1 of 19
Monday 8 p.m.
Must-Watch: Pair How I Met Your Mother (CBS) with Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Begin the hour with CBS's most beloved sitcom, now in its final season. End it with ABC's most beloved reality competition, featuring one of its kookiest casts ever.
DVR: Almost Human (Fox, Nov. 4)
The premise has cheese potential — but its world-building is top-notch, and its thematic elements go surprisingly deep.
Skip: We Are Men (CBS, Sept. 30)
We are...not interested.
2 of 19
Monday 9 p.m.
Must-Watch: Dancing With the Stars
And we haven't even mentioned Bill Nye yet!
DVR: Sleepy Hollow (CBS)
Take it from us: This supernatural mashup is nutty in the best way possible. Tread lightly, though, in case it can't sustain the pilot's go-for-broke attitude.
Skip: Beauty and the Beast (The CW, Oct. 7)
Fangs, but no fangs.
3 of 19
Monday 10 p.m.
Must-Watch: The Blacklist (NBC)
Strong performances and great execution go a long way toward enlivening a ho-hum premise.
DVR: Hostages (CBS)
This is Dylan McDermott's fall hostage drama, not Dermot Mulroney's midseason hostage drama (that one's called Crisis). Save it until you can examine both side by side.
Skip: Teen Mom 3 (MTV)
Treat this show like a bee: If you just ignore it, maybe it'll buzz away.
4 of 19
Tuesday 8 p.m.
Must-Watch: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Unwieldy title, potentially awesome show. (Also, Joss Whedon + Clark Gregg = Need we say more?)
DVR: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
The fall's most promising comedy could easily reach must-see status in a few weeks.
Skip: Dads (Fox)
Yeah, it's as bad as they say it is.
5 of 19
Tuesday 9 p.m.
Must-Watch: Pair New Girl and The Mindy Project (both on Fox)
The quirky queens of Tuesday night demand your full attention.
DVR: Trophy Wife (ABC)
This uneven blended-family sitcom has potential — as well as one of this season's strongest comic ensembles (including Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford, and Marcia Gay Harden).
Skip: The Goldbergs (ABC)
The '80s are inherently hilarious! There, we just saved you half an hour.
6 of 19
Tuesday 10 p.m.
Must-Watch: Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Season 6 is revved and ready; now all it needs is you.
DVR: Lucky 7 (ABC)
This post-lotto-win drama could be a great ensemble piece...or it could be NBC's 2006 serial flop Windfall. (What's Windfall? Exactly.)
Skip: Chicago Fire (NBC)
If you really need your fill of Dick Wolf-style drama, flip to literally any cable channel.
7 of 19
Wednesday 8 p.m.
Must-Watch: Revolution (NBC)
Can NBC's ambitious drama successfully retool for season 2? We're not sure — but we'll be tuning in to find out.
DVR: Arrow (The CW, Oct. 9)
All the better to pause and really savor shirtless Amell shots.
Skip: The X Factor (Fox)
If you watch just one singing competition this year?it shouldn't be this one.
8 of 19
Wednesday 9 p.m.
Must-Watch: Pair Modern Family (ABC) with Super Fun Night (ABC, Oct. 2)
Honestly? This timeslot is a bit of a dead zone. But ModFam is reliably funny, and we're curious to see what Rebel Wilson will do with her own sitcom showcase.
DVR: The Tomorrow People (The CW, Oct. 9)
It's a familiar tale of teens with mysterious super powers, but it's executed pretty well. Bonus: More Amell for your buck!
Skip: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
Certainly not must-see TV anymore — unless it's an episode with a big-name guest star and a particularly ridiculous premise (read: Cybill Shepherd playing an unholy Paula Deen/George Zimmerman mashup).
9 of 19
Wednesday 10 p.m.
Must-Watch: American Horror Story: Coven (FX, Oct. 9)
Ryan Murphy's annual festival of crazy must be seen to be believed, preferably live.
DVR: Pair It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX) with Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
One's a cult comedy institution; the other's a young upstart. Both are worth saving for lazy Saturday afternoons.
Skip: Big Tips Texas (MTV, Oct. 9)
Haven't you always wanted to see a reality TV version of Coyote Ugly — strike that, another reality TV version? Yeah, we didn't think so.
10 of 19
Thursday 8 p.m.
Must-Watch: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC, Oct. 10)
Word on the street says this is the Once you love, but with a tighter narrative structure and a better central romance. We'll gladly fall down that rabbit hole.
DVR: Parks and Recreation (NBC)
It's the only vestige of NBC's late, lamented, briefly perfect Thursday-night lineup; save it for when you're feeling nostalgic.
