The Fall 2013 television season has just gotten underway, and it’s already disappointing. “I’m not nearly as excited about this as [network] thinks I should be,” is the theme of this season’s new crop of shows. It’s still too early to get the ball rolling on cancellations, but, depending on how you look at it, it’s also a fairly good/completely depressing sign that we haven’t had any outright flops. In other words, it seems like studios have decided this year to take as few risks as possible while also pushing creative boundaries.
30 new shows are premiering this season, and almost none of them do anything for me. A handful are decent enough to keep me watching, but most were overdone when their concepts were tried two seasons ago. With the exception of the gloriously insane Sleepy Hollow, nothing in this new crop fills me with glee and anticipation. I won’t recoil in horror if I can’t find the remote and end up watching The Millers, but I’m certainly not going to plan my day around it. Every season has its pile of fetid crap, and this season that honor goes to Dads. And even though shows are still premiering, nothing has the glow of Best New Show. It’s all just ok. Which sucks. Give me great, give me awful, give me fire and ice, gold and pyrite, bold and daring and failed potential and total bombs. Do something new, no matter how good or bad, but don’t aim for bland, cheap, and middle-of-the-road.
ABC is holding steady with their adult fairy tales and nighttime soaps, but put all their SFF eggs in Joss Whedon’s basket this year with S.H.I.E.L.D. Lucky for them, the show is good, but without Whedon’s hand on the tiller, how long can its quality hold up? NBC is desperate to rekindle that Must See TV flame, but still thinks the only way to do that is to dive deep in the closet and pull out their 80s and 90s scripts. Keep in mind, the reason they have so many premieres this season is that most of their shows from last year were decimated in the ratings and cancelled. At this point, any momentum is good momentum; they’ve fallen so far, the only place left to go is up. CBS is CBS. They have a system that works, and they have no intention of mucking with it. FOX also keeps its tried and true system going by debuting some interesting and envelope-pushing fare, but it’s still too early to tell if any will make it beyond the midseason finale. On a personal note, if they take Sleepy Hollow away from me, I might never recover. CW is just as balls-to-the-wall as ever. When did that scrappy little channel get braver than the Big Four, and why does it do SFF so much better than the guys with all the experience and cash?
Shows with an * are new this season.
*Almost Human (FOX Mon 8p, premieres Nov. 4): Sometimes J.J. Abrams hits it out of the park. Other times he does Alcatraz. Only time will tell on which side of the fence this show will be.
American Horror Story: Coven (FX Wed 10p, premieres Oct 9): New Orleans is awfully popular this season. Hey HBO, maybe you should rethink cancelling Treme.
Arrow (CW Wed 8p): Way to beat low expectations and become a great show, Arrow. And to do it all while keeping Stephen Amell shirtless as often as possible, man, I’m impressed.
Beauty and the Beast (CW Mon 9p): Why are you still here? Why didn’t someone cancel you?
The Day of the Doctor (BBC America, premieres Nov 23): Pleasepleaseplease let Ten and Twelve to talk to each other in their Scottish accents.
Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC America, premieres Dec 25)
*Dracula (NBC Fri 10p, premieres Oct 25): Another show so loosely based on its source material that it only takes the name and major trope, but with the added bonus of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ cringe-inducing facial hair.
Haven (Syfy Fri 10p)
*Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC Tue 8p): How do you do a superhero show without breaking the bank? Just make it about the people who clean up the superheroes’ messes.
Once Upon A Time (ABC Sun 8p): Put Hook in all the eyeliner you want. You still can’t trick me into watching.
*Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (ABC Thu 9p, premieres Oct 10): Fool me once with the utterly toothless Once Upon A Time, shame on you. Fool me twice with an unnecessary spinoff, shame on me.
*The Originals (CW Tue 9p, premieres Oct 3): New Orleans! Sexy vampires! Melodramatic teens! Everything a girl could want.
*The Tomorrow People (CW Wed 9p, premieres Oct 9): It’s about superheroes, an Amell who isn’t Stephen is in it, and it’s a British import. So why am I less than enthused?
Psych: The Musical (USA, premieres Dec 15)
Revolution (NBC Wed 8p): I can only tolerate 1 boring SFF show that fails to deliver on it’s practically gift-wrapped potential per season. What shall it be: Revolution, Grimm, or Once Upon A Time? Discuss amongst yourselves.
*Sleepy Hollow (FOX Mon 9p): OMG. OH. EM. GEE.
Supernatural (CW Tue 9p, premieres Oct 8): Falling angels, Sam’s in the hospital, Abbadon is pissed at Crowley, Cas does laundry in his underwear, poor Dean still needs a hug and a slice of pie, yadda yadda yadda. Can we please talk about how TERRIBLE the CW is at Photoshop?
