Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for Fox

Monday

Terra Nova

(8 – 9 PM, Sept. 26)

The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), How I Met Your Mother / 2 Broke Girls (CBS), The Sing-Off (NBC), Gossip Girl (The CW)

Starring: Jason O’Mara, Stephen Lang, Shelley Conn, Andon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, Mido Hamada, Christine Adams, Allison Miller

Executive producers: Brannon Braga, Alex Graves, Rene Echevarria

What the network says: “In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in doubt, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past. When scientists at the FERMI Particle Accelerator unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past – a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time.

The Shannon family joins the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet forbidding land. Jim Shannon, a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth Shannon, is a trauma surgeon and the newest addition to Terra Nova’s medical team. Josh Shannon is their 17-year-old son who is angry to leave life as he knows it behind; upon arriving at the settlement, he finds himself instantly drawn to the beautiful and rule-breaking Skye. Maddy Shannon, Josh’s endearingly awkward 15-year-old sister, hopes Terra Nova will give her a new chance to reinvent herself. Although Elisabeth’s medical training secured the family a spot on the pilgrimage, a secret involving their five-year-old daughter, Zoe, soon endangers their place in this utopia.

Upon the Shannon’s arrival, they are introduced to Commander Nathan Taylor, the charismatic and heroic first pioneer and leader of the settlement. Taylor, along with his right-hand man, Guzman, warn the travelers that while Terra Nova is a place of new opportunities and fresh beginnings, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Along with blue skies, towering waterfalls and lush vegetation, the surrounding terrain is teeming with danger – and not just of the man-eating dinosaur variety. There is also a splinter colony of renegades led by the battle-hardened Mira, who is vehemently opposed to Taylor and his leadership. Even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls of the colony is the chilling possibility that something sinister is happening inside Terra Nova. The Shannons will come to suspect that not everyone on this mission has the same idea of how to best save mankind; in fact, there may be forces intent on destroying this new world before it even begins.”

What we say: Critics began sharpening their knives when they heard that Fox was delaying the premiere of the series by several months in order to make sure everything was ready to roll without having to rush, but as a sci-fi geek, I was pleasantly surprised with the depth of the premise and the unrolling of the series’ mythology. Anyone concerned that the whole thing is little more than a bunch of haphazardly-thrown-together plot ideas covering up a bunch of big-budget CGI dinosaurs needn’t be worried. Not that there aren’t quite a few rampaging dinos on the premises, but there’s also a nice amount of family drama, intriguing characters brought to you by established sci-fi guys like O’Mara (ABC’s “Life on Mars”) and Lang (“Avatar”), and a mystery about this strange alternate-universe past the Shannons and their fellow colonists have found themselves in. Fox used to be really awful about letting sci-fi series catch their breath and find a groove, but with the way they’ve kept “Fringe” alive for the past few seasons, there’s a very real possibility that “Terra Nova” will have an opportunity to build a fanbase beyond just the gawkers who want to see dinosaurs.

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Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for ABC

Tuesday

Last Man Standing

(8 – 8:30 PM, Oct. 11)

The competition: NCIS (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), Glee (Fox), 90210 (The CW)
Starring: Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, Kaitlyn Dever, Molly Ephraim, Alexandra Krosney, Christoph Sanders, Hector Elizondo

Executive producers: JackBurditt, Tim Allen, Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements, Shawn Levy, Richard Baker and Rick Messina

