What does it mean that not one but two of this fall's new shows feature Rob Lowe? It means all bets are off, dude. The rookies this fall have some extremely welcome signs of life, which comes as a relief after last year's smoking crater of a fall season — the kind of hellhole where a rom-com called Selfie could shine like a beacon of hope. (Strange to think that just a year ago we got Katherine Heigl as a rogue CIA agent.) So here's a round-up of the most promising fall newcomers — sorority-house massacres, superheroes, sitcoms, neon cartoon cops, crime-fighting precogs, the undead. And of course, Wesley Snipes in Vegas.
Mon., 8 p.m., The CW
Give this one full points for audacity, as Rachel Bloom tries to revive the musical sitcom, boldly going where Glee and Smash and even Viva Laughlin didn't dare. Bloom's Rebecca is a New York City lawyer with a booming career but a not-too-steady grip on reality — she makes the show's title seem like an understatement. Still carrying a torch for the random boy who dumped her at summer camp years ago, she finally goes off the deep end, quits her job and moves across the country to stalk him. Next thing she knows, Rebecca's wandering the strip malls of a nowhere town called West Covina, California, just two hours from the beach ("four in traffic!"). And of course, she sings show tunes about her new life: "In my soul I feel a fire/'Cause I'm heading for the pride of the Inland Empire." The musical numbers are witty ("People eat at Chez Applebee/And the sky seems to smile at me"), but it's Bloom who deserves the credit for making it all work — her psycho songbird seems charming, rather than just code-red frightening.
Mon., 9 p.m., Fox
Welcome to the future, circa 2065: Teenagers have selfie drones, karaoke is still happening and genetic engineering has turned french fries into health food. And the precognitives who used to see crimes before they happen — they've been erased from the public record. But that doesn't stop them from seeing things. Minority Report picks up where the movie left off — 10 years later, the PreCrime Unit has been abolished. Three sibling precogs have been hidden away from the rest of society, but while the sister disapproves, one brother can't resist sneaking back in, lurking around Washington, D.C., with a notebook of drawings of the murders he sees in the future. He finds a policewoman, Meagan Good, and together they form an unlikely crime-fighting team. Tom Cruise doesn't show up — but Wilmer Valderrama surprisingly fits right in as one of the cops. Welcome back to prime time, Fez.
Mon., 10 p.m., NBC
A duffel bag has just been found abandoned in Times Square. Inside: a naked woman whose memory has been erased, but who is inked head to toe in mysterious tattoo runes, including the name of a top FBI agent, who swiftly decides that national security depends on the two of them teaming up to crack the tattoo code. Thor's Jaimie Alexander is likably vulnerable and earnest as Jane Doe, straining to figure out her past despite her amnesia. Yet the FBI agents are a dull bunch by comparison, especially main man Sullivan Stapleton. Blindspot can only improve when the ink-happy supervillains show up.
Tues., 8 p.m., Fox
Let's call it right now: Scream Queens is already looking like the smartest move Ryan Murphy's ever made — it has all the best elements of Glee and American Horror Story, but it tops them both. The sorority sisters of Kappa Kappa Tau have a big problem: a mysterious killer in a red devil costume, who's only slightly more evil than the sorority sisters themselves. Scream Queens turns this setting into an anthology series — a murder or three per week — that goes for laughs, like a demented mix of Scream and Gossip Girl. Emma Roberts is the most horrible Kappa of them all, queen bee Chanel Oberlin, sneering lines like, "That girl was a bitch who thought she was all that because her family founded the Olive Garden and she had no gag reflex!" But there's scarcely a single non-horrible character here, which is exactly what you want when everybody's fair game to get killed next.
Scream Queens is loaded with evil pranks (somebody spiked the spray-tan tank with hydrochloric acid!) and sick jokes (a pledge reacts to the prospect of her imminent destruction by hysterically singing "Shake It Off") and nasty banter: "We're having a sideboob mixer and a white party, where everyone is encouraged to wear-slash-be white." It's also full of hilarious casting coups: Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, Tavi Gevinson, Lea Michele in a neck brace. And as the hardass college dean who wants to take this sorority down, none other than the OG scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis.
