Television: 31 New Shows for 2013

Fall Arts Preview 2013

By Rhuaridh Marr
Published on September 13, 2013, 7:31am | Comments

I'll say this now -- Fall 2013 will go down as one of the worst in recent memory for television. The caliber of entries is so utterly mediocre, so devoid of any fresh or truly outstanding ideas that one has to wonder just what exactly is happening at the various networks. Comedy is the main culprit here, but drama fares little better. Even with outstanding actors such as Robin Williams, Allison Janney, Anna Faris, James Spader, Toni Colette, Bradley Whitford, Sean Hayes and Margo Martindale, this year's crop of shows can't seem to rise above middling. Thankfully, there are a few diamonds in the rough, so let's sift through and find the series you should be watching this fall.

Crazy Ones

Crazy Ones

Almost Human -- J.J. Abrams brings us a buddy cop drama with a difference. Set in 2048, we follow Karl Urban as a police detective in an LAPD where every detective is paired with a lifelike android -- and, naturally, Urban's character hates them. Forced to work with an experimental android, one with human emotions, it's here that Almost Human gets interesting. The future-yet-familiar setting, the action-packed gunfights, the buddy-cop dynamic we've so often seen, but with a fresh coat of paint -- it all points to a very watchable show. Whether anyone will, and whether Fox will continue to foot what must be a substantial bill, remains to be seen. (Fox, 11/4)

American Horror Story: Coven -- Technically new, given the regenerative nature of the American Horror Story franchise, this season follows the descendants of the Salem Witch Trials in modern day New Orleans. Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Patti LuPone and Emma Roberts should be sufficient reason for your viewership -- who doesn't want to see Lange and Bates going head-to-head? (FX, 10/9)

Atlantis -- The British are coming. BBC America is co-producing this supernatural drama with the BBC across the pond, and if rumors are true, a massive budget and even bigger scope are being liberally applied to it. Using a broad range of mythological creatures and characters, and likely copious amounts of CGI, Atlantis is aiming to draw inspiration from Doctor Who and Merlin in providing accessible drama for all ages. If the Beeb can pull it off, we could be looking at another smash for the Brits. (BBC America, 11/23)

Back In The Game -- I have to ask: Did anyone proofread the scripts at ABC? Set in the dizzyingly glamorous world of Little League Baseball, Maggie Lawson stars as a mom whose son is rejected from the local team, so starts her own comprised of rejects and outcasts. Cue comedy. No? Okay, what about James Caan starring as her aggressive, asshole dad, who berates anyone and everyone. Cue comedy now? Really? Emmm…. Oh! Ben Koldyke is the chauvinist pig who laughs at every woman who tries to oppose him, and whose character is named Dick, allowing our heroine to call him Dick, with an emphasis, for comedic effect. When does this sitcom actually become funny? That would be never. (ABC, 9/25)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine -- As funny a show as one from a Parks and Rec co-creator can potentially be, please, no more Andy Samberg. (Fox, 9/17)

Dads -- Racist, homophobic, ageist…. It's the perfect recipe for an episode of Family Guy. Set it in the real world, however, and Seth MacFarlane's sitcom is offensively unfunny. (Fox, 9/16)

Dracula -- This could have been something had it aired on cable. There, the penchant for using as much sex and violence as that medium allows would have created a show at least half decent, but here the signs are that Jonathan Rhys Meyers would have been better not accepting the titular role. Awkward American accent aside, the 19th century setting attempts to explore global warming, the problems of the 99 percent, and of course old Drac's love for blood and sex, without much of either. NBC can't really afford to make a show of this scope, so expect cancellation. (NBC, 10/25)

Enlisted -- The product of a former Scrubs writer, Enlisted aims to bring comedy and pathos in similar amounts. Set in a Florida military base, it follows three brothers as they take care of the base, strengthen childhood bonds and otherwise get involved in zany antics. It'll appeal to Scrubs fans, and looks to be a pretty decent romp. Whether it can sustain itself remains to be seen. (Fox, 11/8)

