The fall TV season is well underway and you’ve already seen many of the new dramas and comedies (a lot of you checked out Young Sheldon).
We already gave our takes on last week’s debuts. Now, we’re tackling another set of newcomers. We’ve put in the hours of watching pilots on your behalf and came up with a quick and easy ranking system.
Now: These are the best, buzziest shows that you should season pass and watch the night-of.
Later: We recommend watching these… eventually. After you’ve watched all the “Now” shows.
Never: Sorry, but not all shows are must-see!
Here, we break down the first week of new fall shows with premiere info and our brutally honest snap judgments. And we don’t always all agree, but with several takes — from Yahoo Entertainment’s Kristen Baldwin, Ken Tucker, Mandi Bierly, Chrissy Le Nguyen, Ethan Alter, Kimberly Potts, and Kelly Woo — hopefully it’ll make deciding what to watch that much easier.
Wisdom of the Crowd
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m. on CBS
Otherwise known as, Elementary, My Dear Person of Interest! I’m sure this procedural about a genius inventor who creates a crowd-sourced crime-solving app will do decent ratings, but I couldn’t get past the fact that a crowd-sourced crime-solving app is a really bad idea. Unless you want to incite mob rule and spawn copious violations of civil liberties.
Jeremy Piven, playing a tech genius, has invented an app that enables users to crowd-source information about criminal investigations. It takes longer to explain the premise than it does to explain why the show is terrible: Piven’s character is an unlikable peacock, the show’s gimmick is not believable for a second.
It’s a fascinating idea — using technology and social media to crowd-source tips for criminal investigations — but also a future you may not want to see (a mob of vigilantes is a disturbing sight).
I’m only giving this mediocre at best tech-cop drama a “later” because I’m hoping future episodes will feature way more screen time for Monica Potter.
It’s hard to imagine much of a crowd flocking to watch this halfhearted crowd-sourcing crime drama. Jeremy Piven’s perpetually glum face is the perfect emoji to describe the experience of watching the show.
Sometimes they make it too easy with the titles… like, I’m guessing the wisdom of the crowd is going to mean this drama is ignored, just as audiences did last year with Fox’s similarly-themed APB.
Was the idea for this project crowd-sourced? It would make sense, since the premise makes almost no logical sense. Yes, let’s solve crimes by asking people on the Internet, because that’s worked so well before (NOT).
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox
There were not nearly enough chuckles in this supernatural sitcom, but my love for Adam Scott and Craig Robinson runs deep — or at least, deep enough to give the show one more shot.
I guess Fox was going for a sitcom version of The X-Files: contrasting personalities tackling paranormal phenomena, with a mysterious government agency. But the writing is not worthy of the talents of Adam Scott and Craig Robinson — they’re an odd couple without the laughs.
If you, like me, always enjoyed the geek side of Adam Scott’s character on Parks and Recreation, treat yourself to this half hour, which lets him and Craig Robinson live their best lives (and clearly have so much fun together that Robinson smiles even when his character shouldn’t).
I like both Adam Scott and Craig Robinson too much to not give their paranormal buddy comedy another chance, but the pilot was pretty rough viewing garnering very few laughs from me.
Based on one episode, Ghosted is this year’s Powerless: a fun premise and cast struggling to prop up a so-so pilot. And since Powerless wore out my goodwill early on, I’m going to give Ghosted a chance to find its comic lane before committing. In the meantime, I’ll hope to get my Adam Scott fix from a surprise Season 2 cameo on The Good Place.
As I’m saying “later,” it’s really probably never. Anything that pairs Adam Scott and Craig Robinson is worth checking out, but the laughs aren’t sufficient enough to justify even a second look. Both actors should be in something substantial and funny, but in trying to make the show both, the Ghosted creators ensured the pilot is really neither. Worse, the buddy chemistry between Scott and Robinson is not as great as I expected it would be.
Honestly, Adam Scott and Craig Robinson could make anything work (maybe even Wisdom of the Crowd). They have terrific chemistry as a sort of comedic Mulder and Scully. The pilot isn’t perfect — there’s a lot of exposition — but the potential is huge.
Ten Days in the Valley
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m. on ABC
I am angry at this show, primarily because Kyra Sedgwick’s character — a drug-using TV writer whose daughter goes missing — is so profoundly unlikable, yet I still want to find out what happens next and therefore must keep watching.
Kyra Sedgwick is boldly unlikable as an arrogant TV producer-writer whose daughter is abducted, but her thorny character ends up making this show intriguing. We haven’t seen a female character like this on network television, and I’m interested in seeing where the crime story goes.
By the end of the first hour, you’ll already have many theories, which is great. But you’ll also be annoyed with a character who is lying to the cops when her child is missing. I definitely want to know who did it — and hope that a friend watches and tells me.
A child has gone missing, but none of the adults seem as terribly concerned or distraught as you’d expect them to be. If the characters have no urgency to solve this whodunit mystery, why should I?
I’m sure I speak for at least some parents when I confess that the thought of watching a weekly-serialized drama about a missing child sounds more stressful than shepherding carpool pick-ups. Shows like this should come with their own parental warnings.
