American Horror Story: Coven
Wednesday, Oct. 9 (FX)
Season Premiere: So, you didn’t like Season 2; 2012’s Asylum was just too dark, complicated and humorless a follow-up to American Horror Story’s near-perfect first season. Showrunner Ryan Murphy knew you’d be back for more, anyway, but at least he’s made adjustments with American Horror Story: Coven—yes, the title implies more witches. Set in modern-day New Orleans, Coven borrows a little from X-Men: Returning AHS repertory player Jessica Lange runs a school to teach young witches (like also-returning Taissa Farmiga) how to harness their powers to survive—especially against rival voodoo practitioners (like new AHS arrival Angela Bassett). Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy and Alexandra Breckenridge are also back, and Murphy seems to be making good on his promise of a campier season loaded with “evil glamour” … whatever that is.
Thursday, Oct. 3 (CBS)
Series Debut: When news reporter Nathan (Will Arnett) gets a divorce, it inspires his father (Beau Bridges) to leave his wife of 43 years (Margo Martindale); the occasionally hilarious fallout wrecks the lives of Nathan and even his cameraman (J.B. Smoove). As expected from too-big-to-fail CBS, The Millers is another lazy sitcom, though it does overcome some lameness through sheer comedic force of star power, as vets Arnett (Arrested Development), Martindale (Justified), Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Bridges (brother of The Dude) work like hell to—just barely—pull it out of the crapper. But CBS’ viewers will watch anything after The Big Bang Theory, so who cares?
Welcome to the Family
Thursday, Oct. 3 (NBC)
Series Debut: Parents Dan (Mike O’Malley, Glee) and Karina (Mary McCormack, In Plain Sight) are finally sending their daughter off to college—until she gets pregnant by her Latino, East Los Angeles boyfriend. His whitey-averse parents (Desperate Housewives’ Ricardo Chavira and Six Feet Under’s Justina Machado) are none too happy about the situation, either. Can these two families bridge their cultural differences and get along, for the kids? Did you just throw up a little in your mouth? So did The Only TV Column That Matters™. But wait, there’s more …
Sean Saves the World
Thursday, Oct. 3 (NBC)
Series Debut: Fox’s Dads still holds the title of Worst New Show of 2013, but at least it knows, and subtly acknowledges, that it sucks. Sean Saves the World, starring Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes as a gay single dad, has no such self-awareness—or any awareness that it’s not 1998. First of all, there’s an obnoxious laugh track (which hasn’t worked on an NBC comedy for almost a decade, just ask Whitney Cummings) cued to what should be points of humor. Second, there’s no humor. OK, there’s plenty of throwback-hack humor that might work if this were a parody of a sitcom—but remember the self-awareness problem? Worst of all, NBC is using this as a lead-in to the superior Michael J. Fox Show. Where art thou, Community?
The Witches of East End
Sunday, Oct. 6 (Lifetime)
Series Debut: This has nothing to do with the ’80s-cheese Witches of Eastwick novel and movie; Witches of East End is based on the 2011 best-seller of the same name—sorry for all of the book talk; we’re now back to TV. In Lifetime’s glossy-sexy-stoopid adaptation, the Beauchamp women (Julia Ormond as mom; Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Rachel Boston as daughters), live the quiet life in a small seaside town—until mom’s estranged sister (Mädchen Amick) arrives and forces the revelation: “Guess what? In addition to being ridiculously good-looking with luxurious hair, we’re all immortal witches, too!”