Absolutely Definitely Watch
Ash vs. Evil Dead
(Starz) Premieres Saturday, Oct. 31: This is what you've been waiting for, S-Mart shoppers: Ash (Bruce Campbell), and his Boomstick and chainsaw, are back! The original Evil Dead trilogy may have wrapped up 30 years ago, but gore-splattering technology has never stopped evolving, so of course Ash vs. Evil Dead had to happen—whether Ash likes it or not. After three decades of doing little besides lying low, nurturing a beer belly and pretending the dead never rose—even though re-killing said dead and saving the world is the only thing he's ever been good at—Ash reluctantly springs (OK, creaks) back into action when the Deadites re-emerge. This time, he's backed-up by adoring sidekick Pablo (Ray Santiago), indifferent runaway Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and a familiar face from the universe of producer/director Sam Raimi: Lucy Lawless. You could think of the 10 30-minute Ash vs. Evil Dead episodes as a couple of new back-to-back movies with advanced bloodbath techniques, or you could stop thinking altogether and just enjoy the thrill-ride. That's what Ash would do (at least the "stop thinking" part).
(CBS) Premieres Monday, Oct. 26: If you're still asking "Why isn't this on The CW?" remember that CBS is a co-owner (The "C" stands for CBS, the "W" for Warner Bros.—clever, huh?) and Supergirl could easily end up there anyway if she doesn't hit NCIS ratings numbers. Creator/producer Greg Berlanti's take on Kara Zor-El (aka adopted earthling Alex, played by Melissa Benoist) is more in line with his bright, zippy The Flash than his dark, broody Arrow; at times, Supergirl comes across like a romantic comedy with an absentee boyfriend (Superman, while referenced, will never appear here). But, once you get past the comic-lore exposition and Calista Flockhart's over-the-top Devil Wears Prada tribute act as Alex's media-magnate boss, Supergirl proves herself in action to be as tough as she is enthusiastic about living up to her cousin's legend. Supergirl should be a hit—but, again, there's always The CW.
(Fox) Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 29: Fox wound up with one of the worst new sitcoms of the season (Grandfathered; more on that later), and one of the best in The Grinder—both just happen to be headlined by handsome older dudes. The Grinder was a charismatic lawyer character Dean (Rob Lowe, taking that loony Parks & Recreation energy to a new level) played on TV so, naturally, after his show is canceled, he returns to his small hometown to work in his brother Stewart's (Fred Savage) real law firm. The townsfolk love it; Stewart, not so much. Lowe and Savage are a perfect comic wacky/straight-man team—maybe enough so to overcome their Grandfathered lead-in.
(Vimeo) Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 30: While his former co-star (Nathan Fillion) of the 10-years-canceled space-adventure series Spectrum has gone on to become a huge star, Wray Nerely (Alan Tudyk) can only get work at sci-fi conventions, which are slowly (but hilariously) crushing his soul. If the Firefly/Serenity meta-signal flares have already eluded you, there's probably no point in mentioning geektastic Con Man cameos like Gina Torres, Summer Glau, Sean Maher and Jewel Staite, as well as Tricia Helfer, James Gunn, Felicia Day, Seth Green, Sean Astin and Joss Whedon, himself. The rest of you, consider your heads exploded.
(Hulu) Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 7: Director Jason Reitman (Up In the Air, Juno) probably didn't mean to remake Fox's canceled 2012 sitcom Ben & Kate, but no one saw that, so who cares? Casual stars Michaela Watkins (scene-stealer of a hundred comedies, most recently Trophy Wife and Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer) and Tommy Dewey (The Mindy Project) as a divorcee single mom and her bachelor brother as once-again roommates trying (and mostly awkwardly failing) to teach each other how to navigate the Tinder age. It's sharp, funny and everything corporate cousin NBC's Comedy Division (now located in an abandoned basement utility closet) has completely given up on.
(Crackle) Premieres Thursday, Oct. 8: Geezer superhero Titanium Rex (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and his equally creaky League of Freedom live together in the SuperMansion when not out fighting crime and/or the battle to remain relevant. This senior-citizen stop-motion Avengers looks like Robot Chicken because it's from the same creators, but the humor is geared toward (slightly) longer attention spans. Best of all, the League of Freedom counts among its members American Ranger, Black Saturn, Cooch and ... RoboBot.
