Fall TV 2015: 6 returning favorites worth checking out (Commentary)

The ax fell fairly lightly on TV shows at the end of last season, and as a result we have a nice selection of returning shows to choose from. Here are the six I’m most looking forward to, ranked in order of my anticipation for them:

1. “Gotham” Season 2 (8 p.m. Mondays, returns Sept. 21 on Fox, pictured) — “Gotham” has some problems, for sure, but if it had been canceled, I would have missed it dearly. I love the gritty ambiance of crime-ridden Gotham and detective Jim Gordon’s (the increasingly great Ben McKenzie) determined approach at cleaning it up. While I originally figured we’d see a slow unveiling of the rogues gallery over five to 10 seasons leading up to Bruce (David Mazouz) becoming Batman, things are clearly moving at an accelerated pace. We met a lot of them in Season 1, which ended with Bruce staring into the maw of the Batcave. The highlight of Season 2 for me is Mr. Freeze, who has never been portrayed accurately in live action (sorry, Arnold).

2. “Fargo” Season 2 (10 p.m. Mondays, returns Oct. 12 on FX) – A prequel/spinoff rather than a continuation, “Fargo’s” second season goes back in time to the 1970s to Sioux Falls, S.D., to address a killing spree referenced in a throwaway line in the first season. It introduces a young couple played by Kirsten Dunst and “Friday Night Lights’ “ Jesse Plemons, and also features Ted Danson as the lead detective and “Parks and Recreation’s” Nick Offerman as a lawyer. It’s great to see movie star Dunst return to a major role in a series that’s constructed as meticulously as a long movie.

3. “The Mindy Project” Season 4 (returns Sept. 15 through Hulu’s subscription service) – It kind of stinks that I can’t watch it on traditional TV, but on the other hand, I don’t doubt Mindy Kaling and the other writers who say they feel less constrained in the streaming format (slightly longer episodes, more freedom of language). Season 4 – centered on Mindy and Danny raising a baby — is a must-watch at some point; I just have to decide if I want to pay for a Hulu subscription or the eventual DVD.

4. “The Walking Dead” Season 6 (9 p.m. Sundays, returns Oct. 11 on AMC) – Right now I’m smitten with the prequel/spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead,” which is two episodes into its six-episode first season. But after that, we’ll resume the story of how Rick shooting the unstable doctor in last year’s finale tears apart the fabric of Alexandria. Regardless of where it goes, “Walking Dead” can always be counted on for engrossing apocalyptic character drama (and, as always, I look forward to the analysis on “Talking Dead,” which follows every episode, as well).

5. “Star Wars Rebels” Season 2 (9 p.m. Mondays, returns Oct. 14 on DisneyXD) – The crew of the Ghost gradually grew on me throughout a debut season that was deliciously peppered with Darth Vader, Tarkin, TIE fighters, Imperial troop transporters, John Williams riffs and other classic elements. The return of Ahsoka in the Season 1 finale and Season 2 summer premiere, along with the promise of more “Clone Wars” veterans like Captain Rex and Hondo Ohnaka later this season, confirms that executive producer Dave Filoni and company have “Rebels” headed in the right direction.

6. “iZombie” Season 2 (9 p.m. Tuesdays, returns Oct. 6 on The CW) – Like “Gotham,” this comic-book-turned-TV-show is imperfect, but I’d miss it if it went away. The banter between good zombie Liv (Rose McIver), morgue doctor Rav (Rahul Kohli) and police detective Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) is the highlight as they investigate a crime each week. I’m not as big a fan of the mythology centered on villainous zombie Blaine (David Anders), but it promises to be ratcheted up a notch this year as Liv and Blaine team up against a common threat.

What returning shows are you most looking forward to this season?