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Fall 2011 TV Winners: Six Of The Best New Shows To Premiere This Season

The fall TV season can be an overwhelming time for TV viewers (and our DVRs). For those of you who aren’t sure what to watch, or have missed the premieres of some of the best new shows this fall so far, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites, which may help narrow things down a bit. From new parents and an awkwardly lovable new girl, to terrorism, revenge and the ’60’s, this fall is offering plenty of promising new series.

There are still some new shows that have yet to premiere, but these are the ones that already have us hooked and we think you’ll like them too.

Up All Night

(by Mack Rawden)

The Brinkley’s are overwhelmed and out of their element. They’re confused, frustrated and bewildered by a fifteen pound human being who selfishly needs constant guidance and attention. As parents, they’re about as bad as every other pair who’s ever had a child for the first time, but as characters, they’re arguably the best and funniest we’ve been introduced to this year. It’s all about the balance between teamwork and rage.

The Brinkley’s are the type of couple who will angrily swear at each other and then nervously call five minutes later because there doesn’t seem to be any real cheese at the grocery store. Through long hours at work and baby eating disasters at home, Chris and Reagan are in this together, and if you have any common sense, you’ll join them. Will Arnett and Christina Applegate both made their careers out of playing absurd, over-the-top caricatures on Arrested Development and Married… With Children, respectively. In Up All Night, they’ve toned it down roughly sixty percent, and in doing so, have struck a balance between honest and hilarious.

Up All Night airs: Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.

Catch-up: Episode 1, Episode 2 (“Cool Neighbors”), (Episode 3 (“Working Late and Working It”)


(by Kelly West)

I had my reservations about Revenge before watching the pilot episode, believing that a show about a wealthy girl seeking revenge against a bunch of other rich people in the Hamptons might more suitable for the summer, however this soapy bit of drama has proven to be an excellent guilty pleasure this fall. In the two episodes that have aired, we’ve begun to get to know Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp), a woman who, under the guise of a fake identity, has returned to the Hamptons, where she once lived with her father, to pay back the people who had him convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Emily is weaving a web of lies in order to carry out her plans, but there are other spiders at work, which could cause some major problems as she continues to work her way down the list.

Beyond its guilty-pleasure appeal, Revenge is actually a decent drama with a lot of places to go in its story and some very intriguing developments beginning to emerge. We’re two episodes in and I’m already hooked.

Revenge airs: Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. ET on ABC

Catch-up: Episode 1. Episode 2 aired last night and will hopefully be here soon.

The Playboy Club

(by Jessica Grabert)

The Playboy of the sixties is not the same every-man’s Playboy on shelves today. Nabokov contributed, as did Updike, Bradbury, and Wodehouse. There were articles on soul food and basting turkeys. There were mentions of The Playboy Club alongside advertisements for high-priced clothes. Yes, there were naked women, but it was also a serious magazine, an exclusive subscription, and it was geared toward a genteel and against-the-grain lifestyle. NBC’s The Playboy Club has the chance to portray this in all its backwards forwardness and nostalgia.

Instead, the series has turned into a race against the other sixties era show, ABC’s Pan Am. If you have to choose between one network throwback to the sixties or another, The Playboy Club is the better use of your time. It may be steeped in sex and sin, but its plotlines lack the sunny exterior and the misplaced soundtrack, the stifling dialogue and the incessant retread brought to us by Pan Am. In it’s first episode, The Playboy Club brings us lingerie, sure, but it also pulls in mob ties and a less-than-perfect murder. The Playboy Club may not be winning the ratings, and it may have its share of small missteps, but it still has a lot of underlying potential. Besides, I’ll take queer friendly plotlines, campy stiletto murders, and Laura Benanti’s impeccable singing, any day.

The Playboy Club airs: Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

Catch-Up: Episode 1, Episode 2 (“The Scarlett Bunny”)


(by Jesse Carp)

On top of all of the enticing trappings, the number one reason you should watch Showtime's Homeland is the irresistible hook; what if an American POW, rescued after years in captivity, had been turned? What if this newly anointed National Hero was really a sleeper terrorist? And what if you were the only CIA agent, one who's already walking on the thinnest of ice, who suspected anything was amiss?

Now, on to the enticing trappings that make this great hook work so well on-screen, which include three absolutely brilliant and award winning actors (Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and Damian Lewis), a team of executive producers with a proven track record (Dexter, 24, Buffy) and a network willing to give them all the freedom to deliver a show that's uncompromising in its delivery. The show debuts proper on Sunday, October 2 at 10 p.m. on Showtime but, in an ever more popular move, they have released the pilot episode online and it does not disappoint. If viewers tune in to this series, that's like 24 via Rubicon and Manchurian Candidate, I would look for it come the next awards season.

Homeland premieres: Sunday, October 2nd on Showtime.

New Girl

(by Leslie Kasperowicz)

What New Girl lacks in originality, it makes up for in the characters, and since there are few truly original premises left on television, I look to characters to bring a new series to life. Especially when it comes to comedy, and this is where New Girl shines. Zooey Deschanel as Jess creates a girl who is quirky, a bit dorky, unselfconscious and totally unaware of how uncool she really is. It’s been tried before but rarely with such success, probably because Deschanel was born to play the role. Surrounded by three different and yet equally stereotypical men as her roommates, she manages to turn what could be tired and predictable into something funny and fresh. She plays off each of them without overwhelming them.

New Girl has a chance to create real long-term character development in a way few sitcoms can, and without losing track of what is important – the funny. Although Deschanel is clearly the main attraction, each of the characters has something to contribute, even if it’s mainly a contribution to the “douche bag jar”. New Girl might just have the potential to fill the gap left by Friends; it just needs enough time to develop the characters and the relationships between them that bring the laughs.

New Girl airs: Tuesday at 9/8c on Fox.

Catch-up: Episode 1 and Episode 2.

Pan Am

(by Scott Heisel)

ABC's Pan Am is a new period drama surrounding the flight crew for an iconic Pan Am Clipper, beginning with its inaugural flight from New York in 1963. One of the things that I feel makes Mad Men such a good show is their realistic portrayal of what working women often had to put up with. Pan Am is off to a good start in this regard, within just a few minutes of the series premiere you see the stewardesses taking part in weigh ins and learn the very stringent dress code rules.

Pan Am also succeeds in nailing a lot of other period elements, which give the show very strong production value. The sets are great, the 60s attire and style is all spot-on, and I'm pretty sure I heard some Frank Sinatra on more than one occasion. The first episode did set up one character to be involved in some light (hopefully) Cold War espionage, which I'm frankly not crazy about, but it doesn't seem likely to dominate the show, in any case. Ultimately, Pan Am looks like it will be a highly romantic workplace drama where the work takes the characters to numerous exotic locations. The first episode started in NYC and ended in London, and based on the titles of episodes 2 and 3 they will include Paris and Berlin.

Pan Am airs: Sundays at 10/9c on ABC

Catch-up: Episode 1