Coverage of the CBS pilot Untitled Mother & Son Legal Drama. Photo: Michael Courtney/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The new season: Here’s a preview

(As the new season nears, I wanted to put my three season-preview stories in one easy-to-find spot. Here they are; I’ve updated them slightly and will continue to. First, an overview of the broadcast networks, which used to dominate each fall.)
A new TV season is ready to go..
It has a starting date (Sept. 19), a few shows and a lot of promos. What it lacks is the old blend of Hollywood hope, hype and a sense of something big.
There have been big things lately, but not on the broadcast nrtworks, the ones that send out shows for free (with commercials) over the air.
A “Game of Thrones” prequel on HBO collided with a “Lord of the Rings” prequel on Amazon Prime, both spending mega-money – reportedly $200 million for 10 HBO episodes, $465 million for eight Amazon ones. What’s a mere broadcast network to do? Not much; consider: Read more…

(As the new season nears, I wanted to put my three season-preview stories in one easy-to-find spot. Here they are; I’ve updated them slightly and will continue to. First, an overview of the broadcast networks, which used to dominate each fall.)

A new TV season is ready to go.

It has a starting date (Sept. 19), a few shows and a lot of promos. What it lacks is the old blend of Hollywood hope, hype and a sense of something big.

There have been big things lately, but not on the broadcast nrtworks, the ones that send out shows for free (with commercials) over the air.

A “Game of Thrones” prequel on HBO collided with a “Lord of the Rings” prequel on Amazon Prime, both spending mega-money – reportedly $200 million for 10 HBO episodes, $465 million for eight Amazon ones. What’s a mere broadcast network to do? Not much; consider:

— In the old days, the top four commercial networks would total about 20 new shows each fall, almost half of them situation comedies. Some shows would be awful; others would be “Friends” and “Seinfeld” and “West Wing” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

— This fall, they have only nine new shows. Only one (NBC’s “Lopez vs. Lopez”) is a sitcom, and it will wait until November. One show is a reboot (NBC’s “Quantum Leap”), one is a spin-off (ABC’s “The Rookie: Feds”), one is sort of reboot-turned-reality (CBS’ “The Real Love Boat”).

Occasionally, the broadcast people do break through. They had one sitcom hit last fall (CBS’ “Ghosts”) and another at mid-season (ABC’s award-winning “Abbott Elementary”). Even during the depth of the pandemic, CBS had a drama hit with “The Equalizer.”

And this new season offers some promise. CBS’ “So Help Me Todd” (shown here) has a slick blend of comedy, mystery and drama …. ABC’s “Rookies” spin-off (with Niecy Nash) has the same … Fox’s “Monarch” offers a workable blend of good music and bad soap opera.

And PBS keeps clicking; it starts the season Sept. 18, with another brilliant Ken Burns documentary, this one on Americans and the Holocaust.

Still, it will be tough for them to get noticed. Here are a few broadcast trends:

— SITCOMS. In some past seasons, a single network – ABC one year, NBC another – had 18 sitcoms. Virtually all were done before a studio audience, in the proven “Lucy”/”Seinfeld”/”Big Bang” style.

And now? This fall has only 12 – four each on ABC and CBS, two on Fox; in November, NBC will finally start its two – including the only new sitcom of the fall. Only half the sitcoms will have a studio audience; those “must-see” comedy days now seem in the distant past.

— ON THE OTHER HAND: Sometimes, a light drama can keep us amused. The best example is “So Help Me Todd,” which replaces two CBS comedy spots on Thursdays. Crisply written and perfectly cast, it quickly gets us rooting for a determined lawyer (Marcia Gay Harden) and her son (Skylar Astin), a detective who sort of makes it up as he goes along.

Others add some laughs. ABC’s “The Rookie: Feds” is bright and fun; CW’s “Family Law” has its moments.

— FANTASY: Last season, most sentient humans agreed that “La Brea” had an absurd concept. People really don’t plunge through a sinkhole in modern Los Angeles and end up in 10,000 B.C.

