Fall TV Preview

Grading the fall TV shows

David Krumholtz, left, as Joe, a newly-engaged, accomplished architect and Michael Urie, who stars as Louis, Joe's gay co- worker and best friend.
Matt Kennedy/CBS via AP
David Krumholtz, left, as Joe, a newly-engaged, accomplished architect and Michael Urie, who stars as Louis, Joe's gay co- worker and best friend.



(CBS multi-camera sitcom, premieres Sept. 24)

Starring: Michael Urie, David Krumholtz, Brandon Routh

Concept: Another gay-straight affair from the makers of “Will & Grace,” David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, this one is modeled on their own friendship. Architects Joe and Louis are codependent, and their lovers must deal with it.


Am I hooked? I wish these guys didn’t talk so fast! It’s as if the actors are delivering with a metronome. Instead of breezy comedy, it’s broad. And the gay cliches? Oh snap. Still, there’s wit and wisdom about friendship, and Routh is a kick as a romantic lug.

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Alternate title: “The Gay Straight Alliance”

Grade: B-

Trae Patton/NBC via AP
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, left, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson from “Revolution.”


(NBC mythology adventure; Sept. 17)

Starring: Billy Burke, Giancarlo Esposito

Concept: From J.J. Abrams, this show gives us an Earth without electricity and a society that reverts to primitivism. In the post-apocalyptic near-future, a young woman whose father was involved in the blackout goes on a journey for answers.

Am I hooked? After the merely competent pilot, with its many forgettable characters, I was not as excited as I wanted to be. Am I eager to take on yet another complex, aimless back story? Kind of not. The enticement: Esposito, Gus from “Breaking Bad,” as a cool villain.


Alternate title: “You Better Free Your Mind Instead”

Grade: C+

Nathaniel Bell/Fox
Grace (Jordana Spiro, left) is split between two distinct worlds as she juggles her promising medical career in “The Mob Doctor.”

“The Mob Doctor”

(Fox procedural drama; Sept. 17)

Starring: Jordana Spiro, Zach Gilford

Concept: Spiro, from “My Boys” is a promising surgeon who has to pay a mob debt by making house calls to mobsters.

Am I hooked? Wow, does this ever not work. The preposterousness of Spiro’s mob connections undermines the medical drama. It’s a forced concept.

Alternate title: “Dr. Fuggedaboutit.”

Grade: D



Lorey Sebastian/CBS
“Vegas” is a drama inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid (on horse).


(CBS period drama; Sept. 25)

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis

Concept: This 1960s-set series has rancher-turned-lawman Quaid going up against Chiklis’s gangster, vying for the heart of budding Las Vegas.

Am I hooked? Last season’s retro dramas, “The Playboy Club” and “Pan Am,” fell flat. This bland saga probably will too, despite the laconic intensity of Quaid and the presence of writer-producer Nicholas Pileggi. The gangster material is surprisingly stock. So far, it lacks spark and originality.

Alternate title: “Thin City”

Grade: C+

Jordin Althaus/NBC via AP
Matthew Perry portraying Ryan King in "Go On.”

“Go On”

(NBC sitcom)

Starring: Matthew Perry, Laura Benanti

Concept: After Perry’s cocky sportscaster loses his wife in a car accident, his boss will only let him return to work if he attends group therapy. There he meets endearing oddballs.

Am I hooked? I liked the pilot. The role gives more depth to Perry’s usual shtick, and the group has a “Community” feel. Let’s see what happens next.

Alternate title: “Grin Treatment”

Grade: B+

Trae Patton/NBC via AP
Andrew Rannells as Bryan, left, and Justin Bartha as David in “The New Normal.”

“The New Normal”

(NBC sitcom; Sept. 11)

Starring: Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha, Ellen Barkin

Concept: A gay couple in Beverly Hills hire a single mother to be their surrogate, and they become intertwined with her, her 8-year-old daughter, and her Archie Bunker-like mother (Barkin). This one is from Ryan Murphy of “Glee.”

Am I hooked? I am, but Barkin needs to take it down a notch. The situation is promisingly fresh, the casting of Bartha and Rannells as a couple is perfect, and the writing has some wit and heart. Let’s hope Murphy doesn’t pull a “Glee” and get too obvious.

Alternate title: “Really Modern Family”

Grade: A-

Beth Dubber/Fox
Mindy (Mindy Kaling, right), a skilled OB/GYN meets her boyfriend Tom (Bill Hader, left) in “The Mindy Project.”

