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After “Are you still writing for that paper?” and “Why did I assume you were dead?” the question I’m most often asked is: “So, what’s good on TV?”

Sure, I write a readily available weekly column about what’s good on TV (and not-so-good), and produce a podcast (TV Tan—look it up on iTunes and Stitcher) covering the same, but you can’t be expected to keep up with it all. Quality programming? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You do, actually: Let’s pretend that daily “live” TV viewing didn’t die along with print journalism several years ago, and let’s scroll through the week with a day-by-day breakdown of what to Watch (good stuff deserving of your attention) and, for the hell of it, Hate Watch (stuff so terrible that it’s fun to mock) right now. Or DVR it all for a weekend binge—I don’t know your lifestyle.

Thursday: Even though the network tried to kill its biggest hit by moving it to Thursday nights, The Blacklist (NBC) is still a must-Watch. TV critics are divided on The Comedians, but I say it’s a worthy lead-in to Louie, and that’s all that matters (FX). On the Hate Watch front, there’s Lip Synch Battle (Spike), a “singing” competition that’s done away with singing altogether. Jimmy Fallon’s next “viral innovation”: Celebrity Naptime.

Friday: Real Time With Bill Maher and Vice (HBO) for politicos and news junkies, The Soup (E!) for pop-culture catch-upists, and The Grace Helbig Show for … well, I’m not sure who this is for yet, but Helbig’s YouTube-to-TV transition is, more often than not, as funny as it is brain-implodingly awkward (E!). Also, Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim), because even you have 11 minutes to spare. Hate Watch: The Messengers (The CW), wherein impossibly pretty CW actors fret about the rapture and a desolate Friday-night timeslot.

Saturday: Orphan Black (BBC America) is one of the rare sci-fi dramas that lives up to its hype. Don’t be put off by all of the clone characters (most played fantastically by Tatiana Maslany)—if you can follow Game of Thrones, you can follow this. Same goes for the time-jumping Outlander (Starz), the lushly-produced Scot-drama that earns its nickname Fifty Shades of Plaid. For Hate Watching, My Cat From Hell (Animal Planet), because no one seems to realize that you can find a new, less-hellish kitty, oh, anywhere.

Sunday: A busy night, with Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO); Mad Men (AMC); Salem (WGN America); Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Last Man on Earth (Fox); Mr. Selfridge (PBS); and now the new Happyish (Showtime) all vying for discerning eyeballs. Set aside some Hate Watch moments for A.D. The Bible Continues and American Odyssey (NBC); they’ve really earned it.

Monday: Bates Motel has cranked its simmering insanity up to full-tilt bonkers this season, while The Returned continues its supernatural slow-burn—together, they constitute the creepiest two-hour block of the week, not counting Sunday-morning news shows (A&E). Hate Watch Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC), which is as obtuse as a tri-corner hat and somehow even duller than actual American history.

Tuesday: Catch up on your streaming—there are unseen episodes of Daredevil (Netflix) and Community (Yahoo Screen) still waiting for you. Hate Watch: Powers (PlayStation Network), the comic-book adaptation that can’t even.

Wednesday: Heard of Big Time in Hollywood, FL? It fills the sick-wrong-funny gap left by Broad City where Workaholics failed (Comedy Central). The obvious Hate Watch is CSI: Cyber (CBS), the stoopidest depiction of tech-terrorism since every “cyberpunk” movie produced in 1995. Do not, repeat, do not respond to any e-mails from your parents re: “Black Hat Hackers.”

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Duff Till Dawn (Thursday, Jan. 29, Food Network), series debut: In the four years since greatest food-related reality show ever, Ace of Cakes, shut down production, Charm City Cakes boss—not a damned Cake Boss, OK?—Duff Goldman has starred in several short-lived Food Network series, none of which have come close to AoC’s casual genius. In the new Duff Till Dawn, he hosts an after-hours cake-decorating competition in his familiar Baltimore shop, with a rotating cast of celebrity judges that also includes the occasional sorely missed Charm City Cakes face (like Geoff Manthorne and Elena Fox). Which leads me to ask: Why not just bring Ace of Cakes back already?! What’s the holdup? Why do you hate America?! OK, I’m better now.

