To me, fall has always felt like a season of new beginnings—from first days of school to season premieres of favorite television shows. The long hiatuses are finally over, and we can finally reconnect with our favorite stories and characters as if they were friends from school we’d missed during summer break. And there’s always the hope that a new show will come in to steal your heart just like a cute new kid walking in to your homeroom on the first day of class.
This is now my fifth of breaking down my list of must-watch season and series premieres to share with all of you, and it has continued to bring me joy year after year. This is NGN’s longest running feature, and I think it’s had staying power because it’s filled with the one thing that has kept this site going since the beginning: excitement. It’s been fun to see how this list has changed (and grown!) over the years, with shows that are now some of my favorites showing up as pilots I wanted to check out back when I first started this list. This year—with many of my favorite shows saying their goodbyes in the last couple of years and others not starting until the winter—I have a large number of new pilots I want to watch, and I’m hopeful that at least one of those will join the ranks of Nashville, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and black-ish as shows that started as possibilities on this list and have since stuck around on it for years.
To kick off our fifth TV season at NGN, here are the shows I’ll be watching this year, along with their season or series premiere dates. This doesn’t include reality TV shows like Dancing with the Stars or variety shows like Saturday Night Live. New pilots I’ll be checking out will be highlighted in pink. And don’t forget to share what you’ll be watching this season in the comments!
Jane the Virgin (9 p.m. on The CW)
This show was one of my TV happy places last season. It always felt like coming home when I spent an hour with the Villanueva family. No matter what kind of crazy drama was happening, I always found myself laughing, crying, and often doing both in the same hour. After the intense cliffhanger that ended last season’s finale, I’ve been waiting all summer to see what’s next for Jane, Michael, Petra, and the rest of this amazing cast of characters.
Season Premiere October 17
Conviction (10 p.m. on ABC)
Part of me wants to be angry with this show, since the day it was announced was the day I knew Agent Carter was a goner, but once I saw the trailer, it was love at first sight. Shows featuring complex female characters who learn to let themselves care and become a part of something bigger than themselves are my ultimate weakness, and that’s exactly what this show seems to be about. Add in the fact that its supporting cast includes Merrin Dungey (who I’ve been a fan of for more than a decade) and it stars one of my favorite actors on television (Hayley Atwell), and there is no doubt that this is one of the new shows I’m most looking forward to adding to my viewing schedule.
Series Premiere October 3
Timeless (10 p.m. on NBC)
I have a soft spot for time travel, and the trailer for this show hooked me immediately by including World War II-era scenes, which has always been one of my favorite historical periods. This show seems like it could strike a great balance between action, drama, science fiction, and romance, and that is a winning combination in my book. Also, if the success of this show means the excellent Abigail Spencer won’t show up on Suits anymore to ruin my Donna/Harvery shipper dreams, then that’s even more of a reason to watch it.
Series Premiere October 3
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (8 p.m. on FOX)
This is my most-anticipated season premiere of 2016. Brooklyn Nine-Nine somehow manages to keep getting better, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m excited to see how Jake and Captain Holt will handle their time in the Witness Protection Program, and I’m even more excited to see how the 99 gets on without them back in New York. With Maya Rudolph, Jim O’Heir, and Rhea Perlman guest starring this season, the excitement I had at the end of last season has only continued to grow.
Season Premiere September 20
The Flash (8 p.m. on The CW)
Despite a subpar sophomore season and a cliffhanger that left me more frustrated than excited, I’m heading into Season Three with cautious optimism. And that is all because of the talents of this show’s excellent cast. With Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin leading the way, I know there still will be plenty of moments that will tug at my heartstrings and keep me coming back each week. It also doesn’t hurt that Wally West quickly became one of my favorite characters on television last season, and I’m eager to spend more time with him.
Season Premiere October 4
This Is Us (10 p.m. on NBC)
I’d be eager to watch this pilot even without all the buzz surrounding its “shocking” twist. I love character-driven dramas, and this show’s trailer already had me in tears. I love great acting, and this show’s cast features actors I’ve loved for years (Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia) and actors I’ve just started to adore (Sterling K. Brown). Even if this was just a standard “slice of life” drama, I think I’d enjoy it. But I’m even more intrigued knowing something cool is going to happen that I have no clue about yet. (No spoilers, please!)
