Upfronts 2018: The 10 New TV Shows We’re Most Excited About

TV Lists Upfronts
Upfronts 2018: The 10 New TV Shows We’re Most Excited About

Despite the flashiness of the proceedings, the broadcast networks’ annual presentations for advertisers—commonly known as “upfronts”—have become a tired affair, as executives scramble to salvage what’s left of their audiences from the ravages of “peak TV.” Though this year’s slate isn’t quite as dispiriting as last year’s, we’re not exactly working with the cream of the cream here, either. (Fox, in the process of becoming part of the Disney empire, offers especially few silver linings.) Still, hope spring eternal, especially on TV. Who knows? The next This Is Us might be on the list before you. Just remember: You heard it here first.

1. Manifest
Executive producers: Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke
Stars: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina and Parveen Kaur
Network: NBC

Yes, this NBC drama does have the “I liked this show the first time around when it was called Lost” vibe. The passengers of Montego Air Flight 828 (you can find Montego Air in the Oceanic Air terminal) think they were on a regular flight. The only problem is, when their plane lands, it’s five and a half years later. All their family and friends assumed they died and have moved on with their lives. For the networks to truly thrive in this day and age, they need to come up with appointment TV. Shows that permeate the cultural conversation and have viewers talking over the proverbial water cooler. NBC has that in This Is Us , a TV series that had people giving their crock-pots the side-eye. Manifest, which stars Josh Dallas of Once Upon a Time, looks like it could create the buzz broadcast TV so desperately needs.—Amy Amatangelo

2. Abby
Executive producers: Josh Malmuth, Michael Schur and David Miner
Stars: Natalie Morales, Nelson Franklin, Kimia Behpoornia, Jessica Chaffin, Leonard Ouzts and Neil Flynn
Network: NBC

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This is a midseason show, so no trailer yet. But, honestly, do you need to know more than the phrase “from the producers of The Good Place”? Those word are music to my TV remote. I mean, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came. The always delightful Natalie Morales, who I’ve adored since The Middleman, stars as Abby, the owner of a San Diego bar which is full of rules and of regulars. Neil Flynn, whose series The Middle is ending next week, co-stars. Could this be the Cheers for the millennial generation? I hope so. —Amy Amatangelo

3. Single Parents
Executive producers: JJ Philbin, Liz Meriwether and Katherine Pope
Stars: Taran Killam, Leighton Meester, Kimrie Lewis, Jake Choi, Marlow Barkley, Tyler Wladis, Devin Trey Campbell, Grace Hazelett, Sadie Hazelett and Brad Garrett
Network: ABC

ABC does family comedies very, very well. By moving Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless to Fridays, the network has room for two new ones. The Kids are Alright looks decidedly in the network’s wheelhouse, while Single Parents has it taking a few baby steps away to look at how the single parents of seven-year-olds survive and thrive. Leighton Meester is leaving her Gossip Girl image behind to co-star as a single mom, and Brad Garrett’s comedic timing is beyond reproach. The series is from Liz Meriwether, the woman behind New Girl. She knows how to write for the comedic beats among a group of friends. Added bonus: I’m still a little biter Taran Killam was let go from Saturday Night Live and am excited to see him in a series. —Amy Amatangelo

4. The Fix
Executive producers: Elizabeth Craft, Sarah Fain and Marcia Clark
Stars: Robin Tunney, Adam Rayner, Merrin Dungey, Breckin Meyer, Marc Blucas, Mouzam Makkar, Alex Saxon, Scott Cohen and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje
Network: ABC

Sevvy Johnson (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), a famous movie star, is accused of a double murder. Los Angeles District Attorney Maya Travis (Robin Tunney) is devastated when he’s acquitted of the crimes. Sound familiar? It should. The series is from executive producer Marcia Clark!! Eight years after Maya fails to get a conviction, Sevvy is once again accused of murder. The mixture of Clark with Craft and Fain, who created The 100 and have written for shows like Dollhouse and The Vampire Diaries, should produce a show that is mysterious, scary and all too real. —Amy Amatangelo

5. The Red Line
Executive producers: Ava DuVernay, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter
Stars: Noah Wyle, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Aliyah Royale, Noel Fisher, Howard Charles, Elizabeth Laidlaw, Vinny Chhibber and Michael Patrick Thornton
Network: CBS

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Ava DuVernay, Greg Berlanti and Noah Wyle? As I said to Paste TV editor Matt Brennan, I’m already in love. Berlanti has gone the superhero route of late, but he’ll always be the man behind Everwood and Brothers & Sisters to me. Berlanti knows how to do exquisitely poignant human drama. From Queen Sugar to A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay crafts beautiful stories that resonate with powerful messages. This drama about a white police officer who mistakenly shoots an African American doctor follows three Chicago families whose lives are irrevocably changed by this tragedy. Because this is a midseason show, no trailer is available yet, but with that kind of pedigree behind the scenes and Wyle, who has been on TV since ER went off the air, but not on a network series, in front of the camera, it’s hard to imagine this series going wrong. —Amy Amatangelo

