Keeping up with all the new shows of yet another fall TV season can be daunting. Which show about parents moving back in with their kids is the best in its class? Which series starring an aging actor returning to television isn't terrible? Which new comedies are actually funny?
I wish I could say ALL OF THEM to those questions, but the sad fact is the new fall season is looking like another minefield of misfires, cheap attempts at clinging to trends, and boneheaded executive decisions. Cable isn't offering a whole lot in terms of new series this fall, and network television is a couple steps behind (as always). But there IS hope, and we've selected 10 shows that could save the season from disaster.
This year, you'll see some familiar faces who haven't appeared on network television since the Reagan Administration, a spin-off of a billion-dollar property, and a show all about TV's favorite taboo topic: sex. Set aside some DVR space for these 10 options, and you can't go wrong.
Note: This list applies to new fall shows only; we'll post a list of our most anticipated midseason shows in December.
10. Trophy Wife (ABC)
When it's on: Tuesdays at 9:30pm starting September 24
What it's about: When a former party girl marries a twice-divorced older man, she also marries into his unique family—which includes of two ex-wives, three kids, and lots of messy leftovers from previous marriages.
Why we're excited about it: Trophy Wife charmingly explores the increasingly common redefinition of the American family, but doesn't mock it with spiteful ex-wives or other tropes. Akerman could look adorable murdering a kitten, but she's got proven comedy chops from her time on Childrens Hospital (lest you think she's just a pretty face).
9. Mob City (TNT)
When it's on: Wednesdays at 10pm starting December 4
What it's about: Mobsters and cops and cops who work for mobsters battle for control of Los Angeles in the 1940s in this smoky drama.
Why we're excited about it: Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Walking Dead) returns to television and brings his keen eye and acting buddies with him. The cast alone makes this a must-see (we're excited to watch Walking Dead favorite Bernthal make it past Season 2), and the show has a chance to be a major game-changer for a network that's really pushing drama. Plus: dames and broads!
8. The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)
When it's on: Thursdays at 9:30pm starting September 16
What it's about: That guy who played Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties returns to the network that made him a star in this comedy about a man who returns to work after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Why we're excited about it: Fox, who has Parkinson's in real life, has found a way to make the disease funny without taking it lightly (the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm he guest-starred in was incredible). He showed that he's funnier than ever, and who doesn't want to root for the guy? We're also pretty excited to see Brandt wearing something other than her Breaking Bad purple.
7. Hello Ladies (HBO)
When it's on: Sundays at 9pm starting September 29
What it's about: Merchant takes the spotlight after years of being "Ricky Gervais' tall and skinny buddy" in this comedy about a gangly British man trying to get some female attention in Los Angeles.
Why we're excited about it: We've heard good things about this one, and Merchant's ready to break out. Besides, what's funnier about a guy who has one of seduction's greatest weapons (the accent) but doesn't know how to wield it properly?
When it's on: Fridays at 10:30pm starting October 18
Who's in it: Sketch-comedy group The Birthday Boys, Bob Odenkirk
What it's about: Sketch-comedy group The Birthday Boys makes sketches AND comedy in this sketch-comedy show!
Why we're excited about it: Have you seen their Home Alone spoof? Or the trailer for Pooljumpers? This is some fresh absurdist humor, and the group has added sketch vet Odenkirk (Mr. Show, Breaking Bad) to slap their butts into gear.
5. The Originals (The CW)
When it's on: Thursday, October 3 at 9pm before moving to its regular Tuesday-night slot at 8pm starting October 8
What it's about: This spin-off of The Vampire Diaries follows badboy and O.G. hybrid Klaus as he looks to take back his hometown of N'awlins.
Why we're excited about it: Duh, more of the ever-exciting TVD universe with some Cajun spice.
4. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
When it's on: Sundays at 10pm starting September 29
What it's about: This drama set in the late 1950s follows Sexual Revolution pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson as they take a look at the science of doin' it.
Why we're excited about it: Early word is this could be the best new drama of the fall season as it ends up being an intelligent character study that's about a lot more than just sex. But also, there's sex. And Lizzy Caplan. Yowza!
3. Almost Human (Fox)
When it's on: Mondays at 8pm starting November 4
What it's about: In the near future, standard flesh-and-blood human cops are paired with nuts-and-bolts-and-organic-tissue android cops to keep the peace in a world where blooming underground technology is giving criminals an edge.
Why we're excited about it: Fringe's J.H. Wyman is running this show, and his vision of the future is gorgeous and one of the best-realized scenarios we've seen on the small screen. The pilot is shaky, but the promise of a smart examination of artificial intelligence dressed up as a cop show should be fun to watch.
2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
When it's on: Tuesdays at 8:30pm starting September 17
What it's about: A cop who doesn't play by the rules (Samberg) and a by-the-book new captain (Braugher) clash in this workplace/cop comedy hybrid from the brains behind Parks and Recreation.
Why we're excited about it: Well for starters, the pilot is great. The idea of setting a workplace comedy in a police precinct is long overdue, as menial office problems become just as big an issue as collaring crooks. But really it's all about the cast, and this is as fine an ensemble as we've scene since the mockumentary genre took hold American TV comedy.
1. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
When it's on: Tuesdays at 8pm starting September 24
What it's about: Agent Phil Coulson puts together a crew to investigate the increasing number of humans with superpowers in this spin-off from the Marvel Comics universe.
Why we're excited about it: That Joss Whedon guy who the kids are all excited about is following up his billion-dollar film The Avengers with this ambitious project. He has a knack for combining fun dialogue with smart storytelling, making shows and movies that are just geeky enough to pique the interest of the mainstream crowd while drawing raves from the genre crowd. We don't expect this one to be any different. Did you really expect anything else to be number one?
– Mom (CBS), starring Anna Faris as a single mom getting over a case of the boozies while her difficult mother moves back to town making her life problematic.
– Sleepy Hollow (Fox), a totally crazy supernatural cop caper about Ichabod Crane warping into the future to stop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with the help of a present-day cop. Totally bananas, and totally fun.
– Back in the Game (ABC), about a divorced mom (Psych's Maggie Lawson) who returns to her hometown, where her cranky dad and a job coaching her son's Little League team await.
– The Tomorrow People (The CW), a sci-fi drama about teens with superpowers fighting Mark Pellegrino.