Starting in September, the networks performed their ritualistic fall supply drop. Along with returning favorites from “The Good Wife” to “The Voice,” they released some two dozen new series upon us, then sat back and crossed their fingers.
Now, a few trends are emerging regarding those newcomers, some surprising, others more predictable. One surprise: All the shows featuring racially diverse leading characters — “Jane the Virgin,” “black-ish,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” and “Cristela” — are still standing. Before their premieres, they were yoked together in articles asking if they’d survive; now they’re linked by success.
Each has been given a full season order from its respective network. Thanks in part to the path cut by Shonda Rhimes’s colorblind casting and her knack for mainstream entertainment, these shows are no longer far cries.
Another surprise: Debra Messing’s silly new crime comedy, “The Mysteries of Laura,” has done well for NBC. I thought the show would surely be among the first casualties. No one will be shocked to hear, however, that superheroes continue to have a hold on our imaginations, with newcomers “The Flash” and “Gotham” doing well. Or that we still love procedurals, with “Stalker,” “Scorpion,” “Forever,” and “NCIS: New Orleans” all quite stable. Or that many of the quirky, gimmicky new romantic comedies — “A to Z,” “Manhattan Love Story,” and “Selfie” — have already met their maker. They’ve gone home to that big vat of sap in the sky.
Here’s a look at each of the new shows (except for the just-premiered “State of Affairs”), categorized according to their Nielsen numbers and graded on their creative development.
“How to Get Away With Murder” ABC
ABC knew what it was doing when it added a third Shonda Rhimes production to Thursday nights. The legal thriller is drawing strong numbers, on par with its lead-in, “Scandal,” and it’s bound for renewal. The first season is only 15 episodes, per ABC’s deal with star Viola Davis, and it will wrap on Feb. 26. Alas, when it comes to content, the show could use a giant chill pill, among other things. Show creator Peter Nowalk pours on so much sexuality and heat, and pushes so many viewer buttons, it’s as if he’s afraid to give us time to think. Which is smart, because the plot is illogical and silly. D
“The Flash” The CW
The premiere set a ratings record for The CW, and when week two went well, the network quickly gave the DC Comics adaptation a full season order. And that’s nice, because the show is seriously likable. Grant Gustin is winning as Barry, a superhero who actually appears to enjoy his powers. And Gustin is surrounded by a remarkable cast including Tom Cavanagh. The writers are confidently creating a rich superhero mythology even while they rely on villains of the week. B+
“NCIS: New Orleans” CBS
Surprise, surprise. This new member of the “NCIS” franchise starring Scott Bakula is a huge hit that quickly got a full-season order. As CBS head Les Moonves knows, sometimes hit-making is a science. And the show is fine — a nice, good-looking cast, pretty locations, jokey banter, and Bakula’s sometimey accent. Just don’t start hungering for originality; you’ll starve. C+
The show quickly got a full-season order from ABC. The ratings have dropped since the premiere, but it nonetheless holds onto viewers from its “Modern Family” lead-in better than most of its predecessors had in that slot. The material is surprisingly conventional family comedy, with plots involving a competitive mother-in-law, telling kids about sex, and spanking. But the racial twists add layers and a great energy, as Dad worries about his upper-middle-class kids losing their black identity. The show has a worldview, and a good cast including Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne. Meanwhile, let’s shelve those comparisons to “The Cosby Show” for a little while, shall we? B+
“The Mysteries of Laura” NBC
Bad reviews didn’t stop Debra Messing’s feather-lite cop series from drawing a lot of viewers and getting a full-season order. But don’t assume a second season; this hit draws older viewers, which will work against it when commitment time arrives. The networks have no use for the olds. I have only goodwill toward this show about a woman juggling the stresses of kids, an estranged husband, and crime-solvin’. As long as I don’t ever have to watch it again. C
