2012 Fall TV Preview: Our Night-by-Night Guide

  • Publish Date: August 28, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments


Saturday Primetime Schedule (All times ET/PT)
  8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
ABC Saturday Night College Football [LIVE at 8p ET / 5p PT]
CBS [Various repeats] [Various repeats] 48 Hours Mystery
Fox College Football on Fox [LIVE at 8p ET / 5p PT]
NBC [Various repeats]
Key cable shows:
    Doctor Who (BBC America) Wedding Band (TBS)
Sunday Primetime Schedule (All times ET/PT)
  7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
ABC America's Funniest Home Videos Once Upon a Time Revenge* 666 Park Avenue
CBS 60 Minutes The Amazing Race The Good Wife The Mentalist*
Fox NFL postgame [LIVE] The Cleveland Show The Simpsons Bob's Burgers Family Guy American Dad [Local programming]
NBC Football Night in America [LIVE] Sunday Night Football [LIVE at 8:15p ET / 5:15p PT]
Key cable/other shows:
    Broadway or Bust (PBS)
Call the Midwife (PBS)
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Dexter (Showtime)
Upstairs Downstairs (PBS)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
Wallander (PBS)
Homeland (Showtime)
Treme (HBO)*

New shows are highlighted in bold above.
* New time slot this fall

Key shows

NEW 666 Park Avenue Watch trailer
ABC, Sundays at 10p starting September 30

What they said about the pilot:

"It needs to decide whether it wants to be campy or a real drama, because right now the bipolar tone is throwing me a little."

—Laura Prudom, Huffington Post

"This is probably trash TV, but I think it ought to be fun trash."

—Daniel Fienberg, HitFix

Based on the book by Gabriella Pierce, this spooky supernatural drama finds Lost's Terry O'Quinn—in full-on devil mode—dealing with a dangerous and mysterious Manhattan apartment building rather than a dangerous and mysterious island. (We almost forgot to mention that the building in question is also "sexy, seductive and inviting," but that's probably just real estate code for "fixer-upper.") The series, from Fringe producer David Wilcox, also stars Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives), Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters), and Rachael Taylor (Grey's Anatomy), and will follow Revenge in ABC's retooled Sunday lineup. Critics agree that the pilot looks great and that O'Quinn and Williams are terrific; they were less happy about the episode's too-serious tone, relative blandness, and lack of real scares, though those all could be fixable problems.

Dexter Watch trailer
Showtime, Sundays at 9p starting September 30

With each passing season, the question becomes more urgent: how long can this go on? The answer, finally: two more years. This year's seventh season will be followed by one final season in 2013, and producers already know how the series will end (though, of course, they aren't telling). That sense of finality should help inject some life into a series that has been stuck in a rut in recent years, with last season's finale—in which Deb finally discovers the truth about Dexter—serving as the beginning of that process. That game-changing moment will certainly impact the coming season, with the premiere picking up immediately with Deb confronting her brother. Meanwhile, Laguerta (Lauren Velez) will reopen the investigation into the Bay Harbor Butcher case, and new cases will involve a local gentlemen's club and a Russian crime syndicate. Guest stars this season include Jason Gedrick (Luck), Ray Stevenson (Rome), Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal), and Chuck's Yvonne Strahovski.

The Good Wife
CBS, Sundays at 9p starting September 30

Though The Good Wife didn't repeat as an Emmy nominee for best drama last season, the series once again picked up numerous nominations for its cast and guest stars, and remains the most critically acclaimed series on CBS. Those honors mean that the series has no trouble attracting talent; case in point: the upcoming fourth season. Though Kristin Chenoweth had to drop out of a recurring role after sustaining an injury on set (you should still see her in the premiere), the new season will introduce new characters played by Maura Tierney (ER), Amanda Peet (Bent, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), Miriam Shor (GCB), and British actor Marc Warren (Hustle), while Tony winner Nathan Lane will have a multi-episode guest arc and Annabella Sciorra (The Sopranos) will also guest.

Homeland Watch trailer
Showtime, Sundays at 10p starting September 30

Television's best-reviewed new show last season returns for its sophomore year with the burden of increased expectations, which may be pushed even higher if the series wins any of the nine Emmys it is nominated for during next month's ceremony. Joining the cast in season 2 are a CIA analyst played by Rupert Friend (Pride & Prejudice) and Zuleikha Robinson (Lost), who plays a journalist with ties to the terrorists, while Navid Negahban (who plays terrorist leader Abu Nazir), Jamey Sheridan (the vice president), and David Marciano (Carrie's helpful friend Virgil) have been promoted to series regulars. While a show that depends on surprising plot twists isn't going to reveal too many details prior to the season, you can expect about six months to have passed between seasons, with Brody (Damian Lewis) now a member of Congress, and Carrie (Claire Danes, whose real-life pregnancy at the time of filming will not be written into the show) seemingly enjoying her post-electroshock-therapy life as a teacher before events drag her back into the spy business. Much of the action early in the season will take place in Beirut, and you can expect a major, intense showdown between the two main characters before the halfway point of the season.

