Another Fall TV Season

1. ‘Til Death


This new sitcom is about a middle-aged couple who’ve been


married around 20 years (Brad Garrett of Everybody


Loves Raymond — you know, the tall dude with the deep voice — and Joy


Stark), and their annoyingly newly-wed neighbors. Basically, it’s about new


marriage versus old marriage. On the surface, there seems to be


plenty of interesting ground to cover, but I’m curious as to whether or not the


whole new versus old premise will get tired after the first couple of episodes.


We’ll see. 8 p.m. Thursdays beginning


Sept. 7 on FOX


2. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip


Created by Aaron Sorkin (The


West Wing), this show-within-a-show — about the behind-the-scenes workings


of a live sketch comedy show — is a dramedy starring Matthew Perry and Bradley


Whitford as a writer and director who are asked to return to their old jobs at


Studio 60 after the executive producer very publicly jumps ship. This is the


sort of show that has a great deal of promise, and it could be good if it


doesn’t take itself too seriously. Other names on board include Steven Weber,


D.L. Hughley, Timothy Busfield and Amanda Peet, who may or may not be pregnant.


10 p.m. Mondays beginning Sept. 18 on


NBC.


3. My Name Is Earl


The show had a strong start and was pretty steadily


entertaining through its first season. Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee make a darn


good team. The question is whether or not the karma premise can successfully


carry the show through a second season. Let’s hope the solid cast of guest


appearences — Roseanne Barr, Burt Reynolds, Marlee Matlin and Giovanni Ribisi —


will help to spice things up. 8 p.m.


Thursdays beginning Sept. 21 on NBC


4. Heroes


A not quite sci-fi drama about normal people who wake up


with supernatural abilities: a male nurse who can fly, a junkie who can paint


images of the future, a cheerleader who can defy death, a cop who can hear


people’s thoughts … you know, kinda like superheroes. I was a bit iffy about


this one, but the preview was actually pretty intriguing, and Walt Belcher, the


Tampa Tribune’s voice for all things


TV, saw the first episode and told me it was really good. So, this is one part


my recommendation, and one part Walt’s. Just make sure to e-mail him if you don’t like it. 9 p.m. Mondays beginning Sept. 25 on NBC


5. Ugly Betty


Executive produced by Salma Hayek and based on a popular


Columbian telenova, this dramedy is about an intelligent but


attractive-challenged young lady who’s trying to make it in the fashion


industry. The ugly-duckling-becomes-a-swan plot has been done to death, but


critics seem to like it, and the previews look good enough for it to deserve a


watch or two. 8 p.m. Thursdays beginning


Sept. 28 on ABC


6. The Bachelor: ROME


I know, I know — with the exception of Trista and Ryan, and


Byron and Mary — relationships that come out of the Bachelor shows generally don’t last. ’Course, I’m a fool for love,


no matter how well-produced it is … and c’mon now, who doesn’t like to watch a


little humiliation every now and again? Plus, the backdrop this season is Rome, and the eligible


bachelor is Prince Lorenzo Borghese. He doesn’t make any important decisions —


he’s a cosmetics entrepreneur, after all — but he’s got capital, moderately good looks,


and plenty of women vying for his attention. 9 p.m. Mondays beginning Oct. 2 on ABC.




7. Twenty Good Years


John Lithgow. Jeffrey Tambor. Two old(er) men I’ve come to


love dearly as comedic actors. Together, they star in this sitcom about the


adventures of two very different friends who finally realize that life doesn't


last forever and that they only have "20 good years left." So, they


vow to live each day as if it's their last. Plenty of comedy to work with and a


good lead-in to 30 Rock. 8 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Oct. 4 on NBC.


8. LOST


If you’re like me, you’re primed and ready to find out who


the fuck The Others are and what the hell they’re doing on the island to make


every thing so FUBAR-ed. Or are they even involved with all the bizarreness?


Anyway, the bad news is that Lost


will only air new episodes for six or seven weeks in a row; then it will be


replaced mid-season by Day Break


(starring Taye Diggs) for 13 weeks. New episodes begin again after that. Very,


very annoying but not entirely unexpected. 9


p.m. Wednesdays beginning Oct. 4 on ABC


9. 30 Rock


Another behind the scenes look at a SNL-type sketch show


dubbed a “network variety show.” Written, executive produced and starring Tina


Fey, this half-hour laugh-track free sitcom also stars Alec Baldwin as a


meddlesome executive and Tracy Morgan as a loony tunes actor/comedian (not a


far stretch). The previews are promising and any show that features a handful


of talented former SNL-ers has the potential to be very funny. Also stars


Rachel Dratch and Jane Krakowski. 8:30


p.m. Wednesdays beginning Oct. 11 on NBC


Other must sees:


America’s Next Top Model 7, which has the


latest batch of lovely ladies competing for a modeling contract and cash … oh,


wait. This season, the girls don’t know what


they’re competing for — but who cares, right? It’s gonna be BIG! (8 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Sept. 20 on The


CW, spawn of the UPN-WB merge). The


Amazing Race, same old 12 teams of two competing in a race around the world


(new time/day: 8 p.m. Sundays beginning


Sept. 17 on CBS). And Shark, a


drama that stars James Woods as a defense attorney who has a change of heart (10 p.m. Thursdays beginning Sept. 21 on CBS).

I was also going to recommend Survivor 13: Cook Islands before I heard that the teams are being


broken up by ethnicity: Black, White, Asian and Hispanic. Although I’m drawn as


if to a bad car accident, I feel morally obligated not to recommend it to others. Jeff Probst called it a “social


experiment” on the Early Show but


that doesn’t make it right.

I recently took part in a panel discussion about fall

television for the Bay Area Media Network’s last luncheon of 2006. Everything

went well but I didn’t really get to talk about all the shows I was looking

forward to seeing. So, for the TV watching crowd (I know you’re out there),

I’ve compiled a handy guide to the most promising shows this fall. Here they

are in no particular order:

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