Must-See Fall TV: A Guide to the Fall Lineup

Every fall, the big four TV networks (and the CW) unleash their slate of hot new shows that execs hope will keep your eyeballs glued to your TV. However, with HBO and Showtime dominating the awards scene with juggernauts like Game of Thrones and Homeland and online streamers like Netflix and Amazon creating buzz with hits such as Orange is the New Black andTransparent, it’s harder for FOX, CBS, NBC and ABC to rule television the way they did in their heyday. Star power usually helps, and one trend is finding veteran movie stars who’ve struggled at the box office and are now trying to find a new audience on the small screen (case in point: Jennifer Lopez, who will make her network TV drama debut on NBC’s Shades of Blue). Still hoping for the next grand slam, some of your favorite stars are jockeying to earn a position on your DVR list. Here are some to watch for:

Angel from Hell (CBS)

Glee’s Jane Lynch returns to the TV fray just one year after the show that made her a household name said goodbye as the guardian angel of Maggie Lawson. The two form an unlikely relationship, but you know there’s more than meets the eye with Lynch, an Emmy winner and comedic powerhouse. Kevin Pollack and Kyle Bornheimer co-star.

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (NBC)

The erstwhile Doogie Howser shed his squeaky-clean image with a star-making supporting role as perpetual ladies man Barney on How I Met Your Mother. NPH returns to your TV after a slew of high-profile hosting gigs, including the Oscars and the Tonys, with this live one-hour variety (!) show that promises skits, magic, musical numbers and much more.

Blindspot (NBC)

The one-hour procedural is the staple of the network that brought you Law & Order and all its spinoffs, and this one — starring Jaimie Alexander and Oscar nominee Marianne Jean Baptiste (Secrets & Lies) — should have no problem finding an audience. It’s about a woman who arrives naked in Times Square with amnesia and a slew of tattoos that the FBI maps to reveal all sorts of crimes and conspiracies.

The Catch (ABC)

Known from The Killing, the moody character-driven detective show that critics loved, Mirielle Enos returns to her crime wheelhouse with this procedural about a fraud investigator who finds the tables turned on her when she herself becomes the victim of fraud.

Containment (CW)

Though it never matches the numbers its four big brothers generate, the CW knows its audience (teen girls) and this new drama from Vampire Diaries showrunner (one of their biggest hits) Julie Plec should follow suit. This story, about an epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta, stars a cast of hot people including David Gyasi and Christina Moses who will probably become more famous for being TMZ mainstays.

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS)

Spinoffs of popular crime dramas (you’ve heard of CSI, yes?) usually work for CBS, so this one starring Gary Sinise (the scene-stealer from Forrest Gump) should be no exception.

Crowded (NBC)

Carrie Preston, whose wit and charm were a welcome distraction from the mess True Bloodbecame on HBO, finally gets her own vehicle on NBC, starring as a wife and mom ready to get wild with her husband (Patrick Warburton, Seinfeld) after their kids leave, making them empty-nesters. She gets her comeuppance when two of her daughters (including Nickelodeon’s Miranda Cosgrove) and her in-laws (Stacy Keach and Carlease Burke) put the kibosh on their plans and move in.

The Family (ABC)

Multiple Oscar nominee Joan Allen heads to TV, like many of her elder stateswoman peers (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, etc.), to star in this thriller about a politician’s son who suddenly returns a decade after disappearing as a child. Allen and family must decide if he is really their son or an imposter.

Lookinglass (FOX)

Though Howard Gordon isn’t a household name, his TV resume is. The producer of hits like 24 andHomeland heads to FOX to spin this tale of a morally corrupt cop, played by veteran character actor Phillip Baker Hall (trust us, you know him too), who is given a second chance at life when he is brought back from the dead. Will he resume his wayward ways, or will he rise to the opportunity with his new sense of purpose?

Grandfathered (FOX)

Never underestimate the draw of sitcom legend, sometimes Beach Boys drummer, yogurt salesman and newly rehabbed John Stamos. His cheesy ’80s staple Full House is still one of the main ratings grabbers on late night cable, and even in his 50s, his good looks and likeable “guy next door” charm remain as steadfast as ever. He’s basically TV’s version of George Clooney. This time, his life gets upended when his character, a longtime bachelor, discovers he is a father and a grandfather.

The Grinder (FOX)

Ditto former ’80s sex symbol, Brat Pack mainstay, Twitter antagonist and successful latter-day TV comedian (Parks and Recreation) Rob Lowe. With a supporting cast that includes the beloved Fred Savage (The Wonder Years), you know you’re gonna watch this tale of a TV lawyer who returns to his quaint hometown to join his family’s law practice.

Shades of Blue (NBC)

Will triple-threat singer, dancer and actress Jennifer Lopez find success on TV away from the judging panel on American Idol? Probably. Not only is it an NBC cop drama, which can never hurt, it also stars some other really famous people, such as Ray Liotta and Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos).