"All trench coat and arrogance" is how John Constantine describes his roguish, demon-fighting self. His business card reads "Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts," though he cautions "petty dabbler" may be closer to the mark, as "I hate to put on airs." Wielding his jaded, sardonic attitude as a shield to cloak him from the worst the netherworld has to offer, the wearily witty Constantine (as embodied by the appealingly droll Welsh actor Matt Ryan) is one ...
Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin
One of the trickier aspects of reviewing TV during a new fall season is judging series based solely on their pilot episodes. It's better to have more in advance, but not always an option. So while I was pleasantly surprised that two of my favorite new shows, The Flash and Jane the Virgin, were on The CW, I was also a bit nervous that they might not be able to sustain.
Michael Ontkean, Kyle MacLachlan
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Question: My curiosity is piqued: What's your take on Showtime's plans to revive Twin Peaks in 2016 with David Lynch at the helm, along with Mark Frost? Looking back at the cultural impact it had, despite its ultimate ratings failure, it seems odd that it took 25 years for this to happen. Are you excited? Skeptical? What does your log have to say about this? — John Patrick
Some milestones can't help but make a longtime TV viewer feel a bit long in the tooth. Such is the case this Sunday, as Fox's The Simpsons marks a full quarter-century of spooky satire with its 25th annual "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween trilogy (8/7c), which strikes a nostalgic chord from its opening fanfare, echoing the classic (and still-missed) theme from Johnny Carson's Tonight Show — with a macabre twist, naturally.
Casey Wilson, Ken Marino
Ironic that in a fall season where so many new romantic comedies are fighting for our attention, and maybe even our affection, I'm still waiting to fall in love. Maybe it's the Goldilocks syndrome of being necessarily picky: one's too gimmicky (Manhattan Love Story), one's too generic (A to Z), one's too self-consciously trendy (Selfie), none seems just right.
Last of the batch to arrive, and thankfully not the least, NBC's brash and hyper-verbal farce Marry Me (Tuesday, 9/8c) is at least worth falling in "like" with, especially if your own heart was broken by ABC's cancellation of Happy Endings a year or so ago. That show's executive producer, David Caspe, has cast the funniest female from that ensemble (Saturday Night Live veteran Casey Wilson) — who happens to be his real-life bride — as the maddening Annie, who's her own worst enemy when it comes to her six-year romance with the long-suffering Jake (an endearingly droll Ken Marino).
Jane the Virgin
Bless the TV gods for bestowing upon this mostly mediocre fall season the year's most promising new rising star and most instantly adorable new character: Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, a good girl in an impossible situation. The CW's Jane the Virgin (Mondays, 9/8c) is an infectiously enjoyable confection of outlandish telenovela-inspired soap opera (think Ugly Betty) grounded in lovably fractious family dynamics (think a Latina Gilmore Girls — and how Jane would have been welcomed on the still-sorely-missed WB network).
The mysteries of sexual attraction aren't the only enigmatic forces at play in Showtime's intensely intimate new drama The Affair (Sunday, 10/9c), which adopts a provocative he-remembers/she-remembers approach to an extramarital fling during a Long Island summer. By the end of the absorbing first episode (all that Showtime has made available for review in advance of the 10-week season), with the actual affair still in the offing, we're not quite sure who, if anyone, we can believe.
As the story unfolds in parallel flashback, the memories don't quite match up. So who made the first significant eye contact? Who's the provocateur? And perhaps the greatest puzzle is why each is telling this very personal, intimate story to the authorities, in a framing device reminiscent of True Detective. So there are plenty of unanswered questions in the first, hypnotic hour.
Upon hearing that the fourth season of FX's lurid American Horror Story franchise was subtitled Freak Show, you can be forgiven if your first reaction was "Redundant much?" Few series are freakier by their very nature than Ryan Murphy's annual anthology of grotesque Grand Guignol. Freak Show (Wednesday, 10/9c) upholds the grisly tradition, although the empathy shown for this year's bizarre family of sideshow outcasts makes this edition of AHS initially less ridiculous than usual (especially when compared to the ludicrous hot mess of last year's Coven).
Grant Gustin, Candice Patton
"Awesome," says the Flash (aka Barry Allen, an adork-able CSI lab nerd), catching his breath after his first mad dash through Central City in fast-forward motion, giving new meaning to happy feet. "Woo-hoo!" he screams during his first supervised test run. "Cool," he reflects later upon his gift of speed, a sentiment echoed by his crime-fighting mentor Arrow, from whose show he is triumphantly spinning off. Couldn't agree more.
For those who simply can't wait for the next season of PBS's Call the Midwife — and I'm right there with you, pining for those good ladies of midwifery — a band of hardy World War I nurses from Down Under might just be the ticket. Over the next six Mondays, streaming service Acorn TV is importing the Australian miniseries ANZAC Girls, which takes a similar approach of mixing sentimental period romance with harsh life-and-death trauma.