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Waaay back in September of last year, The Only TV Column That Matters™ passed judgment on all of the new series premiering on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW for the 2013-2014 television season.

Though the majority of my pilot reviews were, of course, dead on, a handful of the shows drifted into disappointing territory—or, in some cases, a whiplash-inducing tailspin of suck—as the weeks wore on.

Now that we’re past the midpoint of the season, here’s where I was …

Wrong!

Sleepy Hollow (Fox): I was iffy on Sleepy Hollow in the beginning, believing it might be too “thinky” as escapism fantasy. Nope. The good-lookin’ time-traveler/good-lookin’ cop/good-lookin’ murderous torso triangle blew up into a hit and earned a second season. (It only had to sustain its crazy-ass storyline for 13 episodes instead of the usual 22, but that’s nitpicking.)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Since ABC didn’t allow critics to see it before the premiere, the general speculation on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was, “It’s Marvel; it’s Joss Whedon; it’ll be awesome!” So far the only “awesome” aspect of the series is the divide between fans and haters of character Skye (True TV is on Team Skye, FYI—back off), but it’s still Marvel, and it’s still Joss Whedon, so …

Super Fun Night (ABC): Good god. The rapid decline of Super Fun Night is either the result of micromanaging network notes (“Can you make them … less pathetic?”), or our too-high expectations of Rebel Wilson as a show lead after only proving herself a reliable second banana. Or both.

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC): The Peacock wanted a bridge between the smart comedy of Parks and Recreation and the less-smart/more-watched comedy of Must-See Yesteryear; instead, they got The Michael J. Fox Show, which leans too hard into “family” comedy with a dulled edge. Playing it safe gets you nowhere—or on to CBS.

Dracula (NBC): Much sound and fury (and blood and boobs) signifying nothing. Dracula was never going beyond one season, anyway, as NBC reportedly had to tell star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, “When you finish all 10 episodes, you can have your drugs back, mm-kay?”

Enlisted (Fox): I wrote it off as just a Stripes rip-off, but Enlisted got damned good, damned quick, balancing sharp humor, subtle sentimentality and real military issues like a boss. Too bad Fox has nowhere else to slot it but Fridays with the equally-funny/equally-doomed Raising Hope.

But, in Most Cases, I Was … Right!

The Blacklist (NBC): The best new show of the season—and it keeps getting better every week. It’s no surprise that James Spader is killing it, but co-star Megan Boone (and, yes, her wig) has consistently stepped up to match his game. Surprisingly, NBC hasn’t screwed this up. Yet.

Mom (CBS): Then: “Another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine.” Now: “Another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine that’s somehow still on.”

Dads (Fox): Then: “I have a suspicion that Seth MacFarlane produced this on a dare.” Now: “I know Seth MacFarlane produced this on a dare.”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): Awarding Brooklyn Nine-Nine a couple of instant Golden Globes may have been premature, but it’s still the best new comedy that Fox—or, really, any network—has produced in years. As of February, it also gets a sweet new timeslot after New Girl. (Sorry, Mindy Project.)

The Crazy Ones (CBS): The surprise isn’t that Robin Williams’ crapfest holds on to Two and a Half Men’s lead-in audience; it’s that Two and a Half Men still has any audience. But seriously: The Crazy Ones suuucks.

Sean Saves the World (NBC): [The sound of a toilet handle jiggling.]


DVD ROUNDUP FOR FEB. 11!

The Americans: Season 1

Two deep-cover Russian spies (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) pose as a suburban married couple in 1980s Washington, D.C. But in their mission to destroy America, did they count on … falling in love? No, no they did not. Also: wigs. (20th Century Fox)

Anna Nicole

The true-ish story of Anna Nicole Smith (as played by Agnes Bruckner), the stripper-turned-supermodel who fell into a life of sex, booze, drugs, rich geezers and fame addiction before overdosing in 2007. Not sensationalized in the least. (Sony)

The Counselor

Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz star in Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott’s tale of Tex-Mex drug trade gone bad, with more weird hair and clothes than American Hustle. Story, not so much. (20th Century Fox)

Ender’s Game

In the future, the fate of the planet lies in the toggle mitts of “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), the Chosen One who can defeat the alien invasion. Any resemblance to The Hunger Games is wishful thinking on Orson Scott Card’s part. (Summit/Lionsgate)

The Returned: Season 1

The creepy hit French series about people trying to come back home to a small village, only to learn that they’ve been dead for years—and, if that weren’t enough, there’s a serial killer, too, as well as a Mogwai (!) soundtrack. (Music Box)

More New DVD Releases (Feb. 11)

All is Lost, Austenland, The Best Man Holiday, Chastity Bites, Dallas: Season 2, Diana, GBF, Grace Unplugged, Haunter, I Heart U, Jewtopia, Killing Kennedy, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, The Reverend, Sherlock: Season 3, Sorority Party Massacre.