6. God Friended Me
Executive producers: Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Marcos Siega
Stars: Brandon Micheal Hall, Violett Beane, Suraj Sharma, Javicia Leslie, and Joe Morton
Network: CBS

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m voting this as title most likely to change before it airs in the fall. It’s a seriously bad title. This drama, also from Berlanti, follows Miles (Brandon Michael Hall), an atheist who is friended on Facebook by God, leading to a series of events where he ends up helping people. The trailer reminded me of the canceled Kevin (Probably) Saves the World or of Joan of Arcadia, Touched by an Angel, even Quantum Leap. And that’s OK. TV could use a little more feel-good TV. But mostly I’m excited about this series because Brandon Michael Hall was my pick to become last season’s breakout TV star. He was so terrific on the quickly jettisoned ABC comedy The Mayor. Hall is brimming with palpable charisma. I’m ready for him to become a TV star and household name. —Amy Amatangelo

7. The Cool Kids
Executive producers: Charlie Day
Stars: David Alan Grier, Martin Mull, Leslie Jordan and Vicki Lawrence
Network: Fox

There’s a lot of talk about what Fox will look like as the acquisition of Fox by Disney looms. Unfortunately, it looks like the Fox of Brooklyn Nine-Nine will become a fond remembrance of yesteryear and New Fox will be the network that revives Last Man Standing. (Did we miss it? No, we did not.) But still, how can you not be happy about having Vicki Lawrence back on your TV screen on a weekly basis? This comedy follows four seniors living in a retirement community. The fact that the show comes from Charlie Day, the co-star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, gives us hope that the show will be more than old people joke after old people joke. —Amy Amatangelo

8. The Passage
Executive producers: Liz Heldens, Ridley Scott and Matt Reeves
Stars: Saniyya Sidney and Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Network: Fox

Look, we are trying really hard to pick two shows from each network, and Fox isn’t making it easy. But I have a lot of faith is Gosselaar, who, let’s be honest, I’ve loved since his Saved by the Bell days—plus, I’m still upset Pitch, an excellent show he was excellent in, was canceled after only one season. This drama finds Gosselaar starring as federal agent Brad Wolgast, sent to retrieve a 10-year-old girl for a top-secret federal science experiment. But Brad finds that he can’t turn an innocent child over to scientists who don’t have her best interests in mind. When old Fox did mysterious science fiction, it was great. Can New Fox turn The Passage into something great? —Amy Amatangelo

9. Charmed
Executive producers: Jennie Snyder Urman, Jessica O’Toole, Amy Rardin, Ben Silverman, Brad Silberling and Carter Covington
Stars: Madeleine Mantock, Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery
Network: The CW

With yesterday’s announcement that both Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin will come to an end next season—insert this critic’s anguished cries here—The CW has some very big shoes to fill. Like, “two of the best shows on TV” big. Whether the network’s Latina-led Charmed reboot will fit the bill is an open question, but with JtV creator Jennie Snyder Urman behind the project, it more than deserves the benefit of the doubt. Based on Constance M. Burge’s beloved original, which debuted in—wanna feel old?—1998, the new Charmed, which The CW has branded “fierce, funny, and feminist,” follows three sisters who discover they’re witches after the death of their mother, and use their combined “Power of Three” to take down both nefarious supernatural creatures and, apparently, the patriarchy. Despite sour-grapes criticism from original cast member Holly Marie Combs—which has been echoed by a number of fans—there’s no reason The CW’s second shot at Charmed shouldn’t be a rousing update. I mean, it couldn’t be any worse than the network’s Dynasty remake, right? —Matt Brennan

10. All American
Executive producers: April Blair, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Rob Hardy
Stars: Daniel Ezra, Taye Diggs, Samantha Logan
Network: The CW

The third title on this list with Greg Berlanti’s name attached (and approximately the one millionth on TV), All American, based on the life of NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, has major Blind Side potential, and I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment: The series focuses on Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), a South Crenshaw football star recruited to play for Beverly—as in, Beverly Hills—High. Dramas about poor people of color thrown into affluent white worlds risk becoming patronizing reeeaaaaallllyyyy quickly, but as my colleague Amy Amatangelo points out, Berlanti has something of a Midas touch when it comes to this sort of unfussy family drama. And All American, created by up-and-comer April Blair, has the advantage of starring Taye Diggs as Spencer’s new coach and host father, Billy Baker. I can’t say I’m expecting the second coming of Friday Night Lights, but this one has potential. —Matt Brennan

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