In sizing up the new TV series on tap this fall, it’s worth remembering that a new show usually premieres with its pilot episode, which isn’t always representative of the series that will follow.
The pilot is a prototype, a sales tool whose initial mission is to win a place in the network grid. Then it must introduce the series to viewers in a way that induces them to watch the second episode.
Then and only then can the show find its rhythm and start being a series.
Among the broadcast networks’ new fall series, here are 10 whose debut episodes just might whet your appetite for a second round:
“Melrose Place” (CW, premieres Tuesday): It’s a smart-but-not-too-smart re-imagining of the original 1990s soap, with the apartment digs significantly posher than before.This revival could make a tired old term like “trendy” feel trendy again.
“Glee” (Fox, Wednesday): Maybe you already saw the pitch-perfect pilot, which Fox first aired last spring. The musical comedy about a struggling high school glee club picks up with the second episode – more quirky, tuneful, up-tempo fun.
“Community” (NBC, Sept. 17): Greendale Community College is an ideal backwater for goof balls, schemers and slackers. Sharp writing and a classy ensemble (including Joel McHale, John Oliver and Chevy Chase) earn the very funny pilot an A-plus.
“The Good Wife” (CBS, Sept. 22): Julianna Margulies has never been better as a wife and mother forced to pick up her long-dormant career as an attorney and return to work in a pressure-cooker law firm after her politician hubby, played by Chris Noth, lands in jail.
“Mercy” (NBC, Sept. 23): A skilled, outspoken nurse is back at New Jersey’s Mercy Hospital after a tour in Iraq, with more personal problems than when she left. Taylor Schilling is terrific in the lead role.
“Modern Family” (ABC, Sept. 23): A lively half-hour boasting interlocked tales of three disparate families and a full-to-bursting ensemble (including Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara).
“Cougar Town” (ABC, Sept. 23): Courteney Cox as a woman with cellulite? This comedy about a 40-year-old divorced mom is both riotous and strangely true-to-life in its depiction of obsession with youth. Executive producer/writer Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”) proved long ago he can find the familiar and funny in zaniness.
“FlashForward” (ABC, Sept. 24): It happens to everyone on Earth, including all the characters who populate this eerie thriller: They black out for two minutes, during which they see visions of their future as they might (or might not) live it on a certain day next April.
“Brothers” (Fox, Sept. 25): The premise sounds like a sitcom at its most cliche: Two brothers (played by Michael Strahan and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell) who, in adulthood, squabble like they did when they were boys, living under the same roof as their parents. But it’s fresh, relatable, engaging – and funny.
“Trauma” (NBC, Sept. 28): The first-responder paramedics from San Francisco City Hospital are a trauma team who, in various ways, are themselves traumatized, both on and off the job.