Fall back

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Last week we ran down the new shows coming to small screens this fall and picked out a few we're excited to see. This week, we cover the shows that are coming back, singling out some eagerly awaited returns and rating the rest.

"Pushing Daisies"

Premieres Oct. 1, ABC

The writers' strike seriously cropped the first season of this colorful, critically acclaimed fable and left fans waiting 10 months for its return. If season two is as good as season one, it'll be worth the wait. Expect more developments from the revelation that Chuck (Anna Friel), the true love of life-resurrecting pie man Ned (Lee Pace), has a mother who she thinks is her aunt, and a continued tension from the hands-off policy the couple has to abide to keep her breathing. And let's hope those rumors about studio execs trying to tone down the show's beautiful quirkiness were just that.

"King of the Hill"

Premiere Sept. 28, Fox

Mike Judge gets no respect at all. Before his feature films Office Space and Idiocracy were dumped into theaters with no support, he'd already been dealing with years of musical time slots and limited promotion for his animated series about the Texas Hill clan. Yet it's held on for a 13th season, and if you lost track of it somewhere along the line, we're happy to say it's still a solidly funny show. The addition of Tom Petty as Luanne's oddly principled baby daddy Lucky has created more story opportunities, and the rest of the voice cast, as well as the writing, remains strong.


Premieres Sept. 28, Showtime

Michael C. Hall's blood pathologist-serial killer had a couple of very close calls last season, with FBI agents and his co-workers unknowingly searching for him as the "Bay Harbor Butcher," the suspicions of nemesis Sergeant Doakes - which turned out to be lethal for him - and an extremely destructive affair to deal with. That may be hard to top this year, but given how smart and enthralling the show has been to date, and how good Hall is in the title role, we're more than willing to see how it goes.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

Premieres Sept. 18, FX

Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney may or may not be jerks in real life, but the brain trust of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia knows what makes jerks tick. In three seasons on FX, the trio has concocted a sinful amount of comedy by teaming up with Danny DeVito and Kaitlin Olson to play TV's most self-absorbed assholes, the sort of people who get addicted to crack on purpose and go to anti-abortion rallies to pick up dates. The humanity-at-its-worst formula has worked so well that FX already ordered three more seasons. Let's hope the Sunny crew takes that job security as license to push the envelope even further. First stop: cannibalism.


Premieres Oct. 9, CBS

While the CSI spinoffs were founded on the star power of David Caruso (guffaw!) and Gary Sinise (snore), the original forensics procedural has always stuck to taking relative unknowns and making them famous. That changes this fall as Laurence Fishburne enters the cast. The man once known as Morpheus will pick up the slack for William Peterson, whose popular Gil Grissom character is set to depart nine episodes into this season and return occasionally as a special guest star.

"30 Rock"

Premieres Oct. 30, NBC

Thanks to a string of hour-long Office episodes and the election season miniseries SNL Thursday Night Live, Tina Fey's show about a show is shelved until Halloween time. At that point 30 Rock will revisit Liz Lemon's (Fey) quest for a baby and continue its parade of high-profile guest stars, among them Jennifer Aniston and Gossip Girl stars Blake Lively and Leighton Meester. Most importantly, despite his constant threats to the contrary, Alec Baldwin will be back.

More please

"Gossip Girl"

Mondays, The CW

It's trash, but it's entertaining trash.

"The Shield"

Tuesdays, FX

"America's Next Top Model"

Wednesdays, The CW

Now with live tranny action!


Sundays, HBO

A version of the Medellin storyline is playing out in real-life Hollywood, one sign that this show still has its finger on the pulse of its subject matter.

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles"

Mondays, Fox

"Kitchen Nightmares"

Thursdays, Fox

This one's still good for an hour of foodie entertainment, as long as you don't eat while watching.


Premieres Sept. 22, NBC

"How I Met Your Mother"

Premieres Sept. 22, CBS

"The Big Bang Theory"

Premieres Sept. 22, CBS

Despite promos that make it look insufferable, this sitcom about geeks coming out of their shell has charmed enough critics to capture our momentary attention.

