Fall TV preview: What's ending, what's returning and what's new

Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire," which premieres its fifth and final season on Sept. 7. HBO

TV viewers should prepare to say farewell to a few familiar faces this coming season, but there are also some old friends -- and some new ones, too -- waiting to take over your screens.

This fall marks the beginning of the end for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," which is kicking off its fifth and final season on Sept. 7. "Sons of Anarchy" fans are also gearing up for that show's swan song -- the FX drama's seventh season, which premieres Sept. 9, will feature a host of guest stars like Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson and Lea Michele. And "Two and a Half Men" will kick off its 12th and final season Oct. 30 on CBS.

"The Big Bang Theory," "The Blacklist," "Scandal" and "Sleepy Hollow" are among the returning shows with premieres slated for September. You'll have to wait a bit longer for more "Homeland," "The Walking Dead," "Criminal Minds" and "American Horror Story" -- those are among the shows with October premiere dates.

Also plan to make room on your schedule (or your DVR series recordings) for some of the new guys in town. There's a crop of freshman dramas and comedies premiering over the next few weeks, all hoping to capture your interest.

We've picked out a few newcomers to watch out for. Find out more about them below:

"Gracepoint" (Fox, premieres Oct. 2)

If you were among those who couldn't pull themselves away from the gripping British crime drama "Broadchurch," you'll feel at home with this American remake. Like in the original series, David Tennant ("Doctor Who") stars as a brusque detective investigating the murder of a young boy in a quiet seaside town, now set in California instead of England. Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad") plays his partner. Producers have said the 10-episode series will go in some different directions than "Broadchurch" (and has two more episodes than its predecessor), and "ends in a very different place."

"How to Get Away with Murder" (ABC, premieres Sept. 25)

Shonda Rimes gets a monopoly on ABC's Thursday night schedule this fall, with "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and now this new show starring Viola Davis ("The Help"). She plays Annalise Keating, a criminal law professor whose students get entangled in a murder plot of their own.

"Gotham" (Fox, premieres Sept. 22) and "The Flash" (CW, premieres Oct. 7)

If you like comic book adaptations on the small screen, you're in luck -- two new ones are premiering this fall. Fox's "Gotham" is a prequel that focuses on Gotham City, its villainous residents (like the Penguin, the Joker, Poison Ivy and The Riddler) and then-detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) before Bruce Wayne became Batman. On the CW, look out for "The Flash," a spinoff of the network's current series "Arrow" starring Grant Gustin as the superfast superhero.

"The Affair" (Showtime, premieres Oct. 12)

This Hamptons-set drama details the emotional and psychological effects of an affair (hence the title) on two different marriages. Dominic West ("The Wire") and Ruth Wilson ("Luther") play the lovers, and the show details the extramarital relationship from both his and her perspectives.

"NCIS: New Orleans" (CBS, premiering Sept. 23)

"NCIS" is going to the Big Easy with this spinoff of CBS' hit drama. Set in New Orleans and starring Scott Bakula, the series will follow cases from Pensacola through Mississippi and Louisiana to the Texas panhandle. According to CBS, "New Orleans, with its rich setting of music, fun and debauchery, is a magnet for military personnel on-leave. And with fun comes trouble."

"A to Z" (NBC, premieres Oct. 2)

If you're going through "How I Met Your Mother" withdrawal, this might be the show for you. This comedy follows a similar format, using voice-over (done by Katy Sagal) to chronicle the relationship between Andrew ("Mad Men" actor Ben Feldman) and Zelda (Cristin Milioti, a.k.a. The Mother of "HIMYM" fame) from beginning to breakup.

Impatient to get your fall TV schedule started? You can watch the pilot episode of this one online right now.

Tell us: What shows are you excited to watch this fall?

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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