Fall is here, folks, and the new broadcast season officially kicks off Tuesday, September 16 with Fox premiering the new seasons of New Girl and The Mindy Project. So here's my breakdown of what's worth you and your DVR's time on Tuesday nights.
The Flash (7pm on the CW, premieres October 7)
The team that brought us the wildly fun Arrow makes another step towards bringing the Justice League to TV. Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg have already proven that you make a faithful comic book adaptation that's filled with easter eggs and goodies for the nerds, that's still grounded and relatable enough for the newbies. With The Flash, they've taken everything that's made Arrow great and added a nice dose of whimsical fun. Oliver Queen has loads of baggage, but Grant Gustin's Barry Allen is far more smiley superhero and the tonal shift is a welcome change given that DC Comics characters seem to all be super scowly during their recent appearances on film and TV. Gustin leads an impeccably cast ensemble that includes the likes of Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanaugh and even the original TV Flash John Wesley Shipp. It's just a good, fun hour of TV.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (8pm on ABC, premieres September 23)
While it took some time to pick up steam, the post Winter Soldier plot revelations turned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from passive entertainment to appointment television. Time will tell if similar Marvel Cinematic Universe elements will play into the show's sophomore season but there's still plenty of story fuel to burn after last year and plenty of unanswered questions about Coulson and Skye. There's no reason this show shouldn't be packed to the gills with excitement in its second year.
New Girl (8pm on Fox, premieres September 16)
Last season took a notable dip in quality that even creator Liz Meriwether has acknowledged but even in its rockiest moments, this comedic ensemble is still fun to hang out with, especially now that the cancelation of Happy Endings has brought the wildly talented Damon Wayans, Jr. back into the fold. The first couple episodes of season four have the loft-mates and Cece engaging in the goofy shenanigans they're best at without dwelling too much on the soapy antics that have dragged the show down in the past. It's not yet clear that Meriwether and co. have completely shed last year's demons, but so far things are looking quite good. And for the first time ever, I actually genuinely laughed at Jessica Biel (though in truth that has more to do with the writing than the actress).
The Mindy Project (8:30pm on Fox, premieres September 16)
Mindy Kaling's quirky sitcom went full rom-com in the latter half of its second season, which was great for Kaling and her onscreen paramour Chris Messina, though not always so for the rest of the supporting cast. Of course, this has long been an issue with this show and it might be a bigger one if Kaling and Messina weren't just so much fun to watch. Their crackling chemistry continues in the third season premiere as the newly minted couple butts heads over how much they discuss their personal lives with their fellow co-workers.
Ground Floor (9pm on TBS, premieres December 9)
December is ways away but this bubbly multi-cam sitcom is worth getting excited about early. It's first season was sweet, fun and peppered with joyous goodies like Skylar Astin randomly belting out tunes, John C. McGinley doling out pearls of unique wisdom, Rory Scovel being kooky and Briga Heelan being luminous and adorable. Like all shows that bear the stamp of Bill Lawrence, it's full of warmth and laughter and will always leave you with a smile on your face.
Faking It (9:30pm on MTV, premieres September 23)
The set-up for this teen sitcom about a pair of besties that fake being a lesbian couple to gain the attention of their classmates was rife with potential landmines but the first season proved that there was more than meets the eye. Much of this credit goes to Rita Volk, whose Amy was awoken to her own deep-seeded romantic feelings for her BFF on account of the rouse. It's quirky little comedy and after a brief 8-episode first season last spring, I'm definitely thirsty for more.
Selfie (7pm on ABC, premieres September 30)
If this show didn't have the benefit of boasting the talents of writer Emily Kapnek and stars Karen Gillan and John Cho, I probably wouldn't give it the time of day as the pilot isn't much to write home about and that's not even addressing the loathsome trend-chasing of that title. But even without her fetching Scottish brogue, Gillan is quite the charmer and it cannot be stated enough how lovely it is to see an Asian-American actor—especially one with the comedic chops of Cho—playing a romantic lead. Still, this Pygmalion re-make has a long way to go if it wants to set itself apart of this fall's curious trend of mediocre rom-com half-hours.
Marry Me (8pm on NBC, premieres October 14)
Speaking of that troubling trend, here's another entry as Happy Endings creator David Caspe cast his new wife Casey Wilson with Ken Marino as a couple that's struggling to enter the next phase of their relationship. Wilson and Marino are incredibly funny performers and Caspe proved his comedy chops with his previous sitcom, so why is Marry Me's pilot so disappointing? Why does it fail to what this show be like from week to week? Again, if it weren't for the good pedigree of its cast and creator, this is a show I would've given up on after the first half-hour.
Sons of Anarchy (9pm on FX, currently airing)
It's never a good sign when you're looking forward to the end of a show you once loved. But sadly, that's where I find myself with this one. The bloated runtimes, the overly used musical montages, the repetitive storytelling, the inability for any major character to learn from their mistakes, it frequently leaves me exhausted after watching episodes of a show that once exhilarated me. But for all its faults, I'm hoping that the six years of investment I put into this show will pay off. Unfortunately, the early episodes of this season aren't bearing that out. But then, Sons of Anarchy's greatest strength has always been in its finales, so this is one series ender that I expect great things from.
Awkward. (9:30pm on MTV, premieres September 23)
Showrunner hand-offs are tricky things and when Awkward. creator Lauren Iungerich left her teen soap-com after the third season, I was hopeful that the show wouldn't suffer for it. Unfortunately, this was not the case. At first it seemed like things might be okay and they suddenly got very, very not okay as the absurd comic hybrid of My So-Called Life meets Gilmore Girls suddenly began to resemble a horrible version of 90210 (which, shouldn't have been surprising, given that that's where the new showrunners hailed from). By season's end there had been scores of sudsy story lines, from Matty finding out he was adopted to Tamara "Catfishing" Jake post breakup to loony new character Eva stalking everyone at Palos Hills and oh, by the by, she also may have trapped Matty into a long-term commitment by getting knocked up. After the atrocious season finale I don't have a lot of hope that the old Awkward. will return but I'm willing to give it a few more episodes to try.