Bullz-Eye.com's 2009 Fall TV Preview
2009 Fall TV Preview

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And so it begins again: the fall TV season. In recent years, the face of television has gone through considerable changes, with new programming now debuting throughout the year. But there’s still something magical about the autumn, which most of the broadcast networks continue to reserve as the time to roll out their latest wares. This year brings us the usual slate of clever concepts, dodgy dramas, comedy both highbrow and lowbrow, and so on down the line, but we’re also being handed the biggest shake-up to the schedule in many a decade, courtesy of NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show.” Join us as Bullz-Eye takes a look at what you can expect to find on your TV dial…as if anyone even still has a TV with a dial…and gives you an idea of which new shows are worth your time and which you should desperately avoid.



ABC: What's New for Fall 2009

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: Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Lourdes Benedicto, Logan Huffman, Laura Vandervoort, Morena Baccarin, Scott Wolf : Scott Peters ("The 4400," "The Outer Limits"), Jeffrey Bell ("Day Break," "Alias"), Steve Pearlman ("Reunion," "Related"), and Jace Hall ("The Jace Hall Show") : A re-imagining of the 1980's miniseries about the world's first encounter with an alien race. Simultaneously appearing over every major city in the world, the Visitors (or V's) promote a message of peace. Through their generous offer to share advanced technology, the V's build a following that may actually hide a more malevolent agenda, one that twists a very deep component of human nature: devotion. While the world quickly becomes fascinated with the V's and their link to wonders just beyond the reach of human understanding, FBI Counter Terrorist Agent Erica Evans discovers a secret hidden beneath the skin of every V - a secret that may threaten the lives of everyone close to her. Yet for her teenage son, Tyler, the V's are his ticket to something big and hopeful -- a new chance for mankind to unite in common goals. To Chad Decker, a career-hungry news anchor, his exclusive interview with Anna, the leader of the V's, is crucial to his dominating the airwaves. Also unsure about the Visitors is Father Jack, a priest questioning his faith in the wake of the Visitors' arrival. Seeking answers outside the church, Father Jack discovers there are other dissidents who believe the Visitors are not who they say they are, including Ryan Nichols, who is faced with his own life-altering decision when the V's show up. Never has there been more at stake -- it truly is the dawning of a new day. : Like "Eastwick," there's a certain instinct to ask, "Why do we need to revisit a 20-year-old property?" In the case of "V," though, most of those who remember the show fondly will probably nod their heads and consider that, yes, special effects technology has evolved to a point where a concept like this one deserves to reap the benefits. And although the purists will no doubt grimace and claim that it won't be the same without original creator Kenneth Johnson working behind the scenes, they need look no farther than "Battlestar Galactica" to have a good reason to consider the possibilities for a new "V." : Personally, I dug the showdown between Anna and Chad when he refuses to offer an interview consisting solely of softball questions and she informs him that either it'll be all queries that paint the Visitors in a positive light or the interview will be canceled, but the episode's tie-ins to terrorism were damned intriguing. : There'll clearly be a "we've seen this" reaction from the generation who grew up with "Independence Day," but it's already clear that this is not your parents' "V." It may not prove to have any more legs than ABC's last stab at alien infiltration ("Invasion"), but it's going to come down to whether or not the viewers who come in for the curiosity factor, thinking, "Hey, I liked the show, I wonder how the one will be," are going to given enough to sell them right off the bat.

