Last week, the five major networks—ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and The CW—all announced their Fall 2014 primetime schedules. In addition long-running series like “Criminal Minds” and “Law & Order: SVU” returning for another year, there are a ton of new shows that’ll be crashing the channels. Some look AH-MAH-ZING (i.e. “Gracepoint”), while others appear amazingly awful (i.e. “Jane The Virgin”). Either way, there’s going to be a ton of new things to watch this fall so we hope you start clearing your schedule—and your DVR—now.
To help weed out the small-screen studs from the duds, might we suggest the following nine series debuting on network TV this fall.
Note: This doesn’t cover any of the cable or premium networks, which haven’t formally announced their rosters yet. Also, we didn’t include anything that wasn’t given an official time slot, which is why, for example, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (the Tina Fey-produced NBC comedy starring Ellie Kemper) isn’t on the list. So stay tuned because just like Kim and Kanye’s wedding location, schedules are always subject to change.
“Mulaney” (Sundays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox)
Cast: John Mulaney, Elliott Gould, Martin Short, Nasim Pedrad
Storyline: John Mulaney (played by, you guessed it, Mulaney) is a struggling stand-up comedian who lands a job working for a comedic legend turned game show host (Short), who’s a total nightmare. Add to that an awkward living situation with kooky roommates and you’ve got yourself a multi-camera ensemble comedy!
Why watch?: Mulaney is a hugely accomplished writer and stand-up (“Saturday Night Live,” “The Kroll Show,” “Important Things with Demetri Martin”), which gives us all the confidence in the world that this show is gonna be funny. Maybe like a modern-day “Seinfeld.” It’s a tall order, but Mulaney has the talent, no doubt about it. However, we also had high hopes for Whitney Cummings’ namesake series and that was a big ole dud. Either way, we’ll definitely be tuning in. Though, if this means Pedrad is ending her tenure at “SNL,” we have two words for you: boo, hiss.
“Gotham” (Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox)
Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith
Plot: Fans follow a young detective, James Gordon (McKenzie), as he rises through the ranks before becoming the police commissioner—and eventual Batman ally—of Gotham City.
Why watch?: Who doesn’t want to watch the artist formerly known as Ryan Atwood brood around for an hour in dark lighting? (Answer: We do! We do!) In all seriousness, the trailer makes this show look bananas. Like each week we’ll be watching a blockbuster vignette exploring a pre-Batman Gotham City. Plus, now that McKenzie is going by “Ben” instead of “Benjamin,” you know shit is about to get real.
“Selfie” (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC)
Cast: Karen Gillan, John Cho
Plot: Eliza (Gillan) is an obnoxious, technology-obsessed, vapid egomaniac who thinks in hashtags and pays no attention to the real world around her. That is, until she meets Henry (Cho), who helps to give her a mega-extreme makeover that’ll improve her mind, body and spirit.
Why watch?: Another title for this show could’ve been “When ‘My Fair Lady’ Met Snapchat” because that’s exactly what the series seems to be about, from the name of the characters (Henry Higgins, anyone?) to the overuse of needless hashtags. However, don’t swipe left just yet. Sure, it’s not the most original concept we’ve ever seen, but with Emily Kapnek (“Suburgatory”) at the helm, it’s safe to say the show will be packed with wit, heart and social commentary that’ll probably make us laugh and cringe at the same time.
“The Flash” (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)
Cast: Grant Gustin, Tom Cavanagh, Danielle Panabaker
Plot: Young scientist Barry Allen (Gustin) suffers a freak accident, which makes him run real freakin’ fast and, inevitably, turns him into a freak—er, superhero. It turns him into a superhero. His name? (Wait for it.) The Flash.
Why watch?: As far as superhero TV shows go, this one looks like it could be more than just a flash in the pan. (Sorry, but the pun was just sitting there, waiting to be tapped in. Sue me!) Plus, the CW has a long history with superheroes: “Smallville” ran for 10 seasons and “Arrow” is proving to be equally successful. Jury’s still out on whether the series will have any effect on the highly anticipated Flash movie that’s been in development since 2013.
“Marry Me” (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC)
Cast: Casey Wilson, Ken Marino, John Gemberling, Tim Meadows
Plot: Annie (Wilson) and Jake (Marino) desperately want to get engaged, but a series of foibles and fails keep the young couple from putting a ring on it.
Why watch?: We’re not sure how long they can keep the premise up, but genius cast makes us think this show exhibits great promise. Plus, it comes from David Caspe, the creator of “Happy Endings” (RIP) and Wilson’s soon-to-be hubby, so we’re counting his signature off-kilter humor to help keep us in stitches. Oh, and for anyone still mourning the death of James Novak on “Scandal,” dry your tears because actor Dan Bucatinsky is alive and well on “Marry Me.” Hooray!
“Red Band Society” (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox)
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Dave Annable, Thomas Ian Nicholas
Plot: Overseen by a tough-of-nails nurse (Spencer) with a heart of gold, a group of teens meet in the children’s wing of a hospital and the collective diagnosis is friendship.
Why watch?: Sick kids, medical jargon and Octavia Spencer? Sold! Plus, Steven Spielberg is executive producing, so if that doesn’t make this show a must-see, then you must be blind. (But, seriously, if you are blind, you can at least listen, right?)
“How To Get Away With Murder” (Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC)
Cast: Viola Davis
Plot: Students enrolled in an introductory criminal law course with Professor Annalise Keating (Davis) get more than school credit when they become part of a murder plot that’ll affect the entire campus and change everyone’s lives forever.
Why watch?: Thursdays belong to famed showrunner Shondra Rhimes and “Murder” is the last in a trio of shows—incl. “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”—that’ll have your tush Velcro’d to the couch for three hours straight. Though we don’t really recognize anyone else in the cast aside from Davis, that’s good enough for us. Plus, everything Shonda touches turns to Golden Globes, so there’s a good chance that “Murder” is going to kill the drama competition this fall.
“Gracepoint” (Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox)
Cast: David Tennant, Anna Gunn, Michael Pena, Nick Nolte
Plot: When a little boy is found dead in the picturesque, seaside town of Gracepoint, California, the entire community is shaken to its core. While the police try and solve the homicide, the boy’s family is forced to deal with the tragic aftermath and media scrutiny.
Why watch?: Based on the British series “Broadchurch,” the U.S. version of this critically acclaimed drama appears to pretty faithful to the original; though there are rumors of a different ending. From the trailer similarities to David Tennant reprising his role as lead detective, “Gracepoint” looks bracing, thrilling and a bunch of other adjectives indicating an optical spectacle. Plus, we can’t wait to have Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) back in our lives on a weekly basis and look forward to seeing Nick Nolte play the guy on the Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenge tin.
“A to Z” (Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC)
Cast: Ben Feldman, Cristin Milioti
Plot: Andrew (Feldman) and Zelda (Milioti), two attractive brunette twentysomethings who are successful in business but unlucky in the love department, meet, fall for each other and then break up. Don’t get too sad, though, because the pair soon reunites and we get to watch how their relationship develops for an unknown amount of episodes.
Why watch?: Four out of five doctors vote Feldman (“Mad Men”) and Milioti (“How I Met Your Mother”) as illegally adorable, which makes us want to tune in to see what’ll happen after Andrew and Zelda eventually get together. We’re guessing there’ll be a lot of miscommunications, misunderstandings and misdirection, all while Feldman and Milioti remain painfully adorable. Plus, if Katey Sagal (“Sons Of Anarchy”) is narrating the entire affair, we’ll give ’em the benefit of the doubt. Lady could read the phone book and we’d still buy a ticket.