What new Fall shows are worth watching?

As usual I will be posting some brief reviews of the new fall shows soon after they premiere. This TV season has a lot of promise; not only cable shows look exciting, but also broadcast. CLICK HERE to read about my pre-premiere picks for each network.

I will update this list as soon as I get to watch the new shows. Keep in mind that buzz can be misleading and first impressions are not always right… which is my way of saying that I often change my mind about TV shows after watching 5-10 episodes, but I am posting my initial reactions here. My new favorite show could be an under-marketed little series hiding in the sea of premieres.

But here we go:


FOX Mondays 8 PM
Verdict: Yes, this may very well be the new Fringe.

I’ve been saying this since upfronts… I think FOX is getting its groove back this year. Last season they ended with one interesting show (The Following) and one old hit (Bones), but this season they seem to be making all the right calls. Sleepy Hollow is a hit and I am certainly hoping Almost Human follows. If you’ve read my blog before, you must know I love Fringe, so I was excited from the get-go about this new show written by the former Fringe show-runner (J.H. Wyman) and produced by J.J. Abrams… I really don’t need much more to be happy. In my opinion Wyman is the best kind of sci-fi writer. He is great at developing mythology rooted in technological advances, but he is also great at writing the characters and their relationships. So: compelling characters with complex relationships + a rich mythological background = WIN for me… and I think that is exactly what Almost Human promises. The first two eps were great, the tone was set and the stories were interesting and classic sci-fi in a way (without feeling too derivative). The show reminded me a LOT of Blade Runner (and to a lesser extent of Minority Report), which is no surprise since Fringe also had a lot of influences from Philip K. Dick’s works (shape-shifter, parallel universes, etc). It also had some Fringe references for the die-hard fan like me (the butterfly, the melting flesh, etc.) and the cameo of ‘Dharma’ dude was another nice touch from the Bad Robot universe.

Should you watch it? Yes! Especially if you are into science-fiction movies and shows like: Blade Runner, Minority Report, Dark Angel, Continuum, and of course Fringe.


SHOWTIME Sundays 10 PM (Tuesdays at 10 PM on Channel 4 for UK viewers)
Verdict: My new favorite cable drama

This is turning out to be the “LATE new fall shows’ reviews” guide, but better late than never… Right? And if there is one show you should catch up with, this is the one! I had forgotten what a GOOD, solid cable drama feels like. This year we said good bye to two of my favorites (Dexter and Breaking Bad), and next year Don Draper will be drinking his last scotch as well. Needless to say, I needed a replacement and quick! Masters of Sex is more than ready to fill in the shoes of Mad Men as my new favorite period cable drama. This is a well written, well produced, well acted show. The cast, led by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan is absolutely amazing! And guest stars aren’t any less amazing with names like: Beau Bridges and Allison Janney just to name a couple. However what I love the most about the show is that it tackles a controversial issue without trying to be risqué. It is an all-around great drama.

Should you watch it? Absolutely YES! And even more so if you are a fan of shows like Mad Men, The Hour and Breathless 


ABC Tuesdays 8 PM
Verdict: It’s obviously a fun show to watch

Coming very late to this particular party, so I don’t know if anyone cares… but I finally got a chance to catch up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and this is what I thought.

In simple terms, you can classify the television of my generation into: J.J. Abrams shows (Felicity, Alias, Lost) and Joss Whedon shows (Buffy, Angel, Firefly). As I have mentioned before, I was always more of a J.J. fan rather than a Whedonite; that DOES NOT mean I don’t recognize the quirky brilliance of Whedon. I was very wary of S.H.I.E.L.D. because I had the feeling it was being over-hyped since upfronts! And it probably was… This is not going to be the next Breaking Bad or anything like that… and it is probably not going to be the next Buffy either (it’s too mainstream for that). That doesn't mean it isn't a pretty great show. Above all, I think S.H.I.E.L.D. is FUN to watch and it does have a lot of what made Joss Whedon a TV household name. I always thought the best thing about his shows was the humorous dialogue at the most unexpected [often inappropriate ] times. The pilot, which Whedon wrote, had a lot of that [and that plane keeps giving me serious Firefly flashbacks]. I thought the pilot was the strongest episode, the following eps were still tightly produced and fun… but perhaps a little reliant on the action sequences. All in all, I enjoy the show… but stirs a bit of nostalgia in me… This isn't the niche cult-hit Firefly and Buffy were, this is a show a LOT of people will recognize and want to watch… which is good because big audiences are good for TV, but perhaps it's forcing them to tone down the quirkiness? I don’t know. In any case the real, important question is: When is Nathan Fillion guest-starring? Captain Hammer is part of the Marvel universe, right?.. No? Well… he should be. (*)

