This week begins what will be a host of premiers over the next month for all the new and returning shows of the fall season. Regardless of what your thoughts may be on this year’s crop, one can’t deny that the main theme across the board seems to be diversity.

Shows from all walks of life are dancing (sometimes with stars) around the schedule this year, and perhaps it would be a good idea to pick out some favorites that you should definitely give at least a DVR record. So here are five new and five returning shows that you should be checking out.

The New

Ringer (The CW)

In case you Buffy fans aren’t aware, Sarah Michelle Gellar is making her triumphant return to television this season in her new serialized drama Ringer. The series focuses on Bridget Kelly who, while on the run from the mob, decides to take the identity of her recently deceased twin sister Siobhan Martin, only to learn that Siobhan had plenty problems of her own.

I don’t know how long I’ll stick around, but the premise sounds promising enough to give at least one episode to. Based on the trailers, it’s got the feel of the fun thriller shows that The CW was been cranking out for a few years now (of course most of those center on some supernatural element). It’s not the best sign that the show was originally commissioned by CBS but was passed to The CW when it was decided that it didn’t fit under the CBS umbrella. Of course the lack of CBS brass could lead to a better, more creatively satisfying show.

The Playboy Club (NBC)

Ever since Mad Men made it big on AMC, the networks have been fast tracking every period piece drama script they can, and this year we finally get to see the result of all the development. In NBC’s entry into the genre, we get to take a glimpse into the lives of Chicago Playboy Club employees (Bunnies) of the 1960s.

What I find most interesting about the way the Playboy brand is being used in the series is that founder Hugh Hefner had the smarts to no pull a George Lucas and stay very hands off. He recorded voice over narration for the pilot, but that won’t be used in future episodes. Plus, a younger version of the man will only be featured in the show from behind. The series is about the employees, their life trials and conflicts, and I’m looking forward to it… Yes and Amber Heard in the Bunny costume. That too…

Person of Interest (CBS)

CBS, procedural, J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, action/thriller, PROCEDURAL. Why am I not watching this right now? Seriously, this is my most anticipated new show of the season.

The premise is simple: you are recorded dozens, if not hundreds of times a day from multiple sources around the globe. Mysterious billionaire Mr. Finch has found a way to use that data as a basis for predicting the horrible, and with the help of former CIA agent John Reese, will prevent it from happening.

This just sounds awesome, plain and simple.

American Horror Story (FX)

I’ve been off the Ryan Murphy train for a while now. I stopped watching Nip/Tuck after the whole serial killer thing and Glee has gone completely down hill for me, but I’ll admit, his new series American Horror Story looks like something that could hold its own in the long run.

The plot in one sentence? A family moves into a haunted mansion. Simple enough? Good, because I can’t think of anything else I could say beyond that to sell on on this series. Except maybe for the fact that it’s on FX.

Terra Nova (FOX)

Falling Skies blew me away this year and completely restored by faith in Steven Spielberg‘s ability to make good television. So, I have faith that this show could be awesome. It also helps that a majority of the key players from the production team on 24 landed here. So the equation of this show is Steven Spielberg + Jurrasic Park + 24 + Stephen Lang = potentially awesome.

The show focuses on a group of refugees who travel back in time to the age of the dinosaurs in hopes of rebuilding the civilization they destroyed in the present. Of course, that’s if they don’t get eaten first.

The Returning

Chuck (NBC)

It’s been a rocky five years for Chuck, but this year it all comes to an end. Don’t you want to be there for Chuck’s final hour? NBC’s chairman Robert Greenblatt made it very clear that there won’t be a back nine this season, so the creators of the show have an ending to write to, an opportunity, especially on broadcast, that’s extremely rare. Be there to watch Chuck ride of into the sunset for the final time this season.

House (FOX)

Three words, House in prison. That’s what the promos for this season have been promising, and boy does it look good. Cast shakeups aside, this season of House (which could also potentially be its last) could very well turn out to be its best.

Parenthood (NBC)

No bones about it, the already awesome Parenthood really stepped up its game last season, delivering the hard hitting family drama week after week. This season has potential to step up the game again for the Bravermans, with a new entry expected to join the family very soon.

Nikita (The CW)

The best new show of last season, Nikita blew both me AND Rob Hunter away… Process that for a moment please. Rob Hunter and I AGREED on how good a show was. People, that’s four horseman of the apocalypse scary. Oh, and the set up for this season was so perfect back in May.

Alex is now on her own and Nikita is on the run with Michael. This is going to be awesome.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

They say lighting doesn’t strike twice. Well, with my second favorite new show of last year, it did because this was the other show Rob Hunter and I agreed on. The mix of the Hawaiian setting and the amazing chemistry of its cast, as well as its great writing led by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci really made for one amazingly entertaining show.

And of course there were a host of honorable mentions that barely didn’t made the cut. Shows like Community, Supernatural, New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Modern Family, Charlies Angel, PAN AM, Last Man Standing, NCIS, Law & Order: SVU, Two and a Half Men, Criminal Minds, Prime Suspect, Grimm, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy (which has actually begun its season already), Psych, Boardwalk Empire and a host of others.

Want to read more Channel Guide? Of course you do.

To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.


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