Up Front & Personal: My Top Picks for the 2015 Fall TV Season

It’s one of my favorite times of the year – Upfront Season!

Beginning today, the Big 5 will unveil their fall lineups. They will show their sizzle reels and pull out the red carpet for their stars. Schedules will be jumbled and advertisers will be salivating (or not).

After this week, we will have a clearer picture of what the nets have to offer in the upcoming TV season. But like most television viewers, I can't wait to give my opinion.

So without having much information to go on - mostly just a paragraph description - I will give my top pick for each broadcast network, a mock draft for the sport of TV.

It goes without saying, but I am still saying it, that these opinions will change by September and, more likely, will change by the end of the week. 

So let's begin.

THE CW Top Pick - DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Description: When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat – one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known? DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW stars Victor Garber (“The Flash,” “Alias”); Brandon Routh (“Arrow,” “Superman Returns”); Arthur Darvill (“Doctor Who”); Caity Lotz (“Arrow”); Ciarra Renee (“Pippin”); Franz Drameh (“Edge of Tomorrow”); with Dominic Purcell (“The Flash,” “Prison Break”); and Wentworth Miller (“The Flash,” “Prison Break”). Based on the characters from DC Comics, DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“The Flash,” upcoming “Pan”), Marc Guggenheim (“Eli Stone,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”), Andrew Kreisberg (“The Flash,” “Eli Stone,” “Warehouse 13″) and Sarah Schechter (“The Flash,” upcoming “Pan”).

The CW

The CW

Opinion: Greg Berlanti is a man on a mission and his mission to take over television – one superhero at a time. This mash-up of Arrow/The Flash, both successful shows in their own right, has the potential to make a Berlanti trifecta. But without a main, well-known DC superhero anchor, it could hinder the potential hat trick. However, I don’t think Berlanti would put his name on a project, if he didn’t have a good sense of where it could go. I’ll be watching. 

NBC Top Pick - Blindspot

Description: A vast international plot explodes when a beautiful Jane Doe is discovered naked in Times Square, completely covered in mysterious, intricate tattoos with no memory of who she is or how she got there. But there's one tattoo that is impossible to miss: the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller, emblazoned across her back. "Jane," Agent Weller and the rest of the FBI quickly realize that each mark on her body is a crime to solve, leading them closer to the truth about her identity and the mysteries to be revealed. From Executive Producer Greg Berlanti ("The Mysteries of Laura," "The Flash," "Arrow").

Opinion: Hey look, it’s Greg Berlanti again. But this time it’s more ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ Greg than ‘DC Superhero’ Greg. This show seems interesting - a touch of Fox’s short-lived John Doe with a splash of Memento. It appears it could be a crime of the week procedural wrapped in a clever format, but even the best new show of last season not named ‘Empire’ - ‘The Flash’ - had a villain of the week formula for much of its inaugural year. I’m curious to see where this will go. And if this becomes a hit, this will be a Berlanti grand slam (4 hit shows).  

NBC Honorable Mention - Heroes Reborn

Description: The saga behind the 2006 breakout series "Heroes" will continue this fall as creator Tim Kring returns to the fold and develops new layers to his original superhero concept This highly anticipated 13-episode event series will reconnect with the basic elements of the show’s first season, where ordinary people were waking up to the fact that they had extraordinary abilities. Original cast member Jack Coleman will reprise his role as H.R.G., Jimmy Jean-Louis returns as The Haitian, and Masi Oka will be back as Hiro Nakamura. Also joining the cast are Zachary Levi (of NBC's "Chuck" and the Marvel franchise "Thor"), Ryan Guzman ("The Boy Next Door"), Robbie Kay ("Once Upon a Time"), Danika Yarosh ("Shameless"), Judith Shekoni ("The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2"), Kiki Sukezane ("Death Yankee 3"), Henry Zebrowski (NBC’s "A to Z") and Gatlin Green ("Criminal Minds").



Opinion: You have to win me back, Heroes. You have to win me back. After we saved the cheerleader, you kind of lost your way. With the addition of Zachary Levi to the cast and the return of fan favorites HRG, The Haitian, and Hiro, things do look promising. But I’ll let you walk a few steps before I get too excited that you are back on your feet again, Heroes. Win me back. 


