It's fall, but most of your favorite fall TV shows are still nowhere to be found. Production on television shows and movies has been paused as writers and actors strike for fair compensation, and although the writers strike thankfully seems to be nearing its end (final contract language is still being written, but the dominoes are falling), that doesn't mean your favorite TV series will magically reappear right away. For one thing, the actors are still on strike. And even if all of Hollywood is able to get back to work soon, the effects of the stoppage will probably be felt into 2024, when the hope is that most scripted shows will return to screens.
So until that wonderful day comes, you still have the same problem: What should you watch while your favorites are in the process of returning? We've picked out some worthy alternatives to some popular shows to check out while they're off the air.
If the life-and-death situations of Grey's Anatomy and Chicago Med have you hooked on the medical dramas, then you're probably ready to take the next step up with Netflix's Emergency: NYC. The docuseries comes from the team behind the acclaimed Lenox Hill and follows doctors on the job at three New York City area hospitals as they treat patients, perform surgeries, and cope with the stress of the work. It's a stunning and sometimes difficult portrait of everyday heroes, even if they don't all look like McDreamy. Or if it's more of the complicated working relationships in the hospital that you're looking for, then try NBC's Transplant, a Canadian medical drama that returns for Season 3 in October. If you're looking for more intense medical drama, try out Apple TV+'s Five Days at Memorial, a harrowing retelling of the controversial medical response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. -Tim Surette [More shows like Grey's Anatomy]
While Chicago P.D. is on a break, why not graduate to the next level of police drama? One of the series that gave FX its early reputation for unflinching, challenging television, The Shield remains one of the best cop shows to ever air anywhere, and was a major influence on shows that came after. Created by Shawn Ryan (Timeless, The Night Agent), The Shield is an L.A.-set serialized police drama following a specialized strike team from the LAPD that rewrote the rules of law enforcement, often using illegal means to get the job done. Led by the legendary TV character Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), the squad was rife with corruption, so no, they aren't the good guys of Chicago P.D., but the character development — particularly of Mackey — is an education in television writing and helped usher in the era of the antihero. Other great and gritty cop shows to check out include the heavy-hitting British drama Line of Duty, the broadcast envelope-pushing Southland, and The Wire's spiritual successor We Own This City. -Tim Surette
For more law and less order, you can't do better than The Good Fight, Robert and Michelle King's madcap spin-off of Emmy-winning CBS legal drama The Good Wife (also a fantastic must-watch). The Paramount+ drama, which follows Christine Baranski's Diane Lockhart as she takes a job at a Black-owned law firm in the age of Trump, is a no-holds-barred deep dive into a surreal political era, executed with a playful sense of humor that only sharpens its incendiary rage at an unequal justice system. It's a show about the intersection of power and hypocrisy that questions what it takes to get any justice in American society, making it a great complement (and sometimes counterpoint) to the more straightforward Law & Order universe. If you're missing Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson, let Diane and her regal assortment of pantsuits into your life. -Kelly Connolly [More shows like Law & Order]
It's downright silly that more sitcoms haven't mined elementary schools for comedy. Between the naive kids, stressed teachers, incompetent leadership, and randy (or wise) custodians, the only thing being taught in schools is how to laugh! Ha ha! Anyway, before Abbott Elementary captured the hilarity of public education, the TV Land comedy Teachers schooled us all on how difficult and funny teaching the young people of America is. Though it lacks much of the social and cultural commentary of Abbott Elementary, it carves out its own lesson plan by embracing playful vulgarity and absurdity thanks to the humor of its creators, the female comedy troupe The Katydids. If you wish Abbott Elementary would talk a little more about Wiccans and Phish, this is the show for you. -Tim Surette [More shows like Abbott Elementary]
ABC's The Good Doctor was based on a Korean drama of the same name, so it only seems fair to recommend another series produced in Seoul. Extraordinary Attorney Woo follows a lawyer who, like Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), is on the autism spectrum and whose disability assists rather than hinders her work performance. Woo Young-woo's (Park Eun-bin) photographic memory makes her a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, and her encyclopedic knowledge of whales — her favorite animal — often proves extremely relevant to her legal cases. Similar to The Good Doctor, which features grim illnesses but is overall heartwarming in tone, Extraordinary Attorney Woo explores grave crimes but is more comforting than dispiriting. -Kat Moon
Fall TV Schedules
The throwback feel to urban-based thrillers of the 1980s that helps power CBS's The Equalizer is also all over the CBS procedural Person of Interest. In fact, the original 1985-1989 run of The Equalizer was a huge influence on Person of Interest, an intelligent action drama from Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan and Cold Case executive producer Greg Plageman. Jim Caviezel stars as a former CIA operative who is recruited by a tech billionaire (Michael Emerson) to help him make New York City a better place with the help of an artificial intelligence that can predict crimes before they happen. Like The Equalizer, Person of Interest is all about sticking up for the little guys who no one else will help, but unlike The Equalizer, it comes with a riveting, prescient mythology about the dangers of artificial intelligence and government surveillance. -Tim Surette [More shows like The Equalizer]
This may seem a little redundant, but really, the best substitute for CBS's Ghosts is the show it was adapted from, the BBC's original comedy Ghosts. There's a reason the CBS version is so beloved, and it's because it stays so close to the U.K. version in spirit while still feeling like its own show. (Note to Hollywood: That's how you do an adaptation.) And it's not at all a total carbon copy. In the American version, many of the stories and characters were changed to differentiate the series — for example, Thor the Viking is based on the caveman Robin from the U.K. version — and the episodic storylines quickly diverge after some early setup. Watching the U.K. version of Ghosts is like exhuming lost episodes of the American version. -Tim Surette [More shows like Ghosts]
Third Watch ran for six seasons on NBC from 1999 to 2005 and followed the personal and professional lives of a large, diverse cast of New York City cops, firefighters, and paramedics. Created by ER executive producer John Wells, Third Watch took that show's frenetic pace and sense of jargon-heavy workplace authenticity and gave it a big jolt of blue-collar Big Apple attitude, with a great cast that included Bobby Cannavale, Kim Raver, and Michael Beach. 9/11 happened during the show's third season, and the show memorably incorporated it into its storylines almost in real time. -Liam Mathews
If it's more mismatched parent-child work relationships you're looking for, it's time to check out Psych. The detective comedy follows Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez), a talented but irreverent investigator who lies his way into a job as a fake psychic detective alongside his best friend, Gus (Dulé Hill). What makes it similar to So Help Me Todd is the relationship between Shawn and his straight-laced dad, Henry (Corbin Bernsen), a former police officer who taught Shawn everything he knows and hates that his son has lied his way into working with cops. With its obscure pop culture references and constant shenanigans, Psych is much goofier than So Help Me Todd, but when you're missing the dynamic between laid-back Todd (Skylar Astin) and by-the-book Margaret (Marcia Gay Harden), it's the next best thing. –Allison Picurro
Max Thieriot first came to prominence on the cult hit horror drama Bates Motel, but it was SEAL Team that set him up for Fire Country. Thieriot played Navy SEAL Clay Spenser for six seasons on the CBS/Paramount+ military drama, though he recently left in order to devote all his time to Fire Country. Clay Spenser and Bode Donovan are similar types of guys. They're both smart and brave but prone to hardheadedness, and they've both been humbled by life into becoming more thoughtful. On a show level, SEAL Team and Fire Country are both action-packed, character-driven dramas about people doing dangerous jobs. -Liam Mathews [More shows like Fire Country]