Now that we're almost in the middle of September, it's time for regular-season television shows to come back into our lives. So let's take a look at what's coming up and begin preparing our DVRs for all the hard work they'll soon be doing.
Boardwalk Empire — After a plodding, uninspiring first season, Boardwalk Empire roared back with a second round of episodes that were complex but not incomprehensible, moody but not turgid, and above all else surprising as hell. So we're pretty excited for the upcoming third season, even though (SPOILER ALERT) one of our favorite characters, petulant brat Jimmy, now has a few extra holes in his face. The promos offer us a few tantalizing glimpses of what's to come, including more of the terrific Gretchen Mol and the arrival of the, well, terrific Bobby Canavale as some sort of volatile gangster. Let's hope they can keep up the momentum. (9/30, HBO)
Homeland — OK, so this isn't a perfect show. For a series trying to be sober and serious about national security, it strains credibility on an almost routine basis. And yet it's still such an entertaining little thriller; it's a paranoid spy drama and a domestic potboiler all rolled up into one lumpy but satisfying package. Who knows where the show is heading now that we know the truth about Sgt. Brody and Carrie's had her brain zapped, but we're confident that no matter the intrigue, Homeland will serve it up well. The first twenty minutes of the premiere are available online if you simply can't wait. (9/30, Showtime)
666 Park Avenue — While this new show is probably going to be deeply silly, it still looks kind of fun, right? The basic premise is that a young couple moves into a too-good-to-be-true Manhattan apartment building that is, as it turns out, run by the devil and his wife. That Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams play Mr. and Mrs. Lucifer is a big part of the draw, as is the possibility that they're not actually the devil and his bride, they're maybe just working for him. This show ought to pair up well with its network partner for the night, the sensationally silly but inexplicably addicting Once Upon a Time. With all this other heavy stuff clunking around on Sunday night, choosing to end the weekend with something dumb but fun instead could be refreshing. (9/30, ABC)
Elsewhere: ABC's soapy thriller Revenge moves to its new night (9/30) ... CBS' nifty lawyer drama The Good Wife returns for a fourth season (9/30) ... HBO's low-key drama Treme heads back to New Orleans (9/23) ... Don't forget to watch TV's most important night, the Primetime Emmys (9/23, ABC) ... Dexter finally deals with the matter of Deb this season, which is very exciting (9/30, Showtime) ... The Walking Dead lurches back onto the airwaves after a grim second season (10/14, AMC)
The Mob Doctor — Fans of TBS' short-lived sitcom My Boys (there was more than one of us, right?) might be surprised to find that show's tomboy lead Jordana Spiro in a dramatic role here, playing a doctor forced to do bad things for the Mafia because of her brother's gambling debts. We had this idea a while ago (see: Mary Stuart Masterson) so are curious to see how these shameful copycats executed it. We're not too optimistic about Fox dramas in general, but Justified's Michael Dinner is an executive producer and directed the pilot, so there might be something interesting here. Plus, Zach Gilford! Saracen! (9/17, Fox)
Revolution — We've already covered the pilot, an unsatisfying muddle of genre cliches, but maybe you'll still want to give this show a chance. These adventure/mystery series can be kind of fun once you get into them, so Revolution might bear consideration past the pilot. Not too much consideration, as that pilot is pretty darn bad, but another episode or two at least. If for no other reason than to support the great Giancarlo Esposito in his post-Breaking Bad career. Though, he does pop up on occasion on Once Upon a Time, so maybe that's enough? (9/10, NBC)
Dancing With the Stars: All Stars — As others have noted, this show really should be called Dancing With the Stars of 'Dancing With the Stars', but oh well. The point is if you missed Bristol Palin on this radioactively cheesy competition show during her first go-around, she's back to enthrall and entertain once more. As are Joey Fatone, Apolo Anton Ohno, Kirstie Alley, Pamela Anderson, and various raggedy others. We've never been able to stomach this show, but if you're a fan, this seems like the most important season yet. (9/24)
Elsewhere: CBS' all-male (plus Sophia Bush) version of Will & Grace, Partners, looks not so good (9/24) ... Gossip Girl struts back for its blessedly final season (10/8)
