Fall TV 2010: New and returning shows premiering this Sunday and Monday
Sundays on HBO at 8pm
Without a doubt, the jewel of the Fall 2010 television season, this new series from executive producer Martin Scorsese and creator Terence Winter (The Sopranos) chronicles the life of gangster Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who ruled the boardwalk of Atlantic City at the start of Prohibition in 1920. HBO sunk $50 million into making the pilot episode alone, so consider the bar officially raised.
How I Met Your Mother
Mondays on CBS at 7pm
Last year's season of HIMYM took a turn for the bland as the creators dabbled in making a more conventional sitcom. Thankfully, they've promised to return to the focus of previous seasons this year. The season will begin with Ted running into his ex-girlfriend Cindy (Rachel Bilson), the roommate of the titular "Mother."
Mondays on NBC at 7pm
In an absolute embarrassment of guest star riches, the season premiere of the spy comedy features appearances from Linda Hamilton as the long-lost mother of Chuck and Ellie, Dolph Lundgren as an operative being tracked by Sarah and Casey, Harry Dean Stanton as a repo man come to collect on Chuck's outstanding debts now that he's out of work and Olivia Munn as a new Buy More employee (and maybe more). And yes, all of that fits in a single hour-long episode. Sadly, there is no appearance from fan favorites Big Mike and Jeffster or Captain Awesome, but it's understandable with so much going on. Sure, the presumed dead mother who turns out to be a very much alive spy is torn right out of the scripts of Alias, but I'm sure Chuck will add it's own spin and with Hamilton on board to play the part, fun is assured.
Dancing with the Stars
Mondays on ABC at 7pm
The competition begins again with a full slate of celebrities—some with greater credentials than others—including Margaret Cho, Dirty Dancing's Jennifer Grey, David Hasselhoff, Florence Henderson, Brandy, Bristol Palin and Carlos Santana.
Mondays on FOX at 7pm
Now a couple, House and Cuddy are doing their best to establish something resembling a normal relationship while the hospital is up to its normal routine of solving medical mysteries.
Rules of Engagement
Mondays on CBS at 7:30pm
Still preparing to be parents, Jeff and Audrey discover some startling news regarding their surrogate mother.
Two and a Half Men
Mondays on CBS at 8pm
Jake discovers that Alan is dating his friend's mother and elects to move in with Judith and Herb while Charlie tries to moderate his alcohol consumption.
Mondays on NBC at 8pm
The horribly annoying marketing campaign hyping what the titular "Event" isn't could have been forgiven if there were any real payoff. Alas, there's little to be found in the show's pilot. The Event is clearly attempting to be something of cross between 24 and Lost but it came to remind me the most of ABC's failed attempt at a Lost successor, Flash Forward. Very little actual happens in the premiere episode, which focuses on Sean Walker's (Jason Ritter) attempts to find his girlfriend (Sarah Roemer) after she vanishes on their romantic vacation, everything else is merely set up for some sort of grand, conspiracy-laden plot that, at this point, seems like it's much more captivating in the heads of the show's creators than it is on the screen. Though I must admit, it does take some skill to make an episode of television that features an airplane hijacking so incredibly dull.
Mondays on FOX at 8pm
Bob Allen (James Wolk) has had an awkward life being raised by a con-man (David Keith) and brought up into life filled with deceit. He and his father are currently working a scam that involves Bob living two lives, one as the husband to an oil tycoon daughter (Adrianne Palicki) and the other as a man selling oil leases and dating a young woman (Eloise Mumford). Bob has come to a decision, though, he wants to take the job his father-in-law (Jon Voight) has offered him and live a normal life. Of course, this normal life doesn't include choosing one woman over the other, as he's still content to lead both of them on. The scam Bob has going is on such shaky ground that it's difficult to see how the show will be able to convincingly portray him successfully keeping it up over the course of the show. Plus, it's hard to empathize with a man who claims to want a normal life but continues to deceive the two women he claims to love.
Mike & Molly
Mondays on CBS at 8:30pm
Set in Chicago, this sitcom focuses on the flirtation between a Chicago police officer (Billy Gardell) and school teacher (Melissa McCarthy) that meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. If that set-up implies to you that the show will be a bit kinder regarding its main characters' girth, you're dead wrong. Molly's mother and sister and Mike's partner spend most of the pilot episode making all manner of fat jokes and there's a particularly horrendous gag involving a broken finger that's just icky.
Mondays on CBS at 9pm
The opening of this reboot starts with a bang including a chase sequence involving a helicopter and a guest appearance by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's James Marsters as the episode's villain. Unfortunately, once it goes about introducing the regular cast members, it begins to fall flat. Alex O'Loughlin's Steve McGarrett is fairly bland and Scott Caan's putting everything he has into his reluctant partner Danny Williams, but some of the dialogue between the two is just atrocious. Former Lost and Battlestar Galactica stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park don't get much of an opportunity to boost the material either, especially since it seems like the only reason Park is there is to beat up guys while wearing a swimsuit.
Mondays on NBC at 9pm
A show about U.S. marshals tracking down fugitives in Texas, from the executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Chase seems to aspiring to new levels of mediocrity. It's trying to trade in on its placement of a cowboy boot-wearing, tough lady Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) as its lead but that would be much more effective is Frost wasn't a pale imitation of every other female law enforcement on television. The supporting characters don't fare much better as they all kind of blend together in a single melting pot of one person spread across several actors. The action in the premiere episode is alright, but the dialogue can be pretty laughable as, for example, Frost intimates to the new guy on the team to "Learn some music...the quickest way into a person's soul."
Mondays on ABC at 9pm
Last season saw Rick Castle heading off to the Hamptons with his ex-wife and publisher just as Beckett had ditched her boyfriend after her fellow detectives suggested that the author had feelings for her. Several months later, the detectives still haven't heard from their buddy and they're feeling a little rejected because of it, hoping that he'd have returned by now. Of course, things don't get less awkward when Castle's crime buddies finally meet up with him again when they find at the scene of a murder, holding the gun that killed the woman.