Some viewers, however, did find it fun. NBC is bringing the show back and adding another fantasy – a reboot of “Quantum Leap” (1989-93), a smart show that had one guy involuntarily thrust into other times and lives, of any age, gender and ethnicity.

The surprise, however, is that there’s no more. Fantasy has become the domain of streamers and cable, which do it right. Even CW is staying away, for now.

— YES, CW: Last fall, more than half of CW’s shows were fantasy. This was the land of Batgirl and The Flash, plus witches, time-travelers and bewildered abductees.

Not this time. CW does have one late-summer arrival (the excellent “Stargirl”) and some shows waiting for mid-season – “The Flash,” “Suprman & Lois” and the new “Gotham Knights.” But all four of its new fall shows are dramas.

— REALITY: Some viewers were jolted by the notion of “Dancing With the Start” jumping to Disney+. That leaves “Bachelor in Paradise” – a noisy/sexy summer kind of show, for Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC, facing NBC’s “The Voice.”

Mostly, though, Wednesday is broadcast’s reality night. At 8 p.m., Fox’s “Masked Singer” faces CBS’ “Survivor”; at 9, Fox’s “Lego Masters” faces the lone new reality show, CBS’ “The Real Love Boat.” At 10, CBS concludes its reality marathon with “The Amazing Race.”

— AND PBS? One day before the new season starts, PBS will remind us that it sometimes is the best. Burns’ three-night documentary (Sept. 18-20) tells us about some people who scrambled to save Holocaust victims … and some who didn’t.

On the Sundays that follow, PBS regains its drama spot – first for two weeks of “Van der Valk” and then for an impressive threesome starting Oct. 16 – “Miss Scarlet and the Duke,” the new “Annika” and “Magpie Murders,” a remarkable tangle of two mysteries, one literary and one not.

In October, Tuesdays will mix Henry Louis Gates’ new “Making Black America” and strong profiles of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. On other nights, subjects range from new (Tik Tok) to ancient (Pompeii). There’s even a Sept. 16 special (“Black Lucy and the Bard”) that mixes Shakespeare’s sonnets, the music of Rhiannon Gidden and the Nashville Ballet. You won’t see that on other channels, broadcast or beyond.

(Now for a listing of the new shows)

Here’s a round-up of new fall TV shows. In each category, we’ll list them by accessibility – first broadcast, then basic cable, then pay-cable and finally streaming. In those sub-categories, they’re chronological.

DRAMA (with music)

— “Monarch,” Fox. Trace Adkins and Susan Sarandon play country-music stars, with their own label run by their son. One daughter has the looks and ambition for stardom; the other has the talent. Then big events change everything. The music is great; the drama is soapy. (Debutd Sept. 11, after football, with reruns at 9 p.m. Sept. 12 and 14,; then 9 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Sept. 20).


— “Lopez vs. Lopez,” NBC. George Lopez is back, now with his daughter Mayan, 26, getting the upper hand. She plays a veterinarian, married, with a son; he plays her dad, forced to move in with her after lots of bad choices. (8 p.m. Fridays, Nov. 4)

— “Reboot,” Hulu. After triumphing with “Modern Family,” producer-writer Steve Levitan has another catchy concept: A bad, old comedy is being rebooted, amid warfare between two generations of producers (Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser). Keegan-Michael Key shines as a guy who keeps reminding us he’s from Yale. (Tuesdays, Sept. 20)

— “Blockbuster,” Netflix. Imagine that there’s one Blockbuster video store remaining. The manager (Randall Park of “Fresh Off the Boat”) refused to give up; Melissa Fumero (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) plays a key employee. (Nov. 3)


— “Quantum Leap,” NBC. The original series had Sam Beckett leaping into other people’s bodies and lives. This one says he hasn’t returned in 30 years; Raymond Lee heads a team trying to learn what happened. (10 p.m. Mondays, Sept. 19)

— “The Winchesters,” CW. For 15 seasons, “Supernatural” had Dean and Sam Winchester fighting monsters. Now we see how it started, with their parents falling in love and then linking to fight demons. Dean (Jensen Ackles) narrates. (8 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 11)

— “Interview With the Vampire,” AMC. This could be the start of something big. AMC – the “Walking Dead” network – has bought the entire output of the late novelist Anne Rice. It starts here, with a cranky journalist interviewing an eternal chap. (10 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 2).

