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FlashForward (Thursday, Sept. 24): High-concept sci-fi, wherein the entire planet experiences a collective blackout, then awakens with foreknowledge of the future—now what? Fulfill, or avoid? FlashForward could either be the next Lost (there are even a couple of Losties in the cast, Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger), or the next Day Break (’member that?). The Middle (Wednesday, Sept. 30): Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn (Scrubs’ Janitor!) are the Hecks, heads of a middle-class family living in Middle America—get it? Funny stuff, with no damned laugh track to tell you so. Modern Family (Wednesday, Sept. 23): Another single-camera family comedy, this one-shot, Office-docu-style around three couples, including Ed O’Neill (Al Bundy!) and his hot, younger Latina wife (Sofia Vergara). V (Tuesday, Nov. 3): The geeks are abuzz about this, a remake of the ’80s favorite about aliens landing and living amongst us—with a secret, evil agenda! There’s also a touch of District 9-ish inter-species moralizing and a few sci-fi-familiar faces (including Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell and Firefly/Dollhouse’s Alan Tudyk).
Cougar Town (Wednesday, Sept. 23): Courteney Cox is a recently divorced 40-something dealing with the double-standard of older women (desperate “cougars”) vs. older men (silver studs) in the Florida dating world. So, you’re supposed to believe that Cox can’t get a man—tough, until she speaks. Eastwick (Wednesday, Sept. 23): A remake of the 1987 Witches of Eastwick movie that comes off more like Charmed in the Lipstick Jungle, starring Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Paul Gross (Due South!) doing a passable Jack Nicholson. The Forgotten (Tuesday, Sept 22): From the Jerry Bruckheimer crime-show grinder, starring Christian Slater doing a passable Jack Nicholson as the leader of a team taking on unsolved crimes with unidentified victims—it’s Without a Trace of a Cold Case.
Hank (Wednesday, Sept. 23): Kelsey Grammer is a fish-out-of-water with a laugh track. According to Jim, all is forgiven.
CBS Preview Videos
The Good Wife (Tuesday, Sept 22): Julianna Margulies is the wife of a disgraced/dethroned senator (Chris Noth), working to rebuild her family and her old career as a defense attorney. Margulies carries this far better and more sympathetically than she did in the caustic Canterbury’s Law (’member that?), and The Good Wife is smarter than most of the CBS schedule—maybe that’ll work out.
NCIS: Los Angeles (Tuesday, Sept. 22): The original NCIS works entirely because of the snappy chemistry of the ensemble cast; forcing Chris O’Donnell (!) and LL Cool J (!!) into a similar West Coast camaraderie is quite a franchise risk—especially with no Mark Harmon; NCIS carry-over boss Rocky Carroll doesn’t quite cut it. Three Rivers (Sunday, Oct. 4): A medical drama about organ donors, the recipients and the good-lookin’ doctors who facilitate it, starring Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight). Should a vampire really being working in a hospital?
Accidentally on Purpose (Monday, Sept 21): Jenna Elfman stars as an older career woman (well, if newspaper film critic is still considered a “career”) who gets knocked up by a younger fling— now, both the baby and the fling are moving in! Wackiness does not ensue, nor does an obvious abortion joke right about here.
NBC Preview Videos
Community (Thursday, Sept. 17): From the directors of Arrested Development, it’s Parks & Recreation in community college! Sort of. The single-camera show doesn’t rest entirely on Soup host Joel McHale’s narrow shoulders—there’s also Chevy Chase, playing a slightly crankier version of Chevy Chase, which is comedy gold. Community is the perfect fit for NBC’s Must- Awkward Thursdays.
Trauma (Monday, Sept. 28): Finally, a hospital drama without the hospital—Trauma takes place on the streets (and elsewhere) of San Francisco, where all the action and shaky cameras are. Peter Berg’s take on first-responder paramedics is as unique as his vision of high-school sports on Friday Night Lights, but following Heroes’ fantasy with this kind of grit is going to be a hard sell on Mondays.
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The Cleveland Show (Sunday, Sept. 27): Newly single Family Guy neighbor Cleveland leaves Quahog to shack up with his high-school sweetheart Donna and her kids back in his Virginia hometown; Family Guy-esque antics and Arianna Huffington as a talking bear ensue. It’s Seth MacFarlane—you know exactly what you’re getting here.
Brothers (Friday, Sept. 25): Possibly the worst sitcom ever perpetrated without the name Tyler Perry attached to it. Fortunately, since it’s on Fridays, no one will ever suffer through it.
The CW Preview Videos
The Vampire Diaries (Thursday, Sept. 10): Surprisingly, The Vampire Diaries falls on the suck stick between True Blood (the new standard for vamp soaps) and Twilight (the new standard for vamp embarrassment); really, it could have been waaay worse. Witness …
The Beautiful Life (Wednesday, Sept. 16): Being a teen model is hard—especially with the corpse of Mischa Barton lurking around. Melrose Place (Tuesday, Sept. 8): Being a 20-something renter in Los Angeles is hard—especially with the corpse of Laura Leighton lurking around.