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What I'm Watching This Fall

Ah, autumn. With it comes the end of horrific LA heatwaves, comfy sweaters, and the advent of the fall season, with its new series and returning favorites? Is there really any better time of year?

It's with that thought that I take a look at what I'll be watching this fall. While I can't guarantee that I'll stick around for more than a few (or even one additional) episode of many of these series, below are the new and returning shows that have at least piqued my interest, based on their pilots.

monday

8 pm: Chuck (NBC).

I'll say it now. I'm already in love with Chuck. If they can keep up the winning combination of humor and action that the pilot had in spades, this will be one of my favorite new series (and may make the hurt of Veronica Mars' cancellation sting a little less). While I've already reviewed the pilot episode at considerable length, I will say this: Chuck will make the rush home from work on Mondays even sweeter. When was the last time you felt that way about an 8 pm series?

8 pm: Everybody Hates Chris/Aliens in America (CW).

To be honest, I wasn't all that taken with the original pilot for Aliens in America, but I'll give the series a second shot, especially paired with Everybody Hates Chris. Either the concept will be cloying and smarmy by episode 2, or the series' producers will find a tone that both touching and trenchant. Plus, we'll get to see if Gilmore Girls' Scott Patterson can make the jump from quirky one-hour drama to single-cam comedy.

9:30 pm: Samantha Who? (ABC).

It's quirky, it's female-led, but it's not 30 Rock. So what comedy am I taking about? Samantha Who, natch. It features Christina Applegate's return to network television, a fantastic cast of talented actors (among them Jean Smart, Jennifer Esposito, Barry Watson, and Melissa McCarthy), and a novel premise: if you had amnesia and had forgotten the truly heinous human being you had been, would you change and become a better person? Or would you go back to your old ways? It's an interesting conceit for a character-driven comedy and one that I hope lives up to its potential. Besides, what other series had more title changes than this one? Let's hope Samantha Who? sticks.

10 pm: Journeyman (NBC).

Take an actor from one of my favorite big-budget sweeping epic dramas (Kevin McKidd of HBO's Rome), add a love triangle to the mix that features Moon Bloodgood and Gretchen Egolf, and a time traveling premise that involves no time machine. But lest you think that Journeyman is a stale retread of Quantum Leap, think again: it's actually a thought-provoking drama about the nature of free will vs. fate as it applies to our own pasts. Can McKidd's Dan choose his wife and child over the lover he lost in a plane crash all those years ago? Find out this fall.

tuesday

8 pm: Beauty and the Geek (CW).

Yes, I'm a sucker for this reality series--sorry, social experiment--which returns to the CW this fall with a twist: contestants will this time welcome one hunky guy and one geeky girl to the mix. Will it impact the game? Or influence any potential relationships among the players? Methinks we already know the answer to that question.

9 pm: Reaper (CW).

I'll be honest: I didn't really care for the pilot for CW's demonic dramedy at all, but I am willing to check out the second episode if only because there's nothing else worth watching at this time and because, even after all these years, Twin Peaks' Ray Wise still scares the hell out of me.

10 pm: Cane (CBS).

Looking for a rich, morally complex nighttime soap that's not afraid to push its characters to commit unspeakable acts in the pilot episode alone? CBS has brought us the sumptuous drama Cane which fulfills just that promise. Watch as Jimmy Smitts leads an all-star cast as they attempt to achieve the American dream any way they can.

10 pm: Damages (FX).

Did you really think I'd forget that my current drama obsession is still airing new episodes this fall just because the new season was starting? (Just how fickle do you think I am?) Watch as this taut gem of a thriller/mystery comes to a close this fall. You'll be missing Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, and all the others in no time.

wednesday

8 pm: Pushing Daisies (ABC).

