Last year's edition of Shipping and Shirtlessness featured hotties like Ioan Gruffudd (Ringer), Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time), and Nick Wechsler (Revenge). This year we turn our attention to a new batch of freshman series and their sexy stars:
The Men: Stephen Amell (Hung), John Barrowman (Torchwood), David Ramsey (Dexter), Colin Donnell (Pan Am)
The Show: Playboy billionaire Oliver Queen was shipwrecked and stranded on an island for five years. When he returns to his home metropolis of Star City, he’s got a compound bow and a determination to make a difference in the world as…the Green Arrow.
The Deal: It’s a sexier, more serious take on the classic DC superhero than the network’s Smallville offered. Our boy Ollie’s scarred, both emotionally wounded by the loss of his parents and with some serious battle badges on that pretty torso of his. Which we’ll get to see a lot of, if the pilot’s any measuring stick. Don’t miss our leather-clad bad boy’s slick moves, including a swoonworthy display of upper body strength as he lifts himself peg by peg up a ladder. Whoa.
The Ship to Watch: Ollie’s got an ex-girlfriend, played by Supernatural’s Katie Cassidy, a Dinah Lance—whom y’all might know as a little superchick named Black Canary, though she’s not living a double life just yet). She’s shocked and glad he’s not dead, but it’s not all wine and roses: he was cheating on her with her sister. Oops. Expect rekindled sparks to fly alongside those arrows.
The Shirtlessness Potential: 100% - He’s shirtless in the POSTER, for goodness sake. And the early promo clips for the show had long sequences of Amell working up a sweat with some seriously impressive guns flexing. Plus, Barrowman’s signed on to play a mysterious benefactor and he’s always a good time.
Premieres Wednesday, October 10th at 9 pm on The CW.
The Men: Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries), Jesse Spencer (House), Eamonn Walker (Oz), newcomer Charlie Barnett
The Show: Just like it says on the box. An anything-but-subtle soapy serial set at the firehouse rather than a precinct or courtroom like creator Dick Wolf’s other juggernaut, the Law and Order franchise. The first promo was cringeworthy with its over-the-top rivalry between Kinney’s Kelly Severide and Spencer’s Matthew Casey, but it did have a shirtless Kinney as a saving grace.
The Deal: So many potential jokes about fire hoses. Ahem. But the show’s creators are fully on board with exploiting the sexy. Just take a look at one of the promo photos released for the show which gives us Spencer cooling off by tipping a water bottle over his head, water sluicing down his chiseled cheekbones. What, there was no wind machine available?
The Ship to Watch: Not sure anything will challenge the rivalry/bromance between our two leads, but there’s a fierce paramedic Gabriella Dawson (Monica Raymund) who’s crushing on them both. Sadly, the casual misogyny towards the two female paramedics around the firehouse is kind of a turn-off.
The Shirtlessness Potential: 100% - We’re already seeing skin in the trailer, and firefighting’s a dirty job. We’re expecting plenty of post-shower parading around the locker room in tiny towels.
Premieres Wednesday, October 10th at 10 pm on NBC.
Beauty and the Beast
The Men: Jay Ryan (Terra Nova), Max Brown (The Tudors), Austin Basis (Life Unexpected), Brian White (The Shield)
The Show: Homicide detective Catherine Chandler (Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk) witnessed the death of her mother when she was a teenager. Her mother was killed, but Catherine was saved by a mysterious scarred man. She meets him again as part of an unrelated investigation and finds out he’s living secretly, having been officially presumed killed in wartime. Vincent has some kind of Hulk-like issues, it turns out. When enraged, he develops super strength and glowing eyes that he can’t control. She agrees to keep his secret if he’ll help her find who murdered her mother.
The Deal: If you’ve stopped laughing at the idea of Kreuk as a tough cop, take a good look at the promo shots and reach for more Kleenex. Vincent’s beastly transformation consists of him turning into a horrible beastly creature, not fit to be seen, because he’s…got a delicate scar down one cheek? Really? It’s a good thing Ryan’s so pretty though, because eye candy might be the only reason to check out this clunker.
The Ship to Watch: Obviously, Cat and her beast boy are the main attraction (despite the vaguely creepy idea that he’s been watching her since she was a teenager without her knowledge), but there is the possibility of some diversion ships.
The Shirtlessness Potential: 90%—There’s a shirtless flashback in the pilot but no doubt that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This is the CW; they never miss an opportunity to show off their leading men’s abs. Ever. (We like their priorities.)
Premieres Thursday, October 11th at 9 pm on The CW.
The Men: Eric Close (Without a Trace), Charles Esten (Enlightened), Jonathan Jackson (General Hospital), Sam Palladio (Episodes)
The Show: Connie Britton (aka Mrs. Coach!), can do no wrong y’all. And she powers this Country Strong-ish showdown about an aging country diva whose label wants to replace her with a younger model (think Faith Hill v. a bad girl Taylor Swift) with her usual abundance of Southern-fried charm and strength. The soapy stuff and music industry storylines are far more interesting than the political subplot with her Daddy (Powers Boothe) seducing her husband (Close) to the dark side.