(The CW) Premieres Monday, Oct. 12: It was originally developed as a half-hour comedy for Showtime, but now it's a full-hour dramedy on The CW, where you'll have to imagine your own profanity and nudity (it's fun; try it). The setup: A successful-but-lonely New York City lawyer (Rachel Bloom, a "YouTube Star"—don't hold it against her) impulsively moves to California to pursue/stalk her high-school sweetheart. And not the good part of California, if there is such a thing: Los Angeles suburb West Covina: "Two hours from the beach! Four with traffic," as the song-and-dance number goes. Oh, did I mention that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is also a musical? Just like Jane the Virgin last season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a wild, colorful, original swing that could hit big or fail spectacularly. Either way, there's nothing else like it on TV—maybe you blew it, Showtime.
Marvel's Jessica Jones
(Netflix) Premieres Friday, Nov. 20: It's going to be tough to follow-up Daredevil, especially with a lesser-known character like Jessica Jones—but Marvel's too big to fail, so why worry? Based on the Alias series, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is an ex-superhero now trying to lead a relatively normal existence as a private detective, even though all of her clients seem to be of the super-powered variety. Considering Netflix's Daredevil track record, as well as the show's creator (former Dexter writer) and the solid cast behind the always-winning Ritter (David Tennant, Carrie-Anne Moss and future Luke Cage Mike Colter), Jessica Jones should be another gritty smack upside the head. Or in the SUV door, whichever you prefer.
Into the Badlands
(AMC) Premieres Sunday, Nov. 15: For being one of the few new series not based on a comic book, martial-arts actioner Into the Badlands certainly looks like one: Bullet-biking warrior Sunny (Daniel Wu) kicks ass and sheds blood across a future America ruled by seven warlords, like Kung-Fu (Wiki it) meets Mad Max with a Tarantino twist (the producers of Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction are involved, after all). If Walking Dead viewers don't stick around for this, I don't know what the hell's going on anymore.
The Man in the High Castle
(Amazon Prime) Premieres Friday, Nov. 20: In an alternate universe where the Germans won World War II, early-'60s U.S.A. is halved into the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States—yes, of course there's an underground resistance working to take back 'Merica, silly. The Man in the High Castle's production and attention to detail is impressive, bringing the 1962 Phillip K. Dick to full-blown life even as the lead actors appear lifeless (could have done better than Pretty Little Liars' Luke Kleintank and Mob City's Alexa Davalos, Ridley Scott).
(Syfy) Premieres Monday, Dec. 14: Syfy's ambitious new The Expanse could either be the network's next Battlestar Galactica (a long-running, critically acclaimed, fan-beloved landmark) or its next Ascension (none of the above). Set 200 years in a future where humans have colonized the entire solar system, dwarf-planet detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane) sets out searching for a missing woman (Florence Faivre) but inadvertently uncovers a vast conspiracy—and it is vast, because, you know, it's the entire solar system. The Expanse, based on a book series that's essentially Game of Thrones in space, will likely be more of a Galactica than an Ascension.
The Bastard Executioner
(FX) Premiered Tuesday, Sept. 15: Game of Thrones, Vikings and other dramas have trod this heightened historical ground already—but, unsurprisingly, writer/producer Kurt Sutter's take is uniquely his own: a bloody, violent, viscerally real world devoid of Thrones' mystical hoodoo and Vikings' low-budget cheese. It's a sprawling, dense epic Sutter's trying to pull off here—but they once said "Hamlet on Harleys" couldn't be done, and look how his Sons of Anarchy turned out.
Life in Pieces
(CBS) Premiered Monday, Sept. 21: It's not surprising that Life in Pieces producer/director Jason Winer is also a Modern Family honcho, given that his new single-camera comedy for notoriously single-camera-comedy-phobic CBS plays like a mashup of that hit (wacky vignettes focused on various factions of the family) and Parenthood (earnest Life Learning Moments and blatant tear-jerking). A cast that includes Colin Hanks, Zoe Lister-Jones, Dan Bakkedahl, Betsy Brandt, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest and Jordan Peele demands attention, and Life in Pieces strikes a keen balance of tender moments and subtle, clever laughs. But on CBS? After The Big Bang Theory? Catch it while you can.
(Fox) Premiered Tuesday, Sept. 22: Ryan Murphy cross-fades his Glee (pretty teens with probs; snark) with his American Horror Story (well, horror). Emma Roberts (AHS) and Lea Michele (Glee) head an unusually large cast that's supplemented further with high-profile guests. The setup is familiar, but the delivery, however, is a seamless melding of Murphy's greatest hits, with dashes of Heathers (Roberts' queen-bitch WASP is an instant camp classic) and Scream (the murderer is one of them).
