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COMIC BOOK AND FANTASY ACTION

Gotham (Fox, premieres Monday, Sept. 22)

The “Garfield Minus Garfield” jokes regarding Gotham’s “Batman Minus Batman” origin story are valid, as is the observation that it’s just a highly-stylized cop show with the occasional glimpse of a future villain. (“Hey, look, the Penguin! And there’s Poison Ivy!”) However, a highly stylized cop show is better than a no-style cop show—as you’ll see soon—and Gotham, centered around detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), sports this season’s priciest-looking pilot: The police station looks like the ’40s; the cars look like the ’70s; and you never see a cell phone or computer, but there are satellite dishes on the rooftops. Gotham occupies no time period, you see, and of all the excellent performances (McKenzie is as stoic and solid as Logue is manic and morally fluid), the most surprising of all is Jada Pinkett Smith’s as Gotham crime boss Fish Mooney—any show that can make her likable (as a villain with a ridiculous name, no less) is onto something.

The Flash (The CW, premieres Tuesday, Oct. 7)

In other DC Comics news, The Flash is poised to become this year’s Insta-Hit, a spin-off of Arrow that retains all of that series’ superhero soapiness and turns up the brightness several notches. The Flash, about Central City CSI investigator-turned-Fastest Man Alive Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), has more in common with the early years of Smallville than the dark ’n’ growly Arrow; even though there’s some darkness in his past, nerdy Barry is having far more fun here than broody stud-boy Oliver Queen is back in Starling City. The special effects are on the right side of budget camp, and the show’s comic-book-true vision is immediately clear. Unlike, say …

Constantine (NBC, premieres Friday, Oct. 24)

In other-other DC Comics news, turns out most of the advance complaining about Hellblazer adaptation Constantine was spot-on: This show probably can’t be done on network TV—but what NBC has come up with isn’t a total loss. First of all, Matt Ryan is markedly better than Keanu Reeves was in the 2005 Constantine movie, injecting the right amount of seething swagger into the titular demon hunter—he’s Gordon Ramsay, literally in hell’s kitchen. And … that’s about it. The occasionally impressive effects don’t mask the fact that potentially excellent support players like Lucy Griffiths (who’s outta here after the first episode, anyway—smart move) and Harold Perrineau have nothing to do, and there’s So. Much. Exposition. that NBC could saved everyone a headache by just mass-mailing Hellblazer comics to fans of Grimm, Constantine’s lead-in and target audience. First cancellation of the season—I’m calling it right here.

Forever (ABC, premieres Monday, Sept. 22)

Ioan Gruffud (Fantastic Four) plays a New York City medical examiner who knows everything—literally, because he’s been alive for 200 years. When he teams up with plucky, equally pretty NYPD detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza), there’s no crime they can’t solve … if Castle or Elementary haven’t already closed it. Gruffud and de la Garza make a passable, vanilla-latte version of Castle/Beckett and Holmes/Watson, but it won’t matter: Forever is a far-too-optimistic title for an ABC series airing normally on Tuesdays.

Jane the Virgin (The CW, premieres, Monday, Oct. 13)

Accidental artificial insemination? Let’s say it’s a thing. During a routine checkup, engaged 23-year-old virgin Jane (Gina Rodriguez), is inadvertently inseminated with a sample meant for another patient—making matters even worse, the sample is from her handsome boss at the hotel where she works! How will she explain this to her family? Her fiancé? The idiotic Christian groups who think Jane the Virgin is a show about abortion? Of course she’s going to keep the baby—this is The CW, not Cinemax. If you loved Ugly Betty back in the day, but thought it never went telenovela hard enough, Jane is for you, and Rodriguez will be America’s new mid-level TV sweetheart. Oh, and congratulations on all of the free advance publicity from the aforementioned idiotic Christian groups, CW.


COMEDY ONSLAUGHT

Red Band Society (Fox, premieres Wednesday, Sept. 17)

A dramedy with all of the snarky teen attitude of Glee and none of the musical numbers, Red Band Society (a title that beat out Sadder Childrens Hospital and Kancer Kidz!) is the only real chance Fox is taking this season besides Gotham—the exec who greenlighted Sleepy Hollow, Almost Human and anything else remotely weird last year is waaay fired. Like the kids on early Glee, the young cancer-ward residents are all fresh-faced newbies spouting rapid-fire pop-cultural zingers, leavened with gallows humor and grounded by older actors of note (Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable as hospital staff) who only come out of the background as needed. And the show’s narrator is a child in a coma, so “deal with it” (even Coma Kid has ’tude). So, are we supposed to get attached? Ask Walter White—we had him around for five seasons.

