20 TV Shows to Watch This Fall

Not sure what to tune in to this season? Check out our favorites here. 

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"New Girl," Fox, Tues. at 9 pm

 

If you loved her in (500) Days of Summer or Elf, you’ll love Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day, a young teacher who leaves her two-timing boyfriend and moves into a cool new loft apartment with three roommates—all guys. The best bit is that she has a bad habit of singing to herself, which gives the 30-year-old actress—who performs as half of the She & Him duo with singer-songwriter M. Ward—a chance to warble a few bars in the show. She even sings the title song. 

2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Autumn Dewilde/FOX

"Up All Night," NBC, Wed. at 8 pm

 

Art imitates life in this sitcom starring Christina Applegate as a new mom returning to work at a Hollywood publicity firm run by Maya Rudolph (a new mom in real life, though she’s a relentlessly single, self-involved scene stealer here) while husband Will Arnett (a real-life new father himself, with wife Amy Poehler) becomes a stay-at-home dad.  

© NBCUniversal, Inc.

"Last Man Standing," ABC, Tues. at 8 pm

 

Shades of Home Improvement. Tim Allen is back in familiar territory (and even in his old time slot) as a sporting-goods-store marketing director forced to play a bigger role at home when his working wife is promoted. He takes on more of the domestic responsibilities with their three daughters—and you can see where this one is going.

© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Prime Suspect," NBC, Thurs. at 10 pm

 

The original U.K. miniseries about a tough female detective in a man’s world won two Emmys for Helen Mirren and made her a household name in America. Maria Bello does her best to bring some bite to this Americanized version, set in Manhattan. Aidan Quinn costars as her boss.

© NBCUniversal, Inc.

"I Hate My Teenage Daughter," Fox, Wed. at 9:30 pm

 

It’s a brilliant premise: Two best friends who survived abuse at the hands of mean girls when they were in high school are now full-grown women and moms who suddenly realize that their darling daughters are the teen tormentors of today. It’s a great cast: Emmy winner Jaime Pressley and Tony winner Katie Finneran. Now let’s just hope it’s funny.  

©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX.

"Pan Am," ABC, Sun. at 10 pm

Jumping on the Mad Men bandwagon, this melodrama offers a glossy look at the lives of stewardesses and pilots in the high-flying ’60s. It features Christina Ricci and Kelli Garner, who wear their cool blue uniforms proudly.  

© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Revenge," ABC, Wed. at 10 pm

Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp of Brothers & Sisters) is a sweet young thing who rents a house in the Hamptons next to the beachfront estate of rich-bitch Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe). But she’s not as innocent as she looks. In fact, she is living under an assumed identity and has returned to this community—and the very house—where she lived as a girl, to seek vengeance on those who destroyed her childhood. 

© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Once upon a Time," ABC, Sun. at 8 pm

 

Former House star Jennifer Morrison plays a woman with a curious past drawn to a New England town where the lines between fantasy and reality blur, and she just may find out who the local townies really are. Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Carlyle and Lana Parrilla costar. 

© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Charlie's Angels," ABC, Thurs. at 8 pm

Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh do their kickboxing best to make us forget Jaclyn, Farrah and Kate in this remake of the ’70s Spelling series. Drew Barrymore—who already milked the series in two big-screen blockbusters—is the executive producer. 

© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Homeland," Showtime, Starts Oct. 2

Political thrillers are hard to pull off on TV. But Claire Danes grounds this series as a volatile CIA agent who suspects that a soldier who was MIA in Iraq and has been rescued is not the American hero he seems to be. Damien Lewis and Mandy Patinkin costar. 

©Michael Muller/Showtime 2011

"Enlightened," HBO, Starts Oct. 10

 

Fearless Laura Dern and quirky collaborator Mike White have created a disturbingly dark comedy (or is it a comic drama?) about a corporate exec who has a meltdown after an office romance gone bad.  After a stint in rehab, she returns to work ready to make amends and start over, but she is still struggling with demons. And it doesn’t help that she’s living with her mother (played by Dern’s real-life mother, Diane Ladd) and hooking up with her addict ex-husband (Luke Wilson). 

©Prashant Gupta

"The Ringer," CW, Tues. at 9 pm

 

It’s nice to have Sarah Michelle Gellar back (on the CW, no less, where she left off with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2003) in a dual role suitable for Bette Davis (who played duplicitous twin sisters in 1946’s A Stolen Life and again in 1964’s Dead Ringer): She’s a runaway witness who hides out as her rich twin sister—without realizing what new complications she’s gotten herself into. The strong cast includes Nestor Carbonell, Ioan Gruffudd and Kristoffer Polaha.