Once Upon a Time Watch trailer
ABC, Sundays at 8p starting September 30

While it remains to be seen whether everyone will live happily ever after, the opening chapter of ABC's fairy tale hit produced plenty of smiles in its successful first season, which saw it become TV's highest-rated new drama. New faces in the second season—which will deal with the aftermath of the characters' recovering their memories of their alternate lives—include Terriers' Michael Raymond-James, Pretty Little Liars' Julian Morris, Teen Wolf's Sinqua Walls (playing Sir Lancelot), Sarah Bolger (Sleeping Beauty), Jamie Chung (Mulan), and Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook), while Emilie de Ravin (Belle) and Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood) have been elevated to series regulars.

Revenge Watch trailer
ABC, Sundays at 9p starting September 30

Another freshman hit for ABC last season, the soapy Revenge will shift from Wednesdays to Sundays for its second season, joining the network's new lineup of guilty pleasures (though it lacks the supernatural elements of the evening's other dramas). Jennifer Jason Leigh will join the series in a recurring role as the mother of Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), while English actor Barry Sloane will pop up in multiple episodes as a man from Emily's past, and Greek's Dilshad Vadsaria will also reoccur, possibly as a love interest for Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann). Expect the premiere to jump forward in time a bit before returning to where things were after the finale.

Treme Watch trailer
HBO, Sundays at 10p starting September 23

Fans of David Simon's well-reviewed but low-rated drama have had an unusually long wait for the show's third season, but a new batch of 10 episodes finally kicks off in late September. The new season is set two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and focuses on the mixed blessing that is redevelopment, with multiple characters struggling to figure out which parts of the city's culture (and their own lives) are worth preserving. The huge ensemble cast (supplemented, as always, with plenty of real-world musicians) returns intact from the end of last season, with just one addition: Chris Coy (True Blood), who plays a national reporter who becomes an ally to Melissa Leo's attorney Toni Bernette as she investigates corruption in the police department. Though there is no commitment yet from HBO for another year beyond this one, Simon has indicated that he can see Treme running four seasons.

The Walking Dead Watch trailer
AMC, Sundays at 9p starting October 14

The days of standing around a farm are over. From the too-cheerful, survivor-filled town of Woodbury to a creepy abandoned prison, season 3 of The Walking Dead will feature several dynamic new locations, and one even more dynamic new figure: the lawyer-turned-sword-wielding-badass Michonne (played by Danai Gurira of Treme), first glimpsed in last year's finale and now a major recurring character. Also joining the cast this year will be David Morrissey, playing villain The Governor, who, like Michonne, is a fan favorite from the comics, though their stories will differ a bit in the TV version of the story. Another newcomer is Dallas Roberts (The Good Wife, Rubicon), who will play a brand-new character named Milton, a resident of Woodbury who likes to experiment on zombies. The new season—which will run for 16 episodes, though eight will be held back until February—will also feature the long-anticipated return of Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), while Lauren Cohan (who plays Hershel's daughter Maggie) has been elevated to series regular. The talk show Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwick, will once again follow each episode at 11p.

Also on Saturday

Doctor Who BBC America, 9p starting September 1 Watch trailer
BBC America will air five new episodes of the long-running series this fall that will feature the long-awaited return of the Daleks, an adventure in the Wild West, and more.

Saturday Night Live NBC, 11:30p starting September 15
When the late night show returns for its 38th season next month, it will be without cast members Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Abby Elliott, while Jason Sudeikis may also depart the show. Replacements have yet to be named.

NEW Wedding Band TBS, 10p starting November 10
This long-delayed, hour-long dramedy stars Brian Austin Green, Harold Perrineau, Peter Cambor, and Derek Miller as four immature and unambitious men who perform at weddings and other parties. That Saturday 10p time slot doesn't exactly suggest a show that is going to have a long life.

Also on Sunday

60 Minutes CBS, 7p starting September 30
The king of newsmagazine shows will kick off its 45th season this fall, yet for some reason CBS still can't afford a digital stopwatch.

The Amazing Race CBS, 8p starting September 30
No casting details have been revealed for the reality competition's 21st season, but presumably it will feature teams of two racing around the world and berating taxi drivers in a variety of countries. Update 8/29: This year's teams have been announced—the roster includes a pair of Chippendales dancers as well as the "Fabulous Beekman Boys"—and a new twist means that if the same team wins the first and last leg of the race, they'll collect $2 million instead of a mere $1 million.

