by KELLIE ABRAHAMSON
Tune in on September 1st for ABC’s Fall Preview Special to get your own a sneak peek.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (September 24) Joss Whedon helms this hotly anticipated superhero series based on S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Comics organization made even more famous by box-office smash The Avengers. The show will work in tandem with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though still be independent enough to hook those who have never seen the flicks. Clark Gregg reprises his role as Agent Phil Coulson, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent tasked with forming an elite team dedicated to the investigation of people with superhuman abilities. While the premise is far from unique, the clout of the Marvel name combined with Whedon’s vision makes this event television.
Trophy Wife (September 24) Malin Akerman takes on the titular role in this offbeat sitcom about a reformed party girl turned step-mom. Upon meeting and marrying older nice guy Peter (Bradley Whitford), Akerman’s character Kate is thrust into the chaos of marriage and motherhood, all while contending with Peter’s challenging ex-wives, played by Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins. The dynamic between the family’s four adults is really what makes this comedy shine.
The Goldbergs (September 24) Set in 1985 and loosely based on the childhood of showrunner Adam Goldberg, the series centers on the Goldberg family, made up of gruff dad Murray (Jeff Garlin), overprotective “smother” Beverly (Wendi McClendon-Covey), teen queen Erica (Hayley Orrantia), overly emotional middle son Barry (Troy Gentile) and the camera-wielding youngest Adam (Sam Giabrone), whose older self (voiced by Patton Oswalt) serves as our narrator. While there are glimmers of something special here, the pilot episode falls a bit flat, so this throwback needs to hit its stride soon to survive.
Lucky 7 (September 24) When their lottery pool gets lucky, the employees of Gold Star service station find themselves rich beyond their wildest dreams. But, as the opening minutes of the pilot show, more money often means more problems. Starring Matt Long, Luis Antonio Ramos, Anastasia Phillips and Isiah Whitlock, Jr., this drama has potential if it can manage to pick up the pace.
Back in the Game (September 25) Maggie Lawson and James Caan star in this amusing take on the single-mom comedy. Lawson plays former All-Star softball player Terry, a down-on-her-luck divorcee who is forced to move back in with her estranged, washed-up athlete father (Caan). Things get more complicated when her socially awkward son (Griffin Gluck) decides to play Little League and gets rejected. Unable to sit by as her son’s dreams are crushed, Terry reluctantly volunteers to coach a new team consisting of all the misfits who were turned down. Yes, this is well-charted territory, but the show has enough laugh-out-loud moments to make it worth your while.
Betrayal (September 29) Hopelessly drawn to each other, yet unhappily married to other people, photographer Sara Hadley (Hannah Ware) and lawyer Jack McAllister (Stuart Townsend) are convinced they’re soul mates and begin a torrid affair. But the happiness they’ve found in each other is cut short when Sara discovers that her husband (Chris Johnson) is going up against Jack in a high-profile murder case. While the premise sets us up for plenty of sizzle, unfortunately this pilot is a whole lot of fizzle. It’s safe to skip this one.
Super Fun Night (October 2) When Kimmie (Rebel Wilson) earns a promotion at her law firm, she finds new doors are suddenly open to her, and she’s determined to bring her life-long friends (played by Lauren Ash and Liza Lapira) along on each new adventure. The sheltered, eccentric trio heading up this sitcom provide plenty of painfully awkward laughs as they stumble into the real world and turn their nights in into super fun nights out.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (October 10) A spin-off of ABC’s fairytale drama Once Upon a Time, this trip down the rabbit hole picks up where last season’s finale left off, but veers into all new territory with the introduction of the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha) and a certain white rabbit (voiced by John Lithgow). The pair set off on a quest to save Alice (Sophia Lowe), and in typical Once Upon a Time fashion, it’s not from something you’d immediately suspect. While the show harkens back to its predecessor, and will naturally please existing fans, it also stands alone well enough to hook the uninitiated.
To get a glimpse of the entire fall schedule, tune in on September 12th for the CBS Fall Preview.
