One woman guesses the plots of new fall shows from just their titles

Mandi Bierly
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

It’s September, which means it’s time for our third annual fall TV preview with Jennifer Bierly, my lawyer sister who hasn’t owned a TV (or watched primetime shows) since her first child was born in 2008. Once again, we’ve asked her to guess the plots of the broadcast networks’ new series from just their titles. This year, she did manage to see an ad online for The Good Doctor, the ABC drama starring Freddie Highmore as a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome premiering Sept. 25, so we’ve omitted it.

S.W.A.T. (CBS, premieres Nov. 2)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “Mr. T is kinda like the Denzel Washington in that movie he did where he was a bad cop?” Training Day. “Yes, this is the S.W.A.T. team version of Training Day, led by Mr. T and with … Zac Efron. I do kinda closet love him.”

Shemar Moore in S.W.A.T. (Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS)

What it’s actually about: “Inspired by the television series and the feature film, S.W.A.T. stars Shemar Moore as a locally born and raised S.W.A.T. sergeant newly tasked to run a specialized tactical unit that is the last stop in law enforcement in Los Angeles. Torn between loyalty to where he was raised and allegiance to his brothers in blue, former Marine Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson has everything it takes to be an excellent leader and bridge the divide between his two worlds.”

Jennifer’s dream SEAL Team.

SEAL Team (CBS, Sept. 27)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “That’s a SEAL team that is stranded somewhere, like some island, and it’s about how they survive. Sort of like that soccer team on the airplane in the Andes. I’m not up on who all is a movie star. Jake Gyllenhaal, he can be in it. Him and what’s his face, who’s the other guy from Brokeback Mountain, or is he dead? … The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, he’s, like, the leader of them, OK. Who else? Channing Tatum. This is who I’d want in my SEAL team if I was gonna be stranded. Clearly Joe Manganiello would be a SEAL. I need a young one, the baby SEAL, but I’ve already used Zac Efron. Put him in there too.”

Toni Trucks, Neil Brown Jr., David Boreanaz, Jessica Paré, Max Thieriot, and AJ Buckley in SEAL Team. (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

What it’s actually about:SEAL Team is a new military drama that follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train, plan, and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions our country can ask of them.”

Jennifer’s dream Young Sheldon

Young Sheldon (CBS, Sept. 25)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “OK, that’s one of these kids that is a genius chess player, and his parents are obsessed with it and taking him all over the country, and it’s all about the competition. It’s a comedy, ’cause the parents aren’t geeks but their son is. The dad’s probably a football dude, like Mark Wahlberg. The mom’s a froufrou beauty queen type who’s a fitness instructor, like Kate Hudson. Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson have a geek son who is a chess player and travels all over the country trying to win these tournaments.”

Montana Jordan, Iain Armitage as Young Sheldon, Lance Barber, Zoe Perry, and Raegan Revord. (Photo: Robert Voets/CBS)

What it’s actually about: “For 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper, it isn’t easy growing up in East Texas. Being a once-in-a-generation mind capable of advanced mathematics and science isn’t always helpful in a land where church and football are king. And while the vulnerable, gifted and somewhat naive Sheldon deals with the world, his very normal family must find a way to deal with him. His father, George, is struggling to find his way as a high school football coach and as father to a boy he doesn’t understand. Sheldon’s mother, Mary, fiercely protects and nurtures her son in a town where he just doesn’t fit in.”

Me, Myself & I (CBS, Sept. 25)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “The first thing that comes to my mind is something like What About Bob? with Bill Murray. But this is a drama, more like True Lies, and instead of having a double life, the dude actually has, like, a triple life. He’s some sort of undercover agent. He’s, like, so covert, he can’t just have one fake life, he has to have two.”

Jack Dylan Grazer, John Larroquette, and Bobby Moynihan, who star in My, Myself & I. (Photo: Francis Specker/CBS)

What it’s actually about:Me, Myself & I stars Bobby Moynihan in a comedy about the defining moments in one man’s life over three distinct periods — as a 14-year-old in 1991, at age 40 in present day and at age 65 in 2042.”

9JKL (CBS, Oct. 2)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “It’s a murder mystery and the only clue they have is this partial license plate, this 9JKL. I picture a male cop — like, Woody Harrelson could be a cop — and a female criminologist. Angie Harmon — she’s in it. I like her.”

Elliott Gould, Linda Lavin, and Mark Feuerstein in ‘9JKL’ (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

What it’s actually about:9JKL stars Mark Feuerstein in a family comedy inspired by his real life. Josh Roberts is a new divorcé and actor between projects who moves home to New York to regroup, living in an apartment sandwiched between his doting, meddlesome parents on one side and his brother, sister-in-law and their new baby on the other.”

