With NBC and ABC blocking off two-thirds of their Monday night line-ups with reality competition programming, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's not much worth tuning into, but there's some still some great new and returning original programming worth catching.
Mom (7:30pm on CBS, premiering September 29)
If you have pre-conceived notions about what a Chuck Lorre sitcoms and you haven't checked out Mom, you definitely should, it may force you to re-evaluate those opinions. In its freshman season, this unconventional comedy proved to be quite fearless, tackling the tricky subject of substance abuse recovery, while also leveraging the fine comic talents of stars Allison Janney and Anna Faris. Yes, French Stewart's loony chef is constantly over the top and reminiscent of the worst aspects of 2 Broke Girls and the show never really found good use for the the very funny Nate Corddry but Mom's strengths (including an extremely poignant season finale) far outweigh its weaknesses.
Jane the Virgin (8pm on the CW, premiering October 13)
I know some have been put off by the tongue-in-check title (at least it's better than Selfie, right?) but don't judge this quirky new comedy by its cover or you'll be missing out on something truly special. The vibrant Gina Rodriguez anchors this fetching dramedy which skewers soapy telenovelas in fun and frisky way as the titular Jane, through unfortunate and dramatic circumstances, ends up accidentally inseminated with the sperm of a wealthy, attractive and married man she once shared a kiss with. The show translates these overly dramatic plot points into heartfelt comedy. It's easily one of the best new shows premiering this fall.
Sleepy Hollow (8pm on Fox, premiering September 22)
There were lots of snickers when this show was greenlit, but Sleepy Hollow has proven that a goofy concept can easily be matched by cracking execution. This unconventional adaptation has proven to clever and heaps o' fun. Co-stars Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie have a glorious platonic chemistry that's on display beautifully in the second season's opening episodes and, not for nothing, this has snuck by as one of the most diverse casts on network television. It's been a long wait since the massive cliffhanger the show aired back in January, but this sophomore season starts out with guns blazing, continuing to make it a delectable hour of escapism and the perfect way to unwind on a Monday evening.
The Big Bang Theory (7pm on CBS, premiering September 22)
Eight season in, you've probably already decided how you feel about this juggernaut of a sitcom. Personally, I'm still hooked thanks to the refreshingly peppy ladies in the ensemble who continuously make me forget that the fellas are just recycling the same old stories they went through in the early years of the series.
Gotham (7pm on Fox, premiering September 22)
Okay, I'll say this first: this is not a good pilot. That doesn't, however, mean that there aren't good things in it. For starters, Donal Logue is so good as a dirty cop with a heart of gold and partner to future Gotham City police chief (and current detective) James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) that he's almost reason enough to stick with this series, despite its bumps. Robin Taylor is similarly impressive os Oswald Cobblepot (for the uninitiated, he eventually becomes The Penguin). Still, the conceit of this series, which sets up a rogues gallery in training of Batman supervillains alongside a recently orphaned Bruce Wayne, doesn't quite seem on solid ground. As an audience well aware of The Dark Knight mythos, we know none of these villains will rise to their for many years, so what exactly will be tuning in to watch each week? Poison Ivy practicing her botany? Selina Kyle as a not quite accomplished cat burglar? At best this seems like a seedy police procedural peopled with characters that we know will become more interesting years from now. As a fan of comics and Batman and, as you might have guessed, Donal Logue, I really want this to be great show but I'm still waiting to see something worth getting excited about.