Monday, August 22

The 7th Annual CDP Fall TV Preview ('11-'12).

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It's that time of year again!

For the seventh year in a row, the CDP is back with the scoop on nearly 50 new, returning and canceled TV shows. These are the shows that I will be watching (or at least giving a chance to); all times are Central, and the premiere and time slot information are as accurate as I could get them as of the date this was written. I also stuck mostly with national (free) TV and some basic cable; I did not include premium channels.

As you'll notice, I'm not excited whatsoever with some of the new shows. A few seem to have promise (which I'll talk about later), but for me, it's going to be mostly returning shows and longtime favorites. I'm actually watching less television than I ever have (anything close to 20 hours of programming a week is considerably less for me than years passed), and that's perfectly fine. DVR as necessary. Watch as directed. You are owned by your television. Obey. Let's go.

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SUNDAY

6:00-7:00 - America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC - Premieres 10/2)
7:00-7:30 - The Simpsons (FOX - Premieres 9/25)
8:30-9:00 - Bob’s Burgers (FOX - Premieres Midseason)
9:00-10:00 - Breaking Bad (AMC - Premieres 7/17)
9:00-10:00 - The Walking Dead (AMC - Premieres October)
9:00-10:00 - The Killing (AMC - Premieres Spring '12)
11:00-11:30 - Metalocalypse (TOON - Premieres Spring '12)

AMC officially owns Sunday night, and they will keep you entertained all season long with three of the most compelling dramas on television. Starting with Breaking Bad (which is on right now), and continuing into The Walking Dead (of which there is absolutely nothing comparable on TV), and wrapping up with Season 2 of the critically acclaimed (and supremely frustrating) The Killing, AMC is competing with HBO and Showtime when it comes to groundbreaking and envelope-pushing entertainment.

Sunday also gives us three of the best animated shows on TV, with The Simpsons continuing their reign as Greatest Show In Television History, Bob's Burgers coming back for an unexpected (but happily accepted) Season 2, and Metalocalypse bringing all the surreal, bloody goodness you've come to expect from the longtime Adult Swim favorite.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - If drama is your thing, The Walking Dead is where it's at. However, if you like comedy, The Simpsons/Bob's Burgers is an hour you shouldn't miss.

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MONDAY

7:00-7:15 - Adventure Time (TOON - Currently Airing)
7:00-8:00 - Antiques Roadshow (PBS - Currently Airing)
8:00-9:00 - Alcatraz (FOX - Premieres Midseason)
8:00-9:00 - Hoarders (A&E - Currently Airing)
8:00-10:00 - Monday Night Raw (USA - Currently Airing)

One of the most promising new shows of the season will arrive on Monday nights, as Alcatraz premieres on FOX. Produced by J.J. Abrams and a few other Lost alumni (Hurley's in it!), Alcatraz sounds like a great balance of mystery, paranormal, character depth and humor that Lost fans have been hoping to find in a new series for a couple of years now.

For me, Antiques Roadshow and Hoarders represent the Yin and Yang of reality-based programming, although I must admit that the Missus likes watching these shows a lot more than I do. Adventure Time is a phenomenon I finally caught up to, and I already think it's one of the greatest animated series I've ever watched. Finally, Monday Night Raw (the highest rated show in all of cable television, haterz), continues their reign of live venue, sports entertainment, uber-fun insanity.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - Antiques Roadshow and Raw is essential viewing for a lot of people, but Alcatraz really looks to be the standout favorite on Monday nights. And for God's sake, Adventure Time is the most awesome 11 minutes on TV, so there's no excuse to miss that, either.

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TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 - Ringer (CW - Premieres 9/13)
8:00-9:00 - Destination Truth (SYFY - Premieres Midseason)
8:00-9:00 - Dirty Jobs (DISC - Premieres Midseason)

For me, Tuesday is the slowest night of the week when it comes to TV. Destination Truth and Dirty Jobs have been longtime CDP favorites, with the former taking a skeptical, humorous and always-entertaining look at mythic legends and creatures, and the latter taking an honest, humorous and always-entertaining look at the professions that keep American life running smoothly. Josh Gates and Mike Rowe are tremendous hosts, and these are shows that you should at least check out during rerun marathons or lazy Sunday afternoons.

Ringer is a new show I plan on giving a chance to, if only because Tuesday is such a slow evening. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (yay!) and premiering on the CW (boo!), the dual-identity storyline has potential, depending on the capability of who's writing it. At the end of the day, Ringer will have to depend on the strength (and cuteness) of its main character if it is to succeed.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - Destination Truth is an original, funny, snarky, adventurous, cynical and legitimately dangerous show that should be watched by more people.

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WEDNESDAY

7:00-7:30 - The Middle (ABC - Premieres 9/21)
8:00-8:30 - Modern Family (ABC - Premieres 9/21)
8:00-9:00 - Mythbusters (DISC - Currently Airing)
8:00-9:00 - Ghost Hunters International (SYFY - Currently Airing)
8:00-9:00 - The Ultimate Fighter (SPIKE - Premieres 9/14)
8:30-9:00 - Happy Endings (ABC - Premieres 9/28)

Modern Family is, to me, still the funniest show on TV, even despite a fizzling out towards the end of Season 2 (Parks & Rec, Community and 30 Rock all place an extremely close second). The Middle and Happy Endings have moments of brilliance, but still seem to be depending on the Modern Family bump for viewership. Hey, it worked for me.

On the Reality side of things, Mythbusters, GHI and The Ultimate Fighter are very different shows that are played out in very similar ways. Mythbusters deals in scientifically debunking Urban Legends, Ghost Hunters deals in using pseudo-science in order to prove the existence of the paranormal, and The Ultimate Fighter deals with promising Mixed Martial Artists in a Mortal Kombat-style tournament to see who snags a lucrative UFC contract. They're all awesome in their own weird way.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - Modern Family is a must-see comedy if there ever was one, but if Docu/Reality is more your thing, Mythbusters is the absolute best of its genre.

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THURSDAY

7:00-7:30 - Community (NBC - Premieres 9/22)
7:30-8:00 - Parks & Recreation (NBC - Premieres 9/22)
8:00-8:30 - The Office (NBC - Premieres 9/22)
8:00-9:00 - Person Of Interest (CBS - Premieres 9/22)
8:30-9:00 - 30 Rock (NBC - Premieres Midseason)
9:30-10:00 - Louie (FX - Currently Airing)

The funniest night on television stays on top, as Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock all return for what could be the best 'Must-See Thursday' lineup ever assembled. To make things even better, FX has brought back Louie for a second season, allowing the funniest comic in America to do...pretty much whatever he wants for 22 minutes a week. Louie is one of those shows that seems to get more popular (and more surreal) each week, and as the popularity (and comedic brilliance) of Louis CK continues to increase, this will hopefully only ascend.

I'm crossing my fingers when it comes to Person Of Interest for a few reasons. First of all, I really like Michael Emerson (who played Ben Linus on Lost), and want him to succeed in carrying his own television show. Secondly, I don't watch anything on CBS, and I'm hoping that Person Of Interest can break that cycle of bland crime and legal dramas.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - Community, Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock represent the Holy Trinity of must-see comedy. I cannot, in the name of all that is good, recommend that you skip any of these three shows.

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FRIDAY

7:00-9:00 - Friday Night Smackdown (SYFY - Currently Airing)
8:00-9:00 - Grimm (NBC - Premieres 9/23)

I have no faith in Grimm, but it looks like one of those shows that NBC threw a ton of money at (see The Cape, The Event and Heroes), so I owe it to them to at least check out the pilot episode. From what I can gather, this will be a present day show about a homicide detective taking on modern updates of Fairy Tale villains. This could either be terrible, or the most awesome thing on TV (next to The Walking Dead, of course), so we'll have to see.

Of course, if you're looking to see real-life superheroes, you'll check out Sin Cara (pictured) and the like on Friday Night Smackdown, because if you're at home on Friday night, you literally have nothing better to do. It's a blast; you'll have fun.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - That's cool; skip them both. That way, you'll have more time to catch up on the comedies you missed Thursday.

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SATURDAY

7:00-7:30 - Cops (FOX - Currently Airing)
10:30-12:00 - Saturday Night Live (NBC - Premieres 9/24)

Fun fact for you. From what I can gather, Cops and Saturday Night Live are the only two programs on network television that air new episodes on Saturdays (the recently-canceled America's Most Wanted was formerly the third). And considering that these three shows have been on the air for a combined 82 years, I'd say that it's working out pretty well for them.

SNL has once again found its stride with a great cast, quotable characters and sketches, and an eclectic selection of hosts and musical guests as of late. Cops continues being the only 'real' reality show on TV, a cinema veirte powerhouse that I sincerely hope stays on the air until the very medium of televised programming changes entirely. I mean that; I want to watch Cops for the remainder of my long, healthy life.

'But I Can Only Watch 1 Show!' - Watch Cops and catch the best SNL sketches on Hulu the next day. Considering the syndication schedule of the 23 year old program, if you miss an episode of Cops, you may never see it again.

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MIDSEASON (DATE/TIME TBA)

The River (ABC)
Awake (NBC)

There are two new shows arriving midseason that appear (on paper) to have some serious promise, none more than the enormously ambitious NBC drama, Awake. Starring Jason Isaacs (yes, that Jason Isaacs), it's a combination of crime, mystery, surreal, alternate reality and...you know what? Just watch the official trailer and (hopefully) be blown away at what they are trying to accomplish. This is one of those shows that, if handled correctly, could be that shining light in a landscape of bland, knockoff programming that we always have to wade through to get to the good stuff.

Just as ambitious is The River. After a famous wildlife TV host goes missing, his family (and a film crew, naturally) go into the jungle to look for him. As you would assume, shit gets crazy. I should mention that this show is the brainchild of Oren Peli, the creator/writer/director of Paranormal Activity, and the Blair Witch/Lost/Ghostwatch comparisons are valid and worthy of excitement (if you're into that sort of thing). Check out the official trailer here and cross your fingers that this kind of format can transition well from the big screen to a weekly series.

Please be awesome, please be awesome, please be awesome.

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10 NOTABLE CANCELLATIONS

10. The Cape (NBC)
9. Lie To Me (FOX)
8. My Generation (ABC - Canceled after one episode, but I watched it!)
7. The Chicago Code (FOX)
6. Medium (CBS)
5. The Event (NBC)
4. Smallville (CW)
3. America's Most Wanted (FOX)
2. V (ABC)
1. Friday Night Lights (NBC)

For the final time, I will tell you that Friday Night Lights (5 seasons, 76 episodes) was one of the greatest television shows I have ever seen, and I implore you to watch Season 1 in absolutely any way that you can. It's on Netflix, and the DVD is available almost everywhere for something like $25 (it even came with a money-back guarantee at one point). There was nothing else like it on TV before or since; I wouldn't lead you astray.

If you don't like it, let me know and I'll send you a free copy of Season 1 of Mike & Molly as a consolation gift.

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5 NOTABLE NIGHTLY SHOWS

5:00-5:30 - Pardon The Interruption (ESPN)
10:00-11:00 - Conan (TBS)
10:00-10:30 - The Daily Show (COM)
10:30-11:00 - The Colbert Report (COM)
11:30-12:30 - The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS)

Next to SportsCenter, PTI is the only show on ESPN that matters. Conan is beginning to find its stride on TBS; they have found their true identity and seem to be having a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, no talk show is more random (and at times, stupefyingly hilarious) than The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Finally, the 1-2 punch of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are essential viewing for anyone attempting to stay abreast of the current Idiocracy-esque landscape of Politics and Culture.

Well, there you have it, the scoop on my personal Fall TV schedule, for the seventh year in a row. Set your DVRs, sound off in the comments section and enjoy your week. Don't forget to tell us the shows you plan on watching, and remember to come back all September long for the CDP Top 30 Of All-Time. Thanks much; have a good one.

ALL SEPTEMBER LONG:
THE CDP TOP 30 (2008-2010)
.