Fall 2013 New Shows: Drama

Almost Human
Premieres: Nov. 4
Airs: Mondays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Minka Kelly
What’s It All About? Set in a future where police are partnered up with highly evolved I, Robot-type androids, the latest from uber-producer J.J. Abrams (Fringe) tries to use the standard buddy-cop formula to explore thorny issues involving artificial intelligence and what makes someone human. Urban (Star Trek) plays John Kennex, an old-school cop recovering from a long coma after being injured in a vicious attack on the police force. He doesn’t much care for the “synthetics,” as he derisively calls them, the irony being that after having lost his leg in the attack, he’s now partially synthetic himself. His new partner Dorian (Ealy, Common Law) is a bit old-school himself, a far more human-like model — one prone to emotion and irrationality — than his newer counterparts. Their relationship recalls everything from Lethal Weapon to Blade Runner, and while the pilot episode has its ups and downs, things improve exponentially once Ealy shows up.

Karl Urban Michael Ealy Almost Human FOX
©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Liane Hentscher/FOX

BBC America
Premieres: Nov. 23
Who’s In It? Mark Addy, Jemima Rooper, Juliet Stevenson
What’s It All About? Ancient Greece is the setting for this fantasy series that will delve into the myths and legends of that time over 13 episodes. The arrival of Jason (no confirmation on whether this is the same character from Jason and the Argonauts) in the fabled city gets the adventure going. The creative team includes writers from such fan favorites as Merlin and Misfits, so expect a cult following to form almost immediately.

Premieres: Sept. 29
Airs: Sundays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Stuart Townsend, Hannah Ware, James Cromwell, Henry Thomas
What’s It All About? The title — and time slot — may lead viewers to believe they’re getting a companion piece to Revenge, and Betrayal does share elements with the former. But frankly, neither the story nor the actors seem to have enough juice to really get us to care too much. The swept-away, forbidden romance between married photographer Sara (Ware) and Jack (Townsend) feels more perfunctory than passionate. So when Jack is — gasp! — found to be the opposing attorney against Sara’s husband in a high-profile murder case involving the powerful family Jack works for, it doesn’t have quite the impact it should. Hopefully the strong supporting cast, which includes Cromwell and Thomas, will make their way to the forefront.

Betrayal ABC
© 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Craig Sjodin.

The Blacklist
Premieres: Sept. 23
Airs: Mondays at 10pm
Who’s In It? James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix
What’s It All About? Spader’s commanding performance is the main attraction of this twisty spy thriller about Raymond “Red” Reddington (Spader), a wanted fugitive who suddenly, inexplicably, turns himself in to the FBI. He claims to have inside knowledge of a terrorist plot on U.S. soil, but says he will only talk to newbie profiler Elizabeth Keen (Boone). The ensuing Silence of the Lambs-style scenes between Spader and Boone at first make the younger actress seem hopelessly overmatched, but she ends up showing she’s no pushover. Reddington’s motives are never fully clear, and Spader peppers his smartest-guy-in-the-room persona with some delicious malevolence, yet even at his worst you can’t help but want to watch the man work. This is also a very different, less hairy Spader than we’re used to seeing, and the actor explains how that is quite intentional. “The way his life has been for the last 20 years … he’s moving from place to place very quickly,” he says. “I thought he should have a haircut that he can do himself if he cares to or he can go to some barber shop in a little town in Cambodia and they can cut his hair in 10 minutes.” The secrets and reveals look like they’re going to come at breakneck speed as this looks to be one of the season’s best rides.

