With Wednesday's premieres of Hellcats at 9 p.m. on the CW and Terriers at 10 p.m. on FX, the 2010 fall TV season is officially off and running. Last week I was interviewed on a Raleigh, N.C., radio station for my post-Emmy Awards observations when the host (you may remember Detroit's own Joe Wade Formicola) pulled a fast one on me.
"Now we're going to talk about the new fall season!" Joe announced suddenly, and live on the air. "Jim, what can you tell us about Lone Star? The Event? The Whole Truth? Outsourced?" I was dancing faster than the Nicholas Brothers on speed. But while my brain was in panic mode and my fingers were racing across Google, an idea flashed: Why not make a list of all the new fall shows based on my level of anticipation? Taking into account all the network hype, Internet buzz, prime-time promotions, press tour interviews and my own personal preconceptions, here is a roster of new September series in reverse order of their viewing potential — from the shows I will do everything in my power to avoid to the series I am counting the nanoseconds to see with you. (Premiere dates in parentheses.)
20. Chase, 10 p.m. Mondays, NBC (Channel 4, Sept. 20): Kelli Giddish (Past Life) talks tough as cowboy-boot wearing U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, and the series has the Jerry Bruckheimer seal of quality. But if it's a great marshal chase-'n'-hunt series you seek, may I recommend In Plain Sight or Justified?
19. Mike & Molly, 9:30 p.m. Mondays, CBS (Channel 62, Sept. 20): Following the trend of The Biggest Loser and Drop Dead Diva, here comes a relationship sitcom filled with fat jokes! Even with Two and a Half Men as lead-in, it'll be hard to prevent the protests.
18. Better With You, 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, ABC (Channel 7, Sept. 22): ABC is looking for a new sitcom to do what the Emmy-winning Modern Family did last season. Wanna bet this multi-relationship comedy ain't it?
17. The Event, 9 p.m. Mondays, NBC (Sept. 20): Can't have enough black presidents, I always say. This time it's Blair Underwood, faced with a crisis so huge, even he's on a need-to-know basis. This is NBC's attempt to fill the Comic-Con void left by Lost, Heroes, V and Flash Forward. Such shows are either boom or bust; frankly I don't care what "The Event" might be.
16. Lone Star, 9 p.m. FOX (Sept. 20): The central figure is a sleazebag, a conman in Big Oil country who's maintaining two separate wives and families. His daddy (played by Jon Voight) is worse. Who are viewers supposed to root for here?
15. My Generation, 8 p.m. Thursdays, ABC (Sept. 23): A 21st century Big Chill, as high school chums reunite 10 years after graduation to see how their dreams panned out. They hadn't planned on 9/11 and the economy.
14. No Ordinary Family, 8 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC (Sept. 28): Michael Chiklis channels his Fantastic Four experience to play the head of a household that suddenly gains superhero powers. It's The Incredibles without the animation — or the humor.
13. Raising Hope, 9 p.m. Tuesdays, FOX (Sept. 21): A dark, totally unconventional sitcom about a kid who decides to raise his illegitimate daughter after her murderer mother is executed. Clearly not for the whole family.
12. The Whole Truth, 10 p.m. Wednesdays, ABC (Sept. 22): Legal dramas are so played-out that it's hard to give any new one much hope, but an unorthodox concept and a standout cast led by Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney might pull it off.
11. S#*! My Dad Says, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, CBS (Sept. 23): Based on the Twitter sensation, with William Shatner (?) as Dad. Can Big Bill make us forget the late, loudmouthed Peter Boyle as Ray Barone's dad for pure s#*! talkin'? I think not.
10. Blue Bloods, 10 p.m. Fridays, CBS (Sept. 24): Attempting to keep eyeballs at home Friday nights, CBS mounts a cop drama that feels like a Donnie Wahlberg movie. What's that? Wahlberg is in it? With Tom Selleck? Say no more.
9. Outsourced, 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, NBC (Sept. 23): It may be a one-gag comedy, but it's one we can all relate to: the telephone customer service rep with the distinct East Indian accent who insists his name is "Donnie."
8. The Defenders, 10 p.m. Wednesdays, CBS (Sept. 22): Far from the stodgy '60s version with E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-son attorneys, this update stars Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell as "colorful" defense lawyers in Vegas. This could hit the silly jackpot.
7. Running Wilde, 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays, FOX (Sept. 21): Will Arnett as the world's richest idiot, and Keri Russell as his unattainable dream — a tree-hugging ex-girlfriend who could care less about his money. From the people who brought you Arrested Development, and it may suffer the same fate: A unique, hilarious comedy that can't draw an audience.
6. Outlaw, 10 p.m. Wednesdays, NBC (next week): Jimmy Smits returning to television is always joyous news, and as a Supreme Court justice who resigns while he can still walk to help fix the judicial system, he's a liberal's fantasy.
5. Law & Order: Los Angeles, 10 p.m. Wednesdays, NBC (Sept. 29): The thrill will be big-timers Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina rotating as assistant DAs on the "Order" side. On the "Law" half — Skeet Ulrich? Corey Stoll? Can anybody fit in this format? And how much will we miss Jack McCoy?
4. Hawaii Five-O, 10 p.m. Mondays, CBS (Sept. 20): It's a new generation, and "Five-O" is still street slang for the po-po even though the original series stopped airing 30 years ago. But if this show doesn't explode like a volcano, we'll start praying for the (Jack) Lord.
3. Detroit 1-8-7, 10 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC (Sept. 21): You need to ask?
2. Undercovers, 8 p.m. Wednesdays, NBC (Sept. 22): I've waxed excitedly about this series in an earlier column. The most stylish new action spy series in prime time, with black folks in the lead roles? What hath Obama wrought?
1. Boardwalk Empire, 8 p.m. Sundays, HBO (premieres Sept. 19): Jersey gangsters during Prohibition? Starring Steve Buscemi? With Martin Scorcese directing the pilot? On HBO? Oh, this series is pushing every one of my hot buttons.Jim McFarlin is a media critic for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org