It's only May, but we're already reserving couch time for all the new TV shows debuting next season. We've examined each network's primetime schedule, we've watched every trailer, and we've come away with a dozen promising new series that we'll give at least a one-episode tryout. Take a look at our very early favorites.
"The Michael J. Fox Show" (NBC, Thursdays at 9:30 PM)
Who doesn't like Michael J. Fox? (Okay, if you raised your hand, we don't want to know you.) We're all rooting for the former Alex P. Keaton to make a triumphant return to primetime with his self-titled sitcom, where he plays a newsman returning to work after battling Parkinson's. And the trailer looks pretty good, with lots of familiar faces ("Breaking Bad's" Marie! Bunk from "The Wire"! Katie Finneran!) and a surprising willingness to wring laughs out of Fox's real-life affliction. Aside from maybe "S.H.I.E.L.D.," this is the surest-fire hit of the bunch.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (ABC, Tuesdays at 8 PM)
"The Avengers" dominated the box office last summer; now we'll see if their S.H.I.E.L.D. pals can dominate the TV ratings this fall. "Avengers" director (and "Buffy" mastermind) Joss Whedon is at the helm of this bold, bright comic-book spinoff, which resurrects Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, the head of an elite task force of human agents fighting alongside superheroes. The trailer promises plenty of slam-bang CGI action and sly wit. (Three words: "Don't touch Lola.") Our only problem: that unwieldy title, with all those damn periods. Too bad "The Shield" is already taken.
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (Fox, Tuesdays at 8:30 PM)
Andy Samberg was one of the best parts of "SNL" before he left, and "Parks and Recreation" is one of the best comedies on TV, so our expectations are sky-high for this new cop comedy from "Parks and Rec" producers Mike Schur and Dan Goor. Samberg stars as an always-goofing Brooklyn detective who has to straighten out his act — and wear a tie! — when a new captain (the never-less-than-great Andre Braugher) takes over. But the boss never said he had to wear that tie around his neck… Lots of potential for "The Office"-esque workplace laughs here, and we can't wait to see who wins the battle of wills between Samberg and Braugher. (Our money's on Braugher, obviously.)
"Mom" (CBS, Mondays at 9:30 PM)
What took so long to put Anna Faris in a sitcom? The "House Bunny" star looks like a natural in the latest comedy from hitmaker Chuck Lorre, of "The Big Bang Theory" and "Two and a Half Men" fame. Faris plays a newly-sober single mom trying to piece her life back together in Napa Valley… if she can ever make peace with her own mom, played by "The West Wing's" Allison Janney. We have a very low tolerance for CBS multi-camera sitcoms (can laughtracks just die already?), but Faris and Janney are a formidable comedy team, and the supporting cast is studded with favorites: "3rd Rock's" French Stewart, "The Daily Show" alum Nate Corddry, and Matt Jones ("Breaking Bad's" Badger) as Anna's baby-daddy.
"The Blacklist" (NBC, Mondays at 10 PM)
There's a reason this slick new crime drama landed the coveted post-"Voice" timeslot, and that reason's name is James Spader. The Emmy winner sinks his teeth into the role of Red Reddington, a most-wanted fugitive who turns himself into the feds and offers to help them catch crooks, under one condition: He'll only work with a young agent (Megan Boone) he's never met. No one does "sinister genius" quite like Spader (his evil cackle belongs in a museum), and we're already loving the "Silence of the Lambs" interplay between him and Boone.
"Almost Human" (Fox, Mondays at 8 PM)
J.J. Abrams' golden touch with TV shows has turned to brass lately. ("Revolution" is fading after a hot start, and remember "Alcatraz"?) Still, we're thinking he might have a "Lost"-caliber hit on his hands with this wildly ambitious sci-fi cop drama, with "Star Trek's" Karl Urban as a grizzled human detective forced to work alongside an android partner. The futuristic special effects are big-screen-quality, Urban looks like a breakout star in the making, and we like the twist of Michael Ealy as a next-generation android who's eerily lifelike. Plus, seeing Minka Kelly on our TV screen every week is never a bad thing.
