As I said last year, it now seems like the fall is the worst season for television. The new shows are mostly on networks, which means the good ones will likely be cancelled in a few weeks, and the best of cable—Breaking Bad, Louie, Wilfred, Pretty Little Liars, Mad Men—seems to air on a summer or spring schedule. Still, there are some great shows coming back this fall, and the sheer quantity of new shows means there’s bound to be something good. Here are the 10 most intriguing shows…
10) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Premieres September 24 on ABC
I’ve pretty much abandoned network dramas at this point, but this one is from Joss/Jed Whedon, which bodes well. Plus, given the Avengers pedigree, it’s likely to last at least a full year.
9) The Pete Holmes Show Premieres October 28 on TBS
Pete Holmes does not have the typical talk show host persona, which could make his show a disaster, or a much-needed injection of creativity into the formula. Hopefully the latter…
(Between Pete Holmes getting his own show in the post-Conan timeslot, John Mulaney likely replacing Seth Meyers on Weekend Update, and Hannibal Buress’ work on Totally Biased with W. Kumau Bell, comedians Josh and I saw in the summer of 2009 are taking over late night!)
8) Derek / Hello Ladies Premieres September 12 on Netflix / September 29 on HBO
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are each doing a series without the other, setting up an intriguing rivalry. So which one will turn out more like Curb Your Enthusiasm, and which one more like The Marriage Ref?
8) Brooklyn Nine-Nine Premieres September 17 on FOX
I have mixed feelings on Andy Samberg, but the rest of the cast is solid, and the writing team comes from Parks and Recreation.
6) Key & Peele Returns September 18 on Comedy Central
A new season’s worth of sketches from the best sketch show on right now.
5) Homeland Returns September 29 on Showtime
After a shocking finale ended a season with amazing highs and perplexing lows, the show faces a pivotal dramatic crossroads. How it handles Season Three will probably determine if the show is good or great.
4) Parks and Recreation Returns September 26 on NBC
Perhaps this should be higher—it’s still probably the best sitcom on TV right now. But Parks and Rec is so steady that we all know what to expect from it by now, which makes it kind of hard to get super excited for.
3) Boardwalk Empire Returned September 8 on HBO
It doesn’t get the attention of Homeland or even The Newsroom, but Boardwalk Empire has been quietly excellent for the last two years.
2) New Girl Returns September 17 on FOX
It’s not as consistent as Park and Recreation, but New Girl finished last season with a great stretch of episodes and seems poised to make the same jump the former show made between its second and third season. Plus, Coach is back, which means the return of Damon Wayans, Jr.
1) Series Finale of Breaking Bad September 29 on AMC
I’m sorry, but I won’t really be able to pay attention to anything else happening on television until this season of Breaking Bad resolves itself. The final season—which has a good chance to be the best final season ever—has been so tense and thrilling that the days between episodes just seem like life’s filler.