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Grimm (Friday, Oct. 25, NBC), season premiere: When last we left Law and Order: Special Wesen Unit, supernatural profiler Nick had been zombie-fied and stuffed into a coffin, and was about to be FedEx-ed to Europe, leaving his friends to fight off a rising horde of Portland’s walking dead. (Is there any wonder why NBC waited until Halloween weekend to bring back Grimm?) Spoiler alert: Nick doesn’t stay faux-undead for long, and zombies aren’t the only trouble brewing in Portland—Deposed Hexenbiest Adalind is still bent on regaining her powers and isn’t above leveraging her unborn mystery baby to do it, and there are hints of another Grimm (besides Nick) arriving soon. You should really be watching this.

Dracula (Friday, Oct. 25, NBC), series debut: Fortunately, this isn’t a present-day telling with CEO Jason Dracula running a tech company between bites. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) is perfect as the 19th-century vampire bent on revenge against those who killed his wife and made him fang-y. The hipster moustache can be distracting, as can Meyers’ role-juggling here (He’s Dracula! He’s Vlad Tepes! He’s the Victorian Tony Stark!), but the gorgeous Dracula looks like the most expensive new series NBC has ever dumped on Friday night. I wonder how much money they committed before every other fall Peacock show besides The Blacklist bombed.

Strike Back: Origins (Friday, Oct. 25, Cinemax), miniseries/prequel: Before he was a Southern lawman with a drawl and a zombie problem, The Walking Dead’s Rick was a counter-terrorism operative—with a British accent! And no stubble! The original 2010 U.K. incarnation of Strike Back (starring TWD’s Andrew Lincoln and The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage) isn’t too far removed from its U.S. Cinemax run; it has the action and explosions, but it’s not yet jacked up to the Team America hyper-levels of Season 2 though the just-completed Season 4—USA! USA! USA! Still, it’s fun to see Lincoln playing someone less loony than Rick, and Origins is a mere six episodes not split up over the winter—and 100-percent zombie-free.

Zombie Night (Saturday, Oct. 26, Syfy), movie: Seriously, when is this zombie thing going to be over already? The Only TV Column That Matters™ almost misses the Twilight days. Almost. Syfy’s Zombie Night is just another variation on the same ol’ small-town-overrun-with-the-undead story, but it has the distinction of starring Daryl Hannah, Anthony Michael Hall and Shirley Jones, and it’s directed by usually reliable horror-slinger John Gulager (the Feast franchise and, oh yeah, Piranha 3DD). At least there’s—not making this up—Beast of the Bering Sea (vampire sharks!) and Stonandos (tornado boulders!) to look forward to in November.

Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera (Sunday, Oct. 27, Adult Swim), one-hour special: My love for Dethklok is well-documented; creator/guitar god Brendon Small puts on one of the best live metal shows I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen waaay to many). Metalocalypse ranks with The Venture Bros. in maintaining a deep backstory and consistent comedy—both of which are rarities on Adult Swim. But every good metalhead knows that the nadir of a band is the dreaded Symphonic Collaboration, if not the meaning of “nadir.” From Deep Purple to Metallica (let’s not even get started on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra), no good has ever come from overindulgent rockers mingling with “real musicians,” and even though Dethklok is the greatest cartoon band in the known universe (just ask ’em), The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera—album version out Oct. 29, coincidentally—is no exception to that rule. But at least we get some closure on the fate of Dethklok guitarist Toki Wartooth, who’d been abducted at the end of Season 4 some 16 months (!) ago. Where’s Season 5, Brendon?


DVD RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR OCT. 29!

