25 Things to Know About Fall TV 2011


It’s our favorite time of year, TV lovers!

Now, don’t fall into fall TV with out a cheat sheet. Our annual “25 Things to Know” feature is here. From who has the “X Factor” to the hottest TV trends to the don’t-even-bothers, XfinityTV breaks down the who and why of what you need to know about this season’s best (and worst) new shows.


1. Favorite Returning Favorite: Simon Cowell. He’s baaaack! And (hopefully) meaner than ever. If anybody has “The X Factor,” it’s Simon Cowell. Add Paula Abdul to the equation, and you just can’t bet against them.

2. The Replacements: Ashton Kutcher, Ted Danson and James Spader fill the voids left on three high-profile shows, filling in for, respectively, Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” Laurence Fishburne on “CSI,” and Steve Carell on “The Office.” Can they save these shows? Probably. Casting coups plus likability factors equals good chance of not sucking.

Get a First Look at Ted Danson on “CSI” Here

3. Great Expectations: Forget about saving a show, one returning TV personality is facing saving a network. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you can be sure Oprah Winfrey is hoping to high heaven that Rosie O’Donnell and her new prime-time talk show “The Rosie Show” will draw a lot of viewers to the Big O’s struggling OWN Network.

4. The Comebacks: Tim Allen returns to TV as the “Last Man Standing” in a house full of females in one of those so-so sitcoms that the heart of America will watch nonetheless, while “Buffy’s” Sarah Michelle Gellar is a “Ringer” as the face of The CW this fall, playing a pair of troubled twins in a rich, mysterious and sudsy drama.

Add Your Favorite Stars to Your DVR Watchlist!

5. The Sexiest New Leading Man: Patrick Wilson is “A Gifted Man” – and in more ways than one! He romanced Kate Winslet in “Little Children” and has dazzled Broadway; now the handsome and talented Patrick Wilson is turning to TV playing a doctor with a beyond-the-grave connection in CBS’ spirited drama, “ A Gifted Man,” which plays like “Ghost” meets “Ghost Whisperer” in an “ER.” Series creator Neal Baer (“SVU,” “ER”) says he hasn’t been this excited about working with a leading man of this caliber since … George Clooney. That’s some endorsement.

6. The “It” Girl: Zooey Deschanel – The indie movie darling (and everyone’s favorite female singing “Elf” from Will Ferrell’s Christmas classic) is “The New Girl” on Fox, who’s charming everyone in her path as the awkward new roommate in a house full of dudes. You know you’re an “It” girl when you’ve coined an endearing new phrase: She’s “Adorkable.”

Check Out “The New Girl”:

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7. The Biggest Buzz:The X Factor” – I mean, we’ve been hearing about this thing for over a year now, through the final judges’ selections, the last-minute Paula Abdul negotiations, the dumping of Cheryl Cole, the trash talk from Simon. Now we finally get to see it – and judge for ourselves. On with the show, already!

Add “The X Factor” to Your Watchlist

8. The Biggest Risk: Fox’s most anticipated new scripted series, “Terra Nova” is a time-traveling family drama starring hunky star Jason O’Mara (“Life on Mars”) and Shelley Conn. Big budget, special effects, backed by Steven Spielberg and featuring this TV season’s coolest cast members: dinosaurs!

9. High-Profile Remakes:Charlie’s Angels” and “Prime Suspect.” Which one will be a hit like last season’s “Hawaii Five-O” and which one will flop like “The Bionic Woman” (and a slew of others)? We suspect viewers will get behind Maria Bello, who’s great at filling Helen Mirren’s shoes in “Prime Suspect” – as long as fans are prepared for it to have little resemblance to the original. But those “Angels” are going to need a lot of help from above if they want to stick around after that hot mess of a pilot….

Check Out Maria Bello in “Prime Suspect”:

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10. Best Pedigree:Up All Night” – Executive Producer Lorne Michaels (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”) and “SNL” writer Emily Spivey team with another “SNL” alum, the scene-stealing Maya Rudolph (who’s still hot from this summer’s hilarious “Bridesmaids”) for this sitcom about parents of a newborn trying to keep cool – and they are played by Will Arnett (who’s married to “SNL” alum Amy Poehler) and TV fave Christina Applegate. With funny bones like that in your bag, how can you lose?

11. Fairytales for Grown-ups: ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and NBC’s “Grimm” get the clone award, even though these shows built around fairytales are quite different. In “Once Upon a Time,” characters such as Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) are the victims of a curse cast by the evil queen (Lana Parrilla), who sends them into a parallel world where they become – shocker – normal people living in a small town in Maine with no memory of their fairytale existence. “Grimm,” on the other hand, is a twist on a procedural where a detective (a descendant of the Grimm family who possess special abilities) investigates crimes committed by sinister characters come to life from Grimm fairytales.

