Every new TV show

of fall 2016, ranked

The 2016 fall TV season is one of the best in recent memory, with a surprising number of promising new shows debuting on all manner of networks. Of course, that's because there are so many new shows overall — nearly 70 in total.

Vox's TV critics, Caroline Framke and Todd VanDerWerff, watched all 44 of the new fall series they were able to screen and ranked them from best to worst.

Check out the (sortable!) results below to decide for yourself which shows to watch and which ones to skip.

Note: Showtimes listed are in EST.


I want to watch that

1

Insecure

Debuts: Sunday, October 9, at 10:30 pm on HBO

Issa Rae was a highly sought-after talent after the success of her 2011 webseries The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and her long-awaited new HBO series Insecure proves why. Co-created with Larry Wilmore, Insecure is a sharp comedy about a fictionalized version of Rae who’s grappling with a static relationship and the realities of often being the only black woman in the room — especially at her job doing inner-city youth outreach, where she’s surrounded by white people who insist they’re enlightened even as they treat her with kid gloves. Alongside her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), Issa learns how to be the most confident version of herself, whether by rapping at her own reflection in the mirror to hype herself up before going out or by opening up to her kind (if aimless) boyfriend. Every episode of Insecure is better than the one before, and director Melina Matsoukas makes every frame of its south Los Angeles setting shine.

Runtime: 30 minutes

2

Atlanta

Debuted: Tuesday, September 6, at 10 pm on FX

There’s nothing on television quite like Atlanta, which is not something we say lightly, given how many TV shows exist in this era of Peak TV. Former Community star Donald Glover — who left the show in its fifth season to work on his own projects — returns to his hometown of Atlanta to give viewers a glimpse of what life is actually like for a specific swath of the city’s residents, many of whom are poor and black and rarely seen on television. Per Glover, Atlanta doesn’t have a traditional writers’ room; his all-black writing team swaps stories and then write based on their conversations. And director Hiro Murai didn’t have much TV experience when he signed on. As a result, Atlanta is unique and incredibly intimate. With Glover’s big-dreaming Earnest "Earn" Marks anchoring the show, Atlanta is funny, surreal, and entirely its own.

Runtime: 30 minutes

3

Speechless

Debuted: Wednesday, September 21, at 8:30 pm on ABC

Speechless is the best new network comedy of the fall because it manages to make a family sitcom feel like a brand new concept. The show kicks off as the DiMeo clan makes its umpteenth move to a fancier school district — the better to accommodate their teenage son J.J. (Micah Fowler), who has cerebral palsy and communicates by typing words into a touchscreen computer. The cast is fantastic, with strong anchors in Fowler as J.J. and Minnie Driver as the mom who makes sure J.J. is taken care of, no matter how aggressive she needs to get. And with a joke-packed script from former Friends producer Scott Silveri — whose brother has cerebral palsy — it’s immediately self-assured and full of heart.

Runtime: 30 minutes

4

Queen Sugar

Debuted: Tuesday, September 6, on OWN

TV doesn’t get much more lush than Queen Sugar, OWN’s sweeping new drama from Selma director Ava DuVernay. Inspired by Natalie Baszile’s novel of the same name, the series tells the story of a Louisiana family struggling to not only keep itself together after the death of the patriarch but also maintain the endangered sugar plantation he left behind. DuVernay — who directed the first two episodes — has a keen eye for both atmosphere and talent, and the combination of her direction and incredible performances from Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, and Kofi Siriboe as the three siblings make Queen Sugar one of the fall’s most promising new offerings.

Runtime: one hour

5

Pitch

Debuted: Thursday, September 22, at 9 pm on Fox

The best broadcast network drama pilot of the fall opens this cheesy series about the first woman to join Major League Baseball, as a pitcher with a wicked screwball. Cheese would normally be a demerit, but a few genres can tolerate high levels of it, and the sports drama is absolutely one of them. As the pitcher, Kylie Bunbury nails every aspect of a tricky situation, while Mark Paul Gosselaar is terrific as the industry vet you just know will take the kid under his wing. Feel-good TV sometimes gets a bad rap; hopefully, Pitch will change that.

