Upfronts! It’s the exciting time when networks announce new and returning shows, the sad time when networks announce that your favorite sitcoms are canceled, and the overwhelming time when networks announce their fall schedules and you scramble to plan your life around television. Here is a helpful and exhaustingly comprehensive look at the 2014-2015 fall TV season, featuring everything you need to know: snazzy preview trailers, details about upcoming programs, when old favorites will be airing, and which network has the worst promotional photos. (Spoiler: It’s NBC.) We’ll update the post as needed.
ABC Cliff Notes: The network (which is in last place) unveiled a refreshingly diverse slate featuring black-, Asian-American, and Latina-focused sitcoms, a ton of shows with female creators/writers, and Thursday’s all-night Shonda Rhimes-a-thon. Also of note: ABC still likes horrible titles.
Black-Ish (Wednesdays, 9:30 PM)
The Cast: Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Tracee Ellis Ross, Miles Brown, Marcus Scribner The Show: An upper-middle-class black man tries to raise his kids with a sense of cultural identity aided by his father (Fishburne). Early Opinion: Great cast and interesting premise, unfortunately bad name. I’m really hoping this one will catch on and last more than a few episodes.
Cristela (Fridays, 8:30 PM)
The Cast: Cristela Alonzo, Carlos Ponce, Terri Hoyos, Andrew Leeds, Sam McMurray The Show: In a similar vein to Black-Ish, Cristela is about a law student who struggles with her career choice vs. her traditional Mexican-American family’s opinions. Early Opinion: That preview wasn’t too interesting but Cristela Alonzo (who also co-wrote the pilot) is a gifted stand-up, so this has potential.
Fresh Off the Boat (midseason)
The Cast: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen The Show: Set in the ’90s (why?), this comedy is about an 11-year-old and his family as they move from suburban Orlando to DC’s Chinatown and experience a huge culture shock. Based on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir. Early Opinion: It may not sound promising on paper but the preview is solid, and it’s written by Nahnatchka Khan, the brilliant mind behind Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23.
Manhattan Love Story (Tuesdays, 8:30 PM)
The Cast: Jake McDorman, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Wright, Jade Catta-Preta, Kurt Fuller The Show: Manhattan Love Story is a romantic comedy that “exposes the differences between men and women through the unfiltered thoughts, and often contradictory actions, of a new couple who have just begun dating.” Early Opinion: The season hasn’t even started and I’m already sick of rom-coms and this one seems particularly bland. McDorman’s great, but he’s made some bad choices after Greek.
Selfie (Tuesdays, 8 PM)
The Cast: Karen Gillan, John Cho, Tim Peper, Da’Vine Joy Randolph The Show: Internet queen Eliza Dooley (yes, it’s loosely based on My Fair Lady) hires a marketing guru to teach her how to make real friends instead of just Twitter followers. Early Opinion: I’m really excited for this one — it’s from Emily Kapnek, who created Suburgatory — and I think it could be really good and join Cougar Town and Trophy Wife in the world of “fun ABC shows with ridiculous titles.”
The Cast: Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Vinne Jones, Karen David, Mallory Jensen The Show: Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) teamed up with composer Alan Menken (Aladdin) and lyricist Glenn Slater (Tangled) for a musical/comedy/fairytale. Early Opinion: This trailer was absurd in the best way, and I am 100% on board for its surely short-lived existence.
American Crime (Sundays 9 PM, midseason)
The Cast: Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Earl Brown, Richard Cabral, Caitlin Gerard The Show: A gritty drama about a couple who were attacked in their home and the four people who become suspects, increasing racial tension throughout the city. Early Opinion: I’d say this had some strong TV version of Crash vibes if there weren’t already a TV version of Crash. But ABC’s real proud of this one.
Astronaut Wives Club (midseason)
The Cast: Joanna Garcia Swisher, Odette Annable, Zoe Boyle, Desmond Harrington The Show: Based on Lily Koppel’s book, it’s a ten-episode limited series that “tells the story of the women who were key players behind some of the biggest events in American history.” Early Opinion: 2014 is big for astronauts TV series, I guess, and I have a feeling this one will fall into the cracks.
Forever (Tuesdays, 10 PM)
The Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Alana De La Garza, Judd Hirsch The Show: A medical drama about a hotshot NYC medical examiner who happens to be immortal. But his eternal life is why his observational skills are so good! Or something. Early Opinion: Its premise is just dumb enough to work, and I could see it lasting (and maybe getting good when it focuses more on the mystery of why he’s immortal).
