While every network is scrambling to create a faux Game of Thrones that stars a bloodthirsty anti-hero robot who'll surprise you with his love for the tender art of Japanese flower-arranging, we've sifted through the dross and come up with these promising high- and low-brow offerings.
Let's start with the few major network shows worth watching. Fox cop/buddy comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sept. 17) is being hyped to the gills despite being a tired genre, but might actually deliver since it is from the same folks who created Parks and Recreation. Fox's MasterChef, which is the best cooking show on TV, is introducing Junior MasterChef (Sept. 27), which will star tiny children hopefully being berated by Gordon Ramsay or having their peanut butter scaloppini thrown back at them by Joe Bastianich. If you are really stoned you might want to tune into NBC's Dracula (Oct. 25), because the ridiculously hammy Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is sure to smolder, which for him will mean concentrating really, really hard on turning into vapor after some blood-sucking … lustfully.
For the high-minded, meanwhile, public television is getting racial: PBS is airing a “sweeping” six-part history called African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross (Oct. 22), hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., and another all-encompassing, six-hour documentary called Latino Americans (Sept. 17) that covers the history and contributions of Latinos in North America for the last 500 years.
Okay, on to the channels where you can hear the F-word. HBO's Hello Ladies and Showtime's Masters of Sex both debut on Sept. 29. The comedy Ladies is more of the same Ricky Gervais-style humor about a “loser” who moves to L.A. (hilarity ensues… no, really). Masters is a stylized drama about famed sex researchers Masters and Johnson and stars the awesome Lizzy Caplan of Party Down.
As for not-so-premium cable, Esquire TV is trying to be a thinking man's Spike, and its show Knife Fight (Sept. 24) has promise. Combing the immediacy of some hipster pop-up restaurant with Chopped, the show has Drew Barrymore's production company behind it and is hosted by Top Chef winner Ilan Hall.
Tune in, turn on, drop out.