Friday, Oct. 10 (ABC)
Series Debut: Says here, Cristela Alonzo is a "breakout star." If that means she's breaking out of the TV screen, grabbing you by the neck and screeching "Laugh at my plight of being a modern Latina dealing with racism, sexism and following Tim Allen on a Friday night!!!" then, yeah. That's the entire show. The laugh track isn't the worst part of Cristela (as with every other sitcom, however, it's a close second); the by-the-numbers, My Wacky Mexi-Family one-liners weren't even fresh when George Lopez did 'em in this same network timeslot a decade ago. ABC should cancel this floater ASAP so Alonzo can go "break out" on something worth her and our time.
The Walking Dead
Sunday, Oct. 12 (AMC)
Season Premiere: Walking Dead Fanatic: "Why do we have to wait so long between seasons? Whhhyyy?!" Me: "By splitting the seasons in half every year, AMC is actually minimizing the wait time—you only had to wait six months for Season 5, as opposed to 12." WDF: "But the first half will be over in November, then we'll have to wait all the way until February for the second! Whhhyyy?!" Me: "December is a dead zone for TV, and January isn't much better. If The Walking Dead ran all 16 episodes of Season 5 through the holidays, the live-viewing ratings would drop off, the season would be over in January and, due to production schedules, you'd have to wait until 2016 for Season 6. It takes time to make a quality series—this isn't some Z Nation bullshit." WDF: "But ..." Me: [Slap].
Sunday, Oct. 12 (Showtime)
Series Debut: At first, The Affair looks like a throwback to Showtime's pre-Weeds/Dexter-success era, a time when the network produced many a sexy-if-forgettable "adult" drama just because they could get away with nudity. But The Affair has a narrative hook (and, yes, nudity) that hints at a more complicated story than just an infidelity between happily married Noah (Dominic West—The Wire's McNulty) and not-so-happily married Alison (Ruth Wilson) and the effect it has on their relationships with their unknowing spouses (Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson): It's told from both Noah and Alison's perspectives, and they rarely match up. It's the least sensationalistic drama from Showtime in years, but it's no less—Critic Terminology Alert—intriguing.
Jane the Virgin
Monday, Oct. 13 (The CW)
Series Debut: Accidental artificial insemination? Let's say it's a thing. During a routine checkup, engaged 23-year-old virgin Jane (Gina Rodriguez) is inadvertently inseminated with a sample meant for another patient—making matters even worse, the sample is from her handsome, crush-worthy boss at the hotel where she works! How will she explain this to her family? Her fiance? The idiotic Christian groups who think Jane the Virgin is a show about abortion? If you loved Ugly Betty but thought it never went telenovela hard enough, Jane is for you. Spoiler: No abortion.
Tuesday, Oct. 14 (NBC)
Series Debut: Fans of Happy Endings, Burning Love, Wet Hot American Summer, Children's Hospital and all the other comedies Casey Wilson and Ken Marino have starred in are really, really, really going to want to likeMarry Me. Unfortunately, their collective manic energy initially overpowers what's supposed to be a sweet li'l rom-com about a couple seemingly doomed to never propose at the right time. Then again, Happy Endings (which was helmed by the same guy behind Marry Me) didn't click right away, so this could still work out ... if it weren't up against the killing-it-in-Season-4 New Girl on Fox, that is.