Rating the New Fall Shows: CBS’s ‘Big Bang’ Spinoff, Plus 'Star Trek: Discovery'

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large
Iain Armitage as Sheldon Cooper and Zoe Perry as Mary Cooper in CBS’s Young Sheldon. (Photo: CBS)

CBS unveiled its new fall schedule on Wednesday, and the network has six new shows — three dramas and three comedies — including a Big Bang Theory spinoff and a new vehicle for Bones’s David Boreanaz. Oh, also Star Trek: Discovery, premiering on CBS All Access in the fall. Let’s look at the trailers and see what we think.

Young Sheldon offers us a look at a 9-year-old version of Sheldon Cooper, as played by Iain Armitage. This is a Big Bang prequel from hits producer Chuck Lorre, and Armitage seems like a real discovery as the title kid.

At the CBS Upfront presentation for advertisers, Jim Parsons described Young Sheldon as “a little bit Wonder Years, a little bit Doogie Hauser,” but I’d say the new show is more like a very good ABC family sitcom in the tradition of The Middle or The Goldbergs. And I really like that boy Armitage.

SEAL Team stars Boreanez as part of an elite unit of the already-elite Navy SEALs. There are a lot of action scenes, with an ISIS target featured prominently in the trailer.

Well, I believed Boreanaz and Bates Motel’s Max Thierot as SEALs a lot more than I did Mad Men’s Jessica Paré as their boss, but maybe she gets more convincing as the series proceeds. With a show that contains lines like, “You can run, but you can’t hide,” however, I’m not sure I’ll be around to see that growth.

The biggest name in Me, Myself & I is SNL’s Bobby Moynihan, but he shares the show with two other aspects of himself. He’s playing a 40-year-old guy named Alex, but we also see Alex at age 14 in 1991 (played by Jack Dylan Grazer) and age 60 in the year 2042 (played by sitcom vet John Larroquette).

Wait, did I say Moynihan was this show’s biggest name? I was wrong: Larroquette has won a lot more Emmys than Moynihan. Oh, double-wait: That’s Jaleel White — yes, mighty Steve Urkel — co-starring as Moynihan’s friend. Maybe the three of them can come up with better laughs than are presented here?

9JKL stars Mark Feuerstein in a sitcom based, says CBS, on his life. He plays a newly divorced actor who lives in an apartment flanked on either side by family. In one apartment are his parents, played by Elliott Gould and Linda Lavin. On the other side live his brother (played by that ever-charming show killer David Walton) and sister-in-law.

The comedy here is very traditional: lots of my-family-drives-me-crazy jokes (signature line from Gould’s old dad: “It’s been 10 months since you had intercourse?”), combined with what looks like a fair amount of physical slapstick from Feuerstein.

Based on the 1970s TV show that starred Robert Urich and Steve Forrest as Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson — oh my, a wave of nostalgia just hit me! — S.W.A.T. is a revved-up reboot in the CBS tradition of Hawaii Five-0 and MacGyver. In the new series, Hondo is embodied by Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds.

Somewhere in that action mishmash, we’re supposed to discern the influence of producer Shawn Ryan, who gave us The Shield (which also gives us a S.W.A.T. co-star, Kenny Johnson), and Fast and Furious director Justin Lin, who directed the pilot. I’ll be interested to see the whole pilot.

Jeremy Piven has taken off his Mr. Selfridge waistcoat to star in Wisdom of the Crowd, in which he plays a tech guru who invents a crime-solving app. Yes, it’s another CBS show in the tradition of Scorpion, Person of Interest, etc.

Because tech innovators always have to be humanized for network TV, Piven’s character is motivated to invent this crowd-sourcing application by the murder of his daughter. However, that line about what makes Steve Jobs Steve Jobs? Sorry, “understanding human nature” is not Steve Jobs — that’s a TV writer’s idea of sentimentalizing a large intellect. 

I am not much of a Star Trek fan — not hostile to it, just never had much interest. So I wasn’t geeking out to see this Star Trek: Discovery trailer, but I was certainly curious. Since it takes place before original crispy Star Trek, I looked at it as an opportunity to take get basic Trek knowledge.

Well, that’s pretty invigorating, isn’t it? The pre-Kirk Starfleet looks great, seems intriguing, cool uniforms, and Spock’s father… Sarek, is it? Fifteen episodes will make fans consider laying out cash for CBS All-Access, the pay-stream variation on a broadcast network.

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