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The New Fall Season That Will Change TV Forever

BY RELEVANT CULTURE / ISSUE 65 / TV August 23, 2013

Setting your DVR to record the new fall shows that are rolling out on network TV is so 2012. This year, the model of prime-time appointment-viewing has met head-on with the industry’s biggest trend: on-demand streaming. Here’s a look at the new players in TV and the shows that are changing the game this fall.

###Amazon

Back in the spring, Amazon did something truly revolutionary when it was time to decide which original programming pilots would be greenlit and made into full series: They crowdsourced the decision-making process. Users used their collective views, social media shares and online feedback to determine which of the 14 shows would be featured as series on Amazon Prime Instant Video and LoveFilm. A John Goodman political sitcom called Alpha House, Betas (see below) and three children’s shows will air this fall.

Show to watch for: The startup send-up Betas pokes fun at the world of Silicon Valley innovation and social media billionaires in a postmodern workplace comedy.

###Yahoo

This year, Yahoo is branching out into original programming, partnering with prime-time stars Ed Helms, John Stamos, Zachery Levi, Cheryl Hines and others for a variety of reality, talk, comedy and cooking shows. They also signed a deal to have exclusive access to SNL’s nearly 40-year-old archive.

Show to Watch for: Tiny Commando, which was created by and stars Ed Helms, is about a 4-inch tall detective and his fleet of miniature vehicles he uses to fight crime. You definitely won’t see that on prime-time TV.

###Netflix

Netflix made a splash in the spring when it released a brand new season of the long-dormant series Arrested Development exclusively through its streaming service along with its critically acclaimed political drama House of Cards. After inking an exclusive deal with DreamWorks, the streaming video provider is set to unveil more original shows created by the popular animation studio.

Show to Watch for: Even if you’re not a kid, the slick animation and quick wit of Turbo F.A.S.T.—a new series based on the movie Turbo—which debuts in December, should still help it find its way into your queue.

###Hulu

Hulu attempted to beat some of its TV competitors out of the gate by debuting many of its new shows in July and August, two months before network counterparts air theirs. Along with an original Western, a reality show about mascots, a high school drama and a BBC co-produced satirical detective dramedy, Hulu is banking on the success of two high-profile animated series: Eva Longoria’s Mother Up! and Seth Meyers’ The Awesomes.

Show to Watch for: The Meyers-created animated comedy The Awesomes, which debuted in August, features the voices of SNL alum Kenan Thompson, Bill Hader and Taran Killam as members of the world’s (former) greatest superhero team.

###YouTube

Unlike other streaming video providers, YouTube has always been about user-created content and providing an outlet for emerging media brands. But YouTube is growing up. Sure, it will still offer thousands of funny cat videos taken on iPhones, but in addition to providing funding to its top content creators, YouTube is partnering with brands to create unique, video magazine-style formats.

Show to Watch for: Cable news provider CNN and Internet comedy/meme site BuzzFeed are investing heavily in a collaborative channel, which will feature future programs like “10 Clips of Anderson Cooper that Will Make You Want Gray Hair.”

It would be hasty to assume that the star power and money fueling these new shows spells doom for tradition television. Realistically, TV has never been better. In fact, shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad have expanded the boundaries of just how culturally resonant TV can be.

Streaming television is as much a new medium as it is a new delivery method, so while you can expect Netflix and Hulu to be competing with NBC and HBO for viewers, there’s still room for both of them.

###Top 10 (Old School) TV Fall Picks

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

With its current cast of rising young stars, this show maintains one of the funniest ensembles on TV.

Backstrom (CBS)

In this drama about a self-loathing detective, we’ll get to see Rainn Wilson in a role other than Dwight Schrute.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)

Joss Whedon co-writes this comic book adaption about a group of Marvel heroes fighting evil.

The Crazy Ones (CBS)

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar star in this sitcom about a father and daughter who run an advertising agency.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)

This cop comedy stars Andy Samberg as a slacker detective in New York City.

About a Boy (NBC)

Based on the Nick Hornby book, this sitcom follows a bachelor who befriends the strange kid next door.

Breaking Bad (AMC)

How will it end for TV’s most morally complicated drug dealer? We’ll find out this fall.

Community (NBC)

Will this critically loved, cult favorite break through to larger audiences? Season 5 may be this show’s deciding year.

Dads (FOX)

In this new Seth MacFarlane comedy, two successful best friends’ aging fathers unexpectedly move in with them.

Almost Human (FOX)

An action drama about a robot cop in the future made by the team behind Fringe and producer J.J. Abrams.