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What I'll Be Watching This Fall

With the network upfronts completed and the fall schedules all in order (for now anyway; NBC is rumored to be already looking to move Studio 60 out of its tough timeslot), I decided to sit down and look at what shows I'll be watching this fall.

While I can't guarantee that I'll stick around for more than a few (or even one) episode of many of these series, below are the new and returning shows that have at least piqued my interest. Though as the pilots start making their way to my office, this list could begin to change drastically. (In fact, it already has. Since I started writing this, I watched the pilot for Heroes and, well, let's just say... you should look for my review on Monday.)

9 pm: Heroes (NBC)
Take one part Lost, one part Uncanny X-Men, and two parts Rising Stars and you sort of get the idea behind this serialized drama about ordinary people who suddenly discover they have extraordinary powers. It has an amazing cast, including Milo Ventimiglia, Adrian Pasdar, Greg Grunberg, Ali Larter, and a whole host of others.

9:30 pm: Old Christine (CBS)
I'll TiVo Old Christine to watch at 10 pm. Hands down the best traditional, multi-camera sitcom on the air right now. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is amazing as divorcee and single mom Christine and has finally escaped the legacy of Elaine and Seinfeld. The supporting cast is top-notch and the writing witty and understated. Rarely ever a false note.

8 pm: Standoff (FOX; left)
It's got Ron Livingston and Gina Torres (GINA effing TORRES!) as hostage negotiators. The mere fact that Gina is in it means that I've got to check out the first episode at least. (And let's face it, when it moves to Mondays at 8 in January, there's absolutely nothing else on in that timeslot.)

8 pm: Gilmore Girls (CW)
Despite the fact that this past season was completely sub-par and Amy and Daniel have really left Stars Hollow for good, I'll give Gilmore Girls another chance next season. We've had many good years together and--while this isn't the Gilmore Girls of yesteryear--maybe, just maybe, new showrunner David Rosenthal will surprise me with his take on the brilliant Girls. Maybe.

9 pm: Veronica Mars (CW)
As any longtime reader will know, I have an special soft spot in my heart for whip-smart teenage sleuth Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell). Murder, mayhem, mysteries, and a perky blonde gumshoe: this drama has everything that adds up to the perfect modern-day noir drama. The show is so smart and engaging, you'll scream at the television when each episode ends. Thank you, CW, for giving us another season of Veronica, Logan, Mac, and a whole lot of new mysteries.

9 pm: Kidnapped (NBC)
I've already seen the pilot (click here to read my review) and am I definitely intrigued enough to watch the next few episodes (or at least TiVo them while I watch Veronica Mars). With a top-notch feature film-quality cast (including Jeremy Sisto, Dana Delany, Timothy Hutton, Delroy Lindo, and Linus Roache), taut (if somewhat predictable) pilot, and a serialized storyline that actually makes translates well to the small screen, Kidnapped might just make my TiVo Season Pass list if the second episode builds strongly on the set-up of the pilot.

8 pm: Jericho (CBS; top)
Like last season's now-doomed Invasion, I'm not sure how CBS's Jericho can keep the story going for very long beyond the first season, but then again Lost has managed to keep the plot twists coming over two seasons now and shows no signs of letting up, so maybe CBS is on to something here, in this drama about a small Kansas town after an apocalyptic event leaves the town shocked, isolated, and wondering if anyone else in America is even alive. The series stars Ashley Scott, Skeet Ulrich, and Gerald McRaney. I'll check out the first few episodes of Jericho to see if it piques my interest; it could be a great appetizer before sinking your teeth into Lost.

9 pm: Lost (ABC)
I'm glad that ABC decided not to move my beloved series, but the wait for new episodes in October is going to be an arduous one. (The network decided to hold off and then air Lost in two larger blocks of episodes, with the show taking a break after seven episodes and then returning mid-season for an uninterrupted run until the season finale.) Sit down with your favorite flavor of Dharma Initiative brand potato chips and get lost in this lush and mysterious character-driven sci-fi/action/drama hybrid.

9:30: 30 Rock (NBC; left)
While NBC's similarly-themed Studio 60 may have captured a lot of the buzz, I'm actually looking forward more to Tina Fey's half-hour comedy, 30 Rock, about the backstage shenanigans at a late-night sketch show. The series also stars Alec Baldwin, Tim Meadows, and Rachel Dratch and in a nifty bit of corporate synergy the show-within-a-show's sketches (of which the audience will only see a few seconds) will be shown in their entirety on NBC's relaunched website group. And while 30 Rock might be on opposite Lost, it just means that my beloved TiVo will get a workout.

