The dust has begun to settle over the television networks’ announcements of their new fall schedules. While we won’t get a totally accurate view of how many of the new series will feature Asian Americans significantly until they air — and not all of the new shows have trailers that can give us a sense of what they’ll look like on screen vs. what they look like on paper — some things have come into focus.
First, the cancellations and renewals. CBS dropped “Stalker” (Maggie Q) and “Battle Creek” (Kal Penn and Lisa Lapira) — last chance to catch a new episode is this Sunday at 10 p.m. By the way, Lapira might be in the running for “Actors cast as regulars on the most series that lasted no more than two seasons.” She was also in “Traffic Light,” “Super Fun Night,” and “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.”
Making it into the 2015-16 line-up are “Hawaii Five-O” (Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Masi Oka), “Elementary” (Lucy Liu), “Scorpion” (Jadyn Wong), and “2 Broke Girls,” though I was happy to hear it’s been pushed back to mid-season (it’ll replace one of the shows that die along the way), a sign that its deserved downward ratings slide has made the network lose confidence in it. The sooner this excrement is cancelled, the better. Then Matthew Moy can see if he still has a career left after being racially harassed for five years.
New shows: “Code Black,” based on the movie of the same name, will feature Raza Jaffrey (“Smash”), one of the boring actors I’ve ever watched in my life. In midseason, Daniel Henney (“Three Rivers”) will be a regular on “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” and John Foo will co-star in the TV version of “Rush Hour.”
I’m already a bit on edge about that last one because as you may recall, on the big screen, all the racial jokes were thrown at the Asian guy (Jackie Chan) and none I can recall against the black guy (Chris Tucker). Hope that won’t be the case here because it’d be really hard to take on a weekly basis — kinda like “2 Broke Girls.”
Fox has cancelled “The Mindy Project” starring Mindy Kaling (though hulu.com has picked it up for an expanded 26 episodes vs. the regular 22) and renewed “Bones” (Michaela Conlin) and the struggling “New Girl” (Hannah Simone), though it’s been pushed back to January. Li Jun Li is part of the TV version of “Minority Report,” based on the film of the same name (noticed a trend here?).
Check out trailers for the network’s new shows here: www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/fox-new-show-trailers-at-794758
NBC: “Night Shift” (Ken Leung and Jeananne Goossen) will be back for a third season and “Grimm” (Reggie Lee) for a fifth. “Heroes Reborn” (Masi Oka) will debut in the fall. A pilot starring “Community’s” Danny Pudi, “Strange Calls” — which would’ve finally given the Peacock a show that stars an Asian American (first name in the credits) — was not picked up.
So the network which, for the last few years, has had the least to offer our community doesn’t seem to be giving us much to be excited about in the coming season either.
ABC has renewed “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” (Ming Na, Chloe Bennet) and “Fresh Off the Boat” (Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, et al). What’s even better is that it’s moved the first Asian American sitcom in over 20 years half an hour later to Tuesdays at 8:30, giving the new “Muppets” the 8 p.m. perch. It was the fifth most talked about new series on social media (after “Scream Queens” and superhero shows), has a good chance of success because of its built-in familiarity, and will help by creating a lead-in audience for “FOTB.”
“Muppets” will end in December and “FOTB” will be back to 8 p.m. in January, but hopefully by then it’ll have a stronger, more dependable following.
The new “Quantico” will star Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra as an FBI trainee accused of committing the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. It’ll also air on Tuesdays (at 10 p.m. following “SHIELD”), meaning it’s going to be quite an Asian American night.
But probably the most significant news from all the networks is that Ken Jeong (“Hangover” films, “Community”) will star in a sitcom about his life as a doctor before becoming a comedian. Although it remains to be seen how much the show will be divided between the office and home, “Dr. Ken” appears to be the second recent Asian American family show for ABC. Suzy Nakamura will play his wife and he’ll have a son (Albert Tsai from “Trophy Wife,” who made a recent appearance on “FOTB”) and teenage daughter.
The only problem? It’s got the Friday 8:30 “death slot,” which has previously killed “Malibu Country,” “The Neighbors,” and “Cristela.”
Still, ABC will have not one, not two, but three series starring Asian actors and two of them include Asian American families. Amazing. It’s enough for even a cynic like me to be hopeful that our community could be moving toward more a permanent presence on the airwaves.
Trailers for ABC’s new shows are here.
Even though the Alphabet Network cancelled “Selfie” (John Cho) long ago, the idea of the Asian American man as the romantic lead has caught on.
I haven’t seen it, but the love interest of the title character of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (on Netflix) is a Vietnamese immigrant. The CW will debut only one new show this fall, and it’s about a white woman who leaves her law firm in New York to move to Southern California to track down her college boyfriend who broke up with her 10 years ago, because he was the best love she ever had. His name? Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III). It’s a one-hour musical to boot.
Check out the crazy trailer for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” here. This looks hilarious.
Channel Surfing Department: On a recent episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” we met the parents of Kono Kalakaua (Grace Kim). The actress cast as her mother, Catherine Haena Kim, had to play her younger self in flashbacks and an older, white-haired woman in a wheelchair who suffered an aneurysm. It was the worst wig job I’ve seen since Mako in “The Wash.”
In the finale, Kono was about to marry Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) but didn’t quite get to it as Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim), who had to go back to his car to get the ring, ran into an adversary. The producers said he’s supposed to be the new main bad guy after the boring death of arch nemesis Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) earlier this year. Yawn. I’m not impressed. And I doubt McKayla Maroney would be either.
For years, it’s been a joke how many guest white stars have teamed up with the Five-0 team to the virtual exclusion of Asian American counterparts. Adam could’ve served that purpose on numerous occasions and years ago before the series was cast, I suggested to CBS that Dale be considered for the part of Steve McGarrett. They chose the boring Alex O’Loughlin instead. O’Yawn. Maybe the producers try to keep Dale away from O’Loughlin because the latter’s lack of charisma would be even more obvious.
Questionable Reviews Department: “Stalker” ran its last episode this Monday night, ending on a cliffhanger involving guest star Mira Sorvino (virtually unrecognizable from her younger days) that now will never be resolved because of the show’s cancellation.
It always puzzled me the kind of strange reviews this drama got when it first debuted in October. They came mostly from women who decried the violence against women. Well, in the show, men seemed to be stalked as much as females and after the first episode, no stalkee actually died for months.
One reviewer accused it of being a “how to” pamphlet on stalking. Isn’t every other CBS crime show a “how to” on committing crimes and trying to get away with it? The double standard was bizarre. But I guess many women — including reviewers — fear being powerless against men.
’Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.