New fall TV shows 2013: Worth watching or not worth the time?
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This season's new shows are ranked using three quick categories. Potent means watch it. Potential means might work/needs work. Pass means skip it.
(10 p.m., ABC; Sept. 29)
Hannah Ware, Stuart Townsend, James Cromwell
Is the way to a woman's heart on football night really double "Revenge," right down to the premiere's attack flashback? With its own "forbidden" love, this Chicago adultery tale may be more soulful (googly-eyed "magnitude of things" pillow talk). But it's still family wealth and naked ambition. With a murder trial. And naked bodies. (Ooh, cable-y!) Pass
"WE ARE MEN"
(8:30 p.m., CBS; Sept. 30)
Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O'Connell, Kal Penn
Here comes the narration. It's single-camera comedy's Crutch of '13. Chris Smith gets the gig here as the final "short-term housing" arrival in a quartet of SoCal divorced dudes convinced they're "lions back at the watering hole." More like lions lazing about after eating. The battle of the sexes tropes are equally tired. How can this killer cast deliver something this inert? Potential/Pass
(9 p.m., Fox; debuted Sept. 16, with Friday, Sept. 27, 9 p.m. encore)
Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie
Which genre to tackle? Fantasy, crime, romance? If you can't decide, mix 'em all. Literary legends return to life amid unsolved upstate crimes. Noble Ichabod Crane is gobsmacked by 21st century culture, while his gutsy female police pal (and fellow mystical linchpin) copes with that unearthed headless horseman. Somehow, served by these hearty stars, the kooky brew can taste satisfying. It's this year's "Heroes" -- soar or sag? Potent/ Potential
(9:30 p.m., CBS; Sept. 23)
Anna Faris, Allison Janney
Faris don't get no respect -- from her married boyfriend/restaurant boss, her single-raised kids, her drug-dealing ex or her newly re-arrived awful mom. So, newly sober, she tries to supply it for herself. The too-jaunty mood of Chuck Lorre's latest studio-com -- semen jokes and "cocaine crumbs" punchlines -- is overcome by the precision of Faris' fragile gumption. She's got grace, under fire. Potent
(10 p.m., CBS; Sept. 23)
Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott
Who's being held hostage to what? That's the tease in this magnetic caper in which a surgeon is told to tank the president's operation or lose her family. Clock ticks, people's tics -- they're Jerry Bruckheimer's mastery, and his latest psychodrama is crammed with muddy motives that make it meaty. Potent
(10 p.m., NBC; Sept. 23)
James Spader, Megan Boone
Shades of gray make this cat-and-mouse tale all the more colorful. Spader's dandy agent-turned- traitor turns himself in, the better to toy with Boone's eager young fed, her loving (or is he?) hubby, and his own personal "wish list" of under-the-radar "criminals" he now targets because -- that's for us to find out in a game Spader makes mesmerizing. Potent
"MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D."
(8 p.m., ABC; Sept. 24)
Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen
Resurrected agent Coulson (Gregg) sends operatives into the field. His subtle wit is always welcome, but the anticipated "Avengers" spinoff pilot was not available for preview. Potential
(8 p.m., CW, starting Oct. 15; preview Oct. 3 at 9 p.m.) -- Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Daniella Pineda
Vampires, werewolves, witches -- oh, my! Expanding from their "Vampire Diaries" origins are Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah and Hayley, all back in New Orleans, where old-time Czar Klaus wants to outwit his devious protege and current French Quarter king (hot newcomer Charles Michael Davis). Good luck following the players, "rules" and bloody doings of this convoluted show. Pass
(8 p.m., Fox; debuted Sept. 17)
Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Peter Riegert, Martin Mull
Another awesome cast. Another "really?" show. Video game creators head home from the office to their pops' thigh-slappers involving toilet flushes and penguin meat. The studio audience is lovin' it. But the flushing of possibilities in the two preview episodes is no laughing matter. Only for the cast: Potential/Pass
(8:30 p.m., Fox; debuted Sept. 17)
Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher
Punchlines await a nonexistent laugh track on this single-camera funfest that tries way too hard. There's the wacky dude, the ambitious chick, the mousy guy, the scary dame, blah, blah. As the tough, new commander, Braugher lays back and is thus the show's rock. For Braugher only: Potential/Pass
(9 p.m., ABC; Sept. 24)
Jeff Garlin, George Segal
This narrated single-camera familycom flashback treads "Wonder Years" territory. Which is not the place to tread unless you are, say, "The Wonder Years." This one takes place in the '80s (not '60s), outside Philly (not Long Island), in a Jewish household (not unspecified "average"). The younger brother narrator is coming of age to cute waitresses' "poppies" with his "80 years of pure awesome" granddad driving the Trans Am. Same old viewpoint. Same old take. BUT THEY YELL! Pass
(9:30 p.m., ABC; Sept. 24)
Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford
It's great when something that shouldn't work, does. Yes, this single-camera comedy hits its tropes -- younger new wife tries to fit with older husband, his kids and his exes: one uptight, one spacey. But it also has great actors (Marcia Gay Harden plays uptight), a loopy slant and a crazy pace. Dead hamster dilemma here, vodka chug scene there -- woo-hoo! Potential
(10 p.m., ABC; Sept. 24)
