One Woman Guesses the Plots of 16 New Fall Shows From Just Their Titles

·Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Faux 'Timeless'
Faux 'Timeless'

In the great tradition of TV programming, if something works well once, do it again.

Last year, we asked Jennifer Bierly — my lawyer sister who hasn’t had TV since her first child was born in December of 2008, and therefore had not seen ads for the networks’ new slates — to guess the plots of new fall shows from just their titles. Equally clueless to the broadcast networks’ Fall 2016 schedules, could she match last year’s inspired responses if we repeated the assignment?

Let’s see.

Timeless (NBC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “The first thing I thought of was a plastic surgery Nip/Tuck kinda thing. But you know how Nip/Tuck was focused more on the stories of the doctors, this could be focused more on the stories of mostly women coming in to have plastic surgery and why they want it. Rob Lowe is the doctor.”

What It’s Actually About: “[A] thrilling action-adventure series in which a mysterious criminal steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine, intent on destroying America as we know it by changing the past. Our only hope is an unexpected team: Rufus (Malcolm Barrett), a scientist; Wyatt (Matt Lanter), a soldier; and Lucy (Abigail Spencer), a history professor, all of who must use the machine’s prototype to travel back in time to critical events.” (Premieres Oct. 3)

'Timeless' (Credit: Joe Lederer/NBC)
‘Timeless’ (Credit: Joe Lederer/NBC)

The Great Indoors (CBS)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “Okay, that’s like a takeoff of The Love Boat. It’s set at one of those huge commercial indoor water parks, and it’s about the stories of all the different families that come through there, like The Love Boat. Who’s kind of John Candy-ish? It’d star someone like that, since it’s a comedy… Does that guy Kevin James have a show right now? He should leave it to come to this. He owns and runs the water park.”

Faux 'The Great Indoors'
Faux ‘The Great Indoors’

What It’s Actually About: “Joel McHale [stars] in a comedy about a renowned adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine who must adapt to the times when he becomes the desk-bound boss to a group of millennials in the digital department of the publication.” (Premieres Oct. 27)

'The Great Indoors' (Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS)
‘The Great Indoors’ (Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Kevin Can Wait (CBS)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “Wasn’t the kid’s name in Wonder Years Kevin? This has got to be that kid years later, so Fred Savage is in it. What is he waiting for though… I think Kevin and Winnie lost touch and somehow they move in next door to each other, back in their old neighborhood, and he’s got to watch her with her family. He’s just waiting and waiting, and he’s not gonna go anywhere because he still loves her, but she’s married to someone else and not leaving her current life. Yeah, that’s what that is.”

Faux 'Kevin Can Wait'
Faux ‘Kevin Can Wait’

What It’s Actually About: “Kevin James [stars] as a newly retired police officer looking forward to spending carefree quality time with his wife and three kids, only to discover he faces tougher challenges at home than he ever did on the streets.” (Premieres Sept. 19)

'Kevin Can Wait' (Credit: David Giesbrecht/CBS)
‘Kevin Can Wait’ (Credit: David Giesbrecht/CBS)

Man With a Plan (CBS)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “These are some s—ty titles… I mean, really, Man with a Plan? That’s the best they could come up with? I’m refusing to give this one a plot because it’s so cliché. Move on.”

What It’s Actually About: “Matt LeBlanc [stars] in a comedy about a contractor who starts spending more time with his kids when his wife goes back to work and discovers the truth all parents eventually realize: Their little angels are maniacs.” (Premieres Oct. 24)

'Man With a Plan' (Credit: Darren Michaels/CBS)
‘Man With a Plan’ (Credit: Darren Michaels/CBS)

Time After Time (ABC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “That’s gonna be a show about reincarnation — who a present day couple believes they were in prior lives. So it would explain a lot about their relationship now. It would go back generation by generation by generation, and they would know each other, but they wouldn’t necessarily be married in each generation. Maybe they could be mortal enemies, like Game of Thrones. You know who I’d like in that, the guy from In the Heart of the Sea [Chris Hemsworth] and Kate Winslet.”

Faux 'Time After Time'
Faux ‘Time After Time’

What It’s Actually About: “Based on the novel and movie Time After Time, executive producer/writer Kevin Williamson delivers a fantastical cat and mouse adventure through time when famed science fiction writer H.G. Wells is transported to modern day Manhattan in pursuit of Jack the Ripper. Once H.G. arrives in New York City, he finds a world he never thought possible and a young woman who captivates him.” (Premieres midseason)

'Time After Time' (Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC)
‘Time After Time’ (Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC)

No Tomorrow (The CW)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “Obviously it’s a dramatic version of Groundhog Day. There’s gonna be a murder, okay, and you have a cop, who knows it’s gonna happen, and he keeps trying to figure out ways, in every episode, so that it doesn’t happen. I don’t want a cop with a ton of experience, it’s gotta be somebody who kinda learns it as he goes. Zac Efron! He’ll look good in a police uniform.”

