With ratings flatlining and scripted TV in critical condition, the networks are pulling out all the stops to revive their fall schedules. Will these new shows be the cure for the network blues, or just a Band-Aid fix to the scourge of hemorrhaging viewers? Our guide takes you through the shows that have a shot at survival and those that could soon be on life support.
The Backstory: In post–Civil War America, a pissed-off Confederate soldier laying rails on the first Transcontinental Railroad hunts down the men who killed his wife.
The Elevator Pitch:Desperado in the days of Glory.
The Good: Tired of shows about the 1960s? Try the 1860s.
The Bad: The Killing proved that AMC can misfire on shows surrounding
The Verdict: We’re saddled up and ready to ride.
Person of Interest(CBS)
The Backstory: A presumed-dead G-man teams up with a mysterious, prognosticating billionaire for some vigilante crime-fighting.
The Elevator Pitch: Burn Notice goes Dark Knight.
The Good: Jim Caviezel (Frequency) and Michael Emerson (Lost bad boy Ben) bring star power to this crime show with a supernatural spin.
The Bad: When these high-concept mysteries fizzle out after half a season, we’re left scratching our heads in frustration.
The Verdict: Our Magic 8 Ball predicts that the outlook is not so good.
The Backstory: Grimm’s fairy tales come to life when a homicide detective discovers he comes from a family of elite monster-hunters who can sniff out evil.
The Elevator Pitch: Agent Mulder rescues Hansel and Gretel.
The Good: Finally, a spooky story that isn’t aimed at teenage girls. (Yes, Supernatural and True Blood, we’re looking at you.)
The Bad: Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood don’t exactly have us shaking in our boots.
The Verdict: We’re curious to see how they handle Rumpelstiltskin’s attempts to steal babies.
Terra Nova (Fox)
The Backstory: Futuristic pioneers abandon a dying Earth and time travel to the dinosaur age to give humanity a second shot.
The Elevator Pitch: Land of the Lost meets Lord of the Flies.
The Good: Producer Steven Spielberg promises plenty of action-packed prehistoric adventure.
The Bad: The TV-size budget might mean more family angst than action.
The Verdict: Wait, does this mean that we killed the dinosaurs?
The Backstory: A tough-as-nails female cop struggles to gain respect and catch the bad guys in the maledominated world of NYPD homicide.
The Elevator Pitch: The Closer meets NYPD Blue.
The Good: Charismatic star Maria Bello (ER) and engaging costars Aidan Quinn (Unknown) and Kirk Acevedo (Fringe) head up a strong ensemble cast.
The Bad: The outdated “boy’s club” posturing will draw more eye rolls
The Verdict: If it sticks to badass crime-fighting and avoids boring workplace politics, it stands a chance.
Last Man Standing (ABC)
The Backstory: Tim Allen (Home Improvement) is a man’s man forced to play Mr. Mom to his teen daughters.
The Elevator Pitch: 8 Simple Rules for the Tool Time guy.
The Good: Allen has a way of cobbling sitcoms into ratings gold.
The Bad: Parenting high jinks might be as dull as a bag of hammers.
The Verdict: Sounds like a fixer-upper.
The Backstory: Talent agent Hank Azaria (The Simpsons) creates a PR nightmare he can’t fix after a drunken one-night stand with a coworker.
The Elevator Pitch: Better Off Ted meets About Last Night …
The Good: Azaria’s comedic chops could make it a sleeper hit.
The Bad: The tired premise is like an attempt to reinvent the flat tire.
The Verdict: We’re doubtful it will live up to the hype.
The Backstory: A prissy etiquette columnist enlists macho personal trainer Kevin Dillon (Entourage) to help him find the caveman within.
The Elevator Pitch: The Odd Couple on steroids.
The Good: Dillon’s character could be the twin of his Johnny “Drama.”
The Bad: The knucklehead/snob shtick may get old fast.
The Verdict: We’ll sign up for a few sessions.
Allen Gregory (Fox)
The Backstory: An animated comedy about a hilariously pretentious tyke (Superbad’s Jonah Hill) thrown into the perilous world of public school.
The Elevator Pitch: Stewie Griffin takes on Springfield Elementary.
The Good: Hill delivers big laughs as the precocious 7-going-on-47 hero.
The Bad: How edgy can the adventures of a grade-schooler be?
The Verdict: If it lives up to its potential, it’s destined for the honor roll.
Man Up! (ABC)
The Backstory: Three whipped guys try to figure out how to be real men in a world of manscaping and nonfat lattes.
The Elevator Pitch: Butch Eye for the Straight Guy.
The Good: Unapologetic dude humor could strike a note with men everywhere.
The Bad: Uninspired gags and groan worthy clichés could be a real buzzkill.
The Verdict: Man down!
The Backstory: An ex-stripper on the run from the mob pulls a switcheroo with her wealthy twin—but her sister’s life is as dangerous as her own.
The Elevator Pitch: The Parent Trap in witness protection.
The Good: Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar could slay critics as the problem-prone twins.
The Bad: We’d like to put a hit on the writer responsible for the worst of the pilot’s dialogue.
The Verdict: Double the Buffy, double the fun.
Charlie’s Angels (ABC)
The Backstory: Three sexy former bad girls turn PI in this relaunch of the classic hit series.
The Elevator Pitch: Um … a relaunch of the classic hit.
The Good: Hottie Angels, of course; a cool new Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez) and a sultry Miami backdrop.
The Bad: Another remake of a 1970s series? What’s next, Happy Days: The Next Generation?
The Verdict: It might take divine intervention for this to survive.
The Backstory: Drama abounds for an aspiring actress/waitress at the first Bunny club in 1960s Chicago.
The Elevator Pitch: Mad Men goes to Hooters.
The Good: Besides scantily clad chicks, we’re at a loss.
The Bad: Waitress melodrama? Check, please.
The Verdict: Wake us when they make The Penthouse Club—and let’s hope it’s on cable so the strippers can, you know, strip.