Primetime TV Lineup Shows Promise

by Shannon Baldo
Columnist

Forget the award ceremonies, the summer premieres and the spring sweeps — one of my favorite months in television is September, when some of the year’s best shows return for yet another season to analyze, criticize and occasionally love. Of course, in the weeks leading up to these season premieres, primetime is as dead as the proverbial wicked witch; however, this year, I’ve decided to offer my best suggestions for you to keep your TV sets on — some of the best shows returning this fall which you probably haven’t seen yet.

1) “Community” — NBC’s breakout hit started as a halfhearted addition to Thursday’s comedy block, known for featuring quirky half-hour classics like “The Office” and “30 Rock.” Though no one expected this show to actually work — including myself — somehow “Community” has become the breakout star of Thursday nights, at times rivaling even its neighboring shows for a critic’s choice. With a fantastic cast featuring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase (“E!”), this show has a promising start for the coming season, including a guest-starring role for America’s sweetheart Betty White in the season premiere. So make sure to catch up before it starts back Sept. 23.

2) “CSI:” — Though it may seem a bit ridiculous to catch up on a show entering its 11th season, this year the grisly procedural classic “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” shows a surprising amount of promise. Fresh from instating acting legend Laurence Fishburne as the series’ new lead, the show produced a fantastic last season, and, welcoming Sienna Guillory (“Resident Evil”) and Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”) to this year’s cast, the show that became an instant classic in many of our childhoods may actually be alive and kicking a decade later. Catch up from Fishburne’s arrival in the 9th season by this year’s premiere on Sept. 23.

3) “Glee” — No list of 2009’s most fantastic shows would be complete without including everyone’s new favorite show, “Glee.” Though Fox clearly didn’t expect much of a following (Really, a low-production pilot debuted in the spring?), somehow the show choir hit has taken hold of the nation with its catchy music and dynamic cast. Skillfully balancing character development and clever, quirky writing with powerful popular draw, “Glee” has become the year’s smash hit — and one of the most anticipated returns of 2010 on Sept. 21.

4) “30 Rock” — The brainchild of “Saturday Night Live” legend Tina Fey, “30 Rock” has hit a significant decline in ratings over the past few years, its quirky writing missing its comedic mark and slowly shifting from hilarious to awkward. However, Fey is far too brilliant to take that without a fight. In an incredible move, “30 Rock” will be showing a live performance on Oct. 14, streaming in real time onto your television set. Such a risky move may jeopardize another show, but Tina Fey may just be able to pull it off. And with the phenomenal cast from previous years returning and with stars like Elizabeth Banks and Matt Damon joining as regular guest stars, there’s no better time to do it. “30 Rock” returns with more promise than ever Sept. 23.

5) “Chuck” — The clever spy drama “Chuck” provides yet another good example of the typical show that the critics love and the fans forget, the show that has only been renewed for its new season by active campaigning by its most adamant and devoted fans. Consistently underrated, “Chuck” possesses all the elements of a great show — a fantastic cast, including Adam Baldwin (“Firefly”), an engaging concept and clever, intricate writing — but is apparently undermined by a charming quirkiness and awkwardness vaguely reminiscent of “Arrested Development.” My current catch-up project turned latest favorite, “Chuck” is a show that all television fans need to give a shot before the fourth season premiere Sept. 20 — and before it’s too late.

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