— “Reginald the Vampire,” Syfy. This time, the vampire world is played for laughs. (10 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 5).

— :”Let the Right One In,” Showtime. Fresh from playing the young version of Selena, Madison Taylor Baez, 11, plays someone who’s stillknew to being a vampire. (10 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 9)

— “Andor,” Disney+. Many of the “Star Wars” or Marvel series have had brief, one-season runs. This one, however, is already down for two years and 24 episodes, with Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, in the years before he became a “Rogue One” hero. (Wednesdays, Sept. 21).

— “The Midnight Club,.” Netflix. At a somber hospice, people tell each other dark storires. (Oct. 7).

— ALSO: Two mega-series arrived just before tee season started. “House of the Dragon,” a “Game of Thrones” prequel, is 9 p.m. Sundays on HBO; “The Rings of Power,” a “Lord of the Rings” prequel, is Thursdays on Amazon Prime. Two other shows don’t yet have a debut date. Hulu’s “Kindred” has a Black woman bouncing from modern Los Angeles to a 19th-century plantation; Netflix’s “Wednesday” focuses on the “Addams Family” teen.


— “So Help Me Todd,” CBS. Margaret (Marcia Gay Harden) is a top lawyer, careful and thorough; her son Todd (Skylar Astin) is sort of a private-eye, smart but erratic. When he has to work for her, cases are solved in fun ways. (10 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 29)

— “Family Law,” CW. On the edge of being disbarred, Abigail (Jewel Staite) must work for the dad (Victor Garber) she resents. The cases are iffy, but the character moments work well. Tbis links with the returning “Coroner,” for a night of competent Canadian dramas. (8 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 2).

— “Reasonable Doubts,” Hulu. A lawyer tries to juggle her defense cases and her troubled marriage. This is the second project from the Onyx Collection, which started big with the Oscar-winning “Summer of Soul.” (Tuesdays, Sept. 27)



— “The Rookie: Feds,” ABC. This notion was tested successfully on two “Rookie” episodes. Niecy Nash plays the oldest Quantico grad, now an eccentric FBI agent. (10 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 27)

— “East New York,” CBS. A veteran cop (Amanda Warren) takes over a tough Brooklyn precinct, in a story that tries to pack a lot into the first 90 minutes. Jimmy Smits plays her mentor and Richard Kind – usually confined to playing a doofus – is her surprisingly competent aide. There’s a cynical detective who has his own schemes and an ambitious young cop who says she’s willing to live in a tough housing project. (9:30 p.m. Oct. 2, then 9 p.m. Sundays)

— “Magpie Murders,” PBS. When the last chapter is missing from a novel, we have two mysteries: Who killed the novelist … and who’s the killer in his novel? This six-parter takes a while, but gradually becomes fascinating. (9 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 16)

— “Annika,” PBS. Here’s another six-episode series, this one with Nicola Walker solving crimes on the Scottish waterfront. (10 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 16)

— “The Calling,” Peacock. From “LA Law” to “Big Little Lies” and “Big Sky,” David E. Kelley has been a master writer-producer. Now,.he has Jeff Wilbusch as a cop in a complex Brooklyn neighborhood. (Thursdays, Nov. 10).

— “Tulsa King,” Paramount+ (with the first two episodes simulcast on Paramount Network). Tyler Sheridan is the writer-producer who turned Kevin Costner into a TV star and is working on the same thing for Harrison Ford. Here, he has Sylvester Stallone as a former Mob boss, out of prison and starting a new crime family in Oklahoma. (Sundays, Nov. 13).

