Premiere Sept. 25, 10 p.m., ABC
Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner
It's grand, whimsical, suspenseful, ridiculous and one mad mess. Women seek adventure and husbands during the '60s "jet age" as airline stewardesses, forever subject to "girdle check." Men droolingly admire this "new breed of woman." Pseudo-feminist, pseudo-spy, pseudo-sophisticated oddity adds up to pseudo-entertainment.
Premiere Oct. 23, 8 p.m., ABC
Hard to explain. Easy to take to. Fairy tale characters are cast out of their fantasy world into the real one by their Evil Queen. Now living in a Maine small town, they don't realize they're fictional -- until a mysterious young woman hits town and partners with one hip-to-the-trick local kid. Action delightfully straddles both worlds, taking each seriously/fancifully. And a great cast nails the magical tone. Smart family viewing.
Premiere Oct. 30, 8:30 p.m., Fox
Stars Voices of Jonah Hill, French Stewart
New toon about a kid genius/author/composer/bon vivant who tries to make friends and influence people when he enters grade school. It's not easy when they won't let you bring a nice crisp pinot grigio to lunch at the cafeteria. This one is so far out there -- his bickering gay dads are a hoot (and Allen's got a crush on his elderly female principal) -- that it's perfectly placed to be the next big thing.
Premiere Monday, 9:30 p.m., CBS (moves to its regular time, 8:30 p.m., Sept. 26)
Stars Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs
Smart girls, too. With smart mouths. Dennings is a self-sufficient hipster, newcomer Behrs a spoiled heiress suddenly penniless. Thrown together working a Williamsburg diner, they're soon roommates and business partners. Quick retorts from creators Whitney Cummings and Michael Patrick King ("Sex and the City") zing around realistic direction from live-audience king James Burrows.
THE PLAYBOY CLUB
Premiere Monday, 10 p.m., NBC
It's not about the bunnies. (Sorry, guys.) Sure, we spend time at Chicago's original '60s club, but so do politicians, mobsters and ambitious chicks/guys itching