Get reviews and behind the scenes coverage of 34 new shows, plus an update on returning TV favorites

TV-industry pundits are already expressing dismay over the new fall season, mourning a lack of imagination and the absence of an obvious ground-breaker like last year’s Twin Peaks. As usual, however, the pundits are, if not all wet, at least quite damp. This season features amusing actors with promising premises (Evening Shade, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Lenny) and inventive new twists on such creaky genres as the police show (Cop Rock), the lawyer show (The Trials of Rosie O’Neill), and the TV-show-about-TV (WIOU). Far more encouraging, the four commercial networks, having been badly shaken by shrinking audiences, are now programming to compete not merely with each other but with cable and video rentals, too. As a result, they’ve gone for more eccentricity and even a little risk-taking.

The outcome will be higher highs and lower lows, and that’s much, much better than the blandness that was beginning to seem the networks’ final doom. In short, it’s a season to look forward to.