2012 Fall TV Preview: Our Night-by-Night Guide

  • Publish Date: August 28, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments


Thursday Primetime Schedule (All times ET/PT)
  8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
ABC Last Resort Grey's Anatomy Scandal
CBS The Big Bang Theory Two and a Half Men* Person of Interest Elementary
CW The Vampire Diaries Beauty and the Beast [Local programming]
Fox The X Factor [results] Glee* [Local programming]
NBC 30 Rock* Up All Night* The Office Parks & Recreation Rock Center with Brian Williams*
Key cable shows:
    Burn Notice (USA) Jersey Shore (MTV)
Later... with Jools Holland (Palladia)

New shows are highlighted in bold above.
* New time slot this fall

Key shows

NEW Beauty and the Beast Watch trailer
The CW, Thursdays at 9p starting October 11

What they said about the pilot:

"The problem with 'Beauty and the Beast' is the execution on absolutely every level."

—Daniel Fienberg, HitFix

"Laughably bad. ... There are drinking games with more substance."

—Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast

The first thing you'll notice about Beauty and the Beast is that the "beast" in question isn't very, well, beastly; it turns out that in the land of the CW, having a small scar on your face is enough to brand you as hideous. Basically a younger-skewing crime procedural set in present-day New York, the series stars Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) as the beauty—professionally, she's a homicide detective—who is saved from being murdered by Jay Ryan (Terra Nova), playing a once-handsome doctor who now turns ghastly but super powerful when enraged. A very, very loose remake of of the 1987 CBS series of the same name, this new drama could rival The Neighbors for the title of worst new show of the fall season if things don't improve quickly after the pilot.

NEW Elementary Watch trailer
CBS, Thursdays at 10p starting September 27

What they said about the pilot:

"A watchable and intriguing pilot ... [but] Liu seems strangely inert."

—Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast

"'Elementary' isn't as good as 'Sherlock.' ... Very few things are. 'Elementary,' though, has the makings of a far better-than-average CBS procedural."

—Daniel Fienberg, HitFix

Jonny Lee Miller will attempt to do what his recent London stage co-star Benedict Cumberbatch has already done to great acclaim (and an Emmy nomination) for the BBC and PBS: portray famed detective Sherlock Holmes in a modern-day retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Lucy Liu plays Watson to Miller's Holmes, who works for the NYPD after moving on from a consulting gig for Scotland Yard (and a stint in rehab). Aidan Quinn also stars, and the drama comes from creator Rob Doherty (Medium), producer/director Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Dexter), and Justified producers Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. Yes, the Sherlock comparisons have already started (don't expect Elementary to come out on the winning side), and it's basically just another slick procedural on a network already filled with them, but it shouldn't take much for the new drama to become a hit for CBS in a surprisingly uncompetitive Thursday 10p time slot. Just don't expect any sexual tension between Holmes and the gender-reversed Watson; producers have said that their relationship will remain strictly professional.

Glee Watch trailer
Fox, Thursdays at 9p starting September 13

Glee moves to Thursday nights for its fourth season, where it will attempt to reverse last year's ratings slide amid even tougher competition. Action will be divided between McKinley High and a new location, the fictitious New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts, which New Directions alum Rachel (Lea Michele) is now attending. Last season's other graduates will continue to be featured in the show as well—at least part-time—suggesting something of a transitional (if not disjointed) season, especially with numerous additions to the ever-growing cast (and the return of Chord Overstreet as a series regular) competing for screen time. Kate Hudson will guest in at least six episodes as a dance instructor at Rachel's school, while Whoopi Goldberg (reprising her role from last season) will also recur as dean of that school, and Sarah Jessica Parker will guest in at least one episode, marking her first series television appearance since Sex and the City. The season's second episode will feature the music of Britney Spears (yes, again), while the premiere will see New Directions tackling Carly Rae Jepsen's ubiquitous "Call Me Maybe."

NEW Last Resort Watch trailer
ABC, Thursdays at 8p starting September 27

What they said about the pilot:

"This is how a pilot should work. Last Resort's first hour may not be a tour de force like, say, the opening of Lost, but it does a lot in a little time."

