It's time to cast your vote. But not for president -- for your new favorite TV shows.
Think of it as democracy in action: If enough people select a new TV series by tuning in, the broadcast network backing the show will keep it on the air. If not enough watch, that show will soon be gone.
Simple as that. The People speak.
Here's our fall TV voters guide, in which we offer a handful of endorsements.
Seven new shows worthy of your vote
Premieres 9 p.m. Sept. 25 on CBS
In the wake of Mad Men, television has been trying to cook up another great 1960s-era period piece. The problem is that everyone fixated on re-creating the look of the decade (in shows such as Pan Am, The Playboy Club and Magic City), but forgot to come up with a great story. Vegas, starring Dennis Quaid in his first TV series, has it all: a unique visual scheme (of a gambling and entertainment mecca emerging from the tumbleweeds), a fantastic cast (including Michael Chiklis as the main bad guy) and loads of action and humor.
What's more, Vegas has something even Mad Men lacks: potential to be more than an acclaimed cult favorite. Vegas could turn out to be the biggest new ratings hit of the season. Quaid stars as Ralph Lamb, a tough-as-nails rancher who was a military cop in World War II. Now he's the sheriff of Sin City at a time when gangsters want the freedom to do anything they like.
Also stars: Carrie-Anne Moss, Jason O'Mara, Taylor Handley, Sarah Jones
Premieres 9 p.m. Oct. 10 on ABC
Transform All About Eve into a juicy, countrified prime-time soap and Nashville is what you get. Connie Britton stars as music legend Rayna Jaymes, one of the industry's favorite female vocalists for two decades, but her latest album is tanking and her management is panicky.
Meanwhile, there's a new artist on the rise. Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is a young prima donna who's lacking in talent (thank goodness for Auto-Tune!) but blessed with a Machiavellian streak that would make J.R. Ewing proud. If Taylor Swift were a devious, bed-hopping, success-at-any-cost climber, she'd be this chick. There are other tawdry dramas playing out against the backdrop of Music City, but a Rayna-Juliette showdown promises to be the most interesting of them all.
Also stars: Powers Boothe, Charles Esten, Eric Close, Clare Bowen
The New Normal
8:30 Tuesday on NBC
Series co-creator Ryan Murphy, the man behind Glee and American Horror Story (what a combo!), didn't have to look far to find the premise for The New Normal. This comedy -- in which a same-sex couple wanting a baby, the young woman they choose to be their surrogate and the surrogate's plucky daughter become an unlikely family -- is loosely based on Murphy's real-life experiences as a wannabe parent.
There's no question that the show is pushing an agenda by declaring that families with two daddies represents the "new" normal. Perhaps that's what most riled pressure groups such as One Million Moms. But what makes The New Normal a keeper is the sweet-natured humor balanced against Ellen Barkin's politically incorrect but hysterically funny rants as the surrogate's gay-bashing grandmother.
Also stars: Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells, Georgia King, Bebe Wood
The Mindy Project
Premieres 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 on Fox
Mindy Kaling, the scene-stealing funny girl from The Office, plays to her comedic strengths in The Mindy Project. She's an unlucky-in-love career woman who futilely wishes life could be like a magical Meg Ryan movie. Mindy Lahiri is a successful OB/GYN, but her romantic life is chock-full of awkward first dates and embarrassing drama-queen high jinks. (In the pilot, she makes a drunken toast at an ex-boyfriend's wedding, then steers a stolen bicycle into a swimming pool.)
She wants to be less shallow and more punctual, to spend less money, to lose weight and to read more books -- all in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded woman and meeting Mr. Right -- but maybe her self-improvement course can begin tomorrow.
Also stars: Chris Messina, Ed Weeks, Anna Camp, Stephen Tobolowsky
Premieres 9 p.m. Sept. 27 on CBS
Sherlock Holmes is red-hot. The iconic consulting detective, who first graced the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle's mystery stories more than a century ago, has enjoyed a resurgence, starring on the big screen (with Robert Downey Jr. in the title role) and on the small one (BBC's Sherlock, with Holmes in modern-day London).
Is it any wonder, then, that American TV would pilfer the idea? The good news it that Elementary, which brings a drug-addled but brilliant Holmes (played by Jonny Lee Miller) to 21st-century New York, is a delight. Fresh out of rehab, Sherlock is saddled with a "companion" who's responsible for keeping him sober and out of mischief: Her name is Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). Holmes and Watson's cases might be a tad on the slight side. But Miller makes a great Sherlock, and the two have loads of chemistry.
Also stars: Aidan Quinn, Jon Michael Hill
Ben and Kate
Premieres 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 on Fox
Ben and Kate is an ideal quirky companion to the offbeat humor of Raising Hope and New Girl. Ben Fox (played by Nat Faxon) is a guy who never grew up. He's the type who pops in at your house unannounced, asking to borrow your car keys and a spear gun. You know that whatever caper he's got cooking won't end well, but he's so doggone charismatic that you let him drive your car anyway.
