Top 10 New Network Series Picks for 2013-14

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Here we are back again at the famed Beverly Hilton Hotel for the 2013 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour where we will tell you what is hot…and what is not…in the upcoming television season. Look for coverage on network, cable, syndication and PBS, and…in an annual tradition…the TVMI predictions on the freshman network class of Fall 2013 handicapped by a scale of 1-1 (most likely to succeed) to 10-1 (least likely to succeed).

Cable kicks-off the tour tonight (and runs through this Friday), followed by NBC (Saturday, July 27), CBS (Monday, July 29), The CW and Showtime (Tuesday, July 30), Fox (Thursday, August 1), FX (Friday, August 2), ABC (Sunday, August 4) and PBS through Wednesday, August 7.

But before we segue into the festivities, TVMI correspondent Douglas Pucci offers his top 10 picks for the upcoming freshman class of 2013-14 in primetime (in order of No. 10 to No. 1, and including midseason). There are 28 new network shows this fall (ABC: 8, NBC and Fox: 6 season, CBS: 5 and The CW: 3), which are seven more than one year earlier, and a considerable 29 new entries slated for midseason.

Please note that screeners for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” on ABC and “Dracula” on NBC were not available at press time. And don’t forget that only seven of those “can’t miss” new Fall 2012 entries made it into a second season. In other words, be very wary.

Douglas’ preview of the new shows for Fall 2013 (in MP3 format): Monday (Part 1), Monday (Part 2), Tuesday (Part 1), Tuesday (Part 2), Wednesday, Thursday (Part 1), Thursday (Part 2), Friday and Sunday, CW’s The Originals, Reign and The Tomorrow People

Marc’s preview of the new shows for Fall 2013 (in MP3 format) from Sept. 11, 2013 (start from 09:50) and Sept. 30, 2013 (05:30-22:45)

10. “RAKE” (Fox) — midseason
Greg Kinnear makes an impressive turn as a smarmy, down-and-out lawyer in this American version of the Australian series of the same title. Quite offbeat, “Rake” contains many comedic elements and presents a fresh take on the law drama genre, thanks to its superb writing and acting by Kinnear. “Rake” feels like a David E. Kelley show (a la “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal”) even though Kelley himself is not actually associated with it.

9. “US & THEM” (Fox) — midseason
Derived from the British comedy, “Gavin and Stacey”, Jason Ritter and former “Gilmore Girl” Alexis Bledel star as two young, up-and-coming-working adults who begin a long-distance romantic relationship. Adding much humor to the proceedings are their best friends (and hilarious chaperones on Ritter’s and Bledel’s first date), played by Dustin Ybarra and Ashlie Atkinson. “Us & Them” well showcases its oft-wacky side while still grounded in reality. Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”) and Kurt Fuller (“Psych”) also star.

8. “KILLER WOMEN” (ABC) — midseason
Tricia Helfer gained cult fame in her role as Six, the sultry Cylon vixen on Syfy’s update of “Battlestar Galactica.” Her star status might advance a few steps further portraying a Texas Ranger in this energetic crime drama imported from Argentina and produced by Ben Silverman and Sofia “Modern Family” Vergara. The first five minutes of the pilot episode initiates the show into overdrive and sets the tone for this eye-opener. Somewhat similar to TNT’s “Saving Grace” except for anything supernatural, spiritual or celestial, the pilot episode for “Killer Women” is sexy and action-packed.

7. “THE MILLERS” (CBS) – Thursday 8:30 p.m. (premieres September 26)
From Greg Garcia’ (“Family Guy”, “My Name Is Earl” and “Raising Hope”), “The Millers” continues his knack for wild comedy, but this time, in front of a live studio audience. Will Arnett stars as a TV reporter who informs his overbearing parents (Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges) of his recent divorce, giving the impetus for his parents to also separate. J.B. Smoove and Michael Rappaport also star. “The Millers” ventures much less towards wry wit and more towards crazy, slapstick humor, and offers a solid and funny alternative after mega-hit “The Big Bang Theory.” As a special treat for “Survivor” fans, recent Caramoan winner John Cochran is one of the writers.

6. “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY” (NBC) – Thursday 8:30 p.m. (premieres October 3)
Opposite “The Millers” is this promising single-cam series about a carefree Caucasian girl who gets knocked up by a Latino honor student, while both of whom put their college plans on hold to get hitched. Mike O’Malley and Ricardo Chavira (formerly Carlos of “Desperate Housewives”) play perfect foils as the fathers of each family. Mary McCormack (“Private Parts,” “In Plain Sight”) also stars.

