ABC, Tuesdays at 10, premieres Sept. 24
Coworkers at a Queens, N.Y., gas station and convenience store go in on a lottery ticket that makes them all rich — and completely messes up each of their lives. The drama, which follows many story lines at once, is a complicated, risky and mature idea. It works because the cast is solid, the premise intriguing and it's refreshing to see something original. Well, maybe not that original. It's based on a British drama, but at least it's not another crime procedural.
The Crazy Ones
CBS, Thursdays at 9, premieres Sept. 26
Having Robin Williams, 63, back on TV in his first regular role in more than 30 years is a gift from the TV gods. He plays Zach Cropper, a Madison Avenue copywriter who runs his own shop with daughter Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar, another TV darling whose return is getting much ballyhoo). The ad agency setting, with its pitches and creative sessions, gives Williams room for the manic fast-talkin’ flights of improv that made him famous. He’s funny, and so is the show. The challenge for the show runners will be to rein him in without resorting to a straitjacket.
The Michael J. Fox Show
NBC, Thursdays at 9:30, premieres Sept. 26
Playing a New York TV newsman juggling work and family, Fox, 52, needs only a few minutes to showcase his charm. The series incorporates the actor's real-life struggles with Parkinson's disease, and it's a bit too much in the first episode. Countless jokes about the illness from his wife, kids and coworkers are trying too hard to make it clear that it's OK to laugh. As long as the jokes move past the illness without abandoning it, the pieces are there for a huge hit.
NBC, Wednesdays at 10, premieres Oct. 2
This is not your father's Ironside. It's way better. The reboot of this 1960s drama about a wheelchair-using detective once played by the imitable Raymond Burr has built-in appeal for boomers who remember Burr chasing bad guys on the streets of San Francisco. But there's more than nostalgia to recommend it. Chiefly, there's Blair Underwood, 49, who spins the title character in an angry, conflicted and compelling direction.
Sean Saves the World
NBC, Thursdays at 9, premieres Oct. 3
Linda Lavin, 75, steals scenes as Sean Hayes' meddling mother. "I'm playing a mother who is not the butt of a joke," she told television critics this summer. She sees the character as someone "who has something to say and is attractive and smart and challenging." Lavin may just be the saving grace for this show that is meant to be a vehicle for Hayes (Will & Grace), 43. He plays a single gay dad raising his teenage daughter; unfortunately, the execution is fairly flimsy.
Fox, Mondays at 8, premieres Nov. 4
If you like sci-fi, this is the show for you. Its co-creator is J.J. Abrams, 47, who put Lost and Fringe on the air. But this story may have more warmth because of the pairing between a human detective and a sentient cyborg. Set in 2038, Almost Human stars Australian actor Karl Urban, 41, as Kennex, the human partner in the pair, and Michael Ealy, 40, as the cyborg called Dorian. Urban earned sci-fi cred playing Bones in the recent Star Trek films, but this show will rise or fall on the Kennex-Dorian relationship, which starts out strong.
Fox, Fridays at 9:30, premieres Nov. 8
If Beetle Bailey came to TV he might be in this sitcom about three brothers stationed together on a tiny Army post in Florida, where important assignments include tracking down a military family's lost dog. "This is the opposite of an Army commercial," one brother says, and he's hilariously right. Watch for Keith David, 57, as a base commander who constantly, inappropriately reminds people of the foot he lost in combat, usually by removing and displaying his prosthesis.
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