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We grade the good, the bad and the ugly from the fall schedule

Shaun Harrison
1 of 18 Sarah Shatz/NBC; Jessica Miglio/FOX; Mitchell Haaseth/ABC


So many new shows, so little time! The fall TV graveyard is already littered with casualties — RIP, Manhattan Love Story, A to Z, Bad Judge and Selfie — but what about those still standing? Let's assess the remaining fall lineup to see which shows are worth keeping on your DVR and which you can safely skip.
2 of 18 Greg Gayne/ABC

Black-ish (ABC)

The Good: Witty and relatable, Black-ish is both a great throwback family sitcom and a modern, astute commentary on race and black culture (see: "The Nod") with fully drawn characters. Marcus Scribner, in particular, as Junior is a tremendous find. The Bad: The show sometimes falls back on the classic sitcom misunderstanding that blows out of proportion. And give us more Laurence Fishburne, please! Grade: A
3 of 18 Quantrell Colbert/NBC

Constantine (NBC) )

The Good: With his brooding quirk and dry humor, Matt Ryan is great in the lead role (and he's pretty much helped us forget that terrible Keanu Reeves movie). But we're equally impressed with Harold Perrineau as Constantine's tough guardian angel Manny. Plus: It's nice to have at least one comic book drama that isn't about guys in tights. The Bad: Mixing the leading man's charm with the show's dark and mysterious subject matter sometimes leaves the overall product feeling muddled and uneven. Also, Charles Halford's Chas and Angélica Celaya's Zed often feel tacked on to the action. We know it's Constantine's show, but developing his circle of friends is a must. Grade: C
4 of 18 Adam Taylor/ABC

Cristela (ABC)

The Good: Cristela Alonzo has charisma for days and is singlehandedly carrying the show, which has tackled issues like equal pay without being preachy. The Bad: Maybe it's because of Alonzo's stand-up background, but Cristela often feels like a collection of one-liners. Then there's Felix (Carlos Ponce), whose incessant takedowns of Cristela are redundant and unfunny. Grade: C+
5 of 18 Cate Cameron/The CW

The Flash (The CW)

The Good: Superheroes don't have to be all doom and gloom. Fun and light, The Flash is a welcome change of pace from the broody grittiness of recent comic book-based dramas, like its parent series Arrow. The impossibly adorable Grant Gustin has also managed to make Barry Allen a relatable everyman who just so happened to be blessed with super-speed. The Bad: The show hasn't developed much of a mythology yet, which has kept the stakes tediously low. Grade: A-
6 of 18 Patrick Harbron/ABC

Forever (ABC)

The Good: A silly, upbeat whodunit, Forever is an easy, enjoyable watch if you just go with its ridiculous premise. Extra points for recognizing that the most interesting relationship isn't the potential romance between Henry (Ioan Gruffudd) and Jo (Alan de la Garza) — which, it must be said, has not been telegraphed — but the one between youthful immortal father Henry and his septuagenarian BFF/adopted son Abe (Judd Hirsch). Plus: Naked Ioan Gruffudd FTW! The Bad: Forever can get bogged down by Henry's mysterious stalker caller and fellow immortal "Adam." A show that doesn't take itself too seriously doesn't need excessive melodrama. Grade: B
7 of 18 Jessica Miglio/Fox

Gotham (Fox)

The Good: The show has a crackerjack cast that, for the most part, is having a lot of fun with the show's heightened drama. (Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin is a definite standout.) Plus: The writers have pulled back slightly at all the winking nods to the Batman lore, and the show has proven its most engaging when it drops the case-of-the-week conceit (see also: "The Penguin's Umbrella.") The Bad: The show has yet to get its wildly vacillating tone under control, which continues to result in dialogue that is more laughable than hard-boiled. Plus: The show has introduced many intriguing future villains, but at the moment we're stuck with Jada Pinkett Smith's hammy Fish Mooney. (Apologies for the mixed-protein descriptor.) Grade: B
8 of 18 Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

The Good: Shondaland has done it again! With its built-in mystery, (over-)hyped promos ("You don't wanna miss Viola Davis' last nine words!") and insane twists (those nine words: "Why is your penis on a dead girl's phone?"), Murder has become obsessively watchable event TV. And Viola Davis is divine. The Bad: The cases of the week and the show's legal know-how are flimsy at best and implausible at worst. After the midseason finale Murder Night reveal, can the drama can maintain its intrigue and story momentum without relying on deadly flash-forward teases? Grade: B+
9 of 18 Greg Gayne/The CW

Jane the Virgin (CW)

The Good: Star Gina Rodriguez is as talented as she is adorable, and we can't take our eyes off her. In fact, there's no weak link in the ensemble: Andrea Naved and Jaime Camil, in particular, have been pitch-perfect as Jane's parents. And despite all its Telenovela trappings, this show has a huge heart, which makes it instantly relatable. The Bad: The Jane-Michael-Rafael triangle was a little too one-sided, as evidenced by Jane and Rafael's recent smooch. Plus, telenovela or not, the murder subplot feels kind of out of place. Grade: A
10 of 18 Barbara Nitke/CBS

Madam Secretary (CBS)

