What Are You Watching? Fall 2017 Edition

Even though we’re in the midst of a crazy heat wave here in Western New York, it’s still the official first day of fall. And although I love all the same cliche things about the season as everyone else—the pumpkin spice lattes, the clothes, the apple cider—my favorite thing about fall is that it brings some much-needed renewal to my fangirl soul. My favorite sports (football and hockey) are back, the fall movie season begins with blockbusters mixed in with early Oscar contenders, and, of course, new television shows and seasons are found everywhere you look.

The return of this most wonderful time of the year means the return of our longest-running feature here at NGN. Whether this is your first time visiting this post or your sixth (Time flies when you’re writing about good TV!), very little has changed. Below you’ll find my fall TV viewing schedule with premiere dates (or next episode dates for shows that returned early), times, and networks included to help make your scheduling easier. And as always, new pilots I’m checking out will be highlighted in pink (because of course they will be). I’m also going to stick to scripted shows and leave out reality TV and variety shows because there’s just too many of those to keep track of!

After you finish perusing my picks, tell me what your fall in TV Land looks like in the comments. I always love comparing viewing schedules with my fellow fans!

Monday
The Gifted (9 p.m. on FOX)
The X-Men were my first favorite group of superheroes (I learned all about them from my comics-loving cousins as a kid.), so media about mutants and young people with special powers will always be a kind of catnip for me. For being someone who adores superhero movies, I haven’t found a ride-or-die superhero show yet (especially after The Flash disappointed me in Seasons 2 and 3), so I’m trying a couple of new ones this season and hoping one will stick. This one looks like it has a great cast (Amy Acker!) and an intriguing premise (What happened to the X-Men?), which might finally be enough to satisfy my superhero-loving heart.
Series Premiere October 2

Tuesday
black-ish (9 p.m. on ABC)
This is one of the returning shows I’m most excited about. The way this incredible cast blends humor, real conversations about real issues, and just enough sincerity to tug at your heartstrings is unlike anything else on television, and I can’t wait to see where this next season takes one of my favorite TV families.
Season Premiere October 3

This Is Us (9 p.m. on NBC)
I’ve stocked up on plenty of tissues in preparation for this season premiere. Although I’m ready to put the focus on Jack’s death behind us (the uncertainty surrounding it made me incredibly anxious last season) and I know the show is certainly not, I’m still looking forward to seeing what this incredible cast brings to the table every week. With two-time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown leading the way, my emotions are certainly going to get a workout.
Season Premiere September 26

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9:30 p.m. on FOX)
I feel like I start every season of this show wondering how the writers are going to work their way out of the corner they backed their characters into, and they have yet to disappoint me in how they do it. In fact, I have loved every season opener of this show, and I expect this premiere to be no different. The Nine-Nine has been my TV “happy place” for years now, and I’m read to be back there among one of the funniest casts on television and a writing crew who has managed to outdo their own brilliance year after year.
Season Premiere September 26

The Mayor (9:30 p.m. on ABC)
This is the new show I’m most looking forward to trying out this season. First and foremost, my love for Lea Michele and the characters she plays is well-documented around these parts, so even though I still wish she’d return to Broadway, I’m excited to see what she does in this role. But even more than my support of former Glee cast members, what drew me to this show was the heart the trailer showed. This seems like more than a satire; it seems like a show about someone who learns to become a part of something bigger than themselves, which is my favorite kind of story. There’s a real story to be told here about neglected communities, civic engagement, and what it takes to make real change—and I’m hopeful that this show will be brave enough to tell those stories with laughter and love.
Series Premiere October 3

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/18 – 9/25)

