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Thursday: New + Returning Shows

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Grey’s Anatomy
Season 11 / 8 P.M. / ABC
Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) has a tough year ahead after telling Derek (Patrick Dempsey) in last season’s finale that she won’t move to D.C. ”They have to find a way to work this out where neither one of them is going to resent the other,” Pompeo says. Mer might just change her mind about moving once she learns the new cardio hotshot Maggie (Kelly McCreary) is her half sister. ”It’s one thing to be surpassed by Cristina, it’s another to be faced with another one of your mother’s progenies and have her be younger, further ahead, and possibly more talented than you — and have it make you question who you are,” creator Shonda Rhimes says. In other big news at Grey Sloan, Geena Davis will join the team as a confident surgeon. Snagging the Oscar winner was a coup that surprised even the all-powerful Rhimes. ”I thought it was a dream that would never happen: We’ll ask and they’ll say no,” she says, adding that we can expect Davis’ character to stick around for a little while. ”It’s a longer-arc story that is going to be really interesting to watch unfold.” Sept. 25

The Vampire Diaries
Season 6 / 8 P.M. / The CW
Four months after the deaths of Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Bonnie (Kat Graham), Mystic Falls has changed. The Traveler spell means no vampire can enter the town, thereby exiling many characters from their home. ”There’s a rift in the friend group,” exec producer Caroline Dries says. ”This season is about how to bring everyone back together. But how can you come back together if you don’t even have a home?” Meanwhile, Damon and Bonnie are trapped in a mysterious limbo between life and death — and they aren’t happy about it. ”They’re totally pissed off,” says Somerhalder. And they want to learn the truth about where they are as quickly as possible. As Somerhalder puts it, ”They’re Scooby-Dooing that s— like crazy.” Oct. 2

The Millers
Season 2 / 8:30 P.M. / CBS
Hoping to make a splash with its sophomore season — and attract more of its Big Bang Theory lead-in audience — The Millers has added TV vet Sean Hayes to the cast. Hayes plays the recently divorced Kip Withers, who becomes fast friends with Carol (Margo Martindale) and an even faster annoyance for Nathan (Will Arnett). ”It’s created this great little triangle,” says exec producer Greg Garcia. ”Carol absolutely loves him and thinks that Nathan should just lighten up, but he gets under Nathan’s skin.” At the same time, Tom (Beau Bridges) will jump back into the dating pool. ”He’s a man in his early 70s who’s fit, good-looking, and has all of his hair,” Garcia says. ”He’s realizing that pretty much makes him the Brad Pitt of the senior set…or the Beau Bridges of the senior set, for that matter!” Oct. 30

Bad Judge
New Comedy / 9 P.M. / NBC
After playing the chilly Addison Montgomery for eight years across two dramas (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice), Kate Walsh — who has a background in improv — had a hankering for a character that showed off her comedic muscle. And when she came across Rebecca Wright, the rebellious, hard-living lead of Bad Judge, she knew she’d found it. ”Rebecca gets to do everything,” says Walsh. ”She’s a judge! She parties! She’s sort of promiscuous! It appealed to that hunger in me to do everything.” Nurse Jackie co-creator Liz Brixius came aboard as showrunner in May — making tweaks to the original pilot and streamlining the plot for the first few episodes — but departed this month due to creative differences. Regardless of any speed bumps, Walsh says she’s enjoying building a new show from scratch. ”It’s a continual sculpting process,” she says. ”Finding what the heart [of the show] is has been a real pleasure.” This season, look for Rebecca to struggle to balance romance — with Veronica Mars‘ Ryan Hansen — and the responsibilities of being a good justice. ”It’s a character-driven piece but still an ensemble,” says Walsh. ”It’s exciting to have a set where everyone gets to play.” Oct. 2

Reign
Season 2 / 9 P.M. / The CW
Queen Mary (Adelaide Kane) was born a royal, but after King Henry’s death, she’ll occupy her position with more political savvy than ever before. ”She’s now a warrior queen,” says exec producer Laurie McCarthy. With the onset of the plague, looming marital woes, and the arrival of two new combative characters — Princess Claude (Rose Williams), royal daughter of Catherine de Medici (Megan Follows), and villain Narcisse (Craig Parker) — the queen will need all her cunning…plus a serious wardrobe update. ”There’s definitely more power-dressing going on in the second season,” says Kane. ”It’s sexier, more adult.” But she warns fans not to count on the couture staying on too long: ”I have gotten naked three times already, and we’ve barely started.” Oct. 2

A to Z
New Comedy / 9:30 P.M. / NBC
The crazy guy from Mad Men falls for How I Met Your Mother‘s Mother? It’s a match made in ”Hey, I know that actor!” heaven. The NBC rom-com charts the relationship of two singles (Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti) with episodes themed around a letter — or letters, as in the ”LMNO” texting episode. Creator Ben Queen promises that beyond the central love story is an ensemble piece with celeb cameos (Lea Thompson winks at her Back to the Future days) and pop culture homages (expect a Laverne & Shirley-centric episode early in the season). ”It’s like an old Penny Marshall movie on one hand, and it’s supermodern on the other,” says Feldman. Oct. 2

The McCarthys
New Comedy / 9:30 P.M. / CBS
How did showrunner Brian Gallivan, creator of the Web series Sassy Gay Friend, persuade Laurie Metcalf, who played Jackie on Roseanne, to return to her sitcom roots? ”We bonded over the idea of Jackie getting a big intervention from Sassy Gay Friend,” says Metcalf, laughing. She plays Marjorie McCarthy, the passive-aggressive matriarch of a New England clan learning to navigate life with their newly out gay son, Ronny (Tyler Ritter). ”It’s people wanting to do the right thing but not quite having the lingo that goes with it yet,” says Metcalf. The timely comedy will also be packed with flashbacks, pop culture jokes, and lots of Joey McIntyre (who plays Ronny’s sporty brother). ”I lived with my brother for a year,” recalls Gallivan. ”He had a wife and three kids, and I was single and running off to do improv shows. Those two worlds colliding is always funny.” Oct. 30

Elementary
Season 3 / 10 P.M. / CBS
When Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) returns from an MI6 stint, he finds Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) solving crimes alone by day — but spending nights with new boyfriend Andrew (Raza Jaffrey). ”Andrew is part of a larger plan to really ground Joan,” says exec producer Rob Doherty. Holmes has a surprise of his own: a new protégée, Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond). ”Kitty comes on board, and it does create a little bit of tension,” Liu teases. Considering Elementary‘s appeal for many fans lies in Holmes and Watson’s crackling chemistry, will the show survive Winter’s chill? Liu insists the new dynamic actually helps. ”It elevates their relationship,” she says. ”Sometimes you don’t really get perspective on something until you step away from it.” Oct. 30

Parenthood
Season 6 / 10 P.M. / NBC
Over five seasons, the Bravermans dealt with pretty much every family issue imaginable, from illness to infidelity. But before they finish their final year, they will have to bid farewell to one of their own. ”I didn’t have an ending in mind on this show from the beginning, but there were certain story lines that I didn’t want to do until the final season,” exec producer Jason Katims says. ”Losing a member of the family is something we haven’t done. I wanted to wait until, well, now.” While the last chapter will also include more joyful milestones like a pregnancy, don’t hold your breath for a perfectly happy ending. ”A lot of us are mindful of the fact that we don’t want this to be wrapped in a pretty bow,” says star Monica Potter. ”It’s not the nature of the show.” Sept. 25

What’s Next For…
The Biggest Loser
Season 16 / 8 P.M. / NBC
This season is ushering in the new: Trainers Jessie Pavelka and Jennifer Widerstrom replace Jillian Michaels; the contestants are all former athletes; and Bob Harper is running Comeback Canyon, where eliminated contestants can win a second chance at staying in the competition. ”Sometimes people forget about what they need to do to make a change,” says Harper. ”When they come to Comeback Canyon, there’s nobody else to hide behind.” Premiered Sept. 11

Bones
Season 10 / 8P.M. / Fox
Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) finally tied the knot. But their happiness was short-lived, with a government plot leading to Booth’s arrest in the finale. The 10th season opens with ”everyone trying to clear him and end the conspiracy,” says exec producer Stephen Nathan. Sept. 25

Two and A Half Men
Season 12 / 9 P.M. / CBS
No stranger to major changes, exec producer Chuck Lorre made a biggie for Men‘s final season: ”I thought it would be fun to approach it like a miniseries.” The season will focus primarily on one story line, as Walden (Ashton Kutcher) and Alan (Jon Cryer) get married — to each other — and adopt a baby. Says Lorre, ”It won’t be a church wedding, but there will be a wedding.” Oct. 30

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