The original plan by FOX executives was to leave the new drama series “Pitch” in the minor leagues of midseason replacements. But, like a rookie who shines in spring training, the series about the first female pitcher in the major leagues got the call to be part of the network’s fall starting lineup.
Opening day is Thursday, Sept. 22.
That’s putting a lot of pressure on star Kylie Bunbury as she not only has the typical demands of being the star of a TV drama but also has to show enough prowess on the mound that viewers will accept her as a major league pitcher. Bunbury didn’t have any previous baseball experience but she does come from an athletic family: Her dad, Alex Bunbury, had a 13-year pro career and her brother, Teal Bunbury, plays for the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer.
“I had about two and a half months to learn how to pitch before we shot the pilot,” Bunbury says. “I did play basketball. I ran track, and I played soccer. I’m athletic.”
Bunbury was selected for the role because of her acting abilities. The producers were confident she would be able to develop the physical qualities before filming started.
“I think that I really sort of exuded the embodiment of Ginny. They didn’t ask me in the room if I could pitch,” Bunbury says. “They just sort of said, ‘OK. We like your acting. Now go learn how to pitch.’”
The training has not stopped as Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who plays the veteran catcher on the team, continue to work out two or three times a week.
Unlike past TV series with a baseball theme, “Pitch” has been given permission by Major League Baseball to use real team names and stadiums. Bunbury’s character is a rookie member of the San Diego Padres.
The FOX baseball production crew was used to shoot a lot of the first episode. That added to the realistic look producers want for the series. Paris Barclay, director of the initial episode, sees the touches of realism as making “Pitch” the “West Wing” of baseball productions.
Other new shows starting include:
“Notorious,” 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, ABC: After a few years playing a spy on “Covert Affairs,” Piper Perabo✔ returns to TV with this series about the behind-the-scenes antics with a cable news show. She plays the producer who can get the impossible story.
The world of TV news is very familiar to Perabo.
“ I am a news junkie. I really like radio news, but this has gotten me into television news,” Perabo says. “It’s thrilling.
“And so, now, as soon as live news is breaking on a show, I’m watching it on all of the different channels because I want to see how everybody is showing it.”
Other cast members include Daniel Sunjata, Kate Jennings Grant and J. August Richards.
“MacGyver,” 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, CBS: After a few false starts, “MacGyver” has returned to the CBS Friday night lineup. The series will look at the early years of the adventurer who can make a sports car out of a foot of twine, duct tape and a quarter.
Lucas Till has been cast as MacGyver. Unlike the original (1985-92 on ABC), his MacGyver exists in a world of far more technology.
Executive producer Peter Lenkov says, “Technology certainly plays a big role now in our everyday lives, but I want people, just the way I did, to look at something and say there’s multiple uses for it.
“So MacGyver, whether he’s got a cell phone in front of him, he’s not a guy that’s going to go and have a problem solved with an app. He’s not going to go to Google. He’s going to be using technology, repurposing in a way that’s going to get him out of a situation to his benefit.”
George Eads, Sandrine Holt, Justin Hires and Tristin Mays star.
“The Exorcist,” 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, FOX: This new drama picks up the story after the classic 1973 film. Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) and Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) are looking into one family’s case of demonic possession.
This is not a remake of the original but is taking on a very new direction.
“The only way you can succeed is by doing something new and telling a new story with new characters and hoping audiences will fall in love and will respond to this new story the way audiences did with the original,” Jeremy Slater, series creator, says.
Geena Davis and Alan Ruck star.
New and returning shows Thursday, Sept. 22
- 8 p.m. “Rosewood,” FOX
- 8 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC
- 8 p.m. “Superstore,” NBC
- 9 p.m. “Notorious,” ABC
- 9 p.m. “Pitch,” FOX
- 9 p.m. “Chicago Med,” NBC
- 10 p.m. “How to Get Away With Murder,” ABC
- 10 p.m. “The Blacklist,” NBC
New and returning shows Friday, Sept. 23
- 8 p.m. “MacGyver,” CBS
- 8 p.m. “Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon,” NBC
- 8 p.m. “Last Man Standing,” ABC
- 8 p.m. “Hell’s Kitchen,” FOX
- 8:30 p.m. “Dr. Ken,” ABC
- 9 p.m. “The Exorcist,” FOX
- 9 p.m. “Shark Tank,” ABC
- 9 p.m. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS
- 10 p.m. “Dateline NBC,” NBC
- 10 p.m. “Blue Bloods,” CBS