Fall TV Preview: What to watch and what to skip in the 2018 season

TV shows clockwise: “A Million Little Pieces” (ABC), “Charmed” (The CW), “Manifest” (NBC), “The Rookie” (ABC) and “Rel” (Fox).
TV shows clockwise: “A Million Little Pieces” (ABC), “Charmed” (The CW), “Manifest” (NBC), “The Rookie” (ABC) and “Rel” (Fox). ABC, THE CW, NBC, FOX

The new fall TV shows are almost here, with broadcast network premieres starting Sept. 24 on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW.

As always, we have cop shows, doctor shows, sitcoms and reboots (welcome back “Murphy Brown,” “Magnum P.I.” and “Charmed”). We have shows about young people and shows about older people, and we have networks paying more attention than ever to the ethnic diversity of their casts.

And we finally get to find out how “The Conners” (the show formerly known as “Roseanne”), writes out its star.

Here’s a rundown of the new shows of 2018, along with minireviews for all of the series made available at press time.

Monday, Sept. 24

Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum in CBS’ ”Magnum P.I.” reboot. Karen Neal CBS Television Network

“Magnum P.I.” (CBS)

CBS resurrects one of the most entertaining shows of the ‘80s, a show that owed much of its appeal to the charisma of its lead: Tom Selleck. Does that spell trouble for this 2018 reboot? Probably not. It has Jay Hernandez as a handsome but mustache-less Thomas Magnum, and the Higgins character, played by the portly but distinguished John Hillerman in the original, now under the care of the beautiful Perdita Weeks. Other nostalgic comforts include the red Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole; the Magnum-hating doberman pinchers, Zeus and Apollo; and best pals Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill). The plot of the pilot, at least, relies much more heavily on Magnum’s military past than I recall the from the original, but it’s not clear how much of that will carry through the season. The pilot is fast-paced and tells a compelling story, but it feels a little stale for a reason. Even so, “Magnum P.I.” is right at home on CBS, and with the promised “Hawaii Five-0” crossovers, it will do well.

Watch: 9 p.m. on CBS

Josh Dallas as Ben Stone in the NBC series “Manifest.” NBC Virginia Sherwood/NBC/Warner Brothers

“Manifest” (NBC)

There has been a ton of buzz about this series since its sneak-peek debut at San Diego Comic Con in July, and in my opinion, it is worthy. The story involves an airplane full of passengers en route to New York from Jamaica, which after a brief but intense bit of turbulence, lands unscathed. But when the passengers disembark, they learn their plane has been missing for more than five years. The story centers around the Stone family, returning from a vacation but divided when some members opt for a different flight. We’ll learn more about the other passengers and how they’re all intertwined as the series progresses. “Manifest” has been compared to the old ABC series “Lost,” but it has much more of a “Twilight Zone” feel for me, and that gets me very excited. (Something else that gets me excited is that creator Jeff Rake says he has the series mapped out in his head and knows how it will end.) Josh Dallas (“Once Upon a Time”) and Melissa Roxburgh (“Star Trek: Beyond”) lead the cast as a brother and sister from the mysterious flight. Dallas plays the father of a young son with cancer (who was also on the flight) and Roxburgh plays a police officer.

Watch: 10 p.m. on NBC

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Zeeko Zaki, left, and Missy Peregrym as FBI agents in New York City in the CBS drama “FBI.” Michael Parmelee CBS Television Network


Dick Wolf, master of the “Law & Order” and “Chicago” universes, jumps networks for this ride-along with the New York City field office of the FBI. The explosive pilot starts with a tragedy that takes the agents through a maze of drug dealers and white supremacists, and there’s even a Fort Bragg shoutout. The plot moves swiftly and it’s fun to watch. It stars Jeremy Sisto (“Law & Order”) and Missy Peregrym (“Rookie Blue”). Sela Ward joins the cast after the pilot episode.

Watch: 9 p.m. on CBS

Ryan Eggold, left, as Dr. Max Goodwin, and Jason Kisare as Alain in the series premiere of “New Amsterdam” on NBC. NBC Francisco Roman/NBC

“New Amsterdam” (NBC)

I dreaded watching yet another hospital drama (we’ve already got “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Chicago Med,” “The Good Doctor,” “Code Black” and “The Resident”), but somehow, “New Amsterdam” manages something a little different. Ryan Eggold (“The Blacklist”) stars as Dr. Max Godwin, the new medical director at New York’s New Amsterdam Hospital, a fictional hospital touted as the nation’s oldest and best public hospital — and one with a mission to serve the poor as well as the rich (it’s modeled after New York’s historic Bellevue). Godwin is the fifth new director in five years, and just about as earnest as they come. “How can I help?” is his motto — and he means it. He is a doctor without a crippling ego, but one with a compelling personal story to go along with his doctor persona. How much does NBC love this new drama? It’s airing it after “This Is Us,” that’s how much.