If there's one single series that excites me above all others, it's Pushing Daisies. I've been extolling the joys of this imaginative and inventive series (from Dead Like Me creator Bryan Fuller) since before the network upfronts in May. Yes, it's about a man--a pie maker, no less, who can bring people back from the dead with a single touch, but it's more than that. It's a "forensic fairy tale," a doomed romance, a quirky drama, a weekly murder mystery whodunit, and probably the most bizarre and well-written television series currently on the air. What more could you ask for, really?

8 pm: America's Next Top Model (CW).

Yes, I'm sure to get some flak for this one, but I can't help but get sucked into the drama, catfighting, and backstabbing that accompany this CW stalwart.

9 pm: Bionic Woman (NBC).

Yes, it's dark and dour, but I have faith in executive producer/showrunner David Eick (Battlestar Galactica) and I really do like series lead Michelle Ryan (even if I do feel NBC is downplaying her looks a little too much). On the con side: the casting of Isaiah Washington (ick) and the fact that Glen Morgan has left the series before its launch. On the pro side: it's from one of the producers of BSG who has a proven track record with reinventing old sci fi concepts and it's got Katee Sackhoff as a villanous rogue bionic woman. Decisions, decisions.

9 pm: Gossip Girl (CW).

If you're looking for a dark teen soap with a completely different mindset than the sunny atmospherics on The OC and more money than Midas, you've come to the right place. Gossip Girl might come from executive producer Josh Schwartz and feature rich, well-dressed teens, but the similarities end right there. (Bonus point: it features yet another Chuck, along with Pushing Daisies, and, well, Chuck.)

10 pm: Dirty Sexy Money.

Looking for a primer on how not to make a compelling pilot? Take a look at the original cut of Dirty Sexy Money's pilot. And yet, the series' producers were able to turn it around completely with a revised, re-edited, and reconfigured pilot that lived up to the script's original premise. It's a twisted soap about one of the meanest and most selfish wealthy families in Manhattan and the poor family lawyer (Peter Krause) assigned to deal with them on a daily basis. This could be the dramatic version of Arrested Development that I've been waiting for. Only time will tell.

10 pm: Top Chef & Project Runway (Bravo).

Top Chef continues on Bravo as we inch ever closer to a final cook-off between the final two chefs, while Project Runway--if Bravo can ever get their act together and announce a launch date, that is--returns with a fourth season of catwalks and catfights.

thursday

8 pm: Ugly Betty (ABC).

After the disastrous season finale, I'm tempted to walk away from Ugly Betty, but I'll check out its second season, just as long as it doesn't veer into melodrama again. I like Betty because it's fun and occasionally witty, and because it peppers its over-the-top soap acrobatics with some incisive comedy. Desperate Housewives for the Marc Jacobs set I do not need this to be.

8:30 pm: 30 Rock (NBC).

I'm desperate for the return of NBC's smart, hilarious comedy 30 Rock after a summer of withdrawal. Inside jokes, running subplots, and the most absurd humor around, 30 Rock has got it all, plus crackling writing, hilarious (and underplayed) random guest stars, and Tina Fey. (Did I mention Tina Fey?) The start of its second season can't come quickly enough for me.

9 pm: The Office (NBC).

The gang at Dunder-Mifflin return for a fourth season of office-bound hijinx. I've been extremely outspoken about my wish list for the comedy's fourth season and my concerns about launching Season Four with four one-hour episodes, but that said, I still can't wait to catch up with these paper pushers.

10 pm: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX).

The wacky comedy returns this fall with a third season of inventive, mind-boggling plots, hosting a cornucopia of dumpster babies, party mansions, and hostage negotiations.

10 pm: Tim Gunn's Guide to Style (Bravo).

At least until Tim Gunn returns to guide some new fashion designers with Project Runway Season Four.

friday

8 pm: Doctor Who (Sci Fi).

The venerable British sci fi drama Doctor Who continues its brilliant third season over on Sci Fi, with a new companion for the Doctor, new villains, and new adventures.

saturday

9 pm: Torchwood (BBC America).

