Fall TV preview: The next week offers a bad, a really bad and a decent new show

By Columbus Alive
From the September 12, 2013 edition

Fox releases three new shows airing next week. One is bad, one is really bad and one is decent. Here are reviews of each with odds they’ll get renewed. Because you don’t want to invest in a show to only have it canceled after two episodes — “LONE STAR”!

“Sleepy Hollow”

Bringing Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman into the present day (via mysterious magic) isn’t the worst idea, but it’s pretty bad. Surprisingly, “Sleepy Hollow” takes this fallow premise and makes it worse.

Ichabod (Tom Mison) awakes in the modern day after slicing the head off his enemy during the Revolutionary War. Ol’ Headless is there too. No one believes Ichabod’s tale of time travel, but Detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is curious. Eventually they join forces to stop Headless from getting his head back because — wait for it — he will bring about the apocalypse.

Yup, the Headless Horseman is [spoiler alert, even though it’s so stupid it shouldn’t matter] actually one of the Four Horseman. And the ridiculousness doesn’t stop there. Throw in Freemasons, George Washington’s secret Bible, covens and something about Abbie’s childhood.

“Sleepy Hollow” basically manages to weave every historical/religious conspiracy theory together into one. Maybe aliens will get involved next.

This is a bad pilot (packed with laugh-inducing plot, acting and dialog) and probably worse series. I doubt “Sleepy Hollow” finds much of an audience outside the guilty pleasure/hate-watch crowd. It’s a good pick for first canceled show of the year.

“Dads”

I’m not a “Family Guy” fan anymore, but creator Seth MacFarlane proved he could still deliver laughs with “Ted.” So is live-action where McFarlane should be working in television? Not if “Dads” is any indication.

“Dads” stars Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green as successful video game creators and best friends whose lives get turned upside down by their pain-in-the-ass dads (Martin Mull, Peter Riegert).

“Dads” is a simple multi-camera, laugh track series that mines lowest common denominator humor; Asian stereotypes, wives who control husbands (and watch porn), old dudes who don’t get it, look how stoned we get, etc.

While I find “Dads” terrible, it could be popular. It’s like “The Big Bang Theory” only with a toned-down version of MacFarlane’s garish vulgarity.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

It’s hard to endorse a show after only the pilot, but “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has a solid opening with potential to get better. Starring Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher and solid supporting players, the cast is enough to make it decent. Thankfully “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has an above-average script that elevates everything.

This is a workplace comedy about the titular police station where Jake Peralta (Samberg) is the star detective, but also a complete goofball. The new commanding officer, Capt. Holt (Braugher) plans to make an example out of Jake.

In truth the whole unit has issues — Sgt. Jeffords (Terry Crews) has lost his edge, Det. Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) has anger issues that Det. Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) finds irresistible. The only one who’s a straight cop is Det. Santiago (Melissa Fumero).

These characters are fairly rote in the workplace comedy world, but the writing and cast make them each enjoyable. Created by “Parks & Recreation” producers Michael Schur and Daniel J. Goor, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a similarly fun environment, only with guns and badges.

Ultimately “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” could be funnier — only Braugher has a couple great moments — but the laughs should get stronger. For now, it’s an entertaining place to spend a half-hour.