Last month was upfront season for America’s TV industry, in which the major networks all revealed what they’ve got on the slate for the 2016-17 season. It’s a surprisingly strong season, with some exciting shows amongst the line-ups (and some with quite intricate or original premises).
There are a couple of clear trends this time around: plenty of former sitcom stars are returning to new comedies — Kevin James in Kevin Can Wait, Matt LeBlanc in Man With A Plan and Jenna Elfman in Imaginary Mary — although none of them look particularly promising (since 1996, Elfman has starred in seven TV comedies and only Dharma and Greg made it past one season — not a great sign for Imaginary Mary).
There are also a bunch of shows about time travel and plenty of reboots and TV series adapted from films. But here are our picks of the coming attractions for you to keep your eye out for, wherever they may surface locally.
Creators Rick Singer and Dan Fogelman’s baseball series Pitch follows a young female pitcher who becomes the first woman in Major League Baseball. The series is officially associated with Major League Baseball through sponsorship arrangements, but it might still be a while before there are female players in the league.
Minnie Driver stars in this new sitcom as a forthright and tenacious mother who’ll do all that she can to give her young family the best that she can. She’s particularly ferocious in caring for her son J.J. (newcomer Micah Fowler) who has a disability.
The Good Place (NBC)
Michael Schur co-created two of the most consistent American TV comedies of the last decade in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Recreation, but his new series is a little more adventurous. The always charming Kristen Bell stars as Eleanor, a woman who is killed and enters the afterlife, discovering that she’ll be spending eternity in “the good place”. But there’s been a mix-up: she’s not the saint the angels believe she is.
Son of Zorn (FOX)
It’s entirely possible that Son of Zorn (pictured above), Fox’s new live-action/animation fusion about an animated fantastical warrior living in the real world, could be completely unwatchable. But the trailer is definitely intriguing, and there are more than a few decent laughs in there. Fish out of water narratives are amongst the most reliable in the TV canon, and there’s some pretty serious talent behind this one.
Here’s something we never thought we’d say: the new TV show loosely based on the early career of Dr. Phil (yes, that TV star therapist Dr. Phil) could be excellent. Michael Weatherly stars as Dr. Jason Bull, the founder of a trial consulting firm who use all kinds of techniques to analyse and understand juries.
Making History (FOX)
Created by veteran comedy writer Julius Sharpe, Making History is one of a few time-travel romps to premiere in the 2016-17 season. It stars Adam Pally, Leighton Meester and Yassir Lester. Think Back to the Future for adults.
Shots Fired (FOX)
Fox has billed Shots Fired as an “event series”, and it could easily be one of the most politically explosive shows of the decade if it lives up to its promise. It’s inspired by the recent shootings which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, and follows a racially charged shooting in North Carolina. It stars Sanaa Lathan, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephan James, and Stephen Moyer.
Designated Survivor (ABC)
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a junior cabinet member in the US government who is the “designated survivor” during the State of the Union address. When an explosion claims the lives of the President and all the cabinet members, Kirkman becomes the President. We’re not too sure how the show will evolve over the course of the season (will it just be about a new president finding his feet in times of crisis?) but if the trailer is anything to go by, the opening episodes will be full of tension and intrigue.
Still Star-Crossed (ABC)
Still Star-Crossed might become one of the hits of the season: a guilty pleasure Shakespeare soap. It’s a sequel to Romeo and Juliet (based on the book of the same name by Melinda Taub) and follows Rosaline (played by Lashana Lynch) as the relationship between the Montagues and Capulets continues to struggle. It’s produced by Shonda Rhimes’ hugely successful company Shondaland.
Frequency (The CW)
Major broadcast network The CW is only 10 years old, but its quality of programming keeps lifting. If there’s one film to TV adaptation worth catching in the upcoming season, it’s probably Frequency, inspired by the cult 2000 film of the same name. Peyton List stars as Detective Raimy Sullivan, who discovers she’s able to speak to her dead father via a ham radio.