Michael Tackett/The CW
September 02, 2011 at 08:00 PM EDT

Michael Tackett/The CW

Preparing for fall TV is a truly confusing time. Finding a balance between the shows you love and the shows you’d like to try to love, filling holes in your TV schedule with new offerings, and giving advanced notice to friends that you will be cutting off all in-person communication with the world for the next 9 months is all very exhausting. (Click here to see how you can prepare for a TV season that threatens your social life.) What makes it harder to plan is that you have no idea what to expect from new shows. That’s where I come in.

Now, I’m not claiming to be a know-it-all, more like a know-some. After viewing hours and hours of pilots, I want to help sort the madness. So here are four shows that I was curious about going into the new season and some info that I hope helps you decide whether or not it’s your cup of tea.

Hart of Dixie (CW, Sept. 26) = [Everwood appeal x the south] + O.C.-style love entanglements + Rachel effing Bilson

The pilot for this CW show is so much of what we’ve seen before… in the best possible way. It’s a cuddly blanket of familiarity both in tone (hence the Everwood factor) and style (which makes sense because it comes from the mind of O.C. creator Josh Schwartz). If you’ve heard that this show is much like something we would have seen on the WB in the late ’90s, you’ve heard right. What’s new, however, is the splash of contemporary appeal courtesy of my personal style icon Rachel Bilson and the gentlemanly charm of Scott Porter.

Once Upon a Time (ABC, Oct. 23) = [Fairy tales x Fringe-style world jumping + Lost-quality story weaving ] + child character who is wiser than the adults 

From the pilot, you get the sense that the mythology in Once Upon a Time runs ocean deep. (Hmm… where have we seen that before?). And being that the show comes from two producers who worked on Lost, that’s not surprising. What is surprising is how the show has managed to work two world and a ton of characters (because, like Fringe, many play two roles) into a pilot. Overwhelming? Sort of. Intriguing? Definitely.

2 Broke Girls (CBS, Sept. 19) = Odd Couple x Brooklyn + Laverne & Shirley + [Roseanne – the annoying]

What struck me the most about 2 Broke Girls was that for a show helmed by females, there weren’t a lot of jokes about makeup and heels. AND I THANKED TV JESUS. When I popped the pilot in for first view, I was hoping it wouldn’t succumb to the insultingly shallow humor that sometimes dominates female-centric comedies. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, I found Kat Denning’s character crass and blunt communication skills reminded me of what I once liked about the characters on Roseanne — and all without any of the things I didn’t like about the show Roseanne. But most importantly, you’ll probably get an old, pleasant sitcom vibe from this show. No complicated premise, no frill. (Although, for two “broke” girls, their apartment is sort of huge). Just funny.

Up All Night (NBC, Sept. 14) = Dharma and Greg x [Parenthood quirkiness – gushy stuff] x SNL

It’s not groundbreaking to make a show about a couple navigating their relationship; it’s been done several times. (See: the aforementioned Dharma & Greg.) What makes Up All Night special is not only the characters’ hilarious approach to getting through life or the new baby factor, but the addition of Maya Rudolph’s talk show host character into the mix as a hapless pseudo-aunt. (At least, that’s where I think it might be heading after one episode.) She brings the SNL-style humor to the show (filled with funny mannerisms and great attention to detail) that I think you’ll note and appreciate. Well, I did at least.

So that’s my take on a few shows. Got any requests? Ask below and maybe we’ll do a part 2. Meanwhile, are any of these shows piquing your interest?

Read more:

Fall TV Survival Guide: How to navigate life with your newly jam-packed schedule

EW picks the five best new shows in our Fall TV Preview

Pilot Light 2011: ‘New Girl’ and ’2 Broke Girls’ help begin the fall TV season with girl-girl-girl power

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