What the network says: “You can’t get manlier than Mike Baxter. He loves to have adventures while he’s traveling for work and, of course, he drives a pick-up truck. But Mike is about to find out that it’s not a man’s world anymore. While he might be king of the hill at work at an iconic outdoor sporting goods store, he’s the odd man out in a home dominated by his wife and three daughters. Today it’s a woman’s world, and this man’s man is on a mission to get men back to their rightful place in society. After being a stay-at-home mom for years, Mike’s wife, Vanessa, recently returned to the workplace and was quickly promoted — much to the dismay of her primarily male co-workers. Now that Vanessa’s work load has increased, Mike is pulled into more hands-on parenting than ever before. With things turned upside down at home, Mike’s last bastion of sanity – work – gets hit by change as well; his long-time boss and friend, Ed, announces that he’s grounding Mike from their catalogue’s international photo shoots and putting him in charge of the company’s webpage. But while adjusting to this new role, Mike discovers that the Internet might actually provide him just the outlet he needs, a platform that gives him a voice to appeal to those who agree that manliness is under assault, and a pulpit for his opinions about feeling like the last real man in a woman’s world. After all, men built civilizations, invented the locomotive and created ESPN, and Mike Baxter is determined to do what he must to reclaim his manly place in his home and at his job.”

What we say: It’s kind of hard to criticize “Last Man Standing” for having almost exactly the same mainstream manly-man tone as “Home Improvement” when Tim Allen freely admits that it’s something he’s making a conscious effort to re-stake his old territory. You can, however, criticize the series for not being very funny. Sure, it’s funny in a Tim Allen kind of way, but…oh, this way lies madness, so let’s just cut to the chase: basically, if you like broad comedy about a guy’s guy who’s annoyed with the fact that his brand of man is a dying breed, then you’ll like this show. I laughed a couple of times, but as I am not now nor have I ever been a guy’s guy, I walked away with little or no interest in ever watching another episode…which, come to think of it, is almost exactly the way I’ve always felt about “Home Improvement.” Based on this info, you can probably make your own judgement call as to whether or not you’ll have any interest in tuning in.

Man Up

(8:30 – 9 PM, Oct. 18)

The competition: NCIS (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), Glee (Fox), 90210 (The CW)

Starring: Mather Zickel, Dan Fogler, Christopher Moynihan, Teri Polo, Amanda Detmer, Henry Simmons, Jake Johnson, Charlotte Labadie

Executive producers: Christopher Moynihan, Victor Fresco (“Better Off Ted”), and Ron West and Kelly Kulchak

What the network says: “Three modern male archetypes struggle as they search for their identities and try to prove that ‘real men’ really can use hazelnut creamer. Meet Will. Will’s grandfather fought in WWII. Will’s father fought in Vietnam. Will plays Call of Duty on his PS3 and drinks non-dairy hazelnut creamer. So what happened to all the real men? They’re still here — they just smell like pomegranate body wash now. Will’s evolved, sensitive nature is why his awesome wife, Theresa, married him. But he and his friends find themselves wondering… In a world of Axe ads and manscaping, what does it really mean to be a guy anymore? Will is more interested in finding the perfect gift for his son Nathan’s 13th birthday than in doing his job selling insurance; sensitive soul Craig still pines for his college ex, Lisa; and Kenny clamps down on his anger and asks himself, ‘What would Tobey Maguire do?,’ when his ex, Bridgette, starts seeing a guy who is everything he’s not and much better looking. After Craig crashes Lisa’s wedding to try to win her back, all three are faced with an opportunity to ‘man up’ and be like their forefathers.”

What we say: I swear it’s not because the lead character’s name is Will, but…I actually like this better than “Last Man Standing,” even though it’s ultimately covering a certain amount of the same ground. I think you can probably attribute that to executive producer Victor Fresco, whose presence always guarantees that the series won’t be 100% commercial. Speaking of ground that’s already been trod upon, there’s also an undeniable similarity between “Man Up” and Fox’s late, lamented mid-season series “Traffic Light.” (That’s not a bad thing for me, though, as I loved the series.) As for the cast, there are really only two matinee names: Teri Polo, of the “Meet the Parents” franchise, and Dan Fogler, who’s one of those guys who can take things so far over the top that he presents a major love-him-or-hate-him vibe. It must be said, though, that he pulls the majority of the biggest laughs in the pilot. As far as putting this alongside “Last Man Standing,” I don’t know if that’s a great move or not, since the similar premises will likely viewers to suspect that if they don’t like one, then they won’t like the other, but it’s not true: “Man Up” may not be spectacular, but it’s ten times funnier than its lead-in.