The fall 2016 television season kicked into high gear this week, starting with Sunday’s Emmy Awards, which featured some nice surprises (Tatiana Maslany) and beautifully sincere speeches (Jeffrey Tambor, Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus). On Monday, Dancing with the Stars gave us “TV Night,” and little did we all know how empty our lives had been before we saw Laurie Hernandez dancing to the theme from DuckTales. Also on Monday (and Thursday), The Good Place proved to be the smart, funny, and emotionally engaging comedy I was hoping it would be. On Tuesday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine returned with a hilarious look at Jake and Captain Holt’s life in the Witness Protection Program; New Girl reminded me why I fell in love with the show years ago, thanks to a stellar season premiere; and the pilot of This Is Us lived up to every expectation I had for it. Wednesday’s ABC comedies were all excellent, with a perfect Breakfast Club tribute on The Goldbergs; a fantastic pilot episode of Speechless; an entertaining return for Modern Family; and a fun Walt Disney World trip on black-ish. On Thursday, the pilot of Pitch showed enough heart, style, and substance to hook me from the start. And Friday’s episode of Girl Meets World reminded us all of a very important lesson: You can’t control every aspect of your life; you can only control how you react to what happens in your life.

Overall, this was the best week of television I’ve watched in a very long time. I wasn’t disappointed with anything I watched, which is impressive because I often have unrealistically high expectations for premieres and pilots. I enjoyed every minute of television I watched this week, and I watched many minutes of television.

Grouped together, I loved the three big twists that new shows served up this week, which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone given how much I love when television shows can still pleasantly surprise me.

SPOILERS FOR THE GOOD PLACE, THIS IS US, AND PITCH AHEAD!

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What Are You Watching? Fall 2016 Edition

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!

MONDAYS
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

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What Are You Watching? Fall 2015 Edition

It’s that time of year again—time for pumpkin-spice everything, sweaters, and football. Fall is almost here, and with it comes an exciting new season of television shows for us to watch, talk about, and obsess over.

The start of the new TV season often feels like the start of a new year, filled with excitement, hope, and a sense that anything’s possible. This might be the year your favorite “Will they, or won’t they?” couple finally gets together, the year a show you liked goes through a transformation to become a show you love, or the year you discover a new show that becomes an immediate favorite. There will be new twists to scream about, new characters to love (or love to hate), and new episodes to add to the list of ones we watch whenever we need to smile (or sob). And I can’t wait to watch it all unfold—and to discuss all of it with all of you!

Without further ado, 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, which starts this coming Monday. New pilots I’ll be checking out will be highlighted in pink. And don’t forget to tell us what you’ll be watching this season in the comments!

MONDAYS
Supergirl (8 p.m. on CBS)
I’m a sucker for a good superhero story—especially a fun, positive story in a genre that can sometimes lean toward darkness (see my new love for The Flash). I’m also a sucker for female-driven television. Supergirl seems poised to combine both of those things into one great package. I enjoyed Melissa Benoist’s relatable screen presence back when I used to watch Glee, and she seems like a great fit for the title role on this show. It’s a rare thing for a woman to star in a project like this, so I’m happy to lend my support and my viewership to a genre the world needs more of: female-centered superhero stories. — Series Premiere 10/26 (at 8:30 p.m.)

Jane the Virgin (9 p.m. on The CW)
I’m working on getting caught up on this show before the new season starts, and with every episode I love it more and more. The familial relationships are so beautiful, and they ground the show through its crazy (but fun!) twists and turns. Gina Rodriguez is an absolute delight and a great actress beyond just a charming and funny one. (I’m still cursing the Emmy voters about her omission from the Best Actress category.) Jane was a character I instantly related to, which is no easy task given the crazy situation she finds herself in. I’m excited to continue to fall more in love with these characters when the next season begins. — Season Premiere 10/12

Castle (10 p.m. on ABC)
I’m approaching this season of Castle with cautious optimism. While I did think last season’s finale would have made the ideal ending for the series, I can’t say I’m not happy that one of my favorite shows on television is back for another season. With a new (but familiar) team at the helm and some new cast members joining the show, things probably won’t feel the same around the 12th precinct anymore (especially now that Beckett has become Captain Beckett). But that might be exactly the kind of new life this show needs as it goes into its eighth season. No matter what, I know this cast and their collective chemistry will make me care about everything that happens to these characters, and I’m interested to see what new stories are waiting for them this season. — Season Premiere 9/21