Skip: The Millers (CBS) and Welcome to the Family (NBC, Oct. 3)
Someday, Will Arnett and Mike O'Malley will find worthy comedic showcases. These aren't those showcases.
11 of 19
Thursday 9 p.m.
Must-Watch: Reign (The CW, Oct. 17)
In our book, anything starring Sexy Nostradamus is an automatic must-see.
DVR: Pair The Crazy Ones (CBS) with The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)
As two small-screen legends get back to business, you'll want to see how they adapt to 21st-century TV.
Skip: Sean Saves the World (NBC, Oct. 3)
First Smash, now this — when did NBC start hating Sean Hayes (and Megan Hilty, for that matter)?
12 of 19
Thursday 10 p.m.
Must-Watch: Scandal (ABC, Oct. 3)
If you don't tune in, watch out: Remember what happened to Scott Foley in last year's finale?
DVR: Parenthood (NBC)
This underrated gem has ''binge-watch'' written all over it.
Skip: Impractical Jokers (TruTV)
The pitch: ''Jackass, only worse.''
13 of 19
Friday 8 p.m.
Must-Watch: MasterChef Junior (Fox)
Or, as one exec dubbed it during this year's upfronts, Kids with Knives. That premise sells itself!
DVR: The Carrie Diaries (The CW, Oct. 25)
Couple with Sex and the City reruns for maximum fabulosity.
Skip: Last Man Standing (ABC)
Sorry, Tim Allen, you just can't compete with tiny chefs or outrageous '80s fashions.
14 of 19
Friday 9 p.m.
Must-Watch: Grimm (NBC, Oct. 25)
It's a cult hit for a reason, people.
DVR: Shark Tank (ABC)
Not appointment viewing, but a perennial reality favorite nonetheless.
Skip: Bridezillas (WEtv)
No. Just no.
15 of 19
Friday 10 p.m.
Must-Watch: Dracula (NBC, Oct. 25)
It's crazy like a fox, and it also stars an actual vampire: Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
DVR: Pair Best Week Ever (VH1) with The Birthday Boys (IFC, Oct. 18)
First, watch a gang of hip talking heads dissect the week's news on VH1's recently revived chat show. Then, see Breaking Bad favorite Bob Odenkirk get back to his roots with this new sketch show, exec-produced by Ben Stiller.
Skip: 20/20 (ABC)
It's Friday night — you're not really trying to learn, are you?
16 of 19
TV worth staying in for:
We won't judge you for staying home on a Saturday evening — especially if you're catching Lifetime's House of Versace (Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. ET), an instant camp classic starring Showgirl Gina Gershon as Donatella herself; Starz's Dancing on the Edge, a period mystery starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew Goode (Oct. 19 at 10 p.m. ET); Amazon's upcoming streaming comedy Alpha House, featuring Senator John Goodman (fall TBD); and, of course, NBC's Saturday Night Live, currently in a rebuilding year — which could mean refreshing changes, dire misfires, or anything in between.
17 of 19
Sunday 8 p.m.
Must-Watch: The Amazing Race (CBS)
There's a reason it's won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program nearly every year that award has existed; you might as well see why by watching live.
DVR: Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Fairies! Mermaids! An all-new Sexy Robin Hood! This show is only getting more bananas — and you'll want the luxury of pausing and rewinding to catch every awesome detail.
Skip: Weather Caught on Camera (The Weather Channel)
Spoiler alert: If you have a window, you've already seen this show.
18 of 19
Sunday 9 p.m.
Must-Watch: Homeland (Showtime)
Last year's explosive (get it?!) finale changed everything for Carrie and Co.; your water cooler will never forgive you for not keeping up.
DVR: The Walking Dead (AMC, Oct. 13)
Pair with taped eps of Talking Dead for maximum geekgasm.
Skip: Oprah's Lifeclass (OWN)
''A richly interactive worldwide social experience where millions of students participate in inspiring conversations with Oprah Winfrey on-air, online, and via social media'' = ''Totally missable.''
19 of 19
Sunday 10 p.m.
Must-Watch: Masters of Sex (Showtime)
The long version: Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are electric as a pair of groundbreaking human sexuality researchers. The short version: Mad Men with boobs!
DVR: Pair Eastbound & Down and Hello Ladies (both HBO)
Pick your mode of masculinity: Danny McBride's aggressive machismo or Stephen Merchant's bumbling nerdery. Better yet, watch both.
Skip: Betrayal (ABC)
Not nearly as fun as that title would lead you to believe.