From Don Johnson's return to network TV in the primetime soap "Blood and Oil" to a new "Heroes Reborn" miniseries and a whole new "Muppet" show, the 2015 fall television lineups are filled with comebacks. Take a look at some of the must-watch shows coming this fall.
CBS' well-done new medical drama stars Marcia Gay Harden as a residency director in charge of newbies in a busy, intense ER. "Code Black" is not for the squeamish, but its strong cast, sharp directing and uncluttered story make it unlike other shows of its kind.
The major draw of this show about FBI recruits (considered by some as ABC's most promising new series) is Priyanka Chopra, a Bollywood superstar with enough screen wattage to stop the thumb of even the most inveterate channel changer.
Star Morris Chestnut is the reason to watch this straight-ahead procedural. As the season goes on, he and the rest of the cast (which includes Lorraine Toussaint, Vee from "Orange Is the New Black") jell as a unit. Pleasing visuals help, too.
LIFE IN PIECES
CBS' new single-camera comedy certainly is in pieces (vignette "slices of life" crammed into a frantic half-hour), but its instant-impact actors, including James Brolin and Colin Hanks, are just enough reason to keep tuning in.
THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT
The real Stephen Colbert has revealed himself to be smart and easy to listen to, since his "Late Show" debut on Sept. 8. With guests including George Clooney (on the premiere), Donald Trump (Sept. 22) and Nobel Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai (Sept. 25), Colbert promises to continue to keep it interesting.
BEST TIME EVER
Neil Patrick Harris wants to revive/reinvent the variety genre. As did Rosie O'Donnell. As did The Osbournes. But this longtime TV star, Broadway fave and generally beloved celeb may have the bona fides to pull it off. (NBC, Sept. 15)
An amnesiac woman (Jaimie Alexander) is found in Times Square with "clue" tattoos all over her body ("Prison Break"), including the name of a key FBI agent ("The Blacklist"), whose efforts she is mysteriously able to assist (she speaks rare Chinese dialects). Throw in some "Person of Interest," "Die Hard" and "The Bourne Identity" to cook an action stew that is nevertheless surprisingly tasty. Weekly payoffs aid the requisite overarching conspiracy. (NBC, Sept. 21)
From what I've seen of this latest whack at the Philip K. Dick classic, it looks very intriguing. Or maybe I was just bedazzled by the special effects. (Fox, Sept. 21)
Williams arrives at MSNBC (as breaking news anchor) on Sept. 22 in a bid to restore that which has gone missing -- notably his reputation and this network's audience. A gamble, but one worth taking, and watching.
A "contemporary," "personal," "docu-style" comedy a la "Modern Family"? Surely you jest, ABC. Oh, you do not jest? Very well, then. I'll be watching when it premieres Sept. 22.
"Scream Queens," with Ariana Grande, from left, Emma Roberts, Abigail Breslin and Billie Lourd, was created by Murphy and co-created with frequent collaborators Ian Brennan ("Glee") and Ryan Falchuk ("American Horror Story," "Nip/Tuck")...which means...hit? Or at the very least, must-watch-the-pilot. I didn't love this -- mean-spirited and a wildly uneven opener. (Sept. 22, Fox)
Based on the 2011 movie of the same title starring Bradley Cooper, CBS' adaptation features Jake McDorman as a man who discovers the super drug from the movie and uses it to solve crimes for the FBI. Cooper will reprise his film role in a recurring guest spot. (McDorman appeared alongside Cooper in last year's Oscar-nominated "American Sniper.") Another one of those high-concept shows that look appealing, but unclear whether potential is limitless or limited. Nice looking opener, though! (Sept. 22, CBS)
The only surprise left for this smash hit's second season (Sept. 23) is in who won't be making a cameo. Half of Hollywood, or at least half of the music industry, is lined up -- conga style -- to share a scene with Cookie. Good luck with that: She has a way of devouring that scenery.
Hopefully my interest will also be reborn. (NBC, Sept. 24) Hopefully your's too. It has been five long years, after all, and the TV superhero world (See: The CW and just about every network and streaming service too) has undergone a true explosion in interest, or possibly it's just over-saturated right now. Creator Tim Kring said at the recent press tour, "because we didn?t get to have that fifth season, I did always have that in my mind, that there was an unfinished nature to all of this." Cast includes: Jack Coleman (H.R.G.), Masi Oka (Hiro), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder), Jimmy Jean-Louis (the Haitian) and Christine Rose (Angela Petrelli). And a quick glance at this list confirms an obvious concern: Hayden Panettiere, Greg Grunberg, Ali Larter, Zachary Quinto and Adrian Pasdar are not in the cast. So it appears that some business will remain unfinished.