Runtime: one hour

6

Better Things

Debuted: Thursday, September 8, on FX

From the mind of Pamela Adlon (Louie) comes Better Things, a wry and deeply felt series about a single mother named Sam (Adlon) who’s raising three daughters — ranging in age from 4 to 16 years old — while pursuing an acting career. But that premise makes the show sound a whole lot more basic than it is, thanks to Adlon’s particularly spiky humor and mature performances from her TV offspring (Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, and Olivia Edward), who all remind you in their own ways that kids can be hilarious, mean, selfish, and loving, all at once.

Runtime: 30 minutes

7

The Good Place

Debuted: Monday, September 19, at 10 pm on NBC. Moved to Thursdays at 8:30 pm on September 22.

One of the fall’s most promising new comedies is also one of its strangest. Kristen Bell plays a woman who mistakenly ends up in "the Good Place," a.k.a. heaven, after she dies, and must hide the reality of her selfish life on Earth to keep herself out of "the bad place." This tricky-to-execute concept likely would’ve proved too much for a shakier creative team to handle, but Bell and her co-star Ted Danson — who essentially plays the Good Place’s concierge — have plenty sharp and wonderfully irreverent material to work with thanks to creator Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation, The Office). Keep a close eye on the set’s background; there are jokes and sight gags everywhere.

Runtime: 30 minutes

8

The Crown

Debuts: Friday, November 4, on Netflix

Queen Elizabeth II has had quite the life, and this new series from acclaimed screenwriter Peter Morgan (who checked in on her earlier in the Oscar-winning film The Queen) attempts to trace her life from shortly before she became queen to the present. It’s an ambitious plan, but in The Crown’s earliest hours, the series offers the sort of sumptuous visuals and restrained performances that films made from Morgan’s scripts are often known for. It’s too early to tell, but this feels like something that could win every Emmy in existence. (This is both a good and bad thing.)

Runtime: one hour

9

One Mississippi

Debuted: Friday, September 9, on Amazon

Comedian Tig Notaro, more or less playing herself, returns home to Mississippi in the wake of her mother’s death, where she’s forced to reconnect with a stepfather and brother she probably doesn’t know as well as she should. Moving and affecting, the series has a dreamy tone evokes grief and longing without pushing too hard, and even if Notaro isn’t the world’s greatest actress, she’s taken a lesson from many, many other comedian-centered shows and surrounded herself with a cast that balances out her weaknesses.

Runtime: 30 minutes

10

Fleabag

Debuted: Friday, September 16, on Amazon

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s six-episode series has already aired in the UK, but Amazon’s decision to bring the bracing comedy stateside is cause for celebration. The show is adapted from her stage play of the same name, and Waller-Bridge stars as the title character — a witty, angry, and often miserable woman who’s trying to keep her shit together after a pair of recent deaths in her life, while those around her try to brush them off and move on. Fleabag speaks directly to the audience in between scenes, twisting a traditional voiceover to make it more intimate, more conspiratorial. And Waller-Bridge is so much fun to watch that you might not realize until the end of each episode that her story is downright devastating.

Runtime: 30 minutes

11

Designated Survivor

Debuted: Wednesday, September 21, at 10 pm on ABC

Kiefer Sutherland — he of action hero stardom on 24 — sets down the guns and puts on a pair of glasses to play an unlikely president; surprisingly, it works, thanks to Sutherland’s underrated acting talents. On Designated Survivor, he’s the secretary of housing and urban development who is thrust into the presidency when a bomb hits the US Capitol during the State of the Union address, killing almost the entire government. The stuff where the Kief cosplays The West Wing is riveting; the investigation into who was behind the bombing is less so.

