Which new fall series make the grade?

September 04, 2011|By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff
(Page 7 of 7)

Concept: Dern and Mike White (“Chuck & Buck’’) created this portrait of a self-destructive executive at a health and beauty company trying to be more spiritual after she has a breakdown.

Am I hooked? Yes indeed. This is a double-dark comedy. Dern is fantastic as Amy - you cringe as her histrionics drive people away, and cringe again as she tries to suppress her feelings behind a veneer of New Age peacefulness. Dern’s real-life mother, Diane Ladd, is perfectly icy as Amy’s withholding mother.

Alternate title: “Emotional Rescue’’

Grade: A- (Oct. 10)

“Homeland’’ (Showtime)

Thriller

Starring: Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin

Concept: Danes is a bipolar CIA agent who is convinced that Lewis’s newly rescued Iraq POW has terrorist intentions. It’s from Howard Gordon of “24,’’ but it’s a lot more psychologically layered than that terrorism drama.

Am I hooked? Big time. Of all the drama pilots I watched, this was my favorite. It has a “Manchurian Candidate’’ vibe. Danes and Lewis are complex in different ways, and they make tense cat-and-mouse partners. She’s untethered, he’s a master of self-control. And Baccarin is haunting as Lewis’s confused wife.

Alternate title: “POW Wow’’

Grade: A (Oct. 2)

“Once Upon a Time’’ (ABC)

Modern fairy tale

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla

Concept: Morrison’s 10-year-old son, whom she’d given up for adoption, finds her and takes her to a Maine town called Storybrooke, where people who were once fairy tale characters live. They’ve been robbed of happy endings, and their memories. Meanwhile, we flash back to their familiar tales.

Am I hooked? From a pair of “Lost’’ producers, this is a love-or-hate proposition, and I mostly hated. The ambition is impressive, as it asks us to imagine Goodwin’s Snow White and Parrilla’s Evil Queen as moderns. But Morrison is a wooden lead, and the back stories - a random collection of fairy tales - don’t promise to surprise.

Alternate title: “Rumpel-stilted-skin’’

Grade: C+ (Oct. 23)

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