Key and Peele Super Bowl Special (Friday, Jan. 30, Comedy Central), special: While I couldn’t possibly care less about the Super Bowl and all the overpaid felons involved (it’s the Seadogs and the Maple Leafs this year, right?), it is important to recognize that no one does sportball humor better than Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele—and Comedy Central has given them an hour to run wild with it. K&P will host a series of sketches, sports-desk style, straddling the line between mocking the time-wasting babble of football commentary and celebrating the time-wasting babble of football commentary. Some NFL stars will also stop by to fumble the proceedings (athletes should not talk, much less attempt comedy), but Key and Peele can’t be stopped from hitting a home run in the paint. Sportball talk, mastered! See some of their past sports-related work below.

Beautiful and Twisted (Saturday, Jan. 31, Lifetime), movie: “The true story of a couple’s obsession, jealousy and greed, which ends in one of the most notorious cold-blooded murders in recent history,” says Lifetime about Beautiful and Twisted—and it still doesn’t prepare you for what’s to (almost) come. Rob Lowe (!) plays Miami hotel heir Ben Novak Jr., a millionaire who drives Batmobiles (!!) and makes the fatal mistake of marrying a stripper (played by Paz Vega) instead of simply renting them by the dozen (!!!). Her name is “Narcy,” fergawdsakes, and she makes good on Novak’s creeping suspicion that she’d kill him—and her mother-in-law, played by Candice Bergen—for his money. Beautiful and Twisted goes for camp over chills (Lowe narrates from beyond the grave—yes, really), but never fully commits to the crazy. Still, with the right box of wine …

Red Band Society (Saturday, Jan. 31, Fox), return/burn-off: Remember Ryan Murphy’s Glee-in-a-cancer-ward dramedy? Last seen in December? Surprisingly, it never caught on—and before you blame the crowded competition it used to face on Wednesday nights, note how equally ridiculous hip-hop drama Empire is blowing up for Fox in the same time slot. Anyway: One episode tonight, the final two next Saturday, and then lesser TV critics get to use that “pull the plug” metaphor they’ve been sitting on for months.

The Blacklist (Sunday, Feb. 1, NBC), winter premiere: In theory, the post-Super Bowl timeslot would be a great place to give a few zillion viewers a taste of a struggling network series instead of an established hit like The Blacklist. But, since NBC needs to promote the hell out of the revamped Thursday-night lineup (no comedies any more, just The Blacklist sandwiched between new The Americans rip-off Allegiance and new guaranteed failure, er, limited series, The Slap), football fans immobilized by Bud Light and hot wings will get Red and Lizzie chasing down baddie du jour Ron Perlman. Not that a Super Bowl showcase could have saved a circling-the-drain NBC series like, say, State of Affairs or Constantine (let’s all imagine John Constantine staring down a nation of unsuspecting football-heads for a moment), but, whatever.

Fresh Off the Boat (Wednesday, Feb. 4, ABC), series debut: 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. That’s funnier than anything else that happens on Fresh Off the Boat.

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You’re the Worst (FX): Like the equally surprising Broad City, You’re the Worst shattered preconceptions of the “edgy” cable comedy with smarts, heart, bracing moments of relationship realism (and outright debauchery), and a fearless cast led by relative unknowns Chris Geere and Aya Cash. No worries that the Toxic Twosome and gang are moving to FXX this year … right?

The Bridge (FX): Apparently, FX can only sustain so many quality dramas: The Bridge was canceled after a low Season 2 turnout, and those who did show up were treated to a Tex-Mex stew that was a little overcooked—yet it was still better than most crime dramas.

