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….
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 (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.”
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 plays 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.)