The New Normal — NBC has been promo blitzing the heck out of this thing, a Ryan Murphy sitcom about a gay couple, their dippy surrogate, and her bitchy mom. Oh plus there's NeNe Leakes from Real Housewives of Atlanta, because why not. The whole pilot is up online and, to us, it's a perfectly likable half-hour that could stand to be a little bit, y'know, funnier. It's got that nice Ryan Murphy bite to it, but there's also a treacly element that's threatening to overtake the show a lot sooner than Glee's inherent schmaltz sunk that once promising series. Still, Andrew Rannells, discovered from Broadway's The Book of Mormon and here playing the flamboyant half of the main couple, is a charmer, and Barkin brings some new pizazz to a creaky stock character. (9/11, NBC)
Ben & Kate — Oscar-winning screenwriter Nat Faxon plays a galumphy ne'er-do-well who moves in with his sister to be a nanny to his niece in this sitcom from "Fempire" member Dana Fox. The ads have not been terribly enticing, but maybe Faxon's oafish antics actually aren't as annoying as they seem in those brief clips? And hey, Lucy Punch is in it, and she's very funny! Plus we get to see if series lead Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, has what it takes to make it in the family business. (9/25, Fox)
Vegas — In this ambitious period piece, Dennis Quaid plays the reluctant sheriff of a 1960s Las Vegas that's overrun with mob activity, most of it overseen by Michael Chiklis. The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss plays a district attorney, which seems a little improbable given that it's the West in 1960, but whatever. Of course the sheriff has a steady number-two man in his brother (played by Terra Nova's Jason O'Mara, who I guess escaped the dinosaurs) and an impetuous son named Dixon (Taylor Handley). This could be a rollicking yarn through an interesting time and place in American history, or it could be The Playboy Club. Only one way to find out! (9/25, CBS)
Elsewhere: Matthew Perry's sad sitcom about sad people, Go On, is sad (9/11, NBC) ... Mindy Kaling's new sitcom The Mindy Project is not so good so far (9/25, Fox) ... Comedy Central is debuting Daniel Tosh's new rape-heavy animated series Brickleberry (9/25) ... Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer tries her hand at another doctor series after her failed Off the Map, this one a dramedy called Emily Owens, M.D. (10/16, The CW) ... Increasingly likable sitcom Happy Endings is worth checking out in its third season (10/23, ABC)
Nashville — Wonderful, lovable Connie Britton gets outta that damn ghost house and heads to Tennessee, where she plays an aging country star vying with a new upstart (Hayden Panettiere) for the spotlight. Lots of other colorful country characters pop up on this primetime soap, which was written by Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri. It looks like chintzy fun, even if it is basically the same exact thing as Country Strong, and Country Strong was not good. Who can resist big hair and bitchery? (10/10, ABC)
Chicago Fire — Hunky fireman fight fire and act like hunks in this Third Watch-esque drama. House hunk Jesse Spencer and The Vampire Diaries hunk Taylor Kinney are the main hunks here, with some lady hunks popping up as EMTs, nurses, and even one firefighter. Oh and Steve from Sex and the City is in it! Sure he's not exactly a hunk per se, but he's still a familiar face. This show is from Dick Wolf, so it could actually have some credibility to it, but we're pretty sure Rescue Me will have done it better no matter what. (10/10, NBC)
American Horror Story: Asylum — Season two of this horror anthology show brings us to a creepy New England mental hospital in the 1960s. Returning company member Jessica Lange plays a creepy nurse while Joseph Fiennes is a creepy doctor, and Chloe Sevigny, Jenna Dewan, and Adam Levine, of all people, are their presumably creepy patients. We're not sure we like all this talk about Nazis and aliens, but the first season of this show was so morbidly good that we're holding out hope for another season of gross-out scares and clever surprises. (10/17, FX)
Everything Else: Britney Spears and Demi Lovato make their debut as judges on the retooled The X Factor (10/12, Fox) ... Survivor heads to the Philippines with Blair from Facts of Life in tow (9/19, CBS) ... Justin Kirk's sad monkey sitcom Animal Practice makes its regular season debut (9/26, NBC) ... Anthony Anderson and the kid from Swimfan are guys who have kids in Guys With Kids (9/26, NBC) ... Modern Family returns for some more good-natured chuckles (9/26, ABC) ... The truly bizarre-looking aliens-in-suburbia sitcom The Neighbors might be the year's strangest show (10/3, ABC) ... The CW tries its hand at a superhero series with The Arrow (10/10)