Black-ish (ABC, premieres Wednesday, Sept. 24)

For a new series airing after the whitest show on television, Modern Family, Black-ish sure does bring up some Bernie Mac Show memories—how did this happen? And how does it lead into Nashville? Anthony Anderson stars as a family man with a corporate PR job and a sweet suburban spread, but he’s becoming more and more aware (via narration, this season’s hot trend, along with the Chubby Bearded Bud) of his clan’s disassociation with black culture; the casual disapproval of his live-in dad Pops (Laurence Fishburne) only exacerbates his anxiety. For a seemingly one-note premise, Black-ish delivers as many laughs in its debut episode as its more-established sitcom neighbors—this is either what The Boondocks railed against, or really wanted, all along.

Selfie (ABC, premieres Tuesday, Sept. 30)

Ex-Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan is a little too good as a social-media-obsessed airhead who suddenly realizes that her thousands of “friends” aren’t real friends—viewers will probably be tuning out after five minutes of her overly-affected hashtag-speak. Too bad, because this roundabout My Fair Lady/Pygmalion riff turns sweet, funny and—uh oh—educational once co-star John Cho begins schooling her Eliza Dooley (yes, really) on how to interact with Real People in Real Life. In turn, she teaches his Henry Higenbottam (the hits keep coming) how to lighten up and have a little fun. Selfie may be a more obvious movie than a series, but Gillan and Cho have the chemistry to build it into something longer-lasting. With a different name—seriously, Selfie #sucks.

Manhattan Love Story (ABC, premieres Tuesday, Sept. 30)

On the name front, Manhattan Love Story could be the worst title of the year—and this is a season that includes Selfie, Black-ish and Jane the Virgin. All you need to know about MLS: Analeigh Tipton is A—Dor—A—Ble; the she-thought/he-thought dating conceit works to far better comedic effect than you’d think; did I mention that Analeigh Tipton is adorable? Give this one a chance, and not to plan your Tuesdays, romantics, but Selfie and Manhattan Love Story into Fox’s New Girl and The Mindy Project (or, less likely, NBC’s Marry Me and About a Boy) would make for a solid evening.

Mulaney (Fox, premieres Sunday, Oct. 5)

Daaammmnnn. Maybe it’s all the “new Seinfeld” comparisons being thrown around, presumably by someone paid by Fox to do so, but Mulaney is an even bigger disappointment than present-day rich-asshole Jerry Seinfeld showing up at your kid’s birthday party for a standup set. (“Nice Hot Wheels—check out my Porsche, ya little shit.”) Comic/writer John Mulaney plays an unnervingly stiff version of himself, a struggling New York comic working for a comedy-legend-turned-game-show-host (Martin Short) and living with a couple of wacky roommates (Totally Biased’s Seaton Smith and Saturday Night Live’s Nasim Pedrad). They then throw in a random gay-geezer neighbor (Elliot Gould), because why not? That’s a whole lotta talent working overtime to produce no laughs whatsoever—except from the … ugh … laugh track. Besides Fox, who’ve already ordered damned near a full season of this trainwreck (Dads 2.0!), everyone involved seems to be thinking “Is this going on TV? For real?” Unfortunately, yes.

A to Z (NBC, premieres Thursday, Oct. 2)

Remember the Mother from How I Met Your Mother? Who was pursued for years as The Girl, only to be killed off in favor of The Other Girl in the end? Jennifer Love Hewitt action figure Cristin Milioti is back in A to Z, starring opposite Ben Feldman (Mad Men—Ginsberg!) in a romantic comedy that should be insufferable, but actually works in spite of itself. Andrew’s a romantic; Zelda’s a pragmatist; and when they meet due to an Internet-dating website glitch (a site which Andrew works for, in the office building adjacent to Zelda’s—see how this is going already?), undeniable sparks fly. A to Z is unapologetically fluffy, but it’s probably due for a longer life on NBC than …

Bad Judge (NBC, premieres Thursday, Oct. 2)

You’re thinking “Bad Teacher as a judge,” and you’re mostly right—except that Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh) is a smart, respected criminal court judge by day who just happens to party like 10 animals and play drums in a rock band with her BFF (Arden Myrin) by night. Walsh has always had a wicked comic streak, and Bad Judge would have finally been a killer vehicle for it—on FX or Showtime. On NBC, it’s just a bed-headed, half-dressed lead-in for the sweeter A to Z and Parenthood. I know I’m in, but I’ll be one of the few who watches until it’s canceled by the end of October.

