Ranking The New Crop of TV Shows: Fall 2016 Edition

It’s well known we’re currently living in the Golden Age of Television, inundated with just way too much great TV. It’s honestly such a burden, I don’t know how any of us make it through the day. So with our precious time at stake, we have to skim the fat and decide which shows are worth our time. This problem is even more prominent in the fall when a whole new crop of programs come into our lives vying for our love and affection. Luckily, with every new batch of freshman shows, there’s always ones that turn out to be the next Jane the Virgin and ones that will probably end up being more like Wicked City. Exactly. So we’re here to help you decide which shows to let into your life and which ones you can do without.

Definitely Watch This

This Is Us

What: A drama about a loosely connected group of people (think Crash, Love Actually) who were all born on the same day. Fills the character-driven, life-affirming drama spot vacated by the likes of Parenthood and Friday Night Lights.

Why: So I got to see the first episode a couple months ago and I think it’s maybe the best pilot I’ve ever seen? Including Friday Night Lights? I laughed. I cried. I gasped. I screamed. I cried again. It’s everything that you want in a Parenthood/FNL-type show and more. When the trailer was released during upfront week in May, it made history when it was viewed over 15 million times in a little over 48 hours on Facebook. And all those people better tune in come September 20th. On top of it being a well written and unique show, it features Milo Ventimiglia & Mandy Moore as new parents, the dude from Passions and Chrissy Metz as twins, and The People Vs OJ Simpson’s Sterling K. Brown making you wonder why he isn’t more popular yet again. Seriously, you’re going to be missing out at 11:01pm if you don’t watch live. I have a feeling it’s going to be trending on Twitter. And in a good way.

When: Tuesday, September 20th @ 10pm on NBC

The Good Place

What: Centers on a woman (Kristen Bell) who was killed and wakes up in the afterlife aka The Good Place. She’s stuck in a world where everyone is nice, and she’s caught between staying in The Good Place or trying to find a way to return to the mundane life she had back on Earth.

Why: Do you miss Parks and Rec? Love Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Like comedy? Mike Schur, the creator of both those shows, has created The Good Place, which is the right place for you. It’s one of the most promising new shows with the best people starring in it – Kristen Bell and our 80s/90s crush Ted Danson. Plus, we know the writing will be up to par based on Schur’s resume alone, so all these things make for a series that’s better than good.

When: Monday, September 19th @10pm on NBC

Maybe Watch This

Pitch

What: Centers on a young female pitcher (Kylie Bunbury) who defies the odds when she becomes the first woman to play in the major leagues.

Why: Can you believe a woman can be a baseball player? CRAZY, right? Well you better buckle up, skeptical men, because it’s gonna happen and it’s gonna be great. In this fictional world, we get to see the drama behind the woman, and I am here for it. Especially since Mark-Paul Gosselaar is in it. God bless you, preppy.

When: Thursday, September 22nd @9pm on FOX

Atlanta

What: Centers on an ambitious college drop-out and his estranged cousin, who suddenly becomes a star in the Atlanta rap scene. Donald Glover, who created, executive produces and stars in the show, jokingly described it as “Twin Peaks for black people”.

Why: If you’ve ever seen him do stand-up or listened to Childish Gambino, Donald Glover has always had a unique voice that’s not really anything similar to what others are putting out in the world. Enter Atlanta. If you’re looking for Community 2.0, I don’t think this will be your answer, but I imagine it will be as well-written as the first few seasons of Community, but with, you know, more substance. Also, Donald Glover needs us to do this for him. He’s given so much to us, it’s the least we can do.

When: Tuesday, September 6th @ 10pm on FX

Designated Survivor

What: A low-level Cabinet member becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession.

Why: Although the concept sounds a LITTLE like ABC Drama Word Soup (Cabinet! President! Catastrophe! Lines of Succession!), the trailer is solid and, if Scandal and The West Wing has taught us anything, it’s that presidential dramas make for great television.

When: Wednesday, September 21st @ 10pm on ABC

Lethal Weapon

What: Based on the feature film of the same name, Lethal Weapon centers on a Texas cop/former Navy SEAL suffers the loss of his wife and baby and he moves to LA for a new life. He gets paired up with Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.), who, having recently suffered a “minor” heart attack, must avoid any stress in his life. Comedy and action ensue.

Why: TBH, I’ve never even seen any of the Lethal Weapon movies. But this trailer actually appeals to me for some reason? Maybe it’s because I have nothing to compare it to, but on its own, the story looks compelling, so why not try it out?

