Oh, those crafty networks. Even when it seems like there's no amount of lipstick to pretty up some pigs ... er, shows, their promos still manage to make them look spectacular. Then there are other ads which don't really highlight how great a show truly is and at first glance, or 20 viewings later, they look just sub-par.
Sometimes what's put out there doesn't show off a series' strengths and you aren't able to see a cast's chemistry, hear the wicked dialogue coming out of their mouths, or even understand the premise. You have about a minute to make a judgment call and it's easy to understand how some shows get swept under the rug, forgotten in favour of something flashier. Of course, there are some definite must-sees (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Trophy Wife, The Blacklist, Hostages) as well as some obvious duds (Lucky 7, Welcome to the Family, We Are Men), but there are a handful of shows you must not miss, even if their ads haven't left an impression. Just try one week of some of my fall favourites and I swear you won't be disappointed. (I hope.)
Sleepy Hollow (Monday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on Global and Fox)
The premise is a little far-fetched, and borderline ridiculous -- a Civil War-era Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) finds himself in modern-day Sleepy Hollow, along with his nemesis, the Headless Horseman -- so it's easy to see why viewers might avoid it. Don't. The instant Crane meets Det. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), the show becomes more than just a seemingly stale story. The two share so much chemistry (they remind me of Elementary's Holmes and Watson) and the banter and funny moments were a pleasant surprise.
Back in the Game (Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC; Friday, Sept. 27 at 9:30 p.m. ET on City)
I popped in this screener with little expectation. Frankly, I thought I could get a little work done while it played in the background, but that wasn't the case. James Caan is perfectly cast as Terry "The Cannon" Gannon Sr., a grumpy dad and former ball player, while Maggie Lawson is absolutely charming as his daughter, single mom Terry Gannon Jr. Because of crappy circumstances, Terry is stuck moving back in with her dad and is sucked back into the world of a sport that she doesn't remember fondly. But it's amazing what a woman will do for her child, even coaching her son's Little League team. I laughed out loud several times, but it wasn't all slapstick. The show has a lot of heart and a ton of potential. We've only gotten a glimpse of the team of misfits the Terrys take on -- the Angles -- but they were some of the funniest parts of the half-hour. More, please.
Betrayal (Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. on City and ABC)
I know, I'm a little surprised I put this on the list too. I went in expecting absolutely nothing so I was shocked that I was gripped from start to finish. I'm a tad embarrassed to admit it, because Betrayal is what many people are calling the "poor man's Revenge," but maybe part of the reason I liked it so much is because I don't watch Revenge. I loved the chemistry between the two leads (Stuart Townsend and Hannah Ware), who play Jack and Sara, two marrieds with kids who fall for each other. I'm not a fan of cheating but I can see why Sara falls for Jack (her husband is always busy and never around) but I'm not sure what causes Jack to wander (his wife seems decent enough). But it's what's to come that will have me tuning in every week: who hurts Sara and why?
The Goldbergs (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 9 p.m. ET on CTV and ABC)
The screechy promo about a dysfunctional Jewish family in the '80s may have turned you off. And when Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey are the biggest names -- playing parents Murray and Beverly -- and the three kids are unknown, it's understandable. But make no mistake. The Goldbergs is easily one of the funniest new shows of the season and any of you who have lived in the age of REO Speedwagon, crimping irons, Jane Fonda workout videos and Trans Ams will be nostalgic for those times. Patton Oswalt makes for a wonderful narrator and the one big thing missing from promos is George Segal, who completes the wacky family. The Goldbergs has an enviable position on ABC's and CTV's schedules, flanked by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Trophy Wife, so you have no reason to change the channel.
Tomorrow People (Wednesday, Oct. 9, 7 p.m. ET on CTV, 9 p.m. ET on The CW)
I had already written this one off. With S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow, that was enough in the superhero department, as far as I was concerned. Plus the name? Terrible. But Tomorrow People was good. Really, really good. It all starts with a teenage boy named Stephen (played by the charismatic Robbie Amell) who learns he's a part of another race of humans called the Tomorrow People, who have special powers. He learns to control his abilities with the help of Cara (Peyton List), John (Luke Mitchell) and Russell (Aaron Yoo), but is thrown for a loop when he links his powers to his supposed deadbeat dad and his uncle Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino), who's the head of an organization that wants to make the Tomorrow People extinct. Tomorrow People and Arrow, which stars Robbie's cousin Stephen Amell, are a fantastic one-two punch.
Want to know which five shows not to watch? Check out my post from last week.