Kim Roberts, Jack Fulton, Rizwan Manji
This sprawling serial is set in an Astoria quick-stop car-fix shop that's got plenty of drama -- even before its employee pool hits the lottery. On the night of a store robbery. As one mechanic's wife has a baby. And the Indian clerk meets her intended groom. Yes, this premise pilot bites off too much story. But there's a nice coat of city grit, an authentic mix of ethnicities and various charms among its ensemble cast of unknown actors. Potential
"BACK IN THE GAME"
(8:30 p.m., ABC; Sept. 25)
James Caan, Maggie Lawson
Casting, casting, casting. It's nailed here. But so is tone. A clever mix of innocence and adult humor nestles this single-camera saga nicely into ABC's Wednesday family comedy lineup. Caan's cranky old baseball non-star, Lawson's plucky/ grudging daughter and an athletically inept grandson make this "Bad News Bears" knockoff an amiable place to spend a half-hour. Potential
"THE TOMORROW PEOPLE"
(9 p.m., CW; Oct. 9)
Robbie Amell, Luke Mitchell, Peyton List
Teens never fit in. Especially if they've got "tele" powers, like -portation and -kinesis. And their outcast fellow "species" members want to help, while their scientist uncle wants to "contain" them. Wow, a cool lair! (Actually, two.) It's a lot to take in, but plays cool, even with TV's 27-year-old teens. Potential
"SUPER FUN NIGHT"
(9:30 p.m., ABC; Oct. 2)
Rebel Wilson, Kevin Bishop
Did I say Wednesday "family" night? That's until this cringe-making comedy shoots broadly for mature-audiences-only. Trying to have it both ways, Aussie sensation Wilson (here with an American accent) has her plus-size lawyer and romantic soul constantly humiliated -- then punches back. This single-camera comedy of discomfort is an acquired taste that America may not have the patience to swallow. Potential/Pass
(10 p.m., NBC; Oct. 2)
Blair Underwood, Pablo Schreiber
So the reason for this remake of the '70s hit about a paraplegic police detective is, uh, uh, still thinking. So are the producers. Our hero now serves the NYPD (rather than San Fran). He's tough enough to beat a guy up before the opening credits, and his crew's got a lair called The Wheelhouse. It's altogether too cool. And familiar. And needlessly byzantine. If America wasn't into NBC's smarter "Prime Suspect," why watch this? Pass
"ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND"
(8 p.m., ABC; Oct. 10)
Sophie Lowe, Michael Socha
A white rabbit, a hot genie and a cute male companion -- what more could a girl need? But Alice in CGI-land initially seems less compelling than Sunday's character-driven "Once Upon a Time," at least in ABC's 20-minute "presentation" pilot. Potential?
(8:30 p.m., CBS; Oct. 3)
Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale
Never bet against old pros. It's a joy watching these three, even when they're yelling sitcom sex jokes. Oh, yeah, Arnett's a TV reporter whose cranky retired parents move back home to get divorced. With JB Smoove playing wingman! Potent
"WELCOME TO THE FAMILY"
(8:30 p.m., NBC; Oct. 3)
Mike O'Malley, Ricardo Chavira, Mary McCormack
Pampered slacker meets scrappy valedictorian. They make baby. Their opinionated dads meet accidentally/ anonymously. They make enemies. When everybody meets, moms stand by helplessly. Anything missing from this single-camera "comedy"? Ah, just you wait. Pass
"THE CRAZY ONES"
(9 p.m., CBS; Sept. 26)
Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Madness runs amok! Funny voices, frantic fretting, sitcom-ese like "Pivot me." Life at a Chicago ad agency is a riot when Mork, oops, Williams runs the place with daughter Buffy, oops, Gellar, while, screeching halt, painfully aching for his late wife. Hey, there's Kelly Clarkson! Can't tell what this show is about? Bingo. Cast earns some slack, but best tighten up fast. Potential/Pass
(9 p.m., CW; Oct. 17)
Adelaide Kane, Toby Regbo, Torrance Coombs, Megan Follows
Teenage Mary Queen of Scots and her four BFFs return to France for romantic entanglements and royal responsibilities, which involve ghosts, Nostradamus and emotive soundtrack songs. It's a princess dream for both girls outgrowing Disney and parents jones-ing since "The Tudors" tapped out. Solid cast, pilot pageantry. Potential
"SEAN SAVES THE WORLD"
(9 p.m., NBC; Oct. 3)
Sean Hayes, Thomas Lennon, Linda Lavin
"Reno 911" fave Lennon saves the show as the eccentric cartoon-voiced boss of Hayes' Web retailer. The "Will & Grace" guy plays single (gay) dad to a teen daughter in this laugh-track comedy, also enlivened by Lavin's meddling grandmom. Despite the pilot's uber-sitcom pacing/ punchlines, there's: Potential
"THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW"
(Premieres 9 p.m. Thursday, NBC; moves to 9:30 on Oct. 3)
Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt
Fox plays a former New York news anchor, coping with Parkinson's and too much family time, who's ready to restart his studio rivalry with Matt Lauer. But he remains one of the winningest tube stars ever, here acing the single- camera/quick-cut format in league with breaking-good Brandt. Smart writing, canny play of Parkinson's, many out-loud laughs. "Two and Half Men" will be getting their time-slot clock cleaned. Potent
(8 p.m., Fox; Sept. 27)
Gordon Ramsay teaches tweens. That's his latest Fox cookfest. Your interest may vary, but I'll say: Pass
(10 p.m., NBC; Oct. 25)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Thomas Kretschmann
Vampire hunter Van Helsing revives centuries-dead vampire hunk Dracula in Victorian
London to help bring down an organization called the Order of the Dragon. This freaky Friday mashup is so nutty, bloody, sex-drenched and audacious, it may prove irresistible. Potential