Hippo Manchester
September 1, 2005

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Falling into the new season

Television to keep you going through the frosty days of winter

by Amy Diaz 

Let us bow our heads in praise of TV.

For though nature taketh away (daylight that lasts until 9 p.m., the ability to achieve a tan without a tanning bed) TV giveth the rosy glow of a new fall season to warm our Lost and Veronica Mars-craving hearts.

And, though it is the return of old friends that makes us save the date for TV viewing, it’s the lure of the unknown, the brand-new cult hit or watercooler phenomenon that truly makes fall such an exciting time.

With the new season officially underway (Monday’s Prison Break got the ball rolling), here are a few of the new show’s most worthy of space on your Tivo.

• Bones (Tuesdays on Fox, 8 p.m.): David “Angel” Boreanaz returns to creepy drama as an FBI agent who frequently turns to a forensic anthropologist for help solving crimes. You can take the prosthetic vampire fangs out of his mouth, Fox, but you will never be able to hide that gigantic brooding brow.

• Commander in Chief  (Tuesdays on ABC, 9 p.m.): Sometimes you can’t wait to see a show just to see it fail. Geena Davis stars as a VP picked to pretty up a ticket but who actually gets some time in the big chair when the president dies. Geena Davis. Geena Davis who already racked up a failed sitcom. Geena Davis who couldn’t host the Oscar preshow without embarrassing herself.

• Everybody Hates Chris (Thursdays on UPN, 8 p.m.): The childhood of Chris Rock, dramatized, is fertile comic territory for this sitcom about a 13-year-old boy who moves into a tough Brooklyn neighborhood but attends a mostly-white school across town.

• My Name is Earl (Tuesdays on NBC, 9 p.m.): Perhaps realizing that “wacky” was its only hope at returning to comedy dominance, NBC wisely cast Jason Lee as a loser who tries to make good on his wasted life of low-level crime.

• Night Stalker (Thursdays on ABC, 9 p.m.): Stuart Townsend takes over for Darrin McGavin as Kolchak, a reporter obsessed with the supernatural. His quest to track down the things lurking in the shadows stems in part from the murder of his pregnant wife. Think the proto-X-Files (Chris Carter long cited Night Stalker as his inspiration).

• Reunion (Thursdays on Fox, 9 p.m.): Sure, gimmicks can be, er, gimmicky but they can also give a crappy show a fighting chance (that’s right, you little underdog Cold Case, I’m throwing a little faint praise your way). In this crime drama, a present-day murder has ties to six friends who graduated high school in 1986. Each episode flashes back to a different year (ooo, ready the Pearl Jam for those post-college years).

• Surface (Mondays on NBC, 8 p.m.): Originally called Fathom, this tale of an oceanographer (Lake Bell, rightfully cut from Boston Legal) who finds a new form of life (possibly terrestrial, possibly extra) is worthy of notice because of some behind-the-screen talent — Josh and Jonas Pate, writers for the excellent underrated G. Vs. E.

•  Twins (Fridays on The WB, 8:30 p.m.): This cheesy sitcom has a horrible premise (fraternal twin sisters; one’s pretty, one’s snarky) and the presence of Melanie Griffith but does rate our notice due to the starring role (guess which sister?) of Sara Gilbert.

Mark your calendar

This is no time to develop a social life.

Competition is fierce and for once, the broadcast networks’ biggest concerns aren’t just each other. DVDs, premium cable such as HBO, standard cable such as TNT and FX, video games and the whole Internet/iPod/ podcast mishagas is way scarier to the networks for the way it sucks your attention than whatever NBC has put in the 8 p.m. Thursday slot.

For us the viewers this means a good chance at some new shows worth watching and some old shows that made a point of not going stale during the summer.

Though HBO continues its rolling debuts of shows (look for The Sopranos in early 2006) and mid-season starts (24 will show up January-ish) will keep the winter interesting, it’s September when all the real fun happens.

Generally speaking, the networks will roll out the bulk of their season/series premieres thusly:

ABC: Tuesday, Sept. 20 though Thursday, Sept. 29

CBS: Monday, Sept. 19 through Thursday, Sept. 29

Fox: Monday, Aug. 29 through Monday, Sept. 19

NBC: Monday, Sept. 19 through Sunday, Sept. 25

The WB: Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Friday, Sept. 16; Thursday, Sept. 29

UPN: Monday, Sept. 19 through Thursday, Sept. 22

Here’s a more specific schedule of when networks plan to debut their new seasons or new series.

• Thursday, Sept. 8: The O.C., Fox, 8 p.m.; Reunion, Fox, 9 p.m.

• Sunday, Sept. 11: The Simpsons, Fox, 8 p.m.; The War at Home, Fox, 8:30 p.m.; Family Guy, Fox, 9 p.m.; American Dad, 9:30 p.m.

• Monday, Sept. 12: Wife Swap, ABC, 8 p.m.