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Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for CBS

Monday

2 Broke Girls

(8:30 – 9 PM, Sept. 26, with special preview on Sept. 19 at 9:30 PM)

The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), The Sing-Off (NBC), Terra Nova (Fox), Gossip Girl (The CW)

Starring: Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs, Garrett Morris, Matthew Moy, Jonathan Kite, Brooke Lyons

Executive producers: Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings

What the network says: “A comedy about two young women waitressing at a greasy spoon diner who strike up an unlikely friendship in the hopes of launching a successful business – if only they can raise the cash. Sassy, streetwise Max Black works two jobs just to get by, one of which is waiting tables during the night shift at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. Sophisticated Caroline Channing is an uptown trust fund princess who’s having a run of bad luck that forces her to reluctantly give waitressing a shot. At first, Max sees Caroline as yet another in a long line of inept servers she must cover for, but she’s surprised to find that Caroline has as much substance as she does style. When Caroline discovers Max’s knack for baking amazing cupcakes, she sees a lucrative future for them, but they first need to raise the start-up money. While they save their tips, they’ll stay at the restaurant, working with Oleg, an overly flirtatious Russian cook; Earl, a 75-year-old kool-kat cashier; and Han Lee, the new, eager-to-please owner of the diner. Working together, these two broke girls living in one expensive city might just find the perfect recipe for their big break.”

What we say: What’s this? A new sitcom in CBS’s Monday night lineup that isn’t a Chuck Lorre production? Will wonders never cease! Better yet, it’s a relatively strong one, though like so many other sitcom entries this season, it’s one where the leads are strong but the ensemble surrounding them is hit or miss…and, unfortunately, that includes Garrett Morris, who deserves so much better than hackneyed one-liners. (There’s a Duke University locker room joke, for God’s sake. Uh, zing?) Dennings, however, is the sarcastic version of Zooey Deschanel, which is to say that she’s cute, funny, and she could take you down a peg without even blinking, and Beth Behr is, for lack of a more elaborate phrase, sweet and pretty. The two of them also have instant chemistry together. If a cast as strong as “Mad Love” couldn’t make it more than a season, we probably shouldn’t pin any major hopes on “2 Broke Girls,” but it’s a certainly a show that we wouldn’t mind seeing succeed.

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Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for NBC

Monday

The Playboy Club

(10 – 11 PM, Sept. 19)

The competition: Castle (ABC), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

Starring: Eddie Cibrian, Amber Heard, Laura Benanti, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Wes Ramsey, Naturi Naughton, Leah Renee, Jenifer Lewis, David Krumholtz

Executive producers: Brian Grazer, Chad Hodge (“Runaway,” “Tru Calling”), Francie Calfo (“Scoundrels”), Jason Burns and Dick Rosenzweig (“The House Bunny,” “The Girls Next Door”), and Ian Biederman (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).

What the network says: “Nick Dalton is the ultimate playboy and one of the city’s top attorneys, rubbing elbows with everyone in the Windy City’s power structure. With mysterious and complicated ties to the mob, he comes to the aid of Maureen, the stunning and innocent new Bunny at the club, who accidentally kills the patriarch of the Bianchi crime family. Dating Nick is Carol-Lynne, a bombshell of a beauty and an established star at the Playboy Club who’s ready to be more than a Bunny. As she seeks an opportunity to elevate her stature even higher at the club, she can’t help but notice that something is developing between Nick and Maureen. Adding to the charm of the club is Janie, the foxy and carefree life of the party who is dating Max, a sweet and romantic bartender. Brenda, a stunning beauty with a dry wit, has big aspirations. Bunny Alice manages to take care of everyone but herself, and while married, is hiding a huge secret from everyone. Pearl is the club’s seamstress who’s been there since day one and knows more about what it takes to survive than anyone. Running the club and answering only to the top is general manager Billy Morton, who also shares a close friendship with Nick. With all of these larger-than-life ambitions, there are even greater secrets. It’s a good thing Hef’s Playboy Mansion is open after hours for a little R&R – and burying your past.”

