The only upside to summer coming to an end is that it opens the floodgates for all the networks to release their new fall offerings upon our eyes and ears. Although, given the heavy-hyped debuts of a few freshman series, it's understandable if you thought some were already on the air (yea, I'm looking at you, The New Normal).
With 24 new shows headed your way in the coming weeks, it's important to separate the hits from the misses -- so check out my list of fall's Top 10 New Shows!
Although the Connie Britton/Hayden Panettiere-fronted series revolves around music, this is not ABC's answer to Glee -- there are no overly produced production numbers ... although the vocal-heavy performances are still show-stoppers! As is the unexpectedly layered performance Panettiere gives as Juliette Barnes, the heavily-damaged rising pop-country star who seems hellbent on dethroning Britton's reigning country queen, Rayna James.
The pilot ends with the year's most haunting (scripted) musical performance, and the promise that Nashville will deliver top shelf drama!
Premieres October 10 at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Ben and Kate
Originally titled Ben Fox is My Manny, this comedy starts strong despite playing off a well-worn trope (the immature older sibling relying on the more mature younger sibling) thanks to genuinely funny writing, excellent chemistry across the board and the promise of more. Allow me to explain.
Following production on the pilot, former Community executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan joined as show-runners, teaming with B&K's truly divine creator, Dana Fox, who based the show on real life experiences with her brother. And this holy trinity indicates the pilot's excellence will be magnified in weeks to come.
Premieres September 25 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.
A simple premise (what happens to a world without power) turns out to be anything but under former Supernatural scribe Eric Kripke's guiding hand as his vision for this post-"apocalyptic" world is more Game of Thrones than Hunger Games.
Although Katniss fans will be in luck as Revolution's leading lady (Tracy Spiridakos' Charlie) is cut from the same worn cloth as Miss. Everdeen. A rich mythology is interwoven from scene one, but the first ep's highlights are the gripping action scenes and any time Emmy-nominee Giancarlo Esposito is on screen as the show's villainous (or is he?) Captain Neville.
Premieres September 17 at 10 p.m. on NBC.
The 1960's set drama not only marks Dennis Quaid's TV debut, but could also turn out to be the first show since Mad Men that thrives in this era (see: The Playboy Club, Pan Am, Swingtown). Helping the show succeed are a top notch cast (Carrie Ann Moss, Michael Chiklis, Sarah Jones), pitch-perfect set design and an effortless writing style that perfectly meshes with Quaid's portrayal of the put upon Sheriff Lamb, who would rather be tending to his farm than fighting gangsters.
Premieres September 25 at 10 p.m. on CBS.
The New Normal
Creator Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story) is once again pushing buttons and boundaries with his first sitcom that has already drawn the ire of a Mormon church owned NBC affiliate in Utah. But here's what you may not know about the "controversial" show: it's actually the most balanced project to ever have Murphy's name attached to it. And that's not a criticism, it's a huge compliment considering how easy it would have been for him to go over-the-top with this story about a gay couple's search for a surrogate.
The full spectrum of opinions are represented -- Ellen Barkin channels Archie Bunker as the surrogate's foul-mouthed mother, while NeNe Leakes is a walking, sass-talking Pride flag -- but at the end of the day, the show's central message comes from the mouths of babes as the surrogate and her biological daughter (played by a pair of divine finds, Georgia King and Bebe Wood, respectively) believe that love makes a family. And isn't that the most normal idea you've heard all day?
Premieres September 11 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
Superhero movies have taught us that with great power, comes great responsibility. But I have always been more intrigued by superhero tales that take the "great power" part out of the equation. Bruce Wayne possessed no super human abilities, and yet his drive to right the wrongs perpetrated upon him and the city of Gotham made him so much more than a man. That same idea applies to Arrow (which is also the best pilot The CW has ever produced).
Under the watchful eyes of executive producers Greg Berlanti (Political Animals) and Marc Guggenheim (No Ordinary Family), Arrow quickly evolves into the most dynamic, powerful and addictive superhero tale that's ever aired on network television. And thanks to the show's potent blend of gripping action, characters you want to root for and smart storytelling, I feel safe in saying that the pilot won't be the only reason The CW will be proud to air Arrow.
Premieres October 10 at 8 p.m. on The CW
ABC has already given us one island-set, mythology-heavy, character-drama, and this fall, they just might serve up a second! Starring Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Bruce Davison, Dichen Lachman and Autumn Reeser, Last Resort looks to be a slow-burn series that chronicles what happens after the crew of a military submarine disobeys shady orders, evades execution and mobilizes on an island they declare a sovereign nation. One they vow to protect with force (read: nuclear missiles) if necessary.
Equally intriguing is the action back on U.S. soil as the investigation into the shady orders is conducted by an enterprising techno baby (Reeser) and the father of one "shipwrecked" soldier. I suspect this is a series (created by The Shield's Shawn Ryan) that might be a better fit, tonally, on cable -- but the fact ABC is venturing into these uncharted waters is endlessly exciting. As is the pilot episode!
Premieres September 27 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
I know what you're thinking, isn't this the second season of Simon Cowell's second US talent show? Yes, but with the additions of Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, you know the sophomore year will be a complete reworking of the show, making it, for all intents and purposes, brand spanking new! And infinitely more interesting!
Premieres September 12 at 8 p.m. on Fox.
The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) was one of the most enjoyable autobiographies I've ever read, and she looks to be bringing many of the thoughts, feelings and situations depicted in her book to her new Fox comedy. Also coming along for the ride are Chris Messina, Anna Camp and Stephen Tobolowsky, three of the most consistency excellent actors working today, so you've got to hope The Mindy Project gives them enough to work with.
In fact, that's my big wish for the series. Not that it lives up to the potential of the pilot (which is good, but not great), but that episode two quickly eclipses its ancestor by living up to the standard we all know Mindy to be capable of.
Premieres September 25 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.
More than any previous year, the second and third episodes of freshman series' will make or break my dedication to them. If Go On evolves into a more mainstream Community (as it seemingly aspires to be), then it'll earn a DVR season pass. Should 666 Park Avenue scare up as many thrills as American Horror Story, it could very well become the spookiest series that's ever been on television. Maybe Elementary will separate itself from Sherlock and establish itself as more than your standard procedural by uncovering a delicious dynamic Holmes and Watson have never before discovered.
There's also every chance that the nine aforementioned shows will bomb after drastically declining in quality and totally abandoning the elements that worked in their pilots. The only real way to find out is by tuning in to their series premieres!
Get a full rundown of all the new and returning show premieres dates here!
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- Dennis Quaid