Watch: 10 p.m. on NBC

Wednesday, Sept. 26

(L-R): Kimrie Lewis, Jake Choi, Brad Garrett and Leighton Meester in the ABC sitcom “Single Parents.” Mitch Haaseth ABC

“Single Parents” (ABC)

Taran Killam (“Saturday Night Live”) leads this silly but entertaining comedy about a group of disparate single parents who have each other’s backs. Killam plays a newly single father who is just so very far overboard with the parenting and needs some reeling in. For me, this is all about Brad Garrett, who plays the oldest — and most old school — single dad in the bunch.

Watch: 9:30 p.m. on ABC

(L-R): David Giuntoli, James Roday and Romany Malco in the ABC series “A Million Little Things.” Jack Rowand ABC

“A Million Little Things” (ABC)

If “This is Us” has you yearning for more TV to cry to, “A Million Little Things” is here for you. The heavily advertised drama tells the story of the friendship of four Boston men after one of the men dies by suicide. It’s a good cast: Ron Livingston (“Band of Brothers”), James Roday (“Psych”), Romany Malco (“Weeds”) and David Giuntoli (“Grimm”) are the friends, and Livingston’s character, Jon, seems to be the heart of the circle. He’s also the one who kills himself near the beginning of the first episode. The other men each have their own problems — one is battling suicidal depression, one has cancer and the other is having an affair and wants to leave his wife — but the death of their friend prompts reflection, perspective, and vows to know each other better going forward. As with “This Is Us,” there are twists in the plot — though they are more predictable than on the NBC show — and there are plenty of moments designed to wring tears from your face. Even so, in this regard, “This Is Us” still has them beat. (Bonus: It’s great seeing Roday back on TV.)

Watch: 10 p.m. on ABC

Thursday, Sept. 27

(L-R): Joe Regalbuto as Frank Fontana, Grant Shaud as Miles Silverberg, Candice Bergen as Murphy Brown and Faith Ford as Corky Jojo Whilden CBS Television Network

“Murphy Brown” (CBS)

UPDATE: Review episodes of “Murphy Brown” were made available late last week and I’m happy to say my fears were unfounded. Despite having committed the unforgivable female sin of growing older, Candice Bergen is still great, right at home in the role that defined her career and inspired a generation (or two) of women. Murphy’s chemistry with Miles (Grant Shaud) is one of the great delights of this show, as always. And those classic Murphy rants — still so fun to watch. A wonderful new aspect of the show is Murphy’s relationship with her adult son, Avery, who is now her time-slot competitor on a rival network. And early in the season we are treated to a guest appearance from Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough). As always, the show is extremely topical and very political — it’s about journalists in Washington, D.C., so what do you expect? Trump may not love it, but “Murphy Brown” fans will not be disappointed.

(First published Sept. 18): I’m concerned. “Murphy Brown” is one of my all-time favorite shows, and since hearing about this revival I’ve been equal parts thrilled and terrified. “Please don’t let this suck,” has been my daily prayer. But as of mid-September, CBS still has not released an episode for review. That’s never a good sign. I can only continue to pray that as one of the most influential TV shows of the ‘90s reunites its cast and crew (nearly everyone returns, from star Candice Bergen to the show’s creator and lead writer for most of it’s 10 seasons, Diane English) it’s going to be great. Or at least good.

Watch: 9:30 p.m. on CBS

Friday, Sept. 28

Tim Allen, left, and Nancy Travis in the season premiere of “Last Man Standing” on Fox. FOX

“Last Man Standing” (Fox)

This Tim Allen series isn’t new — it existed for six seasons on ABC — but its home is. The show is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, so the Fox TV network picked it up after ABC canceled it (citing production costs). It also stars Nancy Travis and Hector Elizondo.

Watch: 8 p.m. on Fox

(L-R): Leslie Jordan, Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier and Martin Mull in the Fox series “The Cool Kids.” Patrick McElhenney FOX

“The Cool Kids” (Fox)

Nothing about this show makes a lot of sense until you factor in that it’s following “Last Man Standing” (which typically skews a little older in the demos). The sitcom follows David Alan Grier, Martin Mull, Leslie Jordan and Vicki Lawrence as residents of a retirement home. In the pilot, the men are struggling with saying goodbye to a friend who has died, and trying to decide who should fill his empty chair at their “cool kids” table. Before they can decide, Lawrence pushes her way into the group against Grier’s wishes. It’s nice to see these (dare I say) TV legends at work, and the jokes aren’t all as corny as you might fear. But I personally have a weak spot for Jordan so my judgment here is suspect.

