Are we currently experiencing the best Autumn/Fall TV season in years?

Considering the reception that has greeted many of 2016’s new fall shows it certainly feels that way, which is a little unusual. Typically, as we inch toward the beginning of October, TV viewers are more likely to placing bets on how many heavily hyped shows will make it past Christmas, than drowning in more great comedies and dramas than they can handle.

While some were predicted to receive the stellar reviews they have, including Westworld, Designated Survivor, and Atlanta, there are others that have proven to be happy surprises. Let’s take a look at some of the most surprisingly entertaining and well-made new shows of the Autumn/Fall season.

Lethal Weapon

There’s no need to beat around the bush here, nobody expected Lethal Weapon to be watchable let alone successful. Not only do TV shows based on movies have a hard time making any real impact, including duds like Rush Hour and Bad Teacher, but they also rarely live up to their source material. While Lethal Weapon is nowhere near the movies in terms of quality or enjoyment-factor, it is still an incredibly fun, stylishly directed, and reasonably well-made adaptation.

The chemistry between stars Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford is what carries the show, while the action is explosive and fast-paced, and the humour is really well-written and delivered. With a decent 62% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and averaging just under 10 million views a week, Lethal Weapon is easily one of the biggest surprises for the season. Here’s a trailer for the action-packed buddy cop comedy:

Better Things

All of the ads for this show promised that it would have some funny moments, but because it seemed very much like co-creator Louis C.K.’s own FX series, Louie, it seemed like it would lack a sense of originality. However, the pilot (and every episode since) has proved that not only does it subvert the typical sitcom formula, but it’s able to deliver gut-wrenching comedy as well as insightful drama.

For a cable comedy, the show has performed decently in the ratings, improving over the last couple of weeks. In addition, the series has earned critical acclaim with a “Certified Fresh” 94% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and earned a second season renewal within two weeks of the pilot’s premiere. The subversion of the family comedy genre and the hilarious lead performance/writing from star/co-creator Pamela Adlon truly makes this a hilarious and brilliant surprise. Here’s the trailer for the comedy:

The Exorcist

This is probably the least successful show in terms of ratings, which while steady, are still low in its 9 p.m. Friday night (US) time slot. While TV adaptation of the classic horror novel and film might not yet be a hit with audiences, it has impressed critics earning a “Certified Fresh” 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A rating it deserves, thanks to its moody atmosphere, tense pacing, solid effects and strong performances from its cast.

The only thing tougher to do well than a film-to-TV adaptation is a horror remake, and The Exorcist proves it can hold up against both challenges and be an effectively creepy and thrilling new series. Here’s the trailer for the horror adaptation:

No Tomorrow

While the newest rom-com CW has not been very hot in terms of ratings, it has earned a “Certified Fresh” rating of 89% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. But what makes this show a true surprise is that in addition to being funny and clever rom-com, it actually has the potential to appeal to a broad audience.

In case you were wondering, I generally have a hard time getting into rom-coms, especially as they are typically aimed towards a female demographic. This is where No Tomorrow comes into its own. The show’s humour is broad and non-gendered and there are plenty of plot points to keep the men invested in the show , making this a truly fun and light-hearted surprise. Here’s the trailer for the comedy of apocalyptic proportions:


The only real issue I saw Pitch having pre-premiere was a lack of a lasting premise, aside from the genius “first female pitcher in the MLB (Major League Baseball).” But this show has proven that there is enough in it to ensure that it’ll last, and has surpassed expectations from both critics and audiences, earning a “Certified Fresh” 93% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

The narrative deal with plenty of interesting themes, it’s peppered with great humour and gut-wrenching twists, as well as phenomenal acting — especially from leads Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. I’m really hoping that this show lasts a few seasons at least because I really think that it has legs. Its also nice to see Mark-Paul Gosselaar on-screen again after Franklin & Bash was canceled. Here’s the trailer for the sports drama:

High Maintenance

High Maintenance caught me by surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t have. Upon closer inspection, the web series from which this show was spawned is both popular and quality, and HBO has always been a channel that gives the artistic a chance to tell their story and do it how they’d like. Their decision to pick up the recently Satellite Award nominated High Maintenance for a thirty minute, 6 episode season was no exception to this goal.

Not only is the series a visually imaginative and and eminently watchable, but every storyline is always captivating and intelligent in its scripting. In addition to the visual style and ingenious stories, the humour is brilliant, and the performances from its cast is great (particularity Ben Sinclair as ‘The Guy’, making it a stunning surprise for those not familiar with the original web series. Here’s a trailer for the HBO comedy:

Son Of Zorn

This was another show that I had a lot of faith in upon hearing the premise, but in all honesty I half expected to fall flat in the premiere. However, the show has surpassed its expectations thanks to a wildly original idea that’s supported by some truly sharp writing and sharp comedic performances. Even though Jason Sudeikis’ role is primarily as a voice actor, he brings such a witty and gut-bursting energy to the role of Zorn that it makes it hard not to find enjoyment in the show from his character alone.

What really makes this a surprising show is the smart and well-blended combination of 2-D animation and live-action performers. Though the series has earned a mixed reception from critics, holding a 57% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it still holds a lot of promise to develop over the rest of the season.

Here’s the trailer for the new semi-animated comedy:

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