What we say: Given that this is “the guys’ portal to the web,” it should come as no surprise to find that we here at Bullz-Eye find this series to be imminently watchable, in no small part because of the ever-gorgeous Amber Heard. It must be said, however, that the similarity in feel to “Mad Men” is almost unbearable at times, not just because it’s set in the ’60s, but also because if you close your eyes when Eddie Cibrian is talking, it might as well be Jon Hamm. Plus, not only is there a lot of melodrama on hand with the blend of romance and criminal activity, but the idea of having actors playing real ’60s celebrities – in the pilot episode, Ike and Tina Turner perform at the club – brings back dormant memories of “American Dreams.” By the time the proceedings are over, there’s really only one question to be asked: will beautiful babes in bunny costumes be enough to keep us coming back? Up to a point, sure…which makes sense, since that’s why people kept coming back to the real Playboy Club. As for the show, though, we’ll see where things stand after a few episodes.

Wednesday

Up All Night

(8 – 8:30 PM, Sept. 21, special preview Sept. 14 @ 10 PM)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), The X Factor (Fox), H8R (The CW)

Starring: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph

Executive producers: Lorne Michaels, Emily Spivey, Jon Pollack (“30 Rock”), and Erin David (“Saturday Night Live”)

What the network says: “Reagan Brinkley is a loving wife, successful career woman, life of the party and, most recently, mom. Determined not to compromise her career or cool reputation to the clichés of motherhood, Reagan adjusts to life with a baby and returns to work with the support of her stay-at-home husband, Chris. As Reagan and Chris figure out their new life, self-doubt, sleep deprivation and the pressure of today’s parenting protocols rattle their confidence. What’s more, the endless needs of Reagan’s boss, ambitious but vulnerable talk-show host Ava, threaten to throw Reagan off balance.”

What we say: As is only appropriate for a show about a new baby, “Up All Night” has already experienced some growing pains, with the producers making the decision to A) pump up Maya Rudolph’s role on the series, and B) add Nick Cannon to the cast as Ava’s onscreen cohort. As a result, the revised pilot – which still doesn’t include Cannon but does offer much more Maya – feels less about the new parents than it should, which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but…well, isn’t it ostensibly about the new parents? This is the kind of shift that you’d expect as the series progresses, not before it ever leaves the station. Granted, it isn’t as if anyone outside of the TV critic community will have any idea that a change has occurred, but viewers are still likely to wonder why a show revolving around Reagan and Chris becoming new parents spends so much time focusing on Reagan’s boss.

Free Agents

(8:30 – 9 PM, Sept. 21, special preview Sept. 14 @ 10:30 PM)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), The X Factor (Fox), H8R (The CW)

Starring: Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn, Anthony Head, Mo Mandel, Al Madrigal, Natasha Leggero, Joe LoTruglio

Executive producers: John Enbom, Todd Holland, Ira Ungerleider and Karey Burke (“Miss Guided”), Kenton Allen, Nira Park, Chris Niel

What the network says: “Newly-divorced Alex is missing his kids and trying to keep himself together. Alex’s co-worker Helen thinks she has it together, but she drinks too much in order to cope with her fiancé’s untimely death. It’s no surprise then, when these two overworked public relations executives share an ill-fated night of passion and are forced to cope with the awkward aftermath. Thus begins the journey of two lost and emotionally damaged souls in search of happiness. Joining the cause is an array of co-workers who are both helpful and meddling at the same time. Stephen is the office boss who is concerned about Alex’s emotional stability, yet needs him to focus on his work; Dan is a bachelor in search of a wingman; and Gregg is the nerdy, lone husband of the group. Despite their valiant and well-intentioned efforts, they are failing in their attempts to help Alex get back into the dating scene. In addition, Emma is Alex’s spitfire assistant who is always ready with a quick comeback, and the building security guard is always ready to share a little advice. Together, this motley, and often dysfunctional, group takes on a new level of damage control.”

