The first few new shows of the fall TV season are popping up. Next week’s biggest premieres both debut on Wednesday – “Red Band Society” (9 p.m.) on Fox and “The Mysteries of Laura” (10 p.m.) on NBC. “The Mysteries of Laura,” starring Debra Messing as a police detective and mother of hellion twin sons, will move to its official time slot – 8 p.m. Wednesday – on Sept. 24. Having only watched the pilot episode, my best hope for this show is that the kids become “heard about and not seen” and that the writers decide what the heck they’re trying to do here. But based on the pilot (which is a mess), I can’t recommend it, even with Josh Lucas playing Messing’s ex-husband (sort of).
As for “Red Band Society,” I have to say that despite my cynicism regarding the recent popularity of books, movies and TV shows based on sick and/or dying teenagers, this pilot was extremely watchable. It’s set in a fictitious hospital and follows a group of teens who essentially live there while they’re being treated for various serious illnesses. The young cast of newcomers is great and the first episode was sweet and funny, not maudlin (but do prepare for a few tears). As for familiar faces, Octavia Spencer stars as a nurse who acts as the tough-but-loving mother hen to the group, and Dave Annable is a brilliant cancer doctor. This one, I can recommend.
• On Friday, Syfy debuts “Z Nation” (10 p.m.), about a group of people who transport the only known survivor of a zombie virus across post-apocalyptic America to a lab waiting for his blood so that they can develop a cure. The show’s creators insist this isn’t going to be like “The Walking Dead.” We’ll see.
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• Lifetime debuts a movie executive-produced by Nicholas Sparks on Saturday – “Deliverance Creek” (8 p.m.), a home front drama set during the Civil War. It stars Lauren Ambrose as a widow and mother of three trying to protect her family and their land. If the movie does well, a series is likely.
• Ken Burns’ seven-day, 14-hour documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” begins on UNC-TV Sunday at 8 p.m.
Check back with us every day for more on all the new fall TV shows.