(*) If you have no idea of what I am talking about , go Google “Dr.Horrible’s sing along blog” NOW or you can CLICK HERE. It's only one of the coolest things ever to pop up online and it was also written by Joss Whedon (it's him at his quirkiest)    


NBC Fridays at 10 PM
Verdict: It has the elements to be good, but not there yet

Most critics were saying Dracula was boring, I was expecting it to be awesome because critics know nothing and… after watching it, I think I landed somewhere in the middle. Let’s start by saying that the show has a lot going for it: the visual style is great, I thought casting Jonathan Rhys Meyers was a brilliant decision and it is set in the 1800s which is a fascinating era. However, I perfectly understood why they called it “boring”. I didn’t think it was terrible, but some scenes dragged quite a bit and I found myself drifting off in the middle of watching and thinking things like: “I really miss The Tudors” and “What the hell is up with Reign?” At the same time, there was a lot going on throughout the pilot episode. I couldn’t decide if this show was going to be about an immortal romance, vampire mythology or conspiracy theories? All of the above? If they want to tackle all those styles, they need a tighter structure. It is very likely that all the issues I mentioned are simply the common problems most shows experience in their pilots. The raw elements the show needs to be great are there. I am hoping they focus on the complex/dark central character [JRM plays dark so well] and the sexy aspects of the show. The pilot was nothing impressive [in my opinion], but I still think it could grow into an intriguing show. The preview looked quite interesting, so… I am still hopeful, but cautious.

Should you watch it? Yes, I think you should give it a few episodes and see if it turns out to be the show you were expecting.  


ABC Thursdays at 8 PM
Verdict: If you insist on making spin-offs, this is the way to do it

I finally got a chance to watch the OUAT spin-off and I absolutely loved it! I am NOT a fan of spin-offs, but this show may change my opinion. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland had the tone and feel of Once Upon a Time and it had just the right amount of references to the original without feeling derivative.  As Kitsis & Horowitz did with every other fairy-tale, they reworked the classic story of Alice in Wonderland into a complex Lost-esque intriguing tale. I thought the first episode of Wonderland was even stronger than the pilot of OUAT. It was a bit dark; it had adventure, romance and yes, magic. This is a show with an identity and a clearly defined tone. I guess my only complaint would be the fake-at-times CGI, but I can live with that. I loved all the fresh faces in the cast and Naveen Andrews as Jafar was absolutely genius. In fact, it was SO obvious; I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I also appreciate that the producers DID NOT re-cast the role of the Mad Hatter which was so brilliantly portrayed by Sebastian Stan. Fingers crossed for him to eventually make an appearance.