James Spader NBC The Blacklist
© 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Credit: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Premieres: Oct. 25
Airs: Fridays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Jonathan Rhys Meyers
What’s It All About? After all the True Blood and Twilight variations, NBC is offering an effectively back-to-basics take on vampires with this reimagined version of Bram Stoker’s original bloodsucker. This time he’s played by Meyers (The Tudors), disguising himself as Alexander Grayson, an American entrepreneur bringing his revolutionary ideas about energy (wireless light bulbs!) to England. But his real agenda includes hunting down and destroying members of the secret order that killed his beloved wife centuries ago. Classic Dracula characters such as Mina, Jonathan Harker, Lucy Westenra, Renfield and Van Helsing are all present, but in slightly to shockingly different ways than we’ve seen them before. Although Meyers’ American accent is distractingly flat and nasally, it’s a clever idea to have Dracula — always such a suave, smooth character — be seen as the uncivilized Yank amid all the snooty Brits. Finally, a vampire show for grownups.

Dracula NBC Jonathan Rhys Meyers Victoria Smurfit
© 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC Credit: Jonathon Hession

Premieres: Sept. 23
Airs: Mondays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott, Tate Donovan
What’s It All About? In what seems far more like a movie premise than that of a weekly series, this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced thriller stars Collette as Dr. Ellen Sanders, who is about to perform surgery on the president of the United States. But then a rogue FBI agent (McDermott) shows up at her house with a team of scary-looking people and takes her family hostage, saying if she does not kill the president during surgery, then her family will die. McDermott uses his unique blend of slimy and smoldering to great effect here, playing a truly dangerous villain, but it’s likely that if Hostages is to have legs it will be in the internal dynamics between the Sanders family and their takers. How soon before Stockholm syndrome sets in? Also, the kidnappers might not have a monopoly on scummy, as Ellen’s self-centered husband all-too-quickly reveals.

Toni Collette Dylan McDermott CBS Hostages
© 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Credit: Nicole Rivelli
Blair Underwood Ironside NBC
© 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Credit: J.R. Mankoff/NBC

Premieres: Oct. 2
Airs: Wednesdays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Blair Underwood, Brent Sexton, Pablo Schreiber, Spencer Grammer
What’s It All About? The iconic 1960s-70s Raymond Burr crime drama gets a modern-day update, along with a move from San Francisco to New York. The seemingly ageless Underwood (dude is 49!) takes over as the wheelchair-bound cop who operates with his own handpicked team of specialists and (this being a cop show) his own rules. His helpers include Spencer Grammer (yes, daughter of Kelsey), who tries to make her way into more grown-up fare after audiences got to know her of ABC Family’s college comedy Greek. The pilot doesn’t contain too many surprises, although Ironside’s relationship with his guilt-ridden former partner (Sexton) does add some depth. A good way to make sure people tune in every week, though, would be to keep that amazing Quincy Jones theme song from the original.

Last Tango in Halifax
Premieres: Sept. 8
Airs: Sundays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker
What’s It All About? It’s never too late for love to bloom as this charming yet gritty six-episode series shows. Thankfully it eschews most of the aren’t-old-people-cute clichés that could have made the tale of Alan (Jacobi) and Celia (Reid), who meet up some 60 years after they went to school together and promptly decide to get married, insufferable. This has unforeseen consequences on each of their families, namely their grown daughters (Lancashire, Walker) who have serious relationship issues of their own. Jacobi and Reid deliver masterful performances, and it’s incredibly refreshing to see elderly characters treated as flesh-and-blood people instead of embarrassing comic relief. The BAFTA-winning series recently began filming a second season.

Anne Reid Derek Jacobi Sarah Lancashire Nicola Walker PBS Last Tango in Halifax
© 2012 Antony & Cleopatra Series Ltd. Credit: Helen Turton

Lucky 7
Premieres: Sept. 24
Airs: Tuesdays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Isiah Whitlock Jr., Matt Long, Summer Bishil
What’s It All About? A group of seven blue-collar New Yorkers who work together at an auto shop finally strike it big by jointly winning a mega lottery jackpot. But they soon find that being rich only brings with it a new set of problems. Particularly there is Matt (Long), who with his ex-con brother Nicky (Stephen Louis Grush) committed a crime in order to pay off debt, and the investigation is looming even as they’re collecting their winnings. Whitlock (The Wire) plays the kindly shop manager.

