NBC: New fall shows
The Blacklist Watch trailer
Drama | Mondays at 10p starting September 23
"Promising, but we'll see."
—Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post
"This is what Spader does best and even if 'The Blacklist' had no other compensating features, I'd probably watch Spader leer enigmatically for at least a few more weeks."
—Daniel Fienberg, HitFix
Potentially the best new drama of the fall season—at the very least, critics seem to think fairly highly of the pilot, which is drawing comparisons to Silence of the Lambs, Alias, and Homeland—this psychological thriller centers on a former Army intelligence officer turned international criminal mastermind (an especially creepy James Spader, sans hair) who unexpectedly surrenders himself to the FBI and agrees to give up all of his colleagues. Of course, there's a catch: he insists on working exclusively with a rookie FBI agent with whom he seemingly has no connection (Megan Boone, Blue Bloods). Sounds fishy to us. Harry Lennix (Dollhouse), Ryan Eggold (90210), and and Diego Klattenhoff (Homeland's Mike) also star, and the pilot was directed by Joe Carnahan (The Grey). Producers have suggested the show will be a hybrid between serialized drama and procedural; the latter comes into play as new criminals tied to Spader's character are hunted by the FBI each week.
Dracula Watch trailer
Drama/Fantasy | Fridays at 10p starting October 25
"A dreary period piece ... There is zero sense of fun in Dracula, either intentional or otherwise."
—Tim Surette, TV.com
Debuting a season later than originally planned, NBC's latest supernatural drama arrives this fall as a "limited series," meaning just 10 episodes were ordered. This soapy take on Bram Stoker's classic novel, set in Victorian-era London, stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) as the titular vampire, while Thomas Kretschmann will play his crime-fighting partner Van Helsing. (Yes, you read that correctly.) A British co-production, Dracula comes from some of the producers behind Downton Abbey but is executive produced by Carnivàle creator Daniel Knauf. Note that a pilot was not made available to critics in the spring, so most have not yet written about the show.
Ironside Watch trailer
Drama | Wednesdays at 10p starting October 2
"This feels so tedious and tired—and filled with groan-inducing banter—that I was nearly bored to tears watching this."
—Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast
Some theoretical physicists would say that there is an alternate universe out there somewhere where TV fans are clamoring for a remake of the 1960s crime drama Ironside. In our own universe, however, NBC is proceeding without the benefit of any advance interest. Sliding into the wheelchair once filled by Raymond Burr is Blair Underwood, playing a paralyzed New York (moved from the original's San Francisco) police detective who remains one of the city's toughest cops despite his on-the-job injury. Spencer Grammer (Greek) and Brent Sexton (The Killing) also star. Executive producer Michael Caleo is a relative newcomer to TV, though he has written episodes of Rescue Me and The Sopranos. If critics are representative of the broader viewing audience, this one's headed to an early cancellation.
The Michael J. Fox Show Watch trailer
Comedy | Thursdays at 9:30p starting September 26 (special one-hour premiere at 9p)
"This is situation comedy as standard as its title."
—Mitch Salem, ShowBuzzDaily
"This is fall's strongest comedy pilot, by a mile."
—Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast
Faced with the prospect of launching an almost entirely new Thursday night lineup, NBC—the network that once dominated Thursdays—feels like it has one ace up its sleeve: the return of its former Family Ties star Michael J. Fox (in his first regular sitcom role since departing Spin City in 2001). The comedy's situation mimics real life as Fox plays a news anchor who, five years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's and retiring, has grown restless and is ready to restart his career. Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Wendell Pierce (The Wire), and Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls) also star for producers Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) and Will Gluck (director of Easy A), while Anne Heche will have a multi-episode guest arc. There's a lot riding on this show: NBC committed to 22 episodes of the series without even seeing a pilot, yet somewhat buried the show in a 9:30pm time slot rather than leading off at 8 or 9. That decision struck many critics as odd, as they much preferred this pilot to that of the show's lead-in, Sean Saves the World. Overall, critics gave the Fox pilot mixed-to-positive reviews while suggesting that it could be a solid show after the cumbersome set-up is out of the way.
Sean Saves the World Watch trailer
Comedy | Thursdays at 9p starting October 3
"Broad, lazy and just not funny."
—Laura Prudom, Huffington Post
Forget the world; the real question is, can Sean help save NBC? Returning to the night and network where he won an Emmy as a star on the long-running hit Will & Grace, Sean Hayes plays a divorced gay dad whose teenage daughter suddenly moves in with him full time at the same time his job becomes more demanding. Thomas Lennon (The State, Reno 911), Linda Lavin (Alice), Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate), and Megan Hilty (Smash) also star, and the series comes from Victor Fresco, creator of the criminally underwatched Better Off Ted (though this will be a much more conventional, multi-camera comedy). The pilot has been re-shot since critics last saw it (Hilty's role was originally played by Lindsay Sloane), but there was zero love for the original episode, which reviewers found poorly written and dull. In other words, set your expectations to low.