Kate (Dakota Johnson), his younger sister, is responsible to a fault and trying to give her young daughter a better upbringing than she and Ben got. When Ben moves in, life gets wacky, but it's never going to be boring. Watch while reminding yourself that the agreeably goofy Faxon has a writing Oscar for The Descendants.
Also stars: Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Lucy Punch, Echo Kellum
Emily Owens, M.D.
Premieres 8 p.m. Oct. 16 on The CW
If Dr. John Dorian of Scrubs had been a woman, he would have been Emily Owens. This hourlong "dramedy" hits almost all of the same notes: A newbie intern, often overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of a Denver hospital, has all the tools to become a terrific doctor -- but her low self-esteem has her second-guessing her every move. What's more, Emily can't get out of her own head. She chatters away endlessly in the form of voiceover narration, the same storytelling technique that Scrubs used.
It would seem shamelessly derivative if leading lady Mamie Gummer, daughter of the great Meryl Streep, weren't so adept at balancing broadly comedic scenes with deeply poignant moments.
Also stars: Justin Hartley, Aja Naomi King, Michael Rady, Kelly McCreary, Necar Zadegan
Quotes from the candidates
"One of the great things about having your own show is you can have, like, six handsome boyfriends in your show. There's just a line of good-looking guys. That's probably the No. 1 perk."
-- Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project
"The creators of our show have come up with a way to reach out to a very divisive country about some very important issues about what makes a family. And they've done it with an enormous amount of love, sensitivity and more fun than a barrel of monkeys."
-- Ellen Barkin, The New Normal
Familiar faces back in the race
8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC
Matthew Perry, a sitcom icon thanks to his years on Friends, is back playing a character that very much could be considered a grown-up Chandler Bing. And he's doing it on the network that made him famous. Perry tried other TV things after Friends, such as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine, but we still want him to be a Chandler-esque smart aleck. Sports radio motormouth Ryan King is older and sadder (because his wife died), but he's familiar. The premise: King joins a therapy group to cope with his loss. Sounds like a bummer of a show, but it's surprisingly funny.
Also stars: John Cho, Laura Benanti, Julie White, Tyler James Williams, Suzy Nakamura
Premieres 7 p.m. Sept. 27 on ABC
Andre Braugher received Emmy nominations in 2010 and 2011 for his performance on Men of a Certain Age. But seriously, do we really want an actor of this power and presence going to waste as a put-upon middle-class car salesman? No, we want the Braugher who kept our rapt attention on Homicide. As Capt. Marcus Chaplin, commander of the ballistic missile submarine Colorado, he delivers. After questioning orders to wipe out Pakistan, Chaplin and his crew suddenly find themselves at odds with their own military. Who's behind the conspiracy and gave the order to start a war?
Also stars: Scott Speedman, Daisy Betts, Autumn Reeser, Robert Patrick
Premieres 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 on CBS
David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are the writer-producer duo behind a sitcom classic, Will & Grace. Partners is a variation on the same gay-straight best-friends dynamic, with one-liners flying so fast you'll have to rewind to catch them all. Michael Urie, as the gay half of the duo, opposite David Krumholtz, even has the same over-the-top Sean Hayes-as-Just Jack energy. The show is based on Kohan and Mutchnick's longtime "bromance." They've been best friends and writing partners for almost their entire lives.
Also stars: Sophia Bush, Brandon Routh
666 Park Avenue
Premieres 9 p.m. Sept. 30 on ABC
Terry O'Quinn is never better than when he goes dark. Like when he morphed into a mystically malevolent presence on Lost. Or in his breakout role in The Stepfather, playing a mild-mannered real-estate agent and serial killer. He was pretty much wasted last season on Hawaii Five-0. But 666 Park Avenue uses him the right way. O'Quinn is Gavin Doran, mysterious owner and landlord of The Drake, a tony New York apartment building in which the tenants' wildest dreams come true. But this kind of arrangement inevitably costs people their souls. The show's goal is to re-create a creepy Rosemary's Baby/The Shining vibe.
Also stars: Rachael Taylor, Dave Annable, Mercedes Masohn, Vanessa Williams
Beauty and the Beast
Premieres 8 p.m. Oct. 11 on The CW
The CW network is practically bursting at the seams with camera-friendly young beauties, but few of these leading ladies were as radiant as Kristin Kreuk, aka Lana Lang of Smallville. Well, lucky CW and lucky us, because Kreuk is back on the network playing one of the title roles of Beauty and the Beast. The series is superficially similar to the same-named series of the 1980s, which starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman.
This time, Catherine is a New York homicide detective and Vincent (Jay Ryan) is an ex-soldier whose genetic enhancements backfired big time. Together, they fight crime while also fighting an obvious romantic spark.
Also stars: Jay Ryan, Austin Basis, Max Brown, Nina Lisandrello, Brian White
Premieres 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 on ABC
Country music queen Reba McEntire certainly knows how to make an audience-pleasing comedy. Her previous show, Reba, will never be revered as a sitcom classic, but she delivered lots of laughs over a span of six seasons. Now Reba's back, playing the same character type in another multicamera, audience-laugh-track half-hour series that also happens to have a comedy legend, the great Lily Tomlin, playing her crazy, pot-smoking mom. The premise: Reba, the ex-wife of a philandering country music star, moves her family from Nashville to Malibu the make a new start. Culture shock and hilarity ensues.