Hello Ladies -- The less-famous half of the Ricky Gervais-Stephen Merchant comedy partnership tries his hand at starring in his own series. Pass. (HBO, 9/29)

Hostages -- Yes. Fifteen episodes, tense drama, excellent cast. Toni Colette ensures this political thriller with a twist will become required viewing and Dylan McDermott will hopefully take his shirt off to assist her. (CBS, 9/23)

Ironside -- A remake of Ironside. Why? (NBC, 10/2)

Lucky 7 -- Ah, the classic American-remake-of-a-British-series-that-didn't-need-a-remake. A time-tested tradition, the bigger budget and attractive cast will help cover any blatant plot-borrowing on offer. Seven minimum-wage employees win the lottery, transforming their lives. Drama ensues. If you've seen it all before, you've watched The Syndicate on the BBC. (ABC, 9/24)

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- This is the big one, the show most people are moist with anticipation for this fall. Joss Whedon's adaptation of the Marvel Comics organization follows the timeline established in The Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- Thor, Iron Man, Captain America -- will all have an impact on what's explored here. With a big budget from ABC, a pilot co-written and directed by Whedon, who is also an executive producer, and a cast that seems up to the challenge of the series' broad aims, we could be looking at the next big thing in television. Or it'll all come crumbling down after one expensive season. (ABC, 9/24)

Masters of Sex -- A big-budget period drama, Masters of Sex takes the ''only on cable'' badge of honor for the fall schedule. Airing on Showtime, it follows doctors William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two pioneers in researching human sexuality in the 1950s. Expect drama, humor, beautifully designed period sets and costumes, and sex. Lots of it. This is cable, after all. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star, and if Showtime can get it right, it could be the next Mad Men. (Showtime, 9/29)

Mob City -- TNT is throwing its hat into the ring with a drama set in 1940s L.A. Following the struggles between a corrupt police force and an ever-increasing network of criminals, it doesn't look half bad. A decent cast is on board, attempting to act through various Instagram filters (L.A. was very grey in the '40s, apparently) and Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont is keeping things in line. It's only six episodes long, so it could be worth the relatively short time investment. (TNT, 12/4)

Mom -- Allison Janney is back on network television! Yay! In a multi-camera CBS sitcom! No! Even Janney can't Jackal her way out of this mediocrity, which stars, and similarly wastes, the ever-watchable Anna Faris as a recently sober single mom trying to restart her life. (CBS, 9/23)

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland -- A spin-off of Once Upon a Time and based on Lewis Carroll's Alice, the story takes place in present-day and pre-Curse Wonderland, with crossover episodes and similar storylines to its parent series. If you're a fan of OUAT, this should help round out your weekly viewing schedule. (ABC, 10/10)

Reign -- Sometimes you really need to question the CW. This is a drama that follows a heavily fictionalized account of Mary, Queen of Scots, during her early life in France in the 16th century. Downton Abbey this isn't. With supernatural elements, drama, murder, sex and so many beautiful people, it's classic CW fare. Spoilers: Queen Elizabeth has Mary beheaded in 1587. (CW, 10/17)

Sean Saves The World -- Our token gay show! Thanks, NBC, for continuing to try, but I'd much rather be watching The New Normal. Sean Hayes in a multi-camera NBC sitcom used to be a good thing. Here, with tired jokes, it's not. It'll likely be watchable, but you're not advancing any causes by doing so. (NBC, 10/3)

Sleepy Hollow -- Utterly insane, but in a pretty compelling way. Ichabod Crane dies after beheading a man in 1790, and wakes in 2014 Sleepy Hollow, along with the now Headless Horseman. Paired with an African-American female sheriff -- cue slavery references and colonial gender-role mishaps -- the pair must fight to stop a homicidal Horseman adapting to 21st century weapons. See? Insane. Watch it. (Fox, 9/16)