8 pm: My Name is Earl/The Office (NBC)
NBC has moved My Name is Earl and The Office, easily the best hour of comedic television, an hour earlier to an 8 pm timeslot and they might have well just used a carrot on a string to get me to follow. My Name is Earl returns in the fall with a new batch of mishaps as Earl, aided by lovable mug Randy, toxic-yet-hilarious Joy, goofy-but-profound Darnell, and hot-as-hell motel maid Catalina, tries to make up for all of the bad things he did before he discovered karma. Meanwhile over on The Office, what will the fallout be from Jim and Pam's kiss in the season finale? Will uptight Dwight ever get a clue? And will boss Michael Scott ever get the girl?

9 pm: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. (NBC)
Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme return to TV with this dramedy set behind-the-scenes at a late night sketch show that sounds suspiciously like Saturday Night Live. The top-notch cast includes Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Bradley Whitford, Steven Weber, D.L. Hughley, Sarah Paulson, Evan Handler, and Timothy Busfield. While the buzz has been mixed (people either seem to love it or hate it), I'll check it out, even if only because it's on right after Earl and The Office. (Though as of yesterday already, NBC was considering shifting Studio 60 to another, less competitive timeslot.)

10 pm: Six Degrees (ABC; upper left)
This hour-long drama from producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias, Felicity, and, uh, Mission Impossible 3)'s Bad Robot production company follows the intersecting lives of six New Yorkers, who go about their days unaware of the impacts their movements are having on others around them. Is coincidence bringing these strangers together, or is it fate? Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Jay Hernandez, Erika Christensen, Bridget Moynahan, and Dorian Missick star. Let's just hope it's better than Bad Robot's last television foray, What About Brian...

7 pm: Everybody Hates Chris (CW)
While Chris might claim that everybody hates him, I adore this imaginative and hilarious 1980s-set family comedy. The premise is winning, the writing smart and funny, and the actors--yes, every single member of the cast (a rarity in a sitcom)--are pitch perfect and brilliant. I just wish that the CW would have done Chris a favor and put the show on during normal primetime hours. We don't want him to think that his very own network hates him, now do we?

8 pm: The Amazing Race (CBS)
The single best reality series on television. Host Phil Keoghan returns for another season of bickering, road blocks, and language barriers in a race around the world for a million dollar prize. I'll be tuning into the series in its new family-friendly timeslot, which is a definite improvement over the Tuesdays at 10 pm slot of earlier this season.

10 pm: Brothers & Sisters (ABC; above left)
I was a little concerned about the advance buzz going into the upfronts that series lead Calista Flockhart tested poorly, but I'll be getting the pilot soon enough to find out for myself. I'm intrigued by this multi-generational family drama for its interconnected plotlines, family dynamics, and more importantly its stellar cast, consisting of Flockhart, Balthazar Getty, Rachel Griffiths, Ron Rifkin, Betty Buckley, and Patricia Wettig (among others). The post-Desperate Housewives timeslot (vacated by Grey's Anatomy) should give this new drama a huge level of visibility. Let's just hope that the plotlines aren't as contrived or zany as Desperate's... and that there's no one locked in the family's basement.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: A Dr. Phil Primetime Special: Escaping Danger (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Bend It Like Beckham (WB; 8-10 pm); America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC; 8-10 pm); X2: X-Men United (FOX; 8-10 pm); MLB Baseball (UPN)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Conviction (NBC; 9-11 pm); 20/20 (ABC)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9 pm: Doctor Who on Sci-Fi.

On this week's installment of Doctor Who ("Boom Town"), Rose and the Doctor encounters an enemy from the Doctor's past when they attempt to take a vacation. Meanwhile, the Welsh city of Cardiff is home to an alien plot to build a nuclear power plant. Only two episodes of this season remain after this one and I for one am seriously going to miss both Doctor Who and Christopher Eccleston.

10 pm: The Thick of It on BBC America.

The American premiere of the British political series that the Los Angeles Times dubbed "The West Wing meets The Office." In tonight's episode, the newly-minted Minister for Social Affairs feels overworked.


Anonymous said…
You're not watching the Dr Phil special? ;)

That looks similar to my viewing thoughts. At least, pre-pilot viewing. That Six Degrees cast is SO good.
Anonymous said…
Looks fairly similar to my assessment.

One error I noticed though was that in the fall Standoff is actually on Tuesdays at the same time as Gilmore Girls, not on Mondays. Further, it is on Fox not NBC.

The one show you did not list that I am intersted in seeing is The Nine on ABC after Lost. The cast sounds promising with an intersting premise. I wonder how they will keep the show moving forward though. I think this may end up being a little like Lost where we keep having "flash backs". I also suspect it will be revealed at some point that at least one of "The Nine" was in on the robbery before it happened.
Anonymous said…
Looks like there might be a few promising new shows and some good ones returning too. Thanks for the run down!
Anonymous said…
How geeky is it that I make up an Excel sheet of the network grid and block out my viewing schedule?
Anonymous said…
Oops. The url got cut off.

Here's my TV viewing grid.

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