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Looking forward to the fall TV season

Posted: September 2, 2010 9:32 a.m.
Updated: September 6, 2010 5:00 a.m.

I get a little excited this time of year about the new and returning shows that will be popping up on my TV (and, now, computer) screen. Yes, I'm a TV junkie and a bit more of a boob-tuber than I should be.

Some shows are premiering as early as Tuesday night, but nothing shows up on my radar until Monday, Sept. 20 with the return of "Chuck" on NBC. If you aren't watching this light-hearted, sci-fi leaning spy show, you're really missing something. While the titular character, played by Zach Levi, has an "intersect" in his head that lets him know all kinds of things -- including kung fu -- the show's really about family. Chuck has three.There's Chuck's real family -- his sister, brother-in-law, late father (played by Scott "Quantum Leap" Bakula) and this year they're introducing his long-lost mother: Linda "Terminator" Hamilton?!? Then there's his spy family, including girlfriend/probable fiance, Sarah; and Casey, a hardcase with a hidden heart of gold. Finally, there's his "family" at Buy More, the electronics store where he works, including his best friend, Morgan, who's finally learned his secret.

Right after "Chuck" is the premiere of "The Event," a new "Lost"-style show about a mysterious -- well, event -- that catches America and the world by surprise. Two reasons to watch this show: Blair Underwood and Laura Innes. Most people will remember Underwood as Jonathan Rollins on "L.A. Law." He's one of my favorite actors and it's about time he got a leading role ... as the president of the United States. Innes is most famous Carrie Weaver on "ER." From the clips I've seen of "The Event," it looks like she's found another strong character to play.

At 10 o'clock that night, I'm torn between a returning favorite and the reboot of a classic series. ABC's got "Castle," starring another one of my favorite guys, Nathan ("Firefly") Fillion. "Castle," if you haven't seen it, is about a mystery writer turned police homicide division consultant. The mysteries are superb, and there's great romantic tension between Fillion's Rick Castle and Kata Stanic's Kate Beckett. But what really sets the show apart is it's heart. Castle's relationship with his teenage daughter, played by the wonderful Molly C. Quinn, keeps the show funny, yet grounded.

Unfortunately, I'm also an old fan of "Hawaii Five-0," which ran from 1968 to 1980. In Castle's time slot, CBS is bringing the "Five-O" back with a new cast, headed by Alex O'Loughlin. This is CBS' third time of trying to find a winning show for him. A few years ago, he starred in a great vampire TV series called "Moonlight" that endeared the Aussie actor to millions of female fans. Then they tried the medical drama "Three Rivers." The question is whether the new beefed-up and likely more violent "Five-O" -- which will include Grace "Battlestar Galactica" Park and Daniel Dae "Lost" Kim -- will bring along both fans of the old and new fans. At least they're still filming in Hawaii.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 brings back TV's No. 1 show "NCIS" and it's companion, L.A. counterpart. These are two shows that just keep delivering, so I'm there.

Another new show I want to try out is J.J. Abrams' new "Undercovers" on NBC at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22. Remember Abrams' "Alias," the nifty spy show starring Jennifer Garner? Take that show, make the leads a married couple, and you've got "Undercovers." As long as they don't introduce any Rimbaldi artifacts, I'm in.

Thursday, Sept. 23, I'm looking forward to the returns of "Bones" on FOX and "CSI" and "The Mentalist" on CBS. The following Tuesday, I'm waiting to check out ABC's "No Ordinary Family." Think "The Incredibles" as a live-action TV show and you've got it -- a family that gains superpowers, but is struggling to stay a family. Michael "The Commish" Chilkis stars as the father. I saw an online preview and liked it -- except for a couple of swear words, which is why it's on at 9 p.m.

I deliberately skipped Friday, Sept. 24 in order to save the best for last. That night, at 8 p.m., the final season of "Smallville" premieres. The adventures of Clark Kent before he became Superman is coming to and end and it promises to be the best season ever. Season 9 was pretty spectacular and it looks like they're pulling out all the stops as this version of Clark takes his last steps before donning the red and blue costume and leaping to the skies. Tom Welling's done a great job playing "young" Clark, but he's been acting "super" for years now and it's time to see all that work pay off. Lois Lane, played by Erica Durance (perhaps the best Lois ever), has figured out Clark's got powers even while dancing through their new romance. Laura Vandervoot is returning for one episode as Clark's cousin, Kara, who will -- sort of -- become Supergirl even before he becomes Superman. Clark's adopted father, Jonathan, is somehow being resurrected with the return of John Schneider; and DC Comics guest stars abound from Hawkman and Braniac 5 to one of the DC's biggest baddies, Darksied.

But figuring how to "defeat" Darksied won't be Welling's biggest challenge. It'll be overcoming whatever type casting comes with having played Clark Kent for so long. Luckily, he's been active behind the camera as much as in front of it, producing a new show this year, "Hellcats" (about cheerleading), also on the CW. He's directed episodes of "Smallville," too, so I think he's going to win that particular battle.

Either way, I can't wait for that last scene in that final episode next spring: Welling finally playing Superman instead of merely Clark, streaking through Metropolis' sky as he protects "truth, justice and the American way."


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