Editors Note: The incorrect dates and times from the story published on Sept. 5 have been fixed.
The operative word for the fall TV season is “crazy.”
We have a resurrected Redcoat and a Headless Horseman. We have sensitive robots and comic book super agents. We have vampires galore, and Alice down the rabbit hole. We even have a comedy with “crazy” in the title, which oddly enough isn’t crazy at all.
High-concept, mythology-heavy series haven’t done well for the broadcast networks of late. “Revolution” survives on NBC, but so many others (FOX’s “Terra Nova,” ABC’s “Zero Hour,” NBC’s “Do No Harm”) couldn’t win mainstream audiences.
With cable taking more and more of their viewers, though, the broadcast networks (except rock-solid CBS) don’t feel inclined to play it entirely safe. So in addition to introducing shows that feel like a lot of shows we’ve already seen, they continue to go out on limbs that could break under them.
Some of these risky ventures are among the most interesting new shows of the year. Whether the next “Lost” is in this group seems unlikely, but the effort deserves applause anyway.
Here, ranked from best to worst, are the series making debuts on the broadcast networks for fall 2013. A note about the star ratings: Four stars means perfect, three and a half almost perfect, and no show achieved those. Three stars means very good, with lots of promise. Two and a half stars is better than average, and two stars is average. Below two stars means “don’t waste your time.”
“Sleepy Hollow” Premieres Sept. 16 on FOX (Comcast channels 13 and 22) at 9 p.m.
My favorite new drama is crazy, scary and crazy-scary, but it also brings us the best new buddy relationship of the season. Tom Mison is Ichabod Crane, but the Washington Irving character is re-imagined as a British redcoat, buried since the Revolutionary War. Now he’s awake, and understandably confused. Nicole Beharie is the cop who’s the only one to believe him, even after an also-awakened Headless Horseman begins dealing out decapitations. There’s a lot of murky, mythology here, blending dark conspiracies with supernatural forces and biblical prophecies, so I don’t know which way “Sleepy Hollow” is heading. The first hour, though, is a heck of a ride.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; Premieres Sept. 17 on FOX (Comcast channels 13 and 22) at 8:30 p.m.
The best new comedy of the season is surprisingly smart and just silly enough. Andy Samberg is a detective who relaxes with crazy pranks, especially directed at his main rival, played by Melissa Fumero. But they’re both excellent cops, which wins Samberg’s character a margin of slack from his new boss, played straight-faced by Andre Braugher. From Mike Schur and Dan Goor of “Parks and Recreation,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” can make you want to get arrested.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”; Premieres Sept. 24 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 8 p.m.
No matter what you might or might not know about the Marvel universe and “The Avengers,” this action-fantasy-dramedy from Joss Whedon’s company is a lot of fun. Rather than superheroes, the protagonists (including Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, J. August Richards and Chloe Bennett) form a team dedicated to saving the world from mysterious threats. I especially enjoyed Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge as wry British scientists, and fans of the movie will be very happy about a return they’ve almost certainly heard about already.
“The Blacklist”; Premieres Sept. 23 on NBC (Comcast channel 5) at 10 p.m.
Strange and yet compelling, this thriller with “Silence of the Lambs” (and thus “Hannibal”) overtones stars James Spader as a creepy super-criminal who promises to help the FBI catch other bad guys, but only if he can work with a brand-new FBI agent played by Megan Boone. Dark and violent and purposely puzzling, the pilot is impossible to look away from when Spader is on screen. In fact, you might not be able to blink.
“Almost Human”; Premieres Nov. 4 on FOX (Comcast channels 13 and 22) at 8 p.m.
2 1/2 stars
Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy in the newest “Star Trek” movies) is a future cop coming back from a catastrophic injury and Michael Ealy is his sympathetic android partner in a slick-looking sci-fi drama from J.H. Wyman (“Fringe”). It’s fun to see what Wyman imagines the world is like in 2048, and the drama’s underlying mystery will grab viewers who like that sort of thing. But for most of us, the reason to watch will be the growing friendship between Urban’s bitter curmudgeon and Ealy’s warm, cuddly robot.