Series Premiere September 20
Speechless (8:30 p.m. on ABC)
Two words: Minnie Driver. I’m a huge fan of hers, especially when she’s doing comedy. The premise of this show seems wonderfully unique, and I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about the way it allows a character with cerebral palsy to be smart, funny, and defined by more than his disability. Micah Fowler (who actually has cerebral palsy) seems to be part of a strong cast that includes some fully-developed young characters. I generally enjoy ABC’s family comedies, and I think this will be a great addition to the network’s lineup.
Series Premiere September 21
black-ish (9:30 p.m. on ABC)
One of my favorite comedies from last season returns with an episode that was shot on location in Walt Disney World. What’s not to love? I’ve been counting down the days to this season premiere since I first heard what it was going to be about, but even without the promise of Disney World, I’d still be looking forward to this show coming back. Every week last season, I grew to love this show more and more thanks to its incredible cast of child actors, its charismatic main characters (I could talk for days about my love for Bow.), and its funny and fearless storytelling.
Season Premiere September 21
The Good Place (8:30 p.m. on NBC)
With Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, and Mike Schur leading the way, how can this show be anything but excellent? The concept is so unique, but I would probably watch anything with Schur’s name attached to it at this point. He’s the brains and the heart behind two of my all-time favorite TV comedies (Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), so I have complete faith that this show is going to be another favorite of mine.
One-hour Series Premiere Monday, September 19 at 10 p.m.
Notorious (9 p.m. on ABC)
Every year, I try out one soapy primetime drama, and Notorious seems like the perfect fit. It has a sleek style, main characters with tons of chemistry, and an actor who I will watch in pretty much anything (Piper Perabo). It’s a little more cynical than most shows I gravitate toward, but I think it’s time I tried to rejoin the TGIT fun after losing interest in both Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder last year.
Series Premiere September 22
Pitch (9 p.m. on FOX)
When I first read the description for Pitch, it was like finding a show tailor-made to my interests. It’s about gender and race in the world of sports, told through the lens of the fictional story of the first woman to pitch in the MLB. As a woman who studied to be a sports journalist in college, this is right in my wheelhouse, and it makes me so happy to hear that the early buzz around it is so positive.
Series Premiere September 22
Girl Meets World (8:30 p.m. on Disney Channel)
No show on television moves me as deeply as this one. It’s not just nostalgia for Boy Meets World that gets the tears flowing; it’s the beautiful stories it tells each week about growing up, family, and the power of female friendship. Over the last few months, this has become one of those shows that dominates my thoughts from one episode to the next, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this beautiful season plays out.
Next Episode Airs September 16
Once Upon a Time (8 p.m. on ABC)
I’m so ready to return to Storybrooke and the stories of its inhabitants, especially after the addition of so many new residents from the Land of Untold Stories in last season’s finale. There’s been a lot of talk during this hiatus about a return to the small-town, personal stories that made the show so unique in Season One, and that would be a lovely change of pace after some excellent but large-scale and plot-heavy seasons. I’m also really looking forward to exploring Savior mythology, Emma’s psyche, Regina’s development, and Killian and Emma’s relationship now that they know what they have is True Love.
Season Premiere September 25
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Who else has had this marked on their calendar since its official release date was announced? I know it premieres a lot later than the other shows on this list, but no discussion of fall TV shows I’m looking forward to can be complete without mentioning my joy at getting to return to Stars Hollow in November and spend one final, glorious day checking in on all three Gilmore girls during an important year of transition in their lives.
Streaming Begins November 25
This is one of my favorite posts of the year because I love talking about anticipated TV and seeing what other people are looking forward to as well.
As usual, I’ve been overly ambitious in choosing what I want to try out and I’m already behind on checking out two new shows that have already premiered. I blame Maya Hart and my newfound obsession 😉 So it’s time for my annual, embarrasingly-long list of things I’m watching and trying this fall!
