Fall TV Preview

Fall TV First Impression: This Is Us

The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including Kiefer Sutherland’s term as POTUS, Michael Weatherly’s NCIS follow-up and the story of MLB’s first female player. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

RELATED Get First Impressions of ABC’s Designated Survivor, NBC’s Timeless, CBS’ Bull and ABC’s Notorious

THE SHOW | NBC’s This Is Us (premiering Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 10/9c, before moving to its regular 9 pm time slot starting Oct. 11)

THE COMPETITION | To start, CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; then CBS’ Bull (new), ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat/The Real O’Neals, Fox’s Scream Queens and The CW’s No Tomorrow (new).

THE CAST | Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Mandy Moore (Red Band Society), Justin Hartley (Mistresses), Chrissy Metz This Is Us - Season Pilot(American Horror Story), Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson), Susan Kelechi Watson (The Blacklist), Chris Sullivan (The Knick) and Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot).

THE SET-UP | Per NBC’s official synopsis, a group of people share the same birthday and “more than anyone would expect” as their “paths cross and their life stories intertwine in curious ways.”

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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | From Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love, TV’s Galavant) comes this heart-tugging toggling of vignettes of joy, angst and sorrow, as a disparate ensemble of individuals grapple with issues both personal and professional. Among the life events at hand: Ventimigilia’s Jack is struggling to get his wife’s obstetrician to share his optimism about a high-risk pregnancy; Hartley playsThis Is Us - Season Pilot the disenfranchised star of a sophomoric sitcom; Metz’s Karen is battling both weight and romance issues; and Brown’s Randall has tracked down the man who abandoned him as a newborn.

At minimum, This Is Us is a terrific 42-minute indie film. Depending on what Episode 2 looks like in the wake of a significant end-of-pilot development, this could very well be TV’s next Parenthood, inviting you to celebrate the characters’ triumphs and sympathize with their setbacks, Kleenex-brand facial tissues always at the ready. This much is certain: Of all the pilots premiering this fall, this is one you will watch a second time.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | This is a tricky call, given how in the first weeks This Is Us will battle an NCIS before ultimately going up against Michael Weatherly’s Bull and a durable ABC sitcombo. In its favor, roughly a kabillion people have watched (and rewatched) the trailer on YouTube, so if a fraction of those lookie-loos stick around for the actual show, NBC could have a solid non-Chicago, non-Blacklist performer on its hands. (After all, Parenthood drew 8 million viewers and a 3.1 [!] rating when it debuted on a Tuesday at 10 pm, though wayyyyy back in 2010.)

RELATED Fall TV Poll: Which New Shows Are You Most Looking Forward To?

Watch the trailer for This Is Us above, then vote in our poll below.