Fall TV preview

What to watch, and what to watch out for, on the boob tube. By Allison Williams

  • Melrose Place

  • Joel McHale in Community

  • Accidentally on Purpose

  • The Good Wife

  • Cougar Town

  • Flash Forward

  • Brothers

Melrose Place

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Melrose Place (Tuesday, Sept 8, at 9pm on the CW)
Following the questionable success of the CW’s 90210 remake, the Melrose Place apartment complex is again home to a group of sleazy, scheming hard bodies. Bitchy blond Ella (Katie Cassidy) does her best Heather Locklear impression, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz plays a self-proclaimed “good girl,” and screw-up David (Shaun Sipos) manages to both alienate his father (ex-Melrose resident Michael Mancini, played by Thomas Callabro) and bed the landlady, Sydney (Laura Leighton). Wait, we were supposed to remember plot details from the original MP? No one told us there’d be a quiz 12 years later.

Moment to watch for: Five minutes in, when someone asks Sydney, “Are you threatening me?” Um, duh. Of course she is. Grab a Zima and take a seat, kids, ludicrous blackmail is how the '’90s were won.

Community (Thursday, Sept 17, at 9:30pm on NBC)
The recipe for NBC’s sure-to-be-a-hit comedy is easy to parse. Take one ridiculous setting (community college), add two big comedy names (Chevy Chase and Joel McHale, both tall, sarcastic drinks of water) and blend with snappy dialogue. Chase’s spacey return is especially welcome; the erstwhile Fletch has seen some rough years of late.

Moment to watch for: When the shyster student played by McHale (known for his biting commentary on The Soup) works up to an absurd fury to pull his fellow students out of their misanthropic despair (“Humans are the only species that recognizes Shark Week! Sharks don’t recognize Shark Week!”). In that space between non sequitur and nonsense, comedy born.

Accidentally on Purpose (Monday, Sept 21, at 8:30pm on CBS)
Wait, is the whole cougar thing more palatable if she’s knocked up? Let’s try! Billie (Jenna Elfman) is a desperate career girl who’s been dumped by her charming boss. So when a one-night stand with a young guy gets her pregnant, she decides to have both the baby and the boy toy. Frankly, instead of turning the tables on the older man--younger woman trope, these cougar story lines are merely sapping the dignity from everyone involved.

Moment to watch for: Billie’s friends suggest she unconsciously got pregnant on purpose. “If I don’t do it now, I may never get another chance,” she says when deciding to keep the baby. Well, that sounds like a good reason to start a family!

The Good Wife (Tuesday, Sept 22, at 10pm on CBS)
What are those Silda Spitzer/Jenny Sanford types thinking when they back up their philandering husbands at press conferences? This ripped-from-the-headlines drama may be as close as we get to finding out. When a cheating politician (Chris Noth) goes to the clink, his wife (Julianna Margulies) returns to her long-defunct law career to bring home the bacon.

Moment to watch for: When the titular wife—played by Margulies in a well-calibrated daze—realizes that she and a recent grad will be duking it out for the firm’s lone associate position. The onetime supportive spouse turning into a fighter, especially in a law office staffed by Christine Baranski and Josh Charles, should make for solid drama.

Cougar Town (Wednesday, Sept 23, at 9:30pm on ABC)
Old ladies like to have sex with barely legal men. Really old ladies, like, women over 40! Ha, that’s so funny! Right? Hilarious? No? Oh, then maybe you don’t want to see Courteney Cox playing a cougar-in-training.

Moment to watch for: When Cox’s character, Jules, jokes with her son about dating him. Her teenage son. No, wait, that’s the moment when you should cringe and cower.

Flash Forward (Thursday, Sept 24, at 8pm on ABC)
What if everyone in the world went to sleep for two minutes, all at once? Personally, we think a mass catnap would put us all in a better, rested mood, but on this show, the strange blackout produces worldwide destruction (cars crashing, zoo animals escaping, etc.). What’s more, everyone dreamed about the same thing—their own lives in the future. The season follows Angelenos who struggle to find out if their flash-forwards will come true. Think Lost, but with more organized time jumps.

Moment to watch for: When two Feds (leads Joseph Fiennes and John Cho) encounter the postblackout chaos on an L.A. freeway. Helicopters smash into buildings, cars flip. It’s the kind of special-effects mayhem that will be hard to keep up every week.

Brothers (Friday, Sept 25, at 8pm on Fox)
Michael Strahan, sitcom star? Stranger things have happened. The gap-toothed New York Giant heads up a family comedy, playing ex--NFL star Mike—what, you thought he’d be playing a crime scene investigator? His brother, Chill (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell), is wheelchair-bound with a chip on his shoulder, while his mom (the excellent CCH Pounder) is your typical badass matriarch. That Mike’s pop (Carl Weathers) has creeping dementia is the only serious element in this goofy comedy.

Moment to watch for: It isn’t long before Chill is calling Mike on his gapped smile and resulting lisp. Strahan’s self-deprecation is a good sign, and the quality of actors surrounding him suggests this is no vanity project.

Fall Preview 2009
There's something--no, a zillion things--to look forward to this coming season.