TV’s Back! The Post-Strike Return

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Michael Franti once described television as “the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.” As such, we’re guessing he isn’t nearly as excited as we are that we’re finally beginning to see the fruits of Hollywood’s writers at last being able to put pen back to paper. CBS clearly got the jump on everyone else with the premiere of their new episodes, but as you can see, the other networks will soon be joining in the fun as well, offering up all the fresh new comedy and drama we’ve been craving for so very long. Okay, maybe it hasn’t been that long – as soon as the strike wrapped up, you probably noticed how some series magically “found” a few episodes they’d unabashedly been sitting on – but it’s damned sure been long enough.


Shows with Upcoming New Episodes

“Returned from the war to a hero's welcome / What’s more, you just had to win”
– The New Pornographers, “Ballad of a Comeback Kid”

ABC

According to Jim (returns 4/15 with 7 new episodes) – We’ve got to build, you know what I mean? You start small, and you work your way up to the stuff that people actually care about.

Boston Legal (returns 4/8 with 6 new episodes) – Murder, rape, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the Catholic Church…? Yep, sounds like “Boston Legal” to me. But what I’m really excited about is the suggestion that Denny Crane is being approached to replace John McCain as the Republican presidential candidate. Now there’s a guy I’d switch parties for.

Brothers and Sisters (returns 4/20 with 4 new episodes) – Speaking of the presidential race, it looks like Robert’s trying to turn his failed bid for the center seat into a shot at the VP gig. But how will this affect his and Kitty’s plans to have a baby? Y’got me: I don’t watch the show.

Desperate Housewives (returns 4/13 with 6 new episodes) – Just as the folks on Wisteria Lane are trying to clean up from the recent tornado, another whirlwind blows into town: Gary Cole, playing Katherine’s ex.

Grey’s Anatomy (returns 4/24 with 5 new episodes) – Given that “Private Practice” won’t be back ‘til the fall, is anyone surprised that Addison is going to find her way back onto her old show for a guest appearance?

Lost (returns 4/2 with 5 new episodes) – It’s not that things haven’t been interesting this season; it’s just that the last few episodes have kinda been…amblingalong. Thankfully, now that Michael’s finally back (it’s not like we didn’t know he was coming, given how the producers let that slip way back in the summer), we’re reportedly going to learn more about how he made it from the island back to Manhattan, and the Jack / Locke battle is going to reach a fever pitch.

Samantha Who? (returns 4/7 with 6 new episodes) – I really can’t wait for this show to come out on DVD. It started off great, but I missed a few episodes and never got back to it, and I’d really like to get back on board with it. Plus, there just aren’t many women on television who are better looking than Christina Applegate.

Ugly Betty (returns 4/24 with 5 new episodes) – I’m still not into this show, but I do find it really funny that not only is Amanda is apparently the illegitimate daughter of KISS’s Gene Simmons, but that Simmons has enough of a sense of humor to be preparing to make his second appearance on the show to further that plotline.

Women’s Murder Club (returns late April with 3 new episodes) – Although the show is a real testosterone-sucker, it’s worth noting that former “Law & Order” producer Robert Nathan has come aboard. Whether that’ll make a significant difference in the feel of the series remains to be seen, but one can only hope.

CBS

The Big Bang Theory (returned 3/17, 5 new episodes remaining) – I’m not exactly outing myself as a geek to say that I really love this show (that ship sailed a looooooong time ago), mostly because it isn’t just the sci-fi and comic book references that make it funny; it’s more about watching Penny react to them. But that said, you know it gives the producers of the show a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that they’ve got an audience who’ll giggle at the mere sight of Sheldon and Leonard playing 3D chess or be envious when the gang attends a five-film “Planet of the Apes” marathon.

Cold Case (returned 3/30, 4 new episodes remaining) –Bobby Canavale guest stars as a narc with an attitude, and Lily, already dealing with plenty of other issues (she got shot and her mom died), apparently has little tolerance for him. Sounds like a Love Connection to me.

Criminal Minds (returned 4/2, 6 new episodes remaining) – When Mandy Patinkin jumped ship, people were concerned that the show might not survive. Clearly, those cynics underestimated the power of Joe Mantegna; adding his character, Rossi, has given the writers a whole new palate of plots to draw from.

C.S.I. (returned 4/3, 5 new episodes remaining) – Now that we’ve finally seen the inside of Gil Grissom’s apartment, are there still any secrets left to be revealed about the LVPD’s greatest mind? Maybe not, since Petersen hasn’t signed on for next season yet. At least we’ve still got Warwick to watch. That guy’s crazy.

C.S.I. Miami (returned 3/24, 5 new episodes remaining) – Don’t be hatin’ on Horatio Caine, ya’ll. No, wait, actually, do go ahead and hate on him. If it wasn’t for America’s ongoing love affair with David Caruso, we’d be thrilling to new episodes of “Journeyman” right now.

C.S.I. NY (returned 4/2, 6 new episodes remaining) – I feel like I should watch this show more than I do, since I’ve always liked Gary Sinese, but it’s just never managed to draw me in. But since I do like him, I’m glad to hear that his character might actually get a love interest in upcoming episode, played by Jessalyn Gilsig.