"The New Adventures of Old Christine"

Premieres Sept. 24, CBS

"Ugly Betty"

Premieres Sept. 25, ABC

"The Office"

Premieres Sept. 25, NBC

We have a dream, that this amazing show can finally break the rule that says romance between two leads following seasons of sexual tension is the kiss of death.

"Amazing Race"

"The Unit"

Premiere Sept. 28, CBS

"The Simpsons"

"Family Guy"

Premiere Sept. 28, Fox

Age is making both shows more than a little random, but they get the benefit of the doubt for another season.


Premieres Sept. 29, NBC

"Everybody Hates Chris"

Premieres Oct. 3, The CW

"Samantha Who?"

Premieres Oct. 6, ABC

Take it or leave it

"Prison Break"

Mondays, Fox

"One Tree Hill"

Mondays, The CW


Wednesdays, Fox

This may be the season that sees Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz hook up; expect a fast decline soon after.

"Top Design"

Wednesdays, Bravo

"Talk Show with Spike Feresten"

Premieres Sept. 13, Fox


Premieres Sept. 16, Fox

Despite Hugh Laurie's surly yet fun lead performance, this premise can't hold out for much longer.



Premiere Sept. 18, The CW

"CSI: Miami"

Premieres Sept. 22, CBS

"Law and Order: SVU"

Premieres Sept. 23, NBC


"Without a Trace"

Premiere Sept. 23, CBS

"Criminal Minds"


Premiere Sept. 24, CBS

"Grey's Anatomy"

Premieres Sept. 25, ABC

This show doesn't seem so fun after all the behind-the-scenes homophobia and racism.

"My Name is Earl"

Premieres Sept. 25, NBC

Last year saw a decline in script quality (like that lackluster plotline with Alyssa Milano), but we'll give it another shot, just for Jaime Pressly and Eddie Steeples alone.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

"Desperate Housewives"

"Brothers & Sisters"

Premiere Sept. 28, ABC

"Cold Case"

Premieres Sept. 28, CBS

"Dirty Sexy Money"

Premieres Oct. 1, ABC


"Ghost Whisperer"

Premiere Oct. 3, CBS


Premieres Oct. 3, NBC

"The Game"

Premieres Oct. 3, The CW

"Eli Stone"

Premieres Oct.14, ABC

"The Sarah Silverman Program"

Premieres Oct. 16, Comedy Central

After two seasons, we've decided this is a show we want to like more than we actually enjoy.

Enough's enough

"The Moment of Truth"

Thursdays, Fox

"Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?"

Fridays, Fox

"Don't Forget the Lyrics"

Premieres Sept. 12, Fox

These are basically all the same show: the deep-sea lighting scheme, the ominous music, the ridiculously drawn-out response time. All that separates them is the self-respect level of the contestants.

"'Til Death"

Wednesdays, Fox


Premieres Sept. 13, Fox

Now that SNL is funny again, do we really need this?


Premieres Sept. 17, FX

Just ask your dad instead.


Premieres Sept. 18, CBS

"Dancing with the Stars"

Premieres Sept. 22, ABC

Remember, this is the show responsible for giving Paul McCartney's inane ex-wife another round in the limelight.

"Boston Legal"

Premieres Sept. 22, ABC

"Two and Half Men"

Premieres Sept. 22, CBS

While we're still grateful that it brought raunchy sex jokes to the family hour, the show and its youngest male lead have outgrown the premise.

"Lipstick Jungle"

Premieres Sept. 24, CBS

Columbus' own Kelli Martin got bumped from Project Runway this season for a Lipstick Jungle ensemble that was faulted for a lack of taste. Clearly, the judges have never seen the show.

"American Dad"

Premieres Sept. 28, Fox


Premieres Sept. 28, Showtime

David Duchovny playing a sex addict + David Duchovny actually being a sex addict = Ew!

"Private Practice"

Premieres Oct. 1, ABC

Have mercy, Shonda Rhimes! Send Kate Walsh back to Grey's Anatomy where she belongs and quit wasting everyone's time on a show that makes Grey's look practically Shakespearean in comparison.

"Wife Swap"


Premiere Oct. 3, ABC