• Tuesday, Sept. 13: The Biggest Loser, NBC, 8 p.m.; Bones, Fox, 8 p.m.; Gilmore Girls, The WB, 8 p.m.; House, Fox, 9 pm; Supernatural, The WB, 9 p.m.

• Wednesday, Sept. 14: Head Cases, Fox, 9 p.m.

• Thursday, Sept. 15: Survivor: Guatemala, CBS, 8 p.m.

• Friday, Sept. 16: What I Like About You, The WB, 8 p.m.; Twins, The WB, 8:30 p.m.; Reba, The WB, 9 p.m.; Threshold, CBS, 9 p.m.; Living with Fran, The WB, 9:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Sept. 17: MADtv, Fox, 11 p.m.

• Sunday, Sept. 18: King of the Hill, Fox, 7:30 p.m.

• Monday, Sept. 19: Arrested Development, Fox, 8 p.m.; The King of Queens, CBS, 8 p.m.; One On One, UPN, 8 p.m.; 7th Heaven, The WB, 8 p.m.; Surface, NBC, 8 p.m.; All of Us, UPN, 8:30 p.m.; How I Met Your Mother, CBS, 8:30 p.m.; Kitchen Confidential, Fox, 8:30 p.m.; Girlfriends, UPN, 9 p.m.; Just Legal, The WB, 9 p.m.; Las Vegas, NBC, 9 p.m.; Two and a Half Men, 9 p.m., CBS; Half & Half, 9:30 p.m., UPN; Out of Practice, CBS, 9:30 p.m.; CSI: Miami, CBS, 10 p.m.; Medium, NBC, 10 p.m.

• Tuesday, Sept. 20: According to Jim, ABC, 8 p.m.; NCIS, CBS, 8 p.m.; My Name is Earl, NBC, 9 p.m.; The Office, NBC, 9:30 p.m.; Law & Order: SVU, NBC, 10 p.m.; Nip/Tuck, Fox, 10 p.m.

• Wednesday, Sept. 21: America’s Next Top Model, UPN, 8 p.m.; The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, NBC,8 p.m.; Still Standing, CBS, 8 p.m.; Yes, Dear, CBS, 8:30 p.m.; E-Ring, NBC, 9 p.m.; Lost, ABC, 9 p.m.; Veronica Mars, UPN, 9 p.m.; CSI: NY, CBS, 10 p.m.; Invasion, ABC, 10 p.m.; Law & Order, NBC, 10 p.m.

• Thursday, Sept. 22: Everybody Hates Chris, UPN, 8 p.m.; Joey, NBC, 8 p.m.; Eve, UPN, 8:30 p.m.; The Apprentice, NBC, 9 p.m.; CSI, CBS, 9 p.m.; Cuts, UPN, 9 p.m.; Love, Inc., UPN, 9:30 p.m.; Criminal Minds, CBS, 10 p.m.; ER, NBC, 10 p.m.

• Friday, Sept.  23: The Bernie Mac Show, Fox, 8 p.m.; Dateline NBC, NBC, 8 p.m.; Ghost Whisperer, CBS, 8 p.m.; Supernanny, ABC, 8 p.m.; Malcolm in the Middle, Fox, 8:30 p.m.; Hope & Faith, ABC, 9 p.m.; Killer Instinct, Fox, 9 p.m.; Three Wishes, NBC, 9 p.m.; Inconceivable, NBC, 9 p.m.; Numbers, CBS, 10 p.m.

• Sunday, Sept. 25: Charmed, The WB, 8 p.m.; Cold Case, CBS, 8 p.m.; The West Wing, NBC, 8 p.m.; Blue Collar TV, The WB, 9 p.m.; Desperate Housewives, ABC, 9 p.m.; Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, 9 p.m.; Crossing Jordan, NBC, 10 p.m.; Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 10 p.m.

• Tuesday, Sept.  27: The Amazing Race: Family Eidition, CBS, 9 p.m.; Commander in Chief, ABC, 9 p.m.; Sex, Love & Secrets, UPN, 9 p.m.; Boston Legal, ABC, 10 p.m.

• Wednesday, Sept. 28: George Lopez, ABC, 8 p.m.

• Thursday, Sept. 29: Alias, ABC, 8 p.m.; Smallville, The WB, 8 p.m.; Will & Grace, NBC, 8:30 p.m.; Everwood, The WB, 9 p.m.; Night Stalker, ABC, 9 p.m.; Without a Trace, CBS, 10 p.m.

• Tuesday, Oct. 4: Rodney, ABC, 8:30 p.m.; Close to Home, CBS, 10 p.m.

• Wednesday, Oct. 5: One Tree Hill, The WB, 8 p.m.; Freddie, ABC, 8:30 p.m.; Related, The WB, 9 p.m.

• Friday, Oct. 7: Hot Properties, ABC, 9:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, Nov.2:  That ‘70s Show, Fox, 8 p.m