Last Resort — Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman make off with a nuclear submarine and create their own little island nation in this beyond ambitious thriller series. This is one of those shows that kinda sounds like it'd make a better movie or miniseries than actual show, but that problem has never seemed to stop the networks in the past. It's certainly an intriguing concept, Crimson Tide with some political drama on shore and a deserted island narrative, plus it features the wonderful Autumn Reeser from The O.C. and was co-crated by The Shield's Shawn Ryan. So it's got some good names involved. We're holding out hope that this will actually be smart and suspenseful instead of soggy and silly, like so many action-dramas in the recent network past. (9/27, ABC)
Elementary — Witnessing PBS' success with its BBC import Sherlock, CBS decided it wanted in on the sleuth game and came up with this project. Jonny Lee Miller plays a modern-day Sherlock Holmes who has relocated to New York after a stint in rehab, while Lucy Liu plays Joan Watson, Holmes' sober companion who becomes his trusted righthand woman. And hey, that's Aidan Quinn as a normal New York City cop. This show will likely be a bit flat, with lots of supposedly brilliant detective work that actually isn't that brilliant (like with The Mentalist), but for the interesting Liu factor alone we're planning to give it a look-see. We could be surprised by what we discover! (Probably won't be, though.) (9/27, CBS)
Beauty and the Beast — Instead of just re-airing the camptastic Linda Hamilton/Ron Perlman series from the late '80s, which it should have done, The CW has freshened up the idea of a modern-day, urban Beast and made him a CW-worthy dreamboat. He's also a bit werewolf-y/Hulk-y, in that the transitions into the Beast only when angry. The rest of the time he's just some handsome regular dude. This show of course has the potential to be an unmitigated disaster, but hey, if the late-'80s version bizarrely worked, maybe this can too. (10/11, The CW)
Elsewhere: Glee comes bouncing back with a whole New York-set plotline featuring Kate Hudson (9/13, Fox) ... For some reason we're getting another season of Real Housewives of Miami, only with mostly different Housewives (9/13, Bravo) ... Saturday Night Live runs a couple of election specials (9/20, NBC) ... The Office starts its final season, as does 30 Rock (9/20 & 10/4, NBC) ... Parks and Recreation starts what is hopefully not its last season (9/20, NBC) ... Now that Elena's a vampire, what will she be writing in her Vampire Diaries? (10/11, The CW) ... Yay! More It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia! (10/11, FX)
Made in Jersey — A British actress plays a tough Jersey chick who goes to work at a high-class white collar Manhattan law firm in this Working Girl-esque drama. Why they cast a British person in this incredibly region-specific role (it's right in the title!) is beyond us, but the accent that keeps getting praised in the promos? It's not so good. Oh well. It's Friday night, whaddaya want. This Brit is joined by Kyle MacLachlan as her boss, Stephanie March as her nemesis, and, rather improbably, Donna Murphy has her mom. Strange cast for a decidedly un-strange show.(9/28, CBS)
Malibu Country — Reba McEntire heads back to TV playing a country woman who moves to California following a messy divorce. Lily Tomlin comes along with her, as do her teenage kids. Then there's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Jai Rodriguez for some reason? Who knows. Mostly this show is exciting because, well, of course because of Reba, but also because it kind of marks the beginning of a new TGIF. ABC has paired it up with Tim Allen's Last Man Standing in a way that seems reminiscent of the 1990s Friday family sitcom bloc. Sure that doesn't mean quality, but it does mean tradition. And that counts for something. (11/2, ABC)
Community — Banished to a terrible Friday slot following Whitney, what will this last, Dan Harmon-less season of the beloved cult show be like? Will its rabid fans be pleasantly surprised or even more outraged than anticipated? Will anyone even watch it? We're curious to see how this troubled show ends its troubled story. We don't see things going all that well, frankly. Which is a bit sad. But it's also, if we're honest, strangely satisfying. Not because of the show itself, but because of those smug fans. Haha, take that, Community fans! Your nice thing is ruined. (10/19, NBC)
Elsewhere: NBC's biggest unexpected hit, fairy tale procedural Grimm, might be its only hope (9/21) .. Fringe takes one last inter-dimensional trip before disappearing forever (9/28, Fox) ... Nikita was somehow given another shot, which means more work for Devon Sawa (10/19, The CW)
Get out of the house! There's no TV on Saturdays. Except Saturday Night Live, which beings its season on 9/15. But otherwise, turn the TV off and go see your friends.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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