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With so many new series about to be unloaded on us as the fall season looms ever closer, trying to figure out which ones we're most excited about was no easy task. But there are some comedies and dramas that really are brimming with potential this fall, thanks to great premises and in some cases, some really excellent talent involved. Whether or not these shows actually live up to that potential remains to be seen, and we'll find out in a matter of weeks. In the meantime, here's our list of shows we're especially excited about, listed in no particular order.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Premieres: Tuesday, September 24 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC
Created by: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Bret Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker
To say that we're simply anticipating Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would probably be a huge understatement. Not only does this series follow the excellent Avengers film, but it also brings Joss Whedon back to television, teamed with his brother and sister-in-law Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. The series is set in the same "world" as The Avengers and the other Marvel films we've seen, which means this is a reality that is aware of the superhuman and sometimes god-like people living among the rest of the human population. The series focuses on the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D., the global organization that strives to monitor activity and incidents related to these superhuman people.
In the wake of The Avengers, the concept of S.H.I.E.l.L.D. seems brimming with potential. What's more, the show should be able to exist somewhat independently from the films, tying to them in some major ways without stepping on the toes of Iron Man, Thor and the other related movies in terms of the plot. The emphasis on the agents who work in this organization allows for all new stories and adventures to play out. Factor in Clark Gregg's big comeback as he returns to the role of Agent Phil Coulson, who was believed to have died in Avengers, and there's even more reason to hope S.H.I.E.L.D. is a winner. Whedon certainly has the track record for quality shows.
Premieres: Tuesday, September 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX
Created by: Michael Schur and Dan Goor
Starring: Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero and Terry Crews
A few years into the increasingly successful run of NBC’s The Office, showrunner (and adapter for American television) Greg Daniels co-created Parks and Recreation with Michael Schur, one of his writers (and Mose) from the hit mockumentary series. And with the sixth season of the ‘sort-of-spin-off’ starting this fall, Schur has now teamed up with Dan Goor, one of his writers, to co-create Fox’s new cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. If the Schur-Goor series set in the police department is even half as good as Parks and Recreation, audiences are in for something special. Since the talent behind-the-scenes wasn’t impressive enough (that’s two Emmys a piece for the writer-creators), 21 Jump Street’s Phil Lord and Chris Miller were also brought in to direct the pilot.
Of course, the incredible talent in front of the camera also deserve their fair share of the hype with Andy Samberg (who joined SNL the season after Schur left there for The Office) leading a really funny cast. And the great Andre Braugher. Not saying that he’s not funny, just the esteemed actor might be better known for his more serious work like Homicide: Life on the Street. Back to the comedy. The supporting cast includes; Terry Crews, who’s amazing in everything from The Longest Yard to The Newsroom, The State crew’s Jo Lo Truglio and stand-up comedian Chelsea Peretti. It’s one of the few fall previews with consistent laughs, not just trailer moments. You should all book Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Premieres: Thursday, October 3 at 9:00 p.m. on The CW
Created by: Julie Plec
Starring: Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, Daniella Pineda
The CW has already found success with The Vampire Diaries and the network is looking for another hit with the show’s spinoff The Originals. I’d argue that it might be difficult to cultivate two vampire-oriented dramas on the same channel, but with many of the most interesting characters from the series headed to The Originals, I’d say TVD might actually have the bigger problem. Fans of the series have already been privy to a backdoor pilot that introduced us to a thriving New Orleans and an intriguing cast of characters, pulling many of our favorites from The Vampire Diaries into this NOLA universe.
Klaus has always been a fan favorite on TVD and in The Originals backdoor pilot, we see a passion and a desire in him to return to his glory days and the town he formerly ran. We also get to meet Klaus’ progeny Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), a complicated vampire who instills fear on a whim and who now runs the great southern city. The show is shaping up for a standoff between the two vampires, and thanks to its flavor, style, and characters, it’s certainly the most anticipated new program headed to the CW this year.
Premieres: Tuesday September 24 at 9:30 p.m.