“The Michael J. Fox Show”; Premieres Sept. 26 on NBC (Comcast channel 5) at 9:30 p.m.
(Two episodes air at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29 on the same channel)
2 1/2 stars
We love Michael J. FOX; we love the fact that he’s feeling up to series TV again and that he’s willing to poke fun at himself and his Parkinson’s disease. And even though most of us won’t love the show based on the pilot, which is heavy on the setup, we’ll be willing to cut it some slack.
“Lucky 7”; Premieres Sept. 24 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 10 p.m.
2 1/2 stars
In a drama based on a British series, service station employees finally hit the lottery jackpot, resulting in a lot of life changes. Matt Long and Isiah Whitlock Jr. are the most familiar faces in the appealingly quirky ensemble cast, which includes Lorraine Bruce from the British version. The pilot stupidly starts in the middle of the action, but once it settles down, “Lucky 10” shows promise.
“The Crazy Ones”; Premieres Sept. 26 on CBS (Comcast channel 7) at 9 p.m.
2 1/2 stars
Robin Williams returns to series TV as an eccentric ad man who works with his two kids, straitlaced daughter Sarah Michelle Gellar and charming son James Wolk. Williams reins in his zany humor enough to keep the show from imploding, and Wolk (Bob Benson on “Mad Men”) seems as if he could be Williams’ actual offspring. Surprisingly, Gellar is a problem point playing a thankless character who likes to spoil the fun.
“The Millers”; Premieres Oct. 3 on CBS (Comcast channel 7) at 8:30 p.m.
2 1/2 stars
Will Arnett as a newly divorced guy plays straight man to his parents (Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges) in a sitcom from Greg Garcia (“Raising Hope,” “My Name Is Earl”). One of the funniest of the new season’s comedies, “The Millers” is also unfortunately heavy on body-function humor, largely at Martindale’s expense. And that stinks.
“Trophy Wife”; Premieres Sept. 24 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 9:30 p.m.
Hate the title; kind of like the show. Malin Akerman is the third wife of Bradley Whitford, who with marriage inherited not just his kids but his first two exes, played by Michaela Watkins and Marcia Gay Harden. It’s a modern kind of family, and it could work.
“Betrayal”; Premieres Sept. 29 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 10 p.m.
Two pretty people married to two other pretty people fall hard, cheat — and then things get messy. This soapy drama, starring Stuart Townsend and Hannah Ware, would like to be the next “Revenge,” or better yet, “Scandal.” The first hour, considered on its own, is a pretty good B movie. But unless viewers are able to invest in the relationship and its consequences (which seems unlikely), “Betrayal” is a failure.
“The Goldbergs”; Premieres Sept. 24 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 9 p.m.
Adam Goldberg was a nerdy, film-obsessed kid who turned his 1980s family into a homegrown sitcom. Now he’s turned that true story into an actual sitcom, with Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey as the parents of three (Goldberg has turned one brother into a sister) and George Segal as the slightly daft grandpa. The show is broad and loud (so much yelling!), but it’s warmhearted and often actually funny, a rarity in this year’s new comedies.
“Hostages”; Premiers Sept. 23 on CBS (Comcast channel 7) at 10 p.m.
Dylan McDermott wants doctor Toni Collette to kill the president in this grim, convoluted thriller, intended for a limited run (but with a second season possible). There’s little likable here except the family golden retriever, and too many characters have too many secrets to keep up with. But the pace is brisk, and by the end of the episode, you may find yourself involved enough to want more.
“Mom”; Premiers Sept. 23 on CBS (Comcast channel 7) at 9:30 p.m.
Anna Faris is sympathetic as a single mother, newly sober, trying to keep her teenage daughter from making the same mistakes while also reconnecting with her own, outrageous mother (Allison Janney). “Mom” is a solid drama from Chuck Lorre, but unfortunately, it’s supposed to be a comedy. Perhaps later episodes will have more humor.
