Summer was fun and all, but I think we can all agree that it was lacking one big thing: lots and lots of new television shows! Fall is here to fix that, with the big broadcast networks doling out their usual crop of shows that have been tested before focus groups of people who have the complete opposite taste as you.
Yes, of the 16 new shows coming to you before Halloween, about a quarter of them are watchable. As usual, there are plenty of lawyers and a doctor, but surprisingly no cops (the workaround now are outside consultants who work with cops, of which there are a few). There are also a whole bunch of immigrants, one superhero, and another branch of the Black-ish family tree. But there are only five — maybe four — that are worth your time, which we discovered by watching every single new broadcast pilot headed to your living room. Save yourself the trouble of sifting through them and take our word for it: These are the five best new fall broadcast shows (if we were forced to choose five).
CBS; Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c
Here's the logline that would normally keep you from watching Evil: A priest-in-training (Luke Cage's Mike Colter) and a skeptical psychologist (Westworld's Katja Herbers) investigate unexplained acts of evil in this CBS drama with procedural DNA. Here's why you should watch it: It comes from Michelle and Robert King, creators of The Good Wife, and was easily the best network pilot we saw this season. The Kings' penchant for weirdness that blossomed in BrainDead and The Good Fight is in full bloom here, with possessed murderers, exorcisms, and a urinating demon (see? WEIRD!), but it's anchored with weighty questions of morality and faith for a thrilling first hour. Colter and Herbers are great, and Michael Emerson returns to CBS playing a total creepazoid. The Kings have promised that the series will ask how evil is spread in today's world, especially through social media, and hints about vastly different subsequent episodes indicate that Evil knows no bounds.
Fox; Monday, Sept. 23 at 9/8c
In this Fox crime thriller, the son of a serial killer becomes — what else? — a criminal profiler! But the apple may not fall too far from the tree, and the son begins to hear the call of his dark desires, which heretofore previously manifested themselves as qualities that made him difficult to work with (the producers compare him to Dr. House). Further complicating things is that he still has a relationship with his dad, who is behind bars, and his dad is all too happy to feed his urges. It's not an entirely new set-up, but it's the performances that stand out. The Walking Dead's Tom Payne hams it up as a loose cannon consultant to the cops, and Michael Sheen is buttoned-up insanity as the killer papa. There's fun — and gore — to be had.
ABC; Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10/9c
If you dipped a towel into a pool of all of ABC's shows and wrung it out, you'd get Stumptown. Female-driven? Check. Tough private investigator doing it her own way? Indeed! A tone light enough to drink rosé to but not dark enough to make you dive into a pint of ice cream? Yup. A creep who hits on the heroine and gets totally shut down and outed as a fraud by her keen sense of perception? Obviously. OK, it's not anything special, but Cobie Smulders is her usual wonderful self, and she's good enough to drive the show. She plays a down-on-her-luck Army vet who uses her intelligence gathering skills to help the local Portland police solve crimes, while juggling a complicated life that involves caring for her brother with Down syndrome and multiple romantic options, including New Girl's Jake Johnson as a bartender and Almost Human's Michael Ealy as a cop. You've tried the coffee, now try the show.
The CW; Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 9/8c
The CW is becoming the home to "This ain't your granddaddy's [insert well-known property here]!!!" It kicked into high gear with the Archie-inspired Riverdale, and continues with Nancy Drew, the better of The CW's two new series this fall. (Batwoman — though groundbreaking for its LGBTQ superhero — is essentially the same tone as Arrow.) This Nancy is 18 years old and foregoes college to solve mysteries in her hometown of Horseshoe Bay, and like Riverdale, the series adds some (possible) supernatural elements in ghosts and curses, because why not? Nancy has a crew of fellow sleuthers from her job at a diner, including one of the season's best new characters in the stoner dude cook. So far, it's more of fun small-town mystery show and much less of a meat market than the scantily clad Riverdale; Nancy and her pals stay buttoned up. Most of the time.
NBC; Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 9:30/8:30c
Well, the headline says we need five new broadcast shows here, so Sunnyside it is. The new comedies this season are even more bland than usual, but Sunnyside — starring Kal Penn as a disgraced politician who helps a ragtag group of immigrants become American citizens — has the most potential, and might even have something important to say as a statement on the melting pot that America is and who the people coming here to look for a better life are. The pilot is OK, but with Mike Schur (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place) on board as an executive producer, it has a better chance than the rest of the new comedies to improve.
If you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, click over to our Watch This Now! page.
(Full Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, which is also the parent company of The CW.)