Also stars: Sara Rue, Justin Prentice, Juliette Angelo, Jai Rodriguez
Quotes from the candidates
"Selfishly, I'm sort of happy that NBC is struggling these days. It's not like how it was here years ago, when I was on Friends. But I see that as an opportunity to help them get back to their former days of glory."
-- Matthew Perry, Go On
"People miss those great comedies like Will & Grace and Cheers and Seinfeld and Friends -- and this show gives them that quality again. Gosh, I can't believe I just compared myself to all those amazing shows!"
-- Michael Urie, Partners
The Mob Doctor
Premieres 8 p.m. Monday on Fox
Jordana Spiro stars as a surgeon who juggles a promising career with her family debt to Chicago gangsters. Dr. Grace Devlin is OK with bandaging the occasional wounded hit man, but she draws the ethical line at deliberately botching a procedure with a mob witness on the operating table. It's a delicate balance act, and one wrong move could cost Grace everything.
Also stars: William Forsythe, Floriana Lima, Zach Gilford, Jaime Lee Kirchner, Zeljko Ivanek
Premieres 9 p.m. Monday on NBC
Here's a high-concept series in which the creative team -- J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk (of Lost and Star Trek fame), Eric Kripke ( Supernatural), and Jon Favreau ( Iron Man) -- are more famous than the actors in the cast. The premise is an intriguing one: The American landscape is transformed when every single piece of technology -- computers, planes, cars, phones, even light -- has been blacked out forever.
Stars: Tracy Spiridakos, Graham Rogers, Billy Burke, Zak Orth, Giancarlo Esposito, Elizabeth Mitchell
Premieres 7 p.m. Sept. 26 on NBC
After all these years of medical dramas in which dedicated doctors heal the sick, isn't it time that a show featured a veterinarian telling his patients to heel? Justin Kirk stars as Dr. George Coleman, an unorthodox animal-hospital doc who's crazy like a fox. His ex-girlfriend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) is now running the hospital. His sidekick is a lab-coat-wearing monkey. Does that just say it all?
Also stars: Tyler Labine, Bobby Lee, Kym Whitley
Premieres 7 p.m. Oct. 10 on The CW
The next DC Comics hero comic to come to life on TV is Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow (played by Stephen Amell). He's a billionaire playboy with a tragic past, a secret lair, no superpowers (just a combination of gadgets and athleticism) and a deep-seated desire to settle some old scores and clean up a crime-infested city. And because it's on The CW, almost every main character is young and photogenic.
Also stars: Colin Donnell, Katie Cassidy, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne
Premieres 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26; regular time will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
The Neighbors aspires to be 3rd Rock From the Sun with Men in Black-style special effects. Only problem is there's no John Lithgow, no Tommy Lee Jones, no Will Smith. The series follows an American family that moves into a gated community, only to discover that their neighbors are oddball extraterrestrials, the kind that blend in as seamlessly as Mork from Ork. The goal: to examine human foibles through alien eyes.
Stars: Jami Gertz, Lenny Venito, Simon Templeman, Toks Olagundoye, Tim Jo, Ian Patrick
Guys With Kids
7:30 p.m. Wednesday on NBC
Whether they're hitting the bar strapped into baby carriers or hosing down the kids in the kitchen sink, the clueless dads of Guys With Kids are navigating the highs and lows of fatherhood while trying desperately to remain dudes. This slight sitcom, from executive producer Jimmy Fallon, seems better suited for a retro network like TV Land. That said, the sight of a toddler on a leash is always amusing.
Stars: Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford, Zach Cregger, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Premieres 9 p.m. Oct. 10 on NBC
This series, from executive producer Dick Wolf, follows the lives of the firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. In other words, it's Emergency! and Third Watch for the year 2012, without the 9-11-related guilt of Rescue Me. Not that the 51 is a harmonious team. Lt. Casey (Jesse Spencer), who's in charge of the truck, and Lt. Severide (Taylor Kinney), of the rescue squad, are constantly butting heads.
Also stars: Teri Reeves, Eamonn Walker, Monica Raymund, Lauren German
Made in Jersey
Premieres 8 p.m. Sept. 28 on CBS
This is a lawyer-show gimmick that feels like it was plucked from USA's character-driven summer lineup. The unlikely superstar attorney at a top Manhattan law firm, where everyone else is so slick and pedigreed, is a street-smart, blue-collar Jersey Girl. People often take Martina Garretti (played by English actress Janet Montgomery) for granted. But she's a bold, passionate lawyer on the rise.
Also stars: Kristoffer Polaha, Kyle MacLachlan, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Erin Cummings
Quote from a candidate
" The Mob Doctor is this kind of show: If House and Goodfellas had a baby, that baby would be named Grace Devlin."
-- Jordana Spiro, The Mob Doctor