Jennifer’s dream Wisdom of the Crowd.

Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS, Oct. 1)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “Let me think. That one is about a hostage situation. A big church is under siege and everyone in the congregation is held hostage. We’ve got weapons, freedom of religion, freedom of speech — this is very timely. Bruce Willis could be in that. It’s kind of like Die Hard but opposite; Bruce Willis could be one of the terrorists. He’s kinda like Alan Rickman, in a role reversal, and he loses his mind, and he and his buddies hold this church hostage. So the wisdom of the crowd is trying to figure out how they’re gonna survive it, how they’re gonna overtake these guys, how to handle the situation.”

Jeremy Piven in Wisdom of the Crowd. (Photo: Cate Cameron/CBS)

What it’s actually about:Wisdom of the Crowd is a drama about a visionary tech innovator who creates a cutting-edge crowdsourcing app to solve his daughter’s murder, and revolutionize crime-solving in the process.”

The Brave (NBC, Sept. 25)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “This is the story of an incoming class at one of the academies, like the Naval Academy or West Point, and the different backgrounds and what they go through. You’ve gotta have some sort of central figure in there. Tom Cruise is probably in that, as one of the instructors.”

Mike Vogel, Noah Mills, Hadi Tabbal, Demetrius Grosse, and Natacha Karam in The Brave. (Photo: Jeff Riedel/NBC)

What it’s actually about: “This fresh, heart-pounding journey into the complex world of America’s elite undercover military heroes follows Captain Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel) and his heroic Special Ops squad of highly trained undercover specialists who carry out each mission on the ground.”

Dynasty (The CW, Oct. 11)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “Is that what I think it is? Could it be? Lord help ’em if it is. Nobody’s gonna watch that. That’s so ’80s. Do they even have soap operas during the day anymore? That’s just a soap at night. They need to go with something more like a sports team, the pressure of winning, Alabama going in every year ranked No. 1 and the national championship is yours to lose. It’s not really the interpersonal drama that happened in Friday Night Lights. This is more like what those coaches actually do behind the scenes — the recruiting and all of the work, and it’s not just football season from August to January, it’s all year round.”

Elizabeth Gillies, Grant Show, and Nathalie Kelley in Dynasty. (Photo: Christopher Fragapane/The CW)

What it’s actually about: “Wealth, power, deception, and double-dealing … What does it take to build a dynasty? A modern re-imagining of the iconic primetime soap, centering on the powerful Carrington family as they defend their throne against the Colbys, new rivals and threats, and even each other.”

Valor (The CW, Oct. 9)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “It’d be about a high school military school where they send troubled kids. They all have a past, and this is where they go for that structure and to learn how to put their life together. Sort of like a last chance, but they’ve got someone that really, really takes an interest in them. Whoever’s starring in it has got to be a real hard-nosed person but just because he cares about them and expects so much of them and actually gives a crap about them. Denzel! If you’re gonna dream, dream big.”

Matt Barr and Christina Ochoa in Valor. (Photo: Mark Hill/The CW)

What it’s actually about: “An elite unit of U.S. Army helicopter pilots called the Shadow Raiders is sent on a top secret mission to Somalia, a mission that goes terribly awry. Only two members of the team return safely: Warrant Officer Nora Madani (Christina Ochoa), one of the unit’s first female helicopter pilots, and her commanding officer, Captain Leland Gallo (Matt Barr), while the whereabouts of their comrade Jimmy Kam (W. Trè Davis) are unknown.”

Jennifer’s dream Ghosted.

Ghosted (Fox, Oct. 1)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “Is it about a family that has a ghost in their house? Tim Allen is the ghost, and he has a daughter who got married and now has a family. So he’s in the house, and the whole challenge is he doesn’t want her to know, but he keeps doing things by accident, inadvertently. He’s a good ghost, and he’s trying just to watch over her, but he just does stuff and that creates a chain reaction. You can see it coming, almost like a train wreck.”

Adam Scott and Craig Robinson in Ghosted. (Photo: Kevin Estrada/Fox)

What it’s actually about: “Starring Craig Robinson (The Office, This Is the End) and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation, Big Little Lies), Ghosted is a single-camera, live-action comedy about the partnership between two polar opposites — a cynical skeptic and a genius “true believer” in the paranormal — who are recruited by a secret government agency, known as the Bureau Underground, to save the human race from aliens.”

The Orville (Fox, time-period premiere Sept. 21)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “I have no clue. Probably a show I wouldn’t watch, even if I had cable. I’d say maybe it’s like a nuclear fallout shelter, but that’s not really a great topic right now. Moving on.”