—James Poniewozik, Time

"Easily the most exciting new show of the fall."

—Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post

While it seems like most network shows are generic clones, occasionally a unique premise does sneak through, as in the case of ABC's promising new series Last Resort. This big-budget serialized drama from Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, Terriers) follows the crew of an American nuclear submarine who refuse a suspicious order to fire their nuclear missiles, become fugitives, and escape to a small island, where they declare their independence as the world's smallest nuclear-armed nation. Last Resort's pilot (directed by Casino Royale's Martin Campbell) was filmed on location in Hawaii, which certainly worked for Lost. The sprawling cast includes Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age, Homicide: Life on the Street), Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse), Jay Karnes (The Shield), Autumn Reeser (The O.C.), Jay Hernandez (Hostel), and Scott Speedman (Felicity), while Robert Patrick (Terminator 2) and Bruce Davison (X-Men) will also have recurring roles. Last Resort is easily the most-anticipated fall network show among TV critics, who have already had plenty of great things to say about the pilot; writes Brian Ford Sullivan of The Futon Critic, "There's an ambition and scope to this series that's almost unprecedented, all done with a confidence and sense of purpose that lives up mightily to the auspices involved. In other words, this is what TV should be."

The Office
NBC, Thursdays at 9p starting September 20

Any longtime fans of NBC's declining hit comedy who feel that the series should have ended a few years ago might be consoled by the announcement last week that the upcoming season—the show's 9th overall—will be its last, with enough advance warning to allow the writers to create a satisfying ending. (Expect several old faces to show up by May, though producers aren't naming names yet, other than the previously announced David Denman, who is back as Pam's ex Roy in episode 2.) Even better news is that original showrunner Greg Daniels will return to that role this season after spending much of his time the past four years with Parks and Recreation. Season 9 will also see several cast changes; Mindy Kaling has departed for her new Fox sitcom (though her Kelly Kapoor will still appear in a couple of episodes), and B.J. Novak has also left to pursue other projects, though he should also return for a few episodes. Replacing them will be Jake Lacy (Better with You) and Clark Duke (Greek), while Catherine Tate, who appeared in a handful of episodes last season as Nellie, is now a regular. Though it isn't officially on NBC's schedule for the upcoming season, that long-rumored farm-based spinoff featuring Rainn Wilson (possibly titled The Farm) is still actively being developed, so there is a chance you haven't seen the last of Dwight Schrute yet; Majandra Delfino (Roswell) will play Schrute's liberal sister on an upcoming episode of The Office and would be a regular on the new show if it moves forward, as would Breaking Bad's Matt Jones.

Parks and Recreation
NBC, Thursdays at 9:30p starting September 20

Critic favorite Parks and Recreation could literally be facing a make or break year in its fifth season, with a potential opportunity to inherit The Office's vacated 9p slot next season if things go well. (We won't mention the flip side of that equation, especially since the perennially struggling show dipped even further in the ratings last season.) You'll get a chance to see some of the gang outside of Pawnee this fall: Ben (Adam Scott) will open the season working in Washington, and Leslie, Andy, and April will head to D.C. to join him for a few episodes shot on location, providing ample opportunities for cameos from real-life politicians including John McCain, Olympia Snowe, and Barbara Boxer. Meanwhile, back in Indiana, Jon Glaser (Delocated) will recur as a new nemesis for Leslie on the city council, and Lucy Lawless will have a multi-episode arc as a potential love interest for Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson. Let's hope the former Xena isn't a vegetarian.

Also on Thursday

30 Rock NBC, 8p starting October 4
Though the long-running sitcom has experienced a bit of a creative revival over the past year, this abbreviated 13-episode seventh season will be the show's swan song, culminating in a one-hour series finale (likely in January or February). Maulik Pancholy, who played Jack's assistant for five seasons before moving on last year to co-star on Whitney, will return to 30 Rock on a full-time basis this season.

The Big Bang Theory CBS, 8p starting September 27
Kevin Sussman (who plays the comic book store's Stuart) has been elevated to series regular for the comedy's sixth season, though he still may not appear in every episode.

