Tuesday, Sept. 7 (FX)
Season Premiere: Back in the first season, The Only TV Column That Matters™ had only one criticism of Sons of Anarchy: Jax (Charlie Hunnam) seemed a little soft to be the heir apparent to SAMCRO leadership. Last season, Jax (and Hunnam) proved himself—but now that he’s immobilized in a funk over his child being kidnapped and taken out of the country with no trace, his ability to lead is in question by his own crew. Meanwhile, Gemma (Katey Sagal) is on the lam after being framed for murder by FBI agent Stahl (Ally Walker), and the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original—in case you needed a refresher on the SAMCRO acronym—is left with no clear next move. Oh, and The Crystal Method wrecked The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” for the Season 3 promos—obviously, it should have been “Riders on the Storm.”
This season, the SOA chaos goes international (who knew they had an Irish chapter?), leaving the relatively comfy confines of Charming, Calif., and facing the possibility of having to play by someone else’s rules—not that they will, of course, but it’s a drama-laden setup nonetheless. Back home, Hal Holbrook appears in a guest arc as Gemma’s debilitated father, and a genius bit of walk-on stunt-casting happens in Episode 3 (no, not gonna spoil it here), but one of the more interesting continual developments of the series is Jax’s “old lady” Tara’s (Maggie Siff) further immersion into the biker lifestyle she’d previously rejected. Sons of Anarchy isn’t just “The Sopranos on Harleys” anymore; it’s (violently) weaving its own mythology.
Wednesday, Sept. 8 (The CW)
Season Premiere: What’s the gimmick this year? Short models? Plus-size? Trannys? Going by the advance photos of Season 15’s(!) contestants, it’s certainly not “pretty.” This could be the oddest-looking batch of swizzle sticks that Tyra Banks has assembled yet—what hath Lady Gaga wrought?
Wednesday, Sept. 8 (The CW)
Series Debut: The first new series to debut in the 2010-11 season … had to be this, huh? From The CW: “Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka), a young, pre-law student at Lancer University in Memphis, Tenn. Marti is cool, hip and alt, but her world flips upside down, literally and figuratively, when she loses her scholarship and realizes the only way she can stay in school is by reigniting her dormant teen gymnastic skills to win a place on Lancer’s legendary cheerleading team, The Hellcats.” As per The CW’s female young-adult requirements, said Hellcats are complete bitches who dance like strippers and harbor their own dark-ish secrets (like, maybe they’re strippers or—gasp!—29). Prediction: Deadcats by October.
Wednesday, Sept. 8 (FX)
Series Debut: TV-wise, Donal Logue is good in anything—even sitcoms like Grounded for Life (which lasted for years, despite lameness) and The Knights of Prosperity (which lasted about five minutes, despite potential and Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara). Terriers—which is not about dogs, by the way—might finally be the right TV vehicle for him: Ex-cop Hank Dolworth (Logue) runs a low-rent, semi-licensed private-detective operation with his bud (Michael Raymond-James, True Blood) in Ocean Park, Calif., pining for his ex-wife and generally avoiding adult responsibility. But when a chump-change case leads to a larger political scandal and bodies start piling up, the pair are in over their heads—and the ex-cop in Hank can’t let go once he has a taste. The Shield’s Shawn Ryan exec-produces Terriers, but with a funnier and lighter touch that seasons just the right amount of grit over the sunny SoCal setting. Watch it so Logue doesn’t have to go back to sitcoms.