Making the most of the idiot box

Publication YearIssue Date 

The beginning of fall means a lot of things: school is starting, snow will soon fall and new episodes of your favourite TV shows will soon begin again. For those requiring something to distract them from studying, here are the Gauntlet's picks for the new fall television season.

BIG BANG THEORY [CTV/CBS; Mondays at 9:30 p.m.]

A group of super-nerds begin to learn about real life when they meet their new neighbour: a hot girl. Television writers tend to be fantastically geeky people and the pilot for the series won audiences over with just how spot-on it was. At the very least, Big Bang Theory will become The Class of 2007: a show that ends up being much better than it should've been, then gets cancelled. Theory is begins Sep. 24.

BIONIC WOMAN [NBC; Wed. at 10 p.m.]

It's an updated version of the Bionic Woman, the Six Million Dollar Man spinoff. There are about as many ways this show could turn out good or bad, but at least the show will be either amazingly good or amazingly bad. The series premieres Sep. 26.

BOSTON LEGAL [ABC; Tue. at 11 p.m.]

This show features William Shatner is a crazy-ass lawyer and has won a bunch of Emmys, including acting honours for Captain Kirk. The cast is full of people who used to be on TV years ago, which means you can tell your parents the woman who played Murphy Brown nine years ago is still alive and well. Season four debuts Sep. 25.

CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION [Thu. at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on CTV)], CSI: MIAMI [Mon. at 11 p.m.] and CSI: NEW YORK [Wed. at 11 p.m., all on CTV/CBS]

Police procedurals may be old hat by now, but the best of the best are still the CSI family of shows. Consisting of CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York, the trio of shows are shockingly easy to tell apart and thankfully standalone. Pick an area of the United States where you want to see corpses being dusted for prints and watch all season long.

CHUCK [City TV/NBC; Mon. at 9 p.m.]

The guy that created The O.C. features a slacker named Chuck who accidentally downloads the intelligence community's entire database into his brain. Chuck features a wide array of wacky misadventures, pop-culture references and a character that's actually named Captain Awesome. Seriously. Chuck premieres Sep. 24.

ENTOURAGE [Bravo; Fri. 8 p.m.]

Based on the experiences of Mark Wahlberg's early career, Entourage follows the life of actor Vince Chase as he tries to make his mark in Hollywood. The antics of Jeremy Piven as Vince's agent are worth tuning in to see, as are the misadventures of the rest of Vince's entourage.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS [City TV/NBC; Fri. at 10 p.m.]

Hailed by critics as "the show about football that isn't really about football at all," Friday Night Lights finally moves to a logical night. Check out the second season full of trials and tribulations for the Dillon Panthers high school football team. The lights are back on Oct. 5.

GREY'S ANATOMY [Thu. at 10 p.m.] and PRIVATE PRACTICE [Wed. at 10 p.m., both on CTV/ABC]

It was only a matter of time until super-popular Grey's Anatomy spun off a sister show. Luckily for viewers everywhere, this spin-off is occurring while Grey's is still good. It's like an extra episode of Grey's every week! While the rest of the doctors at Seattle Grace get up to their usual wackiness, Addison hangs out in sunny SoCal. Private Practice debuts Sep. 26 and Grey's returns the very next evening.

HEROES [Global/NBC; Mon. at 10 p.m.]

Heroes is another one of those highly-serialized shows with a whole lot of characters to remember. It's like Lost, except with a Japanese teleporter, an invincible cheerleader and that guy who used to be on Gilmore Girls. Season two is unveiled Sep. 24.

HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA [CBC; Sat. starting at 5 p.m.]

A Canadian tradition since 1952, Hockey Night in Canada is the CBC's weekly NHL showcase. This year's schedule features all six Canadian teams, plus a handful of games featuring Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins. The puck drops with a special game between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings from London, England Sep. 29 at 10 a.m. before settling into its regular timeslot Oct. 6.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER [ABC; Mon. at 9 p.m.]

Touted by the producers as a love story told in reverse, How I Met Your Mother features an old Ted Mosby telling his children, via flashback, how he met their mother. Featuring good writing and a great cast, including an exuberant Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother may be the best sitcom on television. Season three begins Sep. 24.

K-VILLE [FOX; Mon. at 10 p.m.]

Every damn cop show takes place in New York City. That's boring. K-Ville is a cop show that takes place in the uncharted waters of post-Katrina New Orleans and features a wise-ass cop (Anthony Anderson) and a serious cop (Cole Hauser). Even if it ends up as a paint-by-numbers show, the set pieces will be cool. K-Ville premieres Sep. 17.

PRISON BREAK [Global/FOX; Mon. at 9 p.m.]

After two seasons worth of breaking out of prisons and fleeing from the law, the third season of Prison Break puts Michael Scofield where no man wishes to go: the anarchic prisons of sunny Panama. Given the title of the show, three guesses as to what happens this season, which begins Sep. 17.

PUSHING DAISIES [Tue. at 9 p.m. on CTV, Wed. at 9 p.m. on ABC]

A private investigator with the ability to bring people back to life ends up resurrecting his childhood sweetheart, but she'll die for good if he ever touches her again. From the people that made the Addams Family and Men in Black, Pushing Daisies has been hailed as the most original new show of this year. Daisies debuts Oct. 3.

REAPER [Tue. at 10 p.m. on City TV and 7 p.m. on The CW]

Twenty-something slack-ass Sam discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil when he was a kid, so he gets recruited to become Satan's bounty hunter. Kevin Smith is one of the producers and directed the first episode. It's a show about slackers like you that have to collect souls for the devil. Best concept ever. Reaper premieres Sep. 25.

THE RICHES [Showcase; Sun. and Wed. at 11 p.m.]

A family of con artists (led by parents Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver) assume the identities of a recently-deceased family in affluent Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The second season will begin sometime in 2008, but audiences can catch up on the first season on Showcase.

SUNDAY NIGHT CARTOONS [Global/FOX; Sun. starting at 9 p.m.]

People always complain that the Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy used to be funnier, and that American Dad was never funny. They may be right. Either way, cartoons are cartoons and the fact that the movie was funny may be a good reason to give the Simpsons another chance. American Dad doesn't return until Sep. 30, but the other three begin new episodes Sep. 23.

THURSDAY NIGHT COMEDY [All four air Thu. starting at 9 p.m. on NBC; Office and Earl only air starting at 10 p.m. on Global]

Several years ago, Thursdays were a vapid wasteland of reality shows and bad comedy. Now it's the best night on TV, anchored by NBC's quartet of comedy: My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office and Scrubs. Every one of these shows is award-winning. Better yet, every one is also funny. The Office and Earl premiere Sep. 27, 30 Rock is back Oct. 4 and Scrubs returns for its final season Oct. 25.

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER [Spike TV; Wed. at 11 p.m.]

UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra and upcoming title challenger Matt Hughes each lead a team of up and coming fighters in a quest for a UFC contract. The show is basically Big Brother with slightly more fist fighting. Season six premieres Sep. 19.

CAVEMEN [ABC; Tue. at 9 p.m.]

It's a sitcom about cavemen dealing with the challenges of living in present day. Yes, just like that stupid Geico commercial and that stupid Pauly Shore movie. Begin not watching this show Oct. 2.