The Deal: Thelma and Louise writer-director Callie Khouri is at the helm of this smart sudser, and there is some serious eye candy.
The Ship to Watch: How much time have you got? There’s no lack of ships in this harbor. Sparks still fly between the mostly happily married Britton’s Rayna James and Deacon Claybourne, her One that Got Away (Esten)—who didn’t go too far: he just happens to be her band leader. There’s another triangle between Deacon’s niece, Scarlett (Aussie newcomer Clare Bowen), a sweet local waitress/songwriter; her self-centered hipster boyfriend Avery (Jackson); and her pining coworker Gunnar (Palladio), with whom she makes beautiful music at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe. And the ruthless (but secretly misunderstood!) upstart Juliette Barnes (played deliciously by Hayden Pannettiere) wields her sex appeal like a weapon—expect to see her boots under a lot of beds this season.
The Shirtlessness Potential: 80% - A fair amount of sexytimes but no actual disrobing in the pilot… hmm. But the 10 pm slot and the sheer amount of bed-swapping potential bodes well that these cowboys will shuck their denim sooner rather than later.
Premieres Wednesday, October 10th at 10 pm on ABC.
The Men: Scott Speedman (Felicity), Aussie newcomer Daniel Lissing, Andre Braugher (Homicide), Robert Patrick (Terminator)
The Show: A US Naval submarine gets suspicious orders to fire a nuclear weapon on Pakistan. They refuse and go rogue, taking over a tropical island to make a dramatic stand against whatever funky business is going down in Washington.
The Deal: If you only check out one new show this fall, let this be the one. The scope of this pilot episode, which really feels more like a feature film, is unrivaled by any other show on network TV. It has compelling people, incredibly high stakes, rousing speeches, tons of action, and so very many good-looking men (and ladies) in uniform…and hopefully soon out of uniform.
The Ship to Watch: It’s not all war games on the USS Colorado. Co-creator Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Chicago Code) says he’s got the sexiest cast on TV and is ready to exploit that fact. There’s a seductive lingerie scene in the pilot featuring weapons heiress/lobbyist Kylie Sinclair (Entourage’s Autumn Reeser), and plenty of soapy/shipping potential with young, tragically separated marrieds XO Sam Kendal (Speedman) and wife Christine (Once Upon a Time’s Jessy Schram), plus hurt/comfort insta-bonding between vulnerable Navy Seal James King (Lissner) and island bar owner Tani (Dollhouse’s Dichen Lachman).
The Shirtlessness Potential: 80% - They’re all a little busy in the pilot episode, but they’re stranded on a hot, humid, tropical island, people! If there’s not a skinnydipping scene at some point, that’s some fail. Plus, Ryan has said to watch for a sex scene in episode 7 or 8 that’s seriously steamy and every bit as intense as the pilot episode’s mutiny standdown. You’ve been warned.
Premieres Thursday, September 27th at 8 pm on ABC, or watch it now on iTunes, Hulu, Yahoo!, and more.
The Mindy Project
The Men: Chris Messina (The Newsroom), British newcomer Ed Weeks, Ike Barinholtz
The Show: OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri has got it going on professionally, but personally her life’s a mess. She’s a little obsessed with '90s rom-coms, and just wants to find the Tom Hanks to her Meg Ryan, but her dating life’s nothing short of disaster.
The Deal: Imagine Bridget Jones was Indian, addicted to Nora Ephron instead of Austen, and smart enough to be a fairly together OB-GYN and you’ve got this show. Sure, the premise sounds tired and thinner than a supermodel wearing Spanx, but Kaling’s clever charm and sharp, funny writing with a refreshing streak of absurdity makes it work.
The Ship to Watch: With Mindy’s search for love as the forward thrust (pun intended) of the show, expect a parade of promising love interests. In the pilot alone, Mindy has flashbacks to a failed relationship (with SNL’s Bill Hader), a hilariously awful first date (with former The Office costar Ed Helms), and a fallback hookup with a surprise someone. Clearly though, there’s a triangle (is there a show this fall without one?) brewing with two of her fellow doctors, sexy British cad Dr. Jeremy Reed and sharp-tongued frenemy Dr. Danny Castellano. As any good rom-com lover would, bet on her banter-laden exchanges with the latter for the long game.
The Shirtlessness Potential: 60% — The problem with sitcoms is that at 30 minutes, there’s not a lot of time for stripteases. Mindy’s getting plenty of action though, so odds are some of her hookups have to show some skin sooner or later, right?
Premieres Tuesday, September 25th at 9:30 pm on Fox.
Need more? Check out these bonus beefcakes coming to a TV near you: Adam Levine (American Horror Story: Asylum), Justin Hartley (Emily Owens MD), Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary), Zach Gilford (The Mob Doctor), and Dennis Quaid (Vegas).
And for more on this fall's most promising new series, read Tara Gelsomino's Fall TV Turns Up the Heat.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.