The Good: After a few cut-and-dried procedural episodes, the series has become more serialized as it embraces the mystery of whether Elizabeth's (Tea Leoni) predecessor was murdered. Between that and Henry's (Tim Daly) moonlighting work with the NSA, the show has found better (read: less boring) stories than those strictly about diplomacy. Plus: We're delighted to see that Elizabeth and Henry's married is layered, complex and happy. The Bad: The case-of-the-week stories are often dry and very often heavy-handed. (And it might be a little more believable if, for once, Elizabeth couldn't solve every problem put in front of her so easily.) And while we appreciate the levity provided by the romantic tension between Elizabeth's staffers Matt and Daisy, they can be grating. Grade: B
11 of 18 Colleen Hayes/NBC

Marry Me (NBC)

The Good: Casey Wilson and Ken Marino make a amusing, believable couple, and the show's antics are wacky fun. The Bad: Said antics were wackier and funnier on Happy Endings. Creator David Caspe seems content to self-plagiarize aspects of his dearly departed ABC comedy, but Marry Me's ensemble is less adept at pulling off the interplay. Also, the parents are just unnecessary. Grade: B-
12 of 18 Trae Patton/CBS

The McCarthys (CBS)

The Good: There's some wicked great chemistry between the actors, especially Tyler Ritter and Laurie Metcalf, that makes the McCarthys feel like a lived-in clan. Plus: CBS has been uncharacteristically patient with the show despite low ratings that have killed other freshman Eye shows — and sophomore comedy The Millers — before it. The Bad: With the focus on Ronny, the other siblings have been underdeveloped. And unlike Black-ish, The McCarthys' old-fashioned style has left us with groan-worthy stereotypical gay jokes and dated pop culture references. Grade: C+
13 of 18 Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Mulaney (Fox)

The Good: John Mulaney is one of the sharpest, funniest stand-up comedians working today, so it's no surprise that when he's alone with a mic the show gets better. As for all the other times? Well, the show employs a host of actors — Martin Short, Nasim Pedrad, Eliott Gould, among them — who know how to get laughs. And each episode improves on the one before it, which shows potential for a future the show, unfortunately, isn’t likely to get. The Bad: Just so much disappointment. Mulaney's bits lose their snap when transplanted into episodic stories. And Mulaney himself is an awkward, stiff presence that makes it hard to buy into the friendship/chemistry he should have with his roommates Motif (Seaton Smith) and Jane (Pedrad). And while Short's scenery-chomping isn't exactly a delight, it's better than watching Gould, who seems to be cashing checks as Mulaney's flamboyantly gay, hippie neighbor. Grade: D
14 of 18 Eric Liebowitz/NBC

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC)

The Good: Um… we got "Copmom Momcop" out of it? Debra Messing is no longer being attacked by scarves? The Bad: The show feels like a Kabletown program on 30 Rock. That it continues to paint being a detective and a mother as the most inconceivable juggling act in the world is not just irritatingly unoriginal, but offensive. It's 2014, guys. Grade: F
15 of 18 Skip Bolen/CBS

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)

The Good: Perhaps the most you can ask from any spin-off is to establish its own identity quickly. Thanks to the atmosphere of shooting on location in the Big Easy, the show has added enough local flavor (mmmm, gumbo) to the familiar formula to create something unique. And while we've always loved Scott Bakula and CCH Pounder, we've been pleased with the way the team — especially the originally out-of-place-feeling Brody (Zoe McClellan) — has begun to jell. The Bad: McClellan has a tendency to overact a bit, and are we the only ones that have a hard time understanding Lucas Black's LaSalle? Also, despite its unique locale, there's only so many ways you can re-purpose NCIS before we start to feel fatigued. Grade: B-
16 of 18 Carin Baer/Fox

Red Band Society (Fox)

The Good: Since the CW's gone whole hog on supernatural and superheroes, this show scratches our teen drama itch — angst, heartbreak and love triangles included! And although they could have been overpowered by an Oscar-winning co-star Octavia Spencer (who is predictably great here), we're impressed with the young cast members, particularly Zoe Levin, who has given nuance to her love-to-hate Queen B, and Charlie Rowe, who's nearly impossible not to fall in love with. The Bad: That said, with such a large ensemble, not all of the characters have been adequately developed. (We’re looking at you, Dash!) Oh, and, you know, no one is watching the show. Grade: B
17 of 18 Robert Voets/CBS

Scorpion (CBS)

The Good: Despite its somewhat ridiculous pilot, the show has settled into the satisfying procedural rhythm CBS craves — mostly by not taking itself too seriously. Among all the nerdy, popcorn fun (Casino heists! Zip-lining!) the show has heart, particularly the scenes between Paige (Katherine McPhee) and her son Ralph, which help humanize the sometimes robotic team of geniuses. McPhee is charming as the low-key waitress/mom who, fortunately, isn't treated like a dunce among the smartypants. The Bad: Even though it's early, we'd like to see some deeper characterization for the team members, most of whom are just archetypes at the moment. And since we're already suspending our disbelief so much, it's a bit annoying when these brainiacs make dumb errors (mistaking S for H in Morse code, for example) just to build tension. Grade: B
18 of 18 Colleen Hayes/CBS

Stalker (CBS)

The Good: The creepy cases of the week are competently built and are a perfect match for its Criminal Minds lead-in. And although we stuck with this one for Maggie Q, we've been pleasantly surprised by Mariana Klaveno's supporting performance. The Bad: What's to say that hasn't already been said about the show's celebration of violence, particularly against women? (Again, a woman was set on fire in the series' very first moments.) We're just tired of this. Plus, although it's difficult to get Dylan McDermott to be something other than stoic, making him a stalker who hunts stalkers (twist!) doesn't help. Grade: C-