The beginning of school signals a return to work and responsibility for students and staff alike. Luckily, it also signals the return of all the great -- and not-so-great -- prime-time programs to television screens. There's a whole lot of TV thrown at the average viewer over the next few weeks, vying for your time and attention. Resident Gauntlet television fanboy Ryan Pike presents his picks for the fall season.
House [Fox; 9 p.m. Mondays]
One of the jewels of Fox's line-up since its inception, House features its titular crotchety doctor dealing with sick people in hilarious ways. It's also a gripping medical drama, featuring some of the best twist endings in television.
How I Met Your Mother [CBS; 9 p.m.], Two and a Half Men [10 p.m.] and Big Bang Theory [10:30 p.m. Mondays]
CBS has gradually accumulated a great block of comedy on Monday nights. How I Met Your Mother features a fantastic ensemble cast and some of the best writing in television. Two and a Half Men has razor-sharp dialogue and Charlie Sheen continually making a fool of himself. The Big Bang Theory is a hilariously funny look at geeks, their culture and how they deal with other people. In the midst of this block of top-notch TV awesome is the sure-to-fail Jenna Elfman comedy Accidentally on Purpose. It will probably be quite bad, so maybe have a nice meal during its timeslot.
The Middle [ABC; 8:30 p.m.] and Cougar Town [9:30 p.m. Wednesdays]
Two of the more intriguing new shows of the season come from the ashes of the recently un-cancelled Scrubs -- The Middle and Cougar Town. The Middle features Neil Flynn (the Janitor from Scrubs) as a middle-class husband with kids. Cougar Town features Christa Miller (wife of Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence) and Courtney Cox as hot older ladies looking for younger fellas to romance. Both of these shows have the potential to be funny, given the people involved.
Glee [Fox; 9 p.m. Wednesdays]
Given its advertising blitz, Fox really thinks they have a great show on their hands with Glee, a comedy/drama focusing on a high school glee club. Whether or not it's good, high school shows tend to have an exceptionally short shelf-life on Fox.
FlashForward [ABC; 9 p.m. Thursdays]
With Lost bowing out after this winter's season, ABC has commissioned FlashForward, a similarly high-concept hour-long drama. In it, the world's population is given a quick glimpse of life in six months, which happens to be after some ambiguous catastrophe. An FBI agent (played by Joseph Fiennes) has to piece the cause of the future disaster together before it's too late. It's a tough night to be debuting a new show, but ABC has high hopes.
The Office [NBC; 10 p.m.] and 30 Rock [10:30 p.m. Thursdays]
Without a doubt, these are two of the best shows of any genre on television. The Office has evolved from a simple remake of a BBC show into a bonafide cultural phenomenon. 30 Rock has fantastic writing and stellar performances from Tina Fey and the sublime Alec Baldwin.
Dollhouse [Fox; 9 p.m. Fridays]
One of the best new shows of last season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon's new program, Dollhouse, has struggled in the ratings. This may be because, similar to Judd Apatow's Undeclared and Whedon's Firefly, it's been placed on Friday nights when its target audience is out drinking. Nevertheless, the show, featuring super-hottie Eliza Dushku kicking ass, is easy to love. Of course, it's on Fox, so it could be gone any minute. Enjoy it while you can.