2011 Fall TV’s 11 Must-Watch New Shows

12. Emasculated Men: “Last Man Standing,” “Man Up,” “Free Agents,” “How to be a Gentleman” and “Work It” (midseason) all go for laughs in this season’s emerging trend of weak/needy/broken beta-males. Action out, sensitivity in!

13. Empowered Women: But there’s real drama to be found at the other end of the spectrum with a big burst of strong females roles in “Prime Suspect,” “Pan Am,” “The Playboy Club,” “Revenge,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Once Upon a Time” (featuring former “House” star Jennifer Morrison as a bounty hunter).

14. The ‘60s Are Swingin’ Again: The Camelot era will be forever glamorized and this fall, three shows get their best “Mad Men” on, as NBC hops to it with “The Playboy Club,” ABC gets off the ground with “Pan AM” and BBC America clocks in with “The Hour.”

15. The Odd Couples: Maybe it’s a reflection of the recession, but some sitcoms are mining the fish-out-of-water, unlikely roommates scenario for laughs, such as in “Two Broke Girls,” “The New Girl” and “Apartment 23” (midseason). Our fave of the bunch: CBS’ “Two Broke Girls” starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. It’s like “The Odd Couple” meets “Laverne & Shirley.”

Fall TV 2011: Prime-Time Super Schedule

16. Daytime’s Newest Darling: Anderson Cooper. Now we get the smart, handsome and funny CNN newsman in the nighttime and during the daytime, when “Anderson” debuts September 12, which will feature a mix of heavy news with lighter fare, depending on what’s happening in the world. “It could be a huge celebrity interview one day and a provocative social issue the next,” Cooper explains. “We’ll be talking to real people facing real situations.”

17. This Year’s Movie Stars on TV: Madeleine Stowe rules over ABC’s “Revenge” (ironically, Stowe starred in a 1990 film with the same name); Jessica Lange takes on FX’s fright night, “American Horror Story”; and Christina Ricci takes off in “Pan Am.” Welcome to the TV club, ladies!

Get a Taste of “Revenge”:

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18. The Soap Box: Prime-time is about to get a lot sudsier. And just in time. With the slow demise of daytime, nighttime soaps are making a comeback with a slew of series like “Revenge,” “Ringer,” “Pan Am,” and “The Playboy Club.” And just remember: TNT’s “Dallas” update (featuring several original characters) is on its way in 2012!

19. Boob Tube: Get your fix of sexy stars with the beautiful bunnies of NBC’s “The Playboy Club,” which takes you inside the first Playboy club in 1960s Chicago, and the butt-kicking babes of “Charlie’s Angels,” a modern update of the seventies iconic so-called “jiggle TV.”

20. Best Show Title: “Suburgatory – Making fun of the old adage “the suburbs are hell” isn’t exactly a fresh idea, but the sharp writing of ABC’s best sitcom offering should make for another gem to shine in the Wednesday night comedy lineup next to “Modern Family.” “Suburgatory,” about a single father raising a teenage girl, stars Jeremy Sisto (“Law & Order”), Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and terrific newcomer Jane Levy.

21. Worst Show Title: I Hate My Teenage Daughter.” Fox’s sitcom entry is a painful look at two moms/BFFs bullied by mean girls in high school who realize their own teenage daughters are turning into their tormentors. Stars Jaime Pressly (“My Name Is Earl”) and Katie Finneran are better than the material they’re given, so expect a lot of unfortunate puns playing off that title.

22. Most Shocking New Show:American Horror Story” (FX). Creator Ryan Murphy (“Glee”) goes back to the dark side (a la his “Nip/Tuck” days) with this disturbing tale inspired by old-school horror films from the ’70s like “The Shining,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Don’t Look Now.” Starring Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under”) and Jessica Lange.

“A Family Portrait” of an “American Horror Story”:

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23. On the Move: Julianna Margulies hightails it to Sunday nights at 9 pm, where “The Good Wife” will face off against the final season of “Desperate Housewives.” May the best wife win!

24. Two-Whit: Stand-up comedian Whitney Cummings is a double threat this fall with two sitcoms on the schedule: CBS’ “Two Broke Girls,” which she co-executive produces with Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City”), and NBC’s “Whitney,” which she produces and stars. Which of her babies is Cummings’ favorite? “I have two hands so I’m rooting for both,” she says.

25. Midseason Is the New Fall: While there is plenty to look forward to this fall, some of the most anticipated shows have been reserved to launch in midseason: NBC’s musical “Smash” (which will be paired with the smash hit “The Voice”), Kiefer Sutherland’s return to Fox in “Touch,” ABC’s mysterious adventure, “The River,” the bitchy barbs from a bunch of “Good Christian Belles,” psycho roommates from hell in “Apartment 23,” Fox’s trippy prison break, “Alcatraz,” and the “Bones” spinoff, “The Finder.”

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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