Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fall TV Preview: Mondays at 8PM

Is there a more exciting time than the beginning of the fall TV season? To get ready for the return of favorite series, and the debut of new ones, I will be taking a look over the next couple of weeks at each hour of programming. I'll be giving my thoughts on the many pilots that I've seen, and identifying which shows I will be watching and recording. Fall TV, here we come!

Mondays at 8PM

Dancing with the Stars (premieres September 24)
Idol Thoughts readers know I love this show -- click here for a full list of postings on Dancing, including the list of this year's participants.

8:00 How I Met Your Mother (premieres September 24)
I'm not a big sitcom person, and I don't watch this show every week, but when I do happen to catch it, I generally find myself pretty amused. How could I not, with top-shelf talent like Allison Hannigan, Jason Segal and they hysterical Neil Patrick Harris on board? Mandy Moore joins the cast for a few episodes this fall.

8:30 Big Bang Theory (premieres September 24) NEW SERIES
CBS Says: Leonard and Sheldon are brilliant physicists, the kind of "beautiful minds" that understand how the universe works. But none of that genius helps them interact with people, especially women. All this begins to change when a free-spirited beauty named Penny moves in next door. Sheldon, Leonard's roommate, is quite content spending his nights playing Klingon Boggle with their socially dysfunctional friends, fellow CalTech scientists Wolowitz and Koothrappali. However, Leonard sees in Penny a whole new universe of possibilities... including love.

This is one of the fall's stronger sitcom entries, with Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons make an amusingly dorky pair, and 8 Simple Rules' Kaley Cuoco well cast as their much hipper foil. It was announced this week that Galecki's former Roseanne costar Sara Gilbert would be joining the cast for an unspecified number of episodes, which only gives the show more cachet.

Prison Break
I just received the pre-screener of the third season's first two episodes, so look for a review soon. Until then, know that I love Wentworth Miller, and that alone is enough to help me overlook some of the more implausible plot turns this show tends to take. Since 24 doesn't return until mid-season, Prison Break is sure to be my edge-of-my-seat fix for the fall.

Chuck (premieres September 24) NEW SERIES
NBC Says: From executive producer, Josh Schwartz ("The O.C.") and executive producer-director McG ("Charlie's Angels," "We Are Marshall") comes a one-hour, comedic spy thriller about Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi, "Less Than Perfect") - a computer geek who is catapulted into a new career as the government's most vital secret agent. When Chuck opens an e-mail subliminally encoded with government secrets, he unwittingly downloads an entire server of sensitive data into his brain. Now, the fate of the world lies in the unlikely hands of a guy who works at Buy More.

This pilot shows some promise, and Levi is an endearingly dorky lead (not to mention a dead ringer for Adam Brody's Seth Cohen character on The OC), but at the end of the 44 minutes I couldn't quite determine if this series was an action show, a comedy, or a relationship drama. If they can smooth out some of the tonal inconsistencies, it may wind up being a charming underdog for the fall season.

The CW
8:00 Everybody Hates Chris
I watched a few episodes of this series back in Season 1, but to be honest, I haven't made much of an effort to tune back in since.

8:30 Aliens in America NEW SERIES
The CW Says: Justin Tolchuck (Dan Byrd, "The Hills Have Eyes") is a sensitive, lanky 16-year old just trying to make it through the social nightmare of high school in Medora, Wisconsin, with the help of his well-meaning mom Franny (Amy Pietz, "Caroline in the City"), aspiring-entrepreneur dad Gary (Scott Patterson, "Gilmore Girls") and his beautiful and popular younger sister Claire (Lindsey Shaw, "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"). Franny is the kind of take-charge mom who micro-manages her family, and she's come up with a plan to help Justin: she signs up for the school's international exchange student program. Picturing an athletic, brilliant Nordic teen, Franny is sure this new friendship will bestow instant coolness on her outsider son. However, when the Tolchuck's exchange student arrives, he turns out to be Raja Musharaff (Adhir Kalyan, "Fair City"), a 16-year-old Muslim from a small village in Pakistan. Despite the cultural chasm between them, Justin and Raja develop an unlikely bond that just might allow them to navigate the minefield that is contemporary high school.

What could easily be a one-joke stereotype is mined for real laughs and genuine emotion in what I think is the best new sitcom of the year. Although the pilot I saw didn't have Gilmore alum Patterson, I'm already sold on this one.

Next up: Mondays at 9PM

Click for This Fall at Idol Thoughts

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