Should you watch it? Yes! Perfect show to watch with the family


CW Thursdays 9 PM
Verdict: I … really… don’t know

When I first heard the CW was developing a show based on Mary Queen of Scots, I thought it would result in a disaster of epic proportions! It isn’t quite the case; I have to admit… the show has a certain “charm”. It’s definitely not the biggest mistake in television history, but other than that… I am not sure how I feel about it. While I was watching the pilot, I kept asking myself if Reign reminded me of Gossip Girl, that awful Marie Antoinette movie [side note: I sort of hate when they use modern soundtracks on period pieces] or Merlin. The answer is: ALL OF THE ABOVE with some hints of Game of Thrones and The Tudors [and not precisely the good parts]. The fact that I need to compare Reign not to one, but five other shows is a sign that, as of right now, it has a very undefined tone. On one hand, it is a teenage drama with mean girls, cute boys and forbidden crushes. And hey… I bet Mary was a semi-regular teenager at one point in her life, so why not? However, they didn't stop there. They decided to give the show an edgy scandalous tone. In the pilot we saw an odd voyeuristic scene and what seems to be the start of an illicit love affair of ‘royal’ proportions. They also tried to incorporate some intrigue and ‘historical drama’ and beheaded a guy. Scandalous sex and executions wouldn't have been out of place on The Tudors but it sort of came out of nowhere on Reign. It would be OK if they decided to make it ‘that’ type of show, but is it? There were scenes that were so blatantly ‘innocent’ (the dancing sequence), the edgier topics felt out of place. To further increase my confusion, they included a supernatural element [which I thought was completely unnecessary] and one of the characters is Nostradamus… which brings me back to my original question. Why base this on a historical figure? I think if they made her a fictional princess and embraced the cheesy and crazy, I would have been more willing to suspend disbelief and just go with it… It may still turn out to be a fairly entertaining show [definitely falling under the guilty pleasure category], but they need to decide what they are about! My advice would be to avoid political plots [unless they can fully develop them], focus on the romance and embrace the teen-movie feel it has going on. In other words, go ahead and make it Gossip Tudor Girl.

Should you watch it? I don’t feel confident enough to make a recommendation. I am going to watch it, but at this point I would say it’s rather safe to skip it… I doubt it will turn into more than a guilty pleasure, but… as I said… I am a little confused by it. 


CW Tuesdays 9 PM
Verdict: Favorite new show so far

Before fall season even begun, I picked The Tomorrow People as the most promising CW show. I was not disappointed at all! This is, frankly, surprising. I thought the pilot was very solid. It didn't feel all over the place like most new shows I've seen. The premise is cool, good casting and it’s not just a show with blinding special effects; it actually has heart and a lot of potential for the characters’ relationships. It remind me a little of the X-movies [the good ones] and felt like an improved version of Alphas.  Much like I do with J.J. Abrams, I think I am ready to trust any project that has Greg Berlanti’s stamp of approval. This may be my favorite new show… but I still have to watch Almost Human.

Should you watch it? Yes! Definitely. 


CW Tuesdays 8 PM
Verdict: It is good, but is it ‘original’?

The CW has been trying and failing to replicate the success of The Vampire Diaries for a while, so it is no surprise they finally decided to try their hands at a spin-off. I usually hate spin-offs but I was excited about this one. For a while now, I thought Rebekah, Elijah and Klaus were the most compelling characters on The Vampire Diaries; so, giving them their own show was fine by me. As expected Klaus is a tormented villain, Rebekah is the vulnerable bad-ass and Elijah keeps getting daggered for trying to be the voice of reason. Then there is Hayley, played by Phoebe Tonkin who I've notice people either love or hate. I sort of love her; I thought she was great on The Secret Circle and I am glad they decided to keep her around. So, good cast, check. As for the other aspects of the show… My main issue, so far, is that the first couple of episodes spent a lot of time explaining things we already knew! And I get it… it is for the benefit of viewers who never watched TVD before… but still felt like too much exposition. And that’s not the only thing that didn't feel new. The whole show will revolve around the issues of being a vampire hybrid… and it started feeling a little bit like a repeat of True Blood’s Season 6 (which was not my favorite season). Plus, do we REALLY want to deal with the hybrid baby? I really don’t… I wish they scrapped off the entire baby plot! I don’t want to relive the horror of Breaking Dawn Part II! [to paraphrase Tess Vargas]. I guess what I am saying is that The Originals didn't feel that original. It has the burden of being a spin-off; therefore it inherited the tone, feel and characters of its predecessor. However, other than that… it is a fun show with really great characters…

Should you watch it? Yes, it will probably be more exciting than TVD (this season) and it has Klaus, so… Unless you are really tired of vampire stories, then you should probably skip it


NBC Thursdays 9:30
Verdict: I love Michael J Fox

If James Spader is one of the greatest TV dramatic actors, Michael J Fox is one of the greatest comedy actors of all times. Much like the character he plays, it is impossible not to love him and pretty much everyone I know [from my 20 something girlfriends to my 70+ dad] love him. Needless to say, it’s great to have him back on TV and he most definitely still has it. He is just so adorable and his timing is still spot on. On top of that, it is actually a good show. The jokes were funny in a classic way, without pretending to be scandalous or edgy [like so many other comedies these days] and the rest of the cast was great too. However, it was bizarre to see Marie from Breaking Bad married to Michael J Fox, when last week we saw her freak out because her DEA husband was gunned down by drug dealers… So I think I need some time to adjust. All in all, this may be my favorite new comedy of the season.


