TheWrap's TV team recommends shows you should watch because they're great… or not so great
TV networks are rolling out some big guns this season, from a superhero spinoff to Robin Williams to what may be Seth MacFarlane's most offensive series so far.
But after months of following the new shows from pilot to pickup and finally to their premieres, TheWrap's TV team has developed some strong opinions about which ones are actually worth your time. If you don't watch to watch all 42,000 new shows this fall, maybe just check in on these 20.
The Blacklist (NBC)
Who's Involved: James Spader, Megan Boone, showrunner John Eisendrath
What It's About: An ex-government agent (Spader) who's become one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives surprises the bureau by surrendering and offering to help catch a very wanted terrorist. But he'll only speak with one particular female agent (Boone).
Why It's Worth Watching: Because after watching Spader play unsavory types in such offerings as "The Office," "Boston Legal" and "Secretary," it will be interesting to see if he can pull off a full-on heavy here. Also of interest: Whether the show's producers can sufficiently distinguish "The Blacklist" from the conceptually similar "Silence of the Lambs."
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c
Who's Involved: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, showrunner Daniel Knauf
What It's About: An American entrepreneur (Meyers) wants to bring science to Victorian England. But, really, he's a vampire and there to exact revenge on those who wronged him.
Why It's Worth Watching: If you aren't into vampires, then turn away now. If you're fine with bloodsuckers, then you're in for a feast for the eyes. This retelling of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" reminds us that the genre isn't just for kids.
Premieres: Friday, Oct. 25 at 10/9c
See photos: 41 New Shows of the 2013-2014 TV Season
The Goldbergs (ABC)
Who's involved: Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Patton Oswalt (narrator), showrunner Adam F. Goldberg
What It's About: A young boy in the 1980s decides to begin capturing his quirky family on video.
Why It's Worth Watching: Inspired by Goldberg's own childhood, it invokes feelings of a less-precious "The Wonder Years."
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9/8c
The Originals (The CW)
Who's involved: Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies and Claire Holt, showrunner Julie Plec
What It's About: The first vampires move to New Orleans to reclaim their old stomping grounds.
Why It's Worth Watching: If you've outgrown "TVD" or feel ready to explore a new part of that world, this is for you. It definitely feels a notch more adult than its parent show with all the same supernatural bells and whistles.
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 3 at 9/8c
Super Fun Night (ABC)
Who's involved: Rebel Wilson, Conan O'Brien is among the producers
What It's About: An upwardly mobile attorney tries to balance her new romance with her long-standing girls' night in.
Why It's Worth Watching: The pilot episode doesn't quite feel like it knows what it is right now. But, there's enough odd and hilarious nuggets there to make us feel that this could be the next "Mindy Project."
Premieres: Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 9/8c
Sean Saves the World (NBC)
Who's involved: Stars Sean Hayes, Linda Lavin, Megan Hilty, showrunner Victor Fresco
What It's About: A guy must rearrange his world when his teen daughter moves in. Oh, and he's gay.
Why It's Worth Watching: This show is really a throwback to the "Will & Grace" days when sexuality was alternately the punchline, the show's heart and just part of the scenery. That's hard to pull off and Hayes does it so well.
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 3 at 9/8c
MasterChef Junior (Fox)
Who's Involved: Gordon Ramsay, plus a bunch of young aspiring cooks who probably have no idea what they've gotten themselves into.
What It's About: Famously hot-headed celebrity chef ("MasterChef," "Hell's Kitchen") cooks up yet another culinary competition, with a twist — this time the contestants are children.
Why It's Worth Watching: Will Ramsay unleash his notorious temper on the tots as they vie for culinary dominance? Will the kids' parents retaliate against Ramsay in an environment filled with sharp objects? The possibilities are as endless as they are intriguing.
Premieres: Friday, Sept. 27 at 8/7c
Who's Involved: Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette, Tate Donovan. Jerry Bruckheimer is among the producers.
What It's About: This suspenseful drama revolves around a surgeon who's thrown into a chilling political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent.
Why It's Worth Watching: McDermott established his creepy cred in spades with his two-season run on FX's "American Horror Story," and he brings intensity to his role as a renegade g-man.
Premieres: Monday, Sept 23 at 10/9c
We Are Men (CBS)
Who's Involved: Kal Penn, Jerry O'Connell, Tony Shalhoub. showrunner Rob Greenberg
What It's About: Four single guys living in a short-term apartment complex unexpectedly find camaraderie over their many missteps in love.
Why It's Worth Watching: A seasoned cast suggests that this just might be the series to bring the genre of bro-down comedy out of the realm of the aggressively puerile. Plus, O'Connell wears a Speedo, so there's something for the ladies.
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 30 8:30/7:30c
Almost Human (Fox)
Who's Involved: Karl Urban. Creator J.H. Wyman and J.J. Abrams executive produce.
What It's About: A high-tech, high-stakes action drama set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. An unlikely partnership is forged when a part-machine cop is forced to pair with a part-human robot as they fight crime and investigate a deeper cover-up in a futuristic new world.
Why It's Worth Watching: Wyman and Abrams worked together on "Fringe," a beloved cult favorite that combined procedural drama with paranormal freakiness, so if there's anybody who could make a human-android buddy-cop drama something besides completely robotic, it's them.
Premieres: Monday, Nov. 4 at 8/7c
Hello Ladies (HBO)
Who's involved: Stephen Merchant, Christine Woods, Nate Torrence
What It's About: Gawky, British Stuart is a web designer who relocates to L.A. to infiltrate the world of beautiful people and fine his soul mate. Stuart believes he may have found that in roommate Jessica, though she clearly does not reciprocate those feelings. Along with his mates, Stuart strikes out time and time again.
