A season of hits and misses

Looking for something new to watch or simply excited about your old favorites returning for the season? Here’s your guide to everything on TV this fall. Last year’s writers’ strike yielded a small number of new series this season and an even smaller amount of actually decent pilots. Networks are relying on old favorites like Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives to pull them through the season. Tired of watching I Survived a Japanese Game Show? Maybe not, but perhaps you should try watching something that does not dull your mind as much.


Premiered: Sept. 2
Airs: Tuesdays, 8 p.m., CW
About: I’m from Kansas. Now I’m in Beverly Hills. I’m going to be a bumbling idiot all around this school and make lots of token ’90s mistakes related to sex, drugs, and alcohol as I try to fit in with a bunch of rich kids. Oh look! There’s an adult from the real Beverly Hills 90210 with problems as dramatic as the ones I have. Let’s all suffer through drama, drama, drama together, exactly the same as the ’90s!
Recommendation: Boo, you whore. If I wanted to watch the exact same storylines that happened in every single ’90s show, I would watch a show from the ’90s, because Dawson’s Creek, Beverly Hills, and even Clueless were infinitely less painful than this. Take a hint from Gossip Girl and learn some original stuff, without the soap opera-level acting. I say (and really, really hope) you’re off the air within a year.

Premiered: Sept. 9
Airs: Tuesdays, 9 p.m., FOX
About: From J.J. Abrams (the creator of Lost, Alias) comes another drama that begins with — gasp! — a plane! Despite what may seem like an incredible similarity to Lost, Fringe has nothing to do with mysterious moving islands or polar bears (yet), although the soundtracks and even an actor or two are the same. No, this plane lands on autopilot in Boston, with all the passengers dead and horrifically decomposed. FBI special agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) brings in the brilliant but crazy scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his not-so-loving son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to help with the case. They deal in pseudo-science, or “fringe” science, including genetic mutations and talking to the dead. Recommendation: It’s rumored to be the new version of The X-Files, but Abrams style (which means you’ll never know what’s going to happen next), and also probably one of the best new shows out there this season. Unfortunately, it also seems close to Eleventh Hour, another science-fiction drama that deals in solving scientifically sophisticated crimes. Torv also plays an annoying Dunham, but the supporting characters and plot are so much better that it’s easy to ignore her ridiculous acting. It’s still an intriguing, on-the-edge-of-your-seat television show likely to stay around for a bit.

Worst Week
Premieres: Sept. 22
Airs: Mondays, 9:30 p.m., CBS
About: Sam Briggs (Kyle Bornheimer) is desperately trying to impress his girlfriend Melanie’s protective parents, but failing miserably. Before spilling the beans that she’s pregnant and they’re getting married, Sam wants to get on their good side (or at least be recognized as more than just Melanie’s “friend”). Sadly, every attempt Sam tries to make to bond with her parents tends to end in disaster (and a plastic green diaper). Melanie’s family is a straight-laced, conservative, all-American family, and they are definitely not taking to Sam’s mistakes.
Recommendation: The latest addition to CBS’ so far stellar Monday night comedy block, Worst Week seems to be, well, the worst. Can we say a really bad and cheesy version of Meet the Parents? The show may have some merit and a couple of good laughs in the works, but is just too “watch me be an idiot and do stupid things” un-funny to be remarkable.

The Mentalist
Premieres: Sept. 23
Airs: Tuesdays, 9 p.m., CBS
About: Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) is an independent consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation and goes around solving crimes with his amazing powers of observation. He used to pass himself off as a psychic, but his more serious life now involves him in high-profile police cases where he has renounced his psychic abilities (but not his bold, rule-breaking, cheeky ways).
Recommendation: At first glance, this show may seem like a dramatic rip-off of USA’s Psych, which it may be. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good show. With a little humor, an interesting ensemble cast, and a very likable main character, The Mentalist could prove to be a pretty decent show.

Premieres: Oct. 17
Airs: Fridays, 8 p.m., NBC
About: Based on Daniel Defoe’s classic book Robinson Crusoe, the show focuses on an 18th-century man who is shipwrecked on an island for 28 years. Completely separated from the society he once knew and his true love, Crusoe (Philip Winchester) befriends Friday, a native, and battles enemies and the weather alike, while trying not to lose his mind.
Recommendation: Cool tree house + filmed in South Africa + hot guys + awesome accents = show that should be on HBO or Showtime but has somehow (luckily for me) ended up on NBC. Production looks great, quality looks great, trailers look great, and you’ve got a great TV show in the works.


Premiered: Sept. 16
Airs: Tuesdays, 8 p.m., FOX
Recap: This season’s premiere picked up several weeks after the finale, but dealt with all the important issues: the aftermath of Amber’s death, how Thirteen is dealing with her Huntington’s disease, and of course, the impossibly sick person that can mysteriously never be cured until 50 minutes into the episode. The focus was mainly on Wilson leaving the hospital and how Amber’s death affected House and Wilson’s relationship. Not only that, but Thirteen finally tried to diagnose the patient without House.
This season: Look out for a major focus on Thirteen as her Huntington’s disease begins affecting her diagnoses. Also, is there possible House/Cuddy love? And the biggest news from the previews: Wilson is leaving the hospital! Is Wilson really that mad? Will he leave House forever? Will House let him leave? What will House do without him?

Premieres: Sept. 22
Airs: Mondays 9 p.m., NBC
Recap: Last season ended early with the writer’s strike. Nathan was about to reveal the Heroes’ powers to the world, but then he was shot! Sylar finally got his powers back and is out and on the loose. Hiro buried Takezo Kensei alive, and Nikki was trapped in a burning building as she tried to save Monica.
This Season: Volume Three: Villains starts off with three hours of Heroes: one clip show at 8 p.m., and then a two-hour season premiere at 9 p.m. This season will feature several villains, with a certain spotlight on our favorite, Carnegie Mellon alum Zachary Quinto, who plays Sylar. There are also rumors that some good people may have turned bad, and future Claires and Peters are running around? Ando and Hiro get their own villain, and we’ll find out who shot Nathan in the first episode. The main question is: who’s really dead?

The Office
Premieres: Sept. 25
Airs: Thursdays, 9 p.m., NBC
Recap: Toby left to go live in Costa Rica; Ryan is arrested; Michael developed a little crush on Holly, the new HR lady; Jim set up the perfect marriage proposal for Pam, and then Andy stole his thunder by proposing to Angela, who then is busted having sex with Dwight! Also, Jan is preggers!
This Season: Expect a great hour-long season premiere, with several love triangles. Michael may be helping Jan with the baby, but what about cute Holly? Will the Dwight, Angela, and Andy conflict finally come to a head? Who will replace Ryan? And finally, Pam is in art school in New York! How will Pam and Jim fare long-distance?

Grey’s Anatomy
Premieres: Sept. 25
Airs: Thursdays, 9 p.m., ABC
Recap: The finale ended with a ton of kissing: Chief Webber got back together with his wife Adele; George was able to retake his intern exam again, and kissed Lexie, who realized she liked him; Alex looked for an emotional hook-up in Izzy, which didn’t work out; Callie kissed Dr. Hahn and liked it; and MerDer were reunited once and for all.
This Season: Expect the two-hour season premiere to deal with Rose’s reaction to Meredith and Derek. Although they are finally together, things may not be as easy as you think. Also, a possible love interest for Cristina Yang? Is Lexie Grey in love with George? What happened with Callie and Erica Hahn?