NBC Wednesdays 10 PM
Verdict: Are you sure this isn’t a CBS show?

As I watched the first episode of this show I had the feeling it was something I had seen before. I started thinking of other ‘powerful’ characters in wheelchairs and the first name that came to mind was Logan from Dark Angel. Detective ‘Ironside’ and Logan have some things in common; they were crippled in the line of duty but retained their power despite being hunted by their situation. Nevertheless similarities stopped there. Next, I started thinking of Luther, as a flawed detective with a tortured past willing to use ‘unconventional’ methods to get the job done. But I wasn’t quite there yet... Finally it dawned on me that Ironside was reminding me of House. And by reminding me, I mean they basically used one too many elements from that show. Let’s see: Leading character with a handicap CHECK The lead character gets away with a lot of questionable behaviour due to his superior ability to do his job CHECK Three young assistants, one of them female with a tough background CHECK Name the show after the last name of the leading character CHECK. Replace doctors with cops and you’ve House Ironside M.P.D. However, House, the character, really worked because he was an unapologetic SOB most of the time. I think that may be what they were going for with Ironside [without fully committing] but Blair Underwood is just too charming. He can’t help it… he is charming by nature… so he doesn’t have the effect House had on me. There is nothing terribly wrong with Ironside, I’ve seen a couple of episodes and I didn’t get bored. I like seeing Spencer Grammer (AKA Frasier’s daughter) back on TV and with a role that suits her better than playing a sorority girl [truth, I kinda love her and I loved Greek!]; so I wouldn’t say it is a bad show…. However it feels like your run of the mill CBS procedural, except it is not on CBS, so it will probably get cancelled.

Should you watch it? If you really like Blair Underwood and you don’t mind watching a show that most likely will get cancelled, Yes. Otherwise, not really worth it.


ABC Sundays 10:00
Verdict: It is quite compelling

I am not saying people should cheat on their significant others, but I have to confess…  I do like to watch affairs on TV and movies… When affairs are well written they can be very compelling to watch because they involve a lot of emotions and tension. So what about Betrayal? I think it has the potential to be one of those very well written affairs. The show revolves about a man and a woman who have an instant “connection” and start an affair for the first time in their lives. However, the word Betrayal applies to more than that. There is also a subplot involving betrayal in a family business, which I thought made the show more interesting. I also liked the fact that the characters were multi-layered. They weren’t defined by their illicit affair; they had other issues and struggles. Now… I am not much of a romantic and I like love stories that develop over time, relationships that I can believe. I normally don’t like the obsessive relationships where one character is about to lose his or her sanity due to love [think the Notebook]. And yes, Betrayal had a little of that. The characters basically have a 2 min conversation and on their next meeting they are telling each other stuff like “You make me want to connect” so… a little unbelievable, but their chemistry makes it work, so I was willing to let it go and see what happens. It could get twisted and interesting, or it could get very soapy… too soon to tell.

Should you watch it? Not for everyone, but if you like relationship dramas and don’t mind slightly soapy plots you should watch it. However, ever since I saw the trailer for this one + the timeslot I felt early cancellation… so, you might want to think about that. 


NBC Mondays at 10 PM
Verdict: There was no way to screw this

As I said many times before, The Blacklist was the show I was most excited about and so were a lot of people. I didn’t have an “Oh my God, this is the best thing on television” moment while watching the pilot, but I thought the premiere was very strong. It had an interesting premise, great cast, it moved along pretty quickly and they nicely set up the premise for the upcoming episodes. But let’s be real… the main reason it was an “above average” show was James Spader. In all honesty, I think the script could have been crap and it would have still been worth watching just to see his performance. Yet, I thought the writing was pretty solid and if they develop the intrigue and keep up the pace, this could turn out to be the A+ mainstream drama NBC has been hoping for (*).