— ALSO: Acorn has already started “Recipes For Love & Murder,” in which a newspaper columnist (and food expert) probes cases in small-town South Africa. It’s a bright-looking (if uncompelling) eight-parter that continues (two per Monday) through September. And on Sept. 27, Britbox launches the eight-part “Suspect,” with James Nesbitt as a detective probing his daughter’s death.


— “Alaska Daily,” ABC. Audiences loved the “Northern Exposure” notion of a big-city guy starting his medical career in Alaska. Now we have a city journalist, rebuilding her tattered career at an Alaska newspaper. The people involved have Oscars – one for Tom McCarthy (for his “Spotlight” script), the show’s writer/producer, two for Hilary Swank, its star. (10 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 6).

— “Walker Independence,” CW. We’ve always known that Walker – the Texas Ranger in an old CBS series and a current CW one – is one tough dude. Now we see his roots, starting with a Bostonian (Katherine McNamara) in the Old West. (9 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 6)

— “Fire Country,” CBS. Bode (Max Thierot) just wants to shorten his prison sentence by volunteering to fight California wildfires. Then circumstance – we won’t spoil any surprises – forces him to confront his past. The result uses lots of coincidences, but is still engaging. (9 p.m. Fridays, Oct. 7)

— “Professionals,” CW. This 2020 British series has two Americans at its core – Tom Welling (“Smallville”) as a security operative and Brendan Fraser as a billionaire who hires him to track saboteurs. Action scenes ensude. 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 11.

— “Last Light,’ Peacock. Someone has contaminated the world’s oil supply. In this five-parter, a scientist (Matthew Fox) tries to learn what happened and tries to save his wife (Joanne Froggatt) and kids. (Thursdays, Sept. 8)

— “The Serpent Queen,” Starz. Catherine de Medici was an Italian noblewoman with a fierce grip on France’s history. She was queen of France for 12 years, then a strong influence on three sons who ruled for 30 more. Samantha Morton stars, with Liv Hill in flashbacks. (8 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 11)

— “American Gigolo,” Showtime. The 1980 movie had Julian (Richard Gere) eluding legal trouble. Not this time. As played by Jon Bernthal, he’s been exonerated after 15 years in prison; pondering his past (via flashbacks), he considers a crime-free life. (9 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 11)

— “Dangerous Liaisons,” Starz. Here’s some more scheming amid the French nobility. Already a novel, a play and at least five movies, it’s now a 10-part series. (Sundays, Nov. 6)

— “A Friend of the Family,” Peacock. In a nine-part, true-crime tale, Anna Paquin and Colin Hanks plays a couple whose daughter (played in her teens by McKenna Grace), is targeted by a neighbor, played by Jake Lacy of “The White Lotus.” (Thursdays, Oct. 6)


— “The Real Love Boat,” CBS. Couples try the cruise that always seemed to work on the old ABC show. Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn, married in real life, host. (9 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 5)

— “Magic With the Stars,” CW. Celebrities learn to do magic tricks in front of Criss Angel and then in front of an audience. (8 p.m. Saturdays, Oct., 22)

— ALSO: There are lors of documentaries on cable and – especially – on PBS. A good starting point is Ken Burns’ beautifully crafted “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” at 8 p.m. Sept. 18-20 on PBS.

(And now a simple listing of what’s when, with starting times)

Here’s the fall schedule for the five main commercial broadcast networks. Most shows debut the week of Sept. 19; exceptions have their starting dates in parentheses:

— MONDAYS: ABC: “Bachelor in Paradise” (Oct. 3), 8 p.m.; “The Good Doctor” (Oct. 3), 10. CBS: “The Neighborhood,” 8 p.m.; “Bob (Hearts) Abishola,” 8:30; “NCIS,” 9; NCIS: Hawaii,” 10. NBC: “The Voice,” 8 p.m., “Quantum Leap” (NEW), 10; Fox: “9-1-1,” 8 p.m., “The Cleaning Lady,” 9; CW, “All American,” 8 p.m., “All American: Homecoming,” 9.