Sure, you're going to be out, but why not set the TiVo to record Torchwood, the out-there Doctor Who spinoff starring a time-traveling bisexual Time Agent, a Welsh copper, and the wackiest bunch of scientists this side of Bones? You'll thank me on Monday.

sunday

pm: Dexter (Showtime).

I never thought I'd be captivated completely by a series about a serial killer and yet I can't get enough of Showtime's killer drama, which returns this fall with its second season. Lock the doors and watch it with the lights on.

10 pm: Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO).

It seems like it's been years (almost two, really) since we last caught up with Larry and Cheryl, but Curb has launched a new season just in time for the fall season and if the premiere is any indication, the series' trademark bite is still very much intact.

And there you have it: what I'll be watching this fall. What did I leave off and what will you be watching this fall?

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Thank God You're Here (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/Everybody Hates Chris (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Prison Break (FOX)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/Rules of Engagement (CBS); Heroes (NBC); Girlfriends/The Game (CW); Fat March (ABC); Prison Break (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Supernanny (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

10 pm: Weeds on Showtime.

The third season of Showtime's acclaimed comedy, Weeds continues. On tonight's episode ("Bill Sussman"), Andy goes into hiding after going AWOL, the city council decides to work with Sullivan (Matthew Modine), who asks Nancy to hold a cocktail party, and Shane attends summer school in Majestic.

10 pm: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on Travel Channel.

The third season of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations continues as Tony Bourdain travels to Argentina, making stops in Buenos Aires and Patagonia.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Well, I will be watching quite a bit more than you, though not all the ones you have listed here (so - maybe it balances out?). As far as new shows, I definitely was more taken w/Aliens in America and definitely a lot less take w/Samantha Who, as I don't even plan on watching a second ep.

I will give Chuck a 2nd ep, though also not as taken as you. I haven't decided on Reaper, yet. The Ray Wise of it all makes it very appealing, but I think I may only have room for one slacker-has-something-crazy-happen-to-him drama.

I am giving a resounding no to Bionic, though I already wonder if it will be my heroes of the season (hated the pilot, watched as it became a phenomenon, caught up on DVD).

Definitely giving Life a 2nd shot. VERY happy about the DSM revamp.

Most looking forward to ep 2 of Cane and, of course, Daisies.

And I am SO excited about Dexter coming back!!

But I'd have to add a lot to this list (DH, Brothers & Sisters, Grey's, Survivor, Prison Break, How I Met Your Mother, FNL, etc)
Anonymous said…
Maybe I am off base on this one, but I have heard the same comments from other people, Pushing Daises may be in trouble.

With the relationship between Ned and Chuck being such an important part of the story the chemistry should be through the roof, unfortuantely the actual chemistry between them is rather flat.

Something needs to change on that front in a hurry if Pushing Daises is to have a serious chance.

In terms of other new shows, Life and Lipstick Jungle seem to have hit a good mark to start with.

Reaper has the "hot guy factor" working against it meaning the young female audience will tune out due to the lack of a hot male lead. There is also little else for anyone else.

Cane and Dirty Sexy Money seem like throw backs the grand old soaps of the 80s. I am not sure there is a market for that.

Of the other stuff with a fall start the only one I have yet to mention that I see staying around for a second season is Chuck. I suspect it will be moving timeslots though before the season is out.
Vance said…
Really, I found the chemistry between Lee Pace and Anna Friel to be quite sweet and toasty. Unless it starts sucking after the pilot?

I didn't love Dirty Sexy Money but now I wonder which version I have (the CDN network gave this one out). Didn't realise it was recut.
Anonymous said…
I don't know what the CW is thinking with "Reaper". The script was unremarkable. Boring, really, until the devil shows up, and that's pretty late in the game. Wise is great, but I suspect his casting is a stunt to get us to tune in to a show that's beneath our notice.

Remember when the WB gave writers with distinctive voices a chance to create television shows and we all got to watch?

*sigh* I miss Suzanne Daniels...