Kyra Sedgwick as a TV show mystery writer who finds herself in the middle of her own drama when her daughter is kidnapped… potential is there for a guilty pleasure watch.
The newest addition to the ABC sub-genre “flawed woman races to save her family” is adequate, though not particularly exciting. The cast is great (particularly Kyra Sedgwick). It may just take another episode or two to really get going.
Premieres Monday, Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m. on CBS
Free Linda Lavin and Elliott Gould!
A sitcom built around a gimmicky premise: Mark Feuerstein is surrounded by family; his mom and dad (Linda Lavin and Elliott Gould) live in the apartment on one side of his, his brother (David Walton) lives on the other side. Panicked, claustrophobic humor ensues, or tries to, unsuccessfully.
I love that it’s loosely inspired by Mark Feuerstein’s real life (he lived in the apartment next door to his parents when filming Royal Pains, and his brother and sister-in-law also moved onto the floor at one point), but it’s a bit too sitcom-y for my taste — until I’m home sick on cold medicine one day this winter and decide to binge it on demand.
Here’s the thing about this comedy, it’s trying way too hard to be funny. Every single cast member is worthy of better material.
A stealth reboot of CBS’s gone-and-best-forgotten “divorced guy moves in with his parents” sitcom The Millers, 9JKL swaps Elliot Gould, Linda Lavin, and Mark Feuerstein in for Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, and Will Arnett. All three of those actors deserved better, and so does this trio.
Good cast, but your Linda Lavin sitcom fix would be better fulfilled watching reruns of Alice, which are now available on Amazon Video and iTunes. Specifically: Season 4, “My Cousin, Art Carney,” in which Mel tries to market his chili with Vera’s famous cousin as his spokesman… for chili con Carney.
Elliott Gould and Linda Lavin are wonderful… in everything else they do. This comedy just falls completely flat. In fact, my colleague Mandi Bierly’s sister came up with a much better idea for the title of this show. I want to watch that.
Premieres Monday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. on Fox
The Gifted is lucky that Marvel’s other new entry this fall — ABC’s Inhumans — is so awful, because it makes this family-on-the-run drama seem all the more competent. More Stephen Moyer and less of the mutant teens, please.
Teen-mutant soap opera “set in the X-Men universe,” but don’t go looking for any big-name Marvel Comics characters here. Genre favorites Amy Acker (Angel, Dollhouse, Person of Interest) and Stephen Moyer (True Blood) are the parents in this whiny, do-I-have-to-be-a-hero? melodrama. Matt Nix gets a “created by” credits, but I see no evidence of the clever writer-producer who created Burn Notice here.
It’s so much better than Marvel’s Inhumans. True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer and Angel‘s Amy Acker know how to ground supernatural shows. Plus, no man with hooves.
An engaging premise, impressive effects, and a solid cast will keep me tuning in, but it’s still leagues behind Noah Hawley’s superb X-Men series Legion.
Not as narratively mindbendy or aesthetically bold as Legion, but this mainstream-oriented X-Men TV spinoff does boast solid production values and a cool crew of mutants. It’s far more worthy of the Marvel logo than the studio’s own Inhumans.
The X-Men series is the one new comic book series — after The Punisher on Netflix — I’d consider adding to my playlist, based on the interesting pilot, the showrunner (Burn Notice’s Matt Nix), and the cast (Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker, Coby Bell, and Natalie Alyn Lind).
Hands down the best superhero show of the season (pay attention, Inhumans) thanks to good acting, excellent effects, and emotion-driven writing. And man, they are not holding back on the plot gas pedal!
Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 9:30 p.m. on ABC
Brandon Micheal Hall has a lot of charisma, and the supporting cast (including Yvette Nicole Brown and Lea Michele) is solid, so I could see myself staying on the couch to watch this after black-ish… provided Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a rerun.
Brandon Michael Hall is pretty charming as a rapper who becomes mayor of his California town after entering the race as a lark. The show is a little funny, a little preachy, a little awkward — not the fault of Yvette Nicole Brown, who’s awfully good at handling the preachiest lines playing Hall’s mother. Maybe the show will prove long-term likable.
It feels like this year’s The Grinder — a smart comedy with a solid ensemble cast that most critics will wholeheartedly endorse. Let’s just hope enough viewers tune in for it to score a second season.
The Mayor has my vote! Brandon Michael Hall is a total charmer and his two BFF sidekicks are hilarious. I’m looking forward to seeing more.
The promotional campaign for The Mayor hasn’t done the best job highlighting how fresh and funny this music comedy — which boasts Hamilton‘s Daveed Diggs amongst its producing team — is. More than anything, it’s a relief to be able to laugh at the premise of an entertainer-turned-politician without worrying about real-world ramifications.
The concept of a politically inexperienced entertainer winning an election is a timely, but touchy subject to say the least, but aspiring rapper-turned-small-town mayor Courtney Rose is genuinely well-intentioned. That, along with the always-great Yvette Nicole Brown as Courtney’s mother and new breakout star Brandon Michael Hall as the twentysomething mayor is enough to make The Mayor worth a second viewing.
