There are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).
“Life Sentence” (9 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays, CW) is notable for being a rare CW show not based on comic books or the supernatural, and unfortunately it’s also notable for being really bad. You’d think there’d be something special about it if the network is willing to push aside its DC superheroes for a whole hour, but the premiere episode plays like one of those unaired pilots you’d come across on YouTube and then say “Ah, so that’s why it wasn’t picked up.”
On Monday, the Diane Ruggiero/Rob Thomas show that started off as a sly way to get “Veronica Mars”-style witty mysteries back on the tube surpassed its more famous forebearer in number of seasons. While “iZombie” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays, The CW) strikes me as being less popular and less acclaimed than “Veronica,” it always finds a spot on my year-end top 10 lists and it’s getting to the point where the duo’s shorthand descriptor should be “the creators of ‘Veronica Mars’ AND ‘iZombie.’ ”
Since I have for some bizarre reason watched every episode of “Supergirl” (now in Season 3) and “Riverdale” (now in Season 2), I might as well get a blog post out of it by asking: “Which is the dumber show?” It’s kind of like deciding whether the Patriots or Eagles are the team worth rooting for in the Super Bowl: It’s a brain-spinner.
“Black Lightning” (9 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays, CW) distinguishes itself from the other CW DC Universe shows by being set in a real world more so than a cartoony world. It’s much closer to the dramatic parts of “Atlanta” than the silliness of “Supergirl” (which is easily the dumbest show I’ve ever watched 52 episodes of).
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” recently marked its 100th song, so it’s a perfect excuse – I mean, reason – to rank every song. (This list goes to 89 because the show counted some reprises and songlets, and I did not – although in some cases, I combined a related songlet or reprise in an entry with a more complete song.)
“Riverdale’s” (9 p.m. Eastern, Thursdays, The CW) broad strokes will be familiar to anyone who’s seen a high school drama TV series or movie before, but it has a few elements that might make it worth keeping it on your DVR schedule awhile. It’s loosely based on the current, mature run of the “Archie” comic book (and indeed, the show is helmed by the comic’s Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa), it looks visually different from any other current show, and it features a murder mystery.
“The Secret Circle” (2011-12, The CW; now available on Netflix) shouldn’t be nearly as good as it is, but because every actor plays the witches-and-spells mythology with total seriousness, and because the Pacific Northwest imagery is gorgeous, this series based on L.J. Smith’s young-adult books from 1992 ends up being one of my favorite one-season wonders.
“Hidden Palms” (2007, The CW) seems like the show “Glory Days” – from five years earlier – should’ve been. It’s an ongoing murder-mystery mixed with a teen/rich people soap opera, and – with the first two episodes of the eight-episode run penned by creator Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek,”“Scream”) – it has a much surer sense of itself out of the gate.
“Frequency” (9 p.m. Wednesdays on The CW), in its original incarnation, was a pretty good 2000 movie starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel that I don’t remember much about other than the premise: A father and son communicate through time via a ham radio, allowing the son to save the father’s life. The new TV series of the same name is a slick remake, but it struggles to make a case for why it needs to exist.