Runtime: one hour

12

Marvel’s Luke Cage

Debuted: Friday, September 30, on Netflix

The next entry in Netflix’s rapidly expanding corner of the Marvel universe throws Luke Cage (Mike Colter) into his own distinctive story, after his introduction on 2015’s Jessica Jones. As helmed by Southland’s Cheo Hodari Coker, Luke Cage dives into Luke’s side of the story by way of its Harlem setting, from its barbershops and jazz clubs to the dark alleyways where the bulletproof vigilante corners bad guys. The show is slow going at first, but its distinctive gold-drenched lighting, commitment to telling a story about a specifically black superhero, and strong performances from Colter as Cage and Alfre Woodard as a morally ambiguous local politician help set it apart from anything else Marvel’s put out so far.

Runtime: one hour

13

This Is Us

Debuted: Tuesday, September 20, at 10 pm on NBC. Moves to Tuesdays at 9 pm on October 11.

Four people who share the same birthday — in that they’re all turning 36 on the same day — share a surprising connection (no spoilers!) in a series that aims for warm and winning and occasionally gets there. The rest of the time it’s corny as hell, but thanks to a solid cast and good writing, it should find its way to its best self if given enough time. A low-key drama like this hasn’t really been a big hit in ... ever, but the series’ trailer has been viewed 64 million times on Facebook, so maybe this is the one.

Runtime: one hour

14

Westworld

Debuted: Sunday, October 2, at 9 pm on HBO

Some of the folks who brought you CBS’s criminally underrated Person of Interest revamp the early ’70s sci-fi film about a theme park overrun with killer robots. Only they’re telling the story from the point of view of the robots — which are slowly awakening to the fact that they are essentially created to be used and abused by the theme park’s visitors. The series’ first two episodes feel a bit as if they’re waiting for the real fun to begin, but as a robot slowly waking up to herself, Evan Rachel Wood is tremendous.

Runtime: one hour

15

Versailles

Debuted: Saturday, October 1, at 10 pm on Ovation

The latest European import from Ovation — an arts channel you may or may not have — is a French-Canadian-British co-production that returns to the days of France’s King Louis XIV. The series chronicles the monarch’s desperate attempts to hold off the nobles who want him dead while also building the palace of his dreams outside of Paris, in the little town of Versailles. TV doesn’t really need another historical drama at this point in time, but this one is somewhat interesting because it seems to be as much about interior design as it is drawing up battle plans. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Runtime: one hour

16

Quarry

Debuted: Friday, September 6, at 10 pm on Cinemax

A Vietnam vet returns home after his second tour of duty, only to find that things have changed and leaving the war behind isn’t as easy as it seemed. Logan Marshall-Green is compelling as the protagonist, and Quarry’s embrace of a 1970s aesthetic makes for a suitably grimy and washed-out series. Its periodic bursts of violence are always unexpected and artfully filmed. But the show has a problem with tonal variance, tending to roll along in the same gear for much of its eight-episode first season.

Runtime: one hour

17

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Debuts: Saturday, October 22, at 9 pm on BBC America

A man who solves metaphysical mysteries by transcending space and time? And he’s got a British accent? No, you’re not looking at the latest Doctor Who spinoff — though the books this series is based on were originally inspired by author Douglas Adams’s work on that long-running series. You’re looking at Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, in which Samuel Barnett (as the title character) and Elijah Wood (as his new friend and companion) attempt to puzzle out various problems in the space-time continuum. It’s alternately engaging and far too spastic — as anything in the vague vicinity of Doctor Who should be.

Runtime: one hour

18

Easy

Debuted: Friday, September 23, on Netflix

Indie director Joe Swanberg gathers some of his famous friends — including Orlando Bloom and Malin Akerman — for a freewheeling series about love and relationships, set in and around Chicago. Do you really need another show about upper-middle-class white people dealing with their existential ennui? Probably not, but Swanberg’s sharp eye for details and keen ear for dialogue, as well as the fact that every episode follows new characters, make Easy at least worth a look.