Ringer Pilot Pictured: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Bridget. Photo: Eric Liebowitz/CBS ©2011 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

"Suburgatory," ABC, Wed. at 8:30 pm

 

Who woulda thought swarthy Jeremy Sisto, last seen on Law & Order, could be so compelling as the architect father of a teenage daughter (the adorably geeky Jane Levy)? Or that Cheryl Hines, best known as Larry David’s TV wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm, could be so much fun as a Botoxed suburban mom with a heart of gold? Finally, ABC has a show with just the right mix of style and guile to fill the gap between The Middle and Modern Family. Look for SNL alum Ana Gasteyer as a nudgy neighbor.

ABC

"Person of Interest," CBS, Thurs. at 9 pm

Lost creator J.J. Abrams has two new series this season, but this is the one of interest (the other is the midseason Alcatraz on Fox). Strapping James Caviezel—you know him as Mel Gibson’s Jesus in The Passion of the Christ—plays an ex–CIA agent presumed dead who turns up homeless in Manhattan and is recruited by Emmy-winning Lost star Michael Emerson (he played creepy-cool Benjamin Linus) to join an elite team that prevents crimes before they occur. Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) costars. 

©2011 Warner Bros. Television All Rights Reserved

"2 Broke Girls," CBS, Mon. at 8:30 pm

 

This year’s odd-couple comedy costars Kat Dennings (Natalie Portman’s wisecracking sidekick in Thor) and newcomer Beth Behrs as waitresses at a Brooklyn diner who become the most unlikely roommates, pooling their talents and tips with the idea of opening a cupcake shop someday. Created by standup comic Whitney Cummings (who has her own eponymous sitcom) and Sex & the City’s Michael Patrick King, this is arguably the crudest TV comedy since Two and a Half Men (which follows it). Look for SNL alum Garrett Morris, now 74, as the cashier, Earl. 

©2011 CBS BROADCASTING INC. All Rights Reserved.

"Man Up," ABC, Tues. at 8:30 pm

Metrosexuality, move over. Star Christopher Moynahan has created a surprisingly spry sitcom about three pals with their own takes on what it means to be a modern man—and the woman who humor them. Tony winner Dan Fogler (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and Mather Zickel costar, along with Focker mom Teri Polo and brainy beauty Amanda Detmer; NYPD Blue’s Henry Simmons also costars. 

© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

"A Gifted Man," CBS, Fri. at 8 pm

 

Only a few seasons back, Treat Williams played a brilliant physician humbled by the untimely death of his wife on Everwood. This time Patrick Wilson plays the arrogant uptown surgeon who is forced to rethink his life’s ambitions when his newly dead ex-wife appears before him and begins to show him the way. It’s a class act created by Erin Brockovich scribe Susannah Grant that should finally make Wilson a star after so many strong roles in movies (especially Little Children) and theater. The women in his life include Julie Benz as his much-maligned single-mom sister, Jennifer Ehle (The King’s Speech) as his ex-wife, Rachelle LaFevre (Twilight) as a doctor in a family clinic and the magnificent Margo Martindale (an Emmy nominee for Justified) as his seen-it-all associate. 

©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

"Unforgettable," CBS, Tues. at 10 pm

 

After playing J.K. Rowling in the Lifetime movie Magic Beyond Words, Poppy Montgomery stars as redhead Carrie Wells, an ex-cop with the power of total recall (and a dark memory she can’t recall) who is drafted back onto the force. Based on "The Rememberer," a short story by Aimee Bender, the new procedural is perfectly paired with Tuesday night’s NCIS block, filling the hit-making time slot left by The Good Wife, which moves to Thursday night. Dylan Walsh of Nip/Tuck fame costars. 

©2011 CBS BROADCASTING INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

"Terra Nova," Fox, Mon. at 8 pm

 

Steven Spielberg’s name on this show says it all: The family action drama is like Parenthood meets Jurassic Park, complete with computer-generated dinosaurs and primeval waterfalls. Irish actor Jason O’Mara (Life on Mars) plays a cop whose family is transported 85 million years into the past from the year 2149 in a last-ditch effort to save the planet. Brit actress Shelley Conn plays his doctor wife, and Avatar baddie Stephen Lang steals most of his scenes as the leader of the new colony.

©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Lavine/FOX

"Whitney," NBC, Thurs. at 9:30 pm

 

This comic riff on relationships was created by and stars standup comic Whitney Cummings. It can get raunchy, like its leading lady. Chris E’Elia does honors as the longtime boyfriend she lives with but isn’t ready to marry.

 

Related: Top 20 TV Series Makeovers

 

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© NBCUniversal, Inc.
First Published September 9, 2011

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