The classic “fish out of water” premise gets an update and yields a truly funny, sly, and goodhearted comedy. There are pointed parallels to the current political climate, and the performances from Brandon Michael Hall, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Lea Michele are all pitch perfect.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World
Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. on ABC
It was “never” until the about three-quarters of the way into the pilot, when Kevin delivers a sappy, tear-jerking speech about his desperate need for redemption… and yet it somehow totally works, because Jason Ritter is so darn lovable.
Ritter stars as Kevin, who is selected celestially to act as an arm of God in doing some good in the world; he’s aided by an angel-like figure played by Kimberly Herbert Gregory. This one pains me: I like Jason Ritter a lot, and he’s all over this pilot, but this Touched by an Angel-style, feel-good dramedy just seems too cornball to live.
Smart casting led by the innately likable Jason Ritter and JoAnna Garcia Swisher as the lost-soul brother who’s given a mission of faith and the science-minded, widowed sister he has to keep in the dark. It’s got heart and a message of hope, which we can use these days, but it’s gonna need more laughs in the hour. (Also, why is this an hour?)
Kevin is close enough to the cusp of almost-good to make me want to give it a second chance. But the changes that would have to be made — mainly switching to a half-hour format, and losing the Touched by an Angel tone — are unlikely to happen, making me unlikely to tune in again.
Damn you, Jason Ritter, and your charming ways. There’s a lot of set up in this pilot, and I’m still not sure exactly how Kevin is supposed to save the world and what exactly he’s supposed to save it from, but I’m invested enough in him, his relationship with his sister and niece, and his angel-ish handler (played by Vice Principals scene-stealer Kimberly Herbert Gregory) to keep tuning in, at least for a few more episodes.
OK, the premise is really wacky — and the spiritual overtones can be off-putting if you’re not into that kind of thing. But Jason Ritter and JoAnna Garcia Swisher are fantastic and the show has a sweet, almost throwback vibe that is rare on television these days.
Premieres Monday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. on The CW
I’ll be honest, I tuned out as soon as the soldier played by Matt Barr shouted “Hooah!” during sex — approximately 4 minutes and thirty seconds into the pilot.
Army helicopter pilots did something bad while deployed to Somalia. They’re having a tough time adjusting once back in America. The pilot played by star Christine Ochoa calls a male soldier “adorable,” leaving her character open for a summons from Human Resources, and with that, I’ve come up with a more interesting subplot than any offered here.
The military is a hot setting this fall, with CBS’s SEAL Team and NBC’s The Brave. It feels unexpected for The CW — until there’s a hot hookup. But even that won’t keep me coming back.
Hoorah to The CW for taking another swing at extending their brand beyond superheroes and soaps, this time with a military procedural. But neither the network’s youthful demo, nor anyone else, will be persuaded to enlist in such a dramatically contrived and stiffly written series.
The CW’s military drama focuses on a mystery surrounding a mission gone wrong, and the mystery will apparently unfold across the season. Assuming it lasts a season, which I do not, because it will not.
The third military-themed drama of the season is noticeably more low-budget, and the overarching mystery of Nora and Leland’s “mission gone wrong” doesn’t have enough of a hook. In fact, the show feels like a wannabe Grey’s Anatomy with helicopter pilots instead of doctors, and with much less interesting characters.
Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. on The CW
Let’s put it this way: Even the clumsy, Dr. Pepper-shilling pilot for the 90210 reboot was more fun than this flat flop-to-be.
Updating the campy 1980s nighttime soap, this Dynasty features a strong emphasis on female characters plus Grant Show as Blake Carrington. This reboot doesn’t waste any time: There’s girl-on-girl hair-pulling right from the get-go. Also, no moment that seems fresh. Grant Show looks great, though.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s enjoyable enough if you’re a fan of primetime soaps, but it really just made me miss TNT’s Dallas reboot, which, by holding onto some of the key original characters and actors, packed an emotional punch greater than any catfight.
I was too young to watch the original Dynasty and now feel too old to regularly watch a teen-and-twentysomething oriented reboot. But the show clearly knows its genre and target audience, and goes after them with soapy glee. I could occasionally see myself sticking around post-Riverdale to catch up with who is slapping who.
The table-flippin’, prosthetic leg-tossin’ Real Housewives women alone have set a new bar for soapy, over-the-top drama, but updates on the characters (Sammy Jo’s now a dude!) and their motivations from the Dynasty original to this Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage reboot, as well as Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll star Elizabeth Gillies’s Alexis-level diva vibes as plotting Carrington daughter Fallon, make the new Dynasty as guilty pleasure-fun as watching a GIF of the classic Alexis and Krystal lily pond catfight. Here’s hoping it only embraces its delicious cheesiness even more.
I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. It’s not as deliciously campy as the original nor as deliciously wicked as Gossip Girl, which it is clearly trying to be. I’ll give it one or two more episodes, but the show needs to turn the sex and scandal dial up to 11.
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