Runtime: 30 minutes

19

Divorce

Debuts: Sunday, October 9, at 10 pm on HBO

Few new shows have as much bite as Divorce, a comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church as a married couple who decide to split up ... and then go about detangling their respective lives in just about the messiest way possible. The premiere is unsteady, with the tone shifting in seemingly every other scene, and the show wavers on whether Parker and Church’s characters are unbearably selfish or relatably flawed. But if you know anything about series creator Sharon Horgan — who’s also a co-creator of Amazon’s ruthlessly funny Catastrophe — this ambiguity is almost definitely the point. Divorce may just need some time to settle into her voice and, like its characters, figure out what it wants.

Runtime: 30 minutes

20

Good Girls Revolt

Debuts: Friday, October 28, on Amazon

This journalism drama about the real-life fight by women to gain credit for their work at Newsweek (reimagined here as "News of the Week") doesn’t exactly boast subtlety. In some ways, that’s good, especially when the series reminds viewers of the casual sexism that was de rigueur in ’60s and ’70s workplaces. But it’s less good when the characters are boldly stating their every thought and hauling all of the subtext into the text. Still, Good Girls Revolt is rousing, with a solid cast.

Runtime: one hour

21

People of Earth

Debuts: Monday, October 31, at 9 pm on TBS

TBS has been stepping up its comedy game of late — most notably with the weekly late-night show Full Frontal and the scripted family sitcom The Detour, both produced by Samantha Bee and Jason Jones — and it’s looking to continue that trend this fall. People of Earth assigns a skeptical journalist (Wyatt Cenac) to profile a support group for people who say they’ve been abducted by aliens, and, much to his surprise, they turn out to be telling the truth. The first episode is bizarre, but mostly on purpose, and watching a deadpan Cenac bounce off Ana Gasteyer’s support group leader is a hoot. It’s too early to tell if the show will be a fun surprise or an odd disappointment, but our money’s on the former.

Runtime: 30 minutes

22

Eyewitness

Debuts: Sunday, October 16, at 10 pm on USA

America has become incredibly fond of remaking Scandinavian crime dramas. First there was The Killing, followed by The Bridge and Those Who Kill and many others. The latest is this USA series, based on the Norwegian show Øyevitne, which is about two kids who witness a massacre, the criminals trying to find them, and the sheriff trying to solve what happened. There’s nothing new here, but the great Julianne Nicholson plays the sheriff. So that’s something.

Runtime: one hour

23

The Exorcist

Debuted: Friday, September 23, at 9 pm on Fox

The classic ’70s scarefest gets reimagined for the 2000s as, of all things, a family drama with occasional bumps in the night. Geena Davis stars as a woman who’s convinced there’s something very wrong with her daughter — you get 10 points if you can guess what! — and Alfonso Herrera plays the priest who gets drawn ever deeper into a demonic web. It’s unclear how Fox will stretch this story across 13 episodes, but pivoting to make it more about the family and less about the demons that are (maybe) possessing them is a smart call.

Runtime: one hour

24

Goliath

Debuts: Friday, October 14, on Amazon

Most of the attention surrounding this serialized legal drama — which follows one case all season long, like Damages or Murder in the First before it — will probably be paid to its dynamite cast. And with well-known actors like Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt, and Maria Bello in the mix, it’s easy to see why. But the real attraction is writer David E. Kelley. A genuine giant of the TV industry in the ’90s, he’s struggled to adapt to the post-Sopranos world of serialized dramas and antiheroes; with Goliath and a twisty, complicated protagonist played by Thornton, he’s making his biggest stab at relevancy in years.

Runtime: one hour

25

Timeless

Debuted: Monday, October 3, at 10 pm on NBC

Timeless essentially makes time travel the basis for a crime procedural, with a crack team composed of a professor, a scientist, and a military operative regularly going back in time to stop a shady criminal (Goran Visnjic) from rewriting crucial historical events. The premiere kicks off with the Hindenberg disaster, and the show’s attempt to give it weight while time travelers scuttle around is just so over-the-top ridiculous. But if the too-self-serious Timeless ever realizes how silly its premise is, the show could be a whole lot of fun. Reasons to give it a chance include leads Abigail Spencer (Rectify) and Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), as well as creators Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Get Down).

