Romance blooms in the strangest places. And television’s most inspiring couple may not be a man and wife, or lovers at all, but an unlikely pairing of lawyers on “Just Legal” (9 p.m., WB), producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s nod to Frank Capra.
Jay Baruchel (“Undeclared,” “Million Dollar Baby”) stars as David “Skip” Ross, a brilliant teen who earned his nickname by skipping so many grades. Despite having graduated at the top of his law school class at 19, Skip finds that no law firms want a baby-faced barrister.
Reduced to his old job as a caddy, he falls in with disreputable lawyer and part-time golf hustler Grant Cooper (Don Johnson), who seizes the opportunity to let Skip handle his legal paperwork and other courtroom drudgery.
But this being television, Skip does much, much more, including rekindling Grant’s old passion for truth, justice and the American way. Is it corny? Contrived? Unbelievable? Guilty on all counts.
But “Just Legal” operates on the simple premise that if there is anything more romantic than idealism in the young, it’s the renewed passion of an old battler dusting off his gloves to return to the good fight.
Unadulterated romance also looms large on “How I Met Your Mother” (8:30 p.m., CBS), a sitcom told as a series of flashbacks to the present from the vantage point of the year 2030. (Gee, “Jack & Bobby” sure started a confusing narrative trend.)
Ted (Josh Radnor) tells his kids just how he found love and romance way back in 2005. The ensemble comedy includes Jason Segel (“Freaks and Geeks”) and Alyson Hannigan (“Buffy”) as Ted’s just-engaged friends. Fired up by their commitment, Ted plunges into a hunt for “the one.”
Neil Patrick Harris has fun as his commitment-phobic pal, a would-be swinger who seems to spend a lot of Saturday nights playing laser tag.
The new supernatural mystery “Surface” (8 p.m., NBC) may remind viewers of the new CBS series “Threshold.” Both begin with a spooky phenomenon at sea, and both sport enigmatic titles that can mean everything, or nothing.
But while “Threshold” features a stellar cast, “Surface” relies on expensive production values and a spanning-the-globe narrative to distract us from its absence of interesting characters.
While this isn’t “Sea-T, the Extraterrestrial,” or “Close Encounters of the Damp Kind,” it’s a well-made thriller that should keep loyal viewers guessing. The trick is attracting an audience with a story that is, literally, all over the place.
Chef Anthony Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential” is a terrific read. A “Confessions of St. Augustine” for the late-20th-century gourmand, it recounts his years in New York’s culinary underbelly and his frequent battles with drug addiction and unemployment.
Unfortunately, the edge, wit and brutal frankness of Bourdain’s book are nowhere to be found in the new sitcom “Kitchen Confidential” (8:30 p.m., Fox). This “Confidential” is not terrible, but it’s dreadfully unworthy of the source material. Stick to the book.
The New Orleans Saints play a “home game” against the New York Giants in New Jersey’s meadowlands (6 p.m., ESPN).
A road trip to Reno on the third-season opener of “Arrested Development” (8 p.m., Fox).
“Will & Grace: Backstage Pass” (8 p.m., Lifetime) salutes the long-running sitcom.
Warden Pope is compromised on “Prison Break” (9 p.m., Fox).
Ed tries to put the casino back in order on the third-season opener of “Las Vegas” (9 p.m., NBC).
The Cowboys host the Redskins on “Monday Night Football” (6 p.m., ABC).
Christopher Gorham, Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler star in “Out of Practice” (9:30 p.m., CBS), a new comedy about a dysfunctional family of medical professionals.
The mob makes the most of Horatio’s secret on the fourth-season premiere of “CSI: Miami” (10 p.m., CBS).
Visions of a serial killer on the second-season premiere of “Medium” (10 p.m., NBC).
John Travolta returns to the dance floor in the 1983 musical “Staying Alive” (8 p.m., AMC), directed by Sylvester Stallone.
(Note: All are season premieres.)
An argument recorded for posterity on “The King of Queens” (8 p.m., CBS) … A post-graduation trip on “One on One” (8 p.m., UPN … Eric keeps Mary’s divorce from his parents on “7th Heaven” (8 p.m., WB) … The fire this time on “All of Us” (8:30 p.m., UPN) … Charlie pitches in on “Two and a Half Men” (9 p.m., CBS) … Darnell changes his mind on “Girlfriends” (9 p.m., UPN) … Mona can’t decide on “Half & Half” (9:30 p.m., UPN).
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