Fall TV's New Shows: Hits and Misses, Surprises and Disappointments

Fall TV

Make sure there's plenty of room on your DVR: Fall TV has officially arrived, with dozens of new TV shows premiering over the next few weeks.

But which of these freshman series are worth your valuable couch time? Let Yahoo TV be your guide: We've screened all of this season's pilots and separated the worthy from the worthless.

In fact, we've divided the fall TV offerings into four categories: Hits (surefire winners), Misses (out-and-out stinkers), Surprises (shows we liked more than we thought we would), and Disappointments (shows we were excited for that didn't live up to our expectations). Read on to get a sneak peek at the highs and lows of the fall TV season.


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"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on Fox; premieres Sept. 17

With all the cop dramas on TV, it's nice to see a show bring a little humor to the station house. "Nine-Nine" assembles a comedy dream team in creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor ("Parks and Recreation") and star Andy Samberg ("SNL"), who plays a goofy Brooklyn detective who takes a frat-house approach to his job. He gets whipped into shape, though, when a hard-nosed new captain (Andre Braugher) takes charge. We always love seeing Braugher on our TVs, and he displays surprising comic chops in his tangles with Samberg. A promising supporting cast (highlighted by Terry Crews and Chelsea Peretti) and "The Office"-style hijinks put "Nine-Nine" at the top of our most-wanted list.

Get a sneak peek:

"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC; premieres Sept. 24

You've assumed it was going to be awesome, right? Well then, breathe a sigh of relief, because indeed it is. With brothers Whedon (Joss and Jed, along with Jed's wife Maurissa Tancharoen) behind the series, this first Marvel foray into live-action TV is, well, action-packed, full of great Whedon-y dialogue (they even poke fun at the organization's name), and features the return of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), who was killed off in "The Avengers." So, what is the org in this "Avengers" spinoff? A group of smart, but not super-powered, heroes who help thwart the evildoing of Marvel universe baddies. In other words, TV land may be safe from uber-villains, but not from wise-cracking, tech-savvy geeks. Thank goodness.

Watch the trailer:

"Hello Ladies"

Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO, premieres Sept. 29

While fellow conspirator Ricky Gervais (co-creator of "The Office" and "Extras") is off revealing his softer side with the Netflix series "Derek," Stephen Merchant takes center stage with the brand of awkward cringe comedy he's best at. Merchant stars as a web designer who moves to Los Angeles to meet a beautiful women — and finds exactly the sort of rejection you'd expect from both L.A. and beautiful women. With co-executive producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (the U.S. version of "The Office"), the show has all the makings, not only of a successful show, but of something that could finally push Merchant to the level of stateside stardom he deserves.

Check out a preview clip:

"Masters of Sex"

Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime; premieres Sept. 29

With that title, and the fact that it's on a premium cable channel, it's easy to think "Masters of Sex" is all about, well, sex. But Showtime's new drama is more in the mold of "Mad Men" or "Boardwalk Empire" — a period piece set during a time of social upheaval. Michael Sheen is perfectly cast as the brilliant Dr. William Masters, and Lizzy Caplan is as saucy as ever as his assistant, Virginia Johnson. And like the other dramas we mentioned, "Masters of Sex" is masterful at building characters and relationships — foreplay, if you will — but adds a dash of cheek and titillation. No doubt many viewers will join us in seeing how the first season climaxes.

Watch a preview:

NEXT: What were our picks for the season's misses?


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Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox; premieres Sept. 17

Seth MacFarlane's proudly offensive brand of humor works fine on animated shows like "Family Guy." (Who can get mad at a cartoon?) But when it comes out of the mouth of real people, it's not nearly as cute. MacFarlane's live-action TV debut stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two dudes stuck living with their politically incorrect fathers (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert), whose racist one-liners are portrayed as endearingly old-school. And they're not the only ones: In the pilot, Green and Ribisi have their Asian assistant (Brenda Song) dress up like a giggling schoolgirl to excite Japanese clients. And then there are lots of jokes about the size of Asian male genitalia. Tone-deaf and tiresome, "Dads" is like "All in the Family"… except if every character were Archie Bunker.

Check out the trailer:

"We Are Men"

Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS; premieres Sept. 30

Yes, they are men … hear them bore. Specifically, they're single men, and you won't have any trouble figuring out why. The premise: Carter (Chris Smith) is left at the altar, so he moves into a new apartment, where his neighbors include three divorced guys — Jerry O'Connell, Tony Shaloub, and Kal Penn — who take him under their wings. Nothing wrong with that premise; it's the execution, the broad, and cynically, painfully unfunny execution that will leave you looking for a change of address (or rather, the channel). The worst part of the show is that it's yet another waste of the comedic skills of O'Connell, who, we're convinced, has sitcom greatness in him. This show … this show ain't it.

Watch a preview:


Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW; premieres Oct. 17

Imagine "The Tudors" without the sex, violence, complicated intrigue, or scenery-chewing acting. Add a healthy dose of girl power, and you've got "Reign." We have to give some credit to The CW for trying something so very … different. Certainly, a historical drama about Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) is not their usual fare. Then again, they've CW-ified the story, adding in giggling teen girls, a pretty bad boy, love triangles, and emo indie music to the mix (and who knows maybe they'll introduce some vampires later). It's like "90210," but set in the 1500s and with corsets — so basically, totally silly and not worth precious DVR space

Check out an extended preview:


Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC, premieres Oct. 2

On paper, it looks good: The original series was a huge hit that ran for eight seasons in the '60s and '70s and Blair Underwood has the perfect blend of sex and gravitas to carry a police procedural. But on screen, the leaden dialogue and overwrought attempts to establish that Ironside doesn't let his disability get in the way of his job feels like we're watching an "SNL" parody of a cop show. It'll only be successful if people mistakenly tune in thinking they're seeing Andy Samberg's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

Watch the full episode now:

NEXT: What new shows surprised us most?