“The Mindy Project”

(Fox sitcom; Sept. 25)

Starring: Mindy Kaling

Concept: Her career as an OB/GYN is thriving. Her love life? Not so much. Mindy is hooked on romantic comedies and trying to turn her story into one, but reality gets in the way.

Am I hooked? I think so, but I need to see more. It’s a standard setup, but creator-writer-producer-star Kaling has a great self-aware and self-deprecating sensibility and lots of charm.

Alternate title: “Dr. Yes”

Grade: A-

Beth Dubber/FOX
Odd couple siblings Kate (Dakota Johnson, left) and Ben (Nat Faxon, right).

“Ben and Kate”

(Fox sitcom; Sept. 25)

Starring: Nat Faxon, Dakota Johnson

Concept: Faxon’s crazy Ben moves in with his sister, Kate, to help take care of her daughter. They cramp each other’s style.

Am I hooked? This has an appealing cast, including Maggie Jones as the wry little girl who understands her Uncle Ben. It’s a low-key premise that leaves room for character comedy. But the writers and Faxon need to stop straining for quirk.

Alternate title: “You Can Count on Me!”

Grade: B

Jack Rowand/CW
Mamie Gummer as Emily.

“Emily Owens, M.D.”

(CW drama; Oct. 16)

Starring: Mamie Gummer, Michael Rady

Concept: For Gummer’s intern, hospital life in Denver is not unlike high school. She’s still the geek, tormented by a mean girl and nursing a crush on the cute guy.

Am I hooked? Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter, shined on “The Good Wife,” and she makes this familiar medical cliche-fest tolerable. I hope it doesn’t last, so she can find a better vehicle.

Alternate title: “Fifty Shades of ‘Grey’s’ ”

Grade: C+

Ron Tom/ABC
Toks Olagundoye and Simon Templeman star as aliens in the ABC sitcom “The Neighbors.”


“The Neighbors”

(ABC sitcom; preview on Sept. 23)

Starring: Lenny Venito, Jami Gertz

Concept: A family moves to a New Jersey gated community in which everyone is an alien who has a pro-athlete name, including Reggie Jackson and Larry Bird.

Am I hooked? I’m addicted to thinking about how bad this is and why ABC took it on. The aliens receive nourishment through their eyes, which means they’d starve if they watched this dumb “Coneheads” twist. It’s this year’s “Cavemen.”

Alternate title: “Hello Dearthlings”

Grade: F

Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ABC via AP
Hayden Panettiere as Juliette in “Nashville.”


(ABC nighttime soap; Oct. 10)

Starring: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere

Concept: Backstabbing in the world of country music, with Britton as the aging legend with ticket-sales issues and Panettiere as the ambitious newcomer. The show has local political drama, songs, show biz jockeying, and family divisions.

Am I hooked? Yup. Britton is one of the most authentic actresses on TV, and she is perfect as a Faith Hill-esque diva. The show has more intimacy than most nighttime soaps, and the songs expand the genre.

Alternate title: “Smashville”

Grade: A-

Neil Jacobs/NBC
Crystal the Monkey in “Animal Practice.”

“Animal Practice”

(NBC sitcom)

Starring: Justin Kirk, Tyler Labine

Concept: Kirk’s cranky veterinarian leads a staff of nitwits, flirts with his ex.

Am I hooked? Nope, unless miracles occur after the tired pilot. The animals are cute, though, especially the pet monkey.

Alternate title: “Dr. Laugh-little”

Grade: C-

Vivian Zink/NBC
Jesse Bradford as Chris, and Anthony Anderson as Gary in “Guys with Kids.”

“Guys With Kids”

(NBC sitcom; preview on Sept. 12)

Starring: Anthony Anderson, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tempestt Blesdoe

Concept: Three 30-something fathers in New York who deal with their children while acting like children.

Am I hooked? It’s about guys being guys. Jimmy Fallon produced this extremely unnecessary comedy.

Alternate title: “Baby Byawn”

Grade: C-

The cast from "Chicago Fire.”

“Chicago Fire”

(NBC procedural; Oct. 10)

Starring: Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney

Concept: Dick Wolf of “Law & Order” delivers the firefighters at Firehouse 51 and lots of action.

Am I hooked: The characters are so generic, you’ll forget them the minute the show ends. There are a lot of defined abs among these heroic muscle-bots, but where’s the excitement and drama?