The Strain (FX): Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampires-bent-on-world-domination tale transitioned from novel to TV series with only a few bumps and a whole lotta scares (not counting Corey Stoll’s hairpiece), and reclaimed bloodsuckers from the glam universes of Twilight and True Blood.

Ray Donovan (Showtime): His sketchy character’s name is the title, and star Liev Schreiber did his damndest to take the show back from father figure Jon Voight in Season 2, mostly succeeding while taking on a twisted new FBI antagonist (Hank Azaria, killing it).

Masters of Sex (Showtime): There’s no power couple on television as compelling and confounding as Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), and they’re barely “together,” in any sense. Was anything easy in the ’50s? Besides Virginia? (Rim shot.)

Welcome to Sweden (NBC): This Swedish import turned up on NBC’s summer schedule seemingly by accident, a subdued and charmingly awkward comedy that should have no place on an American network—and yet it worked fantastically. Watch for Welcome to Sweden when it “accidentally” comes around again.

Garfunkel and Oates (IFC): Musical-comedy duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are no Flight of the Conchords—they’re better, at least when it comes to song quantity and lack of indecipherable New Zealand accents. For Garfunkel and Oates, TMI means both Too Much Information and Touching Musical Interludes.

Outlander (Starz): Starz finally acknowledged that women watch TV—and then told them they’d have to wait six months for the second half of their new favorite Scottish bodice-ripper. Spartacus never would have stood for this.

The Knick (Cinemax): In yet another instance of indie-film directors realizing that television is where it’s at, Steven Soderbergh directed this 10-part oddity about a doped-up doc (Clive Owen) at the precipice of modern medicine—he’s House 1900, with a premium-cable license to shock.

Doctor Who (BBC America): Peter Capaldi. That is all.

Bojack Horseman (Netflix): A former sitcom star man-horse (voiced by Will Arnett) and his slacker roommate/squatter (Aaron Paul) get turnt up and knocked down in Hollywood. It’s Californication: The Cartoon.

Sons of Anarchy (FX): The seventh and final season of Hamlet on Harleys was overwrought, overindulgent and over-the-top—and you expected, what? For all his faults, showrunner Kurt Sutter is still a passionate storyteller, and the finale of Sons of Anarchy was a fittingly chaotic closer that tied up (almost) all of the loose ends. Time to retire the patch and the musical montage.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): It’s not the Andy Samberg Show; it’s one of the best ensemble comedies on TV, something Fox is nailing better than anyone these days. Witness …

New Girl (Fox): By no logic should New Girl be this good in Season 4, but Zooey Deschanel and crew have become a fuzzy juggernaut of funny that still manages to surprise every week, putting one-note sitcoms like The Bang Theory and, well, every other half-hour on CBS to shame.

Gotham (Fox): Batman without Batman? Yeah, it’s working.

The Blacklist (NBC): James Spader’s “Red” Reddington is one of the best villain-heroes (villo?) ever, and Season 2 of The Blacklist has found his FBI foil Lizzy (Megan Boone, finally free of the wig) stepping up her game, if not her crazy. And kudos for selling Pee-Wee Herman (!) as an underworld “fixer.”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Season 2 has introduced real danger and consequences for the agents, as well as Marvel-flick-worthy action and effects. Stop asking, “When’s Iron Man gonna show up?” and just get onboard, already.

Black-ish (ABC): Anthony Anderson’s TV resume (Law and Order, Treme, The Shield) didn’t indicate that he could head up a family comedy, but new sitcom Black-ish—I know, dumb title—is more consistently funny than Modern Family is now, thanks to strong assists from Tracee Ellis Ross and, yes, Laurence Fishburne.

The Flash (The CW): The sunny answer to Arrow (seriously—is it never daytime over there?) is the most comic-booky of all DC Comics adaptations, and the most fun.