Tues., 8:30 p.m., Fox
Sometimes even Rob Lowe must face an existential crisis. In The Grinder, he plays the egomaniac pretty-boy star of a hit TV procedural about a slick lawyer, barking his catchphrases: "The Grinder never settles!" (As Lowe explains, "Season Four, Episode Nine, 'Settle to the Metal.' ") But after his show gets axed, he drifts back to his family in Idaho, sighing, "Right now, I'm just driving on the highway of What the Hell Is My Life, looking for an off-ramp." He finds it by invading the small-town law practice of his awkward little bro Fred Savage, and turning his mastery of TV-courtroom clichés ("I'll allow it" jokes galore!) into the pursuit of justice. Lowe has a blast as the same smarmy asshole he's played so brilliantly from Wayne's World to Parks and Rec. And watching Lowe torment Savage is the kind of stunt casting that pays off.
Wed., 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central
Dazzle Novak is the ultimate Eighties supercop in this fantastic animated romp, set in a neon-and-pastel Hair Decade where everything looks like a Duran Duran album cover. It's Miami Vice times Archer with a side of Scarface. And the voice of Dazzle: Rob Lowe, proving that last year's McConaugh-ssaince has nothing on this year's Lowe-splosion. When he isn't busting perps at a shopping-mall arcade or making yayo-fueled love to exotic wind-chime artists, Dazzle torments his foxy supervisor Pizazz, a.k.a. Elizabeth Banks, who threatens to bust him so fast it'll make his head spin. Dazzle's riposte: "My head doesn't know the meaning of the word spin."
Thurs., 9 p.m., NBC
Free at last: Wesley Snipes, back on top of the game. In his long-awaited comeback thriller, Snipes isn't just any old Las Vegas casino pit boss — he presides over a secret high-stakes game where the super-rich bet on crime. And he recruits Alex Kane (Philip Winchester, the pinup cop from Strike Back) to be the player who has to stop these crimes from happening. From the producers of The Blacklist, The Player has the same witty mock-formal vibe — giving Snipes the full Spader treatment. He's all debonair evil, constantly adjusting his tie and smiling at how cunningly he's screwed over everybody else.
Sat. (starting October 31st), 9 p.m., Starz
Damn right, the evil dead: It's like they never left. More than two decades after his classic Evil Dead flicks, Sam Raimi brings the franchise to TV, and despite sky-high fan expectations, he does the legacy proud. Bruce Campbell makes his long-overdue return as Ash, the chain-saw-toting lowlife anti-hero with the wooden hand and the bad-ass one-liners ("I got news for you, pal. You ain't leading but two things right now: Jack and shit. And Jack left town!"). Ash has spent the past 30 years trying to hide from the Dead-ite demons, getting wasted in his trailer to Deep Purple, while working as a stockboy. Once again, those occult words from the Book of the Dead get read aloud and wake up something dark in the woods. And once again, the only hope to save the human race from the undead is Ash. From his new sidekicks (welcome, Lucy Lawless!) to the gory fight scenes ("My heart's jackhammering like a quarterback on prom night!"), Ash vs Evil Dead proves that we need Ash now more than ever. As the man himself would say: Groovy!
Sun., 9 p.m., ABC
Don Johnson never fades away — and who would ever want him to? He's a North Dakota oil tycoon in this clever old-school soap — a salty wildcatter who still walks and talks like a cowboy, especially when he's kicking the ass of his spoiled brat of a son. Enter Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl) as the up-and-coming outsider who wants to overtake Johnson's empire. Despite its Eighties heart, the show is fast-paced and smart in its frontier mud-and-boots boomtown vibe — a lot like Blue Bloods, except with Sonny Crockett instead of Magnum. Secret weapon: Amber Valletta, the House of Style model who was under-used on Revenge, chewing up the scenery as Johnson's back-stabbing supervixen of a wife.