Heroes and failures fill TV screens this fall

Here are 5 new shows you won’t want to miss.

How disappointing is the new fall television season? It was a struggle to come up with five shows worthy of a solid recommendation.

In their quest to battle declining ratings (TV’s new golden age is playing out on pay and basic cable channels) we’re seeing broadcast networks take bigger swings. So, there’s plenty of escapist fantasy in the form of superheroes and procedural espionage. And there’s more diversity than we’ve seen in a while.

Big stars and familiar names pack the schedule, but will they be enough to capture your loyal viewing?

I’ve viewed all 23 of the new offerings — these five are the best of the bunch. All times listed are Eastern/Central.


“Scorpion,” 9/8 p.m. Sept. 22, CBS

Stars: Robert Patrick, Elyes Gabel, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Katharine McPhee

Premise: A group of antisocial misfit geniuses (and McPhee) use their computer, mathematical and psychological smarts to help the government prevent imminent catastrophes.

Who should watch: Fans of "24" who loved Chloe's computer hacking but found Jack's violence too brutal. While watching geniuses work with information doesn't sound exciting, the action and suspense in the pilot episode is surprisingly pulse-pounding.

“Gotham” 8/7 p.m. Sept. 22, Fox

Stars: Benjamin McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith

Premise: This "Batman"-tale-sans-Batman tells the origin of future police commissioner James Gordon and some of Gotham City's most recognizable villains.

Who should watch: Did you like the "Dark Knight" movies? This "Gotham" is similarly sober and grim. Fans of Logue, too, are in for a treat.

“How to Get Away With Murder,” 10/9 p.m. Sept. 25, ABC

Stars: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Katie Findlay

Premise: A law professor of questionable ethics becomes entangled in a murder plot along with her star students.

Who should watch: This show has a pedigree ("Scandal" executive producer Shonda Rhimes, for starters) but is worth watching just for Davis' stellar performance.

“The Flash,” 8/7 p.m. Oct. 7, CW

Stars: Grant Gustin, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker

Premise: Another DC Comics hero (the really fast one) comes to television.

Who should watch: Everyone. This is the best new pilot of the season. The movie-quality series tackles DC's often-dour universe with stellar writing, direction and a fun (but thrilling) approach.

“Jane the Virgin,” 9/8 p.m. Oct. 13, CW

Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Justin Baldoni, Yael Grobglas, Brett Dier, Andrea Navedo

Premise: When a Hispanic virgin becomes pregnant due to accidental medical insemination, her life suddenly becomes crazier than the plots of her favorite telenovela.

Who should watch: Fans of over-the-top family comedies such as "Malcolm in the Middle" and/or soap operas devotees. This sweet yet outlandish one-hour comedy deftly straddles both genres.