Faux 'No Tomorrow'
Faux ‘No Tomorrow’

What It’s Actually About: “Evie Callahan (Tori Anderson), a risk-averse quality-control assessor, appreciates order. … Then Evie meets charming, free-spirited Xavier Holliday (Joshua Sasse). … Xavier encourages Evie to carpe that diem, because it’s more fun that way and because, well, the apocalypse is, you know, nigh. He believes humankind has a mere eight months and twelve days until a runaway asteroid smacks us all into stardust.” (Premieres Oct. 4)

'No Tomorrow' (Credit: Eddy Chen/The CW)
‘No Tomorrow’ (Credit: Eddy Chen/The CW)

Bull (CBS)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “Okay, that’s clearly about bull riding. This could be about the PBR. There’s two sides of it: There’s the stories about the bull riders, and then there’s the stories about the people who own and raise the bulls that go on that circuit. The people in the stands want to root for the bull riders to ride the bull, but the people that cheer whenever the riders get kicked off and go flying are the owners of the bulls.”

What It’s Actually About: “Michael Weatherly [stars] as Dr. Jason Bull in a drama inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, the founder of one of the most prolific trial consulting firms of all time. Brilliant, brash and charming, Dr. Bull is the ultimate puppet master as he combines psychology, human intuition and high tech data to learn what makes jurors, attorneys, witnesses and the accused tick.” (Premieres Sept. 20)

'Bull' (Credit: David M. Russell/CBS)
‘Bull’ (Credit: David M. Russell/CBS)

Pure Genius (CBS)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “I think that’s about a high school serial killer. A really, really smart kid — top of his class, athletic, everybody gets along with him — but he has this really, really dark side. Sort of like he’s so smart that he has to create an alternate universe to keep himself entertained, and that includes murder.”

What It’s Actually About: “A cutting-edge medical drama about a young Silicon Valley tech titan who enlists an exceptional veteran surgeon with a controversial past to run a state-of-the-art hospital with an ultramodern approach to medicine.” (Premieres Oct. 27)

'Pure Genius' (Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS)
‘Pure Genius’ (Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Pitch (Fox)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “It’s the high school baseball version of Friday Night Lights. But this wouldn’t be gritty like, ‘We gotta do this to survive, it’s our only way to make it out of this town, otherwise I’m just gonna end up working at a factory.’ This would be more about the culture behind these kids who are automatically expected to go to Ivy League schools, expected to win, just by virtue of who they are and where they live and what their parents do. So not the Outsiders version of Friday Night Lights, more like Leave it to Beaver Friday Night Lights. Who’s the coach? Who I love is that guy who used to do The Guardian [Simon Baker]. He’s the coach of a bunch of rich kids who get into drugs because they can’t handle the pressure.”

What It’s Actually About: Pitch is the dramatic and emotional story of Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball — under the glare of a white-hot media spotlight.” (Premieres Sept. 22)

'Pitch' (Credit: Ray Mickshaw /Fox)
‘Pitch’ (Credit: Ray Mickshaw /Fox)

Lethal Weapon (Fox)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “I think they’re stealing a title, because you can’t beat the original Lethal Weapon… That’s about a Navy SEAL who comes back from Afghanistan or Iraq, and the American system has failed him. He can’t get a job to support his family, he can’t assimilate back into society. So he gets sucked into some criminal underground stuff, where his skills are applicable, and he gets paid money by crime organizations to do what needs to be done. … Who would I put in that? Someone with good biceps. Charlie Hunnam could do that. Give me a poster of that!”

Faux 'Lethal Weapon'
Faux ‘Lethal Weapon’

What It’s Actually About: “Based on the hit movie franchise of the same name, Lethal Weapon follows iconic cop duo Riggs and Murtaugh, as they work a crime-ridden beat in modern-day Los Angeles. From the moment the brash and impulsive Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) meets prudent, by-the-book Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans, Sr.), it seems as if this partnership is doomed. But after their first case together, both realize this arrangement might just work out after all — if only Riggs doesn’t get them killed first.” (Premieres Sept. 21)

'Lethal Weapon' (Credit: Richard Foreman/Fox)
‘Lethal Weapon’ (Credit: Richard Foreman/Fox)

This is Us (NBC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “I think it’s about a couple who is stranded in the wilderness. ‘This is us,’ meaning ‘we’re the only ones who are gonna get us out of this.’ It’s a survival tale. They’re gonna disagree on what they’re gonna do, and how they’re gonna do it. Scott Eastwood can be in the woods. This is my dream world. And Anna Kendrick. I like her. That’d be something totally different for her.”