What we say: As it stands right now, “Free Agents” lives or dies on the performances of the couple at the heart of the series. Fortunately, Azaria and Hahn are sweet, likeable, and very funny. So, for that matter, is Mr. Head, but we’ve come to expect that from the artist formerly known as Rupert Giles. Insofar as the rest of the ensemble goes, however, it’s mostly and miss. The only other person who really stands out is Leggero, but she’s only got a couple of lines. The big question is where the series will go from here. Will it stick to its current strengths and phase out most of Alex and Helen’s coworkers, or will it begin to flesh them out and turn this into a good old fashioned ensemble comedy? Hard to say. At the moment, though, it’s worth sticking around just to see Azaria and Hahn interact with each other. They’re just so darned cute!

Thursday

Whitney

(9:30 – 10 PM, Sept. 22)

The competition: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Person of Interest (CBS), Bones (Fox), The Secret Circle (The CW)

Starring: Whitney Cummings, Chris D’Elia, Zoe Lister-Jones, Rhea Seehorn, Maulik Pancholy, Dan O’Brien

Executive producers: Scott Stuber, Quan Phung, Betsy Thomas, Barry Katz, Andy Ackerman, Whitney Cummings

What the network says: Whitney and Alex are a happily unmarried couple. Together for three years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched, which seems to get a mixed response from their friends. Whitney’s close circle of girlfriends includes on one side: Lily, a romantic idealist who loves being in love, and on the other: Roxanne, a recent divorcee who is practical, cynical, and dreading being single again. Lily and Roxanne’s opposing points of view only exacerbate Whitney’s own complicated outlook on relationships. Completing their close-knit group is Neal, a real modern day Renaissance man – sensitive, cool and knows a little bit about everything and happens to be dating Lily. On the other end of the spectrum is Whitney and Alex’s next-door neighbor Mark, a police officer and total bachelor, who claims to be the ultimate player, but likes to talk a good game. At the end of the day, Whitney and Alex try to have a relationship on their own terms – in a world that expects a more traditional approach.”

What we say: How odd that a comedienne who’s generally perceived as being relatively cutting-edge should offer up such a pedestrian sitcom. “Whitney” suffers from the same problem as “Free Agents,” which is to say that the two leads are great, but the rest of the ensemble tends to fall relatively short of the mark. In particular, Zoe Lister-Jones is so over the top as to be annoying, and while Seehorn is amusingly brusque, her character needs to be toned down a bit as well. Speaking of toning things down, it’s remarkable how loud the live-before-a-studio-audience laughter is, especially given the majority of the material. Here’s hoping the rest of the show manages to climb up to the level where Cummings and D’Elia are.

Prime Suspect

(10 – 11 PM, Sept. 22)

The competition: Private Practice (ABC), The Mentalist (CBS)

Starring: Maria Bello, Aidan Quinn, Brian F. O’Byrne, Tim Griffin, Kirk Acevedo, Damon Gupton, Peter Gerety

Executive producers: Peter Berg (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”), Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives”), Sarah Aubrey, Julie Meldal-Johnson, Paul Buccieri, Lynda LaPlante and John McNamara

What the network says: “Tough-as-nails NYPD homicide Detective Jane Timoney is an outsider who has just transferred to a new squad where her new colleagues already dislike her. Jane is confident and focused – and also rude, abrupt and occasionally reckless. She has her vices, and rumors of a questionable past follow her everywhere – but at the end of the day she’s a instinctively brilliant cop who can’t be distracted from the only important thing: the prime suspect.”