Runtime: one hour

26

Lethal Weapon

Debuted: Wednesday, September 21, at 8 pm on Fox

Fox’s fall programming strategy hinges on two movies remade as TV series, and this is the lesser of the two. But at least the casting is good! Damon Wayans is great as "getting too old for this shit" Murtaugh (Danny Glover in the 1987 movie), while Clayne Crawford of Rectify fame has a lot of fun as wildcat Riggs (Mel Gibson in the original). But there’s no way the show isn’t a completely generic cop drama by episode five or six.

Runtime: one hour

27

Frequency

Debuted: Wednesday, October 5, at 9 pm on The CW

Why did The CW make a TV show out of the 2000 movie about a son and his dead father reconnecting via a ham radio that allows for communication through time? Who knows, but the series’ goofy time travel mechanics — which allow for the past to be changed, then ripple slowly forward into the future, Back to the Future style — make for a show that is stupid but still kind of fun. Who knows where Frequency will go in future episodes, but the pilot has its moments.

Runtime: one hour

28

Loosely Exactly Nicole

Debuted: Monday, September 5, on MTV

Just like the title promises, Loosely Exactly Nicole is a pretty nebulous show, starring Nicole Byer as a scripted version of herself as she tries to succeed as an actress, and, well, that’s about it. But Byer is brimming with charisma in every scene, bringing hilarity to even the simplest moments where she’s just hanging out with her aimless friends. If the show can keep playing to her strengths, it’ll be in good shape.

Runtime: 30 minutes

29

The Great Indoors

Debuts: Thursday, October 7, at 8:30 pm on CBS

Joel McHale stars in "Millennials, Amirite?": The TV Show, with all the smugness he can muster. The former Community star plays Jack, an intrepid outdoorsman who, thanks to budget cuts at the struggling wilderness magazine he writes for, is forced into giving up his dangerous reporting missions for a desk job at the magazine’s offices. Once a thrill-seeking field reporter, he now he spends most of his time lecturing a slate of young "content curators" about the world outside their screens. There could have been something fun about this workplace comedy — it even has Stephen Fry as Jack’s boss! — but it mostly just ends up patting itself on the back.

Runtime: 30 minutes

30

MacGyver

Debuted: Friday, September 23, at 8 pm on CBS

Why do a new version of MacGyver, the ’80s and ’90s action series about the guy who solves problems without a gun? CBS’s response to that question seems to be, "Well, why not?" The updated series is a mostly serviceable reboot of the earlier program, but new lead Lucas Till has nothing on original MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson, and the show can’t ever escape its "fourth best new show of 1987" vibe, right down to the final scene, where all of the regular cast members joke around about the events of that week’s episode.

Runtime: one hour

31

Son of Zorn

Debuted: Sunday, September 11, on Fox

This weirdo new addition to Fox’s Sunday comedy block has one of the most bizarre premises of any show on this list. Its star is the animated character Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), a cruder version of He-Man who somehow managed to leave his cartoon world for a spell and have a kid with a human woman (Cheryl Hines) on Earth. Now that their son is a (fully human) teen, Zorn decides to take a break from slaying dragons to get to know him. Watching the animated, hulking Zorn lumber around the live-action world can be fun — think of how Who Framed Roger Rabbit? mixed the two formats — but the show is mostly clunky and confusing, like it’s scrambling to understand its own concept.