Ghost Whisperer (returns 4/4 with 6 new episodes) – Since I don’t actually watch the show, I had no idea until now that Jay Mohr has had a recurring role as a science professor who keeps tabs on the ability of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character. I always liked that guy. But not enough to watch “Ghost Whisperer.”

How I Met Your Mother (returned 3/17, 5 new episodes remaining) – Given that it’s still the funniest show on CBS, it’s absolutely infuriating that the network continues to leave its fans in suspense by not renewing it outright. We’re finally getting some substantial clues (well, comparatively speaking, anyway) about the identity of the mother of Ted’s kids. Will it be Sarah Chalke, or was she just a red herring? With this show, you just never know.

Moonlight (returns 4/25 with 4 new episodes) – If the fans of “Moonlight” don’t turn out in droves for the show’s return, they’ll be betraying everything the People’s Choice Award for Best New Series stands for. Don’t let the PCAs down.

NCIS (returns 4/8 with 7 new episodes) – It’s all about the romance lately on this show. Ziva’s hot for DiNozzo, McGee’s hot for Abby, and…well, Gibbs and Jenny Shepherd already have a history, but word is that something from that history is about to come back and bite them on their respective arses.

Numb3rs (returns 4/4 with 6 new episodes) – Here’s a show I haven’t really followed since its early days, despite the fact that I like pretty much everyone in the cast. Frankly, I blame the Friday night timeslot. I hear that there have been romantic rumblings between Megan and Larry, but given that Diane Farr isn’t coming back next season, I think it’s safe to say that things probably won’t end well.

Rules of Engagement (returns 4/17 with 6 new episodes) – Despite the fact that the show only succeeds about 2/3 of the time, thanks to having a pair of dead weights in the cast, the threesome of David Spade, Patrick Warburton, and Megyn Price offer enough comedy to be worthwhile. Now that Audrey and Jeff are trying to get pregnant, the dynamic of the show could change…or not. (It depends on how successful they are, y’know?)

Shark (returns 4/29 with 4 new episodes) – What’s up with James Woods’ show not getting much love from CBS? I hope it’s not because Jeri Ryan’s out on maternity leave and isn’t being seen much these days. (Surely not, though, as that would be shallow…and everyone knows that network execs aren’t shallow.) Fans are no doubt chomping at the bit for the series to come back, especially now that it’s been announced that Wayne Callison is due to escape from prison and come gunning for Stark. Here’s hoping ratings result in a Season 3.

Two and a Half Men (returned 3/17, 5 new episodes remaining) – I’m relatively “meh” when it comes to the show; I always laugh when I watch it, but I just have no real loyalty to it. But I am curious about the upcoming stunt episode written by the scribes from “C.S.I.,” trading places with the regular writers for “Men.” In my head, I’m envisioning an episode where Charlie and Alan’s mom is murdered and they’re the only suspects, but then the real killer turns out to have been Jake. I’m probably wrong, though.

Without A Trace (returned 4/3, 5 new episodes remaining) – Reportedly, the show will be going out of its way to pack as much action into these final episodes as they can possible manage, including Jack getting shot. Hey, did you know that Henry Thomas plays a sex trafficker on this show? “Cloak and Dagger” has never seemed so far away.

The CW

Aliens in America (returns 4/27 with 4 new episodes) – If The CW doesn’t renew this show, I’m going to be really pissed. It’s the perfect pairing for “Everybody Hates Chris,” and it deserves a chance to breathe in an environment that doesn’t involve a writer’s strike killing its momentum stone dead. Now that “Girlfriends” is gone, let’s hope the network shows some sense and keeps Justin and Raja around for another year.

The Game (returned 3/23, 5 new episodes remaining) – Never seen it, don’t really care anything about it, not going to pretend otherwise.

Gossip Girl (returns 4/21 with 5 new episodes) – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: as a grown man, I feel creepy looking at the hot teenaged girls, and as a parent, I think the show paints a horrendously inappropriate picture of kids getting away with stuff they shouldn’t. Yeah, I know, I’m old…but mark my words: it’ll happen to you, too!

One Tree Hill (returns 4/14 with 6 new episodes)I still can’t believe they did that flash-forward maneuver between last season and this season, but if the kids who watch the show don’t care, far be it for me to complain about it any more than I already have.

Reaper (returns 4/22 with 5 new episodes) – And if The CW doesn’t renew this series, I’m going to be even more pissed! Have you been watching in recent weeks? If not, it’s time to start again. I know a lot of people thought the show was devolving into a demon-of-the-week format, but in addition to the romantic triangle of Sam, Andi, and Cady and the mystery about whether Cady is the Devil’s daughter, the guys now have gay demon neighbors played by members of “The State.” If you don’t watch, Ray Wise is going to get mad…and nobody wants Ray Wise mad.

Smallville (returns 4/17 with 5 new episodes) – Someone dies. Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! An actual death! Quick, someone run and check whose contract is up this season…!