Jane the Virgin (The CW): Usually, “Golden Globe-nominated” means nothing—but Jane the Virgin is the first CW show to ever score a nom! That’s also the first time I’ve ever used the term “nom.” Firsts all around, here.

The Walking Dead (AMC): Team Rick is on the road, finding new places to explore and more people (zombie or not) to kill—less talk and more rock makes for a more entertaining apocalypse; hopefully, they won’t slow down when Season 5 resumes in February 2015.

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (HBO): Idiotic Foo-hater rhetoric notwithstanding, Dave Grohl’s Great American Music Roadtrip uncovered gems even the most hardcore music geek wouldn’t be aware of. Real people playing real instruments writing real songs—embrace it while you still can.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX): The best elements of three previous seasons came together on No. 4, Freak Show, along with more gorgeous cinematography, more sympathetic characters and more Jessica Lange than expected. The early loss of Twisty the Clown seemed like a misstep, but the rest of this season has been perfect.

Benched (USA): With no hype besides airing after the craptastic Chrisley Knows Best, new comedy Benched, about a former corporate attorney (Happy Endings’ Eliza Coupe) slumming it in the public defender’s office, managed to crank out 12 hilarious episodes this winter—and no one even noticed.

The Birthday Boys (IFC): The sketch-comedy troupe relied more on themselves than producer Bob Odenkirk (who was presumably busy making Better Call Saul) in Season 2; the result was a hysterical collection of bits with callbacks and intertwining gags galore. (Fast-food spoof “How Do You Freshy?” is an instant classic.) It ain’t Mr. Show, but it’s as close as anyone’s come in years.

The Comeback (HBO): The first season nine years ago was merely uncomfortable; The Comeback’s out-of-the-blue comeback was borderline torturous—in the funniest possible way. Lisa Kudrow’s depiction of fame-junkie desperation is so masterful, you have to wonder why anybody’s even paying attention to Jennifer Aniston.

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (Bravo): Bravo’s first foray into (overtly) scripted programming is not only not terrible; it’s actually pretty great. How the hell did this happen?

Mike Tyson Mysteries (Adult Swim): Whatever drugs were responsible for the creation of this … thank you.

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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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Arrow (The CW): The comic-book superhero series that got it right in its first year has been on fire in Season 2, jacking up the action to thrillingly visceral levels, as well as giving both our hero’s allies (love that Felicity) and enemies (hate that Malcolm) generous chunks of screen time. Oh, and the Flash!

Justified (FX): Despite the guns, guns, guns promos, Justified is all about the consequences and the dialogue, and Season 4—which had to follow a landmark “just try and top that” season—had plenty for Marshal Raylan, Boyd and anyone unlucky enough to be attached to them. FX’s best drama, period.

Banshee (Cinemax): This gritty-weird series about an ex-con assuming the identity of a small-town sheriff to reunite with his former lover/partner—and their loot—should have been a pulp-crime mess, but the deepening story (and the hyper-violent action) can’t be denied.

Shameless (Showtime): The Gallaghers continued their grimy reign as America’s Family, and Season 3 injected all-too-real drama and fallout for their many, many questionable actions. No other series can match Shameless for sheer volume of yeah-it’s-cable-but-they-can-get-away-with-that?! situations.

Bates Motel (A&E): Sure, it seemed a like terrible idea at first, but the subtle, creeping terror of Psycho: The Wonder Years worked, thanks to Vera Farmiga’s sympathetic but wildly unpredictable Norma Bates. We know where it’s all going, but the ride so far is addictive.

Archer (FX): Season 4 kicked off with a hysterically blatant nod to star voice H. Jon Benjamin’s other series, Bob’s Burgers, and ended with a tribute to obscure Adult Swim series Sealab 2021. The characters are idiots, but Archer’s scripting is stoopid-smart.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of hapless dumbasses guided by comedic genius, Veep’s second season stayed the course of Vice President Selina Meyer’s slog through deflating beltway politics and worse PR. It’s funny, profane and probably closer to the truth than C-SPAN.

