Western New York native Michele Fazekas has a tough assignment this TV season: Try and get a significant audience to watch an ABC drama at 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Until last year's marginally successful "The Rookie," Tuesday night has been a death zone for many ABC series in the last few seasons, as Fazekas and her writing partner Tara Butters discovered last season when their warmhearted series “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” series died there.
Their new heavily promoted series, “Emergence,” is one of three new shows this fall on ABC.
Here are my mini-reviews:
“Emergence,” 10 p.m. Tuesday: The series – which ABC reportedly picked up after NBC passed – centers around a police chief and mother, Jo Evans (Allison Tolman), on Long Island who investigates a conspiracy involving a young child (Alexa Swinton) she discovers after a mysterious accident the child can’t remember. Owain Yeoman co-stars as a British reporter who seems to know some things that are going on. Clancy Brown plays Jo’s father, who is battling cancer, and Donald Faison is Jo’s estranged husband who has joint custody of their daughter Mia (Ashley Aufderheide).
You’ll Like It If: You are into mysteries involving government conspiracies and like the idea that Tolman doesn’t look like your typical TV heroine.
You’ll Hate It If: You think this works better as a movie than a TV series.
Outlook: The pace of the pilot is slow before it gets a “Stranger Things” vibe midway through. Fazekas and Butters, whose previous series include “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” “Resurrection” and “Reaper,” have put together a show with heartwarming potential. Stranger things have happened, but I can’t see it emerging as a hit despite all of ABC's promotional efforts. 2½ stars
“mixed-ish,” 9 p.m. Tuesday: A prequel to "black-ish" in which the childhood of the character, Rainbow Johnson (played by Tracee Ellis in “black-ish” and Arica Himmel in this series), is explored. We see how she grew up in a mixed-race family after her hippie parents decided to move from a commune to the suburbs in the 1980s. Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays the father, and Tika Sumpter plays the mother.
You’ll Like It If: You relate to a family who feel like they are being judged in a new community and learn to deal with – and maybe even eventually enjoy – their new surroundings despite the challenges they face from being made to feel different before finding their identities.
You’ll Hate It If: You don’t approve of the characterization of life in a commune as being near perfect.
Outlook: The pilot episode and all the characters in it are adorable. No mixed feelings here. My favorite comedy of the year. 3½ stars
“Stumptown,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays: Cobie Smulders stars as Dex Parios, a kick-butt Army veteran who toured in Afghanistan and is a gambler, collects traffic tickets in her Portland, Ore., home, sleeps around and can give – and take – a good punch. She also has a sweet side taking care of a brother with Down syndrome, Ansel (Cole Sibus) with the help of a good male friend (played by Jake Johnson of “New Girl”) who understands her as well as anyone. Michael Ealy co-stars as a cool detective who sets up Dex for a job as a private eye.
You’ll Like It If: You thought Smulders could be an action star when she co-starred in “How I Met Your Mother,” enjoy car chases and ridiculous, violent fights.
You’ll Hate It If: You have trouble suspending disbelief about Dex's ability to overpower dumb, stronger men and don’t enjoy violence.
Outlook: You really have to love Smulders or be a member of the Portland Chamber of Commerce to enjoy this show. 2 stars