Supernatural (returns 4/24 with 4 new episodes) – Granted, I haven’t really watched much of this show, but it’s a cool concept, and I hear that the deal Dean made last season is going to come back to haunt him by season’s end. Will it be a trip to Hell and back? I guess it depends on whether the series gets renewed or not.

FOX

Back to You (returns 4/16 with 5 new episodes) – The trifecta of Grammer, Heaton, and the all-powerful Fred Willard are what keep me checking back on this show, not the plot lines. But since it’s been danced around since the premiere episode, I am curious what’s going to happen when Kelly’s daughter, Gracie, finally discovers that Chuck Darling is her father…if that actually happens this season, that is. (It’s gotta happen sooner than later; otherwise, it’ll completely devolve into farce.)

Bones (returns 4/14 with 6 new episodes) – I’m probably most excited about the rumors that Stephen Fry may be returning for another guest spot, but it’s also good to hear that executive producer Hart Hanson is committed to trying to pay off the season’s big plot lines – Gormogon, the search for Angela’s husband – by the time all’s said and done this year. Yes, but will there be any repercussions from that Christmas kiss between Bones and Booth?

House (returns 4/28 with 4 new episodes) – This is, bar none, the single best season of “House” we have seen to date. The “Survivor”-inspired run-off to pick House’s new team was genius, the resulting characters have been fantastic, and the development that Wilson is dating Cutthroat Bitch…sorry, I mean Amber…is absolutely awesome. It’s the greatest job of breathing new life into a series I’ve seen in years, and I’m psyched to see where things go next.

‘Til Death (returns 4/16 with 5 new episodes) – Okay, we’ve got the newlyweds and we’ve got the old married couple, so what do we need now? I’ve got it: a divorce! Don’t worry, it’s neither Steph and Jeff nor Eddie and Joy…but it is Eddie’s parents. Somehow, it makes me feel really old to know that Valerie “Rhoda” Harper can get away with playing Brad Garrett’s mother.

NBC

ER (returns 4/10 with 6 new episodes) – I gotta tell you, I don’t not like “E.R.,” but I just don’t find myself drawn to it anymore. For that matter, I don’t know anyone who admits to watching it with any regularity. In fact, I have a theory that a lot of people just forget to turn off their TV after NBC’s two-hour comedy block.

Law and Order (returns 4/23 with 5 new episodes) – Go ahead: call it a comeback. Adding Jeremy Sisto and Linus Roache to the series has brought this show back to levels of greatness not seen since the Jerry Orbach era. Unfortunately, Jesse L. Martin is getting ready to spoil it all by hitting the bricks, and he’s being replaced by Anthony Anderson (so long, “K-Ville”), who can be kind of grating at times. Here’s hoping he and Sisto find a groove quickly.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (returns 4/15 with 5 new episodes) – Better watch your ass, “SVU,” because the show that spawned you is getting grumpy that you’re better than them, and they’re fighting back. Maybe that’s why we can expect a couple of high-profile guest appearance before season’s end. First, Bill Pullman turns up, playing Olivia’s boyfriends, then Robin Williams deigns to return to television as an upcoming perpetrator of the week.

My Name Is Earl (returned 4/3, 8 new episodes remaining) – Just as the whole prison saga was wearing thin and Earl was on his way to freedom, the writer’s strike kicked in. Damn! But is it actually any better that he’s now in a coma? Well, if anyone can make a coma seem funny, it’s this show.

The Office (returns 4/10 with 6 new episodes) – I’m not sure if it’s the funniest show on television, but it’s definitely the best ensemble. We’re told that we can look forward to Jim and Pam being the only guests at a dinner party thrown by Michael and Jan, as well as some major developments with Ryan. There are also some rumblings that we might finally meet one of Dwight’s ex-girlfriends, which would be awesome.

Scrubs (returns 4/10 with 5 new episodes) – Right now, the biggest mystery is surrounding where the episodes after these five will end up. It sounds like they’re destined for ABC, but it’s hard to imagine that NBC would let the series slip through their hands right before the closing bell. At the moment, I just want to see what’s going to happen to ol’ Bob Kelso if he is indeed forced to retire; if he’s stuck having to spend more time with his wife, you might as well go ahead and put a gun to his head.

30 Rock (returns 4/10 with 5 new episodes) – If you’ve been watching the show with any regularity, you know that it’s been seriously kicking ass this year, and the remaining episodes look to continue the trend. Liz’s ex-boyfriends Floyd (Jason Sudekis) and Dennis (Dean Winters) pop back into the picture, while Jack continues his efforts to serve as Don Geiss’s successor, resulting in the return of Will Arnett to the guest-star roster. Yeah, but what I really want to see is another appearance by Paul Scheer as the nemesis of Kenneth the Page.


Shows Not Returning Until Next Season

Noticed a few omissions in the above list, did you? So did we. Turns out that not every series is opting to come back from their strike-imposed hiatus, instead choosing to cut their losses and just start working on the next season. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but here’s what you’re going to be stuck jonesing for ‘til the fall.

“Well, I'm going away, baby / And I won't be back 'til fall” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, “See See Rider”

ABC

Dirty Sexy Money
Private Practice
Pushing Daisies

FOX

24

NBC

Chuck
Heroes
Life

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