Watch: 8:30 p.m. on Fox

Sunday, Sept. 30

Brandon Micheal Hall in the CBS drama “God Friended Me.” Jonathan Wenk CBS Television Network

“God Friended Me” (CBS)

OK, stay with me here. In this drama, Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall) is the son of a minister, but also is an atheist who hosts a podcast on which he argues that there is no proof of God. He considers spreading that message to be his calling. Then God starts sending him friend requests on Facebook. He deletes the requests at first, but eventually relents. God starts suggesting other friends for Miles to add — friends who need Miles’ help. One of those people agrees to help Miles try to figure out what’s behind the mysterious Facebook account. It’s a little like “Joan of Arcadia” meets “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” but with Facebook. And it’s actually a little deeper than it sounds. It’s worth checking out. Joe Morton (aka “Papa Pope” from “Scandal”) plays the reverend dad.

Watch: 8:30 p.m. on CBS

(L-R): Lil Rel Howery, Sinbad and Jordan L. Jones in the Fox sitcom “Rel.” Ray Mickshaw FOX

“Rel” (Fox)

Lil Rel Howery, best known for his secondary roles in the NBC sitcom “The Carmichael Show,” HBO’s “Insecure” and Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Get Out,” finally headlines his own project. And it should surprise no one, after all his scene-stealing in those parts, that he carries the show just fine. It’s just that the show itself could use a little smoothing out. Overall it’s good, but the tone is all over the place, and it’s so hard to tell based on one episode. Rel plays a newly single dad in Chicago whose wife shamed him by sleeping with his barber and taking his kids to live in a new city. His brother (Jordan L. Jones) is a former convicted drug dealer, and his dad is played by Sinbad (he’s mean, but I liked him). Jessica Moore plays his best friend. It’s good to see Howery getting a lot of screen time (he also dons a wig and makeup to play his pastor), so I’m hoping it works out. It’s executive-produced by Jerrod Carmichael.

Watch: 9:30 p.m. on Fox

Monday, Oct. 1

Cedric the Entertainer, left, and Max Greenfield in the CBS comedy “The Neighborhood.” Bill Inoshita CBS Television Network

“The Neighborhood” (CBS)

This one tries really hard, so I’m trying, too. Max Greenfield (“New Girl”) and Beth Behrs (“2 Broke Girls”) move with their young son from the Midwest to a black neighborhood in Los Angeles. They land next door to a family led by Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold (“Martin”) — and Cedric isn’t at all pleased to have them there. Cedric’s family includes two sons (Sheaun McKinney and Marcel Spears, who steal nearly all their scenes) and he cares deeply about preserving the culture of the neighborhood. The anti-gentrification theme is clearly relevant and there are some great moments — some funny, some deep.

Watch: 8 p.m. on CBS

Damon Wayans Jr., right, starred in CBS’ ”Happy Together.” He will bring his standup act to Improv Raleigh. Cliff Lipson CBS Television Network

“Happy Together” (CBS)

If this series about a young married couple who take in an even younger international pop star could just be Damon Wayans Jr. (“Happy Endings”) and Amber Stevens West (“The Carmichael Show”) making outgoing recordings for their home answering machine, I’d be its No. 1 evangelist. But it’s not. (I may DVR it just for the answering machine bits, if those continue.)

Watch: 8:30 p.m. on CBS

Thursday, Oct. 4

Sarayu Blue as Emet in the NBC sitcom “I Feel Bad.” NBC Vivian Zink/NBC

“I Feel Bad” (NBC)

The title of this new comedy is basically my emotional reaction to watching it. It’s executive-produced by Amy Poehler and it’s about a woman’s struggle to feel OK about herself when every part of her life isn’t perfect. On paper it sounds, well, kinda perfect. But in reality (judging from the pilot episode at least), it falls very flat. It was all I could do to make it to the end.

Watch: 9:30 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, Oct. 7

“Dancing with the Stars: Junior” (ABC)

This one is self-explanatory. It’ll be just like the grown-up version of the show, but with young stars paired with young dancing pros. The judges will be “La La Land” choreographer Mandy Moore (not the actress from “This Is Us”), “Dancing with the Stars” pro Val Chmerkovskiy and Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon.