How To Get Away With Murder (Thursdays, 10 PM)
The Cast: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, The Show: Shonda Rhimes continues her domination at ABC, this time with a “masterful, sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller” about a professor and four of her students in a “How To Get Away With Murder” class who get tied up in a real-life case. Early Opinion: The combination of Shonda Rhimes and Viola Davis will make this a must-watch, even though that’s a ridiculous idea for a class.
Marvel’s Agent Carter (midseason, after SHIELD)
The Cast: Hayley Atwell The Show: In a series inspired by the Captain America movies, Peggy Carter balances working for the SSR with hew new single life (after losing Steve Rogers). Early Opinion: This pickup was the most expected from ABC. It came along with the renewal of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and will certainly do well among fans of that series.
Secrets and Lies (Thursdays, 10 PM, midseason)
The Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Juliette Lewis, KaDee Strickland The Show: A ten-episode anthology/event series about Phillippe as a murder suspect and Lewis as the detective who tries to figure out the truth. The draw is that viewers can play along as detectives because we won’t figure out if he actually did it until the finale. And if it’s renewed? A new story next season! Early Opinion: Event series are everywhere this year, so it’s going to take something real special to stand out. This isn’t it.
The Whispers (midseason)
The Cast: Lily Rabe, Milo Ventimiglia, Barry Sloane, Derek Webster, Catalina Denis, Kylie Rogers The Show: An alien invasion drama where the aliens are using human children (by posing as their imaginary friends!) to help them in their quest for world domination. Early Opinion: This is such a good and creepy trailer, and taps into some real fears. This might be the first trailer that has made me legitimately excited for an upcoming drama. It’s been forever since we’ve had a good alien drama on television so maybe this will be it.
Castle (Mondays, 10 PM) Dancing With The Stars (Mondays, 8 PM) Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays, 8 PM) The Goldbergs (Wednesdays, 8:30 PM) Last Man Standing (Fridays, 8 PM) Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD (Tuesdays, 9 PM) The Middle (Wednesdays, 8 PM) Modern Family (Wednesdays, 9 PM) Nashville (Wednesdays, 10 PM) Once Upon A Time (Sundays, 8 PM) Resurrection (Sundays, 9 PM) Revenge (Sundays, 10 PM) Scandal (Thursdays, 9 PM)
CBS Cliff Notes: Some predictable spin-offs of popular franchises and a small amount of comedies (then again, CBS renewed just about everything from last year) that will be shuffled around as football takes over (the strict Thursday lineup begins October 30). The one big surprises? No How I Met Your Dad and, finally, the last season of Two and a Half Men. (Trailers for the new shows will be added as they are released.)
The McCarthys (Thursdays, 9:30 PM)
The Cast: Laurie Metcalf, Jack McGee, Joey McIntyre, Jimmy Dunn, Kalen Coleman The Show: A big, loud, sports-crazed Irish Catholic Boston family is upset that their gay son wants to move out of Boston and spend less time with his family. Early Opinion: One day TV will learn that comedies set in Boston and/or featuring “loud, sports-crazed” Boston families don’t work.
The Odd Couple (midseason)
The Cast: Matthew Perry, Thomas Lennon, Lindsay Sloane The Show: Multi-camera remake of The Odd Couple starring Perry as slob Oscar and Lennon as neat-freak Felix. Early Opinion: It looks like Matthew Perry finally landed a post-Friends sitcom that may last more than one season (even if it’s bad)!
Battle Creek (midseason)
The Cast: Josh Duhamel, Dean Winters, Kal Penn The Show: Polar-opposite cops (that’s new!) who work together to clean up the streets in Battle Creek. Early Opinion: Unoriginal premise, but it’s from Vince Gilligan, and everyone’s still riding high on Breaking Bad. Also, you can’t go wrong with 30 Rock‘s Dennis Duffy.
CSI: Cyber (Sundays, 10 PM, midseason)
The Cast: Patricia Arquette The Show: Inspired by the real cyber psychologist Mary Aiken, this spin-off is all about web-based crime and how it plays out in the real world. Early Opinion: It’s called CSI: Cyber.
Madam Secretary (Sundays, 8 PM)
The Cast: Téa Leoni, Bebe Neuwirth, Patina Miller, Erich Bergen, Tim Daly The Show: Leoni stars as the new (and “shrewd”) Secretary of State who balances her work in the White House with — get this! — her personal life at home! Early Opinion: TV will never stop making shows about “strong women balancing work and home” and people will never stop watching them.