Why It's Worth Watching: Merchant is the hilarious co-creator of the British version of "The Office" and "Extras," and the trailer drops an all-time great Roe v. Wade abortion joke. (How often do you get to say that?) Also because we're pretty sure a drinking game can develop over how often Merchant utters the titular phrase, "Hello Ladies."
Premieres: Sunday, Sep. 29, 10:30/9:30
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)
Who's involved: Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt, Wendell Pierce, Sam Laybourne, Alex Reid
What It's About: One of New York's most beloved news anchors, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox), put his career on hold after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. But now the stay-at-home dad is becoming restless, so his family and former boss find a way to coerce him back into the newsroom.
Why It's Worth Watching: Because Michael J. Fox is back. Do you really need more reasons to watch? Oh you do. Also, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in the first episode, "Breaking Bad" star Brandt plays Fox's wife, and the show will raise Parkinson's awareness: Win/win/win.
Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 26 9/8c
The Millers (CBS)
Who's involved: Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, J.B. Smoove, Margo Martindale. Created by Greg Garcia
What It's About: Nathan Miller (Arnett) is a recently divorced local news reporter looking forward to the single life. Those dreams are dashed instantly when his father (Bridges), inspired by Nathan's news, leaves his wife (Martindale) of 43 years, who in turn moves in with Arnett's character.
Why It's Worth Watching: Because Will Arnett deserves a successful show. Also because in the pilot Martindale criticizes Bridges' masturbation techniques. Still surprised that they separated on the spot? Finally, because we all have to stop counting on "Arrested Development" for our Bluth family member fixes.
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 3 8:30/7:30c
The Crazy Ones (CBS)
Who's involved: Robin Williams, Sarah Michele Gellar. Created by David E. Kelley
What It's About: Simon Roberts (Williams) is the kooky-but-clever head of an advertising agency that also employs his far more organized daughter, Sydney (Gellar). Despite the generational facts, the parenting is generally done by the daughter.
Why It's Worth Watching: Imagine if Don Draper were funny. The industry that infiltrates the CBS sitcom plot is not the only connection to "Mad Men." James Wolk, who played the shady Bob Benson, also guest stars in the much-hyped show.
Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 26 at 9/8c
Who's involved: Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Vanessa Lachey. Seth MacFarlane and Alec Sulkin executive produce.
What It's About: Two successful guys and childhood best friends (Green and Ribisi), now in their 30s, have their lives turned upside down when their nightmare dads unexpectedly move in with them.
Why It's Worth Watching: Fans of "Family Guy" will get on board for a reteaming the "Family Guy" producers MacFarlane and Sulkin. It's also worth finding out if the show is as offensive and some critics think it is.
Premieres: Tuesday, Sep 17 at 8/7c
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Who's involved: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen. Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen are showrunners.
What It's About: Mere mortals – sans metal suits — have to share the Marvel universe with the likes of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and their fellow Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have to rely on their wits, mixed martial arts, and the occasional cool device.
Why It's Worth Watching: Though "Avengers" mastermind Joss Whedon won't write and direct every week, the show is in good hands with his brother Jed, and Jed's wife, Tancharoen. The pilot strikes a good balance between comic-book drama and poking fun at comic-book drama.
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8/7c
Who's involved: Allison Janney, Anna Faris
What It's About: A recently sober waitress (Faris) tries to raise two kids, one of them a daughter who's repeating her mistakes. Before her daughter can forgive her, she needs to forgive her mother (Janney), herself a recovering alcoholic with a fondness for cocaine.
Why It's Worth Watching: This feels like a rehash of other Chuck Lorre shows — combine the put-upon waitresses of "2 Broke Girls" with the twelve-step meetings of "Mike & Molly — until Janney appears on the screen. She delivers a punch line like nobody's business, and gives what could be another very broad sitcom a sense of realism and heart.
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 23 at 9:39/8:30c
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
Who's involved: Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher. Executive produced by Dan Goor and Michael Schur.
What It's About: A brilliant but rule-bending detective (Samberg) gets a tough new captain (Braugher).
Why It's Worth Watching: You rolled your eyes at the description, right? "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is right there with you. It wrings fresh laughs from the most exhausted cop-show tropes, coming up with plenty of surprises. It has the same stupid-brilliant feel as Samberg's "Saturday Night Live" digital shorts, Braugher's deadpan is a delight, and "Parks and Recreations" veterans Goor and Schur have filled out their cast with another band of droll misfits.
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8:30/7:30c
Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
Who's Involved: Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci executive produce.
What It's About: Patriot, abolitionist and hopeless romantic Ichabod Crane (Mison) wakes up from a very long sleep to find that his old enemy, the headless horseman, is back in the decapitation racket – and heralds the end of the world. The only person who understands him is a smart small-town cop (Beharie) with a big secret.
Why It's Worth Watching: Mison and Beharie have great chemistry, especially during a surprisingly sharp scene about race and gender. The Headless Horseman is a delightfully ruthless villain – but not even the scariest one on the show. The series, from "Star Trek" writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, twists the "X Files" formula by making Mulder a Revolutionary War veteran and Scully – well, we don't want to reveal too much.
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 16 at 9/8c
Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Who's Involved: Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Created by Michelle Ashford.
What It's About: Real-life sex researcher Dr. William Masters (Sheen) and his eventual partner, Virginia Johnson (Caplan), whose research included watching lots of real people getting it on in clinical settings.
Why It's Worth Watching: Though set in 1950s St. Louis, "Masters of Sex" feels vigorous and alive – and not just because of all the naked people. There's a deep sense of tragedy underlying all the research. As much as Masters and Johnson try to remove emotional variables, sex refuses to be mastered.
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10