Grey's Anatomy ABC, 9p starting September 27 Watch trailer
Gaius Charles (Smash on Friday Night Lights), Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars), Camilla Luddington (True Blood), and newcomer Tessa Ferrer will join the cast of Shonda Rhimes' medical soap for its ninth season, but several familiar faces will be gone: Kim Raver and Chyler Leigh are out, and Eric Dane's "McSteamy" will be back for just two episodes to wrap up his story. Those two episodes will jump around in time, with the season opener taking place months in the future before the second week returns to the immediate aftermath of last season's cliffhanger finale.

Jersey Shore MTV, 10p starting October 4
Not only do you get the sixth (and final) season of Jersey Shore this fall, but you can also look forward to a second season of Snooki and JWOWW next year. Woww indeed.

Later... with Jools Holland Palladia, 10p starting September 6
The long-running BBC music performance show comes to the U.S. with a mix of classic reruns and brand-new episodes.

Person of Interest CBS, 9p starting September 27
Guest star Ken Leung will reunite with his Lost co-star Michael Emerson in the second season premiere, which also returns Amy Acker as the evil hacker Root. Emmy-winner Margo Martindale (Justified) will appear in the season's second week.

Rock Center with Brian Williams NBC, 10p (already started)
NBC has apparently surrendered the 10p Thursday time slot, moving Brian Williams' low-rated newsmagazine to the period that the network once dominated with trademark dramas like ER.

Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday NBC, 8p starting September 20
As it did during the last presidential election cycle, NBC will air extra (and awkwardly titled) Thursday primetime installments of SNL, scheduled for September 20 and 27.

Scandal ABC, 10p starting September 27
Shonda Rhimes most recent ABC drama returns for a slightly longer second season (of 13 episodes) after a short debut run last spring. Though Henry Ian Cusick (who played Stephen Finch) won't return, Joshua Malina and Bellamy Young will have beefed-up roles this season.

Two and a Half Men CBS, 8:30p starting September 27
While the big story before last fall's season debut of CBS's hit sitcom was the substitution of Ashton Kutcher for Charlie Sheen, this year's news is the move of the Monday night staple to Thursdays, where it will follow Big Bang Theory. Kutcher returns for a second season, but he and the rest of the cast will no longer be working for showrunner Lee Aronsohn; instead, series co-creator Chuck Lorre will be running things with Don Reo and Jim Patterson. Don't expect much to change other than the time slot, but do count on Miley Cyrus showing up in a few episodes as a potential love interest for Angus T. Jones' Jake. An even bigger pop star—yes, we mean Michael Bolton—will guest in the premiere.

Up All Night NBC, 8:30p starting September 20
Community's loss is Up All Night's gain, as the latter gets welcomed back to NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup for its second season (albeit in the show's third different time slot since its premiere). Rachel Dratch will guest in an upcoming episode (reuniting her with her former SNL co-star Maya Rudolph), while Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) has booked a multi-episode arc, and Rob Huebel (Childrens' Hospital) will appear in an October episode. Joining the cast full-time is Luka Jones, formerly of Best Friends Forever.

The Vampire Diaries The CW, 8p starting October 11
David Alpay (The Borgias) will join the season four cast as a professor with ties to Bonnie's family, while Todd Williams (The Chicago Code) will play a powerful vampire hunter, and The Secret Circle's Phoebe Tonkin could be a new love interest for Tyler (Michael Trevino). A key focus during the early part of the new season will be on Elena's adjustment to becoming a vampire.

Comments (4)

  • cristane  

    Fantastic guide, thanks for all the hard work.

  • khan2705  

    thank you so much for this! now i know what to watch and what to not ....

  • LamontRaymond  

    Brilliant preview - thanks for the great work! Revolution and Last Resort appear to be the best new shows - so nice to see the networks avoided the Pan Am, Playboy Club nonsense of last season.

  • jerrycurlan  

    I LOVE this! Thanks for putting this together. (All your preview articles are so thorough...) I can't freakin' wait for Fringe!

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