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Fall TV 2009: Monday

”How I Met Your Mother,” ”Gossip Girl,” and other shows open the television week

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Gossip Girl
Returning Drama — 9-10PM — The CW
Most teen soaps suffer when the kids head to college, but GG‘s producers think it has benefitted the show. It helps that most of the characters are enrolled at NYU or Columbia. ”The writers have done a great job keeping everyone connected,” says exec producer Josh Schwartz. ”This is the juiciest season yet in terms of intrigues and hookups.” That’s for sure. Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester) are finally together, Serena (Blake Lively) gets involved with Carter (Sebastian Stan), and Nate (Chace Crawford) romances fellow Columbia student Bree (JoAnna Garcia), the daughter of a rival political family. Dan (Penn Badgley) befriends NYU classmate Olivia (guest star Hilary Duff), the star of a fantasy-film franchise. (Sept. 14)

How I Met Your Mother
Returning Comedy — 8-8:30PM — CBS
Will Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) be less arrogant and abrasive now that he and Robin (Cobie Smulders) appear to be entering into a relationship? Yes and no, according to co-creator Carter Bays. ”Barney is in a relationship the same way he is being single, which is he’s gotta be the best at it,” says Bays. ”He’s gonna crush being a boyfriend. He’s gonna blow Marshall [Jason Segel] out of the water.” Also in the fifth season: Ted (Josh Radnor) will come closer to meeting the titular Mother with his new gig as a professor at Columbia University. ”This year, we’re kinda looking at the mother as Jaws,” says Bays. ”We’ll see the mom’s fin every now and then.” Meanwhile, Bays says that news of the series’ first Emmy nomination for best comedy actually proved detrimental. ”It held us back because it was two days of heavy drinking,” he jokes. ”We definitely lost some yardage because of that.” (Sept. 21)

Returning Drama — 8-9PM — NBC
Even Adrian Pasdar admits the once-hot drama ”went off the rails a little bit” in season 3. ”But,” he adds, ”we’re back in major style.” In a rewind to the show’s super-successful first season, the new volume, ”Redemption,” finds our Heroes ”free to go back to their normal lives,” says series creator Tim Kring. To wit, Claire (Hayden Panettiere) enrolls in college (where rumor has it she’ll minor in bisexuality), Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) is back working as a paramedic, Hiro (Masi Oka) discovers that he’s seriously ill, and Nathan (Pasdar) returns to his political roots, ”but his inner Sylar [Zachary Quinto] is slowly emerging.” Of course, just when the Heroes thought they were through battling evil, they get pulled back in — this time by a group of similarly super-powered carnies led by Prison Break‘s Robert Knepper. Explains Greg Grunberg (Matt): ”You know when you go to a carnival and you see these odd people? Well, imagine all of them had powers, and they’re hiding out in the open. Season 4. Welcome to it.” (Sept. 21)

Returning Drama — 8-9PM — Fox
”It’s a little bit like a movie,” says exec producer Katie Jacobs of the hit medical drama’s two-hour sixth-season premiere, which chronicles Doc Crankypants’ (Hugh Laurie) stay in the loony bin. The following week, the action shifts back to Princeton Plainsboro, where Foreman (Omar Epps) is now running the department and newlyweds Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Chase (Jesse Spencer) have been thrust back into their old jobs. Meanwhile, House considers making his medical leave permanent. ”He doesn’t want to return to his old habits,” says series creator David Shore. And he’s not too excited to face his boss, Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), with whom he hallucinated having sex last May. ”She wants to know where they stand,” says Shore. Bet House is psyched for that conversation. (Sept. 21)

One Tree Hill
Returning Drama — 8-9PM — The CW
Call it One Tree Hill 3.0. After rebooting two years ago with a time jump that skipped the college years, the seventh-season drama returns without mainstays Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton — and with another fast-forward, this time a mere 14 months. Nathan (James Lafferty) is now an NBA star. Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Julian (Austin Nichols) are making a go of it after a year of long-distance misery. Oh, and did we mention that Nathan’s dad/murderer/kidnapping victim/heart transplant patient Dan Scott (Paul Johansson) is now a self-help guru with his own talk show? ”It’s the crazy story [of the season],” says exec producer Mark Schwahn, in the understatement of the year. (Sept. 14)

