Next to fall, spring is my favorite time of year for television, and it has nothing to do with March Madness. This is when broadcast and cable networks roll out another batch of new shows in hopes that one of them will hit. ABC hits “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” for example, were spring releases.
Here are my thoughts on six newbies premiering this week:
“The Last Man on Earth,” Fox, 8 tonight (March 1). Fox continues its quest to find a live-action comedy to go with its animated fare on Sunday nights. It looks like it still hasn’t found the right one. The Will Forte vehicle features the “Saturday Night Live” alum as the last man on Earth after a virus has wiped out the entire population and the bodies, too, I guess. There also are no animals.The pilot's humor is juvenile, including a bunch of toilet references, although I did laugh at the baby pool turned into a large margarita. Things pick up in episode two, but not by much. Grade: D+
“Secrets and Lies,” ABC, 8 tonight (March 1). This one’s a stinker, with Ryan Philippe playing a suburban husband and father who, while jogging in the woods, discovers the dead body of his neighbor’s young son. He quickly becomes the prime suspect in the boy’s murder, with Juliette Lewis portraying the no-nonsense detective investigating the case. It’s poorly written with a bunch of things happening in the pilot that just don’t make sense, including Philippe taking his youngest daughter to the police station with him while he gives up a DNA sample. As if she isn’t scared and confused enough already. Grade: D-
“Battle Creek,” CBS, 9 tonight (March 1). The creators of “House” (David Shore) and “Breaking Bad” (Vince Gilligan) are the guys behind this incredibly entertaining buddy cop dramedy starring Dean Winters and Josh Duhamel. Winters -- Mr. Mayhem from the Allstate commercials -- is the beleaguered, rough-around-the-edges police detective who teams up with Duhamel (“Las Vegas”), the newly assigned, perfectly groomed FBI field agent, to solve crimes in the Michigan city. This one’s super funny, especially the scenes featuring Winters and Duhamel together. Talk about chemistry. It also has a great supporting cast led by “House” alum Kal Penn. Grade: A
“CSI: Cyber,” CBS, 9 p.m. Wednesday. I was all set to rip on this one, beginning with cyber team’s eye-rolling, slow-motion arrival on the crime scene. But by episode’s end I was enjoying it and totally buying into Oscar winner Patricia Arquette as the team’s leader and James Van Der Beek as the team’s enforcer. Procedurals work well when viewers like the characters, e.g., Mark Harmon on “NCIS” or Mariska Hargitay on “Law & Order: SVU.” It’s hard not to like Arquette, Van Der Beek and the other cast members on “Cyber.” Grade: B
“DIG,” USA, 9 p.m. Thursday. I’m a big Jason Isaacs fan, but this “event series” left me scratching my head and asking, “What the heck is going on?” Isaacs is an FBI agent escaping personal problems by taking an assignment in Israel. He finds himself drawn to a pink-haired, female archaeology student half his age, who winds up dead. Meanwhile, back in the states, a cult of some kind is keeping a boy locked up in a compound. Then there’s a third storyline involving a cow. Really, I’m not kidding. These, I’m guessing will come together, at some point, but I’m not sure I’ll be willing to wait that long for the payoff. Grade: C
“American Crime,” ABC, 9 p.m. Thursday. This one’s got Emmy written all over it. Timothy Hutton (“Leverage”) and Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) are an estranged divorced couple who learn their son is dead and daughter-in-law is in the hospital. They were victims of a violent crime, and four people have been arrested for it. The story is told from the points of view of everybody involved, including those accused of the crime. Hutton and Huffman are particularly electric as two people consumed by grief and anger. Also good is Benito Martinez (“The Shield”), who portrays the father of an accused teenage boy. These episodes will stick with you long after watching them. Grade: A