- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2009

Forget the “Top Chefs,” “Project Runways” and “Wipeouts.” That’s summer fare.

September means the return to old-school network television premieres. The 2009-10 season is marked by many old faces returning in new shows.

On CBS, former “ER” star Julianna Margulies is at the center of “The Good Wife” (Tuesdays at 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 22). Miss Margulies plays the wife of a philandering politician, so this drama will be, if nothing else, timely.

On ABC, Jerry Bruckheimer has built “The Forgotten” (Tuesdays at 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 22) around Christian Slater, most recently in NBC’s short-lived “My Own Worst Enemy.” Mr. Slater stars as an amateur detective whose daughter was kidnapped. He helps the police look for some of the 40,000 missing people in America.

Also earning lots of buzz is Courteney Cox’s return to sitcomland with “Cougar Town” (ABC, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 23). Miss Cox was funny on “Friends.” Let’s see if she can carry a show about a 40-year-old divorcee.

“Married &##8230; With Children” alum Ed O’Neill returns with “Modern Family” (ABC, Wednesdays at 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 23), a half-hour show shot in mockumentary style a la “The Office.”

Jenna Elfman was adorable on “Dharma & Greg,” but her new show, “Accidentally on Purpose” (CBS, Mondays at 8:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 21), has a less-than-cute premise: Late-30s San Francisco movie critic has a fling with much younger slacker. Accidental pregnancy, baby and relationship ensue, much like in the movie “Knocked Up” (only with cougar and ickier pregnancy jokes).

“Everybody Loves Raymond’s” sardonic mom, Patricia Heaton, plays a similar role in “The Middle” (ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 30). Miss Heaton, whose last show, “Back to You,” was forgotten quickly, says her best roles are playing regular folks. She calls on her Ohio roots to get this character right. “I think this show is a love letter to every state between Los Angeles and New York,” she says.

Other new shows include “Mercy,” which NBC hopes will pick up where “ER” left off. “Mercy” (Wednesdays at 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 23) follows the drama of a hospital through the eyes of the nurses, which, by the way, is already being done on cable with “Nurse Jackie” and “HawthoRNe.” The writing may remind viewers that those are some big nurse’s clogs NBC has to fill. NBC also has “Trauma” (Wednesdays at 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 28), about San Francisco paramedics.

On CBS, “Three Rivers” (Sundays at 10 p.m., premieres Oct. 4), tells medical stories of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at a Pittsburgh hospital. This show features better writing and more complex characters than “Mercy,” and Katherine Moennig (excellent as Shane on Showtime’s “The L Word”) stars.

We’ve seen send-ups of cubicle life (“The Office”) and public service (“Parks and Recreation”). Now comes “Community” (NBC, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 30), about community college. The show stars Chevy Chase, Joel McHale (“The Soup”) and John Oliver (“The Daily Show”) and is directed by the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony (“Arrested Development”).

Technically, “Glee” (Fox, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.) is a new show even though viewers liked what they saw in a sneak peak in the spring. This dramedy from “Nip/Tuck” creator Ryan Murphy is a quirky look at a high school glee club made up of misfits.

Yet more teen fun is promised by “The Beautiful Life: TBL” (CW, Wednesdays at 9 p.m., premiers Sept. 16) starring Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”), Mischa Barton and model Elle Macpherson. Story line: Teen models living together in New York. Ruthless agents, secret pasts, blackmail and photographers. What’s not to like?

“Eastwick”(ABC, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 23) isn’t really new. In fact, it is a series remake of a 1987 movie pulled from a John Updike novel. Rebecca Romijn is no Michelle Pfeiffer, and the witches apparently now worry about work/life balance and making martinis.

“The Cleveland Show” (Fox, Sundays at 8:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 27) is an animated series about “Family Guy” neighbor Cleveland Brown, who moves to his wife’s hometown in Virginia.

Several old shows return with new spins. On “Desperate Housewives” (ABC, Sundays at 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 27), Drea De Matteo (“The Sopranos”) moves on to Wisteria Lane for season six. She plays single mom Angie.

In a much-touted move, former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno (NBC, 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 14) moves from late night to prime time. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and singers Jay-Z and Rihanna will visit on the first show. Tom Cruise will debut a new segment called “House Calls” on Sept. 15. Mr. Leno told reporters he hopes to get celebrity guests to do more than just talk. Look for guests to do stunts, such as race electric cars, he said.

CW will be returning to “Melrose Place” (Tuesdays at 9 p.m., premiered Tuesday). After the relative success of the revamped “90210” last season, Fox is dusting off its other 1990s nighttime soap. This one stars Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and David Cassidy’s daughter Katie.

It’s time for a spinoff from NCIS. This time it’s “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS, Tuesdays at 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 22). TV veterans LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell star.

“The Simpsons” (Fox, Sundays, 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 27) returns for its 21st season. Bart looks good for a 30-year-old fourth-grader.

“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, Thursdays at 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 24) says Katherine Heigl may not be killed off after all but may be missing for five shows so she can make a movie. Can’t wait to see that ridiculous plot twist, especially after last year’s dating-dead-Denny story line.

On cable, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns to HBO after two years with a much-hyped story line about star Larry David organizing a “Seinfeld” reunion. Look for the four main “Seinfeld” actors to make appearances throughout the season.

Also on HBO, new series “Bored to Death” (Sundays at 9:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 20) stars Ted Danson, Jason Schwartzman (“Funny People”) and Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”). Mr. Schwartzman plays a writer who becomes a private eye in what HBO calls “a film-noir-type comedy.”

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