What we say: Is it wrong that the first opinion I feel obliged to offer is that I hate the hat? It’s just feels like an unnecessary affectation, and it drives me crazy whenever I see her wearing it. Okay, I’m done bitching about the hat. But, you know, it could’ve been worse. I could’ve been a huge fan of the original “Prime Suspect” and could be sitting here bitching about how this is an affront to Helen Mirren’s accomplishments in that series. As it happens, though, I’ve never seen so much as a single episode of the original, so I’m able to take this American version on its own merits. I’m not sure how long the sexism situation can last as a running thread, frankly, so unless they want this to devolve into just another procedural (which would be depressing, since lord knows we have enough of those already), they’re going to need to maintain the unique personalities of the various characters that they’ve introduced. With Peter Berg working behind the scenes, I’m hopeful that that’ll happen. But we’ll see.

Friday

Grimm

(9 – 10 PM, Oct. 21)

The competition: Shark Tank (ABC), CSI: New York (CBS), Fringe (Fox), Supernatural (The CW)

Starring: David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Russell Hornsby, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz

Executive producers: Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, Jim Kouf, David Greenwalt

What the network says: “Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as ‘Grimms,’ charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world. As he tries to hide the dangers of his new found calling from his fiancé, Juliette Silverton, and his partner, Hank Griffin, he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries and alliances of the Grimm world. With help from his confidant, Monroe, a reformed Grimm creature himself, Nick must navigate through the forces of a larger-than-life mythology, facing off with Hexenbiests, Blutbads and all manner of ancient evils, including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, The Grimm Brothers.”

What we say: This is the kind of show that has “cult hit” written all over it, but 2011 is hardly the perfect time for a floundering network like NBC to hang onto a series like this long enough for it to build an audience. That’s a shame, because as odd as the premise might be, it actually feels like it has a lot of potential, blending the dark and spooky mythology of all the Hexenbiest and Blutbad stuff with a relatively straightforward police procedural. But with no real “name” actors in the cast, the only way “Grimm” isn’t going to meet a grim fate in only a few weeks’ time is if NBC throws a lot of promotion heft behind it. A couple of seasons ago, this could’ve been the next “Heroes.” Now, it’s more likely to be the next “Cape.”

  

Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for The CW

Monday

Hart of Dixie

(9 – 10 PM, Sept. 26)

The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Two and a Half Men / Mike & Molly (CBS), The Sing-Off (NBC), House (Fox)

Starring: Rachel Bilson, Jaime King, Wilson Bethel, Cress Williams, Scott Porter

Executive producers: Leila Gerstein, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein and Donald Todd

What the network says: “Fast-talking New Yorker Zoe Hart has her life all figured out: after graduating top of her class from medical school, she’ll follow in her father’s footsteps as a cardio-thoracic surgeon in New York City. But life has other plans for Zoe. Turned down for the prestigious fellowship she had been certain she would get, Zoe is without a job and without a plan. Desperate, she decides to finally respond to the kindly stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, whom she met at her medical school graduation and who had offered her a place at his small medical practice in Bluebell, Alabama. She swallows her considerable pride and heads down South – temporarily, she assures herself.”

What we say: If you thought the worst thing about “Hart of Dixie” would be trying to buy Bilson as a surgeon, you’re wrong. In addition to painting the character of Zoe with the sort of broad strokes where she starts the pilot as a complete bitch who’s dismissive of living in a small Southern town and ends it as a thoughtful young woman who believes the people of Bluebell just might have a few life lessons to teach her, the proceedings tend to be little more than cornpone cliches slathered atop a heaping helping of schmaltz. There are a few clever lines and amusing characters, like the mayor of Bluebell, a former football player who regularly refers to himself in the third person, but viewers below the Mason-Dixon line will likely sneer at the way they’re portrayed, while everyone else will just roll their eyes and switch over to…well, just about anything else, really.

