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19 Fall TV Shows for Grownups

Our pick of the best new and returning series in television’s new ‘golden age’

  • Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

    ‘The Roosevelts’

    Documentarian Ken Burns brings the political dynasty to life in a seven-part series focused on the most prominent members of the influential family: Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. PBS, check your local listings.

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  • Getty Images

    ‘The Mysteries of Laura’

    Debra Messing plays a homicide detective who’s trying to find a balance between her highly demanding work life and complicated personal life. Not only is she going through a messy divorce with her unfaithful husband, but her young twin sons are horribly behaved brats. It’s based on the popular Spanish-language series Los Misterios de Laura. NBC, Sept. 17

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  • Fox

    ‘Red Band Society’

    Octavia Spencer, an Oscar winner for The Help, is the top nurse in a pediatric hospital in this Steven Spielberg-produced dramedy; she’s also the reason that mature viewers might watch. It’s being compared to The Breakfast Club, except that the teens here are dealing with life-threatening maladies. Fox, Sept. 17

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  • CBS

    ‘Scorpion’

    Based on the story of real-life information technology (IT) genius Walter O’Brien, who created a company to protect the world from high-tech threats, the show was deemed “Big Bang Theory in the field” by a CBS exec. There’s even a pretty waitress (Katharine McPhee, behind counter). If the capers of O’Brien and his band of brainiacs come close to the deliciousness of the pilot episode, with its action-movie ending, it will be a winner. CBS, Sept. 22

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  • CBS

    ‘NCIS: New Orleans’

    Perhaps you saw this spin-off debut when Mark Harmon’s Jethro Gibbs was down in the Big Easy working a case last spring. Don’t be surprised if Harmon, far right, returns for more crossovers. As he put it: “I’m here to help.” Scott Bakula, center, is leader of the New Orleans field office, and his cast mates include Lucas Black, left, and CCH Pounder, seated, as the coroner. CBS, Sept. 23

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  • Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

    ‘The Boomer List’

    Nineteen iconic boomers, from Deepak Chopra to Rosie O’Donnell, share their experiences and achievements in interviews with filmmaker and photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. This American Masters production was funded in part by AARP. PBS, Sept. 23

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  • ABC

    ‘Black-ish’

    It’s a hoot to see Laurence Fishburne, right, trade in his gravitas for a turn as a one-man Greek chorus who constantly jeers his son, played by Anthony Anderson, left, a successful ad exec who lives in fear of his cultural identity being compromised. No wonder. Living in an affluent, mostly white neighborhood, Anderson’s oldest son plays field hockey and wants a bar mitzvah. Tracee Ellis Ross is the mixed-race M.D. mom. ABC, Sept. 24

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  • ABC

    ‘How to Get Away With Murder’

    This series is worth watching if only to see two-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis, center, having a blast with her arch character, Annalise Keating, the morally askew steamroller of an attorney and law school professor. But there’s more. Keating’s brightest students, it would seem, have learned her getting-away-with-murder techniques all too well. This Shonda Rhimes-produced mystery takes place in a world of its own. ABC, Sept. 25

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  • Getty Images

    ‘Bad Judge’

    You will need to willingly suspend your disbelief to enjoy Kate Walsh as a sex-crazed and boozing judge with a droll wit and a big heart. The Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice star says she wanted to try something new when she took on the comedy — and comical it is. There’s no way this not-always-so-honorable judge could exist in the real world (we hope). NBC, Oct. 2

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  • AARP Offer

    Sign up for the AARP Lifestyle Newsletter to find out about new movies, great games and travel ideas each month. By joining AARP today, you can also save on movie tickets, restaurants, airfare, hotels and more and have even more fun!

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  • Fox

    ‘Gracepoint’

    A small town roils after a 12-year-old boy’s death is declared a murder, and investigators begin lining up suspects. This is the U.S. version of the U.K. miniseries Broadchurch, which ran here on BBC America last season. It is absorbing grownup fare with (spoiler alert) a different ending than the Brit edition. A marvelous cast includes Jacki Weaver, Nick Nolte, Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn, right, and David Tennant, left, the only cast member to transition from the original (but now sporting a different name and an American accent). Fox, Oct. 2

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  • Showtime

    ‘The Affair’

    Viewers get to see the starkly different memories of the same events in an affair between a married diner waitress (English actress Ruth Wilson, left) and a teacher (Dominic West, right) who’s summering in Montauk, N.Y., with his family. The show’s creators say it is more about marriage than about adultery. Judge for yourself. Showtime, Oct. 19

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  • HBO

    ‘The Comeback’

    Lisa Kudrow’s cult comedy about aging former Hollywood “It Girl” Valerie Cherish and her humiliating bids to remain relevant is returning nine years after its brief but memorable original run. It’s back for six episodes, and this time Kudrow and her writing collaborator Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City) have Valerie snagging a part on an HBO series. HBO, November

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  • Getty Images

    ‘The Blacklist’

    James Spader’s international master criminal turned FBI super informant Raymond “Red” Reddington, at right with Hisham Tawfiq, has joined the pantheon of must-see TV characters — and also made this crime thriller-mystery a hit. Season 1 went out in a burst of information and (bloody) action, only making fans hungry for more. NBC, Sept. 22

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  • HBO

    ‘Boardwalk Empire’

    This highly regarded 1920s’ mobster series starring Steve Buscemi will end this season. For the big finish, they’ve re-created the trial of Al Capone and minded all those verisimilitudinous details, right down to the tilt of his white fedora. HBO, Sept. 7

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  • Getty Images

    ‘Dancing With the Stars’

    Simon Cowell a guest judge? A shake-up among the pro dancers? Those are just a couple of possibilities swirling as the show approaches Season 19. The team is upbeat, and there's nothing like live TV. ABC, Sept. 15

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  • Showtime

    ‘Homeland’

    It’s been eight months — time enough for viewers to grieve and move on from the brutal death of Sgt. Brody (Damian Lewis) at the end of Season 3. Fans are now dying to see how the series moves on with a new setting. Claire Danes, who plays CIA case officer Carrie Mathison, is now working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Showtime, Oct. 5

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  • CBS

    ‘The Good Wife’

    A new season arrives with answers to the cliffhanger questions of last spring. Will Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, right) run for state’s attorney? Will Diane Lockhart work at the new firm? Will anyone die this season? CBS, Sept. 21

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  • HBO

    ‘The Newsroom’

    The third and last season of this bracing broadcast journalism drama led by Jeff Daniels will definitely be interesting. Creator Aaron Sorkin told an audience at the Tribeca Film Festival that he wishes he could start again — and now he’s telling the story he’s wanted to tell. HBO, Fall

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  • Getty Images

    ‘Parenthood’

    Ever since the announcement that there will be a final 13 episodes of this family drama, there’s been speculation about what will happen to the Braverman clan (led by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia, above, with Miles Heizer). Creator Jason Katims’ statement that he plans “a huge new challenge” affecting everyone in the family has some predicting a death. Our hope: Katims will find a classy and fitting finale — and not the other side of a shark. NBC, Sept. 24  

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