Home Television TV Reviews Fall 2010 Television Season begins
Fall 2010 Television Season begins
Written by US Townhall staff   
Sunday, 19 September 2010 21:04

Summer is over, and now the 2010-2011 television season begins in earnest.  In spite of a handful of early premieres, Monday, September 20 marks the first official day of the new season.  No less than two dozen new shows will premiere this season on the five major networks.  How many will last, and how many will die a quick death?  As always, you are the judge, but many of the new series look quite promising – at least conceptually.  Whether they can deliver on their intriguing premises and pilot episodes week after week remains to be seen.


In contrast to years past, Friday has become a whole lot more competitive this season.  Perhaps it's due to the falling economy as network executives may feel that more and more people are staying home, so they can put some of their big guns here without feeling as though they're shooting themselves in the foot.  We have new dramas starring such television heavyweights as Dana Delany, Jimmy Smits, and Tom Selleck.  Also, CBS relocates CSI: NY here, and Fox throws in their returning series from last Spring: Human Target and The Good Guys.  Certainly no lack of choices for fans of one hour dramas.  But where's the laughs?  Not here, as there is not a single sitcom to be found on this former TGIF night.  Outlaws has already premiered, but moves into its normal Friday night slot on September 24, which also has the premiere of Blue BloodsSchool Pride begins class on October 15, while Body of Proof debuts on October 22.




9:00pm • ABC


Stars: Dana Delany, Jeri Ryan, Nicholas Bishop, Geoffrey Arend, Windell Middlebrooks, Sonja Sohn, John Carroll Lynch


Premise: Delany plays Megan Hunt, a neurosurgeon who embarks on a new career as a Medical Examiner after her hands are damaged in a car accident.  Although brilliant, her abrasive nature often puts her at odds with her co-workers in this drama that balances family life with the procedural case of the week.


Chances for survival: Iffy. While the cast seems top-notch, this female House is up against a relocated CSI: NY, which is getting a shot of new blood in the form of Sela Ward on the heels of the departure of star Melina Kanakaredes.  Also, we may just have reached the threshold in terms of how many procedurals the television market can bear.





10:00pm • CBS


Stars: Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Will Estes, Bridget Moynahan, Bobby Cannavale, Len Cariou, Dylan Moore


Premise: Tom Selleck returns to series television in this new drama that follows the Reagans, a family of New York cops.  Stories will show how police work affects every member of the family.  Selleck plays the Police Commissioner, and Donnie Wahlberg and Will Estes are his hot-headed rule-breaking son, and his fresh-faced rookie cop son, respectively.


Chances for survival: Pretty good.  With a 10pm Friday night slot, it likely won't garner top 10 ratings, but we could see it taking 2nd place in the timeslot behind ABC's venerable 20/20.





8:00pm • NBC


Stars: Kym Whitley, Tom Stroup, Jacob Soboroff, Susie Castillo


Premise: Dilapidated school buildings get an extreme makeover in the new reality series that strikes a lot of emotional chords: each episode the cast, plus real volunteers from the community being showcased, embark on the task of cleaning, renovating, and updating the technology of schools that have fallen into disrepair and neglect.


Chances for survival: This show has all the feel-good hallmarks that made Extreme Makeover a hit.  With an 8pm timeslot, this is a series that, like Makeover, the whole family could sit down and enjoy together.  Could very well be a sleeper hit.





10:00pm • NBC 


Stars: Jimmy Smits, Jesse Bradford, Carly Pope, David Ramsey, Ellen Woglom


Premise: After Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza decides that he has prematurely resigned from the bench, he becomes a crusading lawyer taking on the hot-button social issues of the day.  However, Garza himself is no boy scout as he enjoys gambling, drinking, and womaniziing – not necessarily in that order – on his off hours.


Chances for survival: NBC premiered this series early on a different night in order to generate some pre-season buzz, but once on Friday, it is in a difficult timeslot and competes against both 20/20 and Tom Selleck's Blue Bloods.  The fight is seemingly for 2nd place in the timeslot as 20/20 will likely continue to dominate.