Bounty Killer

In a Road Warrior-y future in which corporations have destroyed society, the Council of Nine issues death sentences for white-collar criminals, making violent freelance bounty killers celebrities and, even better, Pabst Blue Ribbon a hot commodity. (Arc)

Byzantium

Mother-and-daughter vampires (Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton) wind up in the Byzantium Hotel on the English coast—so, of course, mom turns the joint into a brothel while the kid looks for love and Deeper Meaning. It’s bitey and thinky. (MPI)

Family Tree: Season 1

A 30-something rootless Brit (Chris O’Dowd) inherits a box from a long-lost aunt, setting him off on a genealogy quest that leads him to meet the kind of weirdoes only creator/writer Christopher Guest can dream up. (HBO)

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist

In the fifth (!) Home Alone film over 20-plus years (!!), a new kid (Christian Martyn) fends off burglars (led by Malcolm McDowell) with the usual array of violent booby traps in the comedy that will have the whole family saying, “What else is on?” (Fox)

R.I.P.D.

Two mismatched cops (Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds) with the Rest In Peace Department protect the living from unruly souls who just won’t die—unlike this movie at the box office! Am I right? Thanks! I’ll be here all week! (Universal)

More New DVD Releases (Oct. 29)

All Hallow’s Eve, Margarita, Masters of Money, Monsters University, Running Mates, Silver Bells, Surrendered, Switchmas, Tabu, A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba Christmas.

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THE HYPE

You’ve been hearing about them for months, and they haven’t even premiered.

Sleepy Hollow

Fox, premiering Monday, Sept. 16

Thanks to a spell cast during the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is transported 250 years to the present—but, surprise, so is the Headless Horseman! Turns out HH is but one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Crane must stop him. Mison is intense and broody, and Sleepy Hollow’s production is dazzlingly high-dollar and chilling, but the story (which involves a lot of exposition about American history and secret societies) might be too thinky for those expecting the escapism of Once Upon a Time or pretty much anything on The CW.

The Blacklist

NBC, premiering Monday, Sept. 23

Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), one of the FBI’s most wanted, mysteriously turns himself in and makes an offer to help catch an even bigger fish, a previously untouchable mega-terrorist. The one condition: He only deals with a certain new profiler fresh out of Quantico (Megan Boone). How does he know her? What’s his endgame? How many more bad guys on his “blacklist” will he help capture if she agrees to work with him? Quit asking questions—it’s James Spader in super-creep mode. Revel in it.

Hostages

CBS, premiering Monday, Sept. 23

Toni Collette is a brilliant surgeon who’s about to operate on the president; Dylan McDermott is a rogue FBI agent who’s kidnapped her family and orders her to botch the operation and kill the commander in chief; Jerry Bruckheimer is running the show; no one at CBS had the nerve to ask, “How do you get 15 episodes out of this, Jerry?”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

ABC, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 24

Those of us who work for a living and weren’t financed to vacation at San Diego Comic-Con or the Television Critics Association press tour this summer haven’t seen the full pilot episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Joss Whedon’s Avengers-adjacent spin-off series—and we won’t until you do. ABC and Marvel are keeping it under wraps, hoping to create an “appointment TV” event with no spoilers (and, possibly, no nitpicking that S.H.I.E.L.D. perhaps isn’t The Greatest Achievement in Broadcast History). Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focuses on the good guys who fight evil without superpowers and costumes, with Clark Gregg’s thought-dead Agent Coulson back from the movie, joined by Ming-Na Wen and a cast of ridiculously good-looking specialists. Just go with the secrecy: Long before he became Mr. Box Office, Whedon proved he can create fantastic television with action, humor and emotion. Trust him on this.

The Crazy Ones

CBS, premiering Thursday, Sept. 26

There must be someone out there who didn’t grow tired of Robin Williams’ shtick years ago—besides Robin Williams, that is. In The Crazy Ones (oooh, foreshadowing!), he (over)plays advertising exec Simon Roberts, a whacked-out genius who is as difficult to tolerate as he is, of course, brilliant. His daughter and partner, Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar), is his uptight polar opposite—hence alleged comedy. Never thought I’d say this, but … where’s the laugh track, CBS?

Reign

The CW, premiering Thursday, Oct. 17

The story of Mary, Queen of Scots seems a little ambitious for The CW—but don’t worry: It’s still Tudors-lite sexy, kids. Once you get past the wavering accents and passing hints at the supernatural (a CW requirement?), it’s clear that Adelaide Kane is a star in the making (and at least she’s not being wasted on Teen Wolf anymore).