Marry Me (NBC, premieres Tuesday, Oct. 14)

If you’re a fan of Happy Endings, Burning Love, Wet Hot American Summer, Childrens Hospital and all the other comedies in which Casey Wilson and/or Ken Marino have starred, you’re really, really, really going to want to like Marry Me. Unfortunately, their collective manic energy initially overpowers what’s supposed to be a sweet li’l rom-com about a couple seemingly doomed to never propose at the right time. Then again, Happy Endings (which was helmed by the same guy behind Marry Me) didn’t click right away, so this could still work out over the long haul—good thing Marry Me isn’t airing against New Girl. Oh, it is? Never mind.

Cristela (ABC, premieres Friday, Oct. 10)

Says here Cristela Alonzo is a “breakout star.” If that means she’s breaking out of the TV screen, grabbing you by the neck and screeching, “Laugh at my plight of being a modern Latina dealing with racism, sexism and following Tim Allen on a Friday night!!!”, then, yeah, because that’s pretty much the entire show.

The McCarthys (CBS, premieres Thursday, Oct. 30)

A fat, loudmouthed, sports-obsessed Bah-ston family has a gay son—and, it’s a go for borderline homophobic comedy! Or borderline comedy, period. Even sadder then the continued use of the laugh track (yes, there’s only one—the shows share it) in 2014 is the abject laziness in the writing, staging and execution of The McCarthys: It’s like a CBS programmer found a cheap ’80s pilot in the closet, dusted it off, and said, “Here, just jam this into Thursday night so we can hit happy hour and blow some of that Big Bang money!”


CRIME, COPS AND FEDS

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC, premieres Wednesday, Sept. 17)

There are actually two shows here: One in which a surprisingly-effective Debra Messing plays a wisecracking, been-there-done-that NYPD detective who wouldn’t be out of place on Brooklyn Nine-Nine or even Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (you do need a new Munch, SVU—just sayin’), and another in which she’s a harried single-ish mom to awful, awful twins. Call me when they dump the brats.

Scorpion (CBS, premieres Monday, Sept. 22)

Seems like we’re a year or two overdue for a Nerds Assist the Feds procedural, but here’s Scorpion, wherein three good-looking “outcasts” and one token fat guy in glasses clack keyboards, drop sci-fi references and run wires to fight The Terrorists. Working for squinty fed Robert Patrick, the Scorpion—or, as it will never, ever be used, </scorpion> … yep—team are “brilliant misfits who comprise the last line of defense against complex, high-tech threats of the modern age.” But wait, it gets stoopider: The team insists on adding their favorite local waitress (Katharine McPhee, whose acting has somehow gotten worse since Smash) to the payroll because, as the single mother of a budding genius, they can “translate” him for her, and she can “translate” the non-nerd world for them. </blech>

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS, premieres Tuesday, Sept. 23)

Any need to spell this one out? Scott Bakula is the Aw-Shucks Silver-Maned Leader; Lucas Black is the Leather-Jacketed Wild Card; Zoe McLellan is the Sensible Female Presence, and CCH Pounder is the Quirky Science Lady; they investigate military crimes in New Orleans. Don’t worry; your town will eventually get its own franchise … were we talking about NCIS or Popeye’s?

How to Get Away With Murder (ABC, premieres Thursday, Sept. 25)

The Shonda Rhimes takeover of Thursday nights is complete, leaving How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis (playing a morally ambiguous, far-too-well-dressed college professor who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery with her law students) to chew scenery with impunity. Also, there’s a character named Bonnie Winterbottom. No more witnesses!

Stalker (CBS, premieres Wednesday, Oct. 1)

It’s difficult to say who’s working harder on Stalker: Dylan McDermott, acting his ass off to prove that he’s a brilliant detective with every right to be the cocky prick with perfect stubble he is, or the special-effects crew toiling to give co-star Maggie Q cleavage. Both fall … flat. As the title suggests, this series is about a threat-assessment unit of the LAPD that works stalker cases, but it’s just another under-lit clone from the CBS Cop Show Replicator 3000®. Maggie should be free from those torture devices in 13 episodes, if that.

