By Lauren CraigAirs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS starting Oct. 3
If you love shows like “Modern Family” and “Parenthood,” then stay tuned to watch the series premiere of “The Millers.” From Greg Garcia, who brought you the hit “My Name is Earl,” this original comedy will keep the whole family laughing. After getting divorced, Nathan Miller (starring comedian Will Arnett, fresh off his last show “Up All Night”) is looking forward to bachelorhood. However, his plans to live the single life are delayed by his own parents’ marital problems that prompt his mother (Margo Martindale) to move in with him. Ironically, the divorce brings the Miller family closer together, as his father (Beau Bridges) moves in with his sister who lives nearby. The atomic personalities of Martindale’s and Bridges’s characters collide to create hilarious arguments and crazy antics, including a yelling match over when the last time they had sex was (while Nathan wishes he wasn’t in the room overhearing this awkward debate).
All audiences will relate to the growing pains that the family faces: Teenagers will feel Nathan’s annoyance when his overbearing mother decides to crash his party in her pajamas, and adults will find similarity to Bridges’s mid-life crisis of wanting to be a young bachelor again. “The Millers” gives valuable life advice about family while providing laugh-out-loud fun. Expect for the show to be on air for a long time with its superb cast and quirky humor.
The Michael J. Fox Show
By Dieter JoubertAirs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC starting Sept. 26
Ask a random college student, and they’ll remember Michael J. Fox either as the kid from “Back to the Future” or from his role guest starring as a caricature of himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” in which he hilariously poked fun at his own experiences living with Parkinson’s disease.
NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show” is essentially a show based around the fun he had on “Curb.” In his new comedy, Fox plays a thinly veiled version of himself in the form of Mike Henry, a news anchor who gave up his job several years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Much of the humor comes from lighthearted mishaps that occur due to Henry’s condition, such as an attempt to dial his wife on the phone that results in accidentally calling a confused police officer to his door.
There’s plenty of great material, delivered with characteristic charm by Fox. The show faces some minor struggles in sorting out its tonal shifts — moments of fluff suddenly give way to the tragic consequences of Parkinson’s. However, even “Scrubs,” renowned for its balance of sentiment and slapstick, was not considered perfect in its first season, so any organizational issues this new comedy faces do not outweigh the excellence Fox brings to the table.
With Betsie Brandt (“Breaking Bad”) and Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”) rounding out the cast, “The Michael J. Fox Show” is poised to be an upbeat romp that ultimately explores the thin veneer between Fox and the character he portrays, giving way to the poignancy at the heart of the show.
Super Fun Night
By Thuy PhamAirs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC starting Oct. 2
Fans of Rebel Wilson’s comedy in “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect” will be stoked to hear that she created and will star in her own TV show, which is actually inspired by Wilson’s actual “fun nights” with her sister in Australia. “Super Fun Night”’s ABC comedy pilot introduces Wilson as Kimmie Boubier, a woman who has spent every Friday night for the past 13 years with her two best friends and roommates Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash). However, a promotion at her law firm leads her to chalk up to changes. Her infatuation with one of her new associates, British attorney Richard Royce (Kevin Bishop), leads her to the conclusion that it’s time to lead their fun nights away from the living room and into the clubs. Hilarity ensues when she convinces her friends to spend the night out, and maybe pave the way for awesomeness, as they try to get their way into a club.
“Super Fun Night” twists the traditional multi-camera to single-camera format, which will put more focus on the screen and will center on Rebel’s performance. The show places the awkward “nerdy” girls in the spotlight rather than in the background.
“The purpose of the show, to me, is to inspire girls who don’t think they are cool, or popular, or pretty, and all that, to get out there and have fun and exciting lives,” Wilson told Xfinity TV blog. It’ll be worth it to tune in and see Rebel Wilson pave the way for other girls to break out of their shell in her own TV show.
The Crazy Ones
By Jacqueline KimAirs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBS starting Sept. 26
Whoever thought up this show was the crazy one. And not in the ground-breaking, world-changing, Mac-advertisement way. Possibly one of the strangest — and yet most intriguing — shows to make its debut this fall, “The Crazy Ones” will star Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as father and daughter (because, of course, the resemblance is so striking). Yes, you read that right: Mrs. Doubtfire is Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s father.
Marking his first television series in 32 years since “Mork and Mindy,” Williams will play Simon Roberts, an over-the-top, eccentric advertising executive. Despite his position, the head honcho is anything but responsible, as he’s more inclined to box with his life-sized Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot and converse with a labyrinthine, wall-length portrait of himself in his office — all of which meets his personal standards of normalcy. Unsurprisingly, his lack of dependability leaves his agency in hot water, forcing his daughter and protegee Sydney to save the family company on her own — even if it means bursting out into a McDonalds jingle in front of Kelly Clarkson at a crowded restaurant.
Television nowadays is filled with more than enough shows featuring the trope of the bumbling, irresponsible, lazy father with a wiser kid who constantly rolls his or her eyes at Dad’s antics before setting him straight. (But only temporarily, until TV writers have to figure out how to set off another chain of chaotic events, and Dad is yet again the culprit.) Then why, aside from the stellar albeit offbeat casting, would “The Crazy Ones” be any different from the other humdrum mass of comedies featuring the dynamics of a dysfunctional family?