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: Christian Slater, Michelle Borth, Heather Stephens, Bob Stephenson, Anthony Carrigan, Rochelle Aytes : Mark Friedman ("Home of the Brave"), Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman ("CSI," "Cold Case"), Lukas Reiter ("Law & Order"), Danny Cannon ("CSI") : A drama series in which a team of dedicated amateurs - The Forgotten Network- work on murder cases involving unidentified victims. In the United States, the remains of 40,000 people have yet to be identified. When police investigations reach a dead end, civilian volunteers across the country work to name.... After the police have given up, The Forgotten Network, led by Alex Donovan, must first solve the puzzle of the victim's identity in order to then help catch the killer. These are citizen volunteers solving extraordinary crimes. Their persistence and compassion for the cases put them on a personal and emotional journey that focuses on giving names back to the deceased. The Forgotten Network gathers in coffee shops and living rooms to discuss leads, clues and tips, each bringing his or her own motivations and skills to the table, each driven by a deep sense of purpose. Donovan is a former detective who left the force after the disappearance of his own young daughter. Using his investigative skills, he can help piece together each victim's story, retracing their footsteps and finding out why they died by learning how they lived. Working against the clock to give each victim a name before they're buried as a John or Jane Doe, these amateur detectives are in it to bring closure... and win justice. Also volunteering in The Forgotten Network are Candace Butler, a confident, headstrong young woman who avoids the crushing boredom of her mundane job by helping the Network identify victims; Lindsey Drake, a resilient high school science teacher who works with the Network as a form of penance for a crime committed by her husband; Walter Bailey, a well-intentioned phone company employee and true-crime enthusiast whose zealousness can sometimes complicate investigations; Tyler Davies, a street-smart medical school dropout and aspiring artist who is court-ordered to join the Network to satisfy his community service; and Grace Russell, a resourceful homicide detective with the Chicago Police, who is Alex's former protégé and now his main link to the department. : Into every season, there comes a show which requires so much retooling up to the wire that the critics don't get the opportunity to check out a screener of the pilot. This season, it is "The Forgotten," which - - existed as a series before Christian Slater was ever brought into the mix, and as a result, the producers were left scrambling to restructure and re-film virtually the entire pilot. Worse, the fact that Jerry Bruckheimer's name is attached will only serve to underline the similarities to "Cold Case." : There isn't one, of course. You're welcome to check out the same and "" that I have, but aside from the unique aspect of the team having no official police ties, nothing really stands out as original. : Wow. The schmaltz factor in the trailer is downright . ("They're all around us." Give me a .) But given America's love of procedurals and the fact that the competition isn't all that strong, it's very possible that the show could find an audience.

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: Kelsey Grammer, Melinda McGraw, David Koechner, Jordan Hinson, Nathan Gamble : Tom Werner ("Roseanne"), Tucker Cawley ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier"), Mike Clements ("The Life & Times of Tim") : Sometimes scaling back is the best way to get ahead. A legendary entrepreneur in the sports retail world, Hank Pryor and his wife, Tilly, have been living the high life in New York City. That is until Hank is forced out of his CEO job and has to downsize and move his family back home to the small town of River Bend, Virginia. A self-made man, Hank is used to being the boss. But now that he’s lost almost everything, is he up for the even bigger challenge of being a husband and father? While Tilly regrets having to leave the glitz of New York City to move back to her hometown, Hank is gung-ho to relaunch his career in the place where it all began for him. Unfortunately this also means having to spend way too much time with his brother-in-law, Grady, who delights in Hank’s recent misfortunes. Hank struggles to find common ground with his kids -- offbeat son Henry, who would rather play with action figures than toss a baseball with his dad, and daughter Maddie, a hip, New York City teen in whose eyes Hank can do no right. But every great businessman knows that the key to success is to turn setbacks into opportunities. It may take a while for this corporate giant to figure out how to mingle with the little people -- like his family -- but Hank’s up for the challenge, a man who feels he is destined to return to greatness. And he is. It’s just not the greatness he imagined. : For years, Kelsey Grammer was a man that could do no wrong in the realm of sitcoms, but that all ended with the one-season wonder that was Fox's "Back to You." It's always good to see his familiar face, but if he couldn't find comedic success in an ensemble that included Fred Willard, what chance does "Hank" have? Well, actually, the whole downsizing / riches-to-rags angle of the show could catch the interest of audiences in today's climate, provided they don't turn his move to Virginia into a riff on "Green Acres." : Aside from David Koechner's brief appearance when Grady drops off a housewarming gift, it's Hank's attempts to bond with his children in the family's new environment, which involves a stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." : As it stands right now, "Hank" feels like the weak link in ABC's Wednesday night sitcom line-up, but it's family-themed and it's at 8 PM, so you never know. Plus, given creator Tucker Cawley's track record with family comedies, the chance exists that it could find its stride pretty quickly, leaving us feeling guilty that we ever doubted its possibilities. If that happens, let's hope it's sooner than later, if only for Grammer's sake.