Dracula

NBC, premiering Friday, Oct. 25

Fortunately, this isn’t a modern-day telling with Dracula running a software company or something equally ridiculous. (You know an NBC exec probably suggested it, his head filled with visions of Microsoft Surface placements.) Jonathan Rhys Meyers is perfect as the 19th-century vampire bent on revenge against those who made him fang-y. Dracula could be the most expensive-looking new series NBC has ever dumped on Friday nights—so maybe you’ll see those tablets yet.

Almost Human

Fox, premiering Monday, Nov. 4

From J.J. Abrams (go ahead and squeal) comes the futuristic—2048, to be exact—tale of a police force that mandates every cop be partnered with a human-like cyborg. Naturally, veteran officer John Kennex (Star Trek’s Karl Urban) hates machines, but reluctantly comes to trust his new crime-fighting iPartner (Michael Ealy). Almost Human sounds suspiciously like a 1992 series called Mann and Machine, but so what? J.J. Abrams! Future robot cops!


THE FUNNY

The network comedy isn’t dead (yet).

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Fox, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 17

There hasn’t been a successful cop comedy since Barney Miller (Wiki it, kids); recent attempts like Denis Leary’s The Job and Fox’s own The Good Guys went either too dark or too weird to connect. (Let’s leave Reno 911! out of this.) Brooklyn Nine-Nine, from some of the minds behind Parks and Recreation, could be the one to break the cycle, thanks to stars Andy Samberg, Joe Lo Truglio and underestimated comic wildcard Terry Crews. Despite being about police work, the show captures the effortless, single-camera comedy of Tuesday-night compatriots New Girl and The Mindy Project, with more than a little Adult Swim edge. (Some of the premiere episode’s scenes wouldn’t feel out of place on NTSF:SD:SUV.)

Trophy Wife

ABC, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 24

A single party girl (Malin Akerman) falls in love with and marries an older man (Bradley Whitford), much to the dismay/disgust of her best friend (Natalie Morales) and his ex-wife (Marcia Gay Harden). The cast couldn’t be more comedically solid—Akerman in particular has proven herself for years on Childrens Hospital—and Trophy Wife’s writing is as sharp as ABC’s best, but not too out-there, comedies (more Suburgatory, less Happy Endings). Now it just needs to overcome the show title—right, Cougar Town?

The Michael J. Fox Show

NBC, premiering Thursday, Sept. 26

As skeptical as you should be about networks dragging out their old stars and trying to slap together new hits around them—remember the craptastic Paul Reiser Show?—your doubts are unfounded here: The Michael J. Fox Show not only works; it kills. He plays Mike Henry, a beloved New York City news anchor who quit years ago to deal with his Parkinson’s disease (write what ya know). Thing is, he’s tired of being homebound and anxious to return to work—almost as anxious as his wife (Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt) and kids are to get him the hell out of the house. The Michael J. Fox Show isn’t just hugs and fuzzies; there’s a subtle, media-biting edge on par with classic 30 Rock. And, yeah, there are hugs and fuzzies.

We Are Men

CBS, premiering Monday, Sept. 30

You’ve seen the previews; you’re asking “How the hell can anything with Jerry O’Connell and Tony Shalhoub be funny?” Believe it—and check it out quickly, because We Are Men’s days are numbered on CBS. O’Connell, Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Chris Smith star as guys at various stages of single-dom, living in a short-term apartment complex and (still) trying to figure out women. Even if it had a laugh track (which it doesn’t), in no way does We Are Men fit between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls; a better, raunchier, less-instantly-cancelled version of this show runs on Showtime in an alternate universe.

Super Fun Night

ABC, premiering Wednesday, Oct. 2

A subdued Rebel Wilson? With an American accent? Before you start screaming “TV sellout!” (you wouldn’t do that … would you?), know that Super Fun Night really works, largely due to Wilson’s (relative) underplaying as Kimmie, a junior attorney whose recent promotion is also moving her up the social ladder. Will she leave her equally geeky best friends (Liza Lapira and Lauren Ash) behind and abandon their standing Friday shut-in “Super Fun Night”? It may seem like an odd pairing with Modern Family, but Super Fun Night shares the same underlying sweetness and bonding. It’s also funny as hell, something the Dunphys don’t always nail.


