TV Critic’s Corner

Reading the tea leaves for fall series

Tom Payne stars as a criminal psychologist whose father is a killer in “Prodigal Son.”
David Giesbrecht/Fox
Tom Payne stars as a criminal psychologist whose father is a killer in “Prodigal Son.”

Fall TV is still kicking in, with a group of new cable and streaming shows premiering this week, including HBO’s “Watchmen,” Amazon’s “Modern Love,” and Netflix’s “Living With Yourself.” But most of the networks’ fall series have already arrived and, while it’s still much too soon to know which ones will ultimately perform well, a few things seem clear based on how interested audiences were initially.

Fox’s “Prodigal Son” — about the profiler son of a serial killer – has already gotten a full-season order after drawing particularly well in the 18-49 demographic.

Fox’s bizarre “Almost Family,” about the daughters of a fertility doctor who used his own sperm on patients, did not impress ratings-wise (or critic-wise). Don’t get too attached.


Three other dramas have opened with some promise, along with “Prodigal Son.” Cobie Smulders’s “Stumptown” on ABC rose to the top of the total-viewers list during premiere week, and the ABC thriller “Emergence” wasn’t far behind. Both have benefited from strong DVR gains. The CBS legal procedural “All Rise” has also had good total viewership.

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Among comedies, ABC’s “Mixed-ish” and three new CBS sitcoms, “Carol’s Second Act,” “The Unicorn,” and “Bob Hearts Abishola,” had solid premieres.

NBC’s two new comedies — Kal Penn’s “Sunnyside” and Bradley Whitford’s “Perfect Harmony” — did not have solid premieres. Let’s see if they’ll catch on slowly.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.