Despite the fact that Sydney serves as the parent of the Roberts family more often than her own father does, the plot opens the way for the quirky father-daughter relationship to grow and mature, and with Williams and Gellar as leads, it will assuredly be performed with a lot of heart. If anything, it’ll be worth it to watch the pair alongside a flurry of special guests (Brad Garrett and Josh Groban have already been booked to make appearances). And of course, there’s the fact that it’ll be Williams in his comedic element, as much of his acting in “The Crazy Ones” is improvised. Well, maybe that’ll be sort of like that Mac campaign.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
By Jacqueline KimAirs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC starting Sept. 24
That’s just about all the motivation comic book fans need to watch ABC’s newest — and perhaps most anticipated — fall offering, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” That, and the fact that the show is the latest brainchild of “The Avengers” director and geek favorite Joss Whedon.
Audiences mourned the tragic and unexpected twist of Agent Phil Coulson’s death in last summer’s superhero flick, but bewilderingly, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is headlined by the supposedly deceased fan favorite, despite the fact that the show is not a prequel. With the Battle of New York (and that mere blip of being fatally stabbed by Loki) well behind him, “son of Coul” (reprised by Clark Gregg) is now in charge of a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. spies who will continue to study and track emerging superhumans.
It is highly unlikely that we’ll be seeing any of the staples of Marvel — namely, Tony Stark and his irrepressible snark or the Hulk smashing away — until 2015’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Nonetheless, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has assembled a cast worthy of our beloved mismatched heroes who will, at the very least, tide fans over until the Phase Two films roll their way onto the silver screen. Included in this lineup are Skye (Chloe Bennet), a perky computer hacker who is coerced into joining the agents in only the most persuasive (read: forced) ways that give S.H.I.E.L.D. all its charm, and pilot Melinda May (Ming Na-Wen), who struggles with her insecurities but reveals a certain inner strength unmatched by her fellow agents. (This may ring some bells, considering Na-Wen voiced a similar role in “Mulan.”) And of course, Agent Maria Hill will be featured in the pilot, though her appearances throughout the series will be few and far between. (We can blame Cobie Smulders’ recurring stint on “How I Met Your Mother” for that.)
Expect quippy dialogue that only Whedon could write, coupled with the sort of delivery that TV vet Gregg’s mastery can offer. Of course, if all else fails and “Agents of “S.H.I.E.L.D” falls prey to the “Firefly” syndrome of being prematurely booted off the air, geeks can always petition for Whedon to write the screenplay for “The Avengers: Age of Coulson.”
By Jonah YonkerAirs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox
Although Washington Irving’s verbose short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is fast approaching its 200th birthday, Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” is anything but stuffy. Weaving revolutionary history with biblical and occult elements, the show delivers a fast-paced race against the apocalypse that’s bursting with action, mystery and plenty of creepy thrills.
To make this kind of translation possible, the story needed some serious retooling. Superstitious schoolteacher Ichabod Crane (played by theater actor Tom Mison and a pair of sexy cheekbones) is recast as a patriot in the Revolutionary War, buried after decapitating a hellish Redcoat and sustaining a mortal wound. Crane makes like Jesus with a broken alarm clock and reawakens 250 years later, running wild until he is arrested and questioned for the decapitation of the local sheriff (Clancy Brown). Exonerated but transferred to a mental asylum, Crane forges an uneasy alliance with Lieutenant Abby Mills, played with appropriate bewilderment by Nicole Beharie (“American Violet,” “42”). Together, the pair embarks on an investigation that rapidly becomes a stand-off with the Headless Horseman, complete with witchcraft, demons, crazy Latin incantations and Sulu from Star Trek (no, seriously).
“Sleepy Hollow” offers a lot in its forty-minute running time. By turns a historical thriller, a chilling ghost story and a fish-out-of-time period comedy (poignant Starbucks commentary abounds), this show explores its roots in American folklore and history with a contemporary edge. The show’s apocalyptic premise adds a certain urgency to the proceedings, and a tangible amount of scholarly mystery keeps the story moving briskly without sacrificing intelligence in the process. That being said, “Sleepy Hollow” isn’t too wrapped up in enigma to ignore the humor of such a plot and never descends into the self-importance of its supernatural peers. Fans of horror, action, mystery or headless hijinks, look no further for a wicked good time.
By Dieter JoubertAirs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC
As the saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the crime-thriller genre. NBC’s new show, “The Blacklist,” pairs the likes of “The Silence of the Lambs” with “24,” centering on Raymond Reddington (James Spader), a criminal mastermind at large who turns himself in with the intent of helping the FBI catch the real bad guys. Much like “24,” “The Blacklist” episodes revolve around Reddington guiding a rookie FBI agent (Megan Boone) to take down the villains — otherwise known as his so-called “blacklist” of criminals.