Gracepoint (Fox, premieres Thursday, Oct. 2)

It’s like no one’s even trying with the show titles this season—Gracepoint? Could be a condo development, a Toyota hybrid, a Cialis product, who knows? In this case, it’s an American remake of the British crime-mystery series Broadchurch, with the rare convenience of having both the original star (David Tennant—you know, one of those Doctor Whos) and show creator/producer onboard. But it’s still just a cop procedural, and not even Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) as Tennant’s partner can distract from the fact that Gracepoint is a dour trudge that’s as dull as its name. And Dour Trudge was my favorite Downton Abbey character, too.


POLITICAL UNREST

Madam Secretary (CBS, premieres Sunday, Sept. 21)

When the secretary of state is killed in a plane crash, Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni), who quit the CIA years ago over “ethical issues,” is suddenly yanked out of her college-professor gig to replace him … because that happens. Once past the shaky setup, however, Madam Secretary kicks into full-tilt West Wing mode of establishing Government as We Wish It Were Run with McCord’s zero-tolerance policy for bureaucratic bullshit and useless protocol (though it is funny to see her balk at having an appointed stylist, as she looks like she has one of her own on retainer). Madam Secretary is as solid a political drama as network TV has seen in years, and handled right, could be Leoni’s The Good Wife moment—don’t blow it, CBS.

State of Affairs (NBC, premieres Monday, Nov. 17)

Katherine Heigl was great in Grey’s Anatomy, and then Knocked Up—so let’s pretend she joined the Peace Corps in 2007 and is just now returning to acting, OK? In State of Affairs, she plays a CIA analyst/adviser with a special relationship with the president (Alfre Woodard)—no, not like that: She was engaged to POTUS’ son before he was killed in a terrorist attack (as depicted in the pilot’s intense, straight-outta-Zero Dark Thirty cold opening). Now, she drowns her pain in booze and random hookups by night, and helps set foreign policy by day. Of course, this couldn’t be just a straight-up political drama (right, Tea?), so there’s some Blacklist-y conspiratorial intrigue about the fiancé not being what he seemed/seems. Upside: Heigl has better hair than Lizzy from The Blacklist, and a less-scary cryface than Carrie from Homeland.


MIDSEASON SERIES

You may see some of these in 2015—if not sooner. Or never.

American Crime (ABC, drama): Sure to still be timely in 2015, American Crime follows the toll taken on those affected by a racially motivated crime and trial. If TV audiences are clamoring for anything, it’s to be lectured on race and class politics every week.

The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC, drama): From the book of the same name, the true-ish story of the ’60s women behind the men who went into space, back when ’Merica did that. The series was supposed to debut in July, but was pushed to 2015. Not a good sign.

Fresh Off the Boat (ABC, comedy): A ’90s coming-of-age tale about a young Asian-American boy and his family moving from Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown to Orlando, Fla.—a trip that requires no boat, but whatever.

Galavant (ABC, comedy): A “musical fairytale comedy” (!) about a knight’s quest to rescue his true love from the clutches of an evil king. Think Men in Tights meets Game of Thrones meets ABC hopes everyone will have forgotten about The Quest by 2015.

Marvel’s Agent Carter (ABC, drama): In this 1946-set spin-off of Captain America, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes on spy missions for Stark Industries, because she’s a skilled, capable woman (yay), and she needs a distraction from pining over Cap (boo). Unlike S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter only has eight episodes to get it right.

Members Only (ABC, drama): Get ready to fall in indifference with the Holbrooke family, a wealthy clan of beautiful people whose lives aren’t as perfect as they seem—being rich and living at the country club is hard, you guys.

Secrets and Lies (ABC, drama): A cat-and-mouse mystery thriller pitting a possibly innocent family man (Ryan Phillippe) against a determined homicide detective (Julliette Lewis) in what sounds like a direct-to-VHS (look it up) potboiler from the ’90s.

The Whispers (ABC, drama): A sci-fi epic (starring American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe) about an alien invasion targeting Earth’s children, because executive producer Steven Spielberg apparently forgot that he’s already done that with Falling Skies.

Battle Creek (CBS, drama): Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan created Battle Creek more than a decade ago, and it’s finally being produced for a network—too bad it should be on cable. Dean Winters (Law and Order: SVU, Rescue Me) and Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas) star as mismatched cop partners in a bankrupt Michigan city, and it’s way too dark-humored and subversive for CBS. If it ever makes the schedule, watch it hard.