Lucky 7 ABC
© 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: John Medland

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Premieres: Sept. 24
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen
What’s It All About? Because you can’t get enough of the Marvel universe at the box office, Joss Whedon has concocted this weekly adventure that keeps tabs on the government agency that keeps all those Avengers working. Whedon, who directed the Avengers feature film, has hinted that some of the franchise’s stars may show up onscreen, but he already had fans with the inclusion of Gregg as the beloved Agent Coulson, who appeared to have died in the film. Cobie Smulders is also expected to periodically reprise her role as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and the special effects for the project are said to be second to none.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Clark Gregg Ming Na Wen ABC
© 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Bob D’Amico

Masters of Sex
Premieres: Sept. 29
Airs: Sundays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan

Lizzy Caplan Michael Sheen Masters of Sex Showtime
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/SHOWTIME

What’s It All About? Sheen and Caplan are engrossing as famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson in this beautifully crafted character study culled from the 2009 book by critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier, who drew his material from 90-plus hours of interviews with the legendarily guarded Johnson. Yes, there is plenty of nudity and explicit sex — most often in the name of science — but the complex relationships between a compelling group of people struggling with issues of gender, success, sex and love at the dawn of the sexual revolution are what the series is really about. Though the women in Masters’ life — his patient first wife Libby, the prostitutes who are the study’s initial test subjects (AnnaLeigh Ashford’s Betty steals every scene), Johnson and other female hospital employees — come across as far more in tune with their sexuality than the men around them, Caplan says the series makes plain how females bore the greatest punishment for the era’s hush-hush attitude toward sex. “Women were fed such a laundry list of lies about their own bodies when it came to sex,” she says. “They did not have healthy views of sexuality or their bodies — it was impossible for them, because there was no information that would back it up. What Masters and Johnson did was they uncovered the scientific truth about people’s bodies — and in that truth came the ability to liberate women’s feelings about sex and orgasms.” And both stars say they appreciate the timelessness and universality of the show’s messages about matters of the heart. “It’s so rare for me to read a script that’s actually about something — something that has actual meaning and resonance for me, for my life,” Sheen explains of his rare venture into series television. “Going into work every day and working on something and then going home and feeling like there’s no difference … that’s a great privilege and a great luxury. There’s possibly more potential here than anything I’d ever come across before in my life.”

Mob City
Premieres: Dec. 4
Airs: Wednesdays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey DeMunn, Neal McDonough, Milo Ventimiglia
What’s It All About? Executive producer Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) returns to television with this highly anticipated historical crime drama about the battles between Los Angeles police and gangster Mickey Cohen. The 1940s and ’50s setting is going to be one of the attractions as the main story will intersect with glamorous movie stars, corrupt cops and a nation still trying to find its way after World War II.

Jon Bernthal Pihla Viitala Mob City TNT
Credit: TNT

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Premieres: Oct. 10
Airs: Thursdays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Sophie Lowe
What’s It All About? The hit fantasy series seems to be going the CSI franchising route (Once Upon a Time: Miami can’t be far behind, right?) with this spinoff surrounding a grownup Alice (Lowe) and her quest to reunite with her true love, a genie named Cyrus (Peter Gadiot), who she believed was killed at the hands of the evil Queen of Hearts (Emma Rigby). Helping her is the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha) and that time-obsessed White Rabbit (voice of John Lithgow). Lowe is especially strong in the lead, for the first time making Alice feel like she’s much more in control of the action as opposed to just a waif who falls down holes and drinks out of strange bottles.

