Though broadcast networks have almost 30 new shows debuting this fall, the most anticipated shows aren’t the ones with fresh young talent. There’s a resurgence of familiar faces this season, as older comedic actors such as Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams come back into the field and other beloved characters such as NCIS’ Ziva David and Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Christina Yang finish their final seasons.
With increased competition from cable networks and Netflix, major networks are changing their programming strategies. CBS is beefing up its Monday night comedy block and ABC is attempting to emulate their successful cable rivals by airing their shows in continuous twelve episode blocks and taking a long winter hiatus from December to February. Below is a mix of all-new shows and returning favorites that could make for appointment viewing:
How I Met Your Mother
CBS, Monday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.
HIMYM begins its final season with the addition of new series regular Cristin Milioti as the Mother. Though the entirety of the season takes place in 56 hours during the weekend of Robin and Barney’s wedding, there will be — in typical How I Met Your Mother style — a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards. Though they won’t give away many clues, executive producers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays promise a slew of guest stars and, of course, two more slaps.
CBS, Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m.
Toni Collette (The United States of Tara), Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) and Tate Donovan (Damages, Argo) star in the new Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama that centers around top Washington D.C. surgeon Ellen Sanders (Collette) who is due to operate on the president in 24 hours. The plot thickens when Sanders’ family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent (McDermott) who threatens their lives unless the president dies during surgery. One Tree Hill alum Hillarie Burton has booked a recurring role as an assistant to Sanders’ secretive husband (Donovan).
ABC, Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m.
The big “will-they-or-won’t-they” question plagues Castle fans once again as they anxiously await Beckett’s answer to Castle’s marriage proposal. When we last saw the couple, Beckett was contemplating a job offer in Washington D.C. Former House cast member Lisa Edelstein has also signed on for a three-episode arc as Rachel McCord, a savvy, streetwise federal investigator. Edelstein’s role leads us to believe that Beckett might just be moving to our nation’s capital for the time being. Prescreenings suggest the premiere will give an answer to the marriage question then jump ahead, and the first episode reportedly ends with a major character’s life in jeopardy.
ABC, Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.
Directed by Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), this new small-screen follow-up to The Avengers and other Marvel franchise movies sees Clark Gregg reprise his role as the S.H.I.E.L.D. commanding agent, who in the wake of “The Battle of New York” is formulating an initiative team to investigate the bizarre and protect the ordinary people of the world from the extraordinary. Colbie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) appears in the pilot, as does The Avengers’ Maria Hill.
CBS, Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.
TV’s No. 1 show enters its 11th season and will be saying goodbye to beloved character Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). The first two episodes of the season will pick up where the finale left off and fill in the moments leading to the finale’s cliffhanger. This season will also address the events leading to de Pablo’s departure. Executive Producer Gary Glasberg promises Ziva David will not be leaving for good, and Micheal Weatherly said fans of Tony and Ziva will get everything they’ve been waiting for. After de Pablo’s departure, Gibbs’ team will experiment with rotating new members and a permanent new team member will reportedly be introduced sometime in January or February.
CBS, Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m.
This new single-camera comedy stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a Chicago father-daughter advertising team. Williams plays unorthodox agency head Simon Ross, a stark contrast to his level-headed daughter. Though plot points remain somewhat unclear from show previews, executive producer Dean Lorey said, “We just feed [Williams] a few ideas, point him in a direction, sit back and enjoy.” Kelly Clarkson will appear as herself in the pilot, followed by Josh Groban in episode six.
NBC, Thursday, September 26th at 9:30 p.m.
In a new comedy inspired by his real life, TV veteran Michael J. Fox promises to poke fun at his Parkinson’s Disease while playing a New York father and husband who returns to his job as a news anchor after five years in retirement. Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown, Miss Congeniality) and Charles Grodin (Beethoven) are on board for potentially recurring roles as Fox’s parents.
Fox, Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m.
The first episode of the season will be Beatles-themed. Then, in wake of the death of Cory Monteith, there will be a Finn tribute episode written by creator Ryan Murphy with heavy consultation from Monteith’s girlfriend and lead co-star Lea Michele. Michele’s Rachel Berry will reportedly not appear until the final act although the episode will explore how various characters deal with — or fail to deal with — Finn’s death. Heather Morris (Brittany), Mark Salling (Puck), Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Harry Shum Jr. (Mike) will not be returning to the Fox musical dramedy as series regulars this season.
ABC, Thursday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m.
The buzzy political thriller returns for its third season and twitter is full of excited fans. The season opener picks up minutes after the finale and viewers will learn more about Olivia’s relationship with her father. Scott Foley was promoted to series regular which hopefully means he’ll get out of “the hole” and series creator Shonda Rhimes promises the Olivia/Fitz romance is not finished. Guest stars on tap for season three include Friends alum Lisa Kudrow and Private Practice’s Paul Adelstein, both slated for recurring roles. Kate Burton will also be reprising her role as Vice President Sally Langston.