The Walking Dead (AMC Sun 9p): Once again, I shall sacrifice my sanity for you, dear Tor.com-ers, and review TWD for your reading pleasure/pain.
*Witches of East End (Lifetime Sun 10p, premieres Oct 6): This can only end badly, but it’s a road to hell paved in awesome terribleness.
*Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX Tue 8:30p): A great new sitcom, sure, but where are my laser cats, Andy Samberg?
*The Crazy Ones (CBS Thu 9p): I dunno, it sounds kinda sil— What do you mean James Wolk is in it? Does he wear fish-print short shorts? He better wear fish-print short shorts.
*Dads (FOX Tue 8p): *Sideshow Bob grumble* This show makes me retroactively hate everything Seth Green has ever done. Even Airborne.
*The Goldbergs (ABC Tue 9p): Can we put the Wonder Years trope back on the shelf please?
The Ground Floor (TBS Thu 10p, premieres Nov 14)
Eastbound & Down (HBO Sun 10p)
How I Met Your Mother (CBS Mon 8p): [Insert joke about how it took 8 years for Ted to get to the “mother” part of the ridiculously long story.]
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX Wed 10p): KITTEN MITTENS!
*The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC Thu 9:30p): If this (sweet and mildly funny) sitcom does well, Michael J. Fox might save NBC in real life and fiction.
*The Millers (CBS Thu 8:30p, premieres Oct 3): *deep, sad sigh*
The Mindy Project (FOX Tue 9:30p): It’s never really figured out what kind of show it wants to be or what to do with any of its characters, yet it still manages to make me giggle. Go figure.
*Mom (CBS Mon 9:30p): Remember when everyone thought Anna Faris was going to be the next Lucille Ball? I miss that Anna Faris.
New Girl (FOX Tue 9p): I take back every snarky thing I ever said about this show. I am now more heavily invested in Nick and Jess than I am in my own personal life…
Parks And Recreation (NBC Thu 8p): …but as much as I heart Nick and Jess, I heart Leslie and Ben (and April and Andy) even more. There is nothing that Amy Poehler can’t do.
Saturday Night Live (NBC Sat 11:30p): Only including this so I can gloat that I know some of the new cast members. And by “know” I mean we hung out. Once. At a bar. And I was half drunk. But still. Don’t take this away from me. My only other celebrity connection is my friend’s grandmother’s friend’s daughter who is married to Nick Carter. I NEED THIS.
*Sean Saves The World (NBC Thu 9p, premieres Oct 3)
*Super Fun Night (ABC Wed 9:30p): Still can’t decide if I find Rebel Wilson edgy-funny or edgy-irritating, and this awkward sitcom isn’t helping matters.
Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell (FXX Wed 11p): This dude right here. W. Kamau Bell is all the things.
*Trophy Wife (ABC Tue 9:30p): This season’s challenger against Cougar Town for entertaining comedy with an atrocious name and even worse promos.
*The Blacklist (NBC Mon 10p): It’s as ridiculous as Sleepy Hollow without the endearing charm or willingness to embrace the absurd.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO Sun 9p)
Castle (ABC Mon 10p): Did we learn nothing from when Sam and Diane finally got together?
Criminal Minds (CBS Wed 9p): This show is my television crack.
Elementary (CBS Thu 10p): Another contender in the “Turned Low Expectations into High Results” race that chucks gender/race/orientation norms out the window. Good job, Elementary!
Hawaii Five-O (CBS Fri 9p): This show is also my television crack. And I won’t apologize for that.
Hostages (CBS Mon 10p): With the amount of spoilers in the promos, I feel like I’ve seen the whole series. That would make me less interested in seeing the show if I didn’t have -50 interest level to begin with.
*Ironside (NBC Wed 10p): Diversity! That’s all I’ve got.
*Masters Of Sex (SHO Sun 10p): You had me at “Lizzy Caplan.”
*Reign (CW Thu 9p, premieres Oct 17): Honestly, I can’t believe it took this long for the CW to get around to airing a teen royalty show.
Sons of Anarchy (FX Tue 10p): I love you, Raleigh!
Ghost Mine (Syfy Wed 10p): Because I don’t have enough reality TV on this list. And because Ghostfacers isn’t a real show yet.
*The Hollow Crown (PBS Fri 9p): Ben Whishaw and Tom Hiddleston doing Shakespeare on PBS. How much more do you need to know?
The Legend of Korra (Nick Fri 7p)
Treme (HBO Sun 9p): Oh, Treme, I’ll miss you most of all. You were too precious for this world.
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.