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: Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher, Atticus Shaffer, Chris Kattan : Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline ("How I Met Your Mother," "Roseanne") : A warm and witty single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. Frankie Heck is a superhero. Well, no, not an actual superhero - not unless you count getting her kids out the door for school every morning as a superfeat. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, this harried wife and working mother of three uses her wry wit and sense of humor to try to get her family through each day intact. Frankie has a job selling cars at the town's only surviving car dealer; her husband, Mike, is a manager at the local quarry. In between juggling shifts and picking up fast food dinners eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike raise their kids with love and solid Midwestern practicality. Axl is the oldest, a teenage jock who eats the family out of house and home and walks around in his underwear. Then there's Sue, their extraordinarily ordinary pre-teen daughter who fails at everything she tries with great gusto. Brick, the youngest son, is an odd kid whose best friend is his backpack. Together, they're putting The Middle on the map. : Seeing Patricia Heaton playing a mom again is one of those "all's right with the world" TV moments (if it takes a second to acclimate yourself to seeing Neil Flynn playing someone other than a janitor, just remember that he played Lindsay Lohan's dad in "Mean Girls"), and although her role as a harried mom isn't that different here than it was on "Raymond," it's been structured to make her the star of this show. : When Frankie and Mike have to attend a parent-teacher conference about Brick's eccentricities, which features a montage of his more interesting moments at school and closes with Mike sighing, "I just hope he's weird enough that our insurance covers it." : Although the title of this show refers to the fact that it takes place in Indiana, i.e. middle America, it also feels like a not-coincidental tribute to "Malcolm in the Middle," given the similarity in feel between the two series. (The difference, of course, is that Frankie is actually a halfway-decent, generally well-intentioned mother.) If you liked that show, then you'll like this one, too.

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: Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Sarah Hyland, Rico Rodriguez, Nolan Gould, Ariel Winter : Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd ("Back to You," "Frasier"), Jason Winer : Today's American families come in all shapes and sizes. The cookie cutter mold of man + wife + 2.5 kids is a thing of the past, as it becomes quickly apparent in this bird's eye view, which takes an honest and often hilarious look at the composition and complexity of family life in 2009. Take for example Phil and Claire, two parents who want to have that open, healthy, honest relationship with their three kids. It's not always easy, especially when you have a teenage daughter who's growing up a little fast, a too-smart-for-her-own-good middle daughter and a rambunctious boy. On top of that, Phil wants to be the "cool dad," while Claire is just trying her best to run a tight ship, determined not to let her kids have the rebellious childhood she had. Then there's Jay, a true guys' guy who is having a bit of mid-life crisis. Jay has found a much younger wife, Gloria, who has become the center of his world. She's a passionate and sassy divorcee who comes with an 11-year-old son, Manny. Already taking notice of girls and a hopeless romantic, Manny is as passionate as his mom and spends his time daydreaming and writing poetry. His new step-father isn't altogether comfortable with the sensitive stuff and would like to toughen Manny up. But that's only one of Jay's challenges. The biggest is that people often mistake him for Gloria's father, not her husband. And lastly there's Mitchell and his partner of five years, Cameron. They've just taken that amazing 'next step' by adopting a child together from Vietnam. Cameron has a wonderfully big personality and maybe a flare for the dramatic, whereas Mitchell is the more serious of the two. But they balance each other out and are already doting fathers. Life, it seems, is neither tidy, politically correct or in any way predictable. For these three families, it turns out, are not three but one... one big, blended family, with Jay the patriarch and Claire & Mitchell his grown kids. Yet it's just such surprises that make things so interesting in this window into the sometimes warm, sometimes twisted embrace of the modern family. : After "Parks and Recreation" debuted to a lot of muttering about how it was virtually a carbon copy of "The Office," you wouldn't think a new mockumentary-styled sitcom would have a shot, but the diversity of the characters (and the comedic styles of the cast) and the variety of topics from which the show's writers can mine laughs are considerable. : When Cameron proceeds to totally and utterly disprove Mitchell's assertion that his boyfriend is "not that dramatic." You wouldn't think you could get that big a laugh from a spotlight, but it turns out you can. : Not only is there going to be a tussle between this series and "Better Off Ted" for the title of Funniest ABC Sitcom, but "Modern Family" comes within a few laughs of tying "Community" for the award of Best New Series.

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: Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Christa Miller, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt : Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel ("Scrubs") Courteney Cox and David Arquette ("Dirt") : Jules is a recently divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in our beauty and youth obsessed culture. While most women in their twenties go through life experiencing the challenges and often humorous pitfalls of meeting men, Jules took on the responsibilities of marriage and raising a son. Now in her forties, she embarks on a journey to self-discovery whilst surrounded by fellow divorcees and singletons eager to live or re-live a time gone by. Along for the journey are her friends and family: Laurie, the younger, feisty co-worker who encourages her to get out there and have some fun; Ellie, the sarcastic, unapologetic confidante content with her life and marriage to her average, but loveable husband, Andy; ex-husband Bobby, a classic under-achiever who'll test her patience as they attempt to raise their teenage son, Travis; and newly divorced neighbor Grayson, who proves to be a catalyst of sorts for Jules. : The combination of bringing Courtney Cox back to her sitcom roots and pairing her with "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence has comedy fans chomping at the bit to see what will come forth from the collaboration, but there's a bit of backlash about the show's title...and by "a bit," I mean that it seems to be all anyone wants to talk about. (I had no idea that people loathed the term "cougar" so much; it always struck me as sexy and therefore ostensibly complimentary.) Whether it'll bite Bill on the ass and keep folks away or bring in a crowd to see what all the fuss is about, only time will tell. : There are several involving Cox, including Jules' inability to hold her liquor, her post-coital bliss, and the ongoing storyline about the advertising campaign for her work as a real estate agent, but Dan Byrd's work throughout the show is a reminder than his work on "Aliens in America" was no comedic fluke. : The story of Jules's life and times has the potential to make the series into a better "Sex and the City" successor than either "Cashmere Jungle" or "Lipstick Mafia" (yes, I know I mixed those up, but, really, does it matter?), and the dysfunctional dynamic makes it a perfect show to follow "Modern Family." It's already funny, but the potential for growth is considerable. Here's hoping it gets the chance to evolve.

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: Ashley Benson, Jon Bernthal, Veronica Cartwright, Jaime Ray Newman, Lindsay Price, Rebecca Romijn, Sara Rue, Johann Urb, Paul Gross : Maggie Friedman ("Once and Again"), David S. Rosenthal ("Gilmore Girls"), Michael Katleman ("Life on Mars"), Nancy Won ("Brothers & Sisters"), Chris Dingess ("Reaper"), Marc David Alpert ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") : In the seaside village of Eastwick, three very different women are about to discover some bewitching talents they never knew they had. And once they get together-- watch out. Something wicked their way comes. There was a time when Roxanne, Kat and Joanna didn't get along because of their preconceived notions of each other. Roxie was the extrovert artist, Kat the overworked wife and mom, and Joanna the wallflower local reporter. But after a weird encounter in the park and a few martinis, these three women have suddenly become fast friends. Together, they wish for their lives to change. And that's when the mysterious Darryl Van Horne arrives in town. His wealth, charisma and bad boy sex appeal are an irresistible combination for the three ladies. Mysteriously, he helps them discover their unique powers in ways they never could have imagined. But by igniting their hearts' desires, he might just be opening Pandora's Box.

The free-spirited and artistic widow Roxanne lives by her own rules; with a much younger boyfriend and a cash flow problem, she doesn't exactly cultivate favor among her neighbors. But Darryl's arrival in Eastwick seems to indicate that a change for the better is coming for Roxanne and her teen-aged daughter, Mia. What doesn't change are Roxie's vivid dreams, which may be premonitions for an exciting but dangerous future. Joanna just wishes she could shut her mouth sometimes, especially as the most inappropriate words spill out at the most inappropriate times. But Darryl tells this uptight, bespectacled reporter that, if she would just look someone straight in the eye, she can give a proper voice to what she wants... and get it. To her shock, it works - namely on her longtime crush, Will. But is it real? Kat wants a change in her life. A nurse, she possesses natural healing abilities and has an uncanny green thumb. But her powers can be destructive too, as she discovers when Raymond, her unemployed husband who spends his days observing life from a hammock with a can of beer, becomes their unintentional target.

As these enchanting women realize their talents, it doesn't necessarily bode well for some of the locals. Darryl's wealth stirs the pot just as Eastwick is going through tough times. When he quickly buys up the local businesses, including the town's newspaper, candle factory and a long-empty mansion, the locals become understandably curious about just who Darryl Van Horne is. Among the curious is Joanna's co-worker and best friend, Penny. Since Darryl appeared on the scene, Joanna's been spending more and more time with Kat and Roxie - which means less time with Penny. Left behind, she decides to investigate the man who's stolen her friend. Bun, the head of the Eastwick Historical Society, is like the fun and kooky aunt that Roxie never had. When Bun suddenly plunges into a coma at the very moment the three women spark a connection, waking only to blurt a bizarre warning about Darryl, it becomes clear that she may be a key to his mystery. Eastwick is turned upside down as these enchanting women come into their own, but it's still the best thing to happen to this small New England town in centuries. : Come on, you're wondering the same thing I am: "Who thought it was a good idea to make a series out of a 1987 movie (based on a 1984 novel)?" Probably the same people who thought it was a good idea to heavily utilize the theme from "True Blood" when offering up the promo reel for this series during the TCA tour. In other words, it's a sketchy idea to start with, and now that it's come to fruition, no one really seems to know how to promote it. Not a good sign. : It probably doesn't speak well of the series that my favorite moments came not from one of the leads but, rather, from Veronica Cartwright, but as Bun, the longtime resident of Eastwick who foretells doom and gloom in the wake of Darryl's arrival, every moment she's onscreen - first in the park, then in the hospital - is a great moment. : I wanted to like the show, just because of the ensemble and the potential for spookiness, but if the series follows the pilot's lead and maintains the heavy-handed "Desperate Housewives Have Magic Sex in a Small Town" vibe (like, say, the discussion about the size of Darryl's package), I can't imagine watching beyond more than another episode or two.

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: Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List, Dominic Monaghan, Brían O'Byrne, Courtney B. Vance, Sonya Walger, Christine Woods : David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga ("Threshold"), Marc Guggenheim ("Eli Stone"), Jessika Borsiczky Goyer ("Revelations") : What would you do if you were given a glimpse of the future? Would you accept what you saw and live life to its fullest, or would you do everything in your power to change your destiny? When the world's population is given a glimpse of their future, it forces everyone to come to grips with whether their destinies can be fulfilled or avoided. It's just another normal day in Los Angeles. FBI agent Mark Benford and his partner, Demetri Noh, are in the midst of a car chase monitored by their boss, Stanford Wedeck and colleague Janis Hawk; Mark's wife, Dr. Olivia Benford, is in the middle of surgery; Dr. Bryce Varley is weighing a potentially life-ending decision; Mark's friend, Aaron Stark, is working high above the ground on power lines; and Nicole -- baby-sitter to Mark and Olivia's daughter, Charlie -- is in the throes of passion with her boyfriend when suddenly and without warning, every person on Earth blacks out for two minutes and seventeen seconds and sees a series of events from their own future, taking place on April 29, 2010 at 10:00 p.m., Pacific Time. For some the future will be joyous and hopeful; for others, shockingly unexpected; and for a few, it simply doesn't seem to exist. Everyone in the world will eventually begin chronicling what they saw in their flashforwards on a worldwide website -- the Mosaic Collective -- that will further draw people together. And some of the flashforwards just might help Mark and his colleagues piece together the cause of the blackout. Knowing their fate will alter each person's life in one way or another and poses the questions: Can destiny be changed? And by changing just one destiny, what effect would that have on those of others? : How do the words "the next 'Lost'" grab you? Not that we haven't heard that kind of bold chatter before, but this is a series with a mysterious premise...well, unless you've read the book, anyway...and the kind of unfolding mythology which should - theoretically, at least - keep viewers returning week after week. : The segment when we see what has happened to the world at large as a result of everyone suddenly losing consciousness for two minutes and seventeen seconds, which proceeds to set the rest of the episode up for a gripping mystery, namely, "What the hell just happened?" : Best drama of the new season, filled with action, intrigue, and a strong ensemble cast. Count on a lot of viewing parties come April 29, 2010.