5. “MOM” (CBS) – Monday 9:30 p.m. (premieres September 23)
CBS’s go-to guy for sitcoms Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men,” “Big Bang Theory,” “Mike & Molly”) hits another comedic home run with this series starring Anna Faris (“Scary Movie”) as a single mother who tries to make the best of her day-to-day life, but often realizes she is making similar mistakes as her own mother (Alison Janney). Unlike her three-time Emmy winning performance as uptight Press Secretary C.J. Cregg on political drama “The West Wing,” Janney is virtually unrecognizable as the aging hipster who is anything but perfect.

4. “INTELLIGENCE” (CBS) – Monday 10 p.m. (midseason)
“Lost” star Josh Holloway returns to TV as a modern-day Bionic Man for the U.S. military in CBS’ most intriguing new drama in recent years. He is paired with former “CSI” star Marg Helgenberger, who portrays the lead supervisor of the project that provides Holloway’s character with enhanced capabilities. Full of action and decent plot twists, “Intelligence” could benefit opposite “The Blacklist” on NBC (or whatever the network is offering at the time) because its lead-in, “The Voice,” will be in between seasons when it debuts.

3. “SURVIVING JACK” (Fox) — midseason
As a teenager entering into high school in the early 1990s, watching the same premise take place definitely strikes a chord. Unlike another upcoming slice of nostalgia, “The Goldbergs” on ABC, “Surviving Jack” does not bombard the viewer with the many meta-references from its era. And there is more than enough content here for those who are not familiar with that decade to appreciate. Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: SVU”) is the show’s outright star (in an Emmy-worthy role) as a tough-nosed dad who scales back his work as a doctor to spend more time at home while his wife enters law school. Heartwarming series with a bit of an edge, “Surviving Jack” is the top choice amongst all the new comedies and definitely worth waiting for.

2. “THE BLACKLIST” (NBC) — premieres September 23
As a huge fan of James Spader as seedy lawyer Alan Shore, whose presence somewhat revived “The Practice” and continued on in “Boston Legal,” it is a pleasure to see him back in primetime. And Spader plays a character with similar personality traits on this NBC drama, which is not a bad thing. In fact, he may just earn an Emmy or a Golden Globe (or both) for his role as a mysterious, notorious and resourceful criminal who volunteers to be captured by the FBI to assist catching other criminals. There are definite similarities to “Silence of the Lambs” with Spader’s character enlisting the help of a female FBI profiler (Megan Boone). But unlike NBC’s “Hannibal,” there is nothing too gory or standoffish. If the pilot episode is any indication, “The Blacklist” will definitely earn its keep out of “The Voice.”

And, the best new show of 2013-14 is…

A young Caucasian boy wakes up in a rice field in China, is transported back to the U.S. and, with the help of an Immigration agent (Omar Epps, formerly of “House”), returns back home to the amazement of his parents (Frances Fisher and Kurtwood Smith) and the citizens of the town who believed he had died 32 years prior. Yet, he has not aged one single day since. The suspension of disbelief is necessary for this new ABC drama, but what makes “Resurrection” most compelling are the complex and varied emotions the characters experience while thrust against the surreal nature of the situation. There will obviously be more to discover (delving into the supernatural) as to why the boy has been “resurrected,” but the premiere episode strives to be touching, visually stunning and sometimes heart wrenching. A bold, ambitious, and daring drama for broadcast network television, developed by Jason Mott (who wrote “The Returned”, the novel for which this series is based), Aaron Zelman (consulting producer and writer of such shows as “Law & Order,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Damages”) and Brad Pitt.

Other honorable nods go to the Fox drama with a “The Shield”-vibe, “Gang Related;” “The Vampire Diaries” spinoff “The Originals” on The CW; NBC’s single-cam comedy adaptation of the terrific 2002 British film “About a Boy;” ABC’s comedy “Trophy Wife;” Fox’s “Total Recall”/”RoboCop”-like action-drama “Almost Human,” and NBC’s “Believe,” the J.J. Abrams tale of a young girl with a “gift” who gets protection from a recently sprung con to keep evil forces at bay. Finally, there will be high anticipation from many fans and viewers, of course, for the return of Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer to Fox in the summer of 2014 in “24: Live Another Day.”

Happy viewing in the new TV season!