Come on! After all these years (15), and all those murders, and all those cadavers, and all those times Capt. Jim Brass (the always terrific Paul Guilfoyle) looks wearily, bleakly, at a lying perp as if to say "You gotta be kidding me?" After all that do you really think I'm gonna miss the Sept. 27 finale, which promises the return of William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger?
BLOOD AND OIL
"Miami Vice" star Don Johnson makes his return to network TV with this prime-time soap set on the North Dakota oil patch. With Amber Valletta ("Revenge") and Chace Crawford ("Gossip Girl"). Odd thing about the pilot -- it's supposed to be set in North Dakota but (I believe) was shot in Utah. Otherwise, audiences just might be looking for another primetime oil patch soap -- even one set in the mountains. I liked what I saw of this. (Sept. 27, ABC)
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
Finally gonna get into this Fox series (which returns Sept. 27) because everyone tells me I should.
THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH
You can't go home again, and you can't re-create that which was so indelible at "The Daily Show" -- Jon Stewart's long run. So Noah's attempt will, out of necessity, be something entirely different. The outstanding question before the Sept. 28 launch is, will it be watchable?
Rob Lowe ("Parks and Recreation") never seems to be out of work for long and, paired with generally behind the camera Fred Savage, "The Grinder" promises a comedic dynamic duo, and this does appear to be one of the more promising new comedies out there. Lowe: As a former TV lawyer who returns to his hometown to become a real (sort of) legal beagle. (Sept. 29, Fox)
THE UNAUTHORIZED BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 STORY
Following the buzz-magnet backstage "Full House" movie is more '90s TV nostalgia. On Oct. 10 comes "The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story." (Lifetime, Oct. 3)
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL
Lady Gaga gets evil in the latest single-season creepfest, also with Matt Bomer, Finn Wittrock, Evan Peters, Chloë Sevigny, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. Expect serial murders, blood drinking -- the usual. (FX, Oct. 7)
THE LAST KINGDOM
Please, who wouldn't want to see a BBC America eight-part period drama on King Alfred the Great? (Oct. 10)
"Fargo" ended Dec. 14 on a positive note. But what did it all mean? Lou (Patrick Wilson) and Hank (Ted Danson) ponder life's meaning. Death's too.
TRACY MORGAN HOSTING 'SNL'
Tracy Morgan After almost being killed in a June 7, 2014, accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that claimed the life of fellow comedian and friend James McNair, it was unclear whether Morgan would survive in the days following, much less return to a career. He will in fact be back, on the very show that launched his career in 1996, as host of "Saturday Night Live" on Oct. 17. Mark this return "triumphant."
AMY SCHUMER: LIVE FROM THE APOLLO
The white Rockville Centre-raised standup hits the legendary theater of black Harlem, directed by Chris Rock. (HBO, Oct. 17)
Based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El (Superman's cousin), this new action-adventure stars Melissa Benoist ("Glee") as a girl who decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities after 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth. Opener's charming, so is Benoist, but some of the violence is not -- she may be super but also a woman, and it's jarring to see her get roughed up by a big brawny bad guy. (Oct. 26, CBS)
ASH VS. EVIL DEAD
Darned right I'm looking forward to Starz's continuation of the story of Ashley "Ash" Williams (Bruce Campbell), last seen in a pair of Sam Raimi splatterpaloozas from the early '80s. (Oct. 31)
MASTER OF NONE
"Parks & Recreation's" Aziz Ansari gets his own series, as Dev, a struggling 30-year-old actor in New York City. Mike Schur of "Parks and Rec" is an executive producer. (Netflix, Nov. 6)
MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
And yet another Dick adaptation arrives this fall, this time on Amazon Prime. It's based on his 1962 "alternative history" that supposes the Allies lost World War II. (Nov. 20)
OK, admittedly I'm into adaptations this fall, especially SyFy's attempt to finally conquer that which is unconquerable: Arthur C. Clarke's ambitious, complicated, philosophical 1953 novel about a "peaceful" alien invasion of planet Earth. This miniseries arrives Dec. 14. (Another newbie, "The Expanse," in which humans colonize the solar system, should also be worth watching.)