Created by: Emily Halpert, Sarah Haskins
Starring: Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford, Marcia Gay Harden
It’s extremely difficult to tell how funny a sitcom is going to be based on a trailer. There are just way too many variables related to how jokes are set up, how quickly they come and in what context they’re delivered. Consequently, the best way to forecast success is typically to look at the premise, and as premises go, Trophy Wife has a pretty damn funny one. Watchmen star Malin Akerman plays the severely overwhelmed, woefully incompetent new wife of Bradley Whitford. He’s got two exs, a brood of children and clearly, a tendency to bail.
Conflicts between step-parents and children have been mined for both comedy and drama since the beginning of Hollywood. If Trophy Wife is going to succeed, it needs to not head too far into either category. The key is finding the right balance. Think Jay and Manny on Modern Family. Yes, tons of laughs are had at the expense of their awkward relationship, but producers are always able to keep the plotlines grounded enough that they still feel honest and touching. If done correctly, Trophy Wife could find that same balance and turn into one of ABC’s best new shows.
Masters Of Sex
Premieres: Sunday September 29 at 10:00 p.m. on Showtime
Created by: Michelle Ashford
Starring: Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan
The true story of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson is far too fascinating, complicated and important to possibly recount in two paragraphs. So, here’s the two sentence version. He was a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis specializing in sexuality, and she was hired to be his assistant but later emerged as an extremely important partner in his work. Together, they studied, observed and wrote about their observations while watching thousands of people have sex, becoming incredibly famous and marrying each other in the process.
If any new show this year needs the freedom of premium cable, it’s this one. Masters & Johnson took Dr. Kinsey’s meticulous, interview-based research on sexuality and got up close and personal with it. They spent hours every single day watching random couples have sex and/ or watching people masturbate. Material like that needs the freedom of Showtime, and with capable actors like Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan playing the two beloved researchers, there’s no reason to think Masters Of Sex won’t prove to be a very satisfying roll in the hay.
The Michael J. Fox Show
Premieres: Thursday, September 26 at 9:00 p.m. on NBC
Created by: Sam Laybourne, Will Gluck
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt, Conor Romero, Wendell Pierce
For several years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Michael J. Fox semi-retired from acting as his symptoms worsened. However, his various TV appearances on programs like Rescue Me and The Good Wife have been well-received, and the actor opted to return to television this fall with a new comedy about family, work, and how to achieve balance.
Working around the whole Parkinson’s thing would have been nearly impossible, so NBC didn’t bother. Instead, the network opted to focus on a comedy about a guy returning to work as a newscaster after the Parkinson’s gets bad but the cabin fever from staying at home all day is even worse. Fox’s wife in the series is Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt and his boss is Treme actor Wendell Pierce, so we know we are getting an all-star cast, and we’ve already gotten the trailer for the series, which helps us to understand the show’s charming and amusing tone. We’ll have to wait a few episodes to officially tell whether or not Fox is back in the acting groove, but if the promos for this show are any indication, it might bring the “must-see” back into NBC’s Thursday night lineup.
Premieres: Monday, November 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX
Created by: J.H. Wyman
Starring: Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Lili Taylor and Minka Kelly
From executive producers J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk, the latest Bad Robot show might actually feature some bad robots with Almost Human set in the not so distant future (35 years to be exact) where ‘synthetics’ exist and are partnered with human police officers. The most enticing aspect of the new police procedural, however, has to be that the project was created by former Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman. Fringe was perhaps the boldest, sharpest and most satisfying sci-fi storytelling on network (or cable) television so maybe it’s not too unrealistic to hope that Almost Human takes the same risky and original approach instead of being just a dressed-up but still formulaic police procedural.
The futuristic buddy cop drama also features a stellar ensemble lead by buddies, Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. Urban, who’s fantastic in everything (most recently reprising his role as Bones for J.J.’s Star Trek Into Darkness), plays a human police officer who isn’t all that pleased nor impressed with the android allies, especially after an incident leaves him injured (well, without a leg) and forced to use a robotic prosthetic. When he returns to active duty, he’s also forced to have synthetic partner but a ‘special’ case like Urban’s requires a special synthetic, one that doesn’t particularly like that term and is played by Ealy. Ealy was great in the underseen Sleeper Cell, it’s about time he landed a big part and the chemistry between the odd couple looks as entertaining as any of the sci-fi or action trappings. The future is soon! Watch.