While it’s certain that thriller tropes will abound in this series (even the opening sequence appears to be pulled directly from David Fincher’s “Se7en”), “The Blacklist” is poised to overcome cliches, with plenty of wry comebacks and dramatic tension from veteran thespian Spader. Best known for playing eccentric characters in films that are more popular with critics than in the box office, Spader puts his acting chops to work here, easily exhibiting the calm menace required of a mastermind who’s constantly in control of the situation.
It remains to be seen whether NBC will be able to spin the show into a successful multi-season drama. Like most shows in the genre, “The Blacklist” risks turning into a never ending array of increasingly ridiculous situations and baddies (like the latter seasons of “24”), without tackling the central enigma at the heart of the drama: Reddington’s motivations. (We’re assuming he didn’t turn himself in purely for altruistic reasons.)
Of course, that’s no reason not to get sucked into the show. With a talented cast and an intriguing main character (required in a post-“Breaking Bad” world), “The Blacklist” promises to offer a great new thriller to complement the bleakness of fall.
By Raquel CalderonAirs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on Fox
When there’s a crime drama (or even three or four) on every television network, a comedic cop show sounds like “something different” at best and an inevitable disaster at worst. In such a world, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has shown signs of promise with subtle situational humor and an array of atypical characters. Andy Samberg plays eccentric, loud-mouthed Detective Jake Peralta. Unlike most comedy protagonists, Jake excels at his job; his talent at solving crimes and cracking cases is matched only by his immaturity. Jake takes nothing seriously, and he seizes every opportunity to make a joke. But his free reign is interrupted when the 99th precinct gets a new commanding officer, Captain Ray Holt (Andre Baugher). After being denied a squad in the past due to his sexual orientation, Holt is now determined to build the best team in New York. He goes about trying to crack down on Peralta, who responds with clever actions that somehow result in seeing 80 percent of Samberg’s bare body in the first episode.
The rest of the cast, at first glance, appears to be made up of crime series archetypes (straight-laced partner, bumbling dork, tough female cop). These traits lend themselves to some subtle hilarity, but the real test will be seeing how the show rounds out its characters. The creators have already demonstrated that they are willing to take risks, and if they continue to do so they may have a hit. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” never goes more than a minute without soliciting at least a chuckle. Keep an eye out to see if its subtle humor grows into full-blown hilarity.
By Kyle SomersAirs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox starting Nov. 4
Some great TV shows, like “Family Guy” and the third incarnation of “CSI,” seem to offer little originality in the way of premise but succeeded because the content of the show was entertaining and consistent. With originality in mind, “Almost Human” has a plot that may be uncannily similar to “I, Robot.” Both productions feature a detective (Karl Urban in the case of “Almost Human”) with a hatred for robots and a cyborg appendage, who is forced to work with an android (Michael Ealy) that is unique in its ability to feel pain and emotion.
But that premise as a TV series is an appealing one. “Almost Human” is a detective show at its core, containing plots often starting with a string of murders and robberies or a suspect claiming to have been framed. Those leads always develop into stories that are frequently far more incredible and dangerous than a detective would encounter in real life. Whatever. Millions of people will tune in to watch these kinds of shows, and “Almost Human” may do this as well as the best of them, but what really sets it apart is the sci-fi action. This aspect isn’t handled by a Hollywood newbie but by J.J. Abrams, of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” fame, who is one of the show’s executive producers. The result is that “Almost Human” consistently features gritty action scenes and cinema-quality effects on a weekly basis, setting a new standard for what we can come to expect from a TV show.
The characters also make the show a stand out from other crime shows in which even the main characters are forgettable and cookie-cutter. For instance, Mackenzie Crook, best known as the pirate with the glass eye in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” plays a somewhat mad scientist who makes artificial intelligence. The main character is a complicated wreck of a cyborg cop, while his partner is a quirky, upbeat robot with some confusion about his identity as the only android capable of emotion. While it contains many well-worn aspects of detective shows that have been shown to work, “Almost Human” has plenty of original ideas that will keep the show alive and interesting well past its first season.
By Thuy PhamAirs Fridays at 10 p.m. on NBC starting Oct. 25
Kick off this fall’s Halloween season with 10 episodes of an American-British collaboration of Bram Stoker’s novel. Although vampires have a bloody long trail in the spotlight, NBC and Sky Living have teamed up to take advantage of their ever-growing popularity by recreating the most well-known vamp around. Nonetheless, with the hunky actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers at the helm it deserves another look. Fans of the Golden Globe winner’s performance in “The Tudors” can expect more than the classic Dracula story, so expect Meyers to add sexy and slick to the scary. Dracula poses as Alexander Greyson, an American entrepreneur arriving in London to introduce modern science to Victorian society. Underneath this appearance, he is trying to get revenge on those who had wronged him. It will be very interesting to see Dracula play the role of a victim rather than the evil force in this show. As usual, things fail to go according to plan when a reincarnation of Greyson’s dead wife enters the picture. Bloodsuckers may have been a little overdone recently, but Meyers and an invigorating new script will capture audiences the same way Dracula hooks in his prey.