CBS: What's New for Fall 2009

NBC: What's New for Fall 2009

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: Jay Leno : Debbie Vickers, Larry Goitia, Jay Leno, Jack Coen, Stephanie Ross ("The Tonight Show with Jay Leno") : Marking a new era in television, Jay Leno, recently named America’s Favorite TV Personality by the 2009 Harris Poll, moves from late night to primetime on September 14 when his series becomes the first-ever entertainment program to be stripped across primetime on broadcast network television. The series promises more comedy in the 10 o’clock hour and will showcase many of the features that have made Leno America's late-night leader for more than a dozen years. : About as mixed as buzz can be. This is the most controversial maneuver in the past several decades of television history, a Hail Mary by the people at the Peacock. It's highly possible that the people who've abandoned "The Tonight Show" since the tall, skinny Irish kid took over have just decided to go to bed early for a change and are fully prepared to start watching their old buddy, Jay, in his new locale. Then again, maybe they won't. It's a crazy crap shoot, this series, and all that us critics can do is sit back and see what the viewers decide to do. : None, obviously, due to the live nature of the show. : If you like Jay Leno, you'll like the show. If you don't, you won't. It's really as simple as that. But will you the show? Leno has the right attitude by acknowledging outright that he doesn't expect to beat original programming, only anticipating that they'll probably start to take home the ratings gold once the reruns start. I like Leno as much as the next guy, but I like scripted dramatic programming better. For that alone, I'm not exactly rooting for him to succeed. But with that said, I'm mostly just curious to see what's going to happen.

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: Aimee Garcia, Anastasia Griffith, Billy Lush, Cliff Curtis, Derek Luke, Jamey Sheridan, Kevin Rankin : Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey, Dario Scardapane, and Jeffrey Reiner ("Friday Night Lights") : The first high-octane medical drama series to live exclusively in the field where the real action is. Like an adrenaline shot to the heart, the show is an intense, action-packed look at one of the most dangerous medical professions in the world: first responder paramedics. When emergencies occur, the trauma team from San Francisco General is first on the scene, traveling by land, by sea or by air to reach their victims in time. From the heights of the city’s Transamerica Pyramid to the depths of the San Francisco Bay, these heroes must face the most extreme conditions to save lives — and give meaning to their own existence in the process. : Although the instinct is to say, "So NBC closed the doors on 'E.R.,' only to kick off a medical show," the better point of reference here is the classic '70s series "Emergency" (with Jamey Sheridan making his bid to be remembered as the Robert Fuller of his generation), albeit with the inclusion of the necessary soap-opera elements required by today's audiences. : Like the aforementioned series, it's all about the accidents that led to the Trauma team being sent out, then the resolution of those situations, but the money shot here is definitely the helicopter crash. : If they tone down the melodrama and keep the action ramped up as high as they do in the pilot, then the excitement may be enough to draw in an audience.

