7 must-watch shows for your family this fall



Whether you’ve cut the cord or love live TV, there’s plenty to entertain the fam this fall. You’ll find strong female leads, uniquely gifted characters, history lessons, and more in a lineup that features diverse characters and celebrates the human spirit. Also, oldies-but-goodies “Gilmore Girls” and “Anne of Green Gables” return to the screen in promising-looking reboots sure to win new fans.

—“The Kicks,” Amazon Prime, best for kids and tweens

Amazon scores again with its latest tween-targeted series based on the books by U.S. soccer champ Alex Morgan. When soccer lover Devin Burke (Sixx Orange) moves to California, she’s thrust into a new school and onto a mediocre new team called the Kicks. Between a confused coach and a defiant star player, the Kicks are in desperate need of a spark, and Devin steps in to lead the charge.

Also check out Amazon’s “Just Add Magic” for another book-based series that’s filled with friendship and teamwork.

—“Speechless,” ABC, best for tweens, teens, and parents

Minnie Driver stars as a mom who will do anything to make sure her family gets the lives they deserve in this comedy that deals with disability, sibling dynamics, and sacrifice. A solid kid crew rounds out the cast, including Micah Fowler, an actor with cerebral palsy, who plays JJ, one of TV’s first nonverbal characters. JJ’s lack of voice doesn’t stop him from delivering some sick burns, along with the help of his unconventional aide, the always funny Cedric Yarborough.

Also check out “Parenthood” for its sensitive depiction of a character with a disability.

—“Pitch,” Fox, best for teens and parents

Facing pressure from skeptical teammates, doubtful fans, and her former ballplayer father, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) has a lot riding on her first pitch as a San Diego Padre — she’s the first woman to play for a major league team. Billed by its creators as “the ‘West Wing’ of baseball,” this show should offer real insider baseball knowledge (it’s the first scripted show to be officially associated with Major League Baseball) and explore family ties and friendships.

Also check out “Friday Night Lights” for more outstanding sports drama.

—“Timeless,” NBC, best for teens and parents

Can history be rewritten? With a super-cool time-traveling machine and a crack team of experts, anything is possible. In this mysterious sci-fi action series, the cast visits a different era each week to make sure mischief-makers aren’t messing with important moments in history. A little far-fetched, sure, but we’re hoping it’ll be a fun way to inject a little learning into prime time.

Also check out “Lost” for more time-travel mysteries.

—“Splash and Bubbles,” PBS Kids, starts Nov. 23, best for preschoolers and older

Don’t worry — the littlest viewers haven’t been forgotten this year. Fresh from the Jim Henson Company and PBS comes “Splash and Bubbles,” a series starring two friendly fish who are excited to learn about the undersea world they live in. Using a cool technique called digital puppeteering (which expands animators’ storytelling capabilities) this show not only beautifully explores the deep blue sea but the friendships among a kooky crew of water dwellers.

Also check out “Dinosaur Train” and “The Deep,” two more kid shows that mix facts with fun.

—“Anne of Green Gables,” PBS, starts Nov. 24, best for early elementary and older

This new TV movie adaptation brings back L.M. Montgomery’s classic Canadian story of Anne Shirley, a spunky orphan whose fresh start in Avonlea is filled with triumphs, tragedies, and a whole lot of adventure. Starring Martin Sheen as the shy but kind Matthew, Anne’s beloved confidante, this version promises to introduce a new generation to the red-headed heroine and her friends.

Also check out any of Anne’s other incarnations: animated, 80’s classic, or the book.

—“Gilmore Girls,” Netflix, Nov. 25, best for teens and parents

The beloved mom-and-daughter team is back in this limited series consisting of four 90-minute chapters, each one representing a season (winter, spring, summer, and fall). Sounds like a great post-Thanksgiving binge-watch for loyal fans! Expect more fast-paced dialogue and the quick wit the show’s known for — and maybe some romance in the sleepy town of Stars Hollow.

Also consider the original series, which broke new ground with its two female leads and outstanding writing.

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Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.


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