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/28 – 10/5)

This week in television featured another group of strong season premieres, which began with a great first episode of Once Upon a Time‘s fourth season on Sunday. That night also saw Brooklyn Nine-Nine return with just as much humor and character development as ever, and it gave us an episode of The Good Wife with almost an embarrassment of riches in terms of great moments. Monday’s “movie night” on Dancing with the Stars was just the kind of light entertainment I needed before the season premiere of Castle broke my heart as it kicked off the season with a great mystery. Tuesday’s series premiere of Selfie was cute enough to keep me tuned in for another week, and both New Girl and The Mindy Project had their fair share of funny moments (and, in the latter’s case, one very sweet one involving a nightstand). Wednesday’s Black-ish was a strong follow-up to its hilarious pilot, and Nashville tugged at my heartstrings with some wonderful moments between Deacon and Maddie. Finally, Thursday’s night of Shonda Rhimes was once again impressive, with a standout, fearless performance by Bellamy Young on Scandal and another fascinating episode of How to Get Away with Murder.

In a week of television filled with great moments, the most satisfying came from The Good Wife. Watching Diane leave Lockhart/Gardner the way she did reminded me that no one does elevator scenes better than this show. It was also such a great parallel to last season’s exit by Cary, Alicia, and those they took with them. Christine Baranski’s ability to captivate with her subtlety was used perfectly in that scene. Her whispered “Goodbye” as she left for a fresh start was incredibly powerful in the myriad of emotions that crossed her face in that one short moment. My campaign for “Baranski for an Emmy” has begun once again.

This episode of The Good Wife also can’t be discussed without bringing up Cary and Alicia’s hug. After seeing so much tension between them and so much tension in Cary’s story in general, it was such a beautiful moment for both the characters and the audience. Sometimes you just need to see something warm and happy on television where you’d least expect it, and that hug was the most pleasant surprise imaginable.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/21 – 9/28)

This week marked the return of even more network shows and the premieres of a number of highly-anticipated pilots. The string of strong season premieres kicked off on Sunday with an episode of The Good Wife that took a turn no one expected, as Cary ended up in jail with no easy release on the horizon. Monday featured another fun episode of Dancing with the Stars and the first part of a two-night premiere for the engaging new series Forever (starring the almost criminally charming Ioan Gruffudd). New Girl and The Mindy Project both aired their second episodes on Tuesday, with the former introducing Jess to the stress of online dating and the latter introducing Mindy and us to Danny’s ma. Wednesday’s series premiere of Black-ish was very strong, and the season premiere of Nashville was filled with more drama than ever. And Thursday’s night of Shonda Rhimes shows included a fast-paced episode of Scandal and the incredibly compelling series premiere of How to Get Away with Murder.

It was wonderful to have an abundance of shows to watch and an abundance of moments to choose from for the best of the week. However, my pick for the best of the best isn’t just one moment but an hour’s worth of new moments from my favorite pilot of the season so far: How to Get Away with Murder. Everything about this pilot clicked: It had a very defined style (which I expected from one of Rhimes’s shows), it featured so many twists and turns that it left me breathless, and its characters all have much more meat to them than most pilot characters. Add to all of those things the magnetic performance of Viola Davis and one heck of an episode-ending cliffhanger, and there’s no way I’m missing this show for the foreseeable future.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

What Are You Watching? Fall 2014 Edition

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 (*).

MONDAYS
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

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Pilot Review: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Today at NGN, we welcome back the lovely Leah with her thoughts on the pilot of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland!

OUAT-Wonderland-Title-Card

Title Down the Rabbit Hole

Watch It Live, DVR, or Skip It DVR

What Happened? In the pilot episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, we are introduced to Alice, her situation in a Victorian-era world, and the main plot for the season: Alice’s journey to reunite with her love, Cyrus, while battling the Red Queen and Jafar.

