The 2021 fall TV season: What to watch and what to skip this year

Brooke Cain, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Entertainment News

— The Big Leap (9 p.m., Fox) — This drama series is billed as “a modern tale about second chances, chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours.” It follows a group of people trying to change their lives by participating in a reality dance show that ends with a live production of “Swan Lake,” and works as a sort of “show-within-a-show.” The cast includes Scott Foley, Teri Polo, Piper Perabo, Simone Recasner and Ser’darius Blain.

— Ordinary Joe (10 p.m., NBC) — This new series follows one character — Joe Kimbreau, played by James Wolk — through three different trajectories, based on his reaction at one pivotal moment in his life. That moment is the day of his college graduation at Syracuse, when he has to decide his immediate next move: follow the beautiful fellow graduate that he just met, join his equally beautiful best friend-with-benefits on a trip, or leave for a dinner with his family.

After this quick introduction to Joe and the main “players” in his life, we flash forward 10 years to see him living out the three different futures he would have had based on the decision he made that day: a rock star, an ER nurse, a New York City beat cop. His details of his life are very different in each scenario, but the people and the problems are the same. It also stars Natalie Martinez, Melissa Lail and Charlie Barnett.

My take: The butterfly-effect concept here is interesting, and Wolk (the fantasy love child of Kyle Chandler and George Clooney) is always watchable. What I can’t figure out here is the end game. Does this triple-life journey just keep playing out forever, or will we eventually get to see which path Joe actually chose?

— NCIS: Hawaii (10 p.m., CBS) — This will come as no shock to you: “NCIS: Hawaii” follows the cases worked by an NCIS team, but this time, they’re in Hawaii. The big difference in this series is that it will be led by a woman, the first female Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor, Jane Tennant, played by Vanessa Lachey. (In case you’re wondering, Lachey is not Hawaiian: her father is of Italian and Irish descent and her mother is from the Philippines. Many Filipinos identify as Pacific Islanders.) Other cast members: Alex Tarrant, Noah Mills and Yasmine Al-Bustami.

Tuesday, Sept. 21


— Our Kind of People (9 p.m., Fox) — This new series, filmed in Wilmington, is inspired by the Lawrence Otis Graham Book “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” and takes place in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard — “a historical stronghold where the rich and powerful black elite have come to play for over 50 years.”

The soapy series, from executive producer Lee Daniels (“Empire”), will follow Angela Vaughn (Yaya DaCosta), a strong-willed single mom as she works to reclaim her family’s name and promote her haircare line for Black women. But of course, there’s plenty of family drama. There’s a secret about her mother’s past that is revealed, and shakes up her life and the community. And Angela’s mother, Eve, is played as a young woman by Raleigh native Ashley Nicole Blake. This also stars Morris Chestnut, Rhyon Nicole Brown, Alana Bright and Nadine Ellis.

My take: The pilot dragged a bit for me, then Joe Morgan showed up as businessman and patriarch Teddy Franklin, made a very loud “Scandal”-style speech, and snapped me to attention.

— FBI: International (10 p.m., CBS) — Another in Dick Wolf’s “FBI” series, this one following the elite operatives of the FBI’s International Fly Team. The team is headquartered in Budapest, but they “travel the world with the mission of tracking and neutralizing threats against American citizens wherever they may be.” They are not allowed to carry guns, so this team has to rely on intelligence, quick thinking and pure brawn. The team is led by Special Agent Scott Forrester (Luke Kleintank). The cast also includes Heida Reed, Carter Redwood, Vinessa Vidotto and Christiane Paul. Bonus: the show also features a dog, a Schutzhund named Tank.


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