NCIS: New Orleans (Tuesdays, 9 PM)
The Cast: Scott Bakula, Lucas Black, Zoe McLellan, CCH Pounder The Show: A spin-off of NCIS (and thus a spin-off of NCIS: Los Angeles), this takes the same old approach to Navy Crime but in a different city: New Orleans. Early Opinion: CBS loves its spin-offs, and they tend to do well, so count on NCIS: New Orleans existing for a million years.
Scorpion (Mondays, 9 PM)
The Cast: Elyes Gabel, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Robert Patrick, Ari Stidham, Jadyn Wong The Show: Inspired by a true story, this “high-octane” drama is about Homeland Security’s new division that tackles “high-tech threats of the modern age” and the group of nerdy misfits who can barely exist out of their circle. Early Opinion: Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious) is EP and directed the pilot, so that’s a good sign. CBS’ lineup is all about dragging the network into a modern era, even if it comes off a bit like your grandmother struggling to use AOL.
Stalker (Wednesdays, 10 PM)
The Cast: Maggie Q, Dylan McDermott, Victor Rasuk The Show: A psychological thriller about detectives who specifically investigate stalking incidents for the Threat Assessment Unit. Early Opinion: This sounds like a joke, but if there is one thing that does well on CBS, it’s crime procedurals.
Returning series: 2 Broke Girls (Mondays, 8:30 PM — after football ends) The Amazing Race (Fridays, 8 PM) The Big Bang Theory (Mondays, 8 PM, Thursdays, 8 PM after 10/30) Blue Bloods (Fridays, 10 PM) Criminal Minds (Wednesdays, 9 PM) CSI (Sundays, 10 PM) Elementary (Thursdays, 10 PM) The Good Wife (Sundays, 9 PM) Hawaii Five-0 (Fridays, 9 PM) The Millers (Thursdays, 8:30 PM after 10/30) Mom (Mondays, 8:30 PM) NCIS (Tuesdays, 8 PM) NCIS: LA (Mondays, 10 PM) Person Of Interest (Tuesdays, 10 PM) Survivor (Wednesdays, 8PM) Two and a Half Men (Thursdays, 9 PM after 10/30) (final season)
Fox Cliff Notes: Sunday’s Animation Domination has been broken up by live-action sitcoms (including Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and Gotham will be paired with Sleepy Hollow. Fox already has solid comedies, so it’s going for broke with a bunch of dramas.
Last Man On Earth (midseason)
The Cast: Will Forte The Show: Single-camera comedy set in 2022 about the last man on earth, who spends his time in an RV searching the country for other survivors. Early Opinion: Forte is someone that I’ve wanted to see lead a sitcom for so long, and this might be my favorite comedy trailer of the season.
Mulaney (Sundays, 9:30 PM)
The Cast: John Mulaney, Martin Short, Nasim Pedrad, Seaton Smith, Zach Pearlman, Elliot Gould The Show: Mulaney plays a stand-up comedian (of course) who writes for a comedy legend/game show host (played by Martin Short). Fox has already claimed it’s “Seinfeld for a new generation.” Early Opinion: It’s John Mulaney! What could go wrong with John Mulaney? Well, the trailer isn’t great and it has that dreaded multi-cam that will turn off many viewers — but, again, it’s John Mulaney!
Weird Loners (midseason)
The Cast: Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton, Nate Torrence, Meera Khumbhani The Show: Single-cam about four “relationship-phobic” 30-somethings living together in a townhouse. The newest attempt to recreate Friends, but this time in Queens. Early Opinion: If this were on any other network, it would probably be yanked within four episodes, but Fox tends to keep their shows on long enough for this to become good.
The Cast: Rainn Wilson, Kristoffer Polaha, Dennis Haysbert, The Show: Based on a popular book series, Backstrom is about an irascible, self-destructive detective in the Serious Crimes Unit. Early Opinion: The “Detective House” jokes are already rolling in and it’s easy to see why. There’s nothing new or interesting happening here.
The Cast: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollet The Show: From Lee Daniels and Daniel Strong (The Butler), Empire is a hip-hop family drama about the “king of hip-hop” learning he’ll be dead in three years. Early Opinion: Everyone behind the scenes is great, and it’s a great pick-up for Fox, so let’s hope it doesn’t fizzle out quickly.
Gotham (Mondays, 8 PM)
The Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor The Show: An origin story for Batman and his enemies, Gotham explores the early lives of DC Comics’ famous characters. Early Opinion: A surefire hit, and I can’t wait to obsess over this every week.
