I see dead people, and they're on TV this fall.
OK, there may be only a handful, if you don't count The Walking Dead (which returns for an I'm-way-over-it ninth season on AMC on Oct. 7). But they'll be joined by some people who are far enough past the traditional 18-49 target demo for television programmers to once have considered them dead, as well as by some famous people — the star of Pretty Woman! The man who played Gordon Gekko! — who are at least old enough to remember when people as famous as they are didn't do TV.
We can probably thank NBC's This Is Us for making sure some actors whose characters are deceased can still collect a paycheck, and for broadcast network nostalgia for the days when they faced less competition for the resurrection of shows we all thought were dead years ago. And there's reason to be grateful to cable and streaming networks for adding pizzazz to a fall season that might otherwise be too dependent on cops, doctors, vampires, and the return of CBS's Murphy Brown.
Here, among the dozens of new and returning series, are some that stand out:
The First (Friday, Sept. 14, Hulu). Sean Penn, Natascha McElhone (Designated Survivor), LisaGay Hamilton (The Practice), Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls), and Oded Fehr (Covert Affairs) star in an angst-ridden new ensemble drama from Beau Willimon (House of Cards) about the first human expedition to Mars. The character work is interesting — particularly McElhone's take on the project's Elon Musk equivalent — but the Mars part of the story takes a long time getting off the ground. (For those who can't wait to get to the Red Planet, National Geographic's Mars, which also deals with such an expedition, returns Nov. 12 for a second season that's somewhat soapier than the first but still anchored in the procedures and politics of life on Mars.)
Forever (Friday, Sept. 14, Amazon). Saturday Night Live veterans Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen play a couple whose mundane life together is headed for some big changes in this sneaky new comedy about marriage from Alan Yang (Master of None) and Matt Hubbard (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation). Why sneaky? You'll see.
Sorry for Your Loss (Tuesday, Sept. 18, Facebook Watch). Elizabeth Olsen (Ingrid Goes West), Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Janet McTeer (Jessica Jones), and Mamadou Athie star in the social media network's latest half hour drama, which also turns out to be an examination of marriage. Olsen plays a young widow whose grief is compounded by the realization she may not have known her husband as well as she'd thought. (Athie, who plays the husband, is featured in flashbacks.)
I Feel Bad (10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, moving to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays on Oct. 4, NBC). Sarayu Blue stars in a new comedy from producers Amy Poehler and Aseem Batra about a woman whose imperfections — at home and on the job — are meant to feel familiar enough to be funny.
The Good Cop (Friday, Sept. 21, Netflix). Tony Danza — of Taxi, Who's the Boss, and Northeast High School English class fame — and singer-actor Josh Groban star as father and son in a series from Monk creator Andy Breckman, inspired by an Israeli show, about a disgraced New York City cop who's recently been released from prison and his by-the-book offspring, an NYPD detective.
The Big Bang Theory (8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, CBS). The 12th and final season of the comedy hit launches.
Magnum P.I. (9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, CBS). Jay Hernandez stars as soldier-turned-private-eye Thomas Magnum in this update of the '80s series. I don't think I ever actually saw the original (though I have seen Blue Bloods, where the Tom Selleck mustache everyone's so crazy about remains alive and well), so I can't compare the two. But Hawaii is very pretty, and so are Hernandez and Perdita Weeks, who's playing the character now known as Juliet Higgins, a house manager with a very particular set of skills. Willingboro High School grad Stephen Hill costars as helicopter pilot Theodore "TC" Calvin. If you like the reboots of MacGyver and Hawaii Five-0, you'll probably like this.
Manifest (10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, NBC). You think your plane was late? Imagine the connections you'd miss if it showed up five years after it was supposed to. That's the premise of this metaphysical mystery that's out to remind you of Lost — even though this plane lands safely.
This Is Us (9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, NBC). Might as well stock up on the tissues before the third season premieres — because how Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) died probably won't be the last of the tear-duct-stimulating revelations the show's Penn grad creator, Dan Fogelman, has in store.
New Amsterdam (10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, NBC). Do you prefer your TV doctors unconventional? Ever wished ABC's The Good Doctor were part of your medical plan? Then you'll probably like Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist) as Dr. Max Goodwin, the disruptive new medical director of a hospital he's in a hurry to rebuild to put patient care first.
FBI (9 p.m. Tuesday, CBS). Hard as it is to believe that there isn't already a show called FBI on CBS, it would be harder to believe that a show from Law & Order/Chicago Fire franchise producer (and Penn grad) Dick Wolf, with NCIS as a lead-in, won't be a hit.
The Goldbergs (8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, ABC). As Adam (Sean Giambrone) turns 16, the Philly-centric, '80s-set sitcom kicks off its sixth season with a tribute to John Hughes' Sixteen Candles.
Single Parents (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, ABC). ABC's happy families are not all alike, but the pilot for this nod to parents without partners, which stars Taran Killam, Leighton Meester, Brad Garrett, Kimrie Lewis, and Jake Choi, has some moments that should speak to overwhelmed parents everywhere.
A Million Little Things (10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, ABC). You say you think you'll still have tissues left over from the This Is Us season premiere? Feel free to break them out for this drama about a group of men whose friendship began when they were trapped on an elevator together and who, years later, must face all the things they don't really know about one another after one commits suicide.
Murphy Brown (9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, CBS). Twenty years after a series finale in which Murphy (Candice Bergen) interviewed God, most of the gang from FYI — including producer Miles Silverberg, played by Wayne's Grant Shaud — is reunited for a new cable news show, Murphy in the Morning. Murphy's son, Avery (Jake McDorman), is all grown up and has his own show, as the token liberal on the conservative Wolf Network. (Subtle, I know.) Nik Dodani, another new face, will play social media director Pat Patel. Charles Kimbrough, who played Jim Dial, is expected to guest-star in some episodes, and, though there's no replacing Robert Pastorelli, who played Murphy's housepainter/nanny Eldin and who died in 2004, Tyne Daly joins the cast as Phyllis, sister of bar owner Phil — Pat Corley having died in 2006.