Returning: Supergirl, Jane the Virgin
New: Conviction, Timeless
Returning: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh off the Boat, The Real O’Neals, Chicago Fire, Halt and Catch Fire, maybe The Flash
New: No Tomorrow, This is Us
Returning: Black-ish, You’re the Worst, Rectify
New: Lethal Weapon, Frequency, Speechless, Designated Survivor, Queen Sugar
Thursdays: (aka Heather watches everything day)
Returning: Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, Life in Pieces, Mom, Superstore, Chicago Med
New: The Good Place, Pitch, Pure Genius
Returning: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Girl Meets World
Returning: Bob’s Burgers, Elementary
New: Westworld, Insecure, Divorce
Returning: Transparent, Gilmore Girls
New: One Mississippi, Fleabag, Luke Cage, Chance
I have to assume I’m not going to like everything because 19 new shows is too many. The ones I’m most looking forward to are This is Us, Pitch, The Good Place, and Speechless (which is already available on Hulu/ABC’s website and is fantastic). Realistically, I’m probably gonna prioritize the broadcast network stuff because cable shows and streaming shows always feel easier to catch up with to me and if I really need to see one of them, I can probably squeeze it in during winter hiatus. With the exception of Gilmore Girls because I don’t think anything can stop me from watching the second it comes out.
I’m really excited to see that you, me, and Katie all have some of the new shows in common, I was hoping that would happen! I’m really looking forward to swapping thoughts about all the new pilots over the next month or so.
Yay for the start of a new TV season! I always love reading these posts. I’m also trying a fair amount of new pilots this year, at least for me, and I assume I won’t keep them all but I’m hoping I’ll at least gain one new favorite.
For returning shows, I am most excited for Supergirl, Lucifer, and Elementary. The Flash (which I echo your thoughts on) and Legends of Tomorrow are on my “probation” list in that I’m considering dropping them but willing to see how it goes for a little bit.
For new shows, I’m probably most excited for The Good Place and Pitch, but really most of them on my schedule are ones that I’m looking forward to trying. I’m actually somewhat delighted by the fact that I have 2 new comedies because I really need to add comedies to help balance out the drama and angst, but it’s so hard for me to find ones that work with my secondhand embarrassment problem. I’m especially hopeful that TGP will work for me since I trust Mike Schur a lot.
I considered trying Notorious but ultimately decided to wait for reviews, so you’ll have to let me know what you think of it! I am really looking forward to getting properly into fall tv and seeing everyone trade thoughts and recommendations for the new shows.
Here’s my full schedule –
Monday: Supergirl, Lucifer, Scorpion, + new shows Conviction and Timeless
Tuesday: NCIS, The Flash, + new shows Bull, No Tomorrow, and This Is Us
Wednesday: Blindspot + new show Frequency
Thursday: Legends of Tomorrow, How To Get Away With Murder, + new shows The Good Place, Pitch, and Pure Genius
Sunday: NCISLA, Quantico, Elementary
Streaming: Gilmore Girls (!!! so excited)
Also, if I end up having room for any more TV once that schedule gets settled, I am probably going to continue Girl Meets World (which I’ve started but not got far into), and pick B99 back up (which I started a while ago and fell by the wayside as I got busy).
After a long day, I love pulpy fun, so I’m on board for Scorpion and a couple of NCIS’s. Ditto on Elementary.
I’ll probably be on the Conviction and Timeless train with everyone else, too. As far as superheros go, I’m watching Agents of Shield, the Flash, Arrow, and Legends. (Ok, some of these may be show that are on while I work.) I am seriously behind on iZombie . . . *sigh* I’ll probably check out some Syfy as well.
And evidently I’m going to have to get Netflix. No way I’m missing out on Gilmore Girls.
And we all know, I’m watching OUAT . . . 🙂
I’m trying to figure out some fun way to cover/celebrate Gilmore Girls when it airs, so you’ll definitely need to get Netflix so you can gush about it with us!
Damn you people put my TV watching schedule to shame! But can I just say how excited I am to actually watch this fall TV season ON EAST COAST TIME!? I have zero self control with spoilers so this is going to be a new experience for me for sure. I shall also know the pain of very late night football watching. The MNF game was on until almost 11 PST last night…how do people on the East Coast even watch football?
My plans are petty simple.
-The Flash (although I agree they are on shakey ground with me ever since Patty left)
-Girl Meets World (I just binged seasons 1 and 2 the past month and I love it)
-Pitch (maybe). This one might make me feel too homesick to enjoy. Probably not something to watch when my SD blood is freezing in NY over winter.
