Grab your snacks, couch potatoes – it’s fall TV premiere season! Of course, you know about your returning go-to shows, from Modern Family and Glee to 30 Rock and Gossip Girl. But how to navigate that morass of new series you keep hearing about? Don’t panic: We’ve broken it down to a single new program to check out each night of the week, Sunday through Thursday (because there’s nothing on Friday or Saturday, and even the biggest TV fans need to take a few nights off). Watch the trailers and see what the critics are saying after the jump.
8pm: Boardwalk Empire (HBO) Premieres: September 19 Yes, it’s that much buzzed-about collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Sopranos writer Terence Winter, starring the wonderful Steve Buscemi as a crooked politician in Prohibition-era Atlantic City. We’re still pinching ourselves to make sure something so promising could actually exist. Critics say: “What bodes well for Boardwalk as a weekly endeavor is that its Scorsese-fancy pilot is the weakest (the showiest, the slowest) of the episodes I’ve seen. The production becomes more sleek, emotionally complex, and sly in its subsequent hours. The casting of Buscemi — a veteran character actor who’s been great in movies ranging from Reservoir Dogs to The Big Lebowski — as a leading man and lover is both daring and mostly a success.” – Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
9pm: Lone Star (Fox) Premieres: September 20 A lovable Texas con man (James Wolk) lives a double life, complete with a pair of women who both have his heart, and struggles to keep his worlds from converging. Critics say: “‘Lone Star’ would make a dandy soap opera, which it is. But it’s more: a solid drama of a man in conflict who needs it all… It’s been called a blend of ‘Dallas’ and ‘Friday Night Lights.’ Judging from the pilot, it’s the fall’s best new series.” – Frazier Moore, Associated Press
8pm: No Ordinary Family (ABC) Premieres: September 28 Two great TV actors – Dexter’s Julie Benz and The Shield’s Michael Chiklis – play a couple with a pair of teenage kids. On a bonding/business trip, the family’s plane crashes, but they survive… and eventually learn they have special powers. But don’t worry, this isn’t Lost – it’s a comedy. Critics say: “No Ordinary Family has a terrific cast and formula—especially with the kids’ gifts of genius and telepathy. If they douse the bubbly with a little more grit, people might choose the Powells over Glee. (Ahem, minor competition.)” – Kristin Dos Santos and Drusilla Moorhouse, E! Online
10pm: Terriers (FX) Premiered: September 8 In this “comedic drama,” Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James (who you may remember for his role as the sinister Rene from True Blood) as best buddies who start an unlicensed private investigator business. That premise may not sound like much, but the series is already racking up glowing reviews. Critics say: “In a fall season overly populated with cops and criminals, there may be more stylish or quirky or elaborately premised series coming your way, straining to cut an edge or push an envelope. But ‘Terriers,’ whose virtues are more traditional, is to my taste easily the best of them, and one of the brightest lights in the whole freshman class.” – Robert Lloyd, LA Times
Also of note: Undercovers (premieres September 22, 8pm, NBC), Top Chef: Just Desserts (September 15, 11pm, Bravo), America’s Next Top Model (premiered September 8, 8pm, The CW), Modern Family (September 22, 9pm, ABC)
9pm: Nikita (CW) Premiered: September 9 Nikita (Maggie Q) is a lethal spy trained by the sinister Division. Now that she sees the organization for what it is, she’s on a quest to destroy it. Critics say: “Nikita, not NBC’s more heavily hyped Undercovers, is this season’s successor to Alias and 24 if you’re seeking intense, emotionally driven spy action.” – Matt Roush, TV Guide