be completely wrong, and this will turn out to be the most important show of our lifetime. (CS: It lasted 13 episodes and was cancelled right after Christmas. The ratings also were never very impressive, so the attempt at being trendy failed as I predicted.) 

Stalker: This series has already got some negative buzz when the show’s creator Kevin Williamson got into a Twitter war with several TV critics that wrote disparaging articles about the series. I don’t find the show offensive or tasteless like some other writers, but I’m not really sure if there are many viewers eager to see a weekly series about different types of stalkers. Most crime-solving shows tends to get a little ridiculous in their attempts to come up with new cases on a weekly basis, and such a narrow choice of crimes would make it an even more momentous challenge to keep things feeling fresh. (CS: It lasted one season with 20 episodes, but continued to be a flop with critics, which makes me think the premise was stretched pretty thin. For the most part, I'd say my 2014 prediction skills were strong, or at least, better than my Oscar Best Picture prediction attempts.).