Hostages (September 23) This suspenseful new drama centers on a surgeon (Toni Collette) whose family is held hostage by a rogue FBI agent (Dylan McDermott). In order for everyone to walk away alive, she’s tasked with an impossible mission: kill the President of the United States (James Naughton). Similarities to Fox’s short-lived series The Mob Doctor aside, this one looks worth checking out if only for the guaranteed stellar performances.
Mom (September 23) Chuck Lorre heads up this fledgling comedy about Christy (Anna Faris), a recently-sober mom whose life gets further complicated by the reappearance of her mom Bonnie (Allison Janney), who is also in recovery after spending much of her daughter’s childhood in a drunken, drug-fueled stupor. The dysfunctional family is rounded out by Christy’s teen daughter (Sadie Calvano), who seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps, and her precocious younger son (Blake Garrett Rosenthal). This sitcom fits in well with Lorre’s empire, but it remains to be seen if it will bring enough laughs to give it sticking power.
The Crazy Ones (September 26) Boasting some of the biggest names this pilot season, this half-hour comedy stars Robin Williams as Simon Roberts, an advertising genius who runs a powerful agency alongside his no-nonsense, type-A daughter Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar). James Wolk also has a starring role as a womanizing creative at the firm, essentially an updated flip-flop of his character on last season’s Mad Men. Robin Williams’ return to the small screen is enough to draw a sizeable audience to this David E. Kelly offering, but his innate hamminess might end up being the show’s downfall.
We Are Men (September 30) After being left at the altar, Carter (Christopher Smith) finds himself at a “quality furnished short-term housing” complex where he meets his own personal band of brothers (played by Jerry O’Connell, Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn). All divorced and all on the hunt, the trio coax their new compatriot back on the horse, despite all his reservations. This sitcom was merely ok, but with its strong cast of characters it could easily become must-see TV if handled with care.
The Millers (October 3) When Nathan Miller (Will Arnett) informs his parents of his recent divorce, his father (Beau Bridges) follows suit and leaves his wife (Margo Martindale) of 43 years. The family’s world is further rocked when Nathan’s meddlesome mom moves in with him and his absent-minded dad imposes upon his sister (Jayma Mays). Fart jokes and blue humor notwithstanding, there’s laughs to be found in this Greg Garcia comedy.
Check out clips from each of these new shows at www.cwtv.com.
The Originals (October 3) Fans of The Vampire Diaries got a glimpse of what this new spin-off has to offer when the backdoor pilot aired last April. If you missed it, original vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan) returns to New Orleans, his former stomping grounds. Now ruled by his protégé Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), the city is a playground for vampires, but the rest of the supernatural factions have been oppressed to the point of revolt. In order to dethrone Marcel and bring peace to the Big Easy, Klaus and his brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) make a grudging pact with the witches of the French Quarter. This show is clearly for fans of The Vampire Diaries. If that’s not you, feel free to move along.
The Tomorrow People (October 9) Based on the original British series of the same name, this sci-fi drama centers on Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell), a teen who discovers he’s just one of many who possess incredible powers as the result of human evolution. As if that’s not jolting enough, Stephen soon learns that his kind, the Tomorrow People, are being hunted by a paramilitary group known as Ultra, led by big, bad Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino). While certainly not the best superhero series slated this fall, the show is watchable enough to give a shot.
Reign (October 17) This period drama created by Laurie McCarthy follows the early years of Mary Queen of Scots and her arranged marriage with Dauphin Francis, the future king of France. Historical accuracy takes a backseat to allow for love triangles, steamy sexual encounters (for the CW anyway) and a dash of the supernatural, making this the perfect fit for a very specific niche audience. All others need not apply.
Trailers, clips and more info can be found at www.fox.com.
Sleepy Hollow (September 16) An odd one for sure, this drama mysteriously transports characters from Washington Irving’s famed short story to modern-day Sleepy Hollow. Local law enforcement (including Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones and John Cho) soon find themselves contending with a headless ritualistic killer and an apparent madman (Ichabod Crane, played by Tom Mison) bent on hunting the axe-wielding murderer. Based on that description, chances are you’re either already all in on this bizarre, supernatural ride or you’re not.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (September 17) Backed by writers from Parks & Recreation and the directors of 21 Jump Street, this cop comedy starring SNL alum Andy Samberg is one of the most promising sitcoms of the season. Samberg plays a laid-back detective whose new captain (Andre Braugher) is determined to whip his precinct into shape. Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz and Joe Lo Truglio are also on duty as cops subject to the new boss’s steely glare.
