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

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  • Publish Date: August 28, 2012

Wednesdays

Wednesday Primetime Schedule (All times ET/PT)
  8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
ABC The Middle The Neighbors Modern Family Suburgatory* Nashville
CBS Survivor Criminal Minds CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CW Arrow Supernatural* [Local programming]
Fox The X Factor [Local programming]
NBC Animal Practice Guys with Kids Law & Order: Special Victims Unit* Chicago Fire
Key cable/other shows:
    NOVA (PBS) American Horror Story (FX)
Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
NOVA scienceNOW (PBS)
Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
South Park (Comedy Central)

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

Key shows

American Horror Story: Asylum
FX, Wednesdays at 10p starting October 17

That "Asylum" at the end of the title is your first clue that when FX's hit miniseries (sorry, Emmy voters; we're not convinced) returns for its second season in October, things are going to be different. Very different. While some of the cast will be back, they'll be playing entirely new characters in what is basically a brand new show, set at a creepy East Coast mental institution in 1964. Jessica Lange will have a major role as the nun who runs the asylum, while fellow returnee Zachary Quinto will play a doctor there. Joining them and fellow season 1 vets Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe in the cast this season are James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Adam Levine (yes, of Maroon 5), Clea Duvall (Carnivale), Jenna Dewan (Step Up), and Chloe Sevigny (Big Love), who will play "Shelly the Nymphomaniac." Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) will also appear in several episodes.

NEW Animal Practice Watch first episode on Hulu
NBC, Wednesdays at 8p starting September 26

Sort of a more comedic House set in a veterinary clinic instead of a hospital, this new comedy stars Justin Kirk (Weeds) as a surly New York vet who gets along better with his animal patients than with his fellow humans (including Reaper's Tyler Labine). Joe & Anthony Russo (Community, Arrested Development) are on board as producers and directors. But the consensus of reviewers after a sneak preview of the sitcom's first episode in August after the Olympics is that the real highlight of the cast is Crystal the Monkey, who plays Annie's Boobs on Community and has also performed in The Hangover Part II and Night at the Museum. Her popularity might stem from the fact that she alone among the cast wasn't required to deliver any lines; critics weren't too happy with the writing or the show's overall lack of intelligence. Maybe your pets will enjoy it.

NEW Arrow Watch trailer
The CW, Wednesdays at 8p starting October 10

What they said about the pilot:

"'Arrow' doesn't break far from a certain branch of CW formula, but it delivers on its goals quite proficiently."

—Daniel Fienberg, HitFix

"You couldn't ask for a better constructed, more slickly executed take on the TV superhero genre."

—Brian Ford Sullivan, The Futon Critic

Part of the network's supernatural action-themed Wednesday lineup, Arrow stars Stephen Amell (Hung) as the DC Comics hero Green Arrow in a dark, "harder-edged" modern retelling of the billionaire-turned-crimefighter tale that will split its time between the present-day adventures of the vigilante and flashbacks to his island-based origin story. The series—which will also star John Barrowman (Torchwood), Katie Cassidy (Melrose Place), and Australian actress Jessica De Gouw as The Huntress—comes from Greg Berlanti (No Ordinary Family, Political Animals) and Marc Guggenheim (TV's Eli Stone, writer for DC and Marvel), with David Nutter (Supernatural, Game of Thrones) directing. Fans at Comic-Con seemed impressed with a screening of the action-filled pilot there, while critics have generally enjoyed the first episode, saying that both die-hard comic fans and novices alike should be able to enjoy the show. (The former group, however, should be prepared for some deviations from the established mythology.)

NEW Chicago Fire Watch trailers and interviews
NBC, Wednesdays at 10p starting October 10

What they said about the pilot:

"It boasts a great cast, but they're all too busy talking in leaden, clichéd Procedural Speak, so there's no joy, humor or personality."

—Laura Prudom, Huffington Post

"For a show about fire, it lacks any kind of spark."

—Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post

The latest procedural from Dick Wolf (Law & Order) centers on the men and women of Chicago's fire department, which you probably figured out after reading the words up above that said "Chicago Fire." Jesse Spencer moves on from saving lives in a hospital (on House) to saving lives in burning buildings; he's joined in the ensemble cast by Taylor Kinney (Vampire Diaries), Eamonn Walker (Oz), David Eigenberg (Sex and the City), Jason Beghe (Californication), and Monica Raymund (Lie to Me), while series creators Derek Haas and Michael Brandt (co-writers of 3:10 to Yuma) are among the producers. It all might sound rather generic on paper, but—well, it is rather generic in execution, too, according to critics who viewed the pilot. HitFix's Daniel Fienberg describes it as "'Rescue Me,' only without the mature themes, instantly vivid characters, boundary-pushing language, [or] humor." It's not entirely different, of course; it does have flames, and commercials.

NEW Nashville Watch trailer
ABC, Wednesdays at 10p starting October 10

What they said about the pilot:

"Count this as my most pleasant surprise of fall 2012 so far."

—James Poniewozik, Time

"Nashville is less likely to be a buzz magnet than Revenge was, but it's infinitely superior to ABC's last attempt to mine southern soap territory, the awful GCB."

—Mitch Salem, Showbuzz Daily

Yet another soapy drama gracing ABC's primetime schedule, the music-oriented Nashville comes from Callie Khouri, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Thelma & Louise. Filmed on location in Nashville, the drama centers on an aging country music star (Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton) and her young rival (Hayden Panettiere), and both actresses will do their own singing on original songs written for the series (expect at least one per episode). The cast also includes Powers Boothe (Deadwood) and Eric Close (Without a Trace), while award-winning documentarian R.J. Cutler directed the first episode and serves as a producer. Critics had mostly good things to say about the pilot, with several suggesting that even non-country music fans will find plenty to enjoy, though it is unclear how a recent change in leadership—with Dee Johnson (Boss) taking over as showrunner—might impact the series going forward.

NEW The Neighbors Watch trailer
ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30p starting September 26 at 9:30p

What they said about the pilot:

"Painful and painfully unfunny."

—Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast

"I don't have the words. Except this one: NO!"

—Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post

Though it was created by screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love., Cars), ABC's new high concept sitcom is already fighting terrible early buzz that suggests that we could have another Cavemen on our hands. The Neighbors centers on the Weaver family (led by Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito), who buy a home in an exclusive, gated New Jersey community only to notice something a little off about their new neighbors: despite their humanoid looks, they're actually space aliens from the planet Zabvron. (Hey, at least they're not cat-eating puppets.) Shockingly, the Weavers are able to figure this out even though the Zabvronians have adopted quotidian, Earth-sounding names like Larry Bird, Reggie Jackson, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and have relationship and parenting problems just like humans do. Who knew? Though the show will premiere after Modern Family in the 9:30p time slot, further episodes will air at 8:30p instead beginning (and possibly ending) Wednesday, October 3rd.

Also on Wednesday

Criminal Minds CBS, 9p starting September 26
While a show entering its eighth season suggests stability, you'll notice some changes in the upcoming season, most notably the departure of Paget Brewster, who has left the series (for good, this time). Taking her place in the cast will be Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love), whose character will be introduced in the premiere. Guest star Bellamy Young will return for a few episodes despite now starring on ABC's Scandal, while Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Reaper) will play an evil doctor in an upcoming episode.

CSI CBS, 10p starting September 26
For the first time in what seems like many years, there is relatively little cast turnover heading into the CSI mothership's new season—its 13th overall. Elisabeth Shue, who replaced Marg Helgenberger midway through last season, returns, as does Ted Danson, another newcomer last year. Jon Wellner, who has appeared as toxicology specialist Henry Andrews off and on for eight seasons, has been elevated to series regular.

