It’s just about that time of the year again! Monday night will see the first new show of the fall season premiere in “Sleepy Hollow,” and the time is ripe to share some of what we feel you should be watching … and avoiding (and there is a good bit of the latter). Today, the attention is on the five best new shows of the season; meanwhile, tomorrow we’ll have our take on some of the stinkers.
What you should be aware of here is that the times listed are EST, and that we’re basing these on just one episode. It happens every year where good shows fall into the toilet, and bad pilots end up becoming hits. We remember a good eight or so years ago a show that seemed great in theory, but had a pilot that was pretty boring. That show was “30 Rock,” with “Community” and “Castle” as other examples of shows we have gone on to do well after stumbling out of the gate.
5. “The Michael J. Fox Show“ (NBC, Tuesdays at 9:30) – While the pilot does not necessarily contain an abundance of huge belly laughs, it is charming and funny the whole way through. Both Fox and Betsy Brandt are wonderful, capable leads, and you never get a sense that the comedy is forced. When you are dealing with a comedy pilot, that is something that is so often difficult to do. Plus, Fox handles a subject like Parkinson’s delicately, making it into something that is okay to laugh about.
4. “Sleepy Hollow“ (Fox, Mondays at 9:00) – To us, easily the biggest surprise of the entire fall season. We expected a story about Ichabod Crane being transported to modern-day New England to help solve a new sort of Headless Horseman conflict to be incredibly stupid and cheesy, but it is surprisingly engaging and addictive. There’s a little bit of comedy here, but the real selling point is the chemistry between the actors. If it’s this strong now, imagine where we will be a few episodes down the road. This is one of those guilty pleasures that you really don’t have to feel guilty about.
3. “Agents of SHIELD“ (ABC, Tuesdays at 8:00) – The hype here is immense, and for the most part, there is a since of hope both here and from other media outlets. It’s not a perfect production just yet, but this is one of the few pilots out there that legitimately feels like you are not missing much from the movies, unless you just want to see superpowers. Our only real concern is that the budget for this show is immense, and if the ratings stumble, it’s going to suffer a quick death.
2. “The Blacklist“ (NBC, Mondays at 10:00) – James Spader completely owns this pilot as “Red,” a notorious criminal who turns himself into the FBI and mysteriously starts ratting out some other people in his business … provided that he gets to work with a very specific agent in Elizabeth in the process. While this feels very much like a procedural show, we don’t mind this format if the episodes are as strong and action-packed as this one. Easily, the best drama pilot out there for network TV by a wide margin. (We’re not including cable in here, but buzz is huge around Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.”)
1. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine“ (Fox, Tuesdays at 8:30) – You have no idea how happy it makes us that there is a comedy at #1 this season. Last year was terrible for this genre, and the best show (in “Ben and Kate”) was canceled so quickly that Dakota Johnson was able to go through the audition process to be Anastasia Steele in the upcoming “50 Shades of Grey” film. Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher are hilarious in this cop-show send-up, which is pitched perfectly by “Parks and Recreation” executive producer Mike Schur. Cops may not be the most original idea, but this is Fox finally uncovering something worthy of being on the same night as “New Girl.” It only makes sense that this is the funniest show on network TV since Zooey Deschanel and company first arrived on the scene.
Earlier this summer, we analyzed all of the trailers for the pilots that are out this fall, which you can see over at the link here. We’re also going to be reviewing many of them in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!