Each fall, television networks debut a host of new shows, hoping to catch the eye of audiences and advertisers. And amidst declining nightly viewership, networks are desperate for a big hit to draw in crowds. This year more than ever, networks are pushing big-budget productions and praying for a profit, giving rise to dozens of beautifully-produced and well-written dramas on platforms on and off the television screen. The crop of new dramas this year is abnormally large, so here is a guide to seven new TV shows worth checking out this fall.
Star Trek: Discovery
After the success of director JJ Abrams’s “Star Trek” film trilogy over the last decade, television network CBS will take a crack at the sci-fi classic with “Star Trek: Discovery,” a fresh look at the worlds of the “Star Trek” universe. Following the crew of the USS Discovery, the series will take place a decade before the original 1966 “Star Trek” series, exploring a cold war between the Earth-based Federation and the hostile alien enemy, the Klingon. Unfortunately, the series is available only through CBS All Access, which costs $6 per month. For those willing to pay, though, “Discovery” is the most anticipated and well-received of the fall 2017 show lineup. “Star Trek: Discovery” airs on CBS All Access on Sundays.
A new take on the long-standing “cop show” trope, “S.W.A.T.” follows a special ops force of the Los Angeles Police Department that handles violent crime and situations too dangerous for the general police force. The show is unusual in that it uses its platform to discuss racial injustice in the United States, especially in the African-American community. Police shootings, hate crimes, gang violence and other true-to-life issues are covered on the show, pitting the personal lives and opinions of the team against the community they serve. Expectedly, the show is largely dramatic and tends to focus on emotion and plot development over the social issues it promises. However, the twist is undeniably unique, despite social commentary rapidly becoming an unexpected feature of many network dramas this fall. “S.W.A.T.” premieres on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 10 p.m.
The Good Doctor
An emotional drama of the well-known ABC standard, “The Good Doctor” follows Shaun Murphy, an autistic medical student and surgeon who struggles with being accepted in his resident hospital despite being a virtual savant in the medical field. The series promises heart-stopping action with deep emotional struggle between characters. While the plot setup leaves little room for expansion and may quickly become episodic, audiences don’t seem to mind, as it is currently the highest-rated new fall TV series. “The Good Doctor” airs on Mondays at 10 p.m.
A surprising standout comedy/think-piece among the large ABC fall lineup, “The Mayor” stars television newcomer Brandon Michael Hall, a small-time “SoundCloud” rapper who attempts to bolster his fame by running for mayor. After a series of outspoken protests against status-quo politicians, Hall accidentally rallies enough support to elect him mayor, a job he never actually wanted. In his position, though, he finds that he knows his community and may be exactly what they need to change things for the better. With supporting acting by comedy staple Yyvette Nicole Brown of NBC’s “Community” and production by Daveed Diggs of “Hamilton” fame, the series promises laughs amidst social commentary and unexpected emotional connections. “The Mayor” airs on Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.
Comic book giant Marvel steps, once again, into the realm of television with a new branch of the X-Men Universe series, “The Gifted.” The first Marvel TV series not to be a part of the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCEU), “The Gifted” follows a suburban family whose two children discover that they have mutant powers, forcing them to go on the run to avoid capture by a mutant-seeking government task force, joining a group of mysterious underground mutants in the process. Despite mixed early reviews and the series’ departure from the MCEU, network Fox Entertainment remains steadfast in its promotion, promising action and surprising social commentary. “The Gifted” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m.
Relative newcomer to the episodic original television scene, online streaming platform Netflix is kicking off their fall major releases with “Mindhunter,” a drama/thriller about the FBI’s foray into the study of serial killers all across the United States. Based on John Douglas’s 1995 novel of the same name, the series promises historical insight and dramatic twists and turns, all with the renowned Netflix production quality. “Mindhunter” becomes available on Friday, Oct. 13.
Will & Grace
NBC, to say the least, is relying on its oldies-but-goodies this fall season, in more ways than one. With an abnormally small fall lineup, many of which debut in January, the network is banking on the success of breakout hits “This Is Us” and “The Blacklist” to carry its fall time slots. The best NBC has to offer this fall is a reprisal of the early 2000’s classic “Will & Grace,” an edgy comedy about four friends dealing with “everyday” sitcom-esque setups. Beloved in its time, the original foursome (Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes) are returning to American TV screens for a limited run, promising to be more overtly political and overtly flamboyant than ever before. “Will & Grace” airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m.