Tag Archives: Empire

Reviewing My 2014-15 Predictions: Fox

8 May


Well, there’s no point in making predictions if you’re not willing to revisit them later and see just how wrong you were. Now that the final decisions are in, let’s review how I did.

Fox up next. My fall predictions are here and my spring predictions are here, and in short, every show gets one of three predictions: that it will air 12 episodes or fewer, 13 episodes or more, or be renewed.

Red Band Society

Prediction: 13+

Reality: 12-

This was an exact example of a show I thought would make it through one full season before not being invited back for another, but it did not get that far.


Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

Comic books are hot, and while Marvel has been killing it in the movies, the Batman brand may still be the strongest of them all. Gotham only had to not be terrible to survive, and it was just not terrible enough.


Prediction: Renewal

Reality: No renewal

I really enjoyed Broadchurch, which Gracepoint was based on, and for some reason put my trust in an absolutely needless adaptation of a British show. This was always a 10-episode series, but poor ratings and being generally heralded as vastly inferior to the British version helped lead to its not being brought back.


Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

Mulaney, despite it’s eponymous creator’s obvious stand up talents, looked bad, bad, bad, and it was bad, bad, bad, and thankfully Fox’s discriminating viewers did not reward its brand of badness by watching.



Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

Fox put everything it had into Empire, leading me to feel pretty confident, and Empire rewarded Fox with the biggest network debut in recent memory.


Prediction: 12-

Reality: 13+

Backtrom looked generic and behind the times, hitting lots of tropes that had been hit within the last decade dozens of times before. It seemed dead on arrival, and somehow lasted long enough to air all its episodes before being cancelled, just long enough to screw over my prediction.

The Last Man on Earth

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

The prediction I’m most proud of. There was no reason to pick this as a renewal, as most had pegged this high concept comedy as instant network cancellation bait. Against all odds, it was a mild success, and will be returning next year.

Weird Loners:

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

A pretty easy prediction. This aired midway through the spring, when nothing but shows that are doomed to be quickly cancelled air, and it reeked of being a poor man’s version of eight other similar shows.

Wayward Pines

Prediction: One Season

Reality: Undetermined, but probably one season=

This really shouldn’t be on here, as I didn’t know it was going to air so late, and there probably isn’t an option for a second season either since it’s miniseries-style. However, since I listed it initially, I thought I’d put it here now, if only to address how I can’t address it.

Spring 2015 Review: Empire

12 Jan


There’s a lot of riding on Empire for Fox, which is placing the show in the plum post-American Idol spot and promoting it everywhere, including during their high-rated NFL playoff games. Empire, to its credit, is at least partially up to the task.

Empire is the story of a family entrenched in the big-time music business. Terrence Howard plays patriarch Lucious Lyon. Lyon, in his twenties, was a small-time gangster making music in what spare time he had, hoping to earn enough from his criminal activities to release an album and go legit. He did eventually, but the price is paid by his wife, Cookie, who takes the hit for him, serving almost 20 years in prison for dealing drugs while Lucious’s music career becomes everything they thought it could be and more. He rises in that time from mere artist to label founder and mogul. While he spends his days in the world of boardrooms and stock prices now, we learn, over the course of the episode that the gangster still lies deep inside.

A couple of major premise events occur within the pilot of Empire to really get the story moving. First, Cookie gets out of prison after 17 years and wants what’s hers. While she was locked up, Lucious divorced and forgot about her, and her sons stopped visiting. She wants remuneration for the 17 years she spent locked up while the beneficiaries of her sacrifice racked up millions and millions and she wants a piece of the action at the label. Around the same time, after Lucious has already decided to take the company public, he finds out he has ALS, and his days are numbered – the doctor gives him three years, maybe more, maybe less.

Lucious thus decides he must anoint one of his sons as his sole successor, fueling competition among his children. His oldest, Andre, is an executive for Empire. He seems to be the most qualified to succeed business-wise, but Lucious believes the post should go to a musician. Middle son Jamal and youngest Hakim both qualify, but Jamal, a piano-playing R&B type, is gay, which rules him out in his homophobic father’s eyes. Hakeem, a rapper, is clearly his dad’s favorite, but equally clearly the least able, at present, to take over. He’s irresponsible, immature, and doesn’t take his craft particularly seriously, coming in to record hungover.

Empire is part family power struggle, part music performance show. There are three and four minute music video-esque concert scenes that are reminiscent of fellow music-centric show Nashville. They fit within context, taking place at either a recording studio or a venue, but still, they feel outside of the show, and they took me out of the action for longer than they should have.

Empire isn’t quite engrossing but it sets up enough nice foundational building blocks to construct a decent show on top of. The family power struggle story is a classic one (one of the sons smartly namechecks King Lear when his father tells him only one of them can have the company) but the music world is a fairly fresh, relevant, and interesting choice of setting (Nashville, again, is the closest recent subject matter overlap, but not certainly more than different enough). The five primary family members on whom the first episode focuses are all solid bases for potentially complex characters; the challenge will be for the show to flesh them out as it goes further.