Dancing With the Stars
Returning Reality — 8-10PM — ABC
Season 9 has 16 contestants — the most to date — partly because the performance shows are all two hours, and partly because exec producer Conrad Green wanted a roster diverse enough to include an Osmond (Donny), a former teenage witch (Melissa Joan Hart), and a controversial politician (ex — House majority leader Tom DeLay, who turned around his contract faster than anyone in DWTS history). If the cast doesn’t grab you, maybe Green’s night of new dances should: ”Possibly the lambada,” he says. In semi-related news, the guy who starred in Lambada is on line 2 begging to make a guest appearance. (Sept. 21)

Accidentally on Purpose
New Comedy — 8:30-9PM — CBS
Jenna Elfman had spent five years trying to develop a TV show for herself when her agent sent over the script for Accidentally on Purpose. The sitcom’s protagonist Billie — a thirtysomething film critic — gets knocked up from a one-night stand with a younger man (Jon Foster) while she’s broken up with her more age-appropriate boss/boyfriend (Grant Show). ”I haven’t felt this way since Dharma & Greg,” says Elfman. But if a pregnancy lasts only nine months, what happens next? ”The last episode of the season will be the birth,” says Elfman. And season 2? ”The baby is there,” says exec producer Claudia Lonow. ”But the show will be about their relationship trying to deal with the parenting, not about the baby. We like to think of it as an offscreen baby.” (Sept. 21)

Two and a Half Men
Returning Comedy — 9-9:30PM — CBS
Look who’s running with the devil! Eddie Van Halen will play himself in an episode of the sitcom’s seventh season, and he even strums a few bars for Charlie (Charlie Sheen). A visit from the guitar god will provide Charlie with a respite from his messy love life: Last season’s cliff-hanger saw Charlie’s ex-fiancée Mia (Emmanuelle Vaugier) reappear while he was enjoying his engagement to Chelsea (Jennifer Taylor). Alan’s (Jon Cryer) nervous breakdown will continue, especially after last year’s fling with his ex-wife Judith (Marin Hinkle), who recently had a baby. (But is he the father?) As for the half of a man, Jake (Angus T. Jones) will start driving and dating. Says exec producer Chuck Lorre, ”His life is a mystery because he keeps it away from Alan and Charlie.” (Sept. 21)

Lie to Me
Returning Drama — 9-10PM — Fox
Things will get personal in the second season of the Fox drama that’s absolutely nothing like The Mentalist. The show will delve into the private life of Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) and reveal a damaging secret from the body-language expert’s past. ”We’re gonna find out that Lightman, when he first started learning, did not always use the science for good,” says new exec producer Shawn Ryan. (Sept. 28)

CSI: Miami
Returning Drama — 10-11PM — CBS
Running from the police into a murky Florida swamp in the seventh-season finale, Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) looked like alligator bait. But ”he definitely will be back,” says exec producer Ann Donahue. ”We’re just not saying in what permutation.” We will. Rodriguez appears in only a few episodes. As a replacement, Eddie Cibrian’s Jesse Cardoza is introduced in the season opener, which features a flashback to 1997 when Horatio (David Caruso) built his team (ex-Miami resident Khandi Alexander cameos). He returns to the present in episode 2, thanks to a case he can’t shake, and quickly becomes a hostage in a Pelham 1 2 3 homage. As for Calleigh (Emily Procter), who shot boyfriend Delko, her luck might never improve. ”We could get her a boyfriend who’s not crazy,” admits Donahue, ”but there’s not much drama in that.” (Sept. 21)

Returning Drama — 10-11PM — ABC
Since crime author Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) told NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) that he looked into her mother’s murder, they haven’t been speaking. The bad news doesn’t stop there: Beckett remains undecided about reopening the case, and Castle has writer’s block. ”The question in the season 2 premiere is, will they be working together in the future?” says creator Andrew Marlowe. (Yes, if he wants a show…) As for Castle’s home life, we’ll see mother Martha (Susan Sullivan) try to make a Broadway comeback and teen daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) continue to be a levelheaded delight. (Sept. 21)