Traditionally, I would start with TVGuide's fall preview issue. That was my favorite thing to do. I'd study that magazine until I'd come up with a tentative list of what I'd watch to try. From that i would prioritize based on premiere date and other returning shows that I was devoted to watching.
Now that the internet exists, what I do is a bit different. That being said, I have a traditionalist streak when it comes to my viewing, so I still use the magazine at this time of the year. These are also the steps I take when it isn't fall tv season.
- Discover the name of the show and its genre. Find out what station is carrying it or carried it if streaming, and if it has been on worldwide. (If it is a new show just to you, you can get warned ahead of time.) The station is important for issues like amount of swearing, violence, sex, etc.
- Look into the cast. Is there someone in it you love or are they all unknown?
- Who works behind the scenes? Do you have previous experience with any of them? Do people you speak with do, what else has been said.
- What is the source material? Is it original or based on a book or movie?
- What is the episode count? Is it continuous or a one series story?
- If it is a completed show, find out if it ends with a cliffhanger?
- Look and see if there are any guest stars that are actors you already know. This is one way I discover shows. I find out person X is on show Y and then I must watch it to see how they are doing.
- Read reviews. These can be online or offline.
- Ask people who watch that particular genre what they thought of it. Was this a show that appeals to everyone or just fans who like that kind of show?
- Find out about the fan community. (This may not seem like a big deal, but I like to know if enough people are watching to create one.)
- Look into the themes and cast makeup of the show. This isn't about genre, but POV. If you know what you are watching going in, less likely to find offense.
- Turn it on and hope to enjoy.