Maybe Save for Later
(NBC) Premieres Thursday, Sept. 24: Noah (Jack Coleman) is back, and Hiro (Masi Oka) and Matt (Greg Grunberg) drop in but, as the title suggests, this is a whole new Heroes. See, kids, back in a time when Marvel movies and DC television series weren't dropping every other week, there was a show called Heroes, about seemingly ordinary people who suddenly discovered that they had superpowers—we're talking ancient history, like 2006. After an excellent first season, the series went cross-eyed, eventually ending unceremoniously with Season 4 in 2010; showrunner Tim Kring promises Heroes Reborn will be the back-on-track reset he originally promised in 2007 ... and 2008 ... and 2009. You may find yourself rooting harder for Zachary Levi (Chuck) as a vigilante Hero hunter.
(NBC) Premieres Thursday, Sept. 24: Phillip Winchester (Strike Back) plays Alex Cane, an ex-FBI operative now working as a Las Vegas security consultant who's approached by the mysterious "Mr. Johnson" (Wesley Snipes—yes, that Wesley Snipes) to play a game: Try and stop these high-stakes crimes while a secret society of the super-rich bets on the outcome, aided by a high-tech "crime prediction" computer—so, it's Person of Interest with a pit boss. Snipes and Winchester are solid and the action is flashy (The Player comes from the same producers as The Blacklist), but there's also a tired "Who killed my wife?!" subplot and the fact that NBC hasn't launched a viable Thursday-at-9 player since ER ended. I could say roll the dice on this one ... but I won't.
(ABC) Premieres Sunday, Sept. 27: Remember when Homeland didn't suck and the term "Sexy Terrorism Drama" actually meant something? Quantico, from Gossip Girl and Smash producer Joshua Safran, aims to bring back the STD ... yes, I just noticed it, too. Anyway: A group of pretty FBI recruits (including Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra, who may be the most super humanly gorgeous being on the planet) learns that one among them may have masterminded a major outside attack on U.S. soil; flashbacks to first day of training and worried realizations of "Well, I've had sex with everyone here—but did I bang a terrorist?" ensue. Quantico has an intriguing, twisty story and a solid—and did I mention hot?—cast; now the TD just needs to catch up to the S.
(IFC) Premieres Thursday, Oct. 1: Denis Leary has produced shows about cops (The Job), firefighters (Rescue Me), EMTs (Sirens) and music (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), so it was inevitable that he'd get around to another of his obsessions: hockey. Benders' beer-soaked concept of an amateur hockey league that spends more time bro-bonding and trash-talking off the ice than playing on it feels a bit off-brand for IFC, which has established itself with a more highbrow style of comedy (or whatever you'd call Maron and Documentary Now!). But, Benders is the best new hockey-themed comedy of this season, so it has that going for it.
(Amazon Prime) Premieres Friday, Oct. 9: If Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp revival didn't satiate your hunger for retro-'80s comedy, here's Red Oaks: the Caddyshack 2 we deserved 27 years ago. College student David (Craig Roberts) takes a tennis instructor job at Red Oaks country club in the summer of 1985, and every glorious coming-of-age lesson, fashion catastrophe and cheesy music underscore of the Reagan era unfolds—in a surprisingly earnest, non-parodic manner. Killer pilot, but Amazon's Hand of God proved you can't always trust the first taste.
The Last Kingdom
(BBC America) Premieres Saturday, Oct. 10: He was raised by Vikings as a Norseman, but Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) was originally a Saxon—and King Alfred is now coming for him. This torn-between-two-cultures epic is based on the historical novels of Bernard Cornwell, which gives The Last Kingdom a thinkier edge on History's Vikings. But really, you want blood, and you got it: The Last Kingdom has plenty of sword-swinging action to go with its history lessons, not to mention a bigger budget and better actors—which still can't quite match the odd, gritty appeal of Vikings.
(ABC) Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 27: A serial killer (Ed Westwick) is murdering big-haired women on the early-'80s Sunset Strip while the spandex-metal blares and the neon glares—sound like an exciting show, right? Maybe for Cinemax. On ABC, Wicked City feels like a sanitized version of, if not something better, at least something more sensationalized (which is preferable to boring, admit it). It's not the cast's fault: Westwick, Erika Christensen (as his equally sociopathic girlfriend), Jeremy Sisto (as a cop working the case) and Taissa Farmiga (as a reporter following the case) are typically excellent, but the faux sleaze and half-assed period set dressing is distracting—if I wanted to see a cheap-wigged "band" badly lip-sync the hair-metal hits, I'd hit '80s Night at the bar.
