9-1-1 Wednesdays, 9 p.m., Fox. Premieres January 3.
Prolific TV producer Ryan Murphy is known for pushing the envelope, from his hyperactive teen dramas (Popular, Glee) to his candy-coated takes on horror (American Horror Story, Scream Queens) to his tabloid-adjacent docudrama anthologies (American Crime Story, Feud). So it’s a bit odd to see his name as co-creator and executive producer (along with AHS collaborators Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear) of 9-1-1, the kind of generic ensemble procedural that broadcast networks use as reliable scheduling spackle. There’s little in 9-1-1 to set it apart from shows like Dick Wolf’s NBC Chicago franchise or the many long-running CBS crime series.
Murphy’s cachet does afford the show a pretty impressive cast, including Connie Britton as a 911 emergency operator, Angela Bassett as a no-nonsense police officer and Peter Krause as a compassionate firefighter. Britton’s Abby Clark ties the show together, dispatching first responders to a variety of emergencies, some of which get a slightly outlandish Murphy tweak (a woman is being choked to death … by her pet snake!). At least in the first episode (the only one available for review), Abby doesn’t actually interact with the rest of the cast, which is a little awkward, and the detours into the characters’ personal lives are a little overwrought. But the cases are fine for the genre, and 9-1-1 seems like an acceptable time-passer for procedural fans. From Ryan Murphy, though, that qualifies as an anomaly.