Dads (September 17) Seth MacFarlane produces this sitcom which stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two successful guys whose fathers (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) move in with them, turning their worlds upside down. The highly-publicized, racially-charged humor that abounds in the pilot is just one of the reasons critics across the board are predicting a short life for the series. Fox is standing by the show, urging viewers to give it a chance to find its voice, but it’s hard to imagine this one lasting long enough to do much but fumble and offend.
Almost Human (November 4) Executive-produced by J.J. Abrams, this high-tech action drama is set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. Robot-hating detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is forced to pair up with one of these automatons (Michael Ealy), creating an unlikely partnership as the duo works together to fight crime. The ambitious series feels fairly derivative, but it’s worth checking out if you’re a sci-fi fan.
Enlisted (November 8) Kevin Biegel’s military comedy follows three brothers (Geoff Stults, Parker Young and Chris Lowell) assigned to a Rear Detachment Unit on a Florida Army base. This heartfelt charmer walks a fine line between serious and silly, but thankfully never wanders into disrespectful territory.
Head over to www.nbc.com/upcoming-shows for the complete fall schedule.
The Blacklist (September 23) The FBI’s most wanted criminal (James Spader) mysteriously turns himself in and offers his assistance in bringing down some of the biggest terrorists in the world. His one caveat: he’ll only work with no-name rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The set-up echoes Silence of the Lambs, and Spader plays one heck of a Hannibal Lecter-styled mastermind. For that reason alone, you should give this drama a chance.
The Michael J. Fox Show (September 26) Michael J. Fox returns to NBC playing, essentially, himself. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Mike Henry (Fox) gave up his career as a news anchor to focus on his health. After five years, Mike decides to get back to work to the great relief of his family, who are anxious to finally have him out of the house. The pilot sets the tone: despite how close this story parallels Fox’s real life, we have permission to laugh. Unfortunately, the jokes just aren’t there yet. Still, NBC has already given the sitcom a 22-episode commitment, so they clearly believe in it. It remains to be seen if audiences will feel the same.
Ironside (October 2) At first blush, this drama appears to be a by-the-numbers police procedural featuring a tough-as-nails cop who plays by his own rules. It is, in fact, all of those things. But the title character, played by Blair Underwood, is confined to a wheelchair, adding a pseudo twist to this well-traveled territory. The show is, for the uninitiated, a remake of the long-running 1960s series by the same name. But given how saturated the airwaves are with shows nearly identical to this one, it’s hard to believe the series will live quite as long as its namesake.
Sean Saves the World (October 3) When his teenage daughter (Samantha Isler) moves in full-time, Sean (Sean Hayes) strives for single-parent perfection but soon realizes that the expectations of his demanding new boss (Thomas Lennon) make that goal an impossibility. The delicate balance of work and family is the entire premise, which will be fine for a few episodes, but without changing gears somewhere along the way it’s hard to imagine this show having much staying power.
Welcome to the Family (October 3) Two families find their futures permanently altered and intertwined when teens Junior Hernandez (Joseph Haro) and Molly Yoder (Ella Rae Peck) announce that they’re expecting a baby and are getting married. The “culture clash” aspect of this sitcom is pretty outdated, but it seems mostly harmless. Give it an episode or two before deciding whether to write it off.
Dracula (October 25) Jonathan Rhys Meyers occupies the title role of this dreary period piece, which is a reimagining of the classic novel. While posing as an American business man, our favorite bloodsucker makes a name for himself in Victorian society. But he has an alternate agenda: revenge on those who cursed him with immortality. The general public’s fascination with vampires seems to be winding down, so this particular effort may be too little, too late. Still, Rhys Meyers is a compelling choice for the iconic character, so it may be worth sinking your teeth into anyway.