Breaking Bad (AMC): Obviously. Breaking Bad’s final season may have tied up more neatly than logically, but a drama this perfectly executed over five years earned more than a few last Wile E. Coyote outs. Go back and re-watch the whole series without the weekly critical media over-over-analysis; you’ll enjoy it even more.

The League (FXX): Even a gonzo throwaway episode dedicated entirely to peripheral characters Rafi and Dirty Randy couldn’t distract from the scarily consistent and ruthless comedy of The League’s fifth season. It’s finally a viable heir to the Sunny in Philadelphia crown—or Shiva.

Ray Donovan (Showtime): Gigantically-noggin-ed Liev Schreiber is an unlikely leading man, but his portrayal of Ray Donovan, a Hollywood “fixer” with a family from hell (Bah-ston, actually), kills. Even better is Jon Voight’s giddy, nothing-to-lose performance.

The Blacklist (NBC) After two years of empty talk, NBC finally made good on the idea to produce “cable-quality” programming, first with Hannibal, then the superior crime serial The Blacklist. The series doesn’t shy from intensity and violence, and James Spader is, well, James Spader.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): On the flipside, now that NBC has discovered the ratings gold of ineptly staged musicals, smart underperformers like Parks and Recreation are likely doomed. Too bad; Seasons 5 and 6 have been the comedy’s strongest yet, even with the impending losses of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe.

Masters of Sex (Showtime): A semi-factual ’50s period piece with the warm look (and contentiously slow pace) of Mad Men, Masters of Sex delivered on the years-building Lizzy Caplan hype and, even though it’s as much soap opera as historical document, radiated raw humanity. The (purely clinical) nudity and sex didn’t hurt, either.

13 Runners-Up: The Americans, American Horror Story: Coven, Bob’s Burgers, Eastbound and Down, Grimm, House of Cards, Maron, New Girl, Orange Is the New Black, Raising Hope, Rectify, Sons of Anarchy, Trophy Wife.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 31!

CBGB

The story of Hilly Kristal (played by Alan Rickman) and the legendary ’70s punk club that launched thousands of bands. Also starring Taylor Hawkins as the worst Iggy Pop ever, and Opie from Sons of Anarchy as, natch, a biker. (Xlrator)

Don Jon

Porn aficionado Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and rom-com lover Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) try to make a relationship work despite unrealistic expectations on both sides and the fact that she’s Scarlett Goddamn Johansson. (Relativity)

Hell Baby

When an expectant couple (Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb) moves into a cursed house, it’s up to a pair of Vatican exorcists (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) to vanquish the evil. It’s Reno 911! meets The Exorcist meets House Hunters. (Millennium)

InAPPropriate Comedy

A tablet full of offensive apps becomes the excuse for a random series of comedy sketches starring Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan and others. Directed by the ShamWow guy, so you know it’s funny. (Freestyle)

Sweetwater

An ex-prostitute (January Jones) makes a new life for herself and her husband in 1800s New Mexico, only to have it ripped away; bloody, horrific vengeance and Jones’ bloody horrific acting ensue. Yet it’s still better than The Lone Ranger. (Arc)

More New DVD Releases (Dec. 31)

Angel of the Skies, Black Angel, Cassadaga, Last Love, Love Marilyn, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, Percentage, Sanitarium, Shaolin Warrior, Sister, When Calls the Heart, Zombie Hamlet.