THE USUALS

Nothing “new” to see here.

The Goldbergs

ABC, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 24

This looks like a family sitcom frozen in time from the ’80s, because it’s set in the ’80s—see how ABC got around that? This postcard from the Reagan Era stars Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, George Segal and other people who should know better. Patton Oswalt provides the Wonder Years–style narration, no less. Sure, Garlin fires off plenty of priceless one-liners (“I talked to the guy at Sam Goody; he said it was a hip track!”) and there’s no canned laughter, but The Goldbergs is deader than disco (then, not now).

Back in the Game

ABC, premiering Wednesday, Sept. 25

Maggie Lawson (Psych) and James Caan (father of that Hawaii Five-0 guy) star in Trouble With the Curve: The Sitcom meets The Bad News Bears: The Next Generation. Terry (Lawson) gave up a softball career to have a kid, disappointing father Terry Sr. (Caan), himself a failed pro baseball player. When she moves back home, and the local Little League team of misfits needs a coach, it’s a comedy home run! Sorry about that, as I am about this: Steee-rike.

Betrayal

ABC, premiering Sunday, Sept. 29

Do you like watching beautiful, rich folks cheat on each other and stab one another in the back? Stick with Revenge and Scandal; Betrayal plays like a Lifetime movie with no end in sight (except, fingers crossed, cancelation).

The Millers

CBS, premiering Thursday, Oct. 3

A middling sitcom that forcibly overpowers its lameness with the sheer comedic force of star power: Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Margo Martindale (Justified), J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Beau Bridges (brother of The Dude) work like hell to just barely pull The Millers out of the crapper. When news reporter Nathan (Arnett) gets a divorce, it inspires his father (Bridges) to leave his wife of 43 years (Martindale), leading to occasionally hilarious fallout. It could have been much worse (you’ll get to Fox’s Dads in a minute).

Welcome to the Family

NBC, premiering Thursday, Oct. 3; moving to Tuesdays on Oct. 8

Parents Dan (Mike O’Malley, Glee) and Karina (Mary McCormack, In Plain Sight) are finally sending their daughter off to college—until she gets pregnant by her Latino, East L.A. boyfriend. His whitey-averse parents (Desperate Housewives’ Ricardo Chavira and Six Feet Under’s Justina Machado) are none too happy about the situation, either. Can these two families cross their cultural barriers and get along, for the kids? More pressing: How did this not end up on ABC Family?

The Originals

The CW, premiering Thursday, Oct. 3

Remember the bit in This Is Spinal Tap, about the band being called The Originals, until they found out there was another band across town also called The Originals, so they changed their name to The New Originals? Anyway: I’d rather watch Spinal Tap again than a Vampire Diaries spin-off.

The Tomorrow People

The CW, premiering Wednesday, Oct. 9

Stephen (Robbie Amell, cousin of Arrow’s Stephen Amell—follow?) is a different kind of pretty teen—but he has no idea how different until he meets up with fellow pretty teens the Tomorrow People, a genetically advanced race with powers of telekinesis, teleportation, telepathy and maybe even sweet Telecaster licks. Sounds cool, until he learns that a shadowy military operation—there’s always a shadowy military operation!—is hunting down the Tomorrow People today, and tomorrow as well. As with most CW fare, TTP is more fun if you don’t think about it too hard.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

ABC, premiering Thursday, Oct. 10

In case you didn’t gather it from the title, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (no, it’s not too wordy at all) is an Alice in Wonderland-themed spin-off from ABC’s inexplicable hit Once Upon a Time. The only really interesting detail about OUATIW is that John Lithgow (!) replaced Pee-Wee Herman (!!) as the voice of the White Rabbit.

Enlisted

Fox, premiering Friday, Nov. 8

First, a cop comedy; now, a military comedy? Fox really is taking it back to the ’70s this season. Geoff Stults (of the late, somewhat lamented The Finder) is funny enough channeling Stripes’ Bill Murray, and Enlisted exhibits occasional flashes of that old Fox edge that the network was known for before it became Karaoke Central 10 years ago. But a Friday-night timeslot is still a death sentence—catch it while you can.


THE REST

How these got made, no one knows.

