For many, the idea of adding another series to our DVR program list is exhausting. (Hell, I still have 12 Grimms, 10 Fringe, a season of Breaking Bad, and 30 Golden Girls—which I’ll probably get to first.) So let me do the work for you. Here are the seven shows, listed by premiere date, that are definitely worth a look this 2012/2013 TV season—and three that might not make it to a second episode.
What to Watch: Fall TV Lineup 2012
Go On (NBC)
The premise seems like a complete downer: after a major loss, sports commentator Ryan King (Matthew Perry) must attend group counseling before returning to work. Yet with smart writing and an extraordinary supporting cast—specifically Julie White (Transformers) and Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris)—the show is both equally moving and laugh-out-loud funny. If the writers can make the workplace scenes as interesting as the support group moments, Perry may finally have another series that lives beyond one season. Premieres Tuesday, 9/11 at 9:00 p.m.
The New Normal (NBC)
Though apt, saying that Normal is Ryan Murphy’s answer to Modern Family is a gross oversimplification. Yes it has a gay couple adopting a baby. And yes it has—a la Murphy’s Glee—a domineering female character saying unbelievably funny but un-PC things (in this case, the fabulous Ellen Barkin), but it has so much more. The cast is perfect: Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Andrew Rannells (Girls, Broadway’s Book of Mormon) as the adopting parents, Georgia King as the surrogate, and Barkin—who is the perfect conduit for Ryan’s dialogue—as the young, grandmother to King’s character. We will just have to see if the series can sustain the tone of the hilarious and touching pilot, or will it, like Glee, ultimately let us down. Premieres Tuesday, 9/11 at 9:30 p.m.
The Mindy Project (Fox)
Mindy Kaling (The Office) stars as a thirty-something doctor who tries to get her personal life back in order. The show is a little shaky (the medical scenes, a bit forced), but, as expected from Kaling, it is often quirky and filled with memorable lines: “Maybe I’ll do one of those Eat Pray Love things… Ugh. No, I don’t wanna pray. Forget it.” Premieres Tuesday, 9/25 at 9:30 p.m.
On face value, Elementary’s use of a female Watson (Lucy Liu) seems like a blatant attempt to replicate Bones/Castle will-they-or-won’t-they character dynamics. But upon viewing, it is an interesting modernization to the Sherlock Homes story. (Though on the whole, the show is not nearly as successful as BBC’s Sherlock.) Liu’s restrained Watson is an interesting foil to Jonny Lee Miller’s kinetic Holmes. Perhaps the will-they-or-won’t-they story arc may come in to play, but for now the dark storylines and mysteries are the real draw. Premieres Thursday, 9/27 at 10 p.m.
666 Park Ave (ABC)
Rachael Taylor and Dave Annable (Brothers and Sisters) play a young couple hired to manage The Drake, a beautiful building owned by Gavin Doran (Terry Quinn), who might possibly be the devil. Also starring Vanessa Williams, the show promises to be Rosemary’s Baby meets Desperate Housewives. Premieres Sunday, 9/30 at 10 p.m.
One of the best pilots of the year. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story) is electrifying as an aging, country superstar who must fight to keep her throne from a beautiful, conniving starlet (Hayden Panettiere). Premieres Wednesday, 10/10 at 10 p.m.
The Following (Fox)
I started watching The Following late one night, and within five minutes I had to turn it off. Starring Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent who must come out of retirement to catch an escaped serial killer he put away, it is one of the most intense, brutal, and captivating hours of network TV I have ever seen. Coming midseason.
What Not to Watch: Fall TV Lineup 2012
The Neighbors (ABC)
There are bad pilots and then there are what the hell was that? pilots. The Neighbors, which falls into the latter category, centers on a family moving into a community inhabited by aliens. Lacking coherence and humor, it will quickly join the ranks of fastest cancelled sitcoms (like Caveman or last year’s Work It). Premieres Wednesday, 9/26 at 10 p.m.
Made in Jersey (CBS)
Legally Blonde if Elle were from Jersey City. She even helps win a case because of a hair product. Premieres Friday, 9/28 at 9 p.m.
Next Caller (NBC)
Dane Cook stars… ‘nough said. Coming midseason