Alternate title: “Rescue Us”

Grade: C

Jack Rowand/CW
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in “Arrow.”


(CW superhero drama; Oct. 10)

Starring: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy

Concept: Wealthy playboy by day, vigilante by night. This moody telling of the Green Arrow has Amell returning from five years on a deserted island to clear his family name.

Am I hooked? I’m not a huge superhero fan, but I could see the promise here. Amell is broody if generic, and his “Count of Monte Cristo”-like journey has potential.

Alternate title: “Pout of Monte Cristo”

Grade: B


Mario Perez/American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., via AP
Daisy Betts as Lieutenant Grace Shepard, left, and Andre Braugher as Captain Marcus Chaplin in "Last Resort.”

“The Last Resort”

(ABC military thriller; Sept. 27)

Starring: Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman

Concept: This new series, from Shawn Ryan of “The Shield,” has a renegade military submarine seceding from the United States after getting an order to nuke Pakistan.

Am I hooked? Yes. This is the most original and ambitious new show of the season. The pilot is way too stuffed with incident, but also with potential. Braugher is compelling as the sub commander who goes rogue, and the material blends global politics with personal politics. Where is this heading? I’d like to find out.

Alternate title: “Rock Das Boot”

Grade: A-

David M. Russell/CBS
Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in “Elementary.”


(ABC procedural; Sept. 27)

Starring: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu

Concept: Another updating of Arthur Conan Doyle, this time with Miller’s wealthy Sherlock as a recovering addict and a consultant with the NYPD. His Watson is his “sober companion,” and a woman.

Am I hooked? No. The show isn’t nearly as tart and smart as PBS’s “Sherlock,” and the possibility of a Sherlock-Watson hookup is nauseating. But it has a playful edge, and Miller brings enough irony to recall the crabby Sherlock who just left the air: House.

Alternate title: “The Seven-Per-Cent Dilution”

Grade: B-

Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW
Jay Ryan and Kristin Kreuk in the CW drama “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Beauty and the Beast”

(CW supernatural procedural; Oct. 11)

Starring: Kristin Kreuk, Jay Ryan

Concept: Kreuk from “Smallville” plays a cop who’s coming to terms with the murder of her mother years earlier. She befriends the protective hunk who turns beastly when his adrenaline spikes. They solve crimes.

Am I hooked? So totally not. It’s illogical, overwritten, and cheesily produced. And Kreuk is a crock as a cop.

Alternate title: “Banalville”

Grade: D


David Lee/CBS
Garretti family dinner in “Made in Jersey.”

“Made in Jersey”

(CBS procedural; Sept. 28)

Starring: Janet Montgomery, Kyle

Concept: Martina, a street-smart Jersey girl from a big Italian family, tries to make it in a hoity-toity Manhattan law firm. It’s “Working Girl” and “Ugly Betty” via “Jersey Shore.”

Am I hooked? The New Jersey cliches — big hair, fake nails, heavy accents — are all in place. And it’s got predictable fish-out-of-water moves. But Montgomery, who is British, is likable enough to make the hour pass easily.

Alternate title: “Hair Spray”

Grade: B-

The stars of "Malibu Country.”

“Malibu Country”

(ABC multi-camera sitcom; Nov. 2)

Starring: Lily Tomlin, Reba McEntire

Concept: McEntire is a newly single mother who moves her family, including her sassy mother (Tomlin), from Nashville to SoCal. Fish-out-of-water high jinks ensue.

Am I hooked? I am fascinated by Reba the Orange Marvel and I have an enduring affection for Lily Tomlin. But you’d have to secure me to get me to sit through another episode. The lazy, cliched writing gives the multi-camera sitcom a worse reputation than it already has.

Alternate title: “None Ringydingy”

Grade: D


“666 Park Avenue” stars Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams.

“666 Park Avenue”

(ABC supernatural drama; Sept. 30)

Starring: Terry O’Quinn, Vanessa Williams

Concept: An innocent couple (they’re Midwestern, of course) is hired to manage an Upper East Side apartment building owned by O’Quinn and Williams. Whoops: The residents have made a deal with the devil to have their fantasies come true.

Am I hooked? No, even with my love for Williams. This show has identity problems. It’s not campy, despite the title, and it’s not truly dramatic or terror-inducing either. That leaves it teetering on the cliff of pointlessness.

Alternate title: “Fantasy Island of Manhattan”

Grade: C

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on
Twitter @MatthewGilbert.