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Fall TV preview: The Flash, Madam Secretary, Black-ish and more

"The Flash" premieres on CW October 7.

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While it doesn't feel like summer is over, fall officially starts next week and that means the new TV season is getting under way. 

Brian Lowry, TV critic for Variety, says that while this isn't a great fall for new shows, "The Flash" (CW, Oct. 4) will be one to look out for.

"This is fun, and if they can maintain the level of special effects...I think this could have a real chance of being a success for the CW," Lowry says.

"The Flash" isn't the only new show based on a comic book character this season. "Gotham" (Fox, Sept. 22) is a "Batman" prequel, starring Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon. 

"Gotham" has already won some advance praise — the Television Critic's Association has declared it the year's most promising new show. Lowry says it's "a very gritty, dark, beautifully made pilot."

But, it may not play so well with die-hard comic book fans because "none of the characters that you know from the 'Batman' mythology can be those characters during the show, so you're going to have to buy into it as a straight cop detective show."

Then there are a couple of shows that seem to have similar stories: Katherine Heigl as a CIA analyst and Alfre Woodard as the president in "State of Affairs" (NBC, Nov. 17) and Tea Leoni playing the secretary of state in "Madam Secretary" (CBS, Sept. 21).

Lowry says there isn't much to distinguish "State of Affairs" and "Madam Secretary" from one another.

"The fact that they developed two shows that were so similar, there's a little bit of the Hillary Clinton factor, there's a little bit of 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and so it shows what was in the zeitgeist coming into the development season," Lowry says.

And ABC is one network that people will be paying attention to because of their very diverse line-up of shows: "Cristela" (Oct. 10), "Fresh Off the Boat," and "Blackish" (Sept. 24).

But whether the shows will be successful remains to be seen, Lowry says.

"The problem that's happened at times with that in the past is that networks have paid lip service to [diversity], and then haven't done it," Lowry says. "Or, they've done it and the show fails, as most shows do, and they get skittish and they back away from it... I think everybody's going to be watching very closely to see if any of these shows get any traction."