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Broadcast TV Preview 2024: The 20 Best Free Shows Headed Your Way

Be on the lookout for these gems of the new TV season: crime shows, sitcoms, reality hits and more

spinner image from left to right actors queen latifah marg helgenberger tom selleck john lithgow and helena bonham carter
(Left to right) Queen Latifah, Marg Helgenberger, Tom Selleck, John Lithgow and Helena Bonham Carter
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Left to Right: CBS (3); PBS (2), Background: Getty Images)

At last, the Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strikes are over, so a parade of new and returning shows are lighting up TV. From tense procedurals with Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck and Queen Latifah to sitcoms and spin-offs of legendary shows, there’s plenty to put on your must-watch calendar. TV schedules for later in the year are still up in the air, so check AARP’s Entertainment page for updates, and mark your calendars with this must-watch guide.

Tracker (Feb. 11, CBS)

How optimistic is CBS about this new show starring Justin Hartley (This Is Us) as a witty, likable lone-wolf survivalist, math whiz and expert tracker who roams America with his truck and Airstream, hunting for lost people (and reward money)? It premieres right after the Super Bowl, guaranteeing a huge initial audience. We bet it’s a hit.

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NCIS (Feb. 12, CBS)

Yes, like most of this military police procedural’s 300 million–plus viewers, we’re eager to see what happens in the 21st season, now that NCIS Agent Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) has been arrested for murder. And nobody wants to miss the Feb. 19 episode, a tribute to Ducky (the late David McCallum) in which the eccentric sleuth’s work manages to help solve a case even though he’s dead. But what we really want to know is whether Ducky’s pal Gibbs (Mark Harmon, 72) will return, either to honor Ducky or to promote the upcoming Harmon-produced prequel series about Gibbs’ 1990s youth, NCIS: Origins, narrated by Harmon. It will likely air this fall or early in 2025.

Young Sheldon (Feb. 15, CBS)

After seven years, the prequel show about Sheldon, the child genius who grows up to be the quirky physicist on The Big Bang Theory, airs its final season. We won’t get to see Annie Potts, 71, as Sheldon’s potty-mouthed grandma anymore. But don’t despair: Potts is on-screen again, along with Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, in the movie Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (March 22), and there’s a new Young Sheldon spin-off series in the works.

Blue Bloods (Feb. 16, CBS)

After 14 years, the family saga of Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck, 79) and his cop sons, TV’s number 1 prime-time hit and number 3 broadcast drama, ends this season. We’re looking forward to the conversation between Selleck’s top cop and his chronic opponent, the liberal New York mayor (Dylan Walsh, 60) when the mayor mentions retirement and Frank ponders whether his job defines his entire life. To find out how Selleck feels looking back on his own life, read his forthcoming book, You Never Know: A Memoir (May 24).

The Equalizer (Feb. 18, CBS)

In Season 4, Robyn McCall (Queen Latifah, 53), single mom and defender of the defenseless, tries to save her friends from being burnt alive before her eyes, and deals with her former best friend and CIA partner (Ilfenesh Hadera), who wants revenge on the agency.

CSI Vegas (Feb. 18, CBS)

Marg Helgenberger, 65, is back as the Vegas casino owner’s daughter turned ace forensic sleuth Catherine Willows, hunting a mysterious killer in Sin City. But will any of the other veterans of the original CSI show up as guest stars — like (we hope) William Petersen, 70, whose Dr. Gil Grissom was in Season 1 of CSI: Vegas?

The Good Doctor (Feb. 20, ABC)

In the seventh and last season of the show about a doc with savant syndrome, the brilliant Dr. Murphy (Freddie Highmore) confronts his neurologist mentor, Dr. Glassman (The West Wing’s Richard Schiff, 68).

Crime Nation (Feb. 20, CW)

Former ABC News President James Goldston brings you the CW network’s first true-crime series, delving deep into the Delphi murders, the Lori Vallow Daybell case, the Gilgo Beach murders and other ripped-from-the-headlines events.

