Here now, the rest of mine own fall forecast:
The Nine, ABC: A fun little cast of familiar faces ( 24's Audrey! Bailey Salinger! The shadowy Prison Break dude!) and a far-out premise make this serialized drama more than worthy of a long hard look. But the crux of the show ? What exactly happened to the nine people involved in a seemingly life-altering 52-hour bank hostage situation? ? could prove frustrating if the mad-cryptic flashbacks are only parceled out mere seconds at a time.
Jericho, CBS: As I told the show's publicist, I was loving this pilot, about a small town isolated from the rest of civilization after some sort of nuclear assault on major cities, until the very final scene, which in my opinion rang illogical. Blocking that moment out, however, I'm excited for this series.
Justice, Fox: Alias' Spy Daddy (Victor Garber) as the most cunning of cunning, high-priced defense attorneys? I'm so there. Plus, I like the gimmick of showing us, in the coda, what really happened, though I'm itching to, for once, discover that the client was actually guilty as hell. In time, I am told....
Twenty Good Years, NBC: I remember seeing clips at the Fall Upfronts and thinking, "Eh." But once I sat down for the entire pilot, I saw definite potential. John Lithgow plays outrageous Oscar to Jeffrey Tambor's uptight Felix, with Judith Light as Tambor's freshly scorned harpy of an almost-wife.
30 Rock, NBC: The Scrubs to Studio 60's ER. I'd watch Tina Fey read the phone book. Alec Baldwin is icing on the cake. The most thoroughly satisfying of NBC's new shows with a number in the title.
Kidnapped, NBC: Whereas Fox's Vanished is about a missing senator's wife, Kidnapped is about the mysteriously abducted son of a privileged clan headed up by Timothy Hutton and Dana Delany. The dynamic that really sets this apart from the competition is Jeremy Sisto as a problem-solver-for-hire who works against, and sometimes with, the FBI, headed up by Delroy Lindo. What's more, as Sisto tries to get to the bottom of who's behind the kidnapping, we actually spend time with the kid, who proved to be a rather plucky captive. (Don't miss the end of Episode 2.)
Ugly Betty, ABC: A winning comedy, for sure, but what's unfortunate, really, is that despite the fact that we all "know" this is based on a long-running Spanish telenovela, the freshness of filmdom's The Devil Wears Prada in our minds makes the pilot appear derivative. Just remember that Betty Suarez was here long before Andy Sachs, and enjoy the laughs.
Six Degrees, ABC: Overlooking my nitpick that ABC's "6°" campaign is incorrecly appropriating that mathematical symbol... this is one of my two favorite new series of the fall. The premise, on paper, didn?t seem particularly promising ? how the lives of Manhattanites are unknowingly intertwined ? but the way J.J. Abrams delivers it proves to be compelling, and by the end of the pilot I was completely engaged in each of the characters. And leave it to the Lost boss to give one of 'em (Erika Christensen's nubile runaway) a mysterious box to lord over.
Shark, CBS: I loved watching James Woods save the legal day in True Believer, and I'm more than willing to see him do it again in this series about a high-priced attorney who, having realized once and for all that he has been defending scum, defects to the Los Angeles district attorney's office, where he grooms a team of newbie prosecutors in the ways of winning at all costs. My only "cocked eyebrow" moment: the faux (and lavish) "practice" courtroom Woods' character has erected in the cellar of his house. Seriously?
'Til Death, Fox: As Eddie Kaye Thomas told me, married life is fun to poke fun at because... married life is fun to poke fun at. Or something like that. In lieu of Everybody Loves Raymond, this somewhat sates my hunger for husbands-versus-wives humor.
Happy Hour, Fox: Honestly, all I remember is that one of the female leads is a dead ringer for Debra Messing, vocal intonations and mannerisms included. It's spooky. I just don't recall this show being especially funny.
Men in Trees, ABC: With Six Degrees, one of my favorite newcomers. I never watched Northern Exposure ? yeah, I know, club me like a seal ? so I'm not going to join in comparing this to that series about a big city someone transplanted into an Alaskan burg populated by eccentrics. All I know is that my wife really, really liked Men in Trees, so I think I'm going to save a lot of money now on Friday nights out. Ka- ching!
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Betty: Part 2
Here now, the rest of mine own fall forecast: