Here are Thursday's most anticipated shows this season
30 Rock
  • TV Show
  • NBC

30 Rock

Retuning Comedy

Premieres Oct. 4, 8-8:30 p.m., NBC

A fulfilling career. True love. Children. A supportive boss who’s good for a laugh despite being a Republican. Can’t a working woman have it all? ”Our hope is to answer that question definitively for women everywhere,” jokes exec producer Robert Carlock about the seventh and final season, promising that resolution for Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon will be, as always, comically ”odd” and ”outlandish.” James Marsden’s hunky hot dog vendor Chris will be back as Liz’s beau, and two election-themed episodes are in the works. Jenna (Jane Krakowski) will be planning her wedding to Jenna impersonator Paul (Will Forte), with Liz as the (reluctant) maid of honor. Newly single Jack (Alec Baldwin) will juggle five different women at once while making a play for greater power within Kabletown. The mandate for 30 Rock‘s 13-episode swan song: ”We want to make sure these episodes feel like great 30 Rock episodes,” says Carlock, ”and not always weighted with end-of-series heaviness.”

The Big Bang Theory

Retuning Comedy

Premieres Set. 27, 8-8:30 p.m., CBS

Though Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) tied the knot in the season 5 finale, his mission to space won’t end anytime soon — much to the chagrin of his meddlesome mom (voiced by the brilliant Carol Ann Susi). ”Even in space, he can’t escape the gravitational pull of his mother,” explains exec producer Steven Molaro. Back at the apartment, Leonard’s (Johnny Galecki) awkward proposal to Penny (Kaley Cuoco) has a ripple effect, and Amy (Mayim Bialik) drags Sheldon (Jim Parsons) kicking and screaming into the world of romance. No hibbity-dibbity is in the cards, but Amy is certainly ready to move beyond holding hands. ”It was a huge step for him to allow her to officially call him her boyfriend,” explains Molaro, ”so Amy is as emboldened as ever.”

The Vampire Diaries

Retuning Drama

Premieres Oct. 11, 8-9 p.m., The CW

In the season 3 finale, Elena (Nina Dobrev) chose Stefan (Paul Wesley) over Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and sacrificed her life to save Matt (Zach Roerig). She died but awoke in transition to becoming a vampire. Now her defining characteristics — her compassion for others and her ability to divide the Salvatore brothers — will be heightened. ”Stefan, rightfully so, thinks that if she hurts anyone, she won’t be able to handle it,” exec producer Julie Plec says. ”Damon believes that that’s inevitable, we’re vampires, so anything you try to do to prevent it is just deluding yourself.” A new vampire hunter (Todd Williams), who has an enigmatic origin story that piques the interest of Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and figures into the season’s larger mythology, arrives in the second episode to complicate matters. ”Elena has to be very aware, which is difficult when you don’t have control of your impulses,” Dobrev warns. ”It’s going to get her into a couple of sticky situations.”

{C} Two and a Half Men

Retuning Comedy

Premieres Sept. 27, 8:30-9 p.m., CBS

Jake (Angus T. Jones) is in the Army now, so he and best friend Eldridge (Graham Patrick Martin) begin season 10 adjusting to life as snot-nosed soldiers. ”Jake will have an interesting relationship with the Army,” says exec producer Jim Patterson. ”A little bit of knowledge goes a long way with Jake.” The half man will also get a love interest, an old family friend of Walden’s (Ashton Kutcher) played by Miley Cyrus. Back in Malibu, Alan’s (Jon Cryer) tumultuous relationship with Lyndsey (Courtney Thorne-Smith) continues, and Walden has a treat for lady friend Zoey (Sophie Winkleman): a birthday celebration featuring Michael Bolton. ”He’s a friend to Walden,” Patterson says. ”He takes care of him and they pal around.”

Up All Night

Retuning Comedy

Premieres Sept. 20, 8:30-9 p.m., NBC

While NBC gave Up a second season, Ava — the fictional talk show-within-a-show starring Maya Rudolph as host — is getting the ax. The cancellation will force Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett) to switch roles: Chris will go into the construction business with Reagan’s brother (Luka Jones), while Reagan will take over as the full-time parent. ”She’s taking that type A producer personality into the home life, which is going to make things difficult for everybody,” says Applegate. But we’ll still get to spend time with Ava, and maybe even meet her ex-groupie mother; showrunner Emily Spivey already has casting ideas. ”Maya’s and my dream would be Phylicia Rashad,” she says. ”Oh my God, [Rashad] as a funky woman from Florida? My world would be complete.”

Beauty and the Beast

New Drama

Premieres Oct. 11, 9-10 p.m., The CW

Part procedural, part romance, all hot people, this drama takes the familiar storybook saga and gives it a new spin. Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) is an NYPD detective haunted by the mysterious murder of her mother, and the image of the ”creature” (Jay Ryan) who came to her rescue. When he saves her life again years later, she tracks him down, only to find herself drawn into a greater mystery. ”He has this interesting backstory that ties into a lot of issues dating all the way back to 9/11,” says exec producer Brian Peterson. Though the two form an uneasy relationship, love won’t blossom anytime soon. ”I feel like an old lady saying this, but in [most] modern series, the romance just happens so fast,” says Kreuk. ”I think that with this and with a lot of fairy-tale romances, it takes time.”

{C} Grey’s Anatomy

Retuning Drama

Premieres Sept. 27, 9-10 p.m., ABC

The ninth-season opener will not revisit the scene of May’s deadly plane crash (R.I.P. Lexie). Instead, the action will jump ahead a few months and show the outcome of the traumatic event, and then return to the forest in the second episode so viewers can see it all unfold. ”It’s not about PTSD,” exec producer Shonda Rhimes says. So how are they coping? Derek (Patrick Dempsey), who injured his hand in the accident, will deal with his surgical limitations in a ”heroic” manner, says Rhimes, while some doctors will no longer be working at Seattle Grace, and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) will be more composed than you might imagine. ”I think you’re going to find her in a very surprising position with a very surprising reputation,” she hints. And what of departing cast member Eric Dane, who will appear in only two episodes? Should we assume he’s a goner? Warns Rhimes, ”I’m not asking that you assume anything.”

The Office

Retuning Comedy

Premieres Sept. 20, 9-10 p.m., NBC

We know some of you have given up on The Office now that Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) are on child No. 2 and you need a Wall Street Journal subscription to keep track of Dunder Mifflin’s corporate shake-ups. But with original showrunner Greg Daniels retaking control for a ninth and final season, expect the last batch of episodes to have some ”creative and explosive” stories. ”All questions will be answered this year,” Daniels promises — and that includes who’s been shooting this documentary in a Pennsylvania paper company for nearly a decade. Newcomers Jake Lacy and Clark Duke will play workers hired to handle the enormous number of customer-service complaints Kelly (Mindy Kaling) neglected over the years. (Fortunately, Kaling’s Mindy Project duties at Fox won’t keep her from turning up in at least one episode.) ”It will become clear watching the premiere that the show deserves [viewers] attention,” Daniels says. ”We intend to earn it.” (See review, page 133.)

Person of Interest

Retuning Drama

Premieres Sept. 27, 9-10 p.m., CBS

After kidnapping Finch (Michael Emerson) in last season’s finale, madwoman Root (Amy Acker) is now taking him to an undisclosed location. Who is Root, and what are her intentions? ”Slowly, her master plan will be revealed,” promises Emerson. ”She’s nowhere near done with her mission.” Even with Finch away, the Machine won’t stop spitting out numbers; Ken Leung (Lost) and Margo Martindale (Justified) will get wrapped up in cases this season. Plus, ”the question of what happened to Nathan Ingram is a pervasive one,” says exec producer Greg Plageman. ”And we’ll spend some time dealing with Finch’s backstory.” As for Reese (Jim Caviezel), he’s left to handle the Machine, and it might be more nuanced than he thinks. ”Will he need help?” asks Emerson. ”Not necessarily from people, but from…” He laughs. ”I’m saying too much already.”

Parks and Recreation

Retuning Comedy

Premieres Sept. 20, 9:30-10 p.m., NBC

Pawnee meets D.C. in the premiere, as new city councilwoman Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) visits beau Ben (Adam Scott) and stumbles upon some real-life senators, including John McCain, at a cocktail party. At the Smithsonian, where Andy (Chris Pratt) reunites with his wife/Ben’s assistant, April (Aubrey Plaza), ”April and Andy immediately start making out while Leslie’s looking around at the amazing pieces of American history,” says exec producer Michael Schur. Chris (Rob Lowe) battles his own brain while training to climb Mount Everest, Tom (Aziz Ansari) searches for a viable business venture, and Ron (Nick Offerman) romances a single mom (Lucy Lawless). ”She’s not named Tammy,” says Schur, ”and thus it has an actual chance for success.”

Jersey Shore

Returning Reality

Premieres Oct. 4, 10-11 p.m., MTV

Despite a Snooki pregnancy and a post-rehab Situation, ”it’s scary how much they haven’t changed,” says co-creator SallyAnn Salsano of the Seaside Eight. That means there will be no shortage of hookups in the sixth and final season, as MVP (a.k.a. Mike, Vinny, and Pauly) had one mission: ”They’re calling it the ‘Triple Play, Triple Lay,”’ laughs Salsano. ”As far as [the guys] were concerned, there was no fetus in their room.” And the Sitch-Snooks drama isn’t over. Says MTV’s exec VP of programming Chris Linn, ”Seeing how Mike handles being sober along with Nicole, being de facto sober buddies, is interesting considering the tensions they’ve had.”


Returning Comedy

Premieres Sept. 13, 9-10 p.m., FOX

Though it will follow characters in two different states, the fourth season of Glee will not be overly complicated, promises co-creator Brad Falchuk. ”It feels very natural,” he says of the action, which will switch between McKinley High in Ohio and New York City, where roommates Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), and Santana (Naya Rivera) will take on the big city — and some boldfaced names. Kurt finds a mentor in a Vogue editor (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Rachel faces off against a brutal NYADA dance instructor (Kate Hudson). ”She’s a hard-ass,” says Falchuk of Hudson’s Cassandra July. ”And she has her own demons.”

Back at McKinley, expect new faces in the choir room, including the half brother of Mark Salling’s Puck (newcomer Jacob Artist). ”Puck didn’t know about him,” explains Falchuk. ”And he’s not like Puck at all.” The New Directions will tackle ”Call Me Maybe” in the first episode, and another Britney Spears tribute in the second. Meanwhile, Sue will have given birth by the time school starts. ”We don’t know who the celebrity father is just yet,” says Falchuk. ”You’ll find out.” As for Rachel’s ex Finn (Cory Monteith), who was set to join the Army? Teases Falchuk: ”He’ll be back in early episodes. Not in the first few. But he’ll be back. It’s complicated.” But not too complicated, we hope.

Last Resort

New Drama

Premieres Sept. 27, 8-9 p.m., ABC

How’s this for tall odds: 161 Navy crew members versus the shock-‘n’-awe might of the world’s most powerful nation. That’s the setup of this thriller from Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Karl Gajdusek, which follows U.S. nuclear submarine captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher, 50) and his trusty XO, Sam Kendal (Felicity‘s Scott Speedman, 37), who go rogue after questioning a sketchy order to nuke Pakistan. Declared outlaws, the crew establish their own kick-starter nation on the fictional island of Sainte Marina. And before you ask, yes, there are women on this show. (The Navy ended its own ban on women in subs in 2010.) ”There’s a fear I have that people will see this as a military show for guys,” says Ryan. ”We consider this a very emotional epic.”

Q and A with Last Resort‘s Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman

So what brought you both to this project?

Scott Speedman A sub drama with Shawn Ryan at the helm? I was very intrigued. But the thing that drew me was exploring the relationship of respect and mentorship [between Marcus and Sam] and how that’s challenged.

Andre Braugher I read the pilot and was thrilled with the story — it felt larger and more cinematic than any TV project I had seen. Doing something that was serialized as opposed to a procedural was intriguing. From the moment in the pilot when the missile goes off, you know this is not going to be like any other show.

Is a submarine set fun to work on, or do you just bump into each other a lot?

Speedman I was relieved when I saw the set — it’s not goofy. It’s not exactly to scale [to make room for cameras], but I find it quite fun to work on.

Braugher The designers did a really spectacular job creating the specificity on the conn. What comes up on the screens is very helpful.

You have to spend a lot of time in close quarters — what’s the most intriguing thing each of you has learned about the other?

Speedman The patience of Andre Braugher is astonishing.

Braugher Great dunk shot. [Laughs] He’s one of those guys you can depend upon. We’re telling an epic in eight days, and it demands concentration and the willingness to sacrifice.

Both your characters are faced with a hard call when you’re ordered to fire nukes. What’s the toughest career decision you’ve had to make?

Speedman and Braugher This is it!

Speedman I have commitment issues in general, but [signing away] 10 years of your life for a project based on a pilot is always a challenge for me.

Braugher My entire family lived in New Jersey. We live in Hawaii now. It’s paradise, but it’s a long way from home.

What’s the biggest reason viewers should watch Last Resort?

Braugher I’m paying three private school tuitions!


Retuning Drama

Premieres Sept. 27, 10-11 p.m., ABC

Viewers won’t have to wait long to learn the answer to the summer’s most gnawing question: Who is Quinn Perkins? The true identity of Katie Lowes’ character will be revealed almost immediately after season 2 begins. ”But why Quinn Perkins is who she is and who made Quinn Perkins who she is becomes the question,” says exec producer Shonda Rhimes. Also in the premiere, which takes place after a small time jump, we’ll get a clearer picture of where the president (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) stand after she shut down his plans to run away together. Here’s all Washington can say: ”I think the honeymoon — the illicit, secretive affair honeymoon — is over in some ways.”

Episode Recaps

30 Rock
30 Rock

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan star in the Emmy-winning comedy. You want to go to there.

  • TV Show
  • 7
  • NBC
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