Gracepoint (Thursdays, 9 PM)
The Cast: David Tennant, Anna Gunn, Michael Peña The Show: A ten-episode mystery event series that’s based on the UK crime drama Broadchurch, centered on the mystery of a young boy’s death. Early Opinion: Yet another TV “event” but one that I’m actually excited for, especially based on the cast.
The Cast: Reece Ritchie, Condola Rashad, Kelsey Chow The Show: Set in ancient Egypt, it “follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah.” Early Opinion: An ambitious, unique series that will surely find a small audience but may not catch on in the ratings.
Red Band Society (Wednesdays, 9 PM)
The Cast: Octavia Spencer, Grifflin Gluck, Charlie Rowe, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Zoe Levin The Show: A “provocative, unconventional and, at times, comic high school drama told through the eyes of a group of teenagers who meet as patients in the pediatric ward.” Early Opinion: Adorable and the right blend of comedy-drama. This feels more ABC than Fox, but I’ll take it.
Wayward Pines (midseason)
The Cast: Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Juliette Lewis The Show: M. Night Shyamalan’s TV debut about a secret service agent heading to a small town to investigate the disappearance of two missing federal agents. Early Opinion: The Shyamalan angle is intriguing enough, but it’s too Twin Peaks-ish. Why not just watch Twin Peaks at this point?
Utopia (Tuesdays, 8PM and Fridays, 9 PM)
The Cast: N/A The Show: An unscripted show that’s being billed as “television’s biggest social experiment” about 15 Americans spending a year trying to create their own perfect civilization. Early Opinion: Kid Nation with adults, so it sounds incredibly boring.
Bob’s Burgers (Sundays, 7:30 PM) Bones (Thursdays, 8 PM) Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sundays 8:30 PM) Family Guy (Sundays, 9 PM) The Following (midseason) Glee (midseason) Hell’s Kitchen (Wednesdays, 8 PM) Masterchef Junior (Fridays, 8 PM) The Mindy Project (Tuesdays, 9:30 PM) New Girl (Tuesdays, 9 PM) The Simpsons (Sundays, 8 PM) Sleepy Hollow (Mondays, 9 PM)
NBC Cliff Notes: First-place network (?!) NBC is axing the classic Thursday comedy lineup once known as Must See TV. As always, the fall will see a handful of sitcoms that will likely be canceled. Also: Parenthood and Parks and Recreation will air their last seasons.
A To Z (Thursdays, 9:30 PM)
The Cast: Ben Feldman, Cristin Milioti, Henry Zebrowski, Lenora Crichlow, Christina Kirk The Show: NBC’s latest attempt at a rom-com that tells the complete story of a relationship (from A to Z!). After a missed connection two years ago, the couple, Andrew and Zelda (A to Z!), reconnect despite their opposite personalities. Also, Katey Segal is the narrator for some reason. Early Opinion: “He’s a guy’s guy who likes sports and Liam Neeson movies!” “She’s a girl’s girl who likes pedicures and themed cocktail parties!” I groaned throughout this entire trailer. I’m hoping it doesn’t go past six episodes but know it probably will.
Bad Judge (Thursdays, 9 PM)
The Cast: Kate Walsh, Mather Zickel, John Ducey, Tone Bell, Theodore Barnes The Show: Kate Walsh stars as the titular Bad Judge (not to be confused with CBS’ quickly canceled Bad Teacher or the future Bad Occupation shows that will surely pop up), a respected and tough judge who parties hard in her messy and complicated personal life. But then she meets an eight-year-old boy whose parents she put in jail and softens up. Early Opinion: I love Kate Walsh and I want her to do more funny stuff, so theoretically I’m on board with this, but the trailer isn’t that promising. It’s going to depend on how well the show can balance Walsh’s bad judge antics with her soft side.
Marry Me (Tuesdays, 9 PM)
The Cast: Ken Marino, Casey Wilson, Tim Meadows, Sarah Wright The Show: Ken Marino and Casey Wilson played a young engaged couple in a sitcom loosely based on the life of David Caspe (one of the creators of Happy Endings). Early Opinion: Amazing cast and great showrunner. I can’t think of anything more I want than a half-hour of Marino and Wilson every week. Prediction: it will get really good after about six episodes, right about when cancellation rumors start.
