Did you have an active summer, TV fans? Instead of planting yourself in front of a screen for hours on end, did you windsurf and drink wheat beer at rooftop bars? Or did you stick to the couch and air conditioning, clinging to True Blood and Breaking Bad and everything else cable had to offer while longing for NBC’s Thursday-night comedies? We did a little bit of both, but now that September’s in full swing, we’re ready to rededicate ourselves to obsessive TV fandom. After the jump, we count down our ten most anticipated network shows of the 2o12-13 season, from J.J. Abrams’ newest post-apocalyptic romp to Mindy Kaling’s solo debut to an American Sherlock Holmes adaptation that might actually work.
10. Revolution Premiere date: Monday Sept. 10, 10pm, NBC
As difficult as this may be to believe, your Flavorwire editors don’t always agree. Take Revolution, for instance. While some of us caught the full-episode preview and found it preposterous — full of bad acting, undifferentiated characters, and ridiculous coincidences — others found its final few scenes, which set up the action for the season ahead, compelling enough to keep watching. Those last few minutes, along with the presence of Breaking Bad’s masterful Giancarlo Esposito, have secured J.J. Abrams’ post-apocalyptic action drama a spot on this list. But if the next few episodes don’t deliver, we’ll have no qualms giving up on this one.
9. Vegas Premiere date: Tuesday Sept. 25, 10pm, CBS
With HBO’s mob-heavy Atlantic City period drama, Boardwalk Empire, entering its third hugely successful season, it’s time for the networks to come lumbering after it with their own renditions. Yes, it’s easy to be cynical about Vegas, set in the ’60s and based on the real-life story of Clark County Sheriff Ralph Lamb, given a fictional nemesis in Chicago gangster Vincent Savino. But with Quaid as the good guy and Michael Chiklis as the mafioso — not to mention our favorite Matrix alum, Carrie-Anne Moss, playing the assistant DA — we’re prepared to concede that CBS’s attempt to drum up some premium cable-level excitement might well turn out better than last year’s round of Mad Men rip-offs.
8. 666 Park Avenue Premiere date: Sunday Sept. 30, 10pm, ABC
American Horror Story meets Gossip Girl in this series created by the folks who brought us both the latter and Pretty Little Liars. But this is no teen drama — adapted from the novel by Gabriella Pierce, it’s set in a luxury building on the Upper East Side that might just double as a satanic playground. Slated to follow Revenge in ABC’s Sunday night lineup, 666 Park Avenue could be the perfect, slightly silly supernatural complement to that show’s glossy score-settling. And we’d be remiss not to mention that the cast features Vanessa Williams and Lost’s Terry O’Quinn (who most certainly looks to be in evil-Locke mode).
7. Elementary Premiere date: Thursday Sept. 27, 10pm, CBS
We’ll admit it: We rolled our eyes at the announcement of yet another Sherlock Holmes TV series. And we weren’t alone — in fact, we weren’t the only ones who wondered how much overlap there would be between CBS’s Elementary and the BBC’s Sherlock, which is already a cult favorite in the US. But although the series may well have come about as a result of the observation that the character still has legs across the pond, the stateside version does seem sufficiently different. For one thing, Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock will be an even darker character — in a characterization that actually has a good deal of support in Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, he’s a British addict who moves to New York to enter rehab — and Lucy Liu will be the show’s female Watson, a disgraced former surgeon hired to be Sherlock’s sober companion. The casting alone is exciting, but the chemistry between Miller and Liu in the trailer above is all kinds of promising.
6. Arrow Premiere date: Wednesday Oct. 10, 8pm, The CW
There’s plenty of potential in this live-action series based on the Green Arrow, a billionaire who reappears after years spent stranded on an island and sets about atoning for the mistakes of his youth. Judging by the trailer, The CW’s version looks sexy — but not cheesily so — and fast-paced, with nice special effects. And so far, critics seem to love it. The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Arrow has something for everyone. Fight scenes are intense and reminiscent at times of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Arrow also seems to be a master of martial arts who, like Buffy was with Mr. Pointy, is (shocker!) also well-versed with pointy things. There’s a built-in love triangle, family drama and in the pilot hour alone, two scenes that feature Amell’s six-pack (eight?) abs.” HuffPost TV staff, meanwhile, unanimously recommends checking it out.