Runtime: 30 minutes

32

Kevin Can Wait

Debuted: Monday, September 19, at 8:30 pm on CBS

Chances are you can guess what Kevin Can Wait is like without knowing much about it beyond the fact that it stars Kevin James. The comedian is well-versed in the multi-cam sitcom format thanks to The King of Queens, which ran for nine seasons in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and Kevin Can Wait is as straight-up as it gets. James plays a newly retired cop whose family keeps him busy enough that — as he repeatedly grumbles throughout the first episode — he might as well still be working. Erinn Hayes does as much as she can with the role of his chill wife, and James know where his strengths are, making Kevin Can Wait a perfectly decent way to spend half an hour, even if it won’t be a particularly interesting one.

Runtime: 30 minutes

33

Pure Genius

Debuts: Thursday, October 27, at 10 pm on CBS

A weird trend in the last TV development season centered on stories about billionaires who take over assorted typical TV workplaces, to improve them by using the twin wonders of money and technology. This overstuffed and bland medical drama is one of the two shows that actually got picked up as a result of that trend. From Friday Night Lights’ Jason Katims, of all people, Pure Genius falls prey to turning its medical technology into, essentially, magic.

Runtime: one hour

34

Notorious

Debuted: Thursday, September 22, at 9 pm on ABC

There are better new dramas than Notorious, ABC’s series about the inner workings of the cable news industry, the showrunner who helms a particularly influential program within that industry (played by Piper Perabo), and the high-level connections that get her the most salacious stories. But only a few of them are having as much fun. Sure, the show is ABC’s latest attempt to recreate the banter-filled magic of Shonda Rhimes’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal (though Rhimes is not involved), and, yeah, the entire show would probably come apart if you pulled at one of its many stray plot threads. But Notorious knows it’s a primetime soap and isn’t ashamed to embrace that fact, so you’re bound to find something entertaining if you turn your brain over to its bonkers logic for an hour.

Runtime: one hour

35

Crisis in Six Scenes

Debuted: Friday, September 30, on Amazon

Woody Allen’s first foray into television has been a highly anticipated one — for better and for worse, given the director’s controversial history. But sadly, the series isn't worth the hype. Set in the 1960s, Crisis in Six Scenes stars Allen and Elaine May as a suburban couple whose worldviews are rocked when a younger flower child (Miley Cyrus) comes to stay with them. Soon enough, it seems, her dispatches from the world outside their tidy front lawns have their whole town in an uproar. Allen has never made a TV show before, so Crisis in Six Scenes will be notable regardless of the fact that it's not very good.

Runtime: 30 minutes

36

Falling Water

Debuts: Thursday, October 13, at 10 pm on USA

USA has been on a bit of a hot streak recently, with the Emmy-nominated Mr. Robot, the underrated alien drama Colony, and even the silly summer fun of drug dealer drama Queen of the South. Sadly, that stalls out a bit with this new series, which posits that humanity’s dreams aren’t expressions of our subconscious but, rather, visits to an alternate world that we all share and can visit each other in. It aims for the sort of atmospheric weirdness that made Twin Peaks and Lost so good, but it only gets about a third of the way there.

Runtime: one hour

37

No Tomorrow

Debuted: Tuesday, October 4, at 9 pm on The CW

There’s no reason why No Tomorrow — a quirky romantic comedy about a Type A woman who falls for a free-spirited man who thinks the world is ending in eight months — should be as bad as its first episode. And yet here we are. Almost every scene prompts a "huh?" reaction, whether because of its scattered tone, Tori Anderson’s flat acting in the lead female role, or downright bizarre "punchlines" that feel more like parodies of bad tropes than actual jokes. No Tomorrow doesn’t even know how to use the considerable charms of leading man Joshua Sasse (Galavant), which might be its most confusing element of all.

Runtime: one hour

38

Chance

Debuts: Wednesday, October 19, on Hulu

This drama about a forensic psychologist dealing with potentially deadly patients goes out to all the fans of grim television out there. It opens with a lengthy montage of instances where the dear doctor (played by House’s Hugh Laurie) has failed his patients, leaving them to lives of horrible desperation. And it only gets darker from there! That might sound like your cup of tea, but so far, Chance is so over the top with its melodrama that it’s impossible to take seriously.