--SD
The CineManiac said…
While I’m down with most of the shows on Mondays I notice two glaring exception from my schedule: Heroes (which I know you're not a fan of) and How I Met Your Mother which is quite simply and consistently the funniest show on television (yes even funnier than The Office) so it takes the place of Chris on my Mondays.
As for Reaper, I saw the first cut Saturday at a CW event where they screened their pilots, and I really enjoyed it. I think it can be really fun, or really dumb, but I'm pulling for fun. (My only question was why they screened the old versions of Reaper and Aliens in America, when they've recast parts and are running ads with scenes from the new versions)
All in All, I can't wait for this season to start.
DAVID BISHOP said…
Sorry, can't see what the buzz is about on Reaper. Thought the premise of Chuck sucked, until I watched the pilot - great show! Make Reaper look like a Rob Schneider movie.

With you on Pushing Daisies - but no FNL on the Televisionary list?
rockauteur said…
I agree with some of your choices, but I have to say I am surprised that you would actually watch Samantha Be Good and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. The former of which is hopefully good, I think Christina Applegate is an affable sweetheart who I wish had a hit show, but the latter? Tim Gunn's Guide to Sleep is more like it.
I have to agree with Vance about the "sweet and toasty" chemistry in Pushing Daisies. I love the two of them together.

I was really, really annoyed by Reaper and couldn't believe that Entertainment Weekly had it as one of their top picks for the upcoming season. Ray Wise is fantastically creepy, as always, but even his performance is not enough to make me tune in to this show.

Definitely looking forward to Chuck. I liked the pilot a lot more than I thought I would. And I'm also looking forward to seeing the new version of the Dirty Sexy Money pilot since the original one was pretty bad. And I think that and Gossip Girl could be my guilty pleasures of the season.
rockauteur said…
Also... while I am SUPER EXCITED for Chuck - that pilot was awesome (even if they cut out the cute neighbor storyline from the script) - you did raise a question about when there was another series that someone might race home from work at 8 pm on a Monday to watch... There is one show, that is going into its third season: PRISON BREAK!!! One of the most inventive, pulse-challenging shows on the air currently, way better than 24 was this past season. You gotta give that show a chance, even if against Chuck. What does everyone else think?
Anonymous said…
I so agree w/Danielle re: EW/Reaper.

But also in the "what were they thinking" department, "Back to You" is one of their EW picks, but not PD?

BTY was such a generic, old-fashioned sitcom. It's not bad, but a standout? Not by any stretch.
Anonymous said…
Completely agree with Ally & Danielle about Entertainment Weekly's choices. I find it crazy that they would pick Reaper, Aliens in America & BTY as their picks but leave Pushing Daisies off of their list, saying that people on staff either loved it or hated it. People on this site have said it before but I wish you were writing for EW and could show them what good television is.
Anonymous said…
PS for CoryB. Completely disagree with you about Anna Friel and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies. No one I have spoken to who has seen it feels that way. The chemistry between them was palpably sweet and really tender. I haven't heard anything to suggest that the show is in trouble because of their chemistry.
Unknown said…
Don't forget that you can watch Torchwood in HD on HDNet starting Monday, September 17th.
Anonymous said…
I would definitely have to add FNL to this list. I'm torn about whether Heroes will be able to deliver in its 2nd season.
The CineManiac said…
Justin,
I have to say that How I Met Your Mother is the show I rush home to Monday Nights (And now it's moved to the 8pm slot I guess it qualifies)

Owen,
I think since Heroes has decided to split the season into more than one arc it will be able to deliver. Plus they did the only thing that could make the show better by adding Kristen Bell!
Unknown said…
I can't believe no one has mentioned Mad Men. The writing of the show is stellar. It has become our favorite drama since The Sopranos went off the air, and with Lost on hiatus. I'm also very excited about the return of Friday Night Lights.
The CineManiac said…
I'm not watching Mad Men, but I have to say I"m tempted to purchase FNL season 1. It's less than $20 (which is amazing, when was the last time a new, full 22 episode season of a show was this cheap) plus it has a money back guarantee. Not a bad deal.

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