No matter how many new shows debut each season, there are always overlapping themes and elements (see: last year's boom in period dramas and fairy tale characters). After watching the pilots for the fall and midseason, we've identified a few common threads.
Every year finds a crop of actors best known for their feature film work trying to see if they can capture the smaller screen. This year's class includes Dennis Quaid playing a sheriff on "Vegas," Kevin Bacon as a profiler tracking a serial killer in "The Following," and Ellen Barkin as an Archie Bunker-type grandmother on "The New Normal."
Continuing a longstanding tradition that includes folks like Hugh Laurie and Damian Lewis, several foreigners hit the airwaves with freshly minted American accents; among them, Brit Janet Montgomery on "Made in Jersey," Ireland's Jason O'Mara in "Vegas," and Brit Sam Palladio and Aussie Clare Bowen on "Nashville."
Bucking the trend, some Brit stars let their Union Jack fly, going native with their accents this season. They include Jonny Lee Miller on "Elementary," Lucy Punch on "Ben and Kate," and Ed Weeks on "The Mindy Project."
Several supporting and guest stars get the bump up to bigger roles this year, including a devilish Terry O'Quinn ("Lost," "Hawaii Five-0") on "666 Park Avenue," Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad") playing a baddie on "Revolution," the eponymous outing of Mindy Kaling ("The Office") on "The Mindy Project," and Justin Kirk ("Weeds") of "Animal Practice.
"Ben and Kate" star Dakota Johnson (daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) and Mamie Gummer (daughter of Meryl Streep), as "Emily Owens, M.D.," continue in the family business this season.
Can we talk? Apparently so, as familiar faces come to daytime to get their gab on. The microphone wielders included veteran faces Katie Couric and Ricki Lake, comic/actor/author and "Family Feud" host Steve Harvey, and "Survivor" host Jeff Probst.
Lots of women scrub in this season to heal the sick and goof up their personal lives, including Kaling on "The Mindy Project," Jordana Spiro on "The Mob Doctor," and Gummer on "Emily Owens, M.D."