Dads

Fox, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 17

Seth MacFarlane’s live-action sitcom is already catching heat for a stereotypical depiction of an Asian woman in a schoolgirl outfit, but come on—there’s sooo much more here to hate. 1. The setup (cranky fathers move back in with their wisecracking 30-something sons) is straight out of TV Land. 2. So is the grating laugh track, which is completely at odds with not only the rest of Fox’s Tuesday night lineup, but the net’s entire lineup. 3. This is the type of desperate crap star Seth Green would (and probably will) mock mercilessly on his own Robot Chicken. 4. I have a suspicion that MacFarlane produced this on a dare.

Mom

CBS, premiering Monday, Sept. 23

Can Chuck Lorre just retire already? He’s made a quadzillion dollars off Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, both in perpetual reruns that prove hourly that the comedy doesn’t hold up, so let’s all take a break from each other, mm-kay? No, he had to crank out Mom, another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine, starring Anna Faris as a recovering alcoholic mess of a single mom dealing with her kids, her wacky co-workers and her just-as-messy mom (Allison Janney), also a recovering alcoholic. It’s not that Faris and Janney aren’t good; it’s that the sitcom hackery around them is so far from even “meh.”

Lucky 7

ABC, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 24

Seven gas-station employees become overnight millionaires when their lottery pool finally hits the right numbers. Lucky 7 juggles the stories of each winner—and one loser who, like a chump, squirreled away his dollars instead of buying tickets. Unfortunately, none of the stories are even slightly engaging, and all the soft-rock montages and touchy-feely monologues in the world aren’t going to change that.

Ironside

NBC, premiering Wednesday, Oct. 2

So, there’s Blair Underwood as wheelchair-bound detective Robert T. Ironside, and … it’s another cop procedural, just with a recognizable brand name—to a certain generation, anyway. (See, kids, Ironside was a 1967-75 NBC cop show starring Perry Mason.) There’s no denying Underwood’s onscreen charisma, and his Ironside is far more of a badass than his predecessor, but I’d rather see a Columbo reboot starring Sam Rockwell, personally.

Sean Saves the World

NBC, premiering Thursday, Oct. 3

Will and Grace’s Sean Hayes plays a gay single dad; Reno 911’s Thomas Lennon plays his boss; Alice’s Linda Lavin plays Sean’s mother. So how did three such comic journeymen come to star in what looks like a parody of a sitcom? And a bad parody, at that—even the laugh track sounds noncommittal. Worst of all, NBC is using this as a lead-in to the astronomically superior Michael J. Fox Show. Sean ain’t saving shit.


RETURNING AND NEW CABLE SERIES

The “cool” TV shows that you’d actually admit to watching, but perhaps will be whining about missing, because you don’t have cable. It’s ironic, like rain on your wedding day.

Luther (BBC America; season 3 premiered Tuesday, Sept. 3); Idris Elba returns to being more badass than most ’Merican cops. Ironside, take note.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX; season 9 premiered Wednesday, Sept. 4): The Gang moves to a new network and night; find your channel at GetFXX.com.

The League (FXX; season 5 premiered Wednesday, Sept. 4): FX’s other gang also moves; the funniest sports show that’s not even about sports will be followed by a new (nightly!) season of Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, FYI.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO; season 4 premiered Sunday, Sept. 8): Having beaten psycho rival Gyp Rosetti, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) gets back to Atlantic City business, while Al Capone (Stephen Graham) expands his in Chicago.

Sons of Anarchy (FX; season 6 premieres Tuesday, Sept 10): Both Clay (Ron Perlman) and Tara (Maggie Siff) are in prison, leaving Jax (Charlie Hunnam) to run SAMCRO alone, and polish his own white sneakers.

Derek (Netflix; series debuts Thursday, Sept. 12): Ricky Gervais’ new seven-episode show about a retirement-home worker is a departure from his other comedies in that it’s not even remotely funny.

Haven (Syfy; season 4 premieres Friday, Sept. 13): The latest run of the Stephen-King-short-based supernatural series kicks off on Friday the 13th—ooh, scary!

South Park (Comedy Central; season 17 premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 25): Have Trey Parker and Matt Stone run out of ideas after 16 years? Hell, I ran out of ideas after 16 blurbs (see above).

Eastbound and Down (HBO; season 4 premieres Sunday, Sept. 29): The real final season for Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) and the most underrated HBO comedy ever … sigh.

Hello Ladies (HBO; series debuts Sunday, Sept. 29): Gawky Ricky Gervais cohort Stephen Merchant attempts to hang with the beautiful people of Hollywood. Needless to say, it goes terribly/hilariously.

Homeland (Showtime; season 3 premieres Sunday, Sept. 29): Brody (Damian Lewis) is on the run; Carrie (Claire Danes) is shattered and cry-face-y; Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is, well, pretty much the same as ever.

Masters of Sex (Showtime; series debuts Sunday, Sept. 29): Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star as famed sexuality researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, so expect gratuitous nudity and sex—yay, premium cable!

American Horror Story: Coven (FX; season 3 premieres Wednesday, Oct. 9): This season is about modern-day (and 1830s) witches in New Orleans, with all of your favorite AHS repertory players (minus Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott) returning.

The Walking Dead (AMC; season 4 premieres Sunday, Oct. 13): Once again, the zombie soap’s 16-episode season will be split between eight episodes this year and eight next February. On the upside: More walker swarms than ever!

Doctor Who (BBC America; 50th anniversary special on Saturday, Nov. 23): This is such a big deal that it’s being broadcast simultaneously around the world to avoid Internet spoilers. Oh, you geeks are adorable.

Ripper Street (BBC America; season 2 premieres Sunday, Dec. 1): Since this period drama is back for a second season, it’s safe to say they haven’t yet caught Jack the Ripper. Don’t worry; no geek interest here.

Treme (HBO; season 4 premieres Sunday, Dec. 1): Only five more episodes, and Treme is gone forever. After that, you’ll have another show besides The Wire to yammer on about endlessly to strangers at parties.


MIDSEASON

The second-string replacement series that may show up in 2014—or sooner. Or, in some merciful cases, never.

The 100 (The CW) Drama: In the future, 100 pretty space kids are exiled to abandoned Earth to survive, maintain perfect hair and have pensive, dewy-eyed moments.

About a Boy (NBC) Comedy: Based on the 1998 novel/2002 movie, now starring David Walton (New Girl) as a single playboy who befriends an 11-year-old boy.

Bad Teacher (CBS) Comedy: Based, for some reason, on the 2011 movie, now starring Ari Graynor (For a Good Time, Call), who’s waaay funnier than Cameron Diaz.

Believe (NBC) Drama: A 10-year-old girl with telekinetic powers hits the road with an escaped—but innocent!—convict to help people and avoid The Man.

The Black Box (ABC) Drama: A world-famous neuroscientist (Kelly Reilly) treats patients and keeps secrets—like, of course, her own creeping mental illness.

Chicago PD (NBC) Drama: From Dick Wolf, the cop answer to Chicago Fire, which itself was the firefighter answer to Law and Order. In Chicago, if that wasn’t clear.

Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey (Fox) Docu-Series: Neil deGrasse Tyson follows up Carl Sagan’s 1980s science series on the home of educational programming … Fox?

Crisis (NBC) Drama: Dermot Mulroney stars in a hostage thriller about the children of Washington, D.C.’s elite and power-players. No relation to Dylan McDermott’s Hostages … this is so confusing.

Crossbones (NBC) Drama: A period leftover from the 2012 development season, starring John Malkovich as Blackbeard the Pirate and, still, absolutely no one else.

Friends With Better Lives (CBS) Comedy: James Van Der Beek (Don’t Trust the B), Kevin Connolly (Entourage) and Brooklyn Decker (uh …) in Rules of Engagement 2.0.

Gang Related (Fox) Drama: Yet another Los Angeles cop drama—but this one has the RZA, Terry O’Quinn from Lost and a guy from The Wire. Otherwise, L.A. cop drama.

Golan the Insatiable (Fox) Animated: A powerful warrior from an alternate universe ends up in suburban Earth and befriends a surly young girl in Invader Zim: The Sequel.

Growing Up Fisher (NBC) Comedy: Show-killers Jenna Elfman and J.K. Simmons in a Parenthood-ish family dramedy about a blind patriarch and his kooky blonde wife.

Intelligence (CBS) Drama: An intelligence operative (Lost’s Josh Holloway) has a microchip imbedded in his brain, making him a human Wi-Fi super-computer. Or Jake 3.0.

