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From Argusleader.com

Get ready for the fall TV shows (whedonverse actors mention)

Friday 19 August 2005, by Webmaster

Critics say there’s no ’Housewives’ hit here. But if you love sci-fi, this is your season

Last fall’s TV schedule yielded a bumper crop of new fan favorites.

ABC scored with the mystery-riddled "Lost" and prime -time soap opera of "Desperate Housewives." Fox found a keeper with the quirky medical drama "House." And the WB had a critical darling with its young female investigator "Veronica Mars."

When the new bunch of fresh sitcoms and dramas hits the networks next month, the field may not be as strong.

"To be honest, it’s a so-so crop," says Daniel Fienberg, TV and film writer for zap2it.com.

Still, that doesn’t mean you should block your TiVo from recording any of the new programs. Fall 2005 may not appear to have a huge hit --- like "Housewives" --- but there are good offerings for niche audiences.

"If you like science fiction shows, this is a good season ... pod people everywhere this fall," Fienberg says.

He’s not exactly joking. Several programs, such as CBS’ alien thriller "Threshold" --- which Fienberg says is good --- and ABC’s "Invasion" promise people possessed by otherworldly entities.

Not all these premises work, though. For instance, Jennifer Love Hewitt in CBS’ "The Ghost Whisperer," which is being called a "Medium" rip-off.

"It’s painful. It really makes being a psychic seem boring," Fienberg says.

And while critics were lamenting the lack of comedy in last year’s fall schedule, this year gives us some humorous options.

Fienberg points to NBC’s quirky comedy "My Name is Earl," starring Jason Lee, Fox’s "Kitchen Confidential," based on Anthony Bourdain’s book, and CBS’ "How I Met Your Mother."

"That’s going to do well," Fienberg says.

Here are capsules and premier dates for the season’s new shows.

Sci-Fi # "Surface," Sept. 19, NBC. A beautiful scientist and her son are the only ones who realize something creepy is happening under the water.

# "Supernatural," Sept. 13, WB. Brothers go on the road in search of creepy things that killed their mom and haunt their dad.

# "Invasion," Sept. 21, ABC. In the middle of a Florida hurricane we start to suspect some nasty things are lurking in the swamps.

# "The Night Stalker," 9 p.m. Thursdays, ABC. Newspaper reporters find scary things, act heroically and become weird. Our jobs are just like that - except for the scary things and the heroism.

# "Ghost Whisperer," Sept. 23, CBS. Jennifer Love Hewitt sees dead people - only they have errands for her.

# "Threshold," Sept. 16, CBS. Aliens land on Earth only to be greeted by a sea captain. Some government types - including a scientist with strong religious beliefs - join the party and try to decipher the visitor’s intentions.

# "Triangle," Sci Fi. This miniseries, coming in December, is set in the Bermuda Triangle and created by such folks as Bryan Singer ("X-Men") and Rockne O’Bannon ("Farscape"). With a cast headed by Sam Neill and Catherine Bell, it looks as if it could be another winner for the channel.

Drama # "E-Ring," Sept. 21, NBC. Dennis Hopper plays a Pentagon official in this show that goes from intelligence meetings to special-ops field missions.

"He’ll be doing a football pool on one hand and selling a condo on another and running a top-secret op all at the same time, playing his country music loud," the actor says about Colonel McNulty. "He’s just a character. But he’s also a serious guy. He also knows how the Pentagon works."

# "Commander in Chief," Sept. 25, ABC. Another series set in the White House. This one, stars Geena Davis playing the country’s first female president.

"Just Legal," Sept. 19, WB. Don Johnson plays Grant Cooper, a lawyer battered by guilt, alcoholism and failure. Johnson Garth Ancier, the WB’s chairman, likens the role to Paul Newman’s classic portrayal in "The Verdict."

# "Bones," Sept. 13, Fox. David Boreanaz, the caring vampire from "Angel" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," returns to TV as an FBI agent who teams with a forensic anthropologist to solve crimes.

# "Inconceivable," Sept. 23, NBC. Just what we need, another medical drama. But wait, this one has a twist - it’s set in a fertility clinic.

# "Prison Break," Fox. Stacy Keach leads this prison show that follows a new inmate and his desire to get out alive.

# "Head Cases," Sept. 14, Fox. A lawyer (Chris O’Donnell) is kicked out by his wife, suffers a nervous breakdown, loses his job and picks his life back together with the help of the people met at a mental institution.

# "Reunion," Sept. 8, Fox. Told through flashbacks, the series begins with a group of friends reunited at a funeral and shifts to stories from the past. The twist is trying to figure out which of the friends is the one who died.

# "Killer Instinct," Sept. 23, Fox. This crime drama follows a San Francisco Police Department group that tackles the city’s most disturbing and abhorrent crimes.

# "Criminal Mind," Sept. 22, CBS. Mandy Patinkin ("Chicago Hope") stars in this series that dissects the efforts of "mind hunters" - the sect of FBI profilers who piece together the traits of a criminal’s mind.

# "Close to Home," Oct. 4, CBS. The latest offering from "CSI" producer Jerry Bruckheimer pits a strict prosecuting attorney serving justice in suburbia.

Comedy # "Stroker & Hoop," Cartoon Network. Another Adult Swim installment, this animated show follows two detectives still learning the job as they drive a talking car.

# "Everybody Hates Chris," Sept. 22, UPN. Critics say this was a popular pick to be a hit. The show is based on comedian Chris Rock’s life life as a kid.

# "My Name Is Earl," Sept. 20, NBC. Starring Jason Lee ("Mallrats," "Heartbreakers") as a low-rent criminal who wins the lottery and tries to make up for all the bad he’s done, this show has been called "funny." But it may have too much of an edge for network TV.

# "How I Met Your Mother," Sept. 19, CBS. Bob Saget’s voice starts each episode in the year 2030, telling his two kids the story of how he met their mother. The rest of the show then flashes back to main character Ted and his twentysomething best friends, who are living in New York and searching for love. The cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel

# "Extras," Sept. 25, HBO. It’s a comedy from the brilliant Ricky Gervais of "The Office," and the clips were a hoot.

# "Kitchen Confidential," Sept. 19, Fox. Darren Star, the guy who gave us "Sex and the City" comes back with this cook comedy/drama based on the best-selling book. Bradley Cooper ("Alias") and Nicholas Brandon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") star.

# "The War at Home," Sept. 11, Fox. This family comedy pits youngish parents in the middle of raising three teenagers that start doing what their parents experienced as teenagers. Michael Rappaport ("Boston Public," "True Romance") stars.

# "The Book of Daniel," NBC. A midseason comedy-drama about a pill-popping priest with a wildly dysfunctional family who talks to Jesus Christ. This one polarized writers. Some hated it, while others likened it to "Six Feet Under" in its early days.

# "Four Kings," no premier date announced, NBC. Seth Green ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Family Guy") stars in this comedy that brings four lifelong New York friends together to live in an apartment that one of the guys inherited from his grandmother.

Reality # "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," Sept. 21, NBC. The maven of home improvement, Stewart leads this show which is basically a copy of Donald Trump’s "Apprentice."

# "Three Wishes," Sept. 23, NBC. A warm and fuzzy "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"-like reality show hosted by singer Amy Grant, the show grants a town three wishes that are then completed. It’s scheduled for Fridays, beginning Sept. 23. But critics think this series could be so big that by midseason, it might end up anchoring the network’s problematic Thursday lineup.

Documentary # "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan," Sept. 26-27, PBS. Directed by Martin Scorsese and airing as part of "American Masters," this three-and-a-half hour Dylan documentary has been under heavy wraps. But after a screening at the Television Critics Association press tour, critics were said to be impressed.

# "Viva Blackpool," Oct. 23, BBC America. This six-episode series was the surprise hit of the tour. Reminiscent of the work of the late Dennis Potter ("The Singing Detective"), it mixes sex, murder and general mayhem with elaborate musical numbers and a sharp satirical edge. The clips were so good that they had writers scrambling to watch complete episodes.

# "Pioneers of Primetime," PBS. This special chronicles the early days of TV. If the press conference is any indication, it will feature Red Buttons doing Borscht Belt comedy, Mickey Rooney drifting off into rambling monologues, one-liners from Sid Caesar and Rose Marie, and Carl Reiner trying to keep some kind of order and decorum.

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