It doesn’t have the transcendent feeling of a great pilot (most recent example: Transparent) but it’s competent and has potential, which is quite promising by network standards.

Will I watch it again? Yes. I appreciate a network actually trying to make a really good, big show, even if it’s not there yet. It might get boring and repetitive fairly quickly, like Nashville did.  In fact, I’d say the odds on me making it through the first season aren’t very high. But I’ll try another episode. I owe a network series that tries at least that.

Spring Previews and Predictions: Fox

7 Jan


(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Additional note: Since more and more series on network TV are following cable models with designs for shorter seasons, and mid-season replacements tend to have shorter seasons in particular, I’ll note any planned limited runs in my prediction section for each show)

Empire – 1/7/15


This is Fox’s big midseason player. Terrence Howard plays the founder of a massive music empire (actually named Empire as well), which he built from nothing, starting out as a small time drug dealer to fund his music career. After he learns he’s dying, he realizes he must pass on his company to one of his three sons, who compete for the honor. Added to the picture is his ex-wife who appears to be getting out of a long prison sentence and wants what’s hers, having contributed to the label way back when it was just beginning. This is definitely an attempt for the network to do a big show, a cable-type show, and it’s from director Lee Daniels and writer Danny Strong of Lee Daniels’ The Butler fame. I rarely get hopeful for new network shows in this day and age, so forgive the tepidness you see throughout these predictions, but this show holds a halfway chance at maybe being decent, which is just about all you can ask.

Prediction: Renewal – Fox is pumping its promotion machine into this show, airing commercial after commercial, and if it fails, it’ll be a major black eye for Fox’s development team.

Backstrom – 1/22/15


You’ve seen this show before. The detective, who on the job is an absolute genius, who sees things absolutely no one else can see, has an absolute wreck of a personal life. He’s a misanthrope and an all-around asshole, but he’s damn good at what he does. This time Rainn Wilson plays that wacky detective, who is, of course, named Backstrom, and has a team of characters with a capital C that would be welcome on USA any day of the week.

Prediction: 12- It’s from the Bones creator, so I don’t know if that buys the show any good will (though it didn’t for Bones spin-off The Finder), but it feels like we get one of these shows every year, and those they may succeed occasionally, odds are against.

The Last Man on Earth – 3/1/15

The Last Man on Earth

Now, that was a weird trailer. The title is literal, not figurative. Will Forte appears to be the only remaining man on earth as he shops and then sings The Star Spangled Banner to an empty Dodger Stadium. I have absolutely no idea what to think. Presumably he at least meets a couple of other people, or the show would probably get boring fast, but I kind of like the fact that it’s so ridiculous. The pilot is directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the men behind The Lego Movie and 21 and 22 Jump Street, which is a good sign, and I’ve always liked Forte.

Prediction: Renewal Why not? It’s not really a sensible prediction. The Last Man on Earth seems probably too insane, it’s airing way too late in the Spring, at a time where very few debuting shows ever get picked up, but it’s fun to pick surprises. Who knows, maybe it’ll even be good.

Weird Loners – 3/22/15

Weird Loners

I can’t actually find a trailer for Weird Loners which is never a great sign for the success of the show. There is an exceedingly small amount of information out there for a show set to debut in just a couple of months. Weird Loners is apparently about four relationship-phobic thirty-somethings who through some odd circumstances are forced to live together. Former Happy Endings cast member Zachary Knighton and How I Met Your Mother Barney love interest Becki Newton are among the cast members.

Predictoin 12- Well, I know so little about it, so it’s hard to judge based on quality, but the fact that there’s so little out there leads me to believe that unless it somehow generates an unlikely groundswell of support it’ll be a mid-Spring show which airs a few episodes before being completely forgotten about.

Wayward Pines – 5/14/15

Wayward Pines

A mystery-horror-suspense-mindbender. Matt Dillon is a special agent of some kind who winds up somehow in a town called Wayward Pines, Idaho. This is a mega-creepy Twilight Zone style town where everything looks hunky dory but everyone is watching (think Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life). It’s the type of town where you can enter, but you can never leave. One would imagine that over the course of the 10 episode series (it looks like an event-type series that’s over for good after 10) we’ll dive deeper into the dark secrets of this town and maybe find out a thing or two.  Juliette Lewis, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, and Toby Jones are among Dillon’s co-stars. M. Night Shayamalan is producing which is always troubling, but he’s not writing it, for what it’s worth.

Prediction: It’s a limited series, so there really isn’t one. It’s 10 and out, and it doesn’t seem like the type of show that would be easily anthologized, considering the title is the name of the town.