Faux 'This Is Us'
Faux ‘This Is Us’

What It’s Actually About: “Starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, and Sterling K. Brown, this refreshingly honest and provocative series follows a unique ensemble. As their paths cross and their life stories intertwine in curious ways, we find that several of them share the same birthday, and so much more than anyone would expect.” (Premieres Sept. 20)

'This Is Us' (Credit: NBC)
‘This Is Us’ (Credit: NBC)

The Good Place (NBC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “What I first think of is something like Cheers, something where the whole show takes place on one set like that. So it’s like a modern version of Cheers. Maybe this bar is a known place where people go for their first date when they meet on Match.com. Or, it could be one of those places that does that speed dating thing. Is that still around? You could have some hilarious, cool cameos with different people coming on the show each week — people that you would never put together and have conversations with.”

What It’s Actually About: “The show follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman who enters the afterlife, and thanks to some kind of error, is sent to the Good Place instead of the Bad Place, which is definitely where she belongs. While hiding in plain sight from Michael (Ted Danson), the wise architect of the Good Place (who doesn’t know he’s made a mistake), she’s determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome (or at least the pretty good) person within.” (Previews Sept. 19)

'The Good Place' (Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC)
‘The Good Place’ (Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Designated Survivor (ABC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “I already pulled out my Navy SEAL stuff… Okay, this is about breast cancer. This is a story about a woman who would be going through breast cancer a second time, and who designated herself a ‘survivor’ the first time, and the second time is more of an uphill battle. The treatment that worked the first time may or may not work the second time. There’d be a gripping storyline about how it affects the family — just when you think you have everything back under control, your world gets shocked. I used Helen Hunt last year, but Helen Hunt’s my go-to. We’re gonna recycle Helen Hunt.”

What It’s Actually About: “Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a lower-level cabinet member who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the US Capitol during the State of the Union. … Kirkman will struggle to keep the country and his own family from falling apart, while navigating the highly-volatile political arena and while leading the search to find who is responsible for the attack.” (Premieres Sept. 21)

'Designated Survivor' (Credit: ABC)
‘Designated Survivor’ (Credit: ABC)

Conviction (ABC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “That is about a female prosecutor who had a very large conviction taking down a large kingpin, and she has to go into the Witness Protection Program. There are constantly things that happen that make her believe that they’re finding her, and as the audience, you don’t know whether they’re finding her or not, but she definitely believes they are. Angie Harmon can do that. I think that’s a winner.”

What It’s Actually About: “Hayes Morrison (Hayley Atwell), a lawyer and former first daughter, is a hero — a controversial one. She finds herself in a tricky position, facing jail time for drug possession or accepting a job from her nemesis, New York District Attorney Conner Wallace (Eddie Cahill). In an effort to avoid damaging her mother’s Senate campaign, for better or worse, she accepts his offer.” (Premieres Oct. 3)

'Conviction' (Credit: ABC)
‘Conviction’ (Credit: ABC)

Notorious (ABC)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “I think it’s about the second coming of Martin Luther King Jr., someone who makes a difference, someone who people listen to. … It’s creating a story of how it would be possible now — in this day and age of social media and just the polarized society — for someone to bridge the gap between races. Maybe it could be something of a grass roots sort of thing that just builds and builds and builds. That’s my hopefulness. I’d want Denzel, but I don’t know if he’d do it.”

What It’s Actually About: Notorious centers on the symbiotic relationship between charismatic defense attorney Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata) and powerhouse TV producer Julia George (Piper Perabo), as they attempt to control the media, the justice system and ultimately each other. When Jake’s clients find themselves in the nation’s spotlight, he uses the media to sway public opinion. Meanwhile, Julia, the executive producer of Louise Herrick Live (LHL), the number one TV news program in the country, capitalizes on Jake’s clients’ notoriety. Together, they make great TV and determine the nation’s headlines.” (Premieres Sept. 22)

'Notorious' (Credit: Kevin Foley/ABC)
‘Notorious’ (Credit: Kevin Foley/ABC)

Son of Zorn (Fox)
What Jennifer Thinks It’s About: “What is ‘Zorn’? It sounds like some sort of bad video game. That’s something like Family Guy or The Simpsons. Like it’s some sort of cartoon thing that is about a family that are all so into ‘Zorn,’ they almost think that life is a video game. They’re totally living in some alternative universe, and they approach everything as, ‘What would the main character in this video game do?’ That’s kind of stupid, but I really don’t have anything better.”

What It’s Actually About: “The new comedy joining the Sunday night lineup this fall is hybrid live-action/animated family comedy Son of Zorn. Featuring the voice of Jason Sudeikis, Son of Zorn follows an animated warrior from a faraway island in the Pacific Ocean, who returns to Orange County, CA, to win back his live-action ex-wife (Cheryl Hines) and teenage son (Johnny Pemberton).” (Premieres Sept. 25)

Jennifer’s response: “So the one that I think is the stupidest one of all is the closest I’ve come to reality? That is beautiful.”

'Son of Zorn' (Credit: Fox)
‘Son of Zorn’ (Credit: Fox)