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10 Fall 2013 TV Shows Worth Watching

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It's my favorite time of year! Sure, crisp autumn days and reasons to buy new boots are nice, but the fall crop of new shows is what makes me giddy every September. Starting today, the broadcast networks roll out their new scripted offerings and I've chosen the 10 that I think are worth your time. There are new shows from some of the best auteurs out there, like J. J. Abrams, Greg Berlanti, Julie Plec and my all time favorite creator of characters who kick ass and break your heart, Joss Whedon. Notably, FOX follows through with the precedent this winter's The Following set for shows with big stars and good production values by stocking its slate with the likes of Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Karl Urban, Michael Ealy and Lili Taylor. The CW does its really pretty and powerful young people thing -- which, yes, I'm a sucker for -- and ABC has the new show to beat (both for promise and unwieldy titling): Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. So put your Netflix binges on hold till Orange Is The Black comes back and fire up your DVR or Tivo because broadcast TV is back with some good stuff you'll want to watch.

Monday
Almost Human FOX 8 p.m., premieres 11/14
If the end of Fringe has you, like me, longing for a crime-solving show with a J. J. Abrams style twist, this cop show set in 2048 might be your new fave. Karl Urban (Bones from the new Star Trek movies) plays John Kennex, a detective returning to active police duty after losing a leg and partner in an ambush by an evil criminal group called The Syndicate. He's none too pleased to find out that human cops are now required to have android partners. But instead of the standard issue robotic model, his boss (Lili Taylor in the tough yet wise and caring model of boss) pairs him with Dorian, a previously decommissioned type of andro-cop, who was built to experience emotion to an -- you guessed it -- almost human like degree. The fact that Dorian is played by the dreamy Michael Ealy and that he and Urban have the early signs of great chemistry make the whole crazy conceit work. The show also stars Minka Kelly, who has hopefully found a post Friday Night Lights (Texas forever!) part worthy of her screen presence.

Sleepy Hollow FOX 9 p.m., premieres 9/16
This twisty time-travel TV show from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek) and Len Wiseman (Underworld) takes the classic Washington Irving Sleepy Hollow tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman and gives it an apocalyptic update. Ichabod is a Revolutionary War hero fighting for George Washington when he comes up against, yes, a headless horseman. Next thing he knows, he's waking up in present day Sleepy Hollow, New York and finds that his nemesis has also been resurrected. Circumstances soon pair him up with a police detective who, for her own personal reasons, actually seems to believe his story (he doesn't know whether to be more surprised that she's black, that she a woman or that she's wearing pants) and the two set out to pursue the horseman, who may actually be one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and sort out the fact that Crane's wife, who was a witch, is also around, but is trapped in a some kind of alternative dimension. Yes, there's a lot going on here, but show has a gorgeous look to it and entertainingly eerie feel that pulls you right along for the ride.

Hostages CBS 10 p.m. 9/23
A 14 episode limited run series, Hostages starts you right in the middle of the action of its ridiculously high-concept premise: a doctor about to perform brain surgery on the president is taken hostage, along with her family, and told that unless she kills the president during the operation, her family will die. Like Showtime's amazing Homeland, it's based on an Israeli series and has a stellar cast. Dylan McDermott is the FBI agent turned hostage taker and Toni Collette and Tate Donovan (Joshua!) (Friends) are the doctor and her secret-keeping husband. Why does McDermott want to kill the president? Is he a bad guy, a good guy doing a bad thing for a good reason or a good guy who seems like he's doing a bad thing but actually doing a good thing? I love knowing that all will be revealed in a matter of weeks and a twist at the end of the pilot episode bodes well for how the show's myriad reveals will play out.

Tuesday
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD ABC 8 p.m., premieres 9/24
Perversely, or perhaps predictably, although this is the only pilot I couldn't get my hands on, it's the one I'm most excited about. First of all, in my opinion, Joss Whedon has never made a bad TV show. (No, Dollhouse was no Buffy, Angel or Firefly, but by the end, it was hauntingly powerful.) Second, hello, Avengers?! And third, Clark Gregg's dry, droll and brilliant Agent Coulson is alive! Turns out, his death last summer in Avengers was greatly exaggerated and he's back with a team of super agents to save the world. And Ming Na Wen of ER fame is one of them. As I said, I haven't seen this one yet, so I don't know much more, but I can't wait to!

The Originals The CW 8 p.m., premieres 10/15
Executive producer Julie Plec has spun her enigmatic and engaging anti-hero, Klaus, The Vampire Diaries' original vampire/werewolf hybrid, off into his own series, set in the dark, magic and history drenched streets of New Orleans' French Quarter. When Klaus, played by Joseph Morgan, returns to the city he once called home, he finds his former protégé, the laughing and capriciously cruel Marcel, ruling it as king, with dominion over the witches -- and Klaus doesn't like that one bit. After spending centuries as a wicked, rootless creature, can Klaus be redeemed and even, possibly, find happiness with Hayley, a werewolf whom he discovers is carrying his child? Morgan is charismatic enough that he could a show on his own, but with Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt and Phoebe Tonkin also slinking around the Big Easy, The Originals seems like delicious fun.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine FOX 8:30 p.m., premieres 9/17
When I heard that Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher, an incredibly unlikely match-up, were starring in a cop show comedy, my immediate reaction was, pass! But then I watched and it was funny! And it was warm, with characters that weren't too cartoonish and crimes that actually got solved. I liked that Samberg's Detective Jake Peralta, for all his goofiness, was surprisingly good at his job and I liked getting to see the incredibly appealing Andre Braugher, who plays his by-the-books guess what, he's gay boss, getting to actually smile on television, rather than just glower and look stoic as he did on last season's disappointing The Last Resort. The show, if it lives up to its potential, could have the sweet, wacky-people-trying-to-do-good feel of Amy Poehler's Parks and Recreation.

Trophy Wife ABC 9:30 p.m., premieres 9/24
Now, given that we already have Modern Family, I wasn't sure we needed another three family comedy with a funny guy and his skinny blonde wife at the center. But Malin Ackerman, who, confusingly, has never reached the level of success her comic timing and comeliness deserve, is really fun to watch as the party girl who settles down (sort-of) to marry Pete, father of three, who is played by Bradley Whitford, in his first good non-Aaron Sorkin role. Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, as the two ex-wives, round out a super-strong ensemble who comedically cross in and out of each other's lives, but do so without that horrible trying too hard feeling so many sitcoms have. It's light and charming and seems like it will be a perfectly nice way to spend a half-hour.

Lucky 7 ABC 10 p.m., premieres 9/24
Yep, ABC has a strong Tuesday night line-up. Lucky 7 has a dream-big premise: 7 gas station employees, who play the lottery together every week, finally win! Adorable Matt Long is at the center of the group, playing an ex-con whose girlfriend has a baby in the pilot, trying to build a new, honest life, despite his undermining, scary brother and old, hard-to-break habits. The new millionaires are a rag-tag, endearing group I found myself rooting for right away. I liked NBC's 2006 show, Windfall, which was also about a group of lottery winners, I hope this one does better job of capitalizing on the fantasy fulfillment promise of the premise.

Wednesday
The Tomorrow People The CW 9 p.m., premieres 10/9
The basic idea of Greg (Brothers & Sisters and Arrow) Berlanti's The Tomorrow People sounds an awful lot like Heroes: attractive people with special powers band together to fend of an evil, possibly government-backed group out to control and/or destroy them. But where Heroes was sort of an unwieldy mess, with everyone having different abilities and few clear motivations (other than, of course, the awesome first season's Save the cheerleader, save the world), TTP's attractive group of special-powered people, aka The Tomorrow People, all have the same abilities and centers on one verrry attractive teenager, Stephen (played by Robbie Amell, cousin of Arrow's Stephen Amell) whose telekinesis, telepathy and teleporting skills are just surfacing. In the pilot, Stephen finds out that his father, who left him and his mother and younger brother years ago, was similarly gifted and not necessarily as crazy and deadbeat as he'd been lead to believe and that he's got an uncle, played by the always awesomely creepy Mark Pellegrino, who is the leader of the scary squad hunting down Tomorrow People. Does he join The Tomorrow People and try to find his father or does he join his uncle? His choice at the end of the pilot is sort of surprising, which bodes well for the series, as does the family drama at the show's center. And, Berlanti does well with shows starring Amells, so, I'm in.

Ironside NBC 10 p.m., premieres 10/2
Blair Underwood is always a good reason to check out a new show and even though that meant I sat through a whole season of the relatively awful The Event two years ago, I'm betting on Ironside. It's an updated version of the '70s classic that starred Raymond Burr as a cop confined to a wheelchair. The show has a bit of a classic procedural feel to it, which I don't usually like, because I think character development is often sacrificed in crime-of-the-week shows. But Underwood's portrayal of Ironside, a man who won't let his demons -- or his disabilities- hold him back, is so compelling, so artfully (and freakin' sexily) done, I was kind of blown away.

Disappointments
I can't believe Michael J. Fox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rebel Wilson and Mary, Queen of Scots, all have new shows and I can't even recommend you watch them. I hope I prove to be wrong and The Michael J. Fox Show, The Crazy Ones, Super Big Fun Night, and Reign turn out better than their dreary or dumb pilots suggest, but I don't have a lot of hope.