Killer Women (ABC) Drama: Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) is Walker, Texas Ranger … just like her old BSG costar Katee Sackhoff on Longmire.

Lucas Bros. Moving Co. (Fox) Comedy: Twin comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas star as incompetent movers. Remember Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez in Men at Work? Like that.

Mind Games (ABC) Drama: Speaking of brothers, Christian Slater and Steve Zahn star as siblings running a psychological profiling company. Never give up on TV, Christian.

Mixology (ABC) Comedy: Beautiful singles mingle in a high-end Manhattan bar, looking for love and decent tips. This has the potential to be the most insufferable series of 2014 … if it ever makes it to air.

Murder Police (Fox) Animated: From the company behind Bob’s Burgers and someone who worked on Family Guy, a cartoon cop satire that may or may not live up to Adult Swim’s Stroker and Hoop.

The Night Shift (NBC) Drama: Eoin Macken (Merlin), Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under) and Jill Flint (The Good Wife) are good-lookin’ overnight doctors.

Rake (Fox) Drama: Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear) is a brilliant, charming asshole of a lawyer who gets things done and pisses people off. It’s House Goes to Court.

Reckless (CBS) Drama: Speaking of lawyers, Anna Wood and Cam Gigandet star as opposing Southern attorneys in lust—and at war! It’s The Good Wife Does Charleston.

Resurrection (ABC) Drama: When people start returning from the dead, unaged and perfectly healthy, who’s going to solve the mystery? Or cue up The 4400 on Netflix?

Short-Com Comedy Hour (Fox) Comedy: Says here, “A modern take on the comedy variety series,” so expect it to die and be buried sometime over the summer.

Star-Crossed (The CW) Drama: In E.T. meets Kyle XY meets Romeo and Juliet, a pretty Earth girl falls in forbidden love with a prettier alien boy; pretty drama ensues.

Surviving Jack (Fox) Comedy: A ’90s-set coming-of-age tale, starring Connor Buckley as Awkward Teen and Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU) as No-Bullshit Dad.

Undateable (NBC) Comedy: Chris D’Elia (Whitney) teaches his romantically challenged roommate and his loser friends how to date women—hopefully, none are Whitney Cummings.

Us and Them (Fox) Comedy: A would-be couple (Parenthood’s Jason Ritter and Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel) barely tolerate their sitcom-cliché friends and families.

Wayward Pines (Fox) Drama: Carla Gugino, Matt Dillon and Terrence Howard star in a mystery-thriller about a seemingly idyllic suburban community. Is all as it appears? Of course not! There are trees in the name!


RETURNING SERIES

The 2013-14 season premiere dates for your old network favorites. If it’s not listed here, it was probably canceled. Sorry; someone had to break it to you.

Wednesday, Sept. 11

The X Factor (Fox)

Monday, Sept. 16

Dancing With the Stars (ABC)

Bones (Fox)

Tuesday, Sept. 17

New Girl, The Mindy Project (Fox)

Wednesday, Sept. 18

Survivor (CBS)

Friday, Sept. 20

Last Man Standing, The Neighbors, Shark Tank (ABC)

Monday, Sept. 23

Castle (ABC)

How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls (CBS)

The Voice (NBC)

Tuesday, Sept. 24

NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest (CBS)

Chicago Fire (NBC)

Wednesday, Sept. 25

The Middle, Modern Family, Nashville (ABC)

Criminal Minds, CSI (CBS)

Revolution, Law and Order: SVU (NBC)

Thursday, Sept. 26

The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Elementary (CBS)

Parks and Recreation, Parenthood (NBC)

Friday, Sept. 27

Undercover Boss, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods (CBS)

Saturday, Sept. 28

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Sunday, Sept. 29

Once Upon a Time, Revenge (ABC)

The Amazing Race, The Good Wife, The Mentalist (CBS)

The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, American Dad! (Fox)

Thursday, Oct. 3

Scandal (ABC)

The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Monday, Oct. 7

Hart of Dixie, Beauty and the Beast (The CW)

Tuesday, Oct. 8

The Biggest Loser (NBC)

Supernatural (The CW)

Wednesday, Oct. 9

Arrow (The CW)

Friday, Oct. 25

Grimm (NBC)

The Carrie Diaries (The CW)

Friday, Nov. 8

Raising Hope (Fox)

2014?

Community (NBC)

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