Mission Control (midseason)
The Cast: Krysten Ritter, Tommy Dewey, Malcolm Barrett, Jonathan Slavin, Julie Meyer The Show: This 1960s sitcom stars Ritter as a “tough but brilliant aerospace engineer” struggling to make it in the boys’ club of Nasa, juggling her astronaut boyfriend, her “man’s man” co-manager, and an all-guy team. Early Opinion: Ritter seems right for the role. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are two of the EPs, so it worries me that this might go a little too Anchorman, but that’s also why it might survive.
Mr. Robinson (midseason)
The Cast: Craig Robinson, Jean Smart, Ben Koldyke, Amandla Stenberg The Show: In this holdover from last year, Craig Robinson stars as a lead singer/keyboardist of a rock band who takes a substitute teaching gig to make some extra cash. Get read for lots of School of Rock comparisons. Early Opinion: I will follow Craig Robinson anywhere. He has the chops to be a sitcom lead, and I’m glad NBC’s giving him the chance to prove it.
One Big Happy (midseason)
The Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Nick Zano, Kelly Brook, Brandon Smith, Rebecca Cory The Show: From the duo of 2 Broke Girls‘ Liz Feldman and Ellen DeGeneres, One Big Happy is about a lesbian and her best friend conceiving a child together only to have him unexpectedly marry someone else. Early Opinion: The most exciting thing about this upcoming TV season is that everyone from Happy Endings will be on a show, though unfortunately not together. This definitely has potential to be great.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (midseason)
The Cast: Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski The Show: Kemper plays a woman who leaves a cult after 15 years to head to New York City. Early Opinion: A 30 Rock reunion! Tina Fey and Robert Carlock are EPs, and I’m on board. The premise and cast are great, and I imagine — and hope — this will last.
Allegiance (Thursdays, 10 PM, midseason)
The Cast: Gavin Stenhouse, Scott Cohen, Hope Davis The Show: Based on “The Gordin Cell,” Allegiance follows a CIA analyst whose parents and sister are part of a reactivated Russian sleeper spell and the parents have to spy on their son. (It’s like high school!) Early Opinion: It’s definitely a great, engaging premise, but I think we’ve hit peak CIA analyst.
Constantine (Fridays, 10 PM)
The Cast: Matt Ryan, Harold Perrineau, Charles Halford The Show: Based on DC Comics’ Hellblazer, Constantine follows a demon hunter thrust back into the trade after demons target the daughter of one of his friends. Early Opinion: Definitely one of the most anticipated shows of the fall, Constantine is going to be a hit among its built-in fanbase and newcomers.
The Mysteries of Laura (Wednesdays, 8 PM)
The Cast: Debra Messing, Laz Alonso, Janina Gavankar The Show: A lighthearted detective drama with Debra Messing as a soon-to-be-divorced mother playing double duty: cleaning up after her unruly sons and cleaning up the streets! (NBC’s press releases are especially hilarious this year). Early Opinion: This will probably hit a sweet spot for many NBC viewers (it’s Debra Messing! As a great detective and a mom!), and I’m not going to lie: I will watch every episode of this that airs. I probably won’t enjoy it, but I will watch it.
The Cast: Anna Friel, Jake Robinson, Nate Mooney The Show: A Traffic-like thriller about three families torn apart due to a “shocking international military conspiracy.” Early Opinion: As a rule, anything that has “shocking” in the description is likely boring.
State of Affairs (Mondays, 10 PM starting November 17)
The Cast: Katherine Heigl, Alfre Woodard, Adam Kaufman, Sheila Vand, Cliff Chamberlain, Tommy Savas and Leslie Odom, Jr. The Show: A CIA analyst works closely with the president while trying to figure out who killed his son (the son that she was once engaged to) and also, Heigl’s character is named “Charleston Tucker.” Early Opinion: This is going to be the worst! The absolute worst! Katherine Heigl is not fit for this role (go re-watch the trailer and take note of the “I’m going to end every single one of their lives” line reading), and the whole thing is a dumb way to try and capture the success of other, better shows. Please don’t make us watch this, NBC.
Returning Series: About A Boy (Tuesdays, 9:30 PM) The Biggest Loser (Thursdays, 8 PM) The Blacklist (Mondays, 10 PM; Thursdays, 9 PM starting February 5) Chicago Fire (Tuesdays, 10 PM) Chicago PD (Wednesdays, 10 PM) Grimm (Fridays, 9 PM) Law and Order: SVU (Wednesdays 9 PM) Parenthood (Thursdays, 10 PM) (final season) Parks and Recreation (unscheduled) (final season)