by Julian Spivey
Best Drama Premiere: This Is Us
“This Is Us” knocked us all off our feet in the season one premiere with a reveal that instantaneously put it on the map as the network show to watch. The second season premiere certainly couldn’t shock us all that way again, but it did put forth another thing we’re already accustomed to seeing from this show – all around dramatic perfection. Every story line in the premiere was great from the trouble in the previously seemingly perfect marriage of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), the adoption drama causing a rift between Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and the fight for Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) attention between her twin brother Kevin (Justin Hartley) and her fiancé Toby (Chris Sullivan). The episode showed well that every single character on the show is perfectly crafted and incredibly well-acted. The premiere also gave us insight into one of its big secrets we’ve been dying to know for a while.
Best Comedy Premiere: Will & Grace
I’ve been fairly cynical when it has come to the latest television fad of rebooting classic television shows with the original casts. “Will & Grace,” which aired on NBC from 1998-2006, returned last week to uproariously laughter from our original four friends: Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally). The show hasn’t missed a beat in the more than a decade it’s been off our televisions and has brought with it a great bit of political humor upon its return giving our gay and feminist heroes a major punching bag in the current Presidential Administration.
Best New Premiere: Ghosted
Fox’s new comedy “Ghosted,” starring veteran TV comics Craig Robinson and Adam Scott, is a unique idea for a television comedy pitting two completely different strangers together to take on the supernatural and paranormal. “Ghosted” could easily become “The Odd Couple” meets “The X-Files” and after a pilot that wasn’t just the funniest of the new fall sitcoms, but one of the funniest sitcom premieres of the fall in general I have high hopes for this one.
Worst New Premiere: Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Despite the “Law & Order” series of NBC crime procedurals being on television for nearly 30 years and airing more than 1,000 episodes between them I had somewhat managed to never catch a single hour. I decided to change that with “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders,” NBC’s foray into scripted true crime after the success of FX’s ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ in 2016. Frankly, ‘The Menendez Murders’ didn’t really need to be part of the “Law & Order” brand it’s just that it was created and produced by Dick Wolf. I have hopes for the remainder of the eight-episode limited series, but the premiere introducing us to the Menendez brothers and the murder of their rich parents was frankly the most boring hour of TV I saw all premiere week. Maybe it’s just the Menendez bros. aren’t as interesting as O.J.?
Biggest Reveal: This Is Us
I’ll never forget how stunned I was at the end of the pilot for “This Is Us” last season when it was revealed that the story was being told of one family in two different eras. Then the series would throw another shocker at us midway through the season when it was revealed that Jack had died somewhere during his children’s teenage years. Since then we’ve been waiting to find out what exactly happened to him and a big reveal toward that was shown at the very end of the season two premiere when it’s revealed that the Pearsons home had caught fire and burned down. The how and why is still to be seen and knowing this show it will be done in the most emotionally dramatic way possible.
Worst Reveal: Kevin Can Wait
Anybody that had paid attention to news surrounding “Kevin Can Wait,” the now sophomore CBS sitcom, during the summer months knew that the show was going to be writing off Erinn Hayes’ character Donna, the wife of Kevin James’ lead. James’ old “The King of Queens” co-star Leah Remini had guest starred toward the end of season one and people liked the chemistry so much they decided to reboot the show after just one season to bring her along. The most obvious way to write Hayes’ character out of the show would be to kill the character off – this was no surprise – but the show decided to do so in essentially the most callous and least emotional way ever with a one-line bit of dialogue about how it had been a year since Donna passed away – telling us the show had a bit of a time jump, as well. It was basically a 101 on how not to kill off a character.
Best Performance: Michael Weatherly (Bull)
The network premiere week was filled with numerous emotional performances this week that knocked viewers off their feet. In fact, I could easily give this honor to the entire cast of NBC’s “This Is Us,” it really was a perfect premiere. Donnie Wahlberg of “Blue Bloods” mourning the loss of his wife Linda (Amy Carlson) in the CBS crime drama showed a bit of emotional range I previously didn’t know the actor had in him. Then you have the duo of Freddie Highmore and Richard Schiff just absolutely chewing up scenery in the tear-jerking pilot of ABC’s “The Good Doctor.” There was almost so much emotion on TV this week it was hard to choose one great performance. My choice is, frankly, even a surprise to me. I’ve always found Michael Weatherly to be an entertaining and likable actor whether it was his decade-plus spent on CBS’ “NCIS” or his new series “Bull,” which just entered its second year. Weatherly has this suave, pompous charm to him that can both be a winning characteristic and at times make his Dr. Jason Bull someone you want to smack in the back of the head like Mark Harmon used to do to Weatherly’s character on “NCIS.” The season two premiere of “Bull” where Dr. Bull tries to prove that a woman shot and killed her husband and stabbed herself to make it appear like self-defense for his billions was one of the show’s best yet and showcased Weatherly’s smugness in all its full glory. It’s easy to play emotionally drained or sad and get the audience to fall in your lap. It’s not always easy to play pomposity the way Weatherly can and make it so damn enjoyable.