NEW YORK — Antiquated as it might seem, the fall TV season persists. Here’s what’s on tap:
DON’T I KNOW YOU?
Many of more than two dozen new series may already be familiar, at least by name, to viewers, because the networks have been flogging them all summer. They are familiar to critics, too, who got early copies of many with the proviso that some were “non-reviewable,” because they were subject to change.
So it’s possible CBS’ “The Crazy Ones” ultimately will reveal itself as hilarious and not one of the lamest new comedies. Set at an advertising agency, it brings back Robin Williams to TV sitcoms after “Mork & Mindy” 40 years ago.
NBC has brought back another sitcom veteran with seemingly happier results: Michael J. Fox in a self-named comedy. Addressing the real-life health problems (and triumphs) of this breakout star of “Family Ties” in the 1980s, “The Michael J. Fox Show” strikes a fresh, funny tone.
NBC has further relied on its once-stellar past by reviving the successful cop show “Ironside,” this time with Blair Underwood as the intrepid wheelchair detective.
Fantasy is fueling many new shows. NBC’s “Dracula” stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers in a reimagining of the vampire as a proto-environmentalist. Then there are Fox’s modern-day “Sleepy Hollow,” ABC’s cool, comic-driven “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and ABC’s storybook spinoff, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” which explores the psyche of tumbled-down-the-rabbit-hole Alice.
CW’s “The Originals” spins off “The Vampire Diaries,” while its “The Tomorrow People” is a sci-fi series about a genetically advanced race that also happens to be young and sexy. Fox’s “Almost Human” is a police drama set 35 years in the future.
Youth-skewing CW is jumping on the historical costume-drama trend with “Reign,” which focuses on Mary Stuart, who, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots, had been queen of Scotland since she was six days old.
Another costume drama, of a sort: ABC’s very funny comedy “The Goldbergs,” which revisits the childhood of creator Adam Goldberg in the distant, “simpler” time of the 1980s.
Rare on the lineup is a straight-ahead, humanist comedy-drama. This fall there’s one: ABC’s “Lucky 7,” a potentially charming and engaging series about a group of New Yorkers who share a winning lottery ticket.
ABC’s promisingly titled “Betrayal” is a soap that involves a murder, an affair and a powerful family at war with itself.
CBS’ “Hostages” puts Toni Collette in the middle of a political conspiracy, and possibly the season’s most surefire hit is NBC’s “The Blacklist,” which stars James Spader as one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.
THEY CAN GO HOME AGAIN
Moving back home is an all-too-common trope.
ABC’s “Back in the Game” finds sexy Maggie Lawson as a former all-star softball player who, post-marriage, returns with her son to move in with her irascible father, a washed-up baseball player (James Caan).
“Family Guy” mastermind Seth MacFarlane’s live-action Fox comedy “Dads” focuses on two best friends and business partners whose fathers move back in.
On CBS’ grim-in-spite-of-itself “Mom,” newly sober single mom Christy is suddenly inflicted with the return of her estranged mom (Allison Janney), who didn’t serve as much of a parental example.
On NBC’s “Sean Saves the World,” Sean Hayes plays a divorced dad with an overbearing mom (Linda Lavin) and a weekends-only 14-year-old daughter who moves in with him full time.
On CBS’ “The Millers,” Will Arnett stars as a recently divorced local TV news reporter whose outspoken mother moves in with him while his dad moves in with his sister.
On CBS’ promising “We Are Men,” three divorced men bond and offer dating advice to a young pal whose betrothed left him at the altar.
On “Trophy Wife,” Pete (Bradley Whitford) has two broken marriages behind him when he lucks upon lovely Kate (Malin Akerman), who, on becoming Pete’s third bride, suddenly finds herself in a sort-of blended family with three stepchildren and two ex-wives. ABC is surely dreaming may qualify this show as a hit akin to “Modern Family.”
A strong contender for silliest new show is “Enlisted.” It’s a military comedy set in the not-so-funny modern age of war.
NOT SO FUNNY
Fox’s cop comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” arrives as perhaps the season’s biggest disappointment, not because it isn’t funny but because it doesn’t measure up to the comedic brilliance of its star, Andy Samberg, nor does it do right by its other leading man, acclaimed dramatic actor Andre Braugher.
Arguably the most depressing new sitcom: NBC’s “Welcome to the Family,” in which a Stanford University-bound whiz kid learns his bubble-head girlfriend, who barely got out of high school, is pregnant with his child.
And on ABC’s comedy “Super Fun Night,” plus-size creator-star Rebel Wilson plays Kimmie, a lawyer who hangs out with her two best girlfriends every Friday night, to the exclusion of the rest of the world and its inhabitants — at least, until they decide to spice up their social lives.
Wilson obliterates the comedy by overplaying it, using her heft as a comic blunt instrument. Like Kimmie, she just tries too hard to please. It’s a familiar condition among the broadcast networks in their latest round of an aging tradition.