'The Flash,' 'The McCarthys' and more exciting 2014 Upfronts presentations
14. 'Empire' (FOX)
There's something inherently intriguing about the rise and fall of a music empire. And it's hard to imagine this sort of tale with more talent than "Empire" -- starring Terrence Howard, the show was created by Lee Daniels ("The Butler") and Danny Strong ("Game Change").
13. 'Marvel's Agent Carter' (ABC)
If you're going to do a period piece in this overcrowded day and age, you need to make it interesting. "Agent Carter" does just that. Part superhero story, part SHIELD origins, part feminist drama, "Agent Carter" is exactly what everyone means when they talk about a show with a strong female lead.
12. 'The Messengers' (CW)
While impressive, this could be a difficult sell. The trailer plays like a complicated cable drama (there's more than a passing resemblance to "The Leftovers") or a science-fiction film. But it looks intriguing and is the rare pilot I can't wait to sample.
11. 'Allegiance' (NBC)
Despite rather extreme similarities to FX's "The Americans," "Allegiance" has its own route to the spy thriller. The plot seems to center around a new CIA analyst who is almost disturbing in his abilities. To make matters more complicated, the analyst's parents are former-maybe-current KGB spies. Will this be a spy-versus-spy drama or one about a family torn apart? Both could be intriguing.
10. 'Black-ish' (ABC)
There aren't many comedies on this list for a good reason -- the networks don't have a lot of them this year and many are romantic comedies (a big trend for 2014-15) or inherently dumb-looking. But one exception is "Black-ish," a family sitcom about an African-American family balancing culture with upper-middle-class suburbia. Who knows if "Black-ish" will have staying power, but the trailer featured charming actors, reasonable setups and jokes that actually made audiences laugh.
9. 'Stalker' (CBS)
Do TV audiences want to watch a horror movie unfold weekly on TV? If so, then Kevin Williamson's "Stalker" will be a huge hit. The trailer has a decided "Scream" feel -- you almost expect someone to ask if we like scary movies -- and a solid procedural format to keep the weekly plots moving. Get the popcorn ready, because this could be a whole lot of fun.
8. 'Wayward Pines' (FOX)
Whether or not "Wayward Pines" succeeds depends almost entirely on how much we're willing to trust M. Night Shyamalan with a TV show. The hints given by a compelling -- but incredibly convoluted -- trailer show this as a "Twin Peaks" for today (complete with random close-ups on fans). What's it about? No clue. But you can bet that I'm going to at least try to figure it out.
7. 'Jane the Virgin' (CW)
Here's the thing: I had little to no expectations for "Jane the Virgin" before the CW upfronts. I mean, a telenovela-based story of a virginal girl who gets artificially inseminated? Huh? But the trailer is hilarious, the star (Gina Rodriguez) is charming, and the story just might work. It's a bit of a stretch for a network otherwise focusing on comic books and science fiction, but weirdness has always been the standard for The CW.
6. 'Constantine' (NBC)
Scheduled to air with "Grimm" on Fridays, "Constantine" is just about the perfect choice for NBC. It's a known property -- years of comic-book stories and a Keanu Reeves movie have seen to that -- with plenty of potential. Add in stars Matt Ryan and Lucy Griffiths having obvious fun with their characters, and it's all good. Plus, if "Gotham" turns out to disappoint, here is another dark, comic-based show to take its place.
5. 'Battle Creek' (CBS)
This comedic drama really can't come soon enough (especially since it's unfortunately relegated to midseason). It somehow mixes "Northern Exposure" or "Due South" with a cop drama on the gritty streets of a depressed Michigan city. And the trailer is hilarious.
4. 'The McCarthys' (CBS)
I did not expect to like the trailer for "The McCarthys." I didn't even want to like the trailer for "The McCarthys." It's a multi-camera sitcom about a large, bickering family in Boston, which truly offers little appeal to me. But "The McCarthys" also has that one, oddly rare thing absolutely necessary for good comedy: It's funny. Who knew?
3. 'Gotham' (FOX)
Kind of a no-brainer here -- people are rather excited about this "Batman" prequel series. The trailer looks incredible, there are great stars, and it's a "Batman" series. My only reservation here is that high expectations are usually trashed when series actually begin. Here's hoping though!
2. 'How to Get Away with Murder' (ABC)
Say what you like about ABC's scheduling choices, but the network always does one thing right: ABC lets Shonda Rhimes do whatever she wants. "How to Get Away with Murder" is a perfect example of this. Centered around a law professor and her far-too-attentive students, this show has all of the sex of "Grey's Anatomy" with all of the scandal of ... "Scandal." There's a good reason why ABC is simply ceding its entire Thursday nights to one producer.
1. 'The Flash' (CW)
In terms of excitement, good setup and pure fun, "The Flash" wins the 2014 Upfronts. A spinoff of "Arrow," "The Flash" is bright where other comic-book shows are dark. Its hero seems genuinely excited about having super powers and saving the world. And the cast just looks so darn enthusiastic about the whole thing. I literally can't wait to watch this one.