By early September, the summer TV season is drawing to a close and the fall premiere week is just around the corner, so it is time for dicing and slicing the new crop of shows in the hope of getting some idea on what to except. Sometimes, in the process of sifting through them one more time, a previously unnoticed trend is uncovered. Networks are always looking for the next big thing, the next idea with the potential to make them lead — or at least contribute to them leading —the pack for a while before the others catch up or before the dreaded viewer fatigue. This fall, it seems some of the networks are betting on a particular formula for TV series. These new shows are your typical procedural or medical dramas with a little genre twist spicing things up and possibly setting them across categories. Unforgettable (CBS)
Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) stars as Carrie Wells, a woman with a medical condition giving her the ability to remember everything: "Every place, every conversation, every moment of joy and every heartbreak is forever embedded in her mind." At the beginning of the story, Wells is a former NYPD detective who can remember everything but not the details surrounding the death of her sister. She eventually returns to the force, joining the assorted squad led by her former partner and ex-boyfriend Al Burns (Dylan Walsh of Nip/Tuck fame). Look for some unresolved sexual tension here, with the sister case as the ever moving goalposts.
Created by Without a Trace veterans Ed Redlich and John Bellucci, Unforgettable is likely to meet the minimum requirements on the procedural side. What will determine its success though is how well the memory tricks are integrated, and possibly used to enhance the more common procedural aspects. That might draw in viewers that would have normally skipped the show. Note to producers: Having the character brag about her memory too much is not a good idea...
The series premieres Tuesday, September 20 at 10/9c.
Person of Interest (CBS)
James Caviezel stars as an ex-CIA agent who teams up with a billionaire and software genius, played by Michael Emerson, to prevent crimes before they occur. Finch, the genius, has developed a software using pattern recognition to identify people about to be involved in violent crimes. This definitely sounds like Minority Report without the special police and the precogs. The trick here will be to have us believe that two men (not in law enforcement) can actually make a difference, and more importantly, to give us a software every bit as believable as Samantha Morton's Agatha in Minority Report. With J.J. Abrams (Fringe) among the executive producers, there are high hopes...
The series premieres Thursday, September 22 at 9/8c.
A Gifted Man (CBS)
Patrick Wilson stars in this medical drama as a brilliant surgeon enjoying all the luxury his status provides until the ghost of his ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle) comes knocking. She wants him to help with a few things that will... change his life.
We are used to life changing experiences and even to ghosts, but this is set to happen in a medical drama more or less following the case-of-the-week formula. So the question is, will the ghost — even played by charming Ehle from BBC's Pride and Prejudice — really spice things up? The team of executive producers includes an Academy Award winner (Jonathan Demme for The Silence of the Lambs) who knows a thing or two about life changing experiences, and Neal Baer from ER.
The series premieres Friday, September 23 at 8/7c.
David Giuntoli stars in this police procedural as a Portland homicide detective who "discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as 'Grimms,' charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world." The show has the look of a police procedural with a Grimm-fairy-tale twist. There will be a girlfriend (Bitsie Tulloch) to hide the secret identity from, and a mentor (Silas Weir Mitchell) to guide him and us through the complexity of this particular world. The trick here will be to twist the fairy tale world so that the stories and their baddies work in a show for adults. Created by Jim Kouf (Angel) and David Greenwalt (The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) who will both executive produce, the series seems to have the credentials for otherworldly mythologies.