September 4, 2009 in Features

Networks offer 10 new shows worth watching

Frazier Moore Associated Press
Fox photo

Carl Weathers, left, and Michael Strahan star in “Brothers.” Fox
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Other fall shows

Among the major networks’ other new series:

•The CW taps into the vampire craze, though anemically, with its high-school soap, “The Vampire Diaries” (premiering Thursday).

•Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno takes his act to 10 p.m. weeknights in his self-titled NBC talk show (Sept. 14).

•The CW’s “The Beautiful Life” is set in the modeling world of New York City, where an Iowa farm boy is discovered while vacationing with his parents (Sept. 16).

•In CBS’ “Accidentally on Purpose,” former “Dharma & Greg” star Jenna Elfman plays a woman who gets pregnant from a one-night stand (Sept. 21).

•CBS’ “NCIS” spawns “NCIS: Los Angeles,” starring Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J as undercover agents fighting crime at the other end of the country (Sept. 22).

•“The Forgotten” is an ABC drama about a team of dedicated amateurs who take up murder cases the police have abandoned (Sept. 22).

•ABC evokes the John Updike novel and 1987 film “The Witches of Eastwick” for its racy new supernatural drama “Eastwick” (Sept. 23).

•Fox’s animated “Cleveland Show” follows “Family Guy’s” Cleveland Brown as he starts a new life in the town where he grew up (Sept. 27).

•Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) stars as a frazzled working mother in ABC’s “The Middle” (Sept. 30).

•Kelsey Grammer (who co-starred with Heaton in the short-lived “Back to You”) is back on ABC’s “Hank” as a corporate boss forced to start over (Sept. 30).

•CBS’ medical drama “Three Rivers” introduces yet another specialty: organ transplants (Oct. 4).

In sizing up the new TV series on tap this fall, it’s worth remembering that a new show usually premieres with its pilot episode, which isn’t always representative of the series that will follow.

The pilot is a prototype, a sales tool whose initial mission is to win a place in the network grid. Then it must introduce the series to viewers in a way that induces them to watch the second episode.

Then and only then can the show find its rhythm and start being a series.

Among the broadcast networks’ new fall series, here are 10 whose debut episodes just might whet your appetite for a second round:

“Melrose Place” (CW, premieres Tuesday): It’s a smart-but-not-too-smart re-imagining of the original 1990s soap, with the apartment digs significantly posher than before.This revival could make a tired old term like “trendy” feel trendy again.

“Glee” (Fox, Wednesday): Maybe you already saw the pitch-perfect pilot, which Fox first aired last spring. The musical comedy about a struggling high school glee club picks up with the second episode – more quirky, tuneful, up-tempo fun.

“Community” (NBC, Sept. 17): Greendale Community College is an ideal backwater for goof balls, schemers and slackers. Sharp writing and a classy ensemble (including Joel McHale, John Oliver and Chevy Chase) earn the very funny pilot an A-plus.

“The Good Wife” (CBS, Sept. 22): Julianna Margulies has never been better as a wife and mother forced to pick up her long-dormant career as an attorney and return to work in a pressure-cooker law firm after her politician hubby, played by Chris Noth, lands in jail.

“Mercy” (NBC, Sept. 23): A skilled, outspoken nurse is back at New Jersey’s Mercy Hospital after a tour in Iraq, with more personal problems than when she left. Taylor Schilling is terrific in the lead role.

“Modern Family” (ABC, Sept. 23): A lively half-hour boasting interlocked tales of three disparate families and a full-to-bursting ensemble (including Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara).

“Cougar Town” (ABC, Sept. 23): Courteney Cox as a woman with cellulite? This comedy about a 40-year-old divorced mom is both riotous and strangely true-to-life in its depiction of obsession with youth. Executive producer/writer Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”) proved long ago he can find the familiar and funny in zaniness.

“FlashForward” (ABC, Sept. 24): It happens to everyone on Earth, including all the characters who populate this eerie thriller: They black out for two minutes, during which they see visions of their future as they might (or might not) live it on a certain day next April.

“Brothers” (Fox, Sept. 25): The premise sounds like a sitcom at its most cliche: Two brothers (played by Michael Strahan and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell) who, in adulthood, squabble like they did when they were boys, living under the same roof as their parents. But it’s fresh, relatable, engaging – and funny.

“Trauma” (NBC, Sept. 28): The first-responder paramedics from San Francisco City Hospital are a trauma team who, in various ways, are themselves traumatized, both on and off the job.

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