Thursday is home to the highest-rated and most heavily hyped shows on television. Because some of last year’s new debuts didn’t make it (The New Normal, Last Resort) and a few old favorites came to the end of their run (30 Rock, The Office), many new shows are competing for our attention on this night. There’s plenty of options and something out there for almost everyone.
ABC’s Once Upon a Time In Wonderland
This Once Upon a Time spin-off focuses on the romance between Alice (Sophie Lowe) and the genie (Peter Gadiot) she met in Wonderland. Despite the Disney characters, this is anything but a fairy tale romance, as Alice faces off against psychiatrists in the real world and villains like Aladdin’s Jafar (Naveen Andrews) while down the rabbit hole.
Many gave up on the original when it started to get too complicated, but the producers promise that the main plot of this series will be resolved by the end of the season. That plot seems pretty thin, but critics have been raving about Wonderland’s psychedelic-inspired visuals. Due to its tough competition, don’t be surprised if this is quickly moved to Sunday nights. Either way, this will stick around for at least one complete season.
The Competition: CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and The Millers, NBC’s Parks And Recreation and Welcome to the Family, The CW’s The Vampire Diaries, and FOX’s The X Factor.
Watch it if you liked: Once Upon a Time, Merlin, or classic Disney movies.
CBS’ The Millers
In this sitcom from the executive producer of Raising Hope and My Name Is Earl, a recently divorced man (Will Arnett) has to share his home with his kooky, intrusive mother (Margo Martindale) after his father (Beau Bridges) files for divorce.
Its brand of humor is more gross than funny, with plenty of fart jokes, blue language, and an odd focus on sleeping pills in the pilot. It’s simply a case of good actors playing out bad material. It might not last long on TV’s top network, as CBS could easily stick repeats of The Big Bang Theory in its place.
The Competition: NBC’s Welcome to the Family, ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, FOX’s The X Factor, and The CW’s The Vampire Diaries.
Watch it if you liked: Mike & Molly or Grounded for Life.
NBC’s Welcome to the Family
A teen pregnancy brings two conflicting families together in this sitcom that stars Mike O’Malley and Ricardo A. Chavira as two feuding grandpas-to-be.
Isn’t everyone sick of the whole “pregnant teen” plot? It’s refreshing to see the young couple in love, but the rest of the show abounds in clichés and stereotypes. Comedy viewers have mostly stuck to CBS instead.
The Competition: CBS’ The Millers, ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, FOX’s The X Factor, and The CW’s The Vampire Diaries.
Watch it if you liked: Rob or 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter.
The CW’s Reign
When a teenage Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) finds herself engaged to a snooty prince (Toby Regbo) who distrusts her, she becomes attracted to his mysterious half-brother (Torrance Coombs). The ages and appearances of certain historical characters have been changed to make this soap more appealing to teens, with a modern soundtrack and altered designer dresses livening up its society balls.
Described as a cross between Gossip Girl and The Tudors, Reign should appeal to its intended fan base, if just for the clothes alone. Unless it is an immediate hit, its high budget may keep it from earning a second season.
The Competiton: ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, FOX’s Glee, CBS’ The Crazy Ones and Two & A Half Men, and NBC’s Sean Saves The World and The Michael J. Fox Show.
Watch it if you liked: Pretty Little Liars or Once Upon a Time
CBS’ The Crazy Ones
Robin Williams stars as a silly yet successful advertising executive whose workplace antics worry his super-serious daughter/ business partner (Sarah Michelle Gellar) in this half-hour dramedy.
It’s interesting to see the process behind these fictional ad campaigns, but you are only going to like this show if you find Robin Williams’ brand of humor hilarious. It’s already pulling in good ratings, so expect it to be around for at least two seasons.
Watch it if you liked: Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip or The Office
NBC’s Sean Saves The World
A single, gay dad (Sean Hayes) tries to be a great parent for his teenage daughter when his ex gives up full custody. Complicating matters is his demanding boss and smart-aleck mother (Linda Lavin).
Sean is a very likable guy. It’s great to see a show about someone who is actually glad to be a parent and tries hard at it. Some parts of the pilot are great (like his wacky boss, and the breakout star of the year: Hugo the cockatiel), but lame jokes and his cliché-riddled buddies bog the show down. Hopefully, NBC will move the show to a more agreeable spot betwixt The Michael J. Fox Show and Parenthood.
Watch it if you liked: I Hate My Teenage Daughter and Gary Unmarried.
NBC’s The Michael J. Fox Show
This traditional family sitcom begins when a father goes back to work as a TV reporter after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, the main focus of the series is his adventures with his supportive wife (Betsy Brandt), confused college-aged son, opinioned teen daughter, mischievous toddler son, zany sister-in-law, and a boss who seems to be at their house every night for some reason.
I’m seriously surprised that this isn’t doing better in the ratings. It’s the type of old-fashioned, yet entertaining show that families (despite a few PG-13 rated moments) should be able to watch together.
Watch it if you liked: Parenthood or Family Ties
Times listed in the Central Standard time zone. Dates and times may change; check your local listings.