It’s that time of year again – 95% of the new network crop has already premiered, and most of them are well underway. Only one show, the awful Made in Jersey (formerly Fridays 9pm, CBS), has bitten the dust already, and a few others aren’t far behind. This fall has been less plentiful than others, offering just twenty pilots thus far, and, among them, there are hits and there are duds. It’s not too late to catch up on any of the new fall series, and here are the ones worth watching.
Honorable mentions: The pilot of Last Resort (Thursdays 8pm, ABC) was pretty cool, but the concept just isn’t sustainable. The writing on Arrow (Wednesdays 8pm, CW) leaves much to be desired, but it could well be a hipper new Smallville.
#5: Vegas (Tuesdays 10pm, CBS)
Broadcast networks don’t exactly have a stellar track record with period dramas the way that networks like HBO and AMC do. After an uncertain start, this take on 1960s Las Vegas has established itself as heavily stylized and highly competent, embellishing its characters, particularly Michael Chiklis’ gangster Vincent Savino, and turning what initially seemed like an eternal two-man conflict into a richer, fuller series.
#4: Ben and Kate (Tuesdays 8:30pm, FOX)
Far less nutty than Raising Hope, which airs at 8pm, and a little less hip than New Girl, which airs at 9pm, this show about adult siblings is surprising fun. Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson play wonderfully off of each other, bringing childish antics to a stable and heartwarming show. Lucy Punch has a fun supporting role, and it’s endearing to see a family dynamic that isn’t as painfully forced as The New Normal.
#3: Nashville (Wednesdays 10pm, ABC)
At this point, this show is still just getting started, but it demonstrated extraordinary lasting power with its pilot. Pitting Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere’s country stars against each other makes for a fantastically juicy and exciting dynamic, and the supporting plotlines seem bountiful as well. If this show delivers on its potential, it will definitely become must-see television.
#2: The Mindy Project (Tuesdays 9:30pm, FOX)
Departed from a fading The Office, Mindy Kaling has found her funk as the creator and star of her own comedy, which isn’t necessarily creative or overly clever, but still ranks as the fall’s funniest new show. Chris Messina’s flirtatious nemesis is the biggest reason to watch, but the show’s entire ensemble seems capable, particularly with excitable romantic Mindy at the helm.
#1: Elementary (Thursdays 10pm, CBS)
The last thing CBS needed was another procedural, but this modern-day update of Sherlock Holmes is New York City is both inventive and engaging. Jonny Lee Miller is superb as the antisocial genius Sherlock, and Lucy Liu makes a good foil as the more diplomatic Watson. The show’s cases are especially well thought-out, and this is easily the most enthralling detective show since Monk.