CSI: Cyber (CBS, drama):This is more like it for CBS: an IT version of CSI, starring network vets Patricia Arquette and Peter MacNicol. Tell your parents about it the next time you have to reset their wireless router again.

The Odd Couple (CBS, comedy): Oscar (Matthew Perry) is a slob; Felix (Thomas Lennon) is a neat freak. See, kids, in the ’70s, this is all the plot you needed to pitch a sitcom.

Zoo (CBS, drama): Remember that reality show When Animals Attack? Now it’s a sci-fi drama, based on the James Patterson novel about the world’s animal life finally turning on mankind. Pick a stance on this one, PETA.

Backstrom (Fox, comedy): A self-destructive-but-brilliant Portland, Ore., detective (Rainn Wilson, The Office) is given one last chance to get his shit together by leading a special crimes unit. At least it’s not called Special Crimes Unit.

Bordertown (Fox, comedy): Seth MacFarlane and some Family Guy/American Dad/Futurama alum team with Mark Hentemann, Independent contributor Gustavo Arellano (Ask a Mexican) and Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha) for an animated Tex-Mex comedy. They’re gonna hate it over at Fox News.

Empire (Fox, drama): Terrence Howard stars as an ex-street-thug-turned-hip-hop-mogul who has to groom one of his three sons to take over the business before a debilitating disease incapacitates him, and his insane ex-wife takes it all. Oh, and his character’s name is Luscious Lyon. Still in?

The Last Man on Earth (Fox, comedy): Saturday Night Live’s Will Forte is, literally, the last man on Earth. No one will ever see this.

Wayward Pines (Fox, drama): Trapped in Idaho! might have been a better title, but this M. Night Shyamalan production—don’t run away yet—about a pleasant small town from which no one can escape already has enough weirdness going for it. Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino bring the star power, as do the TV-overextended Juliette Lewis and Terrence Howard.

Weird Loners (Fox, comedy): Underutilized comic actors Becki Newton (Ugly Betty) and Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings) should probably be able to perk up the tired sitcom format of Chronically Single New York Pals … or at least upstage Undateable.

Allegiance (NBC, drama): Decades ago, KGB agent Katya (Hope Davis) was given the mission to recruit an American businessman (Scott Cohen). Instead, she fell in love with him, and the Kremlin just said, “Go ahead and move to the U.S.; we’ll be in touch.” Guess who now wants a favor from the couple and their newbie CIA analyst son? Ripped from today’s headlines about The Americans.

Aquarius (NBC, drama): A 1967 Los Angeles detective (David Duchovny) deals with hippies, cultural upheaval and a certain amateur cult leader named Charles Manson—it’s Hannibal meets Mad Men. Another obvious Shoulda Been on Cable candidate, though Aquarius might contain too much actual history for the History Channel.

Mission Control (NBC, comedy): Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produce a David Hornsby (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) comedy about a female 1960s astronaut (Krysten Ritter) trying to break into the NASA boys club. Even in space, you can already hear this being canceled.

Mr. Robinson (NBC, comedy): The Office’s Craig Robinson stars in the Bad Teacher/School of Rock mashup that was originally produced by the Office team, who have all since quit. But hey, it’ll be fine …

Odyssey (NBC, drama): A soldier (Anna Friel) uncovers a corporate/military conspiracy after being left for dead behind enemy lines in the Homeland-meets-Traffic-meets-Strike Back drama that’s as confusing and ugly as the hyphens suggest.

One Big Happy (NBC, comedy): Lesbian Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) and straight-dude Luke (Nick Zano) are BFFs trying to have a baby (just go with it), which is cool until Luke meets a ridiculously-hot Brit girl (ridiculously-hot Kelly Brook) and impetuously marries her. It’s more acceptable than The New Normal, because there’s only one gay character.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (NBC, comedy): Ellie Kemper (The Office) stars as a woman starting her life over after escaping a doomsday cult. No one will ever see this, either.

iZombie (The CW, comedy): When medical resident Liv (Rose McIver) is attacked by, and then turned into, a zombie, she takes a job at the coroner’s office to feed her hunger for brains, and passes herself off as goth. Sounds insane, but if anyone can make it work, it’s creator/writer/director Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, Party Down).