Favorite Line “This is humiliating…I’m gonna die like a bloody s’more.” (The Knave of Hearts)

My Thoughts In my opinion, this was a solid—but not amazing—start for this Once Upon a Time spin-off. It properly introduced us to the main characters, and it set up the basic goal for Alice while she’s in Wonderland (finding Cyrus). I felt this pilot established Alice’s personality pretty well, and gave us a good explanation for why our Alice is so much older than the traditional Alice of Lewis Carroll’s tale: This Alice has been looking for proof of Wonderland to bring to her father for years and somehow just hasn’t quite succeeded. All her talk of the magic of Wonderland along with her multiple disappearances to the land make her father fear that she is losing her mind. He commits her to a psychiatric ward, which is where we find Alice.

For me, the love story between Cyrus and Alice was a tad boring. Their relationship bordered on saccharine at times to the point of annoyance, and that’s saying something, as I’m generally a fan of sappy romances. I think most of the reason I don’t care much about the love story so far is that I feel like we barely know Cyrus. He needs to be developed more into his own character and we need to see more of those two together in scenes that aren’t focused solely on their romance before I’ll really, truly be rooting for their love to succeed. I have faith that the show can make it happen, though, because the crew behind this spin-off has created some beautiful and complicated romances on the main show.

The aspect of the show that most interested me in this pilot was Alice’s friends, especially her relationship with the Knave of Hearts. To be completely honest, I found her banter-laden and complicated relationship with the Knave more interesting than her relationship with Cyrus. The Knave felt like a fully fleshed-out person and had hints at intriguing backstory throughout the episode. He’s also certainly loyal to Alice, but he isn’t going to blindly follow her anywhere. And he’s got a streak of selfishness with some recklessness in him that makes for a very interesting combination. I hope we’ll get to see and learn more about him as the show goes on.

While the pilot didn’t blow me away, I think it definitely has potential, and I’ll continue to see where the story goes as we get further into Alice’s journey.

What Are You Watching?: Fall 2013 Edition

It’s that wonderful time of year again—time for sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, football, and, of course, TV premieres! I can’t wait to curl up on my couch and reunite with my favorite characters in the coming weeks and also to discover new shows and characters to love as I choose from a list of intriguing pilots.

Which new show is going to make me laugh until I cry, like The Mindy Project did last season? Which characters are going to warm my heart the way Ben and Leslie did? Who’s going to sweep me off my feet like Jake Johnson? Which premiere is going to be as great a companion to a season finale as last season’s Castle premiere?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, and that’s the fun thing about premiere season. Everything is exciting, hopeful, and new. There’s a chance that this could be the season your favorite actor delivers an Emmy-winning performance, the season that your favorite couple takes the next step in their relationship, or the season that your favorite show becomes the show everyone is talking about.

In the spirit of the unofficial start of premiere season, I want to share my TV viewing schedule with all of you, including the dates for each season premiere. Any new shows I’m planning on checking out will be highlighted in pink.

MONDAYS
Dancing with the Stars (8 p.m. on ABC)
I always want to support shows that bring dance to a mainstream audience, and DWTS is such a fun, fluffy, feel-good show to come home to after the start of the workweek. This season, I’m most looking forward to seeing Elizabeth Berkley trade her Showgirls moves for the samba and seeing Valerie Harper continue to act as a symbol of hope and perseverance in the face of her devastating cancer diagnosis. – Season Premiere 9/16

Castle (10 p.m. on ABC)
Will Beckett say yes? And whatever her answer is, will she still move to Washington? These questions have been keeping us Castle fans up at night since May, and it’s finally time to discover the answers. After a fifth season that proved the “Moonlighting Curse” could be overcome with smart writing and great acting, I’m looking forward to a sixth season filled with even more relationship progression for one of my favorite TV couples. – Season Premiere 9/23

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