Saving the human race is the subject of a couple new 13-episode series debuting this week, along with some lighter fare courtesy of two new NBC comedies.
“FINDING CARTER” (9 p.m. Tuesday, MTV): The network’s latest addition to its scripted series arsenal is a coming-of-age tale with a cool twist: A teenage girl, Carter (Kathryn Prescott, “Skins”) discovers that the woman she thought was her mom abducted her at age 3. She’s forced to leave the life she loved and return to a family she didn’t know she had. You may not be able to relate to the mind-bending premise, but the on-point writing and performances make this a worthwhile drama for the whole family. Rating: 3 stars
“EXTANT” (8 p.m. Wednesday, WBBM-Channel 2): A human species-threatening, sci-fi mystery set in the future isn’t an easy sell for broadcast TV, even with Steven Spielberg’s name attached to it (R.I.P. “Terra Nova”). But CBS is hoping for another “Under the Dome” success story with this big-budget, 13-episode summer series starring Halle Berry as an astronaut who returns from outer space with a history-changing souvenir. Much of the drama orbits around her personal relationships, including the strained connection she has with her battery-operated robotic son. The mostly intriguing premiere raises many questions, not least of which is: Will the story be too out there for a mainstream audience? Rating: 2.5 stars
“WELCOME TO SWEDEN” AND “WORKING THE ENGELS” (8 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, WMAQ-Channel 5): NBC is rolling out a pair of new comedies, the first from Amy Poehler’s brother, Greg, the series’ writer and star. It’s based on Greg’s real-life experience of moving to Sweden for his girlfriend, now wife. This pleasant enough rom-com would be better if it relied less on predictable sex jokes and focused more on the fish-out-of-water angle that will ring true to anyone who’s lived abroad. With big sis on board as executive producer, the Stockholm-shot show boasts great guest stars, including Will Ferrell, Gene Simmons and the “Parks and Rec” protagonist herself. Rating: 2.5 stars “Working the Engels” is a decent little sitcom made more appealing by its likeable cast. Kacey Rohl plays a responsible young lawyer having to hold the family together personally and professionally after Dad dies and leaves the clan $200,000 — in debt. “SCTV” vet Andrea Martin charms as the chardonnay-swilling matriarch of this dysfunctional crew. Rating: 2.5 stars
“THE STRAIN” (9 p.m. Sunday, FX): Beneath the hamminess and questionable mythology lurks a terrifying tale about a viral outbreak linked to vampirism. These aren’t your ordinary TV vampires. For one thing, they’re not hot. “Lost’s” Carlton Cuse serves as showrunner in this gory fright fest based on a trilogy of books co-authored by horror master Guillermo del Toro, whose bloody fingerprints are all over the pilot. Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) anchors the series as a workaholic government epidemiologist sacrificing his personal life for the greater good of humanity, while David Bradley (“Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones”) is an ideal foil to the chilling henchman played by Richard Sammel (“Inglorious Basterds”). Weak-stomached watchers beware. The carnage on this series makes “The Walking Dead” look like a Rick Steves travel show. Rating: 3 stars