Who makes the list for the best new Fall 2013 shows? Here the Channel Guide Magazine staff boils it down to our personal favorites — shows that moved us, captured our attention, made us laugh, left us anxious to see what would happen next and/or definitely left us wanting more.
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC) Premieres Sept. 26 at 9pm ET/PT (airs Thursdays): Michael J. Fox certainly proves he’s still got what it takes to carry a sitcom. And no feelings are spared when it comes to dealing with Fox and his Parkinson’s, as one-liners constantly remind viewers that Fox is more than comfortable and willing to poke fun at himself.
Lucky 7 (ABC) Premieres Sept. 24 at 10pm ET/PT (airs Tuesdays): Money might solve the problems for a group of lottery pool winners at the Gold Star gas station in Queens, but this drama has a dark side to it, too, which makes it an interesting character study.
The Goldbergs (ABC) Premieres Sept. 24 at 9pm ET/PT (airs Tuesdays): Prepare for a flashback to the ’80s (you’ll love the fashion and music) with the dysfunctional, quirky Goldberg family. The series is based on the formative years of showrunner Adam F. Goldberg.
The Blacklist (NBC) Premieres Sept. 23 at 10pm ET/PT (airs Mondays): This Bourne Identity-type international thriller has James Spader leading the cast as a Hannibal Lecter-like criminal mastermind calling the shots at the FBI as he works with a rookie agent (Megan Boone, Law & Order: LA) with a mysterious past.
The Presidents’ Gatekeepers (Discovery) Premieres Sept. 11-12 at 9pm ET/PT: Talk about an under appreciated job — maybe the worst job in government — but the White House chief of staff is the president’s most powerful adviser and closest confidant. He’s the person who tells the president what others can’t tell him — the things you know he doesn’t want to hear. This two-part documentary is unprecedented in scope, covering 50 years, nine presidencies and 20 former chiefs of staff.
Masters of Sex (Showtime) Premieres Sept. 29 at 10pm ET/PT (airs Sundays): Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are mesmerizing in this vivid character study of famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson and the personal and professional ambitions that drove them. Yes, the sex is explicit and plentiful, but it’s never gratuitous, and the intertwined themes of gender expectations and sexual and emotional fulfillment are as fascinating as the people who made them part of the pop culture zeitgeist.
Sleepy Hollow (FOX) Premieres Sept.16 at 9pm ET/PT (airs Mondays): This isn’t quite Washington Irving’s tale of Ichabod Crane, and certainly not the Disney one. It has more in common with Tim Burton’s darker 1999 film of the same name, though it’s unrelated. It’s a rousing adventure fantasy that combines gothic elements with a bit of National Treasure-style adventure. Humor, scares, adventure and mystery — and, of course, a Headless Horseman — are all here in a fun package.
Cold Justice (TNT) Premieres Sept. 3 at 10pm ET/PT (airs Tuesdays): If you’re a fan of true-crime mysteries like The First 48 and Forensic Files, Cold Justice has a pedigree you won’t be able to resist. Executive produced by Dick Wolf, who created the Law & Order franchise, this fascinating new hour spotlights the work of ace Houston prosecutor Kelly Siegler and Yolanda McClary, the Las Vegas crime scene investigator on whom CSI’s Catherine Willows was based, as they take just nine days to solve some of America’s toughest cold cases.
Last Tango in Halifax (PBS) Premieres Sept. 8 at 8pm ET/PT (airs Sundays):Ostensibly a story about childhood sweethearts (Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid) reconnecting 60 years later, this six-episode British drama weaves in its other characters seamlessly for a much more enriching, deep experience. The strongest moments come from these vividly rendered people contemplating what could have been, the strange path life takes us on, and where to go from here.
Hello Ladies (HBO) Premieres Sept. 29 at 10:30pm ET/PT (airs Sundays): Stephen Merchant brings the awkward humor from the original U.K. version of The Office (of which he was a co-creator) to this hilarious, L.A.-based series (which thankfully does not focus on showbiz, by design). It follows Stuart (played by Merchant) as he desperately, and pathetically, attempts to enter the world of L.A.’s “beautiful people.” Merchant says much of this show is based on his standup act, which in turn was based on his real-life dating experiences. We can only hope it wasn’t truly this humorously awful for him in reality, but we have no problems laughing at it, all the same.
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (HBO) Premieres Oct. 5 at 8pm ET/PT: People have been paying more attention to just what the Supreme Court actually does recently. This impressive movie touches on the mysterious inner workings of these “nine scorpions in a bottle,” as one of the justices in the film calls the group, through the prism of Muhammad Ali’s famous case during the height of the Vietnam War. Superb acting and directing capture not only the powerhouse meetings of the judicial minds in the highest court of the land, but also the often hilariously mundane day-to-day living at the court, which almost resembles dorm life at times, including true-life accounts such as how the legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall had to regularly catch up on his Days of Our Lives.