Super Fun Night -- Oh, Rebel Wilson. Was the paycheck too good? Did they promise Emmys? Did they let you read the script? After finding fame and fans through some excellent comedic roles, Wilson takes her big-girl shtick to an ABC sitcom -- which, rather than capitalizing on her notoriety, turns her into a bland, offensive American everywoman, and then proceeds to make us despise her. Seriously, she's the asshole in her own show. Cancel it and let her get back to movies. (ABC, 10/2)

The Blacklist -- FBI shows are very du jour. Good FBI shows, less so. James Spader returns to television in the latter category, with a rather banal pilot episode and a by-the-books formula of criminal assisting the FBI to catch other criminals, with a secret, ulterior motive. It's a procedural that will live or die on Spader's ability to out-act the setting's limitations each week. (NBC, 9/23)

The Crazy Ones -- Okay, people, I'm about to get serious. If you only watch one new show this fall, make sure it's The Crazy Ones. It won't last more than one season, but I guarantee it'll be simultaneously the best and worst season of television this year. Robin Williams returns to the small screen after 30 years, bringing with him Buffy darling Sarah Michelle Gellar and a rather stellar cast. Set in an ad agency and penned by TV god David E. Kelley, father and daughter must work together to keep the business alive after their biggest client threatens to drop them. Williams was given room to improvise the script, with Gellar the emotionally grounding yin to his zany yang. There's a lot of promise, but something tells me this is going to implode. I'll be watching every episode, waiting for that moment. (CBS, 9/26)

The Goldbergs -- Don't get invested in this single-camera, '80s-set homage to The Wonder Years -- it has early cancellation written all over it. However, it does have two talented leads, an emotional undercurrent, and sparse moments of comedy. You could do worse, but you probably shouldn't bother. (ABC, 9/24)

The Michael J. Fox Show -- Michael J. Fox's return to television deserves at least a passing glance. Following his success on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fox is dealing with his Parkinson's disease in an honest, upfront an surprisingly humorous way. Some will find it uncomfortable laughing at his struggles on screen, but those who appreciate that Fox himself is trying to laugh at the situation will get a lot out of this. Intermittently sweet, funny and serious, it should make for pretty decent viewing. For those who'll bother to tune in, of course. It is NBC, after all. (NBC, 9/26)

The Millers -- CBS takes an excellent cast, gives them a mediocre premise, tepid jokes, and expects us not to hate them for it. Will Arnett, Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges star in this sitcom, and I hope it gets better because at the moment it's headed for early cancellation -- and a horse's head in a CBS executive's bed. (CBS, 10/3)

The Originals -- Another spin-off, this time of The Vampire Diaries. The setting is New Orleans, and centers around the world's original vampires. Expect more mythology, youth-oriented drama and more impossibly beautiful people than you can shake a stake at. (CW, 10/3)

The Tomorrow People -- Yep, more beautiful young people on the CW. Where would we be without their wafer-thin dramas? Admittedly, this has a stronger premise than most. Human evolution results in individuals developing superpowers -- called Tomorrow People -- and the series follows their struggles to adapt to society and their growing powers. Yes, it's basically X-Men, but it could be worth a regular watch, much like CW's Arrow. (CW, 10/9)

Trophy Wife -- Another West Wing alum returns to TV! Bradley Whitford stars in a show abo– oh, sod it. This is another show that won't make it past the first series. A reasonably fresh premise aside -- a different modern family, with two ex-wives, a young new wife and various children -- Trophy Wife won't last. Kudos to ABC for pushing the single-camera sitcom, but this series is headed toward a quick network divorce. (ABC, 9/24)

We Are Men - We Are Average. Middle-of-the-road bromance sitcom about spurned men trying to get back into the dating pool. A reasonable cast, inoffensive setting, uninspired jokes and an overall ''meh'' feeling. Hey, it's on CBS so at least it's not a multi-camera sitcom, right? (CBS, 9/30)

Welcome to the Family - No thanks. I've got my own, and they're much funnier. (NBC, 10/3)

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