The Cool Kids (8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, Fox). As Tim Allen's ABC-canceled Last Man Standing gets an 8 p.m. Friday revival on a new network, Fox pairs it with a new show created by It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day that stars Vicki Lawrence, Martin Mull, David Alan Grier, and Leslie Jordan as four rebellious members of a retirement community.
God Friended Me (8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, CBS). Better than it sounds — because it would almost have to be — this latest venture into TV spirituality stars Brandon Micheal Hall (The Mayor) as an atheist son of a preacher (Scandal's Joe Morton) whose lack of faith is tested when someone purporting to be God reaches out on social media, with all kinds of unexpected consequences. At least they didn't call it Touched by an Avatar.
Doctor Who (Sunday, Oct. 7, BBC America). Jodie Whittaker makes her debut as the long-running sci-fi franchise's first female Doctor in an episode whose starting time hasn't been announced but that will coincide with the show's airing in Britain, so likely sometime in the afternoon here before repeating at night.
All American (9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, CW). Inspired by the life of NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, this new teen drama stars Daniel Ezra as Spencer James, a high school football star lured from Compton to Beverly Hills High by a coach (Taye Diggs) who ends up inviting him to live with his family. (One result is the kind of culture clash you might remember from The O.C.) Philadelphia and Wilmington's Bre-Z (Empire) plays Spencer's best friend, who stays behind in south L.A., giving the show a foot in both worlds. The pilot was directed by Philadelphia's Rob Hardy.
The Romanoffs (Friday, Oct. 12, Amazon). What we know about this new series produced by Mad Men's ever-secretive creator Matthew Weiner: Episodes will be released once a week, old-school-style; at least two Mad Men cast members, John Slattery and Christina Hendricks, are involved; and each week's episode will feature a different cast of characters who believe themselves to be descended from the Russian royal family that was supposedly slaughtered in 1918. Doesn't that sound like fun?
Charmed (9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, CW). Reboot of the old WB series, from Jane the Virgin producer Jennie Snyder Urman, will be paired with Supergirl, moving from Mondays to help create a new outpost for the network on Sundays. Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery, and Madeleine Mantock star as half-sisters who discover they've inherited witchy powers only after their mother's mysterious death. The siblings' ethnic diversity is only one of the things that distinguishes this show from the original, but it doesn't hurt.
Camping (10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, HBO). Jennifer Garner isn't afraid to be annoying — really, really annoying — in this cringe-worthy new comedy about a woman trying to control every aspect of an outdoorsy weekend gathering celebrating the birthday of her husband. David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch), who's sadly left his Scottish accent at home, plays the hapless husband. Based on a British series, it's produced by Lena Dunham with her fellow Girls producer Jenni Konner.
The Conners (8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, ABC). Killing off TV moms is nothing new, but this Roseanne spin-off, ordered after a racist tweet derailed the second season of its star's triumphant return to ABC, is a trickier proposition than most. How exactly will Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) die, and will the millions who showed up for her sitcom revival rally around, or abandon, the family she's leaving behind? (Or, for that matter, believe that she's truly gone?)
The Rookie (10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, ABC). Castle's Nathan Fillion returns to crime-fighting in a less whimsical, but no less far-fetched role, as John Nolan, a 40-year-old from a small town who decides to reinvent himself as a Los Angeles police officer. It's a move greeted with understandable skepticism by his bosses and fellow cops, who don't even bother to point out that the Firefly star, while still impossibly handsome, hasn't seen 40 in a while. Yet it's hard not to root for Nolan as he tries to bring grown-up common sense to police work, and for Fillion, who's trying something here that requires more sincerity than swagger.
Legacies (9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, CW). Vampire shows may come and go, but the genre clearly is immortal. This spin-off of the CW's The Originals comes from producer Julie Plec, who's been writing for the undead since The Vampire Diaries, and is set in TVD's old stomping ground, Mystic Falls, at the Salvatore School for Young and Gifted.
Homecoming (Friday, Nov. 2, Amazon). Julia Roberts stars as a therapist in a new thriller from Mr. Robot creator (and Washington Township High School grad) Sam Esmail, adapted from a fiction podcast of the same name. And though it's far from a romantic comedy, the show will reunite Roberts with her My Best Friend's Wedding costar Dermot Mulroney.
Outlander (8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, Starz). Season Four brings 20th-century time traveler Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and her 18th-century husband, Jamie (Sam Heughan), to the New World, and the prospect of settling in North Carolina. Readers of the Diana Gabaldon books on which the show's based will know not to expect things to settle down for this pair anytime soon.
The Kominsky Method (Friday, Nov. 16, Netflix). Michael Douglas and Adam Arkin star in a new Los Angeles-based dramedy from sitcom producer Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men) about a veteran acting coach (Douglas) and his agent (Arkin), both getting older in an industry that's all about youth and beauty.
Escape at Dannemora (10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, Showtime). Ben Stiller directs this limited series about a 2015 prison break in Upstate New York and its repercussions for the surrounding area. Filmed partly on location, it stars Patricia Arquette as the prison employee who helped the two escapees — played by Benicio del Toro and Paul Dano — as well as Bonnie Hunt and Philadelphia's David Morse.
The Little Drummer Girl (9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 19-21, AMC). From the producers of The Night Manager and director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) comes another John le Carré adaptation, this one about an actress whose chance meeting with a stranger in Greece leads to her becoming a double agent. Stars Florence Pugh (Marcella), Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), and Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire).