Fall has arrived for the TV biz.

TV executives are pitching their fall slates at advertisers in New York this week in an annual ritual known as “the upfronts.” The five broadcast networks make their presentations and show their clips, after which advertisers try to decide what looked good and, more importantly, what looked like it will succeed.

Obviously, they will have more time in the weeks ahead to come to a more informed judgement on the new shows, as will we. But as the networks use these clips to entice ad buyers, it seems only fair to say whether or not they looked particularly enticing.

Which is what I’ll do for each network this week, picking out the new show that looks most promising — and the one that seems most puzzling. It’s only a first impression, of course — but in TV as in life, first impressions sometimes stick.  NBC and Fox presented Monday. 


You can usually count on ABC for quantity, if not always quality.

NBC and Fox introduced only three fall shows each. ABC, on the other hand, unveiled five for fall and another six for midseason (including a Roseanne revival), and while that’s not the most ABC has ever done, it’s still more than its major competitors. That’s a consequence of having more failed series and more open spots, which could be a consequence of always introducing so many new shows at once.


According to reports, ABC has beat out other competitors, including Netflix, for the exclusive rights to broadcast the an eight-episode revival of the former series ‘Roseanne’.

As for ABC’s shows, no network does a better job of highlighting its returning series — reminding you of what you liked about watching them and making you feel like you’ve missed something if you stopped watching them. And no network does a more thorough job of introducing its new series, which works in ABC’s favor when the shows make a favorable impression, and can cut against it when they don’t.  And that downside, I fear, is where ABC finds itself after this upfront.

Still, let’s start with the upside.

Most Promising: The Good Doctor

This series, from House creator David Shore, stars Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) as an savant doctor with autism. The combination helped turn him into a great surgeon while also limiting his ability to connect with people. You don’t have to look very closely to spot a lot of House in that  professionally perfect/personally flawed character, but Highmore appears to be disarming rather than abrasive, so that’s a switch. And anyway, House was a very well-made series with an easily understood premise designed to support self-contained episodes — and those are in short supply at ABC this season.

Most Puzzling: The Gospel of Kevin

Actually, outside of Doctor, every new fall ABC hour was…