Q: What are five new TV shows that I should be watching this fall?
— Christian Michaels, Arlington, Texas
My favorite new drama pilot this season is “The Blacklist,” which premieres on Monday, September 23 on NBC and stars James Spader as a former government agent who went rogue and has been on the FBI’s most wanted list for more than a decade. The story begins when he walks into FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., and surrenders — with one condition. He makes a deal that he will help the feds catch a terrorist with the stipulation that he is allowed to speak with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a profiler on her first day of work. Why her and why turn himself in now are just two of the questions the series poses in the pilot episode, while law enforcement tracks down the promised terrorist.
If you are into sci-fi, you will want to check out Fox’s “Almost Human,” premiering November 4, starring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy in a high-tech action drama set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with human-like androids. Urban plays a human cop, who has had part of his body replaced by robotics, but still has a major dislike for androids, who is forced to pair with a part-human robot (Ealy) cop, to take down the bad guys.
For fantasy lovers, ABC is introducing its spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” on Thursday, October 10. It begins in Storyville, then moves to the sanitarium where Alice is scheduled to undergo a lobotomy to make her forget her fanciful tales about the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat. But just in time, she gets rescued and is once more down the rabbit hole for adventures in “Wonderland.”
Showtime subscribers will want to check out the premium channel’s newest drama entry, “Masters of Sex,” premiering Sunday, September 29 at 10 p.m. Be forewarned that it is definitely adult viewing as it is the no-holds-barred story of real-life pioneers of human sexuality, William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Veronica Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), and their research that is credited in part for launching the sexual revolution.
On the comedy side, several TV critics are giving a thumbs up to the new NBC “The Michael J. Fox Show,” and CBS’s Robin Williams/Sarah Michelle Gellar “The Crazy Ones,” which will face-off at 9 p.m. ET/8 C on Thursday, September 26.
But my tastes run more to “Sean Saves the World,” premiering on Thursday, October 3, and starring Sean Hayes as a divorced dad, whose 14-year-old daughter moves in with him. This is a new experience for Sean, who has only had visitation rights up until now, so Sean has to learn how to juggle the demands of a teenager with the demands of his new boss at work, and a very pushy mother.
I also recommend checking out “Mom,” premiering Monday, September 23 on CBS from Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory”). It stars Anna Faris as a recently sober single mom trying to raise her two kids, while working as a waitress and dealing with her own mother (Allison Janney), a recovering alcoholic, who has been an absent mom for years, who is also trying to make amends.
There are also a few TV movies you might want to set your DVR to record. First up on September 20 is the Hallmark Channel’s “The Watsons Go to Birmingham,” based on the eponymous novel. Set in the era of the Civil Rights movement, it is the story of a northern African-American family, the Watsons, who make the journey to Birmingham to visit grandma, during a summer of discontent and the lessons they learn.
Then in November, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the National Geographic Channel will air “Killing Kennedy,” based on the best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, starring Rob Lowe as the 35th president, Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie Kennedy and Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald. “Killing Kennedy” will chronicle the time period from 1959 — when Kennedy announced his presidential candidacy and Oswald denounced his American citizenship — to November 22, 1963 when Oswald took the fatal shot that stunned the nation.
Also in November, for fans of “Doctor Who,” BBC America will be airing “The 50th Anniversary Special” on Saturday, November 23, with current and past cast members, including Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, David Tennant, Billie Piper, Joanna Page and John Hurt.