Every fall, the networks unveil their latest offerings for a new TV season. It's been happening for 70 years, and in all that time, one thing has remained constant: 80 per cent of the new shows fail.
These days, with Netflix and other digital platforms cranking out more TV than anyone could ever possibly watch, it's more important than ever to be guided through a crowded TV landscape. Here, then, are five shows to sample this 2017-'18 season – as well as five you probably should skip:
FIVE TO WATCH
Ten Days in the Valley (ABC, CTV). Kyra Sedgwick won an Emmy for her role as a deputy police chief on The Closer. She's just as compelling on this intense drama from Canadian showrunner Tassie Cameron (Rookie Blue). Sedgwick plays Jane Sadler, an overworked screenwriter who gets high late one night cranking out a cop show script. She finishes the re-write, blacks out, wakes up hours later and discovers to her horror that her daughter has been abducted. The next ten days are hell for the single mom and heaven for drama lovers. Felix Soklis is one to watch as the cop trying to pry the truth out of the crime scene, as well as out of Sadler. Premieres Oct. 1.
Will & Grace (NBC, Global). Will, Grace, Karen and Jack are back to save the world from Donald Trump. The cast shot a short political video before the last US election. Eight million YouTube views later, NBC has ordered two seasons worth of new episodes. The cast, including Toronto-native Eric McCormack, all look like they haven't aged a minute since the series ended an eight-year run in 2006. Given the sorry state of network TV comedy, why not more Will & Grace? Premieres Sept. 28.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC, CTV). Remember John Ritter? His look-a-like son Jason stars as the title character in this whimsical fantasy-drama that is part Highway to Heaven, part Touched by an Angel. Kevin has never amounted to much, but a guardian angel named Yvette (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) enlists him for a higher purpose. Likeable Ritter makes this more heavenly than it sounds. Premieres Oct. 3.
Star Trek Discovery (CTV, Space, CraveTV). Captain's log: 10 years before the original Star Trek, an intergalactic crew boldly goes on its own mission. This big budget, shot-in-Toronto series stars a group of relative unknowns, with Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) as Vulcan-trained first officer Michael Burnham. Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies) and Michelle Yeoh (Marco Polo) play conflicting captains caught in the middle of a Klingon cold war. Rainn Wilson (The Office) plays a smarmy con man named Harry Mudd—a character Trekkies will know from the original. Premieres Sept. 24 on CTV and Space.
Frankie Drake Mysteries (CBC). If you like Murdoch Mysteries – and a lot of Canadians do – you'll want to check out this new historical drama from the same writers and producers. Lauren Lee Smith (The Listener) stars as Toronto's only female detective in this tale set in the early 1920s. Chantel Riley (The Lion King) plays her trusty sidekick Trudy. Together they show that girls can track down bootleggers and kick out Commies just as well as the boys can. Look for Murdoch's Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris), about 20 years older, to make a cameo appearance in the first season. Premieres Nov. 6.
FIVE TO FORGET
The Orville (Fox, City). Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) stars as a dim-witted captain of a star ship in this raunchy Star Trek send-up. This idea probably works best as a six-minute sketch on Saturday Night Live. Skip The Orville and beam up the 1999 Tim Allen feature Galaxy Quest instead. Premieres Sept. 10.
Young Sheldon (CBS, CTV). It sounds can't miss: spin off TV's most popular comedy, The Big Bang Theory. But ask yourself: would Young Archie Bunker have worked? Ian Armitage stars as a precocious, nine-year-old version of future physicist Sheldon Cooper. Jim Parsons narrates. You know all those annoying habits Sheldon has? Not so cute at age nine. Of some interest: Laurie Metcalf plays Sheldon's mom on The Big Bang Theory. Her daughter, Zoe Perry, plays the mom on this series. Bazinga! Premieres in November after a special preview Sept. 25.
The Good Doctor (ABC, CTV). Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel's Norman Bates) stars as Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. Think Sheldon Cooper with a scalpel. While audiences may root for the lead character to become a practicing MD despite his affliction, would you really go under the knife of this dangerous Doogie Howser? The series is produced and created by London, Ont.-native David Shore (House) and recently fired Hawaii Five-0 actor Daniel Dae Kim. Premieres Sept. 25.
Marvel's Inhumans (ABC, CTV). The adventures of the Inhuman Royal Family, including Black Bolt (played by Anson Mount from Hell on Wheels). Enough with the comic book super hero shows already! Premieres Sept. 29.
The Mayor (ABC). Anybody remember a little Canadian comedy called Dan for Mayor? That was about a local dum-dum who decided to run for mayor to impress a girl – and wins. This is about a rapper dude (played by Brandon Michael Hall) who decides to run for mayor to plug his latest iTunes release – and wins. I liked the former, but I'm not sure how you'd make more than three episodes of this Mayor. Premieres Oct. 3.