5. Last Resort Premiere date: Thursday Sept. 27, 8pm, ABC
In easily the most compelling premise of the fall season, this ensemble military drama follows US Navy submarine crew that refuses orders to blow Pakistan off the map. Faced with the captain and first mate’s defiance, American fires on their own sub, forcing the crew to escape — with their nuclear weapons — and set up their own state on a nearby island. Whoa. An early look at the first episode prompted TIME’s James Poniewozik to pronounce, “This is how a pilot should work.” It’s also great to see Dichen Lachman, who we loved on Dollhouse, as a TV series regular again.
4. The Following Premiere date: Midseason, Fox
We didn’t want to put too many midseason shows on this list, because it’s no fun to get excited for shows that are still half a year away from premiering. But we just couldn’t leave off The Following, which has already earned critical buzz up the wazoo, as well as comparisons to 24. HuffPost TV’s Maggie Furlong doesn’t skimp on the praise: “Hands down the best new show of the season. Period. In fact, this is one of the best, most suspenseful, most action-packed pilots I’ve ever seen.” Starring Kevin Bacon and Rome alum James Purefoy, this thriller follows the FBI’s pursuit of a sort of über-serial killer who forms a network of other serial killers across America.
3. The New Normal Premiere date: Tuesday Sept. 11, 9:30pm, NBC
The sneak preview of The New Normal, which we hadn’t managed to get that excited about, exceeded our expectations. Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells play David and Bryan, a gay couple who want to have a baby. Georgia King is Goldie, the surrogate who appears as if in answer to their prayers, a waitress who flees a schlubby, philandering husband, driving her precocious, tech-obsessed eight-year-old daughter (Bebe Wood) out to Los Angeles to start a new life. The cast is rounded out by Ellen Barkin as Goldie’s bigoted control freak of a grandmother and Real Housewives breakout NeNe Leakes as Bryan’s secretary (yes, of course these two throw down immediately). While Lauren Bans at GQ is entirely right to point out the show’s nascent “gaycism,” we’re hoping creator Ryan Murphy will listen to criticism and make sure his trademark cartoonishness doesn’t become an excuse for lazy stereotyping, and that he learns the difference between satirizing racism and just making racist jokes — because outside of those issues, The New Normal has the best vibe of any new pilot we’ve seen so far. Yes, the “A family is a family and love is love” rhetoric feels a bit didactic, but it’s balanced with the kind of clever, biting, and occasionally raunchy humor that’s bound to cut the saccharine.
2. The Mindy Project Premiere date: Tuesday Sept. 25, 9:30pm, Fox
We fell in love with Mindy Kaling as The Office’s Kelly Kapoor, and our appreciation for her only deepened with the publication of her essay collection, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). When we heard that Fox had picked up her sitcom, it quickly shot to the top of our list. So, what’s it doing at #2? Well, after watching a sneak preview of the pilot, we have a few concerns. We love Kaling’s character, a 31-year-old doctor whose lifelong obsession with romantic comedies (a topic the show’s creator has already written about with intelligence and humor) has left her single and unsatisfied, and most of the dialogue is great. What worries us is the supporting cast, which appears to have been molded to fit New Girl’s female-protagonist-and-a-bunch-of-dudes-one-of-whom-is-a-major-asshole model, as well as an uneven tone. But all of this is bound to change once the show finds its voice, and The Mindy Project has a strong enough foundation — and Mindy Kaling enough built-up goodwill — to ensure we keep watching.
1. Nashville Premiere date: Wednesday Oct. 10, 10pm, ABC
Will Nashville be a realistic, absorbing drama or a country-music camp-fest? Considering that it stars the magnetic Connie Britton, who’s excelled at both the former (Friday Night Lights) and the latter (American Horror Story), we’re convinced it will make for great viewing either way. The setup — Britton plays an aging country star who tours with Hayden Panettiere’s sexy young upstart in an attempt to save her career — sounds familiar, but in the way most archetypal drama premises do, and it’s about time TV took on the bizarre beast that is the 21st-century music business. If all that isn’t enough, the Critics’ Choice Television Awards also named Nashville one of the year’s Most Exciting New Series.