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Thursday, August 28, 2014

These fall broadcast TV shows fail to impress

NEW YORK – While the new broadcast season will bring many potential delights, a handful of fall entries fall far short. Fair warning from a critic looking out for you:

n “STALKER” (CBS, premieres Oct. 1). Violence Porn packaged as crime drama. Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott co-star in what’s billed as a “psychological thriller” about the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. The cases that this pair of detectives investigates include voyeurism, cyber harassment and romantic fixation, which, of course, only fetishizes such depravity-of-the-week as each episode goes through the motions of condemning it. Item: The first episode begins with a screaming woman burned alive in her car by her stalker. Series creator Kevin Williamson has responded to criticism by saying if viewers think “Stalker” crosses the line, they should “change the channel.” Exactly. Before the show starts. ...

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NEW YORK – While the new broadcast season will bring many potential delights, a handful of fall entries fall far short. Fair warning from a critic looking out for you:

n “STALKER” (CBS, premieres Oct. 1). Violence Porn packaged as crime drama. Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott co-star in what’s billed as a “psychological thriller” about the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. The cases that this pair of detectives investigates include voyeurism, cyber harassment and romantic fixation, which, of course, only fetishizes such depravity-of-the-week as each episode goes through the motions of condemning it. Item: The first episode begins with a screaming woman burned alive in her car by her stalker. Series creator Kevin Williamson has responded to criticism by saying if viewers think “Stalker” crosses the line, they should “change the channel.” Exactly. Before the show starts.

n “A TO Z” (NBC, Oct. 2). Girl meets guy. Tedium results. A rom-com whose stars (Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman) are stuck in a gimmicky format: a “comprehensive account” of their nearly 9-month dating relationship, as we are told at the top of the show, “from A to Z.” Together, they spell “lack of chemistry.” Alphabet this show won’t last long.

n “MULANEY” (Fox, Oct. 5). It’s a comedy starring stand-up comic John Mulaney as a stand-up comic named John. Clearly, this show is just dying to be the next “Seinfeld.” But problems block the way: “Seinfeld” was done, for all times, a quarter-century ago; Mulaney is no Jerry Seinfeld; there’s no Larry David mojo. Plus “Mulaney” isn’t funny.

n “CRISTELA” (ABC, Oct. 10). Standup comic Cristela Alonzo stars in a family sitcom based on her life and Mexican-American heritage. She’s working multiple jobs as she plods through law school and resides in a dizzy household with her sister, brother-in-law, their two kids and her mother. Zingers fly and stereotypes rule. You’ve seen it all before. Why begin again?

n “STATE OF AFFAIRS” (NBC, Nov. 17). The good news for this new drama: It isn’t likely to be the first fall series to be canceled. With its belated premiere date, at least one other dud should have fallen by the wayside by the time it arrives. In other hands, the basic idea might have made a good show. A daily briefing paper is prepared for the president listing the most urgent security issues as judged by a group of CIA analysts. But on “State of Affairs,” that all-important team is led by “Grey’s Anatomy” expat Katherine Heigl who, to make matters even more laughable, reports for work at 2 a.m. after having drunkenly bedded a guy she met at a bar just a few hours earlier. As president, the fine actress Alfre Woodard is stuck with leading the country while not succumbing to this dramatic poppycock. It’s a losing proposition. Count “State of Affairs” among the fall’s funniest new comedies, however unintentionally and short-lived.

Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore.