September in California isn't much like fall anywhere else, but I can feel the change of seasons in my bones. Maybe it's all the apples at the farmer's market. I wore pants and long sleeves to crew practice last night. Or maybe it's just because of that age-old ritual, the pre-fall Tivo clean-out. I'm in the process of making space on my 40-hour machine(!) for the barrage to come--can I really bear to delete the Gilmore Girls finale, even though I haven't re-watched it?--and thinking about my schedule for the season. I lost a couple of shows last year, leaving me with a reasonably empty plate, but I also picked up some newer shows over the summer. And then there's an entire Christian boo-fay of new stuff. I'm spoiled for choice.
I re-read last year's pre-season TV post, and it seems that things are far less settled now than last season--I'm trying out more shows, but I know less about them and I'm less assured of what's going to be good. There's a lot more herd influence going on this year, and I'll probably end up giving up on a lot of them (or seeing a few cancellations). Either way, this is what I'm looking at:
Tuesday, 8 p.m., FOX
Premiere: September 25
Premise: A socially awkward forensic anthropologist and her hottie FBI partner solve murders using the victims' skeletons. Grossness, hilarity, and meaningful glances ensue.
Why do I always feel the need to explain my relationship with this show? Here's the truth: the writing on Bones is not the best. It's not the worst, either, but it's sometimes awkward and obvious and just kind of...lacking in finesse. But you know what? I really, really like it anyway. I should stop apologizing for it. It's a pretty show about pretty people solving crimes, and it cracks me up. Basically, it's a triumph of casting, chemistry, and cinematography over a mediocre script, and I am more than okay with that. And anyway, now that we're starting season 3: Did Angela and Hodgins run away and get married? Did Zach ("ZaaaachAddy!") go to Iraq and get shot? Will Booth and Brennan realize their love and be 2getha 4eva? And will poor Cam EVER get her own storyline? So much intrigue!
Thursday, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Premiere: October 4
Premise: Tina Fey plays herself, only single. (A behind-the-scenes look at the life of a female head writer on a sketch comedy show.)
Maybe if I say this really fast, it won't feel so mean: 30Rockisgreatbutdidn'tdeservetheBestComedySeriesEmmy;TheOfficeisabettershowandshouldhavewon. There. That said, I really do love 30 Rock, and I stand by it as the best true sitcom out there. I also intend to continue watching it in forever in my quest to be Tina Fey when I grow up. So: Watch it. It's silly and well-written and I look forward to it every week. (Also re-watches well, especially while knitting.)
Thursday, 9:00, NBC
Premiere: September 27
Premise: The everyday trials of working in an office full of...regular people. Steve Carell is in charge. 'Nuff said.
I have a hard time explaining why this show is so great, but that's only because it DEFIES WORDS. Every time I think it's gone all touchy-feely happy-happy on us, I happen upon some scene that leaves me stranded on the couch in fetal position, peering through my fingers (I recently watched the beginning of "Women's Appreciation." It was a near-death experience). The Office feels, to me, like a higher form of TV--it's characterization and dialogue and joy and heartbreak and hilarity and non-reality reality in a way that other shows can't even fathom. It's one of those shows that I believe has changed the face of TV and will continue to do so. It's just that good. WATCH IT. It will make you laugh. And cry. And have hope for humanity, or at least for comedy writers, even though they're sometimes terrible people.
Friday Night Lights
Friday, 9:00, NBC
Premiere: October 5
Premise: A small town in Texas is obsessed with its championship high school football team. DRA-MA.
NBC is so sure new viewers will fall in love with this show that they're offering a money-back guarantee on the first-season DVDs. It's a pretty cracked-out business model, but for FNL, it's not a bad idea--I have yet to meet a single viewer who doesn't love it in an ridiculous way. The thing to remember here is that this is not a show about football. This is a show about people who interact because of football, but it's about life in a small town, about friends and families and boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives, and then occasionally there's a game. But football is never the point, here. The people are the point, which is the hallmark of good TV from where I'm standing.
New and worth a shot:
Monday, 8:00, NBC
Premiere: September 24
Premise: Action-comedy in which a regular guy accidentally gains access to sooper-sekrit government documents. I think I read that he somehow downloaded them to his brain? I don't know.
Could...be fun? I've heard good things from people who've watched the premiere on NBC.com. So basically I'm going with the herd, here.
Tuesday, 9:00, CW
Premiere: September 25
Premise: A young man learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil, and now he has to be the devil's personal assistant.
Like Dead Like Me, only on network TV. I'd be skeptical except that it's a Kevin Smith creation, and Tim Goodman loved it. And I do what Tim Goodman tells me to.
Wednesday, 8:00, ABC
Premiere: October 3
Premise: A guy can touch dead things and bring them back to life...once. If he touches them again, they die permanently.
Another death show? This one sounds hokey, but it's probably the most critically-acclaimed new show out there. It's by the guy who did Wonderfalls, which everyone (and by "everyone" I mean "TV geeks," but there are kind of a lot of us) loved and which lasted approximately 3.6 seconds on TV. We'll see if this one sticks; I hope so. I like quirky TV.
Maybe if they sweet-talk me:
Aliens in America
Monday, 8:30, NBC
Premiere: October 1
Premise: A family takes in a Pakistani exchange student so their nerdy son will have at least one friend.
A half-hour show on the CW doesn't make me want to jump up and down, but 1) it's getting some good press--Tim Goodman liked it, anyway--and 2) Scott Patterson (Luke from Gilmore Girls) is in it. So it gets a chance, at least. I think.
Wednesday, 9:00, NBC
Premiere: September 26
Premise: ...The Bionic Woman
I just don't know about this.
Dirty Sexy Money
Wednesday, 10:00, ABC
Premiere: September 26
Premise: Peter Krause is a good-guy lawyer trying to deal with the bad-guy family of clients he's inherited from his father.
The title and the ABC-at-nightness turn me off of this one, but producer Greg Berlanti's involvement and my Sports Night/Casey McCall crush on Peter Krause require me to at least check it out.
Before anybody starts worrying about my mental and physical health, please know that I'm not actually planning to watch all of these shows. This is the pre-tryouts roster; some of them are sure to wash out before we've even finished warm-ups. (And now, see? I'm watching too much Friday Night Lights.)