Master of None
(Netflix) Premieres Friday, Nov. 6: Comedian/actor Aziz Ansari (Parks & Recreation) plays a New York City comedian/actor who's a hell of a lot like Aziz Ansari. Depending on your Aziz Ansari tolerance levels, this is either great or terrible news.
Flesh & Bone
(Starz) Premieres Sunday, Nov. 8: Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett (a former Breaking Bad writer) says the first two episodes of ballet drama Flesh & Bone are "the lightest," and that it gets bleaker from there. Considering that those episodes—of eight total—are darker than True Detective strangling Black Swan in a puppy mill, fans of cringe-watching should take note. Flesh & Bone follows a troubled young dancer (Sarah Hay) who joins a prestigious New York ballet company and quickly learns what kind of twisted world she's stepped into. With the exception of occasional-but-welcome bitchy outbursts from the company's demanding artistic director (Ben Daniels, House of Cards), this is a discomfiting, humorless affair. Come for the ballet, stay for the angst.
(TNT) Premieres Sunday, Nov. 8: Agent X is John Case (Jeff Hephner, Interstellar), a super-secret weapon to be called in when the FBI and CIA can't hack it. Even the president doesn't know who he is, so Agent X is deployed by the vice president, played here by ... Sharon Stone! Oh yeah: The Bourne Identity's William Blake Herron wrote the pilot and executive-produces, but I think VP Sharon Stone is all we need to go on here.
The Art of More
(Crackle) Premieres Thursday, Nov. 19: Small-time crook Graham Connor (Christian Cooke, Witches of East End) slips into the high-end art world of the super-rich—but if the dark side of the auction house doesn't sting him first, his shady secret past will. The slick and sexy Art of More is relatable to your life in no way whatsoever (sure, Graham came from nothing, but he's still ridiculously good-looking), but it's deeper than you'd expect luxury porn to be, and the supporting cast (Dennis Quaid, Kate Bosworth and Cary Elwes) ain't bad for a streaming service you've barely heard of, either.
(Comedy Central) Premiered Wednesday, Sept. 16: More or less Archer redrawn as a Duran Duran album cover, Moonbeam City follows the inept exploits of detective Dazzle Novak (voiced by Rob Lowe), his rival Rad Cunningham (Will Forte), exasperated police chief Pizzaz Miller (Elizabeth Banks) and aspiring rookie Chrysalis Tate (Kate Mara). It looks cool but, just like a Duran Duran album, there are only a couple of hits amid a whole lotta pastel filler. But hey, it worked for Miami Vice.
(NBC) Premiered Monday, Sept. 21: A naked woman (Jaimie Alexander) turns up in a duffel bag in Times Square, covered in mysterious tattoos and devoid of memory. Turns out the ink is a tapestry of clues about future terrorist attacks on American soil, and it's up to FBI Agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and "Jane Doe" to decode and stop the crimes. Blindspot is another Quirky Outsider Works With the Law drama, but there are enough twists and tension to almost justify the "next Blacklist" hype.
(CBS) Premiered Tuesday, Sept. 22: Bradley Cooper reprises his role from the 2011 flick about super pill NZT, which grants access to 100 percent of the brain. Cooper hands the pill down to another beardy-pretty boy (Jake McDorman) as part of his own sketchy agenda—but, Cooper's new protégé is also roped into using his 12-hour super-powers to help the FBI (mainly, Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter) solve crimes. Limitless is loaded with slick action and possibilities, but could easily devolve into just another CBS cop procedural.
Under No Circumstances Even Consider
(Fox) Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 29: John Stamos stars as a single, successful 50-something restaurant owner and all-around playah who suddenly learns he's a father and a grandfather—cue the age-denial vanity jokes and tired Man vs. Diaper gags. Grandfathered is not only a waste of Stamos (he was a charming, capable actor once ... right?), but also of newcomer Josh Peck (The Mindy Project) and veteran Paget Brewster (Community, Criminal Minds). Superior lead-out The Grinder only makes it look that much worse.
Blood & Oil
(ABC) Premieres Sunday, Sept. 27: It was originally titled just Oil, but apparently some branding genius thought tacking on Blood & would help—it doesn't, but nice try. Either the first or second showrunner (No. 1 was escorted away in secrecy, also not helping) has insisted that Blood & Oil isn't just Dallas relocated to North Dakota, and that under all the soapy trappings of starry-eyed young couple Billy and Cody (Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse) going to work for the burgeoning new oil empire of Hap Briggs (Don Johnson), much to the chagrin of Hap's evil-ish son Wick (Scott Michael Foster), lies Important Drama. But, really: Billy? Cody? Hap? Wick? Blood & Oil is as ridiculous as a sequel to Will Ferrell's The Spoils of Babylon and The Spoils Before Dying—call it the Spoils of Oil, and edit everyone who isn't Johnson or Crawford out.