"Rake" (Fox, midseason)
TV dramas these days are all about the flawed antiheroes, and Fox has found an excellent one in Keegan Deane: a low-life, bed-hopping gambling addict who also happens to be the best damn attorney in town. Greg Kinnear shines in this meaty role, getting beat up by his bookie one minute and defending murder suspects the next. Sporting serious under-eye bags and a wicked sense of humor, he already looks Emmy-worthy as a sort of "House" in the courtroom. An intriguing mash-up of legal drama and pitch-black humor, "Rake" already has us scoping out a spot in the jury box.
"Dracula" (NBC, Fridays at 10 PM)
Yeah, we know… another vampire show? But this new take on the classic "Dracula" tale has a few things going for it: The sumptuous late-1800s setting looks fantastic and plays like "Downton Abbey" with bloodsuckers ("Downton" producer Gareth Neame is onboard here, too), and "The Tudors" star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is bound to get female viewers hot and bothered with his bad-boy take on the iconic role. Drac travels to London seeking revenge on those who cursed him… only to fall in love with a woman who might be the reincarnation of his late wife. Plus, it's a limited series, with ten episodes guaranteed, so we know they're not going to drag this vampire tale out into the sunlight too early.
"Betrayal" (ABC, Sundays at 10 PM)
We were all set to hate this one. Generic title; generic premise; yet another glitzy, soapy, female-centric drama from ABC. Then we watched the trailer… and damn, this thing looks hot. Hannah Ware ("Boss") and Stuart Townsend (currently best known as Charlize Theron's ex) have major heat as a married photographer and the stranger she falls for, leading to a steamy extramarital affair. Seductively shot and delivering a major twist that opens up a lot of storytelling possibilities, "Betrayal" could fit right alongside "Scandal" and "Revenge" as ABC's sexy new drama hit.
"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" (ABC, Thursdays at 8 PM)
"Once Upon a Time" is a certified hit for ABC on Sunday nights, so it makes sense that they're expanding the brand with this "Alice in Wonderland"-centric spinoff. Newcomer Sophie Lowe stars as an Alice who's been thrown in the loony bin for recounting her time in Wonderland, and finds herself climbing back down into the rabbit hole to reconnect with her lost love. This Alice is surprisingly kick-ass, beating down a few orderlies on her way out of the asylum, and her romance with the dashing Cyrus (Peter Gadiot) looks appropriately swoony. Hope you have room on your DVR for two fairy-tale adventures.
"About a Boy" (NBC, midseason)
We haven't seen a trailer yet for this adaptation of the 2002 Hugh Grant movie, but we're saving a spot for it based on a few names: creator Jason Katims, who knows a thing or two about turning movies into great TV shows after "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood"; and star David Walton, who was flat-out great alongside Amanda Peet in last year's canceled gem "Bent," and is a perfect fit as a confirmed bachelor who strikes up a friendship with the boy who lives next door. Minnie Driver co-stars as the boy's single mom (you think sparks might fly between her and Walton, maybe?), and Katims has definitely earned the benefit of the doubt with us, so we're in.
"Us & Them" (Fox, midseason)
Lauren Graham must be feeling all kinds of uncomfortable right now: Her "Parenthood" boyfriend Jason Ritter and her "Gilmore Girls" daughter Alexis Bledel are playing lovebirds in this charming new rom-com, adapted from the U.K.'s "Gavin & Stacey." Ritter and Bledel star as a couple who meet online and fall in love at first sight… only their friends and family aren't feeling it. At all. The supporting cast is stellar (including Jane Kaczmarek and "Reno 911's" Kerri Kenney), and we're already rooting for Rory Gilmore and Mr. Cyr to make it. Let's just try to ignore the fact that CBS already tried this exact same concept with Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke a couple years ago ("Mad Love") and it failed miserably. Rory + Mr. Cyr 4eva!
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