Watch: 8 p.m. on ABC

Wednesday, Oct. 10

Taye Diggs, left, as Billy Baker and Daniel Ezra as Spencer James in “All-American” on The CW. Ray Mickshaw The CW

“All American” (The CW)

This teen football drama is inspired by the real-life story of NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger. In “All American,” Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) is a star football player at his South Central Los Angeles high school, but when he’s pressured by his mother to accept the recruiting invitation of the coach at a better, safer school in Beverly Hills, Spencer must make huge adjustments. Taye Diggs plays the Beverly High coach. It tackles topics of class, race, violence and even sexuality, but it’s the twist at the end of the pilot that will bring me back for more.

Watch: 9 p.m. on The CW

Sunday, Oct. 14

(L-R): Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn, Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera and Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera in CW’s reboot of “Charmed.” Jordon Nuttall The CW

“Charmed” (The CW)

I’m surprised by how much I liked this show, having never watched the original Alyssa Milano/Shannen Doherty/Holly Marie Combs “Charmed” series even once. This reboot (which doesn’t involve the original stars, and they are not happy about it) has a decidedly feminist slant and a sharp “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sense of humor (and a more ethnically diverse cast than the original). Two college-aged sisters are shaken when their mother, a professor, is suddenly killed and another young woman (a brilliant scientist) shows up to reveal she is the long-lost third sister. An even bigger reveal: The three women are witches. The backlash from fans of the original series was strong even before the sneak peek at San Diego Comic Con this summer, and I hope that doesn’t sink the show before folks give it a chance. It stars Sarah Jeffery, Madeleine Mantock and Melonie Diaz.

Watch: 9 p.m. on The CW

“The Alec Baldwin Show” (ABC)

This is a one-hour interview show with movie and TV star Alec Baldwin interviewing stars like Jerry Seinfeld and Kate McKinnon. There were no episodes to review, but listeners of Baldwin’s WNYC podcast “Here’s the Thing” knows he’s a great interviewer.

Watch: 10 p.m. on ABC

Tuesday, Oct. 16

(L-R): Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lacy Goranson and John Goodman in the series premiere of “The Conners.” Eric McCandless ABC

“The Conners” (ABC)

Does this count as a new show? It’s essentially “Roseanne” but reworked without the original star, Roseanne Barr. If you don’t know why Barr is no longer with the show, welcome to Earth and read this article. How they write the Conner matriarch out of the series has been a closely guarded secret — until Barr herself allegedly spoiled the secret last week (I won’t repeat it here). I’m still tuning in to see how it plays out (the episode was not available for review).

Watch: 8 p.m. on ABC

(L-R): Sawyer Barth, Santino Barnard, Caleb Martin Foote, Christopher Paul Richards, Jack Gore, Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack in “The Kids Are Alright” on ABC. Tony Rivetti ABC

“The Kids Are Alright” (ABC)

This 1970s-set sitcom about the middle son in a Catholic family with seven kids reminded me a little of the solidly funny (but canceled) “The Real O’Neals,” but without as many laughs. In fact, just when I was about to give up on it entirely, there was this really sweet moment at the end (OK, two sweet moments) that will make me tune in for a second episode. Michael Cudlitz (“Southland” and “The Walking Dead”) and Mary McCormack (“In Plain Sight”) are the parents.

Watch: 8:30 p.m. on ABC

Nathan Fillion as John Nolan in the ABC series “The Rookie.” Eric McCandless ABC

“Rookie” (ABC)

If I had to bet my cat on one show being a no-brainer success this season, it’d be this one. First of all, Nathan Fillion is just plain hard to resist. He’s Rick Castle, for Pete’s sake. But he’s definitely not playing the same goofy, smug “Castle” role that we all knew and loved. Here Fillion plays the anti-Castle. He’s John Nolan, a struggling (and depressed) middle-aged divorcee, who, after an act of bravery during a random bank robbery, joins the LAPD as a rookie cop. (His resume includes law school and 20 years working in construction.) We get to know Nolan and two other rookies in his precinct as they navigate the dangerous streets of Los Angeles, but Nolan must also deal with an openly hostile boss who tells him on Day 1 that he’s too old for the job and that nobody wants him there. How can you not pull for him after that? One cool aspect of the show is how bodycam footage is routinely integrated into the storytelling.

Watch: 10 p.m. on ABC

Thursday, Oct. 25

“Legacies” (The CW)

This spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” did not provide an episode for review. It stars Danielle Rose Russell, Matthew Davis, Peyton Alex Smith and Zach Roerig.

Watch: 9 p.m. on The CW