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: Jaime Lee Kirchner, Taylor Schilling, Michelle Trachtenberg, James Tupper : Gail Berman ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel"), Lloyd Braun ("Accidentally on Purpose"), Liz Heldens ("Friday Night Lights") : A new medical drama about the lives of the people who work at Mercy Hospital seen through the eyes of those who know it best – its nurses. Nurse Veronica Callahan has just returned to Mercy Hospital from a tour in Iraq and knows more about medicine than all of the residents combined. Together with fellow nurses Sonia Jimenez, who turns the heads of everyone in the hospital, and Chloe Payne, a naïve newcomer who learns to deal with the difficulties of working in a challenging and sometimes unsettling profession, they navigate the daily traumas and social landmines of life and love both inside the hospital and out in the real world. : You'd think that getting bumped up to a fall premiere due to the postponement of "Parenthood" (as a result of star Maura Tierney's medical woes) would be a good thing, but since the network had already put one medical show onto the docket, most people are rightfully wondering, "Isn't it overkill to add a second one?" Yes, and it would've been even if "Mercy" any good...which it really isn't. There's a whole lot of chatter about how nurses deserve your respect. Of course they do. But they also deserve to be better presented on television than they are here. : Nothing immediately leaps to mind. Yes, seriously. : How ironic that the last show to be added to the network's fall line-up is likely to be the first one to depart it. If you must watch only one medical drama on NBC this year, be sure it's "Trauma."

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: Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Pudi, John Oliver, Donald Glover : Dan Harmon (“The Sarah Silverman Project”), Joe and Anthony Russo (“Arrested Development”) : A smart comedy series about higher education…and lower expectations. The student body at Greendale Community College is made up of high-school losers, newly- divorced housewives, and old people who want to keep their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. Within these not-so-hallowed halls, the show focuses on a band of misfits, at the center of which is a fast-talkin’ lawyer whose degree has been revoked, who form a study group and, in “Breakfast Club” fashion, end up learning a lot more about themselves than they do about their course work. : The mere fact that Chevy Chase has deigned to take a regular series role is enough to get people interested (not that his recent screen work has been that stellar, but after being burned by his talk show, you know he’d never return to TV unless he thought he really had something stellar), and McHale’s cult fanbase from “The Soup” is psyched at the idea of seeing their hero in a sitcom. Throw in the “Daily Show” fans who know Oliver’s value from his years as Senior British Correspondent, and people are chomping at the bit to see this added to NBC’s Thursday night comedy line-up. : More than I’m prepared to count, but they include Abed’s recitation of “Breakfast Club” dialogue, the “Soup” in-joke of Troy referring to McHale’s character as “Seacrest,” and virtually every time John Oliver opens his mouth. : When I watched it, I was convinced that I was watching the funniest sitcom of the new season. I was not wrong.

Fox: What's New for Fall 2009

The CW: What's New for Fall 2009

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: Laura Leighton, Shaun Sipos, Thomas Calabro, Katie Cassidy, Colin Egglesfield, Stephanie Jacobsen, Michael Rady, Jessica Lucas, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz : Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer (“Smallville”) : In an elegant Spanish-style apartment building in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, a diverse group of 20-somethings have formed a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews is the landlady, still beautiful at 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck. Sydney started an affair with David despite her turbulent history with his estranged father, Dr. Michael Mancini. Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people. Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms, once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career. Sydney also played a pivotal role in the career of Auggie Kirkpatrick. After they met at an AA meeting, she became Auggie’s sponsor and encouraged his dream to become a chef. Now a successful sous chef at the trendy restaurant Coal, Auggie has been avoiding Sydney since she began drinking again. The other tenants include Lauren Yung, a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller, an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend Riley Richmond, a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, 18-year-old Violet Foster, has just arrived in LA with her own secret connection to Sydney. When a bloody body is found floating in the courtyard pool, David is the leading suspect. However, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way. : There hasn’t been nearly as much excitement about this reboot as there was for “90210.” After watching the pilot, there appears to be good reason for that. : The temptation is to say either the discovery of the body or the discovery of who David’s father is, but by the time the show premieres, it’s a fair bet that both pieces of information won’t be nearly as much of a surprise for you as they were for me. As such, let’s go with the closing moment, when we’re handed a shot which implies that we’re looking at the murderer. : The characters and scenarios feel clichéd, and as it stands right now, the connections to the original series seem tenuous at best. You can appreciate The CW’s desire to have lightning strike twice, but this just couldn’t feel more rushed…or unnecessary.