“The Originals”; Premiers Oct. 3 on CW (Comcast channel 11) at 9 p.m.
(Preview on Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. on same channel)
A spin-off of “The Vampire Diaries” focuses on the first family of vamps as Klaus (Joseph Morgan) returns to New Orleans and picks up where he left off centuries ago. If you’re a “VD” fan, you’ll most likely enjoy this; if not, you’ll find it impenetrable.
“Super Fun Night”; Premiers Oct. 2 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 9:30 p.m.
1 1/2 stars
Rebel Wilson plays an earnest misfit whose new job at a law firm jeopardizes her play time with her two misfit gal pals (Lauren Ash and Liza Lapira) in a comedy with more cringes than laughs.
“Dracula”; Premieres Oct. 25 on NBC (Comcast channel 5) at 10 p.m.
1 1/2 stars
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the proto-vampire, posing (in Victorian London) as an American entrepreneur but actually out for blood, in a cartoonish and not compelling new spin on the classic.
“Welcome to the Family”; Premiers Oct. 3 on NBC (Comcast channel 5) at 8:30 p.m.
1 1/2 stars
Two sets of parents (Mike O’Malley and Mary McCormack; Ricardo Chavira and Justina Machado) are forced to get along when their teenage kids announce that they’re having a baby and plan to get married. It’s a sweet enough little show, but you have to wonder how it wound up on the night where “30 Rock” used to air.
“Back in the Game”; Premiers Sept. 25 on ABC (Comcast channel 4) at 8:30 p.m.
1 1/2 stars
Maggie Lawson plays a former softball star who falls on hard times and is forced to move in with her father, an obnoxious drunk played by James Caan, in a loud comedy that’s rarely funny and often painful to sit through. Lawson and Griffin Gluck, who plays her young son, deserve better; Caan should know better.
“Reign”; Premiers Oct. 17 on CW (Comcast channel 11) at 10 p.m.
1 1/2 stars
Adelaide Kane is 18-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, arriving in France with a gossipy entourage to marry Prince Frances (Toby Regbo) in a soapy historical drama that’s heavy on dramatics and light on actual history. In addition to political intrigue and teenage liaisons, supernatural forces are at work here, all set to a contemporary score. Kids, enjoy this if you choose to, but don’t use it to help you pass a history test.
“Sean Saves the World”; Premiers Oct. 3 on NBC (Comcast channel 5) at 9 p.m.
Sean Hayes is a divorced dad, trying to raise a daughter and please a tough new boss (Thomas Lennon) and deal with an outspoken mother (Linda Lavin) in a too-broad, not-funny-enough sitcom. Megan Hilty joined the cast after the original pilot was shot, so there’s that.
“The Tomorrow People”; Premiers Oct. 9 on CW (Comcast Channel 11) at 10 p.m.
Young people who have evolved super powers work together to fight evil in a drama (based on a British series) with Peyton List and Robbie Amell. I rarely had any idea what was going on and wasn’t engaged enough to try very hard.
“We Are Men”; Premiers Sept. 30 on CBS (Comcast channel 7) at 8:30 p.m.
Christopher Smith is left at the altar (where have we seen that before?) and moves into a swinging singles apartment complex, where he makes friends with Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O’Connell and Kal Penn. The results are depressing.
“Ironside”; Premiers Oct. 2 on NBC (Comcast channel 5) at 10 p.m.
In this unnecessary remake of the 19910-108 Raymond Burr drama, being in a wheelchair doesn’t keep cop Blair Underwood from beating a suspect senseless or having a way with the ladies, if you know what I mean. Jumping forward and backward in time (so Underwood can get out of that chair) and dribbling out clues cryptically, “Ironside” is too grim and unengaging to be so much work.
“Enlisted”; Premiers Nov. 8 on FOX (Comcast channels 13 and 22) at 9:30 p.m.
