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TV for Grownups: Fall 2013

16 new series worth watching as a new season begins

Network television may no longer earn the critical acclaim awarded its cable competition, but it draws the biggest audience, much of it over 50 years old. NCIS, for example, is going into its 11th season as the top scripted show on TV (about 20 million viewers an episode), while critical darlings such as Breaking Bad or Mad Men draw about a third of that on a good night.

See also: Boomer stars on TV slideshow

"You have all these baby boomers who have tons of spending power," says NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke, so programmers are trying to figure out how "to appeal to the [older viewers] who actually own TVs and are watching them — and then hope that everybody comes along." That's good news for grownups, obvious in the slate of new network shows for fall. Here are the ones we recommend:

Brooklyn nine-nine (Patrick Eccelsine/FOX)

Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher. — Patrick Eccelsine/FOX

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Fox, Tuesdays at 8:30, premieres Sept. 17

Watch this comedy for Andre Braugher's surprisingly strong comic chops. Always a dramatic actor (Homicide: Life on the Street, Men of a Certain Age), he shows a gift for deadpan delivery and it's a treat to watch. Braugher, 51, plays the stern new boss of former Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg, a hotshot Brooklyn detective who chafes under the boss's watchful eye.

Meet the cast of Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

MOM (Monty Brinton/CBS)

Allison Janney and Anna Faris. — Monty Brinton/CBS

Mom

CBS, Mondays at 9:30, premieres Sept. 23

It's Allison Janney, 53, who is the draw for the 50-plus viewers in this predictable but likable sitcom. Janney, best remembered on TV for her C.J. Cregg character on The West Wing, is the loopy mom and, like her daughter played by Anna Faris, is a recovering alcoholic. Another reason to like it: Faris' character is reminiscent of some of the iconic female characters in '70s sitcoms — Laverne, Shirley and Rhoda, to name a few.

Watch the introduction to the new series 'Mom'

HOSTAGES (Nicole Rivelli/CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. — CBS Broadcasting Inc

Hostages

CBS, Mondays at 10, premieres Sept. 23

Dylan McDermott, 51, has proved in series such as The Practice, Dark Blue and American Horror Story that he has what it takes to command the small screen. In this new drama, he's a Secret Service agent who invades the home of a surgeon, played by the Emmy and Golden Globe winner Toni Collette, 41, who is scheduled to operate on the president of the United States. His demand: Botch the surgery, kill the commander in chief, or her family is dead. It's a tough premise to extend over 13 episodes, but this top-notch cast makes it worth a watch.

THE GOLDBERGS (Craig Sjodin/ABC)

Clockwise from top left: Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, George Segal, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia and Sean Giambrone. — Craig Sjodin/ABC

The Goldbergs

ABC, Tuesdays at 9, premieres Sept. 24

The unfortunate misstep in this sitcom is the stereotypically bumbling Grandpa played by the great George Segal, 79. He's a fine actor and comic and he deserves better. That aside, The Goldbergs is like The Wonder Years, just set in the '80s instead of the '60s. Patton Oswalt narrates as Adam Goldberg, looking back on his adolescence during the big-hair, boombox Reagan-Bush years; Sean Giambrone plays his camcorder-toting younger self. There are lots of laughs, led by the frustrated pleas of Jeff Garlin, 51, who infuses a role that could have been rote, that of put-upon dad Murray, with heart and humor.

Trophy (Peter

Gianna Lepera, Bradley Whitford and Marcia Gay Harden. — ABC/Getty Images

Trophy Wife

ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30, premieres Sept. 24

Don't be put off by the title. This is a fractured family tale about a thrice-married guy named Brad (played by another West Wing alum, Bradley Whitford, 53) who lives in the same town as his two exes (one of them the Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden, 54) and is settling down with his young, cute and third betrothed (Malin Akerman). How does a sitcom about a man who treats marriages like car leases — serially trading in wives for newer models — work so well? Cute kids, chemistry (Whitford and Harden sizzle) and, in the charming Akerman, an instant sitcom star.

Next page: Michael J. Fox, Robin Williams, Linda Lavin, Blair Underwood are back on TV. »

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