— TUESDAYS: ABC: “Bachelor in Paradise,”(Sept. 27), 8 p.m.; “The Rookie: Feds” (NEW, Sept. 27), 10; CBS: “FBI,” 8 p.m.; “FBI: International,” 9; “FBI: Most Wanted,” 10. NBC: “The Voice,” 8 p.m.; “La Brea” (Sept. 27), 9; “New Amsterdam,” 10. Fox: “The Resident,” 8 p.m., “Monarch” (NEW), 9 (after a Sept. 11 debut, post-football). CW: “The Winchesters” (NEW, Oct. 11), 8 p.m.; “Professionals” (NEW, Oct. 11), 9.

— WEDNESDAYS: ABC: “The Conners,” 8 p.m., “The Goldbergs,” 8:30, “Abbott Elementary,” 9; Home Economics,” 9:30; “Big Sky,” 10, CBS: “Survivor,” 8 p.m.; “The Real Love Boat” (NEW, Oct, 5), 9; “The Amazing Race,” 10. NBC: “Chicago Med,” 8 p.m.; “Chicago Fire,” 9: “Chicago P.D.,” 10, Fox: “The Masked Singer,” 8 p.m.; “Lego Masters,” 9; CW: “Stargirl” (began Aug. 31), 8 p.m.; “Kung Fu” (Oct. 5), 9.

— THURSDAYS: ABC: “Station 19” (Oct. 6), 8 p.m.; “Grey’s Anatomy” (Oct. 6), 9; “Alaska Daily” (NEW, Oct. 6), 10. CBS: “Young Sheldon” (Sept. 29), 8 p.m.; “Ghosts” (Sept. 29), 8:30; “So Help Me Todd” (NEW, Sept. 29), 9; CSI: Vegas” (Sept. 29), 10. NBC: “Law & Order,” 8 p.m.; “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 9; “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” 10. Fox: “Hell’s Kitchen,” 8 p.m.; “Welcome to Flatch,” 9; “Call Me Kat,” 9:30. CW: “Walker” (Oct. 6), 8 p.m.; “Walker Independence” (NEW, Oct. 6), 9.

— FRIDAYS: ABC: “Shark Tank” (Oct. 8), 8 p.m., ABC; “20/20” (Oct. 8), 10. CBS: “SWAT” (Oct. 7), 8 p.m.; “Fire Country” (NEW, Oct. 7), 9; “Blue Bloods” (Oct. 7), 10. NBC: “Lopez vs. Lopez” (NEW, Nov. 4), 8 p.m.; “Young Rock” (Nov. 4), 8:30; “Dateline,” 9-11. Fox, wrestling, 8 p.m. CW: “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (Oct. 14), 8 p.m.; “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (Oct. 14), 9, with a rerun at 9:30.

— SATURDAYS: ABC: football. CBS: reruns, 8 p.m., “48 Hours,” 10. NBC: reruns, 8 p.m.; “Dateline,” 9; “Saturday Night Live” reruns, 10. Fox: baseball or other sports. CW: “Magic with the Stars” (NEW), Oct. 22), 8 p.m.; “World’s Funniest Animals” (oct. 22), 9 and 9:30.

— SUNDAYS: ABC: “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” 7 p.m.; “Celebrity Jeopardy,” 8; “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” 9; “The Rookie,” 10. CBS:”The Equalizer” (Oct. 2), 8 p.m.; “East New York” (NEW, Oct. 2), 9; “NCIS: Los Angeles” (Oct. 9), 10. NBC: football; Fox: football postgame show, then “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m.; “The Great North,” 8:30; “Bob’s Burgers,” 9; “FamilyGuy,” 9:30. CW: “Family Law” (NEW, Oct. 2), 8 p.m.; “Coroner” (Oct. 2), 9.

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