The atmospheric superhero prequel series had its full-season order bumped up from 16 to 22 episodes, after a spectacular premiere and a consistently decent performance in the 18-49 demo. Fox’s fall shows have not done well, except for this one. The writing can rely too heavily on our knowledge of the Batman mythology, and some episodes have been too crowded with cases of the week. But the ongoing story lines are an intriguing collection of pieces waiting to be put together. Ben McKenzie is appealingly noble as Detective James Gordon, and the villains, notably Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin, are colorful. B
It’s a CBS procedural, which means a full-season order was almost inevitable. But the story lines, which revolve around a team of geniuses solving international problems and using lots of jumbled tech-speak, are ridiculous, and the characters are little more than types. C-
This dark thriller usually wins its Wednesday time slot in total viewers and in the 18-49 demo, and the network has given it a full-season order. Yup, another hit for CBS. This creepy show has remained a big fat serving of ugly. It exploits our fears concerning invasions of privacy and personal boundaries on a weekly basis. D
The ratings have been on the lower side of decent, but the supernatural crime drama got a full-season order nonetheless. It’s a shoulder-shrug of a show, with Ioan Gruffudd’s medical examiner dealing with cases of the week and the curse of immortality. As we learn more about his 200-year past, we still don’t care much about him. C
With respectable ratings for a Friday night, this culture comedy has a full season order. It’s about a woman stuck between modern ideas and her more traditional Mexican-American family, but it’s written without any subtlety. You want to tell everyone to calm down and let the material breathe. C
“Madam Secretary” CBS
CBS couldn’t have designed a better Sunday night partner for “The Good Wife.” The show has attracted solid if not spectacular ratings, and it does quite well in time-delayed viewership numbers, so CBS has blessed it with a full-season order. I find the drama, about the complex world of international politics, simplistic and bland. Tea Leoni’s titular character is written to be annoyingly perfect, and Leoni plays her with a grim monotone and a lack of depth. C
“Jane the Virgin” The CW
This charming show has a full-season order, even though its ratings haven’t taken off. It’s a cheeky spoof of telenovelas, like “Ugly Betty” was, but thanks to a lovely performance by Gina Rodriguez and some sensitive writing, it also contains a lot of real human feeling. I was afraid that conservatism and over-the-top twists would bring this one down, but I was wrong. A-
“The McCarthys” CBS
The ratings for the premiere of this multi-camera sitcom were disappointing at 8 million, and they have only gone down since then. For CBS, home of some of TV’s biggest comedies, including “The Big Bang Theory,” the expectations run higher. But the show is still clinging to life, which is a good thing. What started off as a dated comedy about a gay son has grown into a showcase for the actors who play the members of a very Boston family, including Laurie Metcalf and Jimmy Dunn. I hope it catches on. B+
The future looks grim for this comedy modeled on “Seinfeld.” It premiered as the lowest newcomer this year, with 2.3 million viewers, and its numbers have continued to sink. Fox has cut the episode order from 16 to 13, which does not bode well. And really, it will be no big loss if “Mulaney” disappears. He may be a fine stand-up and writer, but John Mulaney is an underwhelming lead, and the many colorful supporting characters around him can’t compensate for that, as hard as they try, which is usually too hard. Both Martin Short and Elliott Gould ham it up enough to make you go vegan. D
“Marry Me” NBC
The network has commissioned more episodes of this comedy from the creator of “Happy Endings,” adding up to 18 in all. That’s almost a full-season order. The show is obviously trying to imitate “Happy Endings,” with lots of fast-talking ensemble banter. Sometimes the cast members strain to look like old friends, but with time that may resolve. Casey Wilson remains a treat, and there’s plenty of potential here. B
“Bad Judge” NBC
We were good judges of bad comedy and let this painful show fall by the wayside.
“Red Band Society” Fox
Production has stopped at 13 episodes, after low ratings, but Fox hasn’t used the “cancellation” word yet.
“Manhattan Love Story” ABC
This won the prize for first-canceled show of the new season.
“A to Z” NBC
O is for “over.”
The ratings for this “My Fair Lady” takeoff were far from loverly.
The network halted production after 13 episodes, but there’s been no official cancellation yet.
This limited series tanked in the ratings, another Fox fall casualty.