Instead of complaining about how bad TV is … which TV critics tend to do a lot … how about talking about some pleasant surprises? Some shows that are better than I thought they’d be when I previewed the fall season back in September?
There are several. Which is great news. I’m disappointed when a great pilot episode turns into a not-so-great series; I’m never disappointed when a series turns out to be better than the pilot indicated.
Here are eight fall shows that you ought to give a chance if you’re not already watching them:
1. “Charmed” (Sundays, 8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) • I did not expect to be watching this reboot. I wasn’t a fan of the original. But the supernatural drama about three sisters who are witches is kind of fun. (Returns with new episodes on Jan. 20.)
2. “FBI” (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) • If you like crime procedurals, this is a good one. The addition of Sela Ward to the cast (as the woman in charge) in the second episode was smart, and casting Egyptian-American Zeeko Zaki as a Muslim FBI agent at the center of the stories was smarter still. I had reservations because of a dumb plot twist in the pilot, but that has not been repeated. (Returns Jan. 8.)
3. “The Kids Are Alright” (Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) • The pilot was good, albeit uneven, and the rough spots are being evened out. This is a consistently funny comedy, and mother-of-eight Peggy (Mary McCormack) is one of the best TV moms to come along in years. (Returns Jan. 8.)
4. “Legacies” (Thursdays, 8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) • There is not a show on TV I expected to be watching less than this spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries” (which I gave up on about a year into its eight-season run) and “The Originals” (which I barely paid attention to). And yet I’m watching this show about a school for teenage vampires, werewolves and witches as they deal with dragons, gargoyles and giant spiders. I’m not going to argue that it’s smart, but it is dumb fun. (Returns Jan. 24.)
5. “The Neighborhood” (Mondays, 7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) • The pilot of this sitcom was just OK, and it seemed more than a bit contrived and derivative — white family moves into black neighborhood, and African-American next-door neighbor isn’t happy about it. But this is developing into a surprisingly funny show that has taken that rather simplistic format and turned it into something more. It’s not perfect, by any means; the female leads tend toward histrionics too often. But it’s getting there. (Returns Feb. 4.)
6. “New Amsterdam” (Tuesdays, 9 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5) • Did we need another medical drama? Of course not. Not only were there four already on network TV coming into this season (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Good Doctor,” “Chicago Med” and “The Resident”), but there have been, oh, about 11 million of them over the years. And yet this one has, to my surprise, caught my attention. I like the characters. I’m intrigued by the medical cases. I’m getting caught up in the soap-opera drama of the doctors’ lives. Who would’ve guessed? (Returns Jan. 8.)
7. “Single Parents” (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., ABC) • The pilot episode was good, and the show has only gotten better. Great cast, sharp writing and wonderful characters — both the adults and the children, which is not all that common in TV. This should run for a long time. I certainly hope it does. (Returns Jan. 9.)
And one more that didn't debut in the fall:
8. “9-1-1” (Mondays, 8 p.m., Fox) • When this show premiered in January, I was unimpressed. And had zero expectations. But, honestly, I’m a huge fan. I’ve talked my daughters into watching it, and they’re fans, too. It’s not edgy. It’s not on trend. It’s just hugely entertaining. (Returns March 18.)