I always think I watch a lot of TV, but my shows tend to be split pretty evenly between fall and mid season. I am probably most excited for the new Star Trek but I have a bit of a wait for that one.
I am always pretty weary of starting new shows from the pilot. I like to let others vet shows for me, and I find it much easier to get invested when I can binge a first season and get to know the characters quicker. OUAT and The Flash are the only two shows in the past 6 years that I have started at the pilot and continually watched as they aired.
Yay another Girl Meets World convert!
You guys are all gonna need to keep me posted on how The Flash is going this season so I can decide if I want to keep watching.
I had no idea you jumped on the Girl Meets World train, too! This means I’m going to have write something about it ASAP so we can all get our feelings out. 😉
Yes! I haven’t had much time to fangirl lately with the move prep, but I have quietly jumped on the train! I haven’t seen any of Season 3, but I am hoping that my remote DVR programming will have it waiting for me when I get to Buffalo. Sean hasn’t asked me why a random Disney channel show is recording yet, so I don’t even know if it’s working, lol. Fingers crossed!
If it didn’t end up working, I have all of Season 3 saved on my TV, which will soon only be about 20 minutes away! 😉
Yay, fall TV! So, so ready for new stuff on my screen! I’m checking out a lot of the same new shows and sticking with a ridiculous number of old ones, per usual lol
Mondays: The Big Bang Theory, Supergirl, Jane the Virgin, Conviction
Tuesdays: The Flash, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., This Is Us, The Mindy Project
Wednesdays: Arrow, Survivor, Modern Family
Thursdays: Pitch, Grey’s Anatomy, Legends of Tomorrow, The Good Place
Fridays: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Vampire Diaries
Streaming: Gilmore Girls, can’t wait!
I like this post because I haven’t really been keeping track of what’s coming and when, but I know some of my shows have moved or have gone away so I should be thinking about which channels I’m going to be watching and when. Sorry, this comment is going to be very disorganized and brain-dumpy!
I will continue to be watching boring Discovery channel car shows live while Jane the Virgin is playing (gah, husbands!) I might get to watch Supergirl first. He likes that one.
The Middle moved slots so I might be missing that now, and I’m not sure what they put in its place on Wed nights. Is that Speechless??? That looks like it might be good. We’ll probably watch that string of abc comedies though, regardless of what’s on. We don’t love changing channels. (we’re old) Is Modern Family still going? sigh. The Goldbergs is fun – I’m happy for new episodes of that. And black-ish.
Not sure if I’ll get to watch B99 live – I hope so! Is New Girl coming back in the fall?? I haven’t heard a peep about that. What’s on before/after B99 will probably determine whether we watch.
I’m excited for The Good Place, even more now that I know it’s a Mike Schur show!
I have no idea what’s up with This Is Us – I guess I might end up being spoiled for the whatever-it-is-thats-exciting-about-this before I decide whether its worth watching or not. The ads make it look like a No for us. Hubby would probably rather watch the god-awful local news instead. Maybe i’ll start going to bed early.
Hopefully some of these new 1 hour shows are good. I haven’t paid much attention. Time travel is usually fun. Hubby might want to watch Bull – we’re pretty much done with NCIS without Michael Weatherly (or so we say – if there’s nothing better on when we sit down for dinner we’ll probably put it on) and hubby like the jury selection idea.
Excited for Once to come back. Obviously!
Curious about how Quantico is going to keep itself going with whatever happened last year being over (right? the big mystery was resolved and now something else is the big mystery? how long has it been since the last episode? my memory is shot. do I love that beautiful actress enough to watch regardless of what they’ve come up with?) Also, will we still watch Scandal (probably) and do we have the energy for HTGAWM as well?
Yeah, I really need to study my schedules. If I leave it to chance hubby might latch onto something intolerable and then I’ll be screwed. I’m very careful about my TV strategy. I can watch JtV and B99 and NG and Mindy on hulu… maybe I need to start scheduling time to watch those shows (or at least the ones he likes) during the gaps in our live viewing schedule, if there are any.
I’ve gotten so used to being without my shows I’m kind of paralyzed by the thought of them being back all of a sudden!
SUPERSTORE! Did I somehow forget how excited I am for more Cloud 9?!
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