When: Wednesday, September 21st @ 8pm on FOX

Frequency and Timeless

What: Two shows built around the concept of time travel.

Why: I’ve been obsessed with time travel since I read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine in fourth grade – but with such similar concepts and with two OTHER time travel shows set to premier mid-season, these shows will have to duke it out for a spot on our schedule. Here’s what we’re looking at:

  • Frequency – a police detective communicates with her father, who died in 1996, via radio
  • Timeless – a criminal steals a time machine to ruin America; other time travelers have to go stop him.

Check back in January when we introduce Making History and Time After Time, the midseason replacement time travel programs. Too much of a good thing, perhaps?

When: Frequency – Wednesday, October 5 on the CW; Timeless – Monday, October 3 @ 10pm on NBC

Pure Genius

What: A tech billionaire and a surgeon team up to build a hospital that uses innovative technology and doesn’t burden the patients with sky-high bills. Believe it or not, it is not billed as a fantasy (can we get an ‘amen’ from anyone who got a surprise ER bill recently?).

Why: The concept doesn’t grab me right away, but the show was created by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) and we will watch anything he creates or produces because he has earned it. This man gave us Tim Riggins, Tami Taylor and the Bravermans; we can give him an hour of our time.

When: Thursday, October 27 @ 10pm on CBS

Speechless

What: A middle-class family moves to an affluent area to provide better opportunities for son JJ, who has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal.

Why: Some of the ABC Wednesday Night Family Sitcom Lineup (modern TGIF, basically) is very good; some of it is mediocre. This show has potential to be one of the better ones; besides, there aren’t enough characters or actors with disabilities on television and when one comes around, we like to give it the benefit of our viewership numbers.

When: Wednesday, September 21 @ 8:30pm on ABC

The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey

What: A six-hour docuseries about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the theories about who killed her.

Why: Between Serial and Making A Murderer, true crime is having a moment. There are several JonBenet documentaries leading up to the 20th anniversary of her death (CBS and A&E series, a Lifetime movie, and ID and Dateline NBC specials), but with a full-scale replica of the Ramsey home and six hours to devote to all of the theories and loose ends, this one is our pick. Also, we need you to watch so we have somebody to discuss our 20-year-old suspicions with.

When: Sunday, September 18 @ 8:30PM.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Kevin Can Wait

What: It’s like CBS bingo: Kevin James. Cop. Family life. Skinny wife.

Why: See Above.

When: Monday, September 19 @ 8:30pm on CBS

The Great Indoors

What: Joel McHale works with millennials in some kind of internet office

Why: Look. This was on our “maybe” list until I watched the trailer. It’s all “millennials love the internet and texting and vocal fry” jokes, with a side of “gay joke where the whole punchline is just that a person is gay and another person said it.” Basically The Big Bang Theory with hipsters instead of nerds.

When: Thursday, October 27 @ 8:30pm on CBS

MacGyver

What: A reboot of MacGyver.

Why: I’m just not confident that anyone who wants this is still alive.

When: Friday, September 23 @ 8pm on CBS

Basically Anything On CBS

What: Most of the shows on CBS

Why: Remember when CBS had the reputation as the Grandma channel (Touched By An Angel, Dr. Quinn, Everybody Loves Raymond), and then they went after suburbanites with their Fat Guy/Skinny Wife lineup, and then they redeemed themselves with How I Met Your Mother, and then they completely betrayed our trust with that finale? They’re going to have to earn it back, and that hasn’t happened yet.

When: Monday-Friday @ 8pm – 11pm on CBS

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2016 Unofficial Guide to Your New TV Addictions

If you’re a TV nerd, May is quite an exciting time. Current shows are wrapping up and rolling out their season finales, but networks are also announcing what they’re canceling and what they’re picking up so we can be addicted to brand new shows come fall. This year, ABC decided to Game of Thrones their line-up (did I even use that ref correctly) and axed a bunch of shows, NBC and FOX surprised us with a lot of promising pilots and CBS continued to be CBS-y and very white male-y. So in this “Golden Age of Television”, it’s of utmost import to be more selective than usual when it comes to picking up new shows, which is why I’ve compiled this handy guide to help you on your travels. Here are my picks for the most appealing new shows coming this fall (and midsesason) so you don’t have to waste your time on shows that will only last a few eps and get canceled right away.