Thursday brings us four new entries – one from each of the networks with the exception of Fox, who sticks with Bones and FringeNikita, which has already premiered to good ratings for The CW and S#*! My Dad Says on CBS seem to be the odds-on choices for the biggest successes on this most competitive of nights.  Thursday is extremely important to the networks because they can often command higher advertising prices in the spot market (ad time not purchased in bulk during the "up fronts") – particularly from movie studios who have their new Friday premieres to advertise.  Expect early cancellations or timeslot shifts for any series that proves to be a weak link in the network chain.




8:00pm • ABC


Stars: Jaime King, Michael Stahl-David, Julian Morris, Mehcad Brooks, Sebastian Sozzi, Keir O'Donnell, Daniella Alonso, Annie Son, Kelli Garner


Premise: We follow the lives of nine high school students back and forth through time as 18 year olds with dreams of conquering the world, and as 28 year olds whose lives haven't worked out exactly as they planned.  Each actor plays both ages of his or her character.


Chance for survival: There have been shows with a similar conceit before, and all have failed.  There's an obvious marketing negative about the idea of showing characters whose dreams do not come true and are stuck in lives that they don't want that inherently does not appeal to viewers – particularly American viewers.  We predict an early cancellation for this one.




  S#*! MY DAD SAYS  

8:30pm • CBS


Stars: William Shatner, Jonathan Sadowski, Will Sasso, Nicole Sullivan


Premise: This series will go down in television history as the first sitcom derived from a Twitter feed.  Maxim writer Justin Halpern's popular Tweets about the – stuff – his dad says was quickly optioned by Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.  William Shatner, who at 79, has had more career revivals than Cher at this point, plays the outspoken Dad.


Chance for survival: The promos unfortunately make Shatner's character look like a one-dimensional clod, and the entire series seems to be based around his one-liners.  The characters will need deepening over the course of the series if they expect us to care.





9:30pm • NBC


Stars: Ben Rappaport, Diedrich Bader, Anisha Nagarajan, Rizwan Manji, Rebecca Hazlewood, Parvesh Cheena, Sacha Dhawan, Pippa Black


Premise: A sitcom with a timely premise.  Todd Dempsy (played by newcomer Ben Rappaport) discovers the call center of the novelties company he manages has been outsourced to India.  Culture-clash hijinks ensue along with the inevitable ethinc jokes flying in both directions.


Chance for survival: Up against the last half of both Grey's Anatomy, CSI, and Fringe, we predict Outsourced will be relocated to cancellation limbo before the season is out.





9:00pm • The CW


Stars: Maggie Q, Shane West, Xander Berkeley, Lyndsy Fonseca


Premise: Third American version of the French cult classic, La Femme Nikita.  This series doesn't just follow the previous version that starred Peta Wilson.  Here, Nikita and Michael are more at odds, but the sexual tension between them is still there bubbling under the surface.  This Nikita is not under the thumb of the government agency that trained her.  She's gone rogue and is not afraid to take on and thwart the plans of her old employers.


Chance for survival: The series premiered two weeks ahead of the new season in order to give it the best possible chance at attracting an audience.  Ratings have been good – by CW standards – it's their highest rated series right now.  With Smallville going off the air at the end of this season, The CW needs to start cultivating more new hits as Gossip Girl is a shadow of its former buzz and is now one of The CW's lowest-rated series.  We think that if the ratings hold above 2.5 million viewers throughout the season (it's been getting over 3 million so far), The CW will keep Nikita alive.





Wednesday has shaped up to be the biggest night of the week in terms of new series premiering with six new shows being unveiled.  Only Fox has not put one of its new series on this night – it doesn't really need to with American Idol returning in January.  Four of the six series will debut on September 22, while Hellcats has already been kicking up a fuss since September 8.  Law & Order: Los Angeles calls court into session on September 29.




8:30pm • ABC


Stars: Jake Lacy, JoAnna Garcia, Josh Cooke, Jennifer Finnigan, Kurt Fuller, Debra Jo Rupp


Premise: Relationships are explored via three couples in varying stages of their partnerships: Casey and Mia get married after only knowing each other a short time; Mia's big sister, Maddie, has been in a relationship with her boyfriend for nine years without taking it to that next level; and the sisters' parents are the old married couple.  Each week's situation allows the writers to compare and contrast how each couple decides to handle it leading to, we presume, comedy.


Chance for survival: It's sandwiched between last season's hit comedies, The Middle and Modern Family, so it has every shot at success.  The writing needs to be as sharp as it is on those two shows in order to keep viewers from switching to the last half of Survivor: Nicaragua.





10:00pm • ABC


Stars: Rob Morrow, Maura Tierney, Christine Adams, Anthony Ruivivar, Eamonn Walker, Sean Wing


Premise: From Executive Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (also EP of NBC's freshman entry, Chase), comes this new take on the legal drama that will not only explore each week's case from the points of view of both the prosecution and the defense, but will reveal to the viewer at the end of each episode whether or not the person on trial was truly guilty after the jury had rendered its verdict.


Chance for survival: The premise is intriguing, and the casting is top notch.  We expect to see a great battle of wits between Morrow's and Tierney's characters.  That being said, the competition, once again, is intense.  All three networks are premiering new shows at the 10pm hour, but NBC has the advantage with its Los Angeles extension of the Law & Order brand, while CBS is hoping to hit the jackpot with its Las Vegas legal drama, The Defenders.  Three legal dramas set in New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.  Will any of these rise above the pack and become a legitimate hit, or will they simply split the audience into thirds with none coming back for a second year?





10:00pm • CBS


Stars: Jerry O'Connell, James Belushi, Tanya Fischer, Jurnee Smollett


Premise: A legal drama with a Vegas twist, don't expect an ultra-serious procedural here even though Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn also heads up that other Las Vegas drama, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  A lighter touch permeates this show based on real life Vegas lawyers who take cases others won't touch and will pull out any trick in the book to win.


Chance for survival: Hard to tell.  There have been a few hit shows set in Las Vegas, and others have bombed massively.  CBS has certainly put its marketing muscle behind this one, so expect a large sampling of the pilot.  Where things go from there depends on how well the show delivers the goods from week to week, but at least it should get off to a promising start.





8:00pm • NBC


Stars: Boris Kodjoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Carter MacIntyre, Gerald McRaney


Premise: From JJ Abrams comes a new take on the espionage thriller – a married couple who left the CIA are called back to active duty, and since this is an Abrams show, the reasons they have been brought back are more than what they have been told.


Chance for survival: Will likely not last very long in that timeslot.  It's opposite Survivor and ABC's The Middle, and it stars two relative unknowns.  Very likely to be an early casualty of the season unless NBC makes a commitment to let the audience find it rather than yank it in a panic after two episodes, and – hmmm, whom are we kidding, here?





10:00pm • NBC


Stars: Skeet Ulrich, Corey Stoll, Megan Boone, Wanda DeJesus, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Alfred Molina


Premise: Same premise it's been for the last twenty years except sunnier.


Chance for survival: Law & Order is not indestuctible as a franchise – note the cancellations of both Law & Order: Trial by Jury and Conviction – but viewers might be ready for a fresh take on the concept and a change in locale might accomplish just that.  On the other hand, there's something about LA that doesn't scream "gritty crime drama."  It remains to be seen if viewers can adjust to the aesthetic shift.





9:00pm • The CW


Stars: Heather Hemmens, Ashley Tisdale, Matt Barr, Alyson Michalks, Robbie Jones


Premise: Based on author Kate Torgovnick's book, Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders, and with Smallville's Tom Welling serving as Executive Producer, Hellcats seeks to portray the different elements of cheerleading: the training, the routines, the athleticism, the competition between the members of the squad, and the personal injuries that result from performing ever-increasingly intricate and dangerous stunts.


Chance for survival: If it can even pull in 2 million viewers consistently, it's likely that the CW will keep it on the air as its threshold for what constitutes a hit show is quite a bit on the low side.  Premiered two weeks ahead of the season in order to give it a head start.



Tuesday brings four premieres: two each from ABC and Fox.  CBS, NBC, and The CW are all bringing back existing series.  Note that No Ordinary Family premieres on September 28, while the other three debut on September 21.




8:00pm • ABC


Stars: Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Jimmy Bennett, Stephen Collins, Romany Malco, Kay Panabaker, Autumn Reeser


Premise: Due to their family plane crashing in waters filled with toxic goop, the Powell family gains superpowers becoming quite the fantastic foursome.  Jim Powell (Chiklis), a police sketch artist, gains super strength, and Stephanie Powell (Benz), a scientist, becomes super fast.  The kids, Daphne (Panabaker) and JJ (Bennett) become a telepath and super smart, respectively.  However, in this age of not-quite-what-it-seems conspiracy dramas, everything is not quite what it seems.  Mom's boss is behind the Powell's powers, and there are others out there who are similarly endowed with enhanced abilities, and not all of those people are good.


Chance for survival: We love to see networks take risks, and we trust Chiklis and Benz to be as watchable as always, but the competition for this series is pure Kryptonite what with NCIS, Glee, and The Biggest Loser all airing at the same time.  If scripts are strong and the network commitment is there, perhaps ABC can move it to a better timeslot.




  DETROIT 1-8-7  

10:00pm • ABC


Stars: Michael Imperioli, D.J. Cotrona, Jon Michael Hill, Aisha Hinds, James McDaniel, Shaun Majumder, Natalie Martinez


Premise: Basically, this is NYPD Blue set in Detroit.  Coincidentally, it airs in Blue's old timeslot and James McDaniel (Blue's Lt. Fancy) co-stars.  The 1-8-7 refers to the penal code for homicide – albiet in California.  But a little inaccuracy never stopped Hollywood.


Chance for survival: It's all going to depend on the scripts and how well the cast gels together.  A shameless NYPD Blue retread won't succeed, so we're hoping to see some sparks of originality here.  However, this series is good counterprogramming to CBS's The Good Wife and NBC's Parenthood.  With Fox and The CW sitting out the 10pm timeslot as usual, there isn't tons of network competition here either.  If this series fails, it fails completely on its own detriments.





9:00pm • FOX


Stars: Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton, Cloris Leachman, Garret Dillahunt, Shannon Woodward


Premise: Fox, which had its first legitimate hit with the white trash Bundy family on Married...With Children, might just have an heir to the throne: the white trash Chances.  Expect somewhat more heart from the Chance family, however.  The series was created by Greg Garcia, and fans of his previous hit, My Name is Earl, will recognize the alternately biting and sweet single-camera comedy stylings of that series at play here.  By all accounts, one of the best comedies of the season with Cloris Leachman in top scene-stealing form.


Chance for survival: Like other promising new shows this season, it's up against tough competition, and with American Idol returning in January, Fox can easily jettison this and Running Wilde and shift Glee into the 9pm slot when Idol's Tuesday show shrinks to an hour mid-competition.  We're hoping Fox finds a way to keep Hope alive.





9:30pm • FOX


Stars: Keri Russell, Will Arnett, Robert Michael Morris, Mel Rodriguez, Stefania Owen, Peter Serafinowicz, David Cross


Premise: Not easy to describe this one.  Fox is marketing it as an odd couple romantic comedy, but it's a bit more absurd in tone than that what with that tribe from the Amazon rain forest hanging around and all.


Chance for survival: The buzz on this series has been uneven at best.  Arnett's character may just be too smarmy and unlikeable to appeal to the mass audience in spite of creator Mitch Hurwitz wanting to make this series more accessible than his previous try, the cult favorite, Arrested Development.  We're not bullish on this series making it past its first season.



Here's a quick look at the five new series that are set to premiere on Monday, September 20.  We have to say that Monday is shaping up to be quite competitive, but will promising new shows like The Event and Hawaii Five-O lure viewers away from returning favorites Dancing with the Stars, Two and a Half Men, and Castle?




9:30pm • CBS 


Stars: Billy Gardell, Melissa McCarthy, Swoosie Kurtz, Katy Mixon, Reno Wilson


Premise: We encounter Mike Biggs, a policeman, and Molly Flynn, a school teacher, when they first encounter each other: at a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous.  Each having body image issues, they tentatively begin a sweet romance that will develop over the course of the series.  Television vet Swoosie Kurtz is on hand as Molly's overbearing mom to lend comedic support.


Chances for survival: Quite good.  Chuck Lorre will serve as an Executive Producer, and his string of hit creations (Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) speaks for itself.





10:00pm • CBS


Stars: Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park


Premise: A sexier, higher octane remake of the classic 1968-1980 series.  In addition to the case-of-the-week, the series, like many dramas in the modern era, will also feature an overarching mystery throughout the first season:  the fate of Steve McGarrett's parents.  Clues will be found during the season that will lead to the revelation at season end.  But don't worry, future seasons will delve into the shrouded pasts of the other characters.


Chances for survival: The classic original was a fan-favorite for 12 full seasons, quite rare for a police drama.  Can this series last that long?  We'll see.  CBS is certainly giving the show a tremendous marketing push, and it has become one of the most anticipated new series of the fall season.  If it at least doesn't break the streak of one-season wonders of star Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight, Three Rivers), nothing will.





9:00pm • FOX


Stars: James Wolk, Adrianne Palicki, Eloise Mumford, David Keith, Bryce Johnson, Mark Deklin, Alexandra Doke, Jon Voight


Premise: Television newcomer, James Wolk, stars as Bob Allen, a con man living a double life as he darts back and forth between two cities in Texas: Houston – where he is married to his target, Cat Thatcher, daughter of a Texas oil tycoon played by Jon Voight, and Midland – home to his girlfriend Lindsay.  Unfortunately for Bob, he breaks the first rule of the con game and falls in love with his mark.  Now genuinely in love with two different women in two different cities, he starts to crave a normal life, but his father, played by David Keith won't let him leave the life of the grifter so easily.


Chances for survival: By all accounts, this is an absorbing drama – one of the Fall's best – but stuck in an unforgiving timeslot, where it competes against Dancing with the Stars, Two and a Half Men, The Event, and Gossip Girl could spell an early cancellation for this offbeat drama.





9:00pm • NBC 


Stars: Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, Laura Innes, Željko Ivanek, Ian Anthony Dale, Scott Patterson, Taylor Cole, Clifton Collins, Jr., Lisa Vidal, Bill Smitrovich


Premise: The disappearance of Sean Walker's girlfriend, Leila, kicks off a series of "events" that lead Sean to discover a cover-up and conspiracy of global proportions.  Enormous in scope, the story jumps back and forth over several years and across the country from Alaska to Washington, DC.  Producers promise that viewers won't have to wait until the end of the series to discover exactly what "The Event" is a la Lost.  Answers will come early in the second season.


Chances for survival: The Event was one of the series previewed at the recent San Diego Comic-Con where it received an enthusiastic response, but speculation that the central mystery may involve aliens or beings from the future may turn off the more mainstream audience.  This could go very well or horribly wrong – becoming another Heroes – depending on whether the writing holds up over the course of the season.





10:00pm • NBC


Stars: Kelli Giddish, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco, Rose Rollins, Jesse Metcalfe


Premise: Deputy US Marshall, Annie Frost, tracks down the worst of the worst fugitives in the Southern Texas region.  Frost has a lot to prove as her own father happens to be a criminal at large, himself.


Chances for survival: Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace, and scores of action films like Top Gun), the series will deliver action in spades, and Giddish does make for a spirited lead heroine.  However, it appears that CBS's Hawaii Five-O will own the timeslot so unless NBC makes a switch, Chase may not make it to the finish line this season.






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cast of The Apprentice 10


Sherri Shepherd

Vanessa Minnillo

All My Children creator AGNES NIXON

Bronx Opera's BEN SPIERMAN

cast of Big Brother 12 BOBBY FLAY & STEVE ELLS of America's Next Great Restaurant Cast of the play Bridgeboy
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part 1: Guiding Light

part 2: Days of Our Lives

soapcentral.com founder DAN KROLL DAN PARENT of Archie Comics DAVID LYONS of The Cape DEBBIE GIBSON & TIFFANY Author DEDE EMERSON of A Different Kind of Streetwalker
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BOB DOWLING of the 3D Entertainment Summit Indie filmmaker ELIANA UJUETA of Beneath the Rock comic book artist JAMAL IGLE Genesis Repertory's JAY MICHAELS, MARY MiCARI, & actors Oscar-winning actor JEREMY IRONS

Animation historian JERRY BECK

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-songwriter JOSH GROBAN

web series producer KAI SOREMEKUN of Chick

1st interview

2nd interview

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Oscar-winning actress KATHY BATES of Harry's Law Television producer KENNETH JOHNSON of V, Bionic Woman, Incredible Hulk KYLE BORNHEIMER & HAYES MacARTHUR of Perfect Couples

Terrence Howard, René Balcer

Dick Wolf, Alfred Molina, Alana de la Garza

publisher DAN HERMAN of Hermes Press COUNTESS LuANN de LESSEPS of The Real Housewives of New York City author MAX ALLAN COLLINS of Road to Perdition WWE Champion Mike "The MIz" Mizanin
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JEFF HAYNE of Mill Creek Entertainment

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-actor NICK LACHEY supermodel NIKI TAYLOR talks The Celebrity Apprentice actor PAUL REISER of The Paul Reiser Show actor-producer RICKY GERVAIS of The Office actress-television host ROSIE O'DONNELL comic book writer STEVE NILES

Ian Anthony Dale, Nick Wauters

Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, Željko Ivanek

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THORE SCHÖLERMANN & JO WEIL of Verbotene Liebe Peabody & Emmy award winning journalist TOM BROKAW Emmy award winning actor TOM PELPHREY of Guiding Light actors from The Apothecary Theatre Company TORI SPELLING & DEAN McDERMOTT of sTORIbook Weddings





Reviews & Previews:

Summer 2011 Movie Preview

Fall 2010 Television season

Fra Diavolo

Die Drei Pintos

Romeo and Juliet in Brooklyn

MPI Home Video

Timless Media Group

Boris Karloff's Thriller

Hunter: The Complete Series

Polly and Her Pals

Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee

Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman

Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern

Spider-Man musical delayed again


Dead Space: Aftermath






New York Comic Con

Apprentice 10 kickoff

Farewell to Guiding Light

Farewell to As the World Turns

The Broadway Directory


Award Show winners:

Academy Awards

Emmy Awards

Grammy Awards

Tony Awards

American Music Awards

Golden Globe Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

American Country Awards



Television blogs:

American Idol 10

American Idol 9

American Idol 8

Big Brother 12

Big Brother 11

ABC Cancels Both All My Children and One Life to Live

Guiding Light: A Look Back


Editorials & Issues:

Scam Alert: Have You Received This E-Mail Job Offer?

Meet the 112th Congress

Brooklyn politicians Kevin Peter Carroll vs. Ralph Perfetto

Before Rosa Parks There Was Lizzie Jennings

Understanding New York State Government

USTownhall RoundTable podcast: The Worlds of Entertainment and Current Events