On the surface, Showtime’s next new drama might not seem that exciting — despite a killer cast drawn from the worlds of prestige drama (Dominic West), British murder shows (Ruth Wilson), network television (Maura Tierney) and whatever the hell “Fringe” was (Joshua Jackson), devoting an entire series to the concept of adultery might seem lacking in inspiration. But what creators Hagai Levi and Sarah Treem have drawn together is far more complex, smart and intriguing than it might seem on the surface, thanks largely to a structure that goes beyond clever. “The Affair” might not literally explode off the screen the way companion series “Homeland” does, but it should make for a long and fascinating burn.
Predicted End Date: 2019 (after four seasons and lengthy breaks to accommodate cast schedules)
“The Affair” premieres October 19 on Showtime.
“Bad Teacher” this is not. Starring Kate Walsh as the titular judge with questionable decision-making, “Bad Judge” evokes little to no memories of the poorly-executed CBS sitcom based on the enjoyably raunchy Cameron Diaz film of the same name. Here, Walsh is laid back, but present. She’s charming, but selfish. She’s morally sound, but not the boring, buy-the-book judge usually portrayed on TV.
Judge Rebecca Wright is self-righteous in her life choices even when they skew closer to questionable than predictable. Thankfully, this makes for an entertaining half-hour of TV, even if the show isn’t as spontaneous as its title character. “Bad Judge” would be getting a full-on, whole-hearted “Watch it!” if showrunner Liz Brixius, the co-creator of “Nurse Jackie,” had not just left over creative differences. Her rumored replacement is ex-“Whitney” showrunner Betsy Thomas, and that, as they say in the biz, is a major downgrade. After all, “Nurse Jackie” is about to end its run after seven Emmy-winning seasons. “Whitney” lasted an inexplicable two, and thankfully was not rewarded for its many failings (you know, outside of its existence).
Predicted End Date: December 2014 (but make sure to savor it while it lasts)
“Bad Judge” premieres October 2 on NBC.
While our official position is that Laurence Fishburne can do whatever he wants (as long as he leaves some room in his schedule for “Hannibal”), it’s still a bit of a surprise, him signing on for this ABC sitcom starring Anthony Anderson. That said, the show’s promise of tackling modern-day issues of race head-on has us excited — because as certain events of this summer might remind us, there is real need for a national conversation on the subject. It’s also filling the 22-year-old void left behind by the indelible “Cosby Show,” and again, did we mention Laurence Fishburne as a cranky grandpa?
Predicted End Date: The same day as its lead-in “Modern Family” goes off the air. (So, you know, the day of the apocalypse.)
“black-ish” premieres September 24 on ABC.
Basing a show around all the best characters in the Batman universe without actually including the Dark Knight himself may seem like making a buffalo chicken sandwich without the chicken, but don’t worry — there’s still plenty to dig into on FOX’s new primetime crime thriller. First, it will help if you think of it as just that. Don’t worry about waiting for Bruce Wayne to grow up or even pay much heed to the parade of super villains presented in the pilot. “Gotham” is a cop drama with a pulpy setting and a scenery-chewing ensemble.
At its center isn’t Master Wayne, but (future) Commissioner James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie (who recently required hospitalization after getting too physical while shooting a fight scene). The “Southland” veteran has experience playing a violent cop and a caped crusader (he voiced Batman in the animated film “Batman: Year One”), making “Gotham” the perfect fit for the always-watchable leading lad. Pairing him with the scuzzy-but-lovable Donal Logue (“Terriers”) was a wise move, and watching the corrupt Detective Bullock mix it up with a by-the-book Gordon in the pilot has whet our appetite for more to come.
Predicted End Date: May 2017
“Gotham” premieres September 22 on FOX.
This one isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you have room in your heart for poppy, soapy fun, this post-modern “love letter to telenovelas” (as creator Jennie Snyder described it at this year’s TCA Press Tour) is a bright splash of comedy and crazy plot twists, anchored by the amazing Gina Rodriguez. Rodriguez makes this story of what happens when a young virgin finds herself accidentally artificially inseminated feel real and grounded, and the rest of the cast is also solid. The CW is doing a good thing in giving this show a chance — the least you can do is the same.
Predicted End Date: How many seasons did “Ugly Betty” last? Four? Okay, then. Hopefully that many, at least.
“Jane the Virgin” premieres October 13 on The CW.
David Caspe’s last — and only other — TV show was as funny as they come. And as short-lived. “Happy Endings” pulled together an impossibly charismatic cast whose chemistry was off the charts and inventive scripts that were equally remarkable. Yet it didn’t click with a large enough audience to justify lasting longer than three seasons. (Damn you, ABC! Get your scheduling figured out already!)
Can “Marry Me” make it last? The cast is there, including “Happy Endings” veteran Casey Wilson (who’s married to Caspe), “Party Down” star Ken Marino and “SNL” veteran Tim Meadows. Together, they’ve crafted an engaging pilot in need of a slight makeover to improve longevity. After all, how long can we wait to see if these two get hitched (or to see if the marriage takes)? We say get it over and done with, move on with the plot, and let these funny people do what they do best.
“Marry Me” premieres October 14 on NBC.
Predicted End Date: May 2019 (if all goes well — December 2014 otherwise)
Jeffrey Tambor hasn’t had much luck landing on long-lasting TV shows since “The Larry Sanders Show” ended its six-year run in 1998 — unless you count “Arrested Development’s” seven years in purgatory between Seasons 3 and 4 as “long-lasting.” Now, though, the actor known for his comedic turns is taking on an ideal blend of a comedy and drama in Jill Soloway’s new Amazon series “Transparent.”
Based on her own experiences with a transgender parent, Soloway’s series takes long detours from comedy, often striking an undefinable tone somewhere in between genres. Tambor’s Maura isn’t a perfectly lovable role model, even if she’s miles ahead of her self-centered children, all of whom seem to be dealing with what by now should be known as an “L.A. Complex” (obsession over their own opinions to the point of being incapable of empathy). “Transparent” should strike a chord with niche audiences from the LGBT community and ardent TV fans in general, meaning Tambor shouldn’t be looking for work any time soon.
“Transparent” premieres September 26 on Amazon.
Predicted End Date: 2020