Let's get this week's highlight reel started on a positive note.
TEARJERKER OF THE WEEK: Kurt Hummel plaintively singing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on Glee as we relive home movies in his mind, showing bonding moments with his (now comatose) dad Burt, including a tea party where the little boy playing Young Kurt is an uncanny dead ringer. A catch in his voice, a lump in our collective throats, a Kleenex run at the commercial break. Chris Colfer's sensitive yet tough performance as a boy sticking by his non-beliefs during a trying time is the highlight of "Grilled Cheesus," a tricky, affecting exploration of faith, religion, friendship and family. Amber James' soaring renditions of "I Look to You" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (the latter backed up by a church choir) also top this week's Glee Hit Parade, and or course Rachel turns to Yentl for inspiration. Even a friend's dad's coma can't rain on her Streisand parade. We also learn Sue has turned from God because of the cruelties visited upon her beloved sister, and Emma shows uncommon wisdom as she opens Finn's eyes to the folly of praying to a sandwich. The best Glee episode in quite a while, reminding us why we stick with this show even when the notes sometimes seem sour.
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God got quite a workout this week on some of TV's best comedies...
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins
Supernatural (Friday, 9/8c, The CW)
It's angels in America time again, as Castiel wings it back to Earth to help the brothers solve a case of police murders that seems to hark back to the plagues of Egypt. While there, Cas reveals that Heaven in in post-apocalyptic chaos and God's weapons have been stolen. (Ergo, the search for the staff of Moses.) And while seeking the supernatural thief, they confront an old enemy....
Chris Colfer, Eric Stoltz
Have faith. Always a good motto to go by as we embark on the roller-coaster ride of a new TV season.
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No show asks us to take more of a leap of faith each week than Fox's Glee, the over-the-top high-school musical fantasy that can be sensationally entertaining and thoroughly irritating sometimes within the same episode — or even the same scene. (Flashback to last week's Britney Spears homage episode. A mess story-wise, but the music-video production numbers were a wow, and while the "Toxic" group number was a Fosse-esque highlight, the cutaways to the grotesque student-body euphoria were, in a word, toxic...
Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv
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Question: One of my favorite shows is Fringe, but I can't help but wonder if Fox could pull an X-Files switch. I'm thinking maybe it should be moved to Sunday nights at 9/8c. This was great for The X-Files and made Sunday nights so darn cool. Fringe has that type of feel, and let's face it: two hours of cartoons is a bit much. I have a feeling they could get a nice ratings spike as well. Curious to know what you think — and do we really need more CSI-type shows? — Michael
Matt Roush: Well, those are two very different questions. And one doesn't really inform the other. CSI-style procedurals are still the flavor of the decade — especially on CBS, which knows exactly how to feed its audience — and everyone wants to be in on this lucrative game. But a show like Fringe will always be separate and special, and Fox knows that. The network has done a pretty good job of nurturing the show to where it can go all-out this season. So far, the results have been spectacular, creatively anyway...
House (Monday, 8/7c, Fox)
Amy Irving makes a rare guest appearance as the patient of the week, a suicidal children's-book author whose puzzling medical conditions may have led to her emotional instability. To crack the case, House looks to her books for clues. Meanwhile, he and Cuddy go on a double date with Wilson and his gal pal Sam (Cynthia Watros). Following House, a new season of Lie to Me gets underway, replacing the unfortunately low-rated Lone Star, the season's first casualty...
Jon Hamm, James Wolk
Pop quiz: Which TV character this week said this line: "I'm tired of running." And who said this? "I'm done running." Hint: One of them is running straight to the unemployment line.
And so we confront the paradox that one character whose life is built on a lie — the celebrated anti-hero of Mad Men, Don Draper (who uttered the first line) — escapes his latest identity crisis and lives to see another day and several more seasons. Whereas the equally handsome Texas con man Robert Allen of Fox's DOA Lone Star (he's the source of the second quote, unloading on his crooked father) sees his story cut short after a mere two weeks on the air...
Blue Bloods (Friday, 10/9c, CBS)
Looks like CBS has a new hit on its hands, with this well-cast and smartly conceived family/police drama. In the second episode, the Reagans debate a weighty issue — the modern urban vigilante (think Bernhard Goetz) — when a good Samaritan takes matters into his own hands in going after a criminal terrorizing people on the subway.
The most radical departure in NBC's Law & Order: Los Angeles (Wednesday, 10/9c) isn't the new location, but the lack of a portentous "these are their stories" intro. It's not the only thing that has been lost in the transition.
The pilot episode (which includes a brief glimpse of Wanda de Jesus as the police lieutenant, replaced afterward by ...
The Good Wife
And you thought premiere week was over. There are still a few new arrivals to sort through — check in Wednesday for some last-minute thoughts on NBC's Law & Order: Los Angeles (which only this week became available for preview) — so let's start with one of the more promising underdogs.
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Here's now I welcomed ABC's No Ordinary Family (8/7c) in TV Guide's Fall Preview ...