Saturday, September 02, 2006

The New Fall TV Season - Sept. 2, 2006




Welcome to the fall fare

There will be a lot of great serials to munch on this season. That is, if you have an appetite – and the time– for all of them.

By Eric Kohanik

Programming bandwagons come and go in the TV world. And this fall, the serialized drama is the one that networks have jumped onto with full force.

It’s a trend that began with such hits as 24, Lost and Prison Break, all of which have stories stretching out over a long period.

This season, there are at least a dozen new weekly series following the serialized formula of storytelling. It’s good news and bad news.

The bad news, of course, is that most new shows don’t even make it to the end of the first season. That could leave millions of viewers dangling with unresolved storylines.

It probably bodes well for DVD sets of such shows. At least there, viewers will be able to feast on the leftover episodes.

But the good outweighs the bad this fall. The good news is that TV is serving up one of its strongest lineups in years.

What’s leading the pack? The buzz is huge for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Sundays; CTV and Mondays; NBC, starting Sept. 17 and 18). Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry top a fantastic cast in a drama that goes behind the scenes of a fictitious sketch-comedy show similar to Saturday Night Live.

On the comedy front, SNL fixture Tina Fey is tackling more or less the same theme, although not nearly as well, in a behind-the-scenes comedy called 30 Rock (Wednesdays; NBC and Saturdays; CTV, Oct. 11 and 14).

Other good news? Big-name stars will really light up the screen this fall.

Leading that pack: James Woods as one mean s.o.b. of a lawyer in Shark (Thursdays; CBS, Global, Sept. 21). There’s also Anne Heche as a motivational speaker who heads to Alaska to escape a cheating fiancĂ© in Men in Trees (Fridays; ABC, Citytv, previewing Sept. 12). And Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths play siblings at the core of Brothers & Sisters (Sundays; ABC, Global, Sept. 24).

Big names highlight the comedy side, too. Ted Danson is back as a group therapist in the clever Help Me Help You (Tuesdays; ABC, CH, Sept. 26). And, if broad comedy is really your thing, you may just be able to stomach John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor as two aging pals in Twenty Good Years (Wednesdays; NBC, Oct. 4).

As for all those serialized dramas, there are many that can whet your appetite. Watch for the tales of nine bank-robbery hostages to unfold in The Nine (Wednesdays; ABC and Saturdays; CTV, Oct. 4 and 7) and the cosmic connections that link the characters of Six Degrees(Wednesdays; Global and Thursdays; ABC, Sept. 20 and 21).

Check out Donnie Wahlberg as a fugitive on the lam in Runaway (Mondays; The CW, Sept. 25). And keep an eye out for Dana Delany coping with the abduction of her teenaged son in Kidnapped (Wednesdays; NBC, Global, Sept. 20).

We’ll explore most of these as the fall unfolds. For now, let the season begin.

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