American Dad Fox, 9:30p starting September 30
Season 8 will see Star Trek: TNG star Patrick Stewart recurring as Patrick Stewart, while one-time guests will include Alison Brie, Nathan Fillion, Danny Glover, Jon Hamm, and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Boardwalk Empire HBO, 9p starting September 16 Watch trailer
When the acclaimed drama returns for its third season, the action will pick up in 1923—over a year after last season's finale—as Steve Buscemi's Nucky faces a new rival played by Bobby Cannavale. He and fellow newcomer Stephen Root (NewsRadio) help fill the void created by the departures of series regulars Paz de la Huerta, Dabney Coleman, Michael Pitt, and Aleksa Palladino.

Bob's Burgers Fox, 8:30p starting September 30
The third season (technically, we're still in season 2 for the first batch of episodes) for the quirky animated comedy will mark the first fall debut for the show, and thus its first chance at a full season. In fact, you could wind up seeing up to 29 new episodes over the next year. Zach Galifianakis, Fred Savage, Jeffrey Tambor, Fred Armisen, Will Forte, and the duo of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are among the guests set to appear this season—along with returnees like Aziz Ansari, Kevin Kline, and Sarah Silverman—while Jon Hamm will voice a talking toilet in an E.T. homage.

NEW Broadway or Bust PBS, 9p starting September 9
This three-part documentary series follows a group of 60 high school performers through an intensive week of "theatrical boot camp" which culminates in a high-profile awards ceremony in which the top male and female performers in America are crowned.

NEW Call the Midwife PBS, 8p starting September 30 Watch trailer
Set in East London during the 1950s, this drama from Heidi Thomas (Cranford) was a huge hit for the BBC.

The Cleveland Show Fox, 7:30p starting October 7
Rapper Kanye West and will.i.am return as a guest stars in the season premiere, while later episodes will feature Nick Offerman, Sofia Vergara, Bryan Cranston, Krysten Ritter, George Clinton, and a group of major league baseball stars (including Matt Kemp and David Ortiz).

Comic Book Men AMC, 11:30p starting October 14
Kevin Smith's comic book shop reality series returns for a second season.

Family Guy Fox, 9p starting September 30
Johnny Depp will portray one of his iconic characters—Edward Scissorhands—in an early season 11 episode, while other guests this year will include Jon Hamm, Elizabeth Banks, Ryan Reynolds, and TV producers JJ Abrams, Dick Wolf, and Mark Burnett. A special Valentine's Day episode will have Brian visited by all of his past girlfriends, voiced by Drew Barrymore, Cheryl Tiegs, Jessica Biel, and more.

The Mentalist CBS, 10p starting September 30
The crime drama's fifth season finds the show on a new night (Sundays) and with several new cast members, including Ivan Sergei (Crossing Jordan) and Polly Walker (Rome). William Forsythe will also return as Rigsby's father.

The Next Iron Chef Food Network, 9p starting November 4
Hosted by Alton Brown, the Food Network's surprisingly not inferior answer to Top Chef Masters invites back past contestants such as Elizabeth Falkner, Nate Appleman, and Alex Guarnaschelli in this "Redemption" season, while adding two newcomers, including former Top Chef competitor Marcel Vigneron.

Robot Chicken Adult Swim, Sunday nights at midnight starting September 9
The sixth season of the pop culture-skewering show will launch with a "DC Comics Special" featuring skits with Batman and Robin, Aquaman, the Green Lantern, and more, with Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris among the guest voices.

The Simpsons Fox, Sundays at 8p starting September 30
The show's 24th season (and don't worry; it has already been renewed for a 25th) will feature guest appearances by Justin Bieber, Steve Carell, Natalie Portman, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays both the British prime minister and a snake), Sarah Michelle Gellar, Edward Norton, Zooey Deschanel, Anne Hathaway, Tom Waits, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, and the late Marvin Hamlisch.

Upstairs Downstairs PBS, 9p starting October 7
Six new episodes of the revived period drama will air this fall, with Alex Kingston (ER) joining the cast.

Wallander PBS, 9p starting September 9 Watch trailer
Kenneth Branagh returns for three new Wallander movies in September on PBS, marking the third season of the series based on Henning Mankell's crime novels.

Continue reading ...

Turn the page for a look at fall miniseries and specials, as well as series that do not yet have announced timeslots but are expected in the fall.

Comments (4)

  • cristane  

    Fantastic guide, thanks for all the hard work.

  • khan2705  

    thank you so much for this! now i know what to watch and what to not ....

  • LamontRaymond  

    Brilliant preview - thanks for the great work! Revolution and Last Resort appear to be the best new shows - so nice to see the networks avoided the Pan Am, Playboy Club nonsense of last season.

  • jerrycurlan  

    I LOVE this! Thanks for putting this together. (All your preview articles are so thorough...) I can't freakin' wait for Fringe!

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