Romance: People are going to bang, and we’re going to talk about it.
Watch: “A to Z”
NBC, premieres Oct. 2
Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.
I’m a little nervous to recommend this because it comes off as a TV show version of “500 Days of Summer.” But as with the movie, I was disarmingly charmed by the pilot. The question at the end of the pilot is whether the couple breaks up or gets married. By the end of the first episode, I really wanted to know. (Please get married and have beautiful brunette babies.) Katey Segal’s voiceover is done incredibly well, and I’m excited to see Cristina Miloti as something other than the glorified uterus on “How I Met Your Mother.” It does lean a little heavily on idealistic romance and a well-placed mellow guitar, but I’ll probably watch every episode until it’s cancelled which, because of traditionally low ratings for NBC Thursdays, is very likely.
Avoid: “Manhattan Love Story”
ABC, premieres Sept. 30
Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
Everytime I think society might be progressing past its traditional gender views, a show like “Manhattan Love Story” comes along and drop-kicks my idealism. We start with Peter walking down the street thinking about all the women he would bang, culminating in his internal debate over a pregnant woman. Spoiler: the boobs win out, so it’s a yes. Then we have a similar scene with Dana except with purses she could buy. Get it? The joke is that women like to buy stuff. The premise is that these two people are going to fall in love, but they don’t seem to be particularly compatible and don’t even seem to like each other. Jake McDorman: you were great as the Craigslist Killer, so ditch this mess and play to your strengths.
Wait and see: “The Affair”
Showtime, premieres Oct. 12
Sundays at 9 p.m.
By not being on network television, “The Affair” has potential to truly explore the dynamics of marriage and infidelity. Despite having a strong cast, including Maura Tierney and Dominic West, the Hamptons setting and blurred lens shooting makes the initial glimpses of this show less like thoughtful drama and more like awkward soft-core porn. While the character archetypes of the “struggling writer” and “waitress with a troubled past” seem a little bit played out, the show writers do have some potentially interesting material to work with, which could result in some original and compelling television.
Dramas: Grey charcoal buildings and a lot of dialogue about murder weapons.
Watch: “How To Get Away With Murder”
ABC, premieres Sept. 25
Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Everyone, get ready for ABC’s Super Shonda Power Hours! With the incredibly popular “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” already commanding Thursday night ratings, Shonda Rhimes introduces “How to Get Away With Murder,” which promises classic Shonda Rhimes drama set in law school. Viola Davis is already a great commanding presence. “I wanna be her” says a character about Davis’ intimidating/amazing law professor and litigator, and I definitely agree. The younger cast such as Harry Potter’s Alfred Enoch and Gilmore Girls’ Liza Weil offer a great supporting cast of soon-to-be corrupted, idealistic law students. Shonda Rhimes’ shows include a variety of representation, which is always a huge plus. Frankly, I’m already obsessed.
CBS, premieres Oct. 1
Wednesday at 10 p.m.
You know what television really doesn’t need? More gratuitous violence against women. Despite the fact that I’ll always root for Nikita’s Maggie Q, the show relies on basic procedural archetypes. Her new partner is introduced as “big personality, never married, sleeps around.” They might as well rename him Maverick McRugged and be done. Maggie Q’s own “no-nonsense” character is swooning for him by the end of the pilot. I’ll try not to spoil things for you, but she has a “troubled past.” Despite the fact that she seems actually qualified and intelligent, the show tries to push for the sense that she needs his untraditional ways despite the fact that he’s blasé, unqualified and sexist. The creator has already had to defend the show’s gratuitous violence. There is nothing here that you couldn’t get on Criminal Minds or SVU, except a lot more sexism!
Wait and see: “Gotham”
FOX, premieres Sept. 22
Mondays at 8 p.m.
Does the world really need another dark Batman? Didn’t we all get our fill with Nolan’s Batman triolgy? Despite that, the Batman canon does boast interesting moral quandaries and diverse villains. Gotham is less the story of Batman and more the story of Jim Gordon before he became the commissioner. Ben McKenzie plays a cop perfectly, especially after his great run on Southland. Superheroes are popular now, and Gotham could capitalize on that. If Gotham focuses more on Gordon and what made Gotham so messed up and less on Bruce Wayne, Gotham could have incredible promise.
Comedies: Laugh tracks that will inevitably annoy you.
Watch: “Marry Me”
NBC, premieres Oct.14
Thursdays at 9 p.m.
Casey Wilson and Ken Marino might be our generation’s Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Wilson and Marino play Annie and Jake, a couple that navigates the pitfalls of their relationship after mishaps with the marriage proposal. Casey Wilson plays the zany and emotional Annie incredibly well, making her likable while still keeping her emotional and being true to her character. She has a real gift for physical comedy. Ken Marino plays the straight man well while not coming across like he’s ruining the fun. Most importantly, the characters seem to like each other and genuinely enjoy being together, unlike other sitcom couples. The few previews seem to be full of romantic joy, which will be nice to watch.
ABC, premieres Sept. 30
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
“Selfie” is a good example of something created in a boardroom in order to make money instead of to entertain or as an outlet for creativity. The show was definitely created when executives plugged the words “youth” and “Internet” into a computer. The pilot lacks subtlety and thinks a cheesy music cue can win over viewers. The “My Fair Lady” premise doesn’t translate well and you root for exactly zero of the characters. It can’t even go for the campy charm of the Chainsmoker’s hit song “#SELFIE” but tries to with its relentless and incessant pop culture references. The show tries to go for spoofs of different Internet cliques (the Zooey Deschanel Wannabe, the Insta-famous) but doesn’t really understand them or really know why it would be funny. John Cho and Karen Gillian are way more talented than this and should know better.
Wait and see: “Mulaney”
Fox, premieres Oct. 5
Sundays at 9:30 p.m.
John Mulaney is one of the best comics working right now. He won an Emmy for Saturday Night Live’s character Stefon and his New In Town special was one of the best stand ups of the year. However, previews of “Mulaney” feature an awkward traditional sitcom between his stand-up sets, giving it a loose, Seinfeld-like structure. The problem is, the show doesn’t seem as innovative and as brilliant as Seinfeld. Nor does it seem to have the pleasant hang-out vibe of “Friends.” The show seems to want New York to be a character, which has already been done. We get it — New York is big and scary but has life to it! There is still time though because Mulaney has an incredible gift for comedy, and his show has a wonderful and reliable cast including Nasim Perdad, a reliable SNL alumna. If Mulaney abandons or riffs on the traditional sitcom, he could create a great comedy.