ABC/CTV/SEPT. 24/7 p.m.
MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Starring: Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen
Premise: A sort-of spinoff from the big-screen feature Marvel's The Avengers, this action-driven drama focuses on the world-saving exploits of agents from the global law-enforcement agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D..
Lowdown: This series pilot topped a poll of Television Critics Association members as the most promising new show of the fall season, and with good reason -- the premi®re is action-packed, filled with cool digital effects and has both smarts and a sense of humour. The only question is whether the production team -- led by the estimable Joss Whedon -- can sustain the quality on a weekly basis.
Bottom line: Could become the hero of ABC's Tuesday-night lineup.
FOX/CITYTV/SEPT. 17/7 p.m.
Starring: Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull, Peter Riegert
Premise: Two 30-something pals who own a successful video-game company have their lives turned upside down when their meddlesome but well-meaning fathers turn up and declare they want to be part of their sons' lives.
Lowdown: When the pilot for this series was first shown to TV critics in June, many took offence at some blatantly sexist and racist jokes. They're offputting, but what's really offensive about this show is how completely unfunny it is. It's sad to see solid, reliable veterans like Mull and Reigert stuck in something this bad.
Bottom line: These Dads are deadsville.
FOX/CITYTV/SEPT. 17/7:30 p.m.
Starring: Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio
Premise: A gifted but goofy detective is forced to follow the rules when a new captain takes command of the squad room and demands that everyone does things by the book.
Lowdown: It's as simple as this: if you were a fan of Samberg's Saturday Night Live antics -- most notably, the various offbeat digital shorts he contributed to that show -- you'll love the attitude he brings to this cop comedy. If not, well, don't even bother tuning in, because Brooklyn Nine-Nine -- despite its fairly formidable supporting cast -- is very much built around Samberg.
Bottom line: If enough of Samberg's fans follow to create a ratings buzz, Fox will quickly conclude that Andy is ready for prime time.
ABC/CTV/SEPT. 24/8 p.m.
Starring: Jeff Garlin, George Segal, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Hayley Orrantia
Premise: A retro-themed family comedy, set in the 1980s, that focuses on a geeky 11-year-old boy who's making the best of adolescence and is using his dad's newfangled video camera to record his dysfunctional family's antics.
Lowdown: If you're old enough to get the reference, think of The Wonder Years, but with louder clothes and much louder people. Series creator Adam F. Goldberg based this on his own childhood. A solid cast, led by Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Segal, makes the most of the genuinely funny moments in the script, but in the pilot they were disappointingly rare. It turns out punchlines aren't always funnier if you yell them.
Bottom line: Far from perfect, but there's potential here.
ABC/CTV/SEPT. 24/8:30 p.m.
Starring: Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford, Marcia Gay Harden
Premise: A recently reformed party girl tries to settle down and become a reliable wife and stepmom after a chance meeting in a bar leads to marriage to a charming older guy with three kids and two omnipresent ex-wives.
Lowdown: The presence of Whitford and Harden should be enough to draw a crowd of new-series samplers -- and they're both quite good in this single-camera comedy -- but Akerman shines, bringing depth and likability to a role that could have been played as ditzy and one-dimensional.
Bottom line: Maybe the third time really is a charm.
CBC/OCT. 8/9 p.m.
Starring: Donald Sutherland, William Fichtner, Marc Lavoine, Gabriella Pession
Premise: An globetrotting crime drama that follows members of the International Criminal Court's elite investigative unit as they use state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to solve crimes that cross international boundaries.
Lowdown: New to CBC, but this international (French/German) co-production has been around for a while (it aired stateside on NBC earlier this summer). Sutherland and Fichtner (Prison Break) will be the most recognizable faces.
Bottom line: Reviews of Crossing Lines' run on NBC were decidedly mixed.
ABC/CITYTV/SEPT. 24/9 p.m.
Starring: Matt Long, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Premise: Seven working stiffs at a gas station/convenience store in Queens, N.Y., who've been chipping in to a weekly lottery-ticket pool for years, wake up one day to find they've won the big one -- and quickly learn that being instantly wealthy can be a bit complicated.
Lowdown: The notion of lottery-winner challenges isn't exactly uncharted territory, but this drama's pilot sets up some intriguing challenges for its diverse mix of characters. Interesting casting note: standout Lorraine Bruce also starred in The Syndicate, the Brit series upon which this is based.
Bottom line: A quick-pick winner for viewers.
New Girl (Sept. 17, Fox/Citytv)
The Mindy Project (Sept. 17, Fox/Citytv)
N.C.I.S. (Sept. 24, CBS/Global)
N.C.I.S.: Los Angeles (Sept. 24, CBS/Global)
Person of Interest (Sept. 24, CBS/CTV)
The Voice (Sept. 24, NBC)
Chicago Fire (Sept. 24, NBC/Global)
Rick Mercer Report (Oct. 8, CBC)
This Hour Has 22 Minutes (Oct. 8, CBC)
The Biggest Loser (Oct. 8, NBC)