NEW Guys with Kids NBC, 8:30p starting September 12 at 10p Watch trailers and interviews
This literally titled, Jimmy Fallon-produced comedy from The Office/SNL writer Charlie Grandy centers on a group of immature 30-something men who are clueless new fathers. Zach Cregger (Friends with Benefits), Jesse Bradford (The West Wing), and Anthony Anderson (Law & Order) star as the dads, with support from Jamie Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos) and Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show). Note that the first episode will air at 10p on the 12th (repeating at 8:30p on Friday, September 14 and 9:30p on Wednesday, September 19) before the show settles into its normal 8:30p time slot for its second episode on Wednesday, September 26th. Of course, just because the pilot will air a zillion times next month doesn't mean you should necessarily tune in; critics mostly hated the episode, though not everyone felt quite as strongly as HuffPo's Mo Ryan, who called it "horrifyingly awful."

Hot in Cleveland TV Land, 10p starting November 28
Heather Locklear (Melrose Place) and Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted) will have recurring roles in the sitcom's fourth season, while Regis Philbin will return as a guest star in the season premiere.

Key & Peele Comedy Central, 10:30p starting September 26
Comedy Central's terrific sketch comedy series returns for a second season that will feature guest appearances by Billy Dee Williams and Wayne Brady.

Law & Order: SVU NBC, 9p starting September 26
NBC's sole remaining Law & Order series begins its 14th season with a two-hour premiere on September 26th. Guests on upcoming episodes include Adam Baldwin, Anna Chlumsky, and Paget Brewster, while former Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Kathryn Erbe will reprise her character from that show on at least one SVU episode this season.

The Middle ABC, 8p starting September 26
The Patricia Heaton sitcom returns for a fourth season. Note that the September 26 premiere will run for a full hour.

NOVA scienceNOW PBS, 10p starting October 10
With Neil deGrasse Tyson leaving to work on the reboot of Cosmos, New York Times technology reporter David Pogue takes over as host of this Nova spinoff, which looks at cutting-edge scientific research in areas ranging from human intelligence to crime-fighting to future technology.

Modern Family ABC, 9p starting September 26
After a brief salary-related holdout (and related lawsuit), the entire cast of the hit series returns for the show's fourth season, which will deal with Gloria's pregnancy and see guest stars Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids) and Michaela Watkins (SNL) visiting the Dunphy clan.

Suburgatory ABC, 9:30p starting October 17
As a reward for a freshman season of solid ratings and decent reviews, the sitcom has been rewarded with the post-Modern Family time slot this fall. The second season premiere will pick up a few months after last year's finale, and episodes later in the fall will feature Rachel Dratch (reuniting her with her former SNL co-stars Chris Parnell and Ana Gasteyer) and H. Jon Benjamin (Archer), while Malin Akerman (Childrens' Hospital) will recur this season as the mother of Tessa (Jane Levy).

Supernatural The CW, 9p starting October 3
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica) will be charged with saving Dean (Jensen Ackles) from purgatory in the eighth season of Supernatural, while Misha Collins' fan favorite Castiel will return for at least eight episodes. Jeremy Carver, a writer on the show for seasons 3-5, will take over as the new showrunner, and CW execs have already begun contract talks with the cast for a ninth season.

Survivor CBS, 8p starting September 19
The 25th edition of the reality competition will be set in the Philippines for the first time, and will switch back to a three-tribe format, with one returning contestant from a past season on each tribe. The first-timers, meanwhile, will include former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and former MLB second baseman Jeff Kent.

The X Factor Fox, 8p starting September 12 Watch trailer
When Simon Cowell's new companion to/knockoff of American Idol didn't perform as strongly as Fox executives hoped in its debut last fall, a shakeup was in order. Thus, the singing competition will be without judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones for its second season; replacing the judges will be Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, while the host position is still open (with Glee's Kevin McHale reportedly a possibility). The weekly results show airs Thursdays at 8p.

Comments (4)

  • jerrycurlan  

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

  • 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.

  • khan2705  

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

  • cristane  

    Fantastic guide, thanks for all the hard work.

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