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: Sara Paxton, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Mischa Barton, Corbin Bleu, Ashley Madekwe, Nico Tortorella, Dusan Dukic, Jordan Wooley, Elle Macpherson, Audrina Patridge : Adam Giaudrone, Mike Kelley, and Carol Barbee (“Swingtown”), Karey Burke and Jason Goldberg (“Miss Guided”), Ashton Kutcher (“Beauty and the Geek”) : The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but as every new model quickly learns, behind the beautiful façade is a world of insecurity and cutthroat competition. Two teenage models who are about to discover this world for themselves are Raina Collins, a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews, a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy. When Raina makes an unforgettable impression at a show introducing the new line from designer Zac Posen, she steals the spotlight from her friend Sonja. Sonja has been out of the country for mysterious reasons and is now desperate to reclaim her standing as the reigning supermodel. While Raina and Sonja live at the top of the fashion food chain, Chris is starting at the bottom, having just been discovered by agent Simon Lockridge of the Covet Modeling Agency, which is owned by former supermodel Claudia Foster. At his first photo shoot, Chris’ inexperience almost derails his career until Raina comes to his rescue, showing him how to relax and work the camera. That afternoon, Raina brings Chris to the “models’ residence” where she lives along with other young hopefuls, including Marissa Delfina, Egan, Issac, and the current alpha-male-model known as Kai. At an exclusive industry party that night, Chris is again impressed by Raina’s generosity when she steps aside to make sure Sonja lands a job that will resurrect her career. However, after an ugly scene with Simon, Chris is left to question whether he can survive in this world of dangerous excess and fleeting fame. : The CW is no doubt patting itself on the back for building a companion drama for its longstanding reality-show success, “America’s Next Top Model.” Hey, and it only took them six years! : Well, actually, we haven't seen the whole pilot yet. All we've been given is a so-called "presentation," which is basically about 30 minutes of the first episode, so it's possible...even probable...that some changes are going to be made. From what was provided, however, aside from the meet-cute between the show’s male and female leads, where you can’t help but smile at the authenticity of their reaction to each other, it’s Chris’s decision to go with his instincts when responding to the way Simon acts toward him in public. : Paxton and Hollingsworth certainly have chemistry, and it’s nice to see Barton strutting her stuff again, but there are a of clichés on display here, often to the point of inspiring laughter rather than the intended drama. But, really, are the “Next Top Model” viewers really so discerning as to care?

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: Nina Dobrev, Steven R. McQueen, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Candice Accola, Kayla Ewell, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Sarah Canning, Chris William Martin, Zach Roerig, Benjamin Ayres, Steve Belford : Bob Levy and Leslie Morgenstein (“Gossip Girl”), Julie Plec (“Kyle XY”), James L. Thompson III (“Swingtown”), Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek”) : Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives. Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world. As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore. Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality. Now these two vampire brothers ─ one good, one evil ─ are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. Based on the series of books by L. J. Smith. : Are you kidding? In a world where “Twilight” is an unstoppable phenomenon, this is already being labeled as the must-see show of the fall (it’s got to give Ms. Smith at least a small surge of pride to know that her books preceded those of Stephenie Meyer’s by fourteen years), making the fact that it’s a Kevin Williamson production mere gravy. The brilliant decision to pair the series with the equally-petrifying “Supernatural” could make The CW a force to be reckoned with on Thursday nights. : The battle between the reunited brothers crackles with action and tension and features some nice verbal sparring between Wesley and Somerhalder as well. But what other kind of dialogue would you expect from the man who brought you “Dawson’s Creek”? : You’d be a fool to bet against this kind of buzz. It's not high drama, nor is it the greatest tale of the undead currently on television, but the kids are going to eat it up.

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