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Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC; premieres Sept. 29

"Scandal" and "Revenge" fans, meet your new obsession. We have to admit, we weren't excited to watch yet another female-centric ABC soap about secrets and infidelity. But shows like this are all about chemistry, and stars Hannah Ware and Stuart Townsend positively fog up the screen as a married photographer and the mystery man she finds herself irresistibly drawn to. Plus, the twisty legal mystery that brings them together (featuring "Horror Story" alum James Cromwell) is intriguing enough to keep us paying attention even when everybody has their clothes on. Perfectly situated after "Revenge" on Sunday nights, we can see viewers falling hard for "Betrayal."

Get a preview:

"Trophy Wife"

Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC; premieres Sept. 24

Coming up with another version of a modern family (and, of course, "Modern Family") seems to be a priority on TV this fall, and we were all set to dismiss this one as working a little too hard. But Malin Akerman, as reformed party girl Kate, has great chemistry with Bradley Whitford, as her thrice-married, 20-years-older new hubby Pete, and even Kate's sitcom-y stepkids are less annoying than most other TV comedy kiddies. Marcia Gay Harden as Pete's prickly ex and Michaela Watkins as his hippie-dippy former wife veer into sitcom cliché territory sometimes, but they also provide plenty of opportunity: How did this guy end up married to three such completely different women?

Watch the full episode now:

"Sleepy Hollow"

Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox, premieres Sept. 16

Just when you think you've seen enough of supernatural crime shows, along comes one more that throws in time travel to really test your patience. However, "Sleepy Hollow" manages to strike a balance between fantasy and believability and finds a clever way to work Ichabod Crane's first-hand knowledge of history into solving cases today. Of course, the Headless Horseman is in hot pursuit, but it turns out he's just the first of Four Horsemen, which will please fans of equestrian-fueled apocalypses. And the show is created and executive produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci ("Star Trek," "Transformers"), who know a thing or two about hits.

Check out the trailer:

"Tomorrow People"

Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW; premieres Oct. 9

A bunch of teens discover they have superpowers and must learn to control them? At first, we thought: Seen it, seen the sequels, and don't need another version, thanks! But there's just enough freshness in "Tomorrow People" to set it apart from "Heroes," "Alphas," "Misfits," etc. etc. Robbie Amell (cousin of "Arrow" star Stephen Amell) is OK as the main character, but it's really the cast around him that shines — particularly Luke Mitchell and Mark Pellegrino. Some of the twists are intriguing enough to warrant more viewings.

Get a series preview:

NEXT: What new shows disappointed us?


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"Super Fun Night"

Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC; premieres Oct. 2

The problems with this should-have-been hilarious Rebel Wilson vehicle are many, beginning with the fact that she drops her Australian accent to sound American (why?). The premise is also uninspiring: Wilson is Kimmie, an attorney who spends all her Friday nights at home with her two BFFs. But when she gets a promotion at work, she decides to give her social life a boost, too, and that results in comedy that relies on your finding Wilson in a flashing light bra funny. (We don't). When you, too, inevitably find the show underwhelming, remember this: it could have been worse. When Wilson originally pitched the show to CBS (which rejected it), the plot included one of the female characters being raped by a dolphin on vacation. Yeah, you read that correctly.

Get a sneak peek:

"The Crazy Ones"

Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBS, premieres Sept. 26

David E. Kelley has had more TV success stories than the Red Sox — "L.A. Law," "Chicago Hope," "Ally McBeal" — and it's great to see Sarah Michelle Gellar back on television where she belongs. But Robin Williams is a force of nature. In dramatic roles, he is intense and compelling, but if you let him loose, his manic improvisational style will push everything else off the screen. It's possible Kelley will be able to channel Williams energy — after all, he dialed down Bill Shatner enough to win two Emmys for "The Practice" and "Boston Legal" — but from what we've seen of the show so far, that's not happening.

Watch a sneak peek:


"The Blacklist"

Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC; premieres Sept. 23

"But the trailer is so good!" you say. We agree, and yes, James Spader is perfection as the criminal mastermind who helps the FBI catch other crooks. But the pilot bites off way more than it can chew, piling on ridiculous amounts of peril for FBI trainee Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) until you can't imagine why she wouldn't just quit the bureau and move far, far away. Seriously, this poor girl lives through an entire season of "Homeland" in one hour; she survives a bone-crunching car crash and miraculously emerges with only a tiny photogenic scar on her forehead. Spader's immense charm can cover a lot of plot holes, but this overly amped-up thrill ride is just too ludicrous to accept.

See the trailer:

"Sean Saves the World"

Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC; premieres Oct. 3

Sigh … Sean needs to save this show, before he can save the world. As much as we love Sean Hayes in general, he's much better in smaller doses, not as the lead of a very hammy sitcom about a divorced dad whose daughter comes to live with him. The whole thing feels retro — like it was unearthed from a long forgotten trove of NBC's "Must-See" era. The laugh track serves as a reminder that you're not laughing, and the jokes are over-the-top and farcical. "Sean Saves the World" oozes desperation; unless emergency triage is applied soon, nobody will be able to save this mess.

Watch the official trailer: