By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated June 22, 2012 at 05:44 PM EDT
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How I Met Your Mother: Find out how season 8 begins

Q: I am counting down the minutes until How I Met Your Mother returns in the fall — any scoop on big plot points for season 8? Thanks! — Whitney

With roughly 136,500 minutes to go, I’m excited, too, Whitney. After what I felt was one of their best seasons yet, my expectations are sky high. And executive producer Craig Thomas, who was nice enough to break down the season 7 finale for me as part of EW’s Emmy Watch, promises we won’t be disappointed.

Now, while I couldn’t squeeze too much info out of him on next season (the writers’ room is in the thick of it now!), here’s what he did share. “One little tidbit: The season premiere picks up right where we left off in May, with Ted and Victoria — a runaway bride — driving off into the sunset. Suddenly, Ted is struck by horrible guilt over the fact that he was left at the altar back in season 4 and now finds himself on the other end of that dubious equation,” he says. “So the entire premiere takes place on that day in May — a first for us, starting a season that way — and then episode two jumps us through the summer and into September.”

So will we get to see Marshall and Lily’s first day as parents? Will Ted drive Victoria BACK to her wedding? What about Barney? What about Robin? WHY ISN’T IT SEPTEMBER YET? Anyway, discuss… (Note: My countdown was based on a “start time” 1 p.m. ET on June 22 and a premiere date of Sept. 25, which is simply a guess. And if you figured that out before reading this sentence, you’re crazy.)

Fringe: Will Walter die?

So, we already know that much of next season will take place in 2036. We know that we have a mere 13 episodes to go. And we know it’s a journey we’ll be taking without the watchful eye of co-showrunner Jeff Pinkner. (J.H. Wyman will remain as the sole showrunner.) But other than that? Fringe can take us in any direction is pleases.

For John Noble, all that matters is that Walter gets a chance to right his wrongs. But is death the only way to do that? We discussed: “I think they’ve got to find a way to do it… I think they’re going to find a way to disappear him,” he says. “The storytelling mode, does it work to kill off a hero? I’m not sure that it does sometimes. You can see a person go through an enormous journey, but somewhere at the end of that journey, there’s a change — whatever the change is. It’s [usually] a change for the better, even though it may mean that person is not there.”

But he doubts the writers will, as he jokes, say, “Die, old man!” “I think that would be horrible. I think the fans would storm the citadel,” he says. “But I think it would also be really honorable and dignified if they find some way for Walter to willingly end this nonsense. But I don’t actually know how they’ll do that yet. But I believe they have to.”

Elsewhere, he also feels like the “extraordinary love affair” between Peter and Olivia needs to “become validated.” “That would be satisfying to me as an audience member. Again, not walking into the sunset, just really [reassuring us] they are in love and they need each other,” he says. Of course, he adds, “we’d know that anyway.”

Parenthood: Three teases for season 4

Jason Katims never intended for the season finale of Parenthood to feel like a series finale. (For the record, he thinks it was the wedding that gave that impression.) So we asked Katims to preview some of the great stuff coming up for the characters. And since you’ve already read about what Sarah and Mark will be facing (darn you, Ray Romano!), here’s a look at some of the others:

NEXT: Weeds, The Closer, Suits, and more scooplets!

Side Dishes

Welcome back! You got any Weeds scoop? — @secretsvsrumors

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

I can tell you that the identity of the shooter would have been someone in the bottom half of my suspect list (and they will look a little different from the last time we saw them). Also, while all the members of the family deal with the shooting in different ways, it’s Shane who seemingly has his sights set on getting revenge.

Closer is ending soon. Scoop? — Rachel

According to star Kyra Sedgwick, Brenda’s history of putting work before her personal life will come with “some harsh consequences to that in these final six.” “If anything, I think that’s the biggest change that occurs for her,” she says. But don’t worry — her relationship with Fritz is solid as ever. If anything, his unwavering support becomes even more important to Brenda after the aforementioned “consequences” take place in the July 30 episode. Get the tissues ready.

Franklin & Bash is one of my summer favorites. Now as much as I like Peter with Officer Wendy, I love him with Janie. What can we expect between her and Peter this season now that she’s postponed her wedding again? — Jillian

I totally agree Jillian — in part because I think Claire Coffee is awesome. If it’s these two you love, just wait until the July 3 episode, when these two have a major encounter …on top of an office desk.

Dallas, please!!! Is John Ross going to confront Rebecca about the e-mail? Or are we going to have to wait a few episodes to see that? — Lisa

One thing I’ve been loving about Dallas is its pace, so there will be absolutely no wait. John Ross definitely confronts Rebecca about it next week, but, of course, he doesn’t go to her with his info without a purpose. Let’s just say he’s willing to negotiate.

Will there be a season-long villain on #Leverage this year? #SpoilerRoom — @reebsreiswig

I’ll be sure ask Timothy Hutton all about that when we chat soon, but for the time being, I can tell you there’s definitely a big secret being kept that has the potential to be a season-long secret between two male characters. (Filthy minds, kindly remove yourselves from the gutter.)

Sandra! I was SO excited to hear that Brian Dietzen was given a promotion. Great news! Did Brian happen to give you any scoop on this season? — Steph

The cast doesn’t head back to work until July 16, but Dietzen told me that he foresees a big challenge for Jimmy right out of the gate. “Certainly, no matter what does happen Jimmy is going to have to step up right away at the beginning — whether it’s a matter of going to help Ducky (David McCallum) or if it’s a matter of taking care of the possible dead and wounded at NCIS,” he says. “As far as what happened with Ducky, I really hope that things remain as they are because Ducky and Jimmy have such a great chemistry together, and working with David is a huge part of the joy I get from going to NCIS. We’ll have to see. I’m like everyone else;I’m a fan of the show.”

I’m HOOKED on Suits, and the second episode was just as great as the first. I hope you get this before you put your column out, because I’d LOVE some scoop on what comes next for Mike and Rachel! — Carrie

Next week’s episode focuses on the other woman in Mike Ross’ life: His granny, who plays a surprising role in the case-of-the-week. Meanwhile, Rachel and Donna will have a girls’ night as Donna encourages Rachel to get back into the dating game, and there’s an accompanying montage that’s pretty much the most awesome thing ever. I promise you, however, it’s not over between these two — and one scene next week will assure you of that.

I’ll take anything on any of my Wednesday-night comedies on ABC. I watch the whole block! — Sharon

That good news for me (and, I guess, ABC)! Because I accidentally left this little nugget from The Middle‘s executive producer Eileen Heisler out of last week’s column! “Each year brings new challenges [for the kids], and Brick is growing up,” she says. “I’ll only tease this much: things happen with Brick’s whispering tick. Something happens that causes Frankie and Mike to have to take action.”

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

I’m SO excited for the return of Covert Affairs! Anything juicy to reveal? — Anne

A shocking death is in the near future. That’s all I can say.

Sandra! Are you watching Bunheads? If so, I’d love some scoop! — April

I am watching — and I’m loving. Especially high marks go to the youngin who plays steely Sasha (Julia Goldani Telles), whom I hear will try her hand at an unlikely extracurricular activity in a later episode: cheerleading. She really doesn’t seem like the motivational type…

I miss Shameless terribly! Help a girl get through the tough time with some info on what’s next for Steve/Jimmy? — Karen

The show is currently casting a character who is surely going to rock the poor chap’s world: his father-in-law! Yup, the show is looking for a man to play Estefania’s (Stephanie Fantauzzi) pa, an intimidating man who is not afraid of a causing a little bloodshed.

I’m not feeling Evan and Hanks separation on Royal Pains! Please tell me it’s going to end soon or give me a reason to stick around! — H. Martin

The Evan and Hank battle has me troubled, too, but they’re brothers! They can’t stay sour for long…right? The one upside I see to this is that we at least get to see more of Ben Shenkman’s Dr. Sacani, who will be sticking around for a while from the sounds of it. Meanwhile, in casting news: I’ve learned exclusively that Kimberly Williams Paisley is going to be guesting on the Aug. 15 episode as an undercover DEA agent named Sam, who goes to Hank for help after experiencing symptoms of meth toxicity. And in the same episode, Pooch Hall will guest as JJ Small, a mixed martial artist whose wife asks HankMed for help after her hubby starts showing signs of postpartum depression following the birth of his son.

Any scoop on True Blood? — Kelly

Yes! BREAKING: There’s a werewolf coming to NYC! Yes, be still my painfully single heart, Joe Manganiello will be joining me for a video segment next week, and I’d like to use some of YOUR spoiler questions. So send ‘em my way! or via Twitter: @EWSandraG.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Damages, PLEASE! I heard there’s a flash-forward. How much time passes? And is Ellen really dead in it? Please, I’m dying here!! — Julia

The flash-forward takes place 3 months from where most of the episode takes place. And I can also promise you that the super-spoilery trailer for the final season is a great tool in your quest for more scoop. One thing it doesn’t show you? Patty in handcuffs!

Do you have spoilers on the upcoming season of Private Practice, in particular any Charlotte & Cooper scoop? Tnx much! — KC

I don’t. But I think we should bug the show’s writers, who just joined Twitter, until they give us something good. Or, you know, just follow them and be nice.

More Suits fun!

Episode Recaps


Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble star in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi drama
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