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Dexter (Sunday, Sept. 22, Showtime), series finale: Since it has been going head-to-head with the fiery final episodes of Breaking Bad every Sunday, Dexter has become an unfortunate study in How Not to End a Series. Dexter (Michael C. Hall, obviously already checked out) could have split Miami long ago with Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), but instead, he just had to stick around to take out the Brain Surgeon, his dullest serial-killer nemesis since, well, the last one. (Not to sound like a, blech, TV critic, but it’s been quite a vanilla streak since the Trinity Killer.) And sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and her ridiculous season-long “journey” from lost lush to reinstated cop could have been its own telenovela, La Suerte Puta. Still, The Only TV Column That Matters™ is just as curious to see how the eighth and final season of Dexter concludes as you are. Will Dex finally be caught, executed or just sail away? Will Deb die, and Hannah live happily ever after with Dexter? Or vice-versa? Who’s li’l Harrison going to kill first? Let’s all find out together, remember the good times, and never speak of Seasons 5-8 again.

Mom, Hostages (Monday, Sept. 23. CBS), series debuts: Moneybags CBS can afford to throw crap at the wall and see what sticks, and they’re certainly taking advantage of it with Mom. A recovering-alcoholic comedy? How edgy—so what if Rude Awakening already did it 15 years ago? It’s not that Anna Faris and Allison Janney aren’t good; it’s that the Chuck Lorre sitcom hackery around them is so far from even “meh.” Same goes for Hostages, a political drama that should be at least tolerable due to the presence of Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. Nope.

The Blacklist (Monday, Sept. 23, NBC), series debut: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), one of the FBI’s most wanted, suddenly turns himself in and makes an offer to help them catch even bigger fish, including a previously untouchable mega-terrorist. The one condition: For no (yet) given reason, he only deals with a specific new profiler fresh out of Quantico (Megan Boone). Like her character, newcomer Boone is mostly crowded off the screen by vet Spader’s Acting!, but The Blacklist is instantly slick and engrossing. She’ll likely get a full season to up her game, as the show’s only Monday competition is ABC’s Castle (now rolling its Jazzy into Season 6) and CBS’ Hostages (again, nope).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: Since the pilot was withheld by Marvel and ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only new fall TV show I haven’t seen—and it’s also the one I’m most looking forward to … so their ploy worked, damn it.

Trophy Wife (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: 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-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). With the exception of the equally smart ’n’ sassy Super Fun Night (premiering Oct. 2), Trophy Wife has the best setup, cast and writing of any new ABC comedy. It also has the worst title and time slot (after ABC’s middling new The Goldbergs and against Fox’s The Mindy Project), so expect some Cougar Town-ish indifference from viewers.

Season Premieres This Week

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).


NEW-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 24!

Apartment 1303

A creepy Detroit apartment is driving tenants to commit suicide—sure, it’s the apartment, not the living-in-Detroit part. Then Mischa Barton (remember her?) shows up to investigate the death of her sister and her own career. (Phase 4)

Hannibal: Season 1

An FBI agent (Hugh Dancy) teams up with a psychiatrist (Mads Mikkelsen) to catch serial killers—and since the profiler-shrink just happens to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter, things get bloody weird from there. How’d this get on network TV? (Lionsgate)

I Spit On Your Grave 2

In the sequel to the 2010 remake of the 1978 revenge classic (follow?), a brutalized New York model (Jenna Dallender) settles the score with her attackers in the most twisted and violent ways imaginable. Don’t forget to smize! (Starz/Anchor Bay)

Iron Man 3

In the sequel to the 2010 sequel to the 2008 superhero epic (follow?), a brutalized Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) settles the score with his attacker, with an assist from Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Aw, cute. (Disney/Marvel)

Redemption

In yet more revenge news, a former Special Forces officer (Jason Statham) sets out to avenge the murder of his friend, but soon finds himself sucked even deeper into the London crime underworld. No, you haven’t seen this one before. (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (Sept. 24)

2 Broke Girls: Season 2, American Dad: Vol. 8, Bloody Homecoming, Euro Trapped, Family Guy: Vol. 11, Fill the Void, Hawaii Five-0: Season 3, The Kings of Summer, Law & Order: SVU: Season 14, Modern Family: Season 4, The Neighbors: Season 1, South Park: Season 16, V/H/S/2.

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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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