Tuesday

Ringer

(9 – 10 PM, Sept. 13)

The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), New Girl / Raising Hope (Fox)

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nestor Carbonell, Mike Colter, Ioan Gruffudd

Executive producers: Pam Veasey, Jon Liebman and JoAnne Colonna

What the network says: “Bridget Kelly is a recovering addict, struggling to turn her life around. She’s six months sober, and beginning to get back on track, when she witnesses a professional hit. She’s placed in federal protection under the watch of Victor Machado, an agent determined to see that justice is done. But Bridget knows that Victor can’t keep her safe and she flees, telling no one, not even her close friend and Narcotics Anonymous sponsor Malcolm Ward. Hoping to buy some time, Bridget contacts her identical twin sister, Siobhan Martin, and joins her in New York City, reuniting with her for the first time in six years. Siobhan is fabulously wealthy, with a strikingly handsome husband, Andrew, who has no idea that Bridget exists. When Siobhan suddenly disappears, seemingly taking her own life, Bridget makes the split decision to take on her sister’s identity.”

What we say: With so many unabashed “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans among the writing staff, no one wants to see Sarah Michelle Gellar succeed in a series more than Bullz-Eye, but for that to happen, viewers are going to have to get past the painful sequences at the beginning of the pilot where Gellar interacts with herself. If you can get beyond that, Gellar’s interactions with the trifecta of Carbonell, Colter, and Gruffudd may offer enough charisma to keep people coming back, but given that we weren’t even halfway through the pilot before we started wondering incessantly just how long Bridget was going to be able to perpetuate her chicanery, things are going to have to get really interesting really quickly for the show to maintain the initial “welcome back to the small screen, Sarah Michelle” momentum in the ratings.

Wednesday

H8R

(8 – 9 PM, Sept. 14)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), Up All Night / Free Agents (NBC), The X Factor (Fox)

Host: Mario Lopez

Executive producers: Mike Fleiss, Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, Mario Lopez and Jeremy Spiegel

What the network says: “Celebrities are constantly in the public eye – but not everyone is a fan. Each week, celebrities from the world of television, sports and music will come face-to-face with their biggest ‘haters’ to try to win them over.”

What we say: All we’ve seen thus far is a “presentation” to give us a feel for what the show will be like, but it now appears that the season premiere is going to feature the same material, namely Snooki from “Jersey Shore” and Jake Pavelka from “The Bachelor” each confronting a “hater.” The concept itself isn’t so awful – it’s about time some of these internet trolls were taken to task by the people they’re mouthing off about from the safety of their computers – but based on the sampling of future “stars” who’ll be appearing on the show, it’s clear that the word “celebrity” is going to be pretty relative. Given the competition, it’s hard to imagine that reality-show alumni facing off against their “haters” are going to pull sufficient ratings to make much of a ratings dent against actual reality shows like “Survivor” and “The X-Factor.”

Thursday

The Secret Circle

(9 – 10 PM, Sept. 15)

The competition: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Person of Interest (CBS), The Office / Whitney (NBC), Bones (Fox)

Starring: Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker, Gale Harold, Phoebe Tonkin, Shelley Hennig, Jessica Parker Kennedy

Executive producers: Kevin Williamson, Andrew Miller, Les Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo

What the network says: “Cassie Blake is a normal, happy teenager, leading an everyday life with her devoted single mom, Amelia. But when her mother dies in what Cassie thinks is a tragic, accidental fire, her world is turned upside down. Cassie moves in with her warm and loving grandmother Jane in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington – where the residents seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.”

What we say: The fact that it’s from Williamson, most recently known to CW viewers as the man who brought them “The Vampire Diaries,” may lead everyone who’s aged out of their teens to believe that “The Secret Circle” will be at best no more than another guilty pleasure that they’ll never publicly admit to watching. “Circle,” however, begins without the bandwagon-jumping feel that “Vampires” had at the outset – “It’s just like ‘Twilight,’ except it’s on every week!’ – and instantly offers a dark, intriguing premise as well as all the teen angst you’ve come to expect from a Williamson project. Yes, many oldsters will smile knowingly at the similarities to “The Craft” when the bitchy teen witches hit the screen, but it feels more like an homage than a rip-off. This could prove to be one of the more enjoyable series of the season. Stay tuned.

  

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