With two dozen new broadcast television series debuting this fall, it may be hard to cut through the noise to find the unique voices deserving of a DVR season pass. SSN has done the heavy lifting for you, and after viewing all the new offerings, we’ve selected the Top 10 New Fall 2014 Series to Watch.
Premiere Date: Sunday, September 7 at 8 p.m.
Logline: Fifteen everyday Americans move to an isolated, undeveloped location for an entire year and create their own civilization.
SSN Insight: Perhaps it’s reductive to call this “Kid Nation for adults,” but that’s exactly what sprung to mind when we heard that 15 strangers would be placed in a remote area, given minimal supplies, and not put in direct competition with each other. This experiment places individuals from all walks of life on a blank canvas of an environment and films them as they create whatever kind of society they want. Tensions may arise, but there will be ample time to work out differences. Participants must live there for a year, though executive producers say that if they want to stay when the year is up, arrangements will be made.
Red Band Society
Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 17 at 9 p.m.
Logline: Based on the acclaimed Spanish series Polseres Vermelles, this dark comedy focuses on the daily lives of a group of hospital-dwelling teenagers who become unlikely friends.
SSN Insight: Series creator Margaret Nagle draws from her own childhood experiences to create a colorful cast of characters in a traditionally bleak place. While the show is an ensemble, the central arc of season one belongs to Charlie, who narrates the pilot from his coma. “I had a brother who was in a coma,” says Nagle. “I grew up in pediatric hospitals, so I found them to be the most uplifting, most hilarious [places]. The black humor, the fun, getting to know kids you would never know in any other situation [caused] walls to fall down.”
Premiere Date: Sunday, September 21 at 8 p.m.
Logline: The personal and professional affairs of a maverick Secretary of State are explored as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics, and balances a complex family life.
SSN Insight: Like The Good Wife before it, Madam Secretary dives into the personal and professional sides of a powerful woman’s life. At home she’s a wife and mother to two teenage kids, but at work she’s a former member of the CIA and professor who, in the pilot, becomes Secretary of State when the most recent one dies. The show skirts the line between domestic and international politics, but leans toward the latter in its early storytelling. “We’re really trying to pull back the curtain on how the State Department works and surprise people with what really goes on,” says series EP Barbara Hall.
Premiere Date: Monday, September 22 at 8 p.m.
Logline: The origin story of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains that made Gotham City famous.
SSN Insight: Bruce Wayne is just a child in the pilot when he sees his parents viciously gunned down in an alleyway. It’s the action that starts him on the path to become the hero comic book fans know him to be, and the action that causes Gotham to spiral into the darkness that requires such a hero. Series writer and EP Bruno Heller has created a piece of television noir that reflects this. “There is something about a great city as it falls apart that you are compelled to watch … it’s a story of downfall, but it’s also a story of explosive growth and excitement,” he says.
How To Get Away With Murder
Premiere Date: Thursday, September 25 at 10 p.m.
SSN Insight: A sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller centers on a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their university and change the course of their lives.
SSN Insight: The latest Shondaland project is one that puts Viola Davis in the center as a “morally gray” law professor surrounded by ambitious up-and-comers who will do anything to get ahead—maybe even commit murder. “I love the fact that she’s messy and mysterious and you don’t know who she is,” says Davis. “She’s not necessarily nurturing, [but] she’s not the kind of person that doesn’t need God, Jesus, or Buddha because she knows all the answers.”
Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 30 at 8 p.m.
Logline: A satirical look at how technology is taking over our lives, a self-obsessed woman enlists the help of a marketing expert to help repair her tarnished image after she suffers a humiliating, public breakup.
SSN Insight: On the surface, Selfie might seem like it’s trying to capitalize on the ubiquity of social media, but if you’re familiar with creator Emily Kapnek’s Suburgatory, you know there’ll be multiple layers and deep commentary. Selfie is agenda-less in the sense that it’s not out to tell everyone to get on or off social media. Instead, it showcases how balance is needed in both lives and in love, through its two polar opposite leads.
A to Z
Premiere Date: Thursday, October 2 at 9:30 p.m.
Logline: An ensemble romantic comedy set at an online dating company that details the “A to Z’s” of relationships, from meeting to break-up, by asking the question: Is there such a thing as destiny?
SSN Insight: Showrunner Ben Queen begins this half-hour comedy, loosely based on his relationship with his wife, by having a hopeless romantic male lead and a cynical female meet in the pilot, while tipping the audience off to exactly how long their relationship lasts. “The cool thing is when we show this to audiences they say, ‘I want to tune in to see if that means they’re going to break up or get married or whatever,’” says Queen. “I love that because that’s real. You don’t know what’s going to happen with relationships [and] what we’re trying to do is make people feel like they’re watching something that can relate to their own lives.”
Network: The CW
Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 7 at 8 p.m.
Logline: Based on the DC character, Dr. Barry Allen develops super speed after a freak accident and continues to dig into the truth about his mother’s death.
SSN Insight: Viewers were already given a taste of Barry Allen’s world in season two of Arrow when he turned up in Starling City to aid with a case. Everything is amplified in The Flash—more explosive stunts, a brighter color scheme, and an “in the know” cast of characters. “We try not to repeat ourselves,” says series EP Andrew Kreisberg. “One of our big touchstones was The Right Stuff. The idea that Barry is a test pilot, but that book a was not just about the test pilots but all the scientists and people working with them.” Barry may be a grand experiment, but The Flash team (which also consists of DC’s Geoff Johns and über-producer Greg Berlanti) certainly know what they’re doing with him.
Jane the Virgin
Network: The CW
Premiere Date: Monday, October 13 at 9 p.m.
Logline: Based on a Venezuelan telenovela, a hard-working, religious, young Latina is accidentally artificially inseminated following a series of unforeseen events.
SSN Insight: Tonally, Jane plays up comedy and often slips into the intentionally over-the-top aesthetics of a telenovela, but what keeps it grounded and enjoyable is its lead and star, a young woman unlike those we usually see on TV. “I finally found a girl that was written to have upstanding morals, to be fighting for what she loves [and] what she dreams, and to have no shame of being the kind of woman she wants to be,” says Gina Rodriguez.
Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 14 at 9 p.m.
Logline: After a few false starts, a longtime couple gets engaged, only to realize the road to marriage is harder than it looks.
SSN Insight: Series creator David Caspe, who also created Happy Endings for ABC, is certainly no stranger to beginning and ending seasons with big relationship benchmarks, but he’s adamant that this particular series won’t be a “wedding planning moment of the week” one. “The title is a little bit of misnomer. The show is more of a modern version of Mad About You; it’s just a story of a couple,” says Caspe, who quickly notes that the supporting cast of strong improv players will enhance the overall relatability of the situations.