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The Rookie (Feb. 20, ABC)

In Season 6 of the show inspired by the true story of LAPD officer William Norcross, the oldest newbie officer on the force (Nathan Fillion, 52) tries to figure out who really attacked the cops in the Season 5 cliff-hanger, plus survive the last shift he works before his wedding.

Survivor (Feb. 28, CBS)

A realtor, a special ed teacher, an aerospace technician, a slot machine salesman and 14 other ambitious people walk onto a beach on Fiji to endure grueling tests and compete for $1 million in Season 46 of the addictive, influential reality competition show.

Elsbeth (Feb. 29, CBS)

In a spin-off series, Elsbeth Tascioni (a brilliant Carrie Preston, 56), the quirky attorney on The Good Wife and The Good Fight, leaves Chicago to help NYPD Captain Wagner (The Wire’s Wendell Pierce, 60) solve crimes with her scatterbrained yet high-IQ imagination.

The Masked Singer (March 6, Fox)

In Season 11 of the madcap reality show, judges Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, 51, Robin Thicke, Rita Ora and Ken Jeong, 54, try to guess the identities of the singers behind those fanciful costumes. This year’s episode themes celebrate The Wizard of Oz’s 85th anniversary, Transformers’ 40th anniversary, and the music of Billy Joel and Queen.

Animal Control (March 6, Fox)

Joel McHale, 52, returns for a second season as an irascible, fired ex-cop who becomes an Animal Control officer — a good career move, since he gets along with critters better than people. Fans are eager to see his Community costar Ken Jeong, 54, join the cast as Lee Park, a respectable, “moderately unhinged” dog whisperer. 

9-1-1 (March 14, ABC)

Fox canceled its number 1 hit, this action procedural about emergency first responders, so ABC scooped it up. In Season 7, the LAPD's Athena Grant (Angela Bassett, 65) and fire captain Bobby Nash (Six Feet Under’s Peter Krause, 58) take a relaxing cruise — and now there’s an explosion on a cruise ship. Are they toast?

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Grey’s Anatomy (March 14, ABC)

In the 20th season of the steamy hospital drama, we’ll see the aftermath of multiple cliff-hangers: two brushes with death, experienced by a patient (Sam Page) and his surgeon (Kim Raver, 55), and crucial smooches between two other couples. The titular Dr. Grey (Ellen Pompeo, 54), last seen rekindling her romance with Dr. Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman), will appear in the first episode and at least one more, and do voice-overs for the intros and endings of the episodes.

Nolly (March 17, PBS Masterpiece)

Helena Bonham Carter, 57 (The Crown, Harry Potter), plays the real-life Noele “Nolly” Gordon, queenly, brassy, flame-haired star of England's top soap opera. She refused to play by society’s rather anti-woman rules and got scandalously sacked from her hit show. Created by Doctor Who auteur Russell T. Davies, Nolly got rave reviews in the U.K., and Variety called Carter's character "a hurricane in pearls."

A Brief History of the Future (April 3, PBS)

Ari Wallach, 50, the author of Longpath: Becoming the Great Ancestors Our Future Needs whose TED talk was viewed 2.7 million times, hosts a documentary that challenges everyone’s pessimism about humanity’s future. He interviews creative types like U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, French President Emmanuel Macron and Elon Musk’s ex, the musician Grimes.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (April 8, PBS)

The singer-songwriter and lyricist duo earn the prestigious prize previously won by Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Willie Nelson, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. John will perform at the March 20 Gershwin Prize concert at DC’s DAR Constitution Hall; the show will be telecast April 8.

Art Happens Here With John Lithgow (April 26, PBS)

Six-time Emmy winner and two-time Oscar nominee Lithgow, 78 (Terms of Endearment, Killers of the Flower Moon), tries his hand at singing, dancing, printmaking and pottery, and meets kids whose lives are being turned around by art. It works!

MaryLand (May 5, PBS Masterpiece)

If you liked Broadchurch or Bad Sisters, try this mystery about estranged siblings (Suranne Jones and House of the Dragon’s Eve Best, 52) who reluctantly bond while trying to figure out how their mom died on the Isle of Man. Does their mom’s eccentric American friend (Grease’s Stockard Channing, 80) know the secret?

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