It’s been quite a while since I’ve liked a new show on Fox. For that, I’d have to go back to the last years of “That ‘70s Show.” I’m always hesitant with Fox shows, but when the promos for “Empire” began airing, I knew this was going to be a different kind of animal, and I decided to give it a chance. It was a wise decision. “Empire” is easily the best new show of 2015, and one of the top new shows of the 2014-2015 TV season.
The show centers around Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), head of Empire Records, who is about to take his company public when he is diagnosed with ALS and is given only three years to live. He keeps his medical condition hidden, while also trying to find a successor for his company by way of his three sons – Andre, Jamal and Hakeem. At the same time, Lucious' ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is released from jail after 17 years and demands her half of Empire.
That’s just the half of it. This show is packed with juicy goodness and cheesy melodrama, but it also has very powerful and genuine moments. It rings true like a modern-day night soap in essence of those like “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” Besides the main plot, there are multiple subplots going on, and each episode is nonstop action. The nice thing about “Empire” is that it’s not afraid to push the envelope and devolve into controversial topics. It’s refreshing to see that.
The cast works wonderfully together, both main and supporting, and the string of guest stars has not disappointed. However, make no mistake about it, Taraji P. Henson is the captain of this ship and she is carrying the momentum on her back. Her character Cookie is one of most brass, hardnosed women I have ever seen on a series. Henson’s work and portrayal of the character is simply magical and captivating. Emmy voters, take note, because she deserves some recognition for her work. Terrance Howard is also really great. He’s not a nice guy on this show, but he doesn’t need to be. He’s terrific in this leading role.
Another great aspect of this show is that it is centered on a record company, and because of that, music is being created and performed. The series is not a musical by a long shot, but music and the dream of being a successful artist is the core of the series. So far, there has been some quality music to come from the show – if anything else, it’s catchy as hell.
With 15 episodes ordered for this first season, only six have aired, all of which are not to be missed. Fox recently released a report to confirm the show’s success in the ratings as it being the only show in over 30 years to add viewership in its first five weeks of airing. The network quickly noticed the hit they had on their hands and quickly renewed the series for a second season after only two episodes.
I hadn’t expected to add any new TV shows to my schedule this season, especially one on Fox. However, this show has garnered a slot on my esteemed DVR series recordings. “Empire” is chock-full of explosive writing, dramatic performances and likable music.
“Empire” airs on Wednesdays 8 p.m. CDT on Fox.