Description: The Muppets return to prime time with a contemporary, documentary-style show that, for the first time ever, will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants, and desires.



Opinion: Does it get any better than The Muppets? Kermit. Piggy. Gonzo. Fozzy. It’s about time they are getting the spotlight they once had. But, while the documentary style (I’m feeling Modern Family/ The Office type setup) sounds fun, let’s not forget The Muppets work best when they interact with human beings. Muppets need to play off people so they can be at their muppety best. Yes, I said muppety. So hopefully, there will be some recurring human characters to keep the show grounded. But more importantly, is Walter a cast member? 


Description: Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Zor-El, who escaped her home planet Krypton during its destruction. After hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin Superman, she finally decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be a hero. Greg Berlanti (Arrow,The Flash) is executive-producing, and Calista Flockhart, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh and David Harewood also star.



Opinion: Bradley Cooper is one of the producers behind the new CBS show ‘Limitless’ based on the similarly titled movie that starred Cooper. That sounds like a winner, right? Well, I’m sure it probably is. But the only reason I’m not selecting it as my top pick is because two words – Greg Berlanti. Yes, Berlanti is at again, creating a primetime show based on a DC Comics character. This time on CBS. It will be very interesting to see how the tone changes from his CW shows. Different audience, here. But this series has a lot of hype behind it. Hopefully, Berlanti can pull this one off. And if he does, it could be a grand slam + 1 (that’s 5 hit shows, there's no real baseball analogy for that). It should be noted, Smallville – the story of a young Clark Kent – lasted 10 seasons. So you’ve got a lot to live up to on this one, Berlanti. 


Description: How many TV lawyers does it take to try a real-life case in a real-life courtroom? One, and his name is THE GRINDER. Starring Emmy Award nominee Rob Lowe (“Parks and Recreation,” “The West Wing”), THE GRINDER is a new comedy about a famous TV lawyer at a crossroads. When his legal series ends, he decides to move back home and join his family’s real law firm – despite having no formal education, no bar certification, no license to practice and no experience in an actual courtroom. DEAN SANDERSON (Lowe) spent eight seasons playing the title role on the hit legal drama “The Grinder.” Now he’s moving back to his hometown of Boise, Idaho, where his brother, STEWART (Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee Fred Savage, “The Wonder Years”), is a real-life attorney who is poised to take over the family law firm. It doesn’t take long for Dean to start injecting his TV drama into every aspect of Stewart’s life, both in the courtroom and at home, impacting Stewart’s wife – and Dean’s high school sweetheart – DEBBIE (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, NEW GIRL, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”); their two kids, 15-year-old LIZZIE (Hana Hayes, “Bucket and Skinner’s Epic Adventures”) and 13-year-old ETHAN (Connor Kalopsis, “Days Of Our Lives”); and Dean and Stewart’s father, the law firm’s head, DEAN SR. (William Devane, “24: Live Another Day”). Dean and Stewart don’t see to eye to eye, but when they stop arguing with each other and start arguing together in court…they make a formidable team. THE GRINDER is the story of two brothers, who took different paths, but meet again in the middle – for justice…sort of. Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul serve as writers and executive producers. Nicholas Stoller, Jake Kasdan and Lowe also executive produce. Kasdan will direct. The Grider is produced by 20th Century Fox Television.



Opinion: Yes, I could’ve picked Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, for its dark, satirical humor and event series hoopla, and I’m sure it will get a lot of people talking, but I really wanted to choose at least one comedy on my list of picks and why not one that stars Rob Lowe and Fred Savage! It was a tough choice between this show and the one starring Uncle Jesse – I mean, John Stamos - but I’m choosing ‘Fuller House’ as Netflix’s top pick of the new season, so everyone wins in the end. I think the premise of The Grinder sounds funny – a TV lawyer coming home to join his family’s real-life law firm. But with every sitcom, it’s not really the initial premise that makes the show a hit, but the characters themselves and Lowe and Savage have experience playing believable ones in the past. Despite what the critics say, the sitcom is not dead! At least, I hope not. Plus, nostalgia is really in these days with the kids, i.e. Fuller House, X-Files, Coach, Twin Peaks, etc. And how more nostalgic can you get than Kevin Arnold?