It's that time of the year, folks: time to curl up on the couch with a blanket and your best guy or girl and start placing bets on how long the shitty new network sitcoms will last. (I'm giving Bad Judge three episodes—prove me wrong, Kate Walsh.) But it's not all bad—in fact, a few new shows look downright promising—and if it turns out they suck, at least some of our old tried-and-trues are returning.
We picked some things to be excited about and some things that make us wanna stare at our microwaves instead of our TVs.
The Walking Dead, Sunday, October 12, 8 PM on AMC
It's pretty admirable that a show about the ultimate instance of the shit hitting the fan continues to outdo the horror of its premise. Accused in its first seasons of being all schlock, gore, and crappy acting, The Walking Dead has become a too-real indictment of what could be expected if disaster struck—zombies are bloodthirsty, brainless monsters, but people can be so much worse. Season four ended with our protagonists' staggered arrival at Terminus, a falsely advertised community whose residents would just love to have you for dinner. Rick and the others have been herded into a shipping container where, presumably, they'll be fattened up on powdered milk and tossed on the grill. But not so fast, Terminusians. A reinvigorated and bloodlusty Rick isn't prepared to let his people go down (other people's digestive tracts) like that. I didn't watch any of the preview material on AMC's site for fear of spoiling a single thing, but I imagine all of my worst postapocalyptic nightmares are about to return.
Jane the Virgin, Monday, October 13, 8 PM on CW A quirky comedy about a virgin whose gynecologist accidentally artificially inseminates her with her boss's sperm sample, which was taken without consent by his wife. Anything that sounds that much like it was made up by a 12-year-old girl who's just getting heavy into the novels of V.C. Andrews has to be a little bit good.
Marry Me, Tuesday, October 14, 8 PM on NBC Ken Marino is one of the funniest people in the world (handsome to boot), and even if there's a decent chance this rom-com is sort of lame, it can't be all bad if he's involved. —Gwynedd Stuart
Bob's Burgers, Sunday, October 5, 6:30 PM on Fox
Is it the Burger-of-the-Day puns or the H. Jon Benjamin? Whatever it is, I've been sold on Bob's Burgers since day one. Series creator Loren Bouchard has an excellent track record with animated shows (Home Movies; Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist), but Bob's Burgers surpasses all of his previous work, transcending its two-dimensional cartoon format to become a three-dimensional sitcom. It has all the heart of The Simpsons without relying on pop-culture ephemera. Though the premiere seems far away, the midautumn date just means you have time to work on your Tina Belcher costume. —Danette Chavez
Parks and Recreation, premiere date not yet announced, 7:30 PM on NBC
This show was on the verge of being canceled basically every season it was on, so it's especially nice to see it end on its own terms. And what glorious terms they will be! Unlike most sitcoms that hit a midseries lull, Parks and Rec has only gotten better, handling the exit of major characters and huge life changes with ease, all while maintaining an enviable joke-to-minute ratio. This season skips ahead three years, sparing us all the boring Leslie Knope being pregnant and trying to fit into her new job and the other characters adjusting to their new roles stuff, and jumps right into the future—2017 to be exact—when Andy Dwyer and Tom Haverford are hanging out in Chicago and everyone gets around Pawnee on hoverboards, probably. Sure, it will be sad to see this show go, all the more so given a bleak terrain bereft of pleasing replacements. But if the last few seasons are any indication, the series finale will be a magical, hilarious, heartfelt hour (it will be an hour, right? maybe 90 minutes? MAYBE A FEATURE FILM? a girl can dream) of television worthy of more praise, waffles, and whipped cream than Leslie could possibly imagine. —Brianna Wellen
State of Affairs, Monday, November 17, 9 PM on NBC
I thought we, like as a society, were on the same page about Katherine Heigl, a page we all ripped from our entertainment books and tossed into the roaring fireplaces in our living rooms. NBC has begged to differ by giving Heigl her very own hour-long drama about a tough CIA analyst named Charleston Tucker (great name, guys) who's bent on locating the terrorists who killed her manfriend, who also happens to be the president's son. Fundamentally, I'd love to support anything that features the wonderful Alfre Woodard as the president, but too many other things prevent State of Affairs from being salvageable, among them that it's called State of Affairs, a name so generic I nodded off just typing it. Also the pandering tagline: "All the president's men are nothing compared to her." I think I'll get my girl power elsewhere. —Gwynedd Stuart
Bad Judge, Thursday, October 2, 8 PM on NBC
Maybe it's lazy to knock a show that's not likely to make it through its first season, but this one is just so bad I can't help myself. Kate Walsh stars in Bad Judge as a "hard-living, sexually unapologetic woman who plays with the law," who somehow ends up kowtowing to the kid of some parents she sends to prison. Because no matter how much sexing or adjudicating you do, you just don't feel grown-up until you have a child advising you on how to live your life. Throw in the fact that show runner Liz Brixius (Nurse Jackie) recently left, and you know you have less hit than mistrial on your hands here. —Danette Chavez
Manhattan Love Story, Tuesday, September 30, 7:30 PM on ABC
I'm not going to pretend I don't like rom-coms. I, in fact, LOVE them and was delighted by the lineup of new romance-centric shows on this season's television schedule. Comedy powerhouses Casey Wilson and Ken Marino plan a wedding on Marry Me? Yes, please! Mad Men's Ginsberg and the mother from How I Met Your Mother have quirky disagreements in A to Z? Sign me up! I'll probably even secretly love watching Selfie, a My Fair Lady for the techie generation. But I cannot think of anything more tortuous than watching more than a minute of Manhattan Love Story, a show that relies on the premise that the two lead characters never stop talking. We hear their every thought about every second of their courtship. If that weren't reason enough to not tune in, I can't think of two people who I want to shut their mouths more than the guy who played the Craiglist Killer on Lifetime and the second runner-up on cycle 11 of America's Next Top Model. In response to the show's uninspired tagline "Have you ever wondered what your date was thinking?": yes. Yes, I have. But I have never once wondered what the two boring amateur models on the date happening next to mine were thinking. —Brianna Wellen