(CBS) Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 30: CBS has had as much luck launching new medical dramas as it's had with non-laugh-tracked sitcoms—which is none, as it's been 15 years since Chicago Hope ended. "Code Black" refers to an overloaded ER situation in where there are far more patients than good-looking doctors and nurses, hence, shouty "Stat!" drama and plenty of gurneys racing down hallways. Problem is, this Marcia Gay Harden-led slog is so dire and serious that it reminds you why "sexy" doc shows (Grey's Anatomy, The Night Shift, Childrens Hospital, et al) have sewn up the genre.
(ABC) Premieres Friday, Oct. 2: In the three-way slugfest for Worst New Comedy (not to mention First Cancellation), Dr. Ken may have the edge over Grandfathered and Truth Be Told: The latter two have stars that could, in theory, carry a well-executed comedy, whereas Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Community) is the definition of the A Little Goes a Long Way Side Player Who Should Never, Ever Be Expected to Carry a Show on His Own (see also: any former Seinfeld co-star who's not Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Jeong is Dr. Ken Park, a physician with a crazy work and family life, and ... well, that's all there is. And no, ABC, the fact that Jeong was actually a doctor before becoming an actor does not add to the comedy in the least.
Truth Be Told
(NBC) Premieres Friday, Oct. 16: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash and, of course, Saved by the Bell) has proven he do funny, as has Tone Bell (the best part of last season's Bad Judge). Unfortunately, they're saddled with a tepid, laugh-tracked bro-com that's paired with the awful (but now "Live!") Undateable on Friday nights, and a lone creative note from NBC that reads "We've given up on comedy—just fill 30 minutes and turn out the lights when you leave."
Angel From Hell
(CBS) Premieres Thursday, Nov. 5: At least CBS is still trying to break out of their traditional sitcom mold, first with Life in Pieces and now, Angel From Hell. Like Life in Pieces, Angel From Hell follows the single-camera format sans canned laughs, and features a solid cast (Jane Lynch, Maggie Lawson, Kyle Bornheimer and Kevin Pollack). But then it goes weird, if not Wilfred: Is the crazy lady (Lynch) who's forced her way into Allison's (Lawson) stable-if-dull life actually a guardian angel, or just a stalker, or a figment of her imagination? One more question: Who thought they could stretch a Hallmark Christmas movie setup into a series?
(NBC) Premieres Tuesday, Nov. 17: Before Chicago Animal Control, Chicago Building Inspection, Chicago Credit Union, Chicago Uber, Chicago Pizza, Chicago Dog and Chicago Sunroof, yeah, the next logical Chicago Fire/Chicago PD spin-off would be Chicago Med. Smart move, Dick Wolf.
Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris
(NBC) Premiered Tuesday, Sept. 15: In theory, Jimmy Fallon's annoying late-night playtime segments stretched into a full primetime hour and hosted by NPH sounds insufferable. In practice ... yeah, absolutely insufferable.
(Fox) Premiered Monday, Sept. 21: Minority Report (a sorta-sequel to the 2002 movie) is set in 2065, 10 years after the end of the Precrime program (which used three child "precogs" to see crimes about to happen), but Dash (Stark Sands) still has the visions. Then he meets up with D.C. cop Lara (Meagan Good) and an "unlikely partnership between a man haunted by the future and a cop haunted by her past" begins. Minority Report aims to be Sleepy Hollow, but just comes across as sleepy and hollow.
(ABC) Premiered Tuesday, Sept. 22: The Muppets is a behind-the-scenes docu-type show a la The Office, with an equally obvious debt to 30 Rock. Gonzo admits right away that shaky-cam reality shows with cutaway confessionals are played-out (in a cutaway confessional, of course), but neither that self-awareness nor Kermit's "new romance" with Denise (a pig, natch) warrant a 13-to potentially 22-episode series. The Muppets has its funny moments, but you've seen them all in the promos.
(Fox) Premiered Wednesday, Sept. 23: Brilliant and beautiful Miami pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood (Morris Chestnut) teams with a fiery and beautiful Miami PD detective (Jaina Lee Ortiz) to solve crimes and banter/bicker while looking beautiful. Also, odds-on beautifully canceled by the time you read this.