Premieres: Tuesday, September 24 at 9:00 p.m. on ABC
Created by: Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin, Sean Giambrone, Patton Oswalt (voice)
Back in the 80s, some families would gather around their TV sets -- they were called "sets" back then and some of them even looked like furniture -- to watch whatever family-focused television was on. And there was no shortage of that available on primetime, including The Wonder Years, a nostalgic drama about a kid coming of age in the late '60s. The Goldbergs looks like it could be the modern-day answer to The Wonder Years in its focus on a kid coming of age among the generation that watched The Wonder Years... and a lot of other TV shows and movies. 11-year-old Adam is living in his own wonder years, a part of the MTV generation, just trying to get by while living under the reign of his overbearing mother and hot-tempered dad. It's fine family fun with an 80's twist.
The Goldbergs' clothes and hair may be beyond dated, but nostalgia will never go out of style, which is why we're hoping The Goldbergs will be among this season's winning comedies. Set in a decade brimming with beloved pop-culture references there's plenty of opportunity for humor and fond looks back at yesteryear. Beyond the premise, there's also Bridesmaids' hilarious Wendi McLendon-Covey and Curb Your Enthusiam's Jeff Garlin playing mom and pop Goldberg to look forward to.
Premieres: Friday, October 25 at 10 on NBC
Created by: Cole Haddon, Daniel Knauf
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jessica De Gouw, Katie McGrath
NBC’s newest drama is both a period tale and one about vampires, a subject matter the market is pretty well saturated with already. The series is also set to air on Friday nights, which is typically a death slot for programs. Yet, Dracula, a program about a vampire hoping to bring technology to Victorian London and who seeks revenge for a wrongdoing centuries earlier, has a real chance of not only surviving but thriving on NBC this season, for numerous reasons.
The first is that Dracula has been well-cast, signing on heartthrob Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who is known for playing Henry VII in the HBO drama The Tudors. We already know the man is capable in period dramas and for the Victorian story, he’ll star opposite Jessica De Gouw, a relative newcomer who shined on The CW’s Arrow last season. The reimagining of Bram Stoker’s famed novel will be carefully cultivated by Carnivale creator Daniel Knauf, and as for that Friday night slot, Dracula has been carefully paired with NBC’s delightful program, Grimm, which also looks into a world that is dark and full of the supernatural. If Dracula is half as interesting as its trailer seems to allude, it should make for a fine pairing on Friday nights.
The Crazy Ones
Premieres: Thursday, September 26 at 9:00 p.m. on CBS
Created by: David E. Kelley
Starring: Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk
Robin Williams' return to television is reason enough to hope that The Crazy Ones works out. The fact that it's a single-camera comedy on CBS is another aspect worth noting about it. And then there's the matter of David E. Kelley's involvement. Kelley's better associated with dramas (Harry's Law, Boston Legal), though his previous hour-longs have certainly incorporated some comedy, tonally, so the shift in genre might not be quite so drastic. Williams, single-camera comedy and Kelley are three reasons to be excited for The Crazy Ones. And of course, there's also Sarah Michelle Gellar. Things didn't work out so well for Gellar's CW series Ringer, but we're hopeful that a show with a bit more humor (and a bit less confusing twin-switching drama) will suit her much better.
The Crazy Ones stars Williams and Gellar as Simon and Sydney, a father and daughter duo working together at an advertising agency. While Sydney is organized and motivated, Simon's a bit unpredictable, with unorthodox methods for running his company. Of course, he's also really good at what he does, which certainly helps. As if Williams and Gellar weren't enough to get us excited and hopeful for this new comedy, the series will also feature guest appearances by Kelly Clarkson and Josh Groban.