It's been a whirlwind week in the TV biz, with networks unveiling nearly 50 (!) new series slated to hit the primetime schedule next season. Sure, you may have heard something about that new Batman prequel or that new Shonda Rhimes drama… but 50 shows?! Who has time for that, right?
Well, we do, actually. We've watched every trailer and scoured every first-look photo, and came away with seven promising new shows we're already making room for on our DVRs. And to keep you from wasting valuable couch time, we're warning you about four potential stinkers to steer clear of.
Take a look at the trailers, decide for yourself, and plan your viewing accordingly.
WE'LL BE WATCHING:
1. Gotham (Fox, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Christopher Nolan's big-screen Batman trilogy is a tough act to follow, but Fox's new prequel offers a fresh take on the legend by delving into Gotham's pre-Batman years. Southland's Ben McKenzie stars as a young Detective James Gordon (pre-commissioner, and pre-mustache), with Touch alum David Mazouz playing a preteen Bruce Wayne. Without a full-grown Dark Knight, Gotham plays more like a gritty cop drama than a superhero show… albeit one with supervillains like the Penguin and the Riddler lurking around the edges. Bottom line: McKenzie is compelling enough to make this one work while we wait for Batman to earn his wings.
2. How to Get Away With Murder (ABC, Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Shonda Rhimes (of Scandal and Grey's Anatomy fame) extends her domination of Thursday nights with this new legal thriller, which was good enough to lure Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help) off of the big screen. Davis stars as law professor Annalise Keating (great name!), who enlists her best students to help her tackle tough cases in the courtroom. Her flock of attractive young law students seem a little generic so far (although we see you, Bennett from Orange Is the New Black!), but who are we kidding? We'll tune in every week just to see what Annalise is wearing.
3. A to Z (NBC, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.)
"Cute" is the operative word with this sweet new rom-com: How I Met Your Mother's Cristin Milioti and Mad Men's Ben Feldman make a super cute couple with charm to spare, and the trailer — where they play a pair of young singles who meet by chance and might just be made for each other — has a cute, quirky, (500) Days of Summer vibe to it. In fact, it reminds us a lot of HIMYM before it got ruined… so let's hope these two fall in love before we all get annoyed and give up. (Hey, at least Milioti's still alive in this one!)
4. Empire (Fox, midseason)
There aren't a lot of original ideas on TV these days, but this one qualifies: Terrence Howard stars as a street-smart music mogul facing a terminal disease who has to turn his million-dollar business over to one of his three sons. A hip-hop King Lear is a juicy starting point, and Taraji P. Henson (Person of Interest) is already blowing us away as Howard's ex-wife, who's fresh out of prison and looking to collect her piece of the pie. Soapy and dripping with melodrama, this one could be either shamelessly addictive or laugh-out-loud awful… and we'll definitely be tuning in to find out which one it is.
5. The Flash (The CW, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Zoom! It's nice to see a superhero having fun for once, and The CW's latest comic-book series (a spinoff of their sophomore hit Arrow) promises a zippy thrill ride. Grant Gustin plays Barry Allen, a criminal investigator who gets the power of super-speed (and abs!) after a freak lightning storm. The special effects look big-screen-worthy, and the lighthearted tone here helps set it apart from today's dour superheroes. At the very least, it's a safe bet this one runs longer than CBS's sluggish '90s take on The Flash.
6. Marry Me (NBC, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
We're sold on this one just by the fact that it's a Happy Endings reunion: Casey Wilson stars, and it's written by Endings creator David Caspe, so if it's half as majestically goofy as that late, lamented sitcom, we're in. Wilson and Party Down's Ken Marino play a committed couple who get engaged, only to find the rest of their lives crumbling around them. Honestly, the trailer didn't knock our socks off, but we have enough faith in the people involved that we're RSVP'ing "yes" to this one.
7. Stalker (CBS, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)
We wouldn't usually get excited for another CBS crime procedural, but this one has a couple of intriguing twists to it. First off, it focuses on stalking crimes, which adds an unsettling psychological element, à la The Following. And it boasts a dynamic duo with Nikita's Maggie Q as the stalking expert who knows too well what it's like to be followed and Dylan McDermott as the cocky new detective joining her unit. Their combined star power and the inherent creep factor here puts this a cut above the standard-issue cop show.
WE ALREADY HATE:
1. The Mysteries of Laura (NBC, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)
Debra Messing's last NBC drama, Smash, was a notorious misfire… but at least it lasted two seasons. We don't see that happening with the awkwardly titled Mysteries of Laura, which finds Messing as a NYPD detective who's juggling brutal murder cases with a wacky home life taking care of rambunctious twin boys. It's an odd tonal mix that doesn't even almost work: It's not compelling as a procedural, and it's not appealing as a family comedy. The only mystery here: how many weeks this gets before the ax falls.
2. Hieroglyph (Fox, midseason)
We understand there's a big swords-and-sandals void on TV right now, thanks to the end of Spartacus. But this half-baked mess doesn't look like the answer. In ancient Egypt, a common thief is recruited by the pharaoh to steal a magical scroll… and there are vampires? (The fact that it's "from the writer of Clash of the Titans" doesn't reassure us, either.) For a show like this to survive, it needs the rampant bloodshed and nudity that only pay-cable can offer; without that, it will probably be ancient history before long.
[Photos: Which TV Shows Won't Be Back This Fall?]
3. Selfie (ABC, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
First off, the show is called Selfie, which is already two and a half strikes against it. Then they make poor Karen Gillan, who we loved on Doctor Who, play a supremely annoying airhead (with an American accent, no less) who suffers a social-media meltdown and turns to a marketing whiz (John Cho, who deserves better) to fix her image. Oh, and did we mention there's a sassy black receptionist named Charmonique? Sigh…
4. The McCarthys (CBS, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Oof. If we didn't know better, we'd swear this was a SNL parody of a tone-deaf sitcom. Tyler Ritter (yes, John's son) plays the gay son of a sports-crazed Boston family, with Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf as the usual overbearing mom from hell. The tired gay jokes are left over from the pre-Will & Grace era, and the over-the-top "Bah-stan" accents are even worse; even the laugh track sounds strained. In an ideal world, gay and straight viewers alike would come together to reject this relic.
Which new shows look great to you? Any we couldn't pay you to watch? Share your first impressions in the comments.