The Comedies

The Good Place

Thursdays, 8:30pm • NBC

The Good Place was created by Michael Schur of Parks and Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Office fame, and I feel like that should be enough for you to watch this. But if you still need more, it also stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson (our new #MCE). More? It’s written by a lot of the same writers from Parks. More? It’s features Kristen Bell as a woman who died and went to The Good Place (as opposed to The Bad Place), and now she’s living in a perfect world where she’s wrestling with what it means to be “good”. More? Ugh, stop being a dumb bench and watch the darn thing.

Making History

*Midseason* Sundays, 8:30pm • FOX

Oh Adam Pally. Ever since you walked into our lives as Max in Happy Endings, I never wanted you to leave. He had a great run on The Mindy Project, but he’s definitely making a splash with his own series, Making History. Written by the dudes who brought you 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, it centers around three friends who “find a way to travel through time for truth, justice and riches, which complicates their lives in 2016. They visit some of the greatest moments of the past as they try to resolve their personal problems, while history and pop culture comically collide.” Also, Leighton Meester is in it and the complete opposite of Blair Waldorf. It’s great.

Lethal Weapon

Wedensdays, 8:00pm • FOX

I’ve never actually seen the OG Lethal Weapon movies (I know), but if they’re anything like the trailer for the TV adaptation, I’m here for it. Technically, it seems like the show is more in the dramedy category, but much like Season 1 of Orange is the New Black, I’m lumping it in the comedy section. Anyways, much like the movie franchise, it follows cops Riggs and Murtaugh who work for the LAPD. Former Navy SEAL Riggs (Clayne Crawford) recently lost his wife and unborn child, while Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.) is back in the saddle after a near-fatal heart attack. I admit this isn’t the type of show I’d usually put on my radar, but I was sucked in by the trailer from the first second.

Honorable Mentions

Great News (NBC) {Midseason} – Much like Mike Schur or Shonda Rhimes, I will follow Tina Fey where ever she leads. This time, she’s reunited with 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield (they won an Emmy together!), who created and wrote the pilot, in addition to being an EP. It centers around a millennial woman whose mother (played by My Big Fat Greek Wedding aunt Andrea Martin) gets a job as an intern at the same cable network she works at. I also managed to see the trailer for Great News and it feels like Tracey’s voice – a mix of 30 Rock with The Mindy Project, where she was a writer and actress, playing Adam Pally’s new wife Lauren. There were some LOL lines in the trailer AND surprise – Horatio Sanz is in it!

Powerless (NBC) – {Midseason} Powerless is technically a workplace comedy – except that workplace is an insurance company within the universe of DC Comics. It centers on claims adjustors played by Vanessa Hudgens and Danny Pudi, among others, and how they deal with situations like if Batman ruined a Forever 21 at the mall while saving a little girl, and they have to deal with the aftermath. I managed to see a leaked trailer for the show (which has now been taken down) and it looks like it should be on CW or NBC in the era of Heroes. However, I love BBV with Danny Pudi and it’s a great high concept show that could find a big audience.

Imaginary Mary (ABC) {Midseason} – TBH I didn’t expect the trailer to be as intriguing as it was. Imaginary Mary stars Jenna Elfman as a career woman who meets the love of her life, who happens to be a divorced father with three kids. To help her navigate the transition, her childhood imaginary friend pops up, and she’s voiced by the one and only Rachel Dratch. It seems quirky enough that it might be charming, however it could go the way of The Goldbergs (currently in its 3rd season) or Trophy Wife (RIP). Sidenote: I didn’t realize it was created by Adam F. Goldberg who legit created The Goldbergs, so this will probably be a hit hahaaha

The Dramas

This Is Us

Tuesdays, 9:00pm • NBC

Out of all the new crop of shows, I am the most excited about This Is Us. And I’m not the only one. The trailer for this show has been viewed over 15 million times in a little over 48 hours on Facebook – it’s the most watched new-show trailer ever uploaded during upfront week. The previous record was CW’s Legends of Tomorrow which hit 4.1 million last year. In full disclosure I feel at least 7 million views is from me. Needless to say, people are liking it. And what’s great about it is that while it does star B-list actors like Milo Ventimiglia (<3) and Mandy Moore (<3) and Sterling Brown from The People v. OJ Simpson (<3), it’s not a show with a superstar name attached to it. People are responding to the trailer because it’s good.  This Is Us is written by the folks who brought us the brilliant Crazy Stupid Love, and NBC’s been promoting it like a replacement to Parenthood, which I’m totally fine with. It’s a multi-story show featuring characters who have one thing that times them together, and it’s their birthday. I full expect to laugh and cry and ship Milo and Mandy to the fullest. Gimme this show now.