Sophie Lowe Once Upon a Time in Wonderland ABC
© 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Jack Rowand

The Originals
The CW
Premieres: Oct. 3, 9pm
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Joseph Morgan, Charles Michael Davis, Phoebe Tonkin
What’s It All About? New Orleans has always been known as a melting pot, and this sexy supernatural drama — which started life in an episode of The Vampire Diaries — stretches that idea to include the witches, werewolves and, yes, vampires that inhabit the Crescent City. And they apparently don’t like each other much. At the center of the drama is a hybrid pregnancy that could forever change vampire kind and … OK, can we just start calling The CW the Twilight Network now?

The Originals CW
© 2013 The CW Network. Credit: Mathieu Young

ABC Family
Premieres: Oct. 22 at 9pm
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Tyler Blackburn, Brett Dier, Elizabeth Whitson, Nicole Gale Anderson
What’s It All About? This Pretty Little Liars spinoff is set in the nearby town of Ravenswood, where residents have been living under a curse for generations. When five strangers learn they are connected by this deadly curse, they are forced to investigate the town’s creepy history before it’s too late. Producers of both shows have hinted that the characters from each show will eventually cross paths, as Blackburn makes the leap from Rosewood to Ravenswood.

The CW
Premieres: Oct. 17
Airs: Thursdays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Adelaide Kane, Toby Regbo, Torrance Coombs
What’s It All About? The early life of Mary, Queen of Scots, might not seem a natural fit for The CW, but rest assured it comes with the requisite modern songs on the soundtrack and fronts a very youthful perspective. We meet Mary (Kane) as she arrives in France to meet her betrothed, Prince Francis (Regbo), and while there are sparks, the presence of Francis’ illegitimate brother Bash (Coombs) adds complications. A historical, non-supernatural series is quite ambitious for The CW, and the results aren’t half bad, with the young cast seeming far less cloying than the average group of CW heartthrobs. It would be nice to see the effort rewarded.

Adelaide Kane The CW Reign
© 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved. Credit: Mathieu Young/The CW

Sleepy Hollow
Premieres: Sept. 16
Airs: Mondays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones
What’s It All About? Washington Irving’s classic tale gets a modern update mixed in with a little end-of-the-world prophecy as Ichabod Crane (Mison) awakens 250 years in the future to do battle with the Headless Horseman. The two are bound together by a blood curse, and in addition to adjusting to this new world, Crane has to stop the murderous rider from fulfilling his destiny as first of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Local cop Abbie Mills (Beharie) doesn’t want to believe any of it, but her own haunted past makes her wonder. Thanks to a healthy dash of humor mixed in with the rather grim proceedings, this could end up being scary good fun.

Sleepy Hollow Tom Mison Nicole Beharie Orlando Jones FOX
© Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

The Tomorrow People
The CW
Premieres: Oct. 9
Airs: Wednesdays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Robbie Amell
What’s It All About? This tired rehash of X-Men, Heroes, Spider-Man and countless others follows Stephen Jameson (Amell), a high-school student who learns that his troubled history with mental illness is actually the result of his being part of a new breed of humans with special telekinetic powers. The so-called Tomorrow People, who can teleport themselves from one place to another and move things with their mind, bring Stephen in to help lead them to his missing father, who they believe is their only chance against the government body hunting them down. The pilot is filled with silly reveals and not really one original idea. Even the star seems recycled, as Amell is the cousin of fellow CW star Stephen Amell of Arrow. Add to the confusion that Robbie plays a character named Stephen.

Robbie Amell The Tomorrow People CW
© 2013 The CW Network, LLC. Credit: Barbara Nitke/The CW


Witches of East End
Premieres: Oct. 6
Airs: Sundays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston, Mädchen Amick
What’s It All About? Inspired by Melissa de la Cruz’s bestseller, this enchanting drama follows the Beauchamps, a family of witches living in the seaside town of East Haven. Ormond plays Joanna, who has kept her family’s paranormal identity secret from her two grown daughters (Dewan-Tatum, Boston).

Rachel Boston Julia Ormond Jenna Dewan Tatum Witches of East End Lifetime
© 2012 Bob Mahoney

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