The Good, Bad, ‘Desperate,’ ‘Ugly’ and Everything in Between

Think of the upcoming week on television as a big, fat pi
ñata. Poke around enough and you’re bound to hit a sweet little
jackpot. Take note of my discoveries:
Think of the upcoming week on television as a big, fat piñata. Poke around enough and you’re bound to hit a sweet little jackpot. Take note of my discoveries:

The Good

It’s season premiere night on Thursday where a gaggle of old favorites join creative hands with some newcomers for what has to be one of the most competitive nights for the networks, especially during the 10 o’clock hour.

On ABC, it’s the series premiere of the moody, dreamy, soulful “Six Degrees.” Over at NBC it’s “ER,” where the aftermath of last season’s cliffhanger emergency room shoot-out leaves several lives hanging on the edge, particularly Abby (Maura Tierney), Dr. Luka (Goran Visnjic) and Jerry (Abraham Benrubi).

“ER” has always been a critical and ratings hit for so long now. But after 12 years, I can conclude one thing about this Windy City emergency room: It’s a magnet for drama. How many other hospitals’ personnel have experienced so much tragedy? Still, we remain hooked.

On CBS, be sure to either TiVO the series premiere of “Shark” or wander away from “Six Degrees” (three stars out of four) – although I favor the latter. I’m always interested in hearing what viewers think about new shows. As a “critic for the everyman,” I don’t scoff too much at the pitfalls that TV’s newcomers make – that much. I tend to think that, given a chance, most shows with an above-average dose of imagination can succeed if they’re afforded the time to grow.

“Shark” is one of those shows (three stars). The good news is, judging by the pilot, this already compelling series can withstand the test of time so long as its writers continue to work magic with the show’s irresistible force of nature, James Woods. The premise finds Woods as a cocky defense attorney who switches justice teams and winds up batting for the prosecutor’s office. OK, I’ll bite. Especially when Woods is acting alongside the talented Jeri Ryan, who plays a feisty D.A. She’s also his “nemesis.”

Woods completely owns his role here, but there’s one thing that weighs the show down: the persona that is James Woods. At times, it feels as if he’s too big to contain in the small screen. We’ll have to see how the series’ writers and its main star adjust to that one.

Don’t Forget “Grey’s Anatomy” (9pm, ABC), which gives birth to season three. Here, the always vacillating and lovesick Meridith (Ellen Pompeo) – sweetie, there’s only so much of your longing for Dr. McDreamy a viewer can take – still can’t decide over the doctor she wants to have but doesn’t seem destined to nab (Patrick Dempsey) or the “there for her” vet who can’t quite win her over (Chris O’Donnell).

Who I’m more interested in: Izzy (Katherine Heigl), whose story arc with a dying patient last season was one of the best the show delivered. Elsewhere: The season finale of the quirky hit “The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” on IFC (11pm Friday); the series premiere of ABC’s sure-to-be-a-hit – especially in its timeslot – “Brothers & Sisters” (10pm Sunday); the series premiere of NBC’s “Heroes” (two and a half stars, 9pm Monday); and the seventh season premiere of WB alum “The Gilmore Girls” on the new network, CW (8pm Tuesday).

I’m still reeling over what the writers allowed Larelai (Lauren Graham) to get herself into with Luke (Scott Patterson) last year. Let’s hope the power players behind the scenes work wonders this season. Although, Graham remains ever so sharp in an unforgettable role.

The Bad

“Standoff” (9pm Tuesday, Fox): This struggling show goes on hiatus after Tuesday’s episode to make room for baseball. If Fox were smart, it would do and the series’ lead – an otherwise easy-to-embrace Ron Livingston – us a favor and not keep him hostage in a show that continues to struggle to find its authentic center.

The Desperate

The ladies of Wisteria Lane are back (9pm Sunday, ABC). But is the delicious creativity still there that made “Desperate Housewives” a breakaway hit in its first season? Creator Marc Cherry seems to think so. It’s too early to tell, but by the looks of things, the summer may have been good for our favorite housewives – many of whom seemed overly desperate last season.

News: Susan (Teri Hatcher) meets a new beau, Bree (Marcia Cross) considers marriage – again, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) battles with Carlos and the maid who is carrying their baby, and Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom deal with a new presence in their lives. Keep your eye on Nicollette Sheridan this season.

Then, of course, last time we tuned in, series newcomer Kyle MacLachlan (playing Bree’s new mate) looked like a serious bad guy. I’m sure more will unfold there.

The Ugly

It doesn’t debut until Sept. 28, but circle it in red now and watch it: “Ugly Betty” (8pm Thursdays, ABC) is one of the prettiest jewels of the season.

Everything in Between

Talk show enthusiasts will be happy to know that Megan Mullally’s new daytime chat fest, which culls from “The Merv Griffin Show,” enjoyed a healthy debut last week (check local listings).

Cartoon Network’s audacious fourth season premiere of “Robot Chicken,” from brainchild Seth Green, is also doing well in the ratings on the net’s “Adult Swim.” Wander into its waters – if you dare – on Sundays (11:30pm). The acerbic Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne,” “Twins,” “ER”) heads into a recurring role on CBS’s charming new comedy “The Class” (8pm Mondays) – you can spot her beginning Oct. 9. And look for Alanis Morrisette to show up – and turn heads – on FX’s addictive “Nip/Tuck” in late October.

Greg Archer is an entertainment writer based on the Central Coast. He writes about television, film and being human. E-mail him at [email protected] or visit