Designated Survivor

Wednesdays, 10:00pm • ABC

Guys, believe it or not but I’ve never watched a TV program (maybe even movie) that Keifer Sutherland has been in…? This might be the first. Instead of playing a Jack Bauer character, Keifer gets promoted from a lower-level Cabinet member to President of the USA after an attack during the State of the Union kills the President, VP, Speaker of the House and everyone in line to be Pres. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a real law, and if you’re a The West Wing fan, you might remember the storyline from one of the eps. While the plot isn’t necessarily super original, the trailer makes it intriguing and appealing to watch. Because course I need another political drama to get into.

Frequency

Tuesdays, 9:00pm • The CW

I didn’t even know this pilot existed until my friend Jennie brought it up – it’s based on a 2000 movie starring Dennis Quaid of the same name. However this TV version features a female police detective in present day who discovers she is able to speak via ham radio with her estranged father who died in 1996. They have to “work together to change the history of tragic events to come.” Starring Mehki Phifer & Peyton List of Mad Men fame. While this wouldn’t usually be on my TV line-up, I still think it has the potential to be a great series.

Pitch

Thursdays, 9:00pm • FOX

Dan Fogelman of Crazy Stupid Love and This Is Us (see above) has HIT A HOME RUN this TV season, as his other show, Pitch has also been picked up to series. The show centers on a young female baseball player who becomes the first MLB pitcher. Think Mo’ne Davis, but a few years from now. It stars newcomer Kylie Bunbury as lead Ginny Baker,  my forever boo Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mark Consuelos, Ali Larter and Dan Lauria, the dad from The Wonder Years who I also had an irrational fear of. Again, this type of sports show isn’t my usual jam, but I feel like it has Friday Night Lights vibe in that you won’t be focusing so much on the sport, but rather the good drama happening during it.

Shots Fired

*Midseason* Wednesdays, 8:00pm • FOX

I recently got into American Crime and loved both seasons so much – it felt like it should be required viewing for all Americans, since it deals with tough issues like racism and gun control that we’re dealing with day to day. Shots Fired has that same feel. The series from EP Gina Prince-Bythewood, the brilliant writer behind Love & Basketball and Beyond the Lights, takes place in a small Southern town where racially charged shootings have just occurred. It stars Sanaa Lathan, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, and Tristan Wilds – not to mention I am 100% behind the title of this show.

Honorable Mentions

Still Star-Crossed (ABC) {Midseason} – As previously menitoned, I will follow Shonda to the ends of the TV earth. Her latest show is written by a Scandal alum, and based on the book by Melinda Taub. This period drama picks up where Romeo & Juliet left off, and what happens to the Montagues and Capulets once R&J drank the poison. I am such a sucker for Shakespeare that I would’ve watched this anyways, but the Shondaland factor just ups it a bunch of notches.

Bull (CBS) {Tuesdays at 9p} Hamilton’s George Washington AKA Chris Jackson plays a possibly gay dresser in this show kind of based off of Dr. Phil’s life. Except much more interesting and no Dr. Phil.

Star (FOX) – {Midseason – Wednesdays at 9p} Get ready for another music drama from Lee Daniels, this time starring Queen Latifah and a girl group. No Jussie Smollett, so maybe not worth your time?

Doubt (CBS) {Midseason}  – CBS execs originally developed this show last season, but passed it over, revamped it, replaced Private Practice’s KaDee Strickland with Katherine Heigl in hopes of finally giving her a big break on TV that doesn’t involve her being a doctor. In Doubt, she plays a defense lawyer who gets romantically involved with her client who may or may not be guilty of comitting a brutal crime. Hence, she has doubt. Reasons I’m looking forward to this: A) The rest of the cast includes Steven Pasquale, Dule Hill, Dreama Walker, Elliott Gould B) It also stars Laverne Cox, who will be making broadcast TV history when the show features a transgender series regular character played by a transgender actor. C) It’s created and written by Tony Phelan & Joan Rater, producers from Grey’s Anatomy. They also had another pilot up this season, Drew, featuring Sarah Shahi as a modern day adult Nancy Drew. You know, the whole #TooFemale thing.

Chicago Justice (NBC) {Midseason} – The #OneChicago franchise is like CSI/NCIS for CBS or Law & Order on NBC – like do we need another version of this Chicago series? I guess. Will I watch it? I mean probably if nothing else is on.