This “bro” comedy is literally about brothers, three of them, reunited as part of a “Bad News Bears” unit on an Army base in Florida. Chris Lowell and Parker Young are varying degrees of slacker and / or inept, and older brother Geoff Stults, back from war, is now their leader. High jinks ensue.
“Dads”; Premiers Sept. 17 on FOX (Comcast channels 13 and 22) at 8 p.m.
Two young entrepreneurs (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) are saddled with Archie Bunker-ish fathers (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) in an offensively unfunny comedy from Seth MacFarlane. If it were funny, maybe it wouldn’t be so offensive — but yes; yes it would.
Returning Fall Favorites
Even if you’re not excited by the new fall series on the broadcast networks, you’re probably eager to see your favorites return with new episodes.
Here, in chronological order, are season premiere dates through November on ABC (Comcast channel 4), CBS (Comcast channel 7), FOX (Comcast channels 13 and 22), NBC (Comcast channel 5) and the CW (Comcast channel 11).
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12
• “The X Factor,” 8 p.m. on FOX.
MONDAY, SEPT. 16
• “Dancing with the Stars,” 8 p.m. on ABC.
• “Bones,” 8 p.m. on FOX.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 17
• “New Girl,” 9 p.m. on FOX .
• “The Mindy Project,” 9:30 p.m. on FOX.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 18
• “Survivor,” 8 p.m. on CBS.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 20
• “Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m. on ABC.
• “The Neighbors,” 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
• “Shark Tank,” 9 p.m. on ABC.
MONDAY, SEPT. 23
• “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 p.m. on CBS.
• “The Voice,” 10 p.m. on NBC. (also 9 p.m. Tuesdays)
• “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m. on CBS.
• “Castle,” 10 p.m. on ABC.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 24
• “NCIS,” 8 p.m. on CBS.
• “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m. on CBS.
• “Chicago Fire,” 10 p.m. on NBC.
• “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m. on CBS.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 25
• “The Middle,” 8 p.m. on ABC.
• “Revolution,” 8 p.m. on NBC.
• “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m. on CBS.
• “Law & Order: SVU,” 9 p.m. on NBC.
• “Modern Family,” 9 p.m. on ABC.
• “CSI,” 10 p.m. on CBS.
• “Nashville,” 10 p.m. on ABC.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 26
• “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m. on CBS.
• “Parks and Recreation,” 8 p.m. on NBC.
• “Glee,” 9 p.m. on FOX.
• “Grey’s Anatomy,” 9 p.m. on ABC.
• “Two and a Half Men,” 9:30 p.m. on CBS.
• “Elementary,” 10 p.m. on CBS.
• “Parenthood,” 10 p.m. on NBC.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 27
• “Undercover Boss,” 8 p.m. on CBS.
• “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m. on CBS.
• “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m. on CBS.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 29
• “The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m. on CBS.
• “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m. on ABC.
• “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m. on FOX.
• “Bob’s Burgers,” 8:30 p.m. on FOX.
• “Family Guy,” 9 p.m. on FOX.
• “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m. on CBS.
• “Revenge,” 9 p.m. on ABC.
• “American Dad,” 9:30 p.m. on FOX.
• “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m. on CBS.
THURSDAY, OCT. 3
• “The Vampire Diaries,” 9 p.m. on the CW.
• “Scandal,” 10 p.m. on ABC.
SUNDAY, OCT. 6
• “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” 7 p.m. on ABC.
MONDAY, OCT. 7
• “Hart of Dixie,” 9 p.m. on the CW.
• “Beauty and the Beast,” 10 p.m. on the CW.
TUESDAY, OCT. 8
• “The Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m. on NBC.
• “Supernatural,” 10 p.m. on the CW.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 9
• “Arrow,” 9 p.m. on the CW.
FRIDAY, OCT. 25
• “The Carrie Diaries,” 9 p.m. on the CW.
• “Grimm,” 9 p.m. on NBC.
FRIDAY, NOV. 8
• “Raising Hope,” 9 p.m. on FOX.