(*) I say “mainstream” because I believe NBC already has a top notch drama: Hannibal, however that show seems to be better suited for a niche cable audience than a broadcast network. The blacklist could potentially appeal to a broader public.

Should you watch it? Yes, it is a good comedy


FOX Mondays 9:00
Verdict: It’s a good and interesting adaptation

This was one of the shows I was excited about since upfronts. Why? Because I am a long-time fan of the work of the writers (Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci). However, I didn’t    get the chance to watch the pilot until last night (October 3rd). I was never into scary/horror stories, therefore I never found the tale of Sleepy Hollow particularly appealing. I watched the movie and enjoyed Johnny Depp’s cooky-ness as much as the next person, but it was never my cup of tea. It still isn’t, but… the writing of Orci and Kurtzman is definitely my cup of tea. Taking everything into account, I thought Sleepy Hollow had a pretty good pilot. I like the idea of Ichabod Crane in modern times, the way they presented the back story of the characters was interesting, mythology was introduced, casting was good and the dialogue was really funny. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Sleepy Hollow is a good show, is it the most awesome show [in my opinion]? I wouldn’t say that, but it is good. It is a show I probably wouldn’t have watched if I wasn’t a fan of the writers but that is exactly how I started with Fringe (also developed by Kurtzman and Orci) and then it became one of my favourite TV shows of all times. So I am definitely sticking by Sleepy Hollow.

Should you watch it? Yes, but for God’s sake, watch it online or DVR it! No harm done, I swear… it has already been renewed for a second season. So you can occupy your Mondays by watching Beauty and the Beast live instead because God knows, that show could use the live ratings! Need help catching up? Click HERE 

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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. it reminds me of the following without the serial killer.. honestly I was not that impressed with the pilot but I quite like it.

    1. I actually thought that the pilot of The Following was better than the pilot of THe Blacklist, but I thought TF lost a little bit of steam after a while. For some reason I thing TBL may be able to keep it up for longer... plus... it has James Spader lol

  2. Sleepy Hollow is by the same people as Fringe? I didn't realize that or I might've stuck by it longer. Fringe took a while to really grow on me, but then I absolutely loved it! But my problem with Sleepy Hollow was that it took itself too seriously. The dialogue really didn't strike me as funny. The only levity I saw is when Ichabod is discovering technology in his motel room. But, I mean it's a show about a headless horseman and a guy named Ichabod who traveled through time--how can you be overly serious about that? Plus, I got plenty of the whole apocalypse thing from Supernatural, which unlike Sleepy Hollow, loves to poke fun at itself and everything else.

    Besides which, like you said, Beauty and the Beast needs (and deserves!) the live ratings. Season 2 has really dialed it up to 11. They've made some brilliant creative choices to improve on season 1, and if ever a series deserved a second chance, this one does.

    As for Reign, my reaction was WTF? I couldn't get a handle on it either, and I'm not interested in sticking around while it sorts out its identity crisis. Like you said, they should not have used real historical figures. Francis died only a year after he wed Mary, when she was 17. She returned to Scotland where her second husband was murdered, and she then married his supposed murderer. She then spent the rest of her life confined to various castles for 18 years before being executed for plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Mary's life story just does not fit at all with the tone and content of the CW series.

  3. @TVRepublik Agree re Dracula. Has elements to be good (& yes, gorgeous visuals), but it was so unfocused I lost interest in trying to figure it out. (From JulieChaston)

    1. Yeah... can't blame you there Julie, I personally will stick by it, but I have a highest tolerance for TV shows than most ppl should. You could say I sometimes like to watch flawed TV shows to learn 'what not to do' when writing haha if that makes any sense.... However, if for some miracle it turns to be good by XX episode I'll let you know! ... Remember BATB? You should have seen what I wrote after I saw the pilot! lol


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