It’s the most wonderful time of the year—TV premiere time! After a long summer filled with only small moments of scripted brilliance in the middle of reality show after reality show, it’s time once again to curl up on our couches, grab a favorite TV-time snack, and fall back in love with our favorite shows—while maybe finding a few new shows to love along the way.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I love the start of any season—TV, sports, etc.—because it means hope. There’s always a chance that this year will be the year something amazing happens for your favorite shows and characters, or it could even be the year you’re pleasantly surprised by a show you never expected to love. I’m ready for all of that and more.
Without further ado, here’s what I’ll be watching this fall. This list doesn’t include reality shows (Dancing with the Stars and Top Chef being my most anticipated returns in that genre) or variety shows (like Saturday Night Live). Any pilots I’ll be checking out will be highlighted in pink, and the shows I’ll be reviewing each week will be marked with an asterisk (*).
Castle (10 p.m. on ABC)*
I will be the first to admit that I was less than impressed with last season’s trope-heavy finale. However, I’m hopeful that the car wreck that ended last season in such a frustrating way will actually open up deeper avenues of storytelling for Rick Castle as a character and Nathan Fillion as an actor. No matter who was behind the crash (and we all have our theories), it’s going to make for plenty of dramatic storytelling. And with the Johanna Beckett arc wrapped up, I’m interested to see what the next big arc is going to be and what kind of material it gives this talented cast.—Season Premiere 9/29
Selfie (8 p.m. on ABC)
This is the new comedy I’m probably most looking forward to watching. (Although I still haven’t checked out the pilot, despite it being online.) The English major in me is geeking out big time over this modern interpretation of Pygmalion. I have high hopes for a comedy with such charismatic and talented leads, and I’ve loved every promo I’ve seen for this show.—Series Premiere 9/30 (Pilot available online)
New Girl (9 p.m. on FOX)
I’ve been trying to summon my optimism and believe that New Girl can rebound from a truly disappointing third season, but my expectations are very low, to be quite honest. I don’t have faith in its show-runner and her interpretation of these characters, but I can’t give up on this cast. They’re just too funny and charming to quit. And even in the middle of last season’s mess, I still found moments to genuinely enjoy. I’ll remain cautiously hopeful that a show that surprised me so wonderfully once might still have it in itself to do so again.—Season Premiere 9/16
The Mindy Project (9:30 p.m. on FOX)*
This is my most-anticipated premiere of Fall 2014 for many reasons. Last season’s finale was my favorite of all the shows I watched, and it’s been my most re-watched TV episode this summer. But what really got me excited for this upcoming season was Mindy Kaling’s enthusiasm for telling a story about a relationship, for creating a modern Lucy and Ricky in Mindy and Danny. The Mindy Project‘s storytelling, acting, and comedy all had a real sense of confidence by the end of last season, and I’m excited to see how that confidence and clarity carries over into this new season.—Season Premiere 9/16
Forever (10 p.m. on ABC)
I have to be honest: I’m basically checking out this show because of my long-standing crush on Ioan Gruffud. (Did anybody else adore him in 102 Dalmatians, or is that just me?) However, the premise of this show about an immortal medical examiner is different enough to draw me in for reasons beyond a pretty face. I like twists on procedurals, and this at least seems like a potentially compelling one.—Series Premiere 9/23
Red Band Society (9 p.m. on FOX)
I haven’t watched this pilot yet (although you can online), but I was captivated by the promos for this show since I saw the first one. It seems like it has the kind of emotion-driven storytelling that I’m always a sucker for. I also love Octavia Spencer’s body of work and have been a fan of Dave Annable since Brothers and Sisters, so their presence alone makes this pilot worth watching for me.—Series Premiere 9/17 (Pilot available online)
Black-ish (9:30 p.m. on ABC)
I find Anthony Anderson incredibly charming, and the very funny promos for this show have capitalized on his likability. If a new show makes me laugh every time I see a commercial for it, I feel like I need to put it on my to-watch list. The fact that the great Laurence Fishburne is also a member of this cast is just icing on the cake.—Series Premiere 9/24
Nashville (10 p.m. on ABC)
Oh Nashville, just when I start thinking you’re showing genuine growth for my favorite character (that would be Juliette Barnes for those keeping score at home), you make her backslide in a horrible way during the last few episode of Season Two. However, I still find myself waiting for Season Three because—gosh darn it—I need to know what’s going to happen with Rayna/Deacon/Luke! I blame Charles Esten (I still call him “Chip” from Whose Line Is It Anyway?) and his heartbreaking work as Deacon for making me still care about a love triangle when I usually despise them.—Season Premiere 9/24
Scandal (9 p.m. on ABC)
In typical Scandal fashion, last season’s finale ended with approximately 800 cliffhangers and unanswered questions. I’m looking forward to seeing how all of those are dealt with in the upcoming season, but let’s not kid ourselves; at this point, I’m really sticking with this show for two reasons: Olivia Pope’s clothes and Mellie Grant. With Kerry Washington free once again to wear gorgeous clothing without being hidden by purses (and lamps) and Bellamy Young coming back after a breakthrough season, I think my two reasons to watch are going to be more compelling than ever.—Season Premiere 9/25
How to Get Away with Murder (10 p.m. on ABC)
Shonda Rhimes shows always start strong. Her pilots often feature great twists that leave you with no other option than putting her shows into your TV schedule, at least for the first few seasons. Between what we know about Shonda Rhimes and what we know about the talents of Viola Davis, I have no reason to doubt that this will be a pilot everyone will be talking about. And because of Davis (much more so than because of Rhimes), I’ll sign up for whatever craziness is bound to come my way with this show.—Series Premiere 9/25
Once Upon a Time (8 p.m. on ABC)*
I am ready for everything this new season of Once Upon a Time is promising: the effects of new parenthood on Snow White and Prince Charming; Regina struggling with heartbreak while building on the character development that made last season such a joy; Emma and Hook navigating their new relationship and developing as individuals in the process; and all things Frozen. After watching that movie more than once this summer, I’ve come to the conclusion that little on TV this fall excites me more than the idea of Emma and Elsa developing a friendship—or at least a sense that they’re not alone in being born with powers they never asked for and in having a tendency towards self-imposed isolation because of how they grew up. —Season Premiere 9/28
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (8:30 p.m. on FOX)
This was the only new show from last season that I’ll be returning to this season, and it happens to be one of the shows I’m most looking forward to having back on my TV. Its first season had such a clear tone and fully-developed characters, so I can only imagine how much stronger it will get as it continues to grow into its second season. Without Parks and Recreation coming back until January, I’ll need a dose of guaranteed happiness every week, and I think this will be the show I can turn to for exactly that.—Season Premiere 9/28
The Good Wife (9 p.m. on CBS)
How do you follow up what was probably the best season of a network drama in years? That’s the question I’m excited to see answered by a show that keeps surprising me even after so many seasons. With a promo that already reveals Diane’s new role and Alicia’s answer to last season’s cliffhanger question, I know I’m not alone in wondering what big surprise is in store for us in the season premiere and in being excited for what this talented cast will do with whatever that surprise is.—Season Premiere 9/21
What does your fall TV schedule look liker? Let me know which returning favorites and new pilots you’re most looking forward to watching!