The Messengers (The CW, drama): A group of strangers are brought together by a mysterious object that’s fallen from the sky, and then charged with stopping (or is it starting?) The Rapture. OK, iZombie—or for that matter, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—doesn’t sound so eff’dup now.


NETWORK SERIES RETURN DATES

Hell’s Kitchen (Fox; Wednesday, Sept. 10)

The Biggest Loser (NBC; Thursday, Sept. 11)

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox; Friday, Sept. 12)

American Dad (Fox; Sunday, Sept. 14)

Dancing With the Stars (ABC; Monday, Sept. 15)

New Girl (Fox; Tuesday, Sept. 16)

The Mindy Project (Fox; Tuesday, Sept. 16)

The Good Wife (CBS; Sunday, Sept. 21)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS; Monday, Sept. 22)

Sleepy Hollow (Fox; Monday, Sept. 22)

The Voice (NBC; Monday, Sept. 22)

The Blacklist (NBC; Monday, Sept. 22)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC; Tuesday, Sept. 23)

NCIS (CBS; Tuesday, Sept. 23)

Person of Interest (CBS; Tuesday, Sept. 23)

Chicago Fire (NBC; Tuesday, Sept. 23)

The Goldbergs (ABC; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

The Middle (ABC; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

Modern Family (ABC; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

Nashville (ABC; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

Survivor (CBS; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

Law and Order: SVU (NBC; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

Chicago P.D. (NBC; Wednesday, Sept. 24)

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC; Thursday, Sept. 25)

Scandal (ABC; Thursday, Sept. 25)

Bones (Fox; Thursday, Sept. 25)

Parenthood (NBC; Thursday, Sept. 25)

Shark Tank (ABC; Friday, Sept. 26)

The Amazing Race (CBS; Friday, Sept. 26)

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS; Friday, Sept. 26)

Blue Bloods (CBS; Friday, Sept. 26)

Saturday Night Live (NBC; Saturday, Sept. 27)

Once Upon a Time (ABC; Sunday, Sept. 28)

Resurrection (ABC; Sunday, Sept. 28)

Revenge (ABC; Sunday, Sept. 28)

CSI (CBS; Sunday, Sept. 28)

The Simpsons (Fox; Sunday, Sept. 28)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox; Sunday, Sept. 28)

Family Guy (Fox; Sunday, Sept. 28)

Castle (ABC; Monday, Sept. 29)

Mom (CBS; Monday, Sept. 29)

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS; Monday, Sept. 29)

Criminal Minds (CBS; Wednesday, Oct. 1)

The Vampire Diaries (The CW; Thursday, Oct. 2)

Reign (The CW; Thursday, Oct. 2)

Last Man Standing (ABC; Friday, Oct. 3)

Bob’s Burgers (Fox; Sunday, Oct. 5)

The Originals (The CW; Monday, Oct. 6)

Supernatural (The CW; Tuesday, Oct. 7)

Arrow (The CW; Wednesday, Oct. 8)

About a Boy (NBC; Tuesday, Oct. 14)

The 100 (The CW; Wednesday, Oct. 22)

Grimm (NBC; Friday, Oct. 24)

2 Broke Girls (CBS; Monday, Oct. 27)

The Millers (CBS; Thursday, Oct. 30)

Two and a Half Men (CBS; Thursday, Oct. 30)

Elementary (CBS; Thursday, Oct. 30)

For cable returning series and premieres, see this week’s True TV.

Published in TV

Is it too early for a Fall Television Death Watch/Report Card? Not for The Only TV Column That Matters™!

After crunching the ratings numbers (and several plates of nachos), I’ve semi-scientifically determined where most of the shows currently sit—the new ones, the old ones, the ones you didn’t even realize were still on, etc.

The following doesn’t account for yet-to-return series like Community, Raising Hope, Grimm and whatever The CW hasn’t tossed back, or upcoming debuts like Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Almost Human, Dracula and NBC’s visionary remake of Baretta. (Just kidding … or am I?)

Already Renewed

Fox has already signed on for a sixth and probably/hopefully final season of Glee next year, as well as a fifth for Bob’s Burgers, but the network surprised everyone last week with an early renewal for the new Sleepy Hollow, a solid Monday-night performer despite a wacko premise and the occasional decapitation. The Simpsons is set for Season 26 in 2014, and Family Guy will likely outlive you. (American Dad! will be moving to TBS full-time after this season on Fox.)