Runtime: one hour

39

Mary + Jane

Debuted: Monday, September 5, on MTV

Unapologetic and even raunchy women are more visible than ever on TV, and it makes sense that MTV would want to cash in the success of shows like Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer. The problem comes when the desperate yearning to capitalize on a trend overshadows the actual product. Enter Mary + Jane, a comedy about two best friends trying to start a pot delivery business that’s far more forced than funny. Maybe it’ll figure itself out eventually, but it’s off to a rough start.

Runtime: 30 minutes

40

Bull

Debuted: Tuesday, September 20, at 9 pm on CBS

Have you always wondered what Dr. Phil McGraw did before he became a TV star? Would you be willing to watch a legal procedural that’s more or less about a young Dr. Phil (though here, he’s known as just "Bull")? Are you still sad that Michael Weatherly left NCIS? Then Bull is probably the show for you. But many people may find this tale of a psychologist using his eerie ability to read people by paying attention to their facial expressions to help defense lawyers rig juries just a little morally queasy and not executed well enough to be worth that queasiness.

Runtime: one hour

41

Conviction

Debuted: Monday, October 3, at 10 pm on ABC

Conviction follows a former president’s daughter (Hayley Atwell) as she’s thrust into leading a "Conviction Integrity Unit," a newly created New York department of "lawyers, detectives, and forensic experts" that investigates nebulous court verdicts. The show is exactly as vague as the "CIU" sounds, though it very badly wants to be Scandal for the justice system. The result is a boring slog that thinks it’s doing more interesting work than its paint-by-numbers stories could ever allow. That’s a shame, especially because Atwell, who’s fresh off the recently canceled Agent Carter, deserves a showcase for her talent and winning personality. But Conviction’s got no spark to speak of, even with Atwell doing her darnedest to bring the show’s leaden scenes to life.

Runtime: one hour

42

American Housewife

Debuts: Tuesday, October 11, at 8:30 pm on ABC

The show formerly known as The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport does nothing to add subtlety to the eyebrow-raising premise of its original title. With the help of a chirpy voiceover, Katie (Katy Mixon) tells us all about the high pressures of her white-picket-fence-lined suburb and how the "fattest" woman in her neighborhood is leaving town, abandoning her to fend off the skinny alpha moms herself. The best version of this series could have served up some wry satire and insightful commentary on beauty standards, à la the late (and great) Suburgatory — but instead, the pilot is as flat and uninspired as this summary sounds, especially because Katie turns out to be kind of a monster. Both Mixon and her TV husband Diedrich Bader (Veep) deserve better.

Runtime: 30 minutes

43

Van Helsing

Debuted: Friday, September 23, at 10 pm on Syfy

Van Helsing opens with a prelude on a title card: "2019. Three years after ‘The Rising’ began. Civilization has fallen. Vampires rule the streets." This is an amazing, if completely ridiculous, way to kick off a sci-fi show. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. From the mind of Neil LaBute — yes, as in the acclaimed playwright Neil LaBute — the Van Helsing pilot is impressively generic, relying on just about every sci-fi trope out there. There’s a rugged leading man who doesn’t want friends! A mysterious, attractive woman who’s the key to solving the central mystery! So very much blood! — and never bothering to go any deeper. It’s basically a fanfiction crossover between The Walking Dead and Blindspot, and not in a fun way.

Runtime: one hour

44

Man With a Plan

Debuts: Monday, October 24, at 8:30 pm on CBS

Matt LeBlanc returns to broadcast TV with a series about a man who’s forced to spend time with his children and discovers that, gasp, he’s not a half-bad father after all! LeBlanc is an old pro in front of a live studio audience, but Man With a Plan is too quick to treat his character with enormous adulation for performing basic parenting tasks. (Note: The role of LeBlanc’s wife has been recast, and much of the pilot has been reshot since we screened it. If the new version is somehow the best TV show of all time, we’ll let you know.)

Runtime: 30 minutes