Penny Johnson Jerald, guest star Max Burkholder, Adrianne Palicki, and Seth MacFarlane in The Orville. (Photo: Michael Becker/Fox)

What it’s actually about:The Orville is a live-action, one-hour space adventure series set 400 years in the future that follows the U.S.S. Orville, a midlevel exploratory spaceship. Its crew, both human and alien, face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the problems of everyday life.”

The Gifted (Fox, Oct. 2)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “That’s a reality show for extraordinary kids, more academically based than other talents: science-oriented, reading-oriented, math-oriented, spelling-oriented.”

Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker in The Gifted. (Photo: Ryan Green/Fox)

What it’s actually about: “Produced in association with Marvel Television, and set in the X-Men universe, family adventure series The Gifted tells the emotional story of a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their teenage children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family seeks help from an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.”

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC, Oct. 3)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “That’s about a kid who discovers a cure for cancer in his home chemistry set. … That’s kind of stupid. I don’t know. All I can think about is Kevin saving the world sort of haphazardly, mistakenly, coming across the cure for some major disease.”

Kimberly Hébert Gregory and Jason Ritter in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. (Photo: Bob D’Amico/ABC)

What it’s actually about: “Kevin Finn (Jason Ritter) is not a good person. He’s not terrible, but he’s selfish, and clueless, and values material wealth and status over all else. And he’s beginning to realize that those things aren’t making him happy — in fact, he’s fairly miserable. Just when things seem to be at their worst, he finds himself tasked with an unbelievable mission … saving the world. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, a unique one-hour drama, filled with hope, heart and a good dose of irreverent humor.”

The Mayor (ABC, Oct. 3)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “You always go through these natural disasters — you’ve got all the buildup to it, then you’ve got it, then you have all the devastation. Maybe it’s inspired by a real-life place that had a tornado and how they rebuilt it — the families and the mayor, who spearheads the whole thing.”

Lea Michele, Brandon Micheal Hall, Marcel Spears, Bernard David Jones, and Yvette Nicole Brown in The Mayor. (Photo: Bob D’Amico/ABC)

What it’s actually about: “Young rapper Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) needs his big break. For years, he’s toiled away in a small inner-city apartment, making music in his junk-filled bedroom closet. Tired of waiting for opportunity to knock, Courtney cooks up the publicity stunt of the century — running for mayor of his California hometown, Fort Grey, to generate buzz for his music career. But his master plan goes wildly awry, ending in the most terrifying of outcomes: an election victory.”

Marvel’s Inhumans (ABC, Sept. 29)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “Does this have to do with the whole comic book thing? I have no idea about any of that. Are there bad guys in that that aren’t human? That sounds scary, like something I wouldn’t watch. Like, it would have a huge following and people would like it, but it wouldn’t be me.”

Serinda Swan, Iwan Rheon, and Anson Mount in Marvel’s Inhumans. (Photo: ABC/Marvel)

What it’s actually about:Marvel’s Inhumans explores the never-before-told epic adventure of the royal family, including ‘Black Bolt,’ the enigmatic, commanding King of the Inhumans, with a voice so powerful that the slightest whisper can destroy a city. After the Royal Family of Inhumans is splintered by a military coup, they barely escape to Hawaii, where their surprising interactions with the lush world and humanity around them may prove to not only save them, but Earth itself.”

Jennifer’s dream Ten Days in the Valley.

Ten Days in the Valley (ABC, Oct. 1)

What Jennifer thinks it’s about: “This is like the dude-ranch version of Dancing With the Stars. It’s a reality show of celebrities going to a dude ranch in the middle of Montana or Wyoming run by real cowboys and cowgirls and working for 10 days. It’s a competition: Who does it the best? Justin Timberlake, Dale Earnhardt Jr., since he’s retiring, and I was gonna say Beyoncé, but she just had babies so she wouldn’t want to do it. Charlie Hunnam. That would be like the No. 1 show, if he would do that. And that guy — is it A-Rod? — Alex Rodriguez, who played for the Yankees. We’ll stick him in there too. Hosted by Brad Paisley.”

Kyra Sedgwick in Ten Days in the Valley. (Photo: Paul Sarkis/ABC)

What it’s actually about:Ten Days in the Valley stars Emmy Award-winning actress Kyra Sedgwick as Jane Sadler, an overworked television producer and single mother, in the middle of a fractious separation. Jane’s life is turned upside down when her young daughter goes missing in the middle of the night. And just like her controversial police TV show, everything is a mystery, everyone has a secret, and no one can be trusted.”