Don’t Worry

Underwhelmed by 21 S.H.I.E.L.D. Street, er, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Count on ABC to give it a full season to fix itself, with or without the clingy Avengers cameos. ABC standards Modern Family, The Middle and Grey’s Anatomy are also locks; somehow, so is Tim Allen’s cockroach of a sitcom, Last Man Standing.

CBS vets 2 Broke Girls, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, CSI, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and (blech) The Big Bang Theory aren’t going anywhere, nor are newer series Elementary and Person of Interest. Newcomer The Millers could be a keeper, but only because of the millions who still tune in to watch the played-out nerd show right before it.

Fox’s creaky Bones will be moving to Friday nights, but it’s still safe; critic/fan favorite New Girl will also be around for a while, and once it shakes the lead-in stench of Dads, newbie—and contender for Best New Comedy—Brooklyn Nine-Nine is going to be just fine.

Since the mouthbreathers who watch The Voice apparently can’t work the remote, The Blacklist has become a slosh-over hit for NBC—good news, because the rest of the net’s freshman dramas and comedies are being met with a wall of indifference usually reserved for new Activia flavors. Dick Wolf joints Chicago Fire and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit are still going strong, as is Parks and Recreation … well, strong-ish.

Maybe Worry

ABC’s kinda-funny The Goldbergs and CBS’ definitely-lousy The Crazy Ones premiered big a couple of weeks ago, but then audiences found fresher shows to watch—like Benson reruns on antenna. Speaking of the classics, Two and a Half Men is about done roaming the Earth and, thanks to the one-two suck-punch lead-in of Welcome to the Family and Sean Saves the World, The Michael J. Fox Show is on shaky … nope, not gonna go there.

Dig a Grave

It’s a weak launch season for ABC: New series Back in the Game, Betrayal, Lucky 7 and Trophy Wife probably won’t see 2014, or even Thanksgiving, and it’s looking only slightly better for second-year shows Nashville and The Neighbors. (As I was typing this, Lucky 7 was canceled, so there.)

Monday CBS newbies Mom, Hostages and We Are Men are biting it hard—in particular, Men was the lowest-rated CBS comedy debut ever, and this is the network that once built a TV show around a talking baby from commercial. Hawaii Five-0, displaced from Mondays to Fridays, is just begging for an “aloha” joke here.

Sadly, two of NBC’s best dramas, Parenthood and Revolution, are going to need some of the net’s other shows to fail even more violently in order to survive. In the plus column on that front, no other Peacock pilot in history has debuted to fewer eyeballs than Ironside, which bested (worsted?) even 2011’s The Playboy Club on the Meh Scale.

Oh, Dads—how have you lasted this long? Way more surprising, the once-hot (OK, just warm) Mindy Project is bleeding Fox viewers faster than The X Factor: Walmart Parking-Lot Auditions Round.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR OCT. 15!

Cannibal Diner

While out camping in the woods (when will damned kids learn to not go camping in the woods?), a group of girls are kidnapped by human-flesh aficionados for a feast at their Cannibal Diner, which at least has great Yelp reviews. (MVD)

Defiance: Season 1

In the year 2046, 30 years after aliens arrived and totally eff’dup Earth, humans and extraterrestrials struggle to coexist, Deadwood-style, in terraformed St. Louis. Starring Julie Benz, Jaime Murray, Mia Kirshner and a survivor of Liz and Dick. (Universal)

Embrace of the Vampire

A remake (!) of the infamously-awful 1995 Alyssa Milano horror-cheese flick (which is also being re-released on the same day): A timid college student (Sharon Hinnendael) may be a vampire, or may soon be hugged by a vampire, or … it still doesn’t make any damned sense, really. (Starz/Anchor Bay)

The Heat

A by-the-book FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) and a maverick Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) reluctantly team up to take down a drug lord; filthy language and filthier behavior ensue. It’s the family hit of the year! (Fox)

Pacific Rim

Gigantic monsters are rising from the center of the Earth, and only men (like Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam) piloting gigantic-er robots can stop them—until the monsters get even more gigantic-er-er. It goes on like that. (Warner Bros.)

More New DVD Releases (Oct. 15)

Anger Management: Vol. 2, Blood Moon Rising: Lucy’s Revenge, Crossland, Hart of Dixie: Season 2, Hate Crime, I Hate Tom Petty, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, Maniac, Murder University, Stalker, Star Wars: The Clone, Wars: Season 5, Vikings: Season 1.

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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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