The fall TV season has entered into full swing mode, as networks have begun unveiling fall season premieres for shows both young and old. We’ve seen popular series entering into their fourth, fifth, and even sixth seasons, while brand new stories have been sprinkled in along the way for good measure. The sum total has been one of the best collections of fall television we’ve had in recent memory. For whatever reason, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, and beyond have all managed to step their collective game up in a huge way, and we’ve been better off for it as a result.
But which fall premieres stood above the rest? We gathered together the best of the best from both returning and new shows across the major networks and beyond, picking out the ones that truly knocked it out of the park.
1. The Last Man on Earth, FOX
The brainchild of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, The Last Man on Earth (LMOE) has been a steady source of quality TV for the entirety of its two-season run on Fox. It’s been helped by solid writing, a stellar cast, and just enough twists and turns to keep us honest throughout.
Season 3’s premiere was more of the same, featuring a hilarious cameo that we won’t spoil here, while setting up what’s sure to be the larger conflict of the season as the world’s last survivors continue adding to their growing ranks. As AV Club said in their full review of the episode, “the best part about LMOE is its ability to switch things up on a dime while always relying on a formula, and it seems to be following through on that promise wonderfully.”
2. Agents of SHIELD, ABC
It’s been tough to ignore Marvel’s recent clearing of the decks on network TV. After canceling both Agent Carter and Marvel’s Most Wanted, it’s left Agents of SHIELD as the final non-Netflix series in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. The pivot toward Netflix has been obvious, and it’s clear that the studio is putting more of their eggs in the streaming basket every day.
That doesn’t mean that Agents of SHIELD doesn’t have a story of its own to tell, proven in its Season 4 premiere unveiling of Ghost Rider. When last we saw the flaming skull of the popular anti-hero, he was being played by Nicolas Cage in two subpar movies. Now, the character has been given the reboot he so rightly deserves, and we can’t wait to see what Agents of SHIELD chooses to do with him over the course of its fourth season.
3. The Good Place, NBC
Michael Schur is one of comedy television’s most accomplished writers and showrunners, having been the creative force behind The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. For his latest project, he gives us The Good Place, a show about a woman (Kristen Bell) who wakes up in heaven. The twist: A clerical error has the afterlife’s higher-ups thinking she is someone else, forcing her to hide her true, less-than-saintly identity, lest she be banished to eternal damnation. Its two-part premiere beautifully established its heady premise in a simple, easy-to-understand way, while its clever writing put it firmly in the conversation for TV’s best comedies.
4. This Is Us, NBC
Looking at the early trailers for NBC’s This Is Us, it didn’t appear to be much more than an overwrought, soapy family drama. Its pilot exceeded ours and everyone else’s expectations though, delivering an emotionally raw story that has you feeling for the show’s ensemble cast, which is capped off by a twist ending in the closing minutes. IGN summed it up well in their own review of the premiere, promising that “if you’re willing to embrace the show’s heart on sleeve approach, there’s a lot to appreciate here.”
This Is Us may end up being the fall’s biggest surprise hit, and based on the strength of the pilot, it will have earned every bit of that title.
5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX
Michael Schur checks in on our list twice, this time for FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The show’s fourth season kicks off with Jake Peralta and Raymond Holt having been relocated to Florida for witness protection, as the pair attempts to adjust to their new lives. The premiere works on two different levels too; first in seeing two cops forced to work entirely out of their element as civilians in minimum wage jobs, and second as two friends looking to return to their old life in New York City.
The “Coral Palms” story arc looks like it’ll last at least three episodes, hopefully placing our series back into the Nine-Nine’s police precinct and hilarious ensemble cast soon.
6. Luke Cage, Netflix
As of publishing, Luke Cage hasn’t yet hit Netflix for the general public. That said, we were afforded the opportunity to watch and review the first seven episodes of the series, and we were plenty impressed. Mike Colter shines as our titular hero, in a series that highlights black culture in Harlem within the context of a Marvel superhero story. It’s a bold premise to say the least, and for the most part, it’s a rousing success. It’s also not a series without its fair share of flaws, but those are far outweighed by an enthralling performance from Colter as the indestructible Hero of Harlem. Suffice it to say, we can’t wait to see what Marvel has in store next in the realm of streaming.
7. Lucifer, FOX
Lucifer had a good deal of ups and downs in its first season, but for the most part, it was a creative success for a unique premise. Tom Ellis is a delight as Lucifer Morningstar, the physical embodiment of Satan who’s absconded his throne in Hell to live a life of luxury on Earth. Season 2 picks up right where we left off, with Lucifer’s mother having escaped from Hell, and out for revenge against her son (or at least allegedly). We get to see a fresh side of the devil’s considerable parental hangups, as the character continues to change and evolve in all the right ways.
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