Welcome to the Family Watch trailer
Comedy | Thursdays at 8:30p starting October 3
"A muddled, overwrought mess. Predictable from start to finish."
—Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast
College plans turn to marriage plans when young couple (and new high school graduates) Molly and Junior discover that they are about to become parents. Complicating matters are their own parents, who must deal with merging families and cultures. Mike O'Malley (Glee), Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight), Ella Rae Peck (Gossip Girl), Joseph Haro (Awkward), Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives), and Justina Machado (ER) star in this culture-clash comedy that was universally disliked by critics in pilot form. This one may not be welcome in NBC's lineup for long.
More new and returning NBC shows this season
About a Boy Tuesdays at 9p starting tbd 2014
Based on the book by Nick Hornby (as well as the Hugh Grant movie of the same name), this single-camera comedy follows the relationship between an immature bachelor (David Walton of Bent) and the young son (Benjamin Stockham of 1600 Penn) of the eccentric single mother (Minnie Driver) who moves in next door. The Daily Show's Al Madrigal will also co-star. Producer Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) has some experience bringing movies to the small screen, having done so successfully with Parenthood, though it'll be his first time writing a 30-minute comedy. Most critics liked the pilot—more so than most of the network's other new offerings this season—but NBC is saving the show for midseason.
Believe Sundays at 9p starting tbd 2014 Watch trailer
The second J.J. Abrams-produced drama picked up for 2013-14 (the first is Fox's Almost Human), Believe comes from the mind of director Alfonso Cuarón (helmer of Children of Men and the upcoming sci-fi film Gravity). The mysterious new show centers on a young orphan with powers ranging from levitation to telekinesis, and a wrongfully convicted death row inmate (Jake McLaughlin) who is sprung from prison to protect her as she goes on the run from those who seek her harm. Also starring are Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, occasional mayor of Portland), Jamie Chung (Once Upon a Time), and Delroy Lindo (The Chicago Code). Critics were encouraged (or at least mildly intrigued) by the pilot, though it will be altered to eliminate a character played by Sienna Guillory.
Chicago Fire Tuesdays at 10p starting September 24
Michelle Forbes and Mena Suvari will recur during the procedural's second season, which finds the show moving to Tuesdays.
Chicago PD Day/time tbd (likely early 2014)
The most self-explanatory of NBC's new shows, PD is a spin-off from first-year procedural Chicago Fire that centers on cops rather than firefighters. If you watch that show, you've already met much of the cast, which will include Jason Beghe, Jon Seda (Homicide: Live on the Street), Melissa Sagemiller (Sleeper Cell), Mykelti Williamson (Justified), and JB Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm). Critics have not yet viewed the pilot.
Community Day/time tbd (likely early 2014)
There's good news and bad news about the cult hit's surprise fifth season. What's good, other than the fact that there is a fifth season? For one thing, creator Dan Harmon is back as showrunner; his forced departure last year resulted in a disastrous fourth season—so much so that even the network seems to have realized its mistake. Also in the good column: Breaking Bad's Jonathan Banks will be joining the cast as a criminology professor, beginning with the second episode. On the negative side of the ledger, NBC has once again committed to just 13 episodes—with no start date or time slot—and star Donald Glover will only appear in a few episodes, since he's busy elsewhere with a potential new series plus his music career as Childish Gambino. (Oh, and after a much-publicized fallout, Chevy Chase is not returning—put that in whichever column you like.) For those needing to catch up, Comedy Central will begin airing reruns of the first four seasons on September 20th.
Crisis Sundays at 10p starting tbd 2014
Gillian Anderson's first TV series starring role in over a decade (not counting her multi-episode guest arc on Hannibal) comes in a Washington, D.C.-set conspiracy thriller revolving around a secret service agent (Lance Gross) who has a doozy of a first day on the job: the president's son and classmates are kidnapped from a school field trip, where a father played by Dermot Mulroney, in his first regular network TV role, is chaperoning. The criminals' plot ultimately entangles additional politicians and a powerful CEO (Anderson). Rachael Taylor (666 Park Avenue) and Max Martini (Revenge) also star, and the series comes from Rand Ravich, who previously created NBC's Life. As happy as critics were to see Anderson, they were thoroughly unimpressed by the pilot.
Crossbones Fridays at 10p starting tbd 2014
John Malkovich stars as the legendary pirate Blackbeard in an 18th century drama from Luther creator Neil Cross. The 10-episode series will replace the limited-run Dracula on Fridays next winter or spring (likely after the Olympics). Production hasn't started, and we can't even tell you who other than Malkovich will be in the show (assuming the show even gets made; recent financing problems suggest it's not a sure thing).
Grimm Fridays at 9p starting October 25
While it looked for a moment earlier this year like Grimm might escape from its Friday night dungeon, the series will continue to be a part of NBC's Friday lineup for the foreseeable future, with the network using it to launch several similarly themed shows in the 10:00 hour. The show's third season will add Alexis Denisof (Angel) in a recurring role as the excellently named Viktor Albert Wilhelm George Beckendorf (aka Renard's cousin).
Growing Up Fisher Tuesdays at 9:30p beginning tbd 2014
Formerly known as The Family Guide—when it starred Parker Posey, who has since been replaced by Jenna Elfman—this comedy centers on an immature single mother who finds herself becoming closer to her blind ex-husband (J.K. Simmons) after they get divorced. The single-camera comedy is told from the point of view of the youngest of her two children, played by newcomer Eli Baker as a kid and by Jason Bateman (via voiceover) as an adult. There's a dog, too, if that helps. The show comes from DJ Nash (a writer and producer on 'Til Death and Bent), and features David Schwimmer ... but only as the director. Critics were mixed-to-negative about the Posey-starring pilot, and a few felt that Posey was the best part.
Hannibal Day/time tbd (likely spring 2014)
Ignored by the Emmys and nearly canceled by NBC, Hannibal might be an under-the-radar show (or as under-the-radar as a prequel to Silence of the Lambs can possibly be), but the quality drama has attracted a loyal following among fans and some critics. Bryan Fuller's thriller will return for another short (13-episode) season in 2014 (likely post-Olympics); when it does, expect an opening two-parter that addresses the murder charges facing Hugh Dancy's Will Graham.
Law & Order: SVU Wednesdays at 9p starting September 25
Cybill Shepherd will guest star in an upcoming season 15 episode that merges the real-life Paula Deen and Trayvon Robinson stories.
The Million Second Quiz Nightly at 8p from September 9-19
This literally titled event game show will run nonstop for nearly 12 consecutive days and nights from a public studio built in the heart of Manhattan. One contestant at a time will earn money by sitting in the "money chair," taking on any challengers who wander in (or, in some cases, battle online) in a series of trivia questions, and forfeiting the seat once defeated. Ryan Seacrest will host the live, televised portion of the contest, which will air for one hour nightly in primetime over its duration, and the ultimate winner could take home $10 million, the largest jackpot in game show history.
The Night Shift Day/time tbd (2014)
Still missing ER, NBC returns to the medical procedural well with a straightforward drama focusing on the graveyard shift at a San Antonio hospital. Created by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah (the team that brought you—or maybe your kids—the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies), the series stars Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under), Brendan Fehr (Roswell), Ken Leung (Lost), Eoin Macken (Merlin), and Jill Flint (The Good Wife). Critics found the pilot to be generic, cliche-ridden, by-the-numbers, cookie-cutter—well, you get the idea.
Parenthood Thursdays at 10p starting September 26
Moving to Thursdays for its fifth season, Parenthood will welcome yet another Friday Night Lights alumnus (Jurnee Smollett) in a recurring role, while Ray Romano, David Denman (The Office), and Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects will also appear in multiple episodes. Unlike last season, NBC ordered a full 22-episode season this year.
Parks and Recreation Thursdays at 8p starting September 26
The comedy's sixth season will literally take some of the cast to London in the hour-long premiere, while a few early episodes will find Pawnee renewing its rivalry with snooty, neighboring Eagleton, where each member of the parks department will have a doppelgänger (played by Kristen Bell, Sam Elliott, Billy Eichner, and June Diane Raphael; we'll let you figure out who corresponds to whom). Lucy Lawless will also return, Heidi Klum and Henry Winkler will guest, and either Tatiana Maslany or one of her clones will recur in a few episodes as a new love interest for Aziz Ansari's Tom Haverford. But stars Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe will depart the series for good in a February episode.
Revolution Wednesdays at 8p starting September 25 Watch trailer
Nicole Ari Parker (Soul Food) and Patrick Heusinger (Royal Pains) will join the cast—and Rockne S. O'Bannon (Defiance, Farscape) has been added to the writers' room—for the drama's second season, which will anchor NBC's Wednesday lineup and will kick off with a bang (think nukes). Jim Beaver is also set to guest.
The Sound of Music Thursday, December 5 at 8p
Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer will star in a staged, three-hour production of the classic musical—to be broadcast live—produced by Smash's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
Undateable Day/time tbd (2014)
Whitney's Chris D'Elia stars as a slacker who schools his roommate's "undateable" friends in the ways of dating. The midseason comedy, one of several new shows this season from Scrubs producer Bill Lawrence, has not yet been screened for critics.
The Voice Mondays at 8p and Tuesdays at 9p starting September 23/24
Original judges Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Cee Lo Green will return for the fall competition, while next spring's sixth cycle should once again feature alternates Shakira and Usher in lieu of Aguilera and Green.
Wall of Fame Day/time tbd (2014)
This midseason game show will ask families to answer a series of pop culture questions and then guess whether a panel of celebrities was able to come up with the correct answers. No host has been announced yet, so we'll just assume it's either Howie Mandel or Ryan Seacrest.
Cable programs ...
Our Fall TV Preview concludes on the next page with a look at the 10 biggest cable shows of the fall and a network-by-network guide to fall cable programming.