Tuesday night features a range of programming that is so eclectic you might almost call it schizophrenic, thanks to broadcast television’s reliance on specific formulas. Fortunately, if you dig, there are some truly entertaining gems scattered about.
What There Is To Watch
Interested in prestige drama? With one exception, Tuesday night is a great time to catch up with the stuff on your DVR left over from Sunday. Otherwise, while CBS leans on the procedurals that have kept it afloat for over a decade, the other networks bounce between reality formats, single-camera comedies and B-level hour-longs like "Person of Interest." Not to say Tuesday night plays it safe — there are a few risky moves in play.
Veteran of the Night
For its seventh and final season, "Sons of Anarchy" will be returning to Tuesday nights; at this point, "Anarchy" is really just playing for the die-hard fans who’ve followed the series since the beginning, but it happens to be the most award-winning drama of the evening. (That comes courtesy of Katey Sagal picking up a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress back in 2001 — this is not a night for prestige shows.)
Also, "NCIS" is more than a veteran of Tuesdays — it’s the proud grandfather of many procedurals, and this fall will be serving as a lead-in to its latest progeny, the Scott Bakula-starring "NCIS: New Orleans." At a certain point, you just have to stand back and admire how "NCIS" has endured over the years. Like the obelisk in "2001: A Space Odyssey," it’s an awe-inspiring, inescapable presence in the broadcast line-up. "NCIS" on CBS: It is here. It has always been here. It forever will be.
Best New Bet
Of the new shows premiering on this night, there are a few with potential, but it’s hard to imagine anything going terribly wrong with "The Flash," the newest CW take on a classic DC superhero, which also functions as a direct spinoff of "Arrow." Steered by the same creative team as "Arrow," and promising a somewhat cliche mystery revolving around who killed Barry Allen’s mother, the show nonetheless has a chance at being a slightly lighter take on life as a "meta-human." Plus, our nostalgic hearts can’t help but skip a beat at the sight of Tom Cavanagh (as long as we breathe, "Ed" lives on). So "Flash" seems likely to be a solid addition not just to the night, but to a new franchise.
There are three good reasons to get excited about ABC’s "Selfie": Karen Gillen ("Doctor Who"), John Cho ("Harold and Kumar," "Star Trek") and creator Emily Kapnek ("Suburgatory"). There is one good reason to not get excited: The gimmicky, over-the-top premise, which borrows the "Pygmalion" trope for a story about a young woman who needs to get over her social media addiction. However, if "Selfie" can calm down a little bit and spare its strong leads from the over-the-top slanguage and hashtag references, it could evolve into something charming — much like "Suburgatory" did.
Also, NBC’s "Marry Me" finds itself in a similar scenario: Strong cast and creator, well-crafted, but suffering from a story-heavy premise that will need to get broader in order to last long-term. Casey Wilson and Ken Marino promise to be a hilarious pairing, however, and David Caspe’s last show, "Happy Endings," overcame similar issues to become a comedy powerhouse by the end of its first season. Fingers crossed that "Marry Me" could pull off the same achievement, should it get the chance.
Biggest DVR Conflict
Fox and NBC are pitting sitcom blocks against each other at 9pm, and for some comedy fans it might be tough to choose between "Marry Me" and "New Girl" (which has gone from being a tonally inconsistent star vehicle for Zooey Deschanel to one of television’s funniest comic ensemble series). There are also now genre fans who must put their love of "Supernatural’s" demon-fighting brothers up against "Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD." But arguably that’s an easier choice — the overlap between those audiences likely isn’t massive.
First to Get Canceled
Of the choices available, there’s one show that’s in clear danger: ABC’s "Forever," about an immortal medical examiner, does star the charming Ioan Gruffudd ("Fantastic Four," "Horatio Hornblower"). But not only have many shows failed to pull off this particular blend of supernatural mystery and crime-of-the-week drama, ABC has a terrible track record of launching non-Shonda Rhimes dramas at 10pm. Recent casualties include "Black Box," "Lucky 7," "666 Park Avenue" and "Red Widow." Of the shows airing Tuesday night, it’s in the most tenuous of positions, and thus in this category the safest bet.
Our Top Pick for Tuesday
This choice admittedly comes with reservations, but "Agents of SHIELD," on ABC, finds itself in a unique position coming into its second season. Season 1 of Marvel’s attempt to loop television into its Cinematic Universe was highly anticipated (due in part to nerd god Joss Whedon’s involvement) but stalled out for most of the year until a massive plot twist (tied into the release of Marvel’s "Captain America: The Winter Solider") jump-started the series.
Coming into Season 2, "SHIELD" has the opportunity to take advantage of that new momentum and completely rewrite its status quo; it’s also stacking the deck with some exciting guest stars, including Lucy Lawless and Kyle McLachlan. Whether it soars or flounders, we’ll be watching — especially because whatever happens, the 1950s-era companion series, "Agent Carter," has us even more excited. The only thing better than superheroes and super-spies? Superheroes and super-spies in 1950s-era hats.
What are you most excited about on Tuesdays this fall? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #IWatchFallTV.