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(Monday, 9?10pm, NBC, Sept. 28)
NBC's new paramedic drama — starring Derek Luke, Cliff Curtis, and Aimee Garcia — aims to fill ER's very, very big medical-show shoes.
Ken's Take: Yowee. Things explode, burst into flames, crash and burn! But beyond the spectacle, the tense, go-for-broke acting makes this both hyper and exciting. Could flame out fast, or become an adrenaline fave.
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ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE
(Monday, 8:30?9pm, CBS, Sept. 21)
The sitcom's protagonist Billie (Jenna Elfman) — a thirtysomething film critic — gets knocked up after a one night stand with a younger man (Jon Foster) while she's broken up with her more age-appropriate boss/boyfriend (Grant Show).
Ken's Take: Wincing cutesiness, with Elfman obliged to try too hard to sell jokes about her character's surprise pregnancy. As for her interactions with her younger man and his eccentric pals — well, call it The Big Thud Theory.
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THE GOOD WIFE
(Tuesday, 10?11pm, CBS, Sept. 22)
An imposed-upon civil servant (Chris Noth) holds a press conference where he responds to allegations of sexual misconduct and resigns in disgrace, while his seemingly devoted wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies), stands by his side, but soon decides to rejoin the workforce as an attorney. Rather than follow the politician, this show follows the other half.
Ken's Take: The best new network drama. Love its combo of ripped-from-headlines timeliness and old-school law-show storytelling. And Margulies and Noth are both aces.
4 of 21
(Tuesday, 10?11pm, ABC, Sept 22)
ABC's entrée into the case-of-the-week genre features a group of civilian volunteers — led by Christian Slater's Alex, an ex-cop mourning the unsolved kidnapping of his own daughter — who try to ID the remains of victims long after cops have given up.
Ken's Take: Haven't seen it due to reshooting/recasting, but Slater is really trying for a TV career, and his light touch could make this amateur-detective gimmick more clever than just gimmicky.
5 of 21
(Tuesday, 9-10pm, The CW, currently airing)
The tenants of the soap revamp include Ella Simms (Harper's Island's Katie Cassidy), a ruthlessly ambitious publicist; mysteriously creepy L.A. newcomer Violet Foster (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz); medical student Lauren Yung (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' Stephanie Jacobsen); and mansion-robbing playboy David Breck (Shark's Shaun Sipos). And OG Melrose residents Josie Bissett, Daphne Zuniga, and Thomas Calabro are coming back.
Ken's Take: Nighttime soaps require a few episodes until you can tell whether they're going to work, but the casting and plotting here seems so good, I think I'm hooked.
6 of 21
NCIS: LOS ANGELES
(Tuesday, 9-10pm, CBS, Sept. 22)
While replicating the success of NCIS isn't a sure thing, Los Angeles caught an early break: The two episodes of NCIS that introduced LL Cool J's ex?Navy SEAL operative, Sam Hanna, and Chris O'Donnell's master of disguise, G. Callen, drew an audience of 16.7 million.
Ken's Take: Hey, it's a middle-of-the-road franchise spin-off with two likable stars: No masterpiece, but probably solid entertainment if you like NCIS.
7 of 21
(Tuesday, 8?9pm, ABC, Nov. 3)
V tells the story of a strange civilization of aliens who claim to come in peace — until a band of rebels forms to expose their sinister ways. Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell joins the resistance movement as Erica Evans, an FBI agent whose son, Tyler (Logan Huffman), is seduced by the ''visitors'' and their gorgeous leader, Anna (Firefly's Morena Baccarin). Scott Wolf also stars as a TV reporter.
Ken's Take: I like the balance between soap-style drama and sleek-style sci-fi. A remake that could reinvent a fine oldie.
8 of 21
(Wednesday, 9-10pm, Fox, currently airing)
Musical television has been a notoriously difficult genre to crack (Cop Rock or Viva Laughlin, anyone?), but Glee — which follows the lives, loves, and loserdom of a high school glee club (played by Jenna Ushkowitz, Cory Monteith, Lea Michele, Kevin McHale, Chris Coffer, and Amber Riley) and their teachers in Lima, Ohio — might just break the curse.
Ken's Take: The freshest, most original new show of the season. And I don't even like musicals, so you know there's a lotta good acting and dialogue supplementing the warbling and the hoofing.
9 of 21
(Wednesday, 8?9pm, NBC, Sept. 23)
The Year of the Nurse Show continues with Mercy, a drama about a short-tempered Iraq-war vet (newcomer Taylor Schilling) and her fellow nurses (Jaime Lee Kirchner and Michelle Trachtenberg) in a Jersey City hospital.
Ken's Take: Have mercy, indeed: an alienating mix of Grey's Anatomy romance and ER intensity.
10 of 21
(Wednesday, 9?9:30pm, ABC, Sept. 23)
Ed O'Neill (Married...With Children) stars as sixtysomething Jay, who's married to a Colombian beauty half his age (Sofia Vergara). Theirs is one of three interlinked households struggling with modern family issues, from texting adolescents to gay adoption.
Ken's Take: The writing here is superb: each family unit is distinct and hilarious, and their interactions ring true. Ringing truth in a sitcom? Hurray!
11 of 21
(Wednesday, 9:30?10pm, ABC, Sept. 23)
Everyone involved in Courteney Cox's new comedy swears it isn't just about a woman hunting young prey: Real estate agent Jules (Cox) struggles with motherhood, dating (men of all ages), and getting older.
Ken's Take: More sex jokes than you can shake a dildo at. You really have trouble when you're making the cool Cox look like a desperate character.
12 of 21
(Wednesday, 8?8:30pm, ABC, Sept. 30)
Kelsey Grammer plays a CEO named Hank Pryor who suddenly loses his gig running a sporting-goods chain. His wife, Tilly (Melinda McGraw), and kids blanch at the prospect of having to downsize their lives.
Ken's Take: As much as I love Kelsey Grammer, I wish he'd picked a better vehicle for his talent, and surrounded himself with funnier, more vivid characters.
13 of 21
(Wednesday, 8:30?9pm, ABC, Sept. 30)
Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) plays the middle-aged mom, Frankie, who has a blue-collar husband, Mike (Scrubs' Neil Flynn), three oddball kids, and a desire to make the best of her clan's modest life.
Ken's Take: Remember how whiny Patricia Heaton's Deborah got in Raymond's final seasons? Well, Heaton finds a way to make that abrasive persona work in this clever show.
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THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE
(Wednesday, 9?10pm, The CW, Sept. 16)
Sara Paxton, Elle Macpherson, and Mischa Barton — who was hospitalized prior to starting production but is now ''great and looks fantastic,'' according to producers — bring this fictional runway-model world to life.
Ken's Take: A possible train-wreck, but a nice-to-look-at, maybe campily amusing train-wreck. Or who knows? A month from now, this may be a sleek, comfortable ride you want to take every week.
15 of 21
(Wednesday, 10?11pm, ABC, Sept. 23)
Like the John Updike novel and the 1987 movie, Eastwick focuses on three women — Roxanne (Rebecca Romijn), Kat (Jaime Ray Newman), and Joanna (Lindsay Price) — in a New England town who discover their supernatural powers.
Ken's Take: Looks like Desperate Witches to me, but then, I'm not the target audience for this TV romance-novel dramedy. Romijn has some fine comic moments.
16 of 21
(Thursday, 8-9pm, ABC, Sept. 24)
A calculated air of mystery surrounds the FlashForward pilot, which follows the chaotic repercussions after every human being on earth blacks out for two minutes and 17 seconds — and it soon emerges that everyone spent the downtime having lucid ''flash-forward'' visions of what seem to be their own futures, specifically at 10 p.m. on April 29, 2010.
Ken's Take: Based on the pilot, I'm not buying the concept as something that'll hold me for a whole season. On the other hand, Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger are the most intriguing new actors to lead a series in a while.
17 of 21
(Thursday, 9:30?10pm, NBC, Sept. 17)
The Soup's Joel McHale stars as Jeff Winger, a slippery lawyer forced to attend community college after his undergrad degree is revoked. There, he forms the world's most random study group, which includes an entrepreneur with no filter (Chevy Chase), a brassy single mom (Yvette Nicole Brown), a firebrand dropout (Gillian Jacobs), a pop culture savant (Danny Pudi), a wholesome perfectionist (Alison Brie), and a status-oriented jock (Donald Glover).
Ken's Take: Didn't you always suspect McHale would prove a good comic actor? And surrounding him with the most diverse array of goofballs since The Office — well, my DVR is season-passed.
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THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
(Thursday, 8-9pm, The CW, currently airing)
Nina Dobrev (Degrassi: The Next Generation) plays Elena, a high schooler who becomes the obsession for two bloodsucking brothers (American Dreams' Paul Wesley and Lost's Ian Somerhalder) in Scream creator Kevin Williamson's latest.
Ken's Take: Does what the CW does best: puts attractive young people in danger and in close quarters with each other, and lets the emotional fireworks crackle.
19 of 21
(Friday, 8?8:30pm, Fox, Sept. 25)
Former NFL star and current Fox football commentator Michael Strahan plays a now-broke retired pigskin player who moves home with his barb-tongued brother (Daryl ''Chill'' Mitchell), domineering mom (CCH Pounder), and loopy dad (Carl Weathers).
Ken's Take: There's nothing more soul-sapping than a frantically unfunny sitcom, and I'm afraid this is one. Talent like Mitchell and Pounder shouldn't be squandered in this way.
20 of 21
(Sunday, 9?10 pm, CBS, Oct. 4)
This drama, about an organ-transplant team in Pittsburgh led by Alex O'Loughlin's Andy Yablonski, is based on reallife surgeon ''Gonzo'' Gonzalez-Stawinski.
Ken's Take: The version I saw was a downer drag — so many people coping with loss; Alex O'Laughlin putting on a tragic-noble face. (It's since been revamped and partially recast.) Here's hoping someone donates fresh liveliness to this show before it's cancelled.
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THE CLEVELAND SHOW
(Sunday, 8:30?9 pm, Fox, Sept. 27)
With his son, Cleveland Brown Jr., the affable Family Guy character returns to his hometown of Stoolbend, Va., and marries his first love, Donna (Sanaa Lathan), who has two kids of her own.
Ken's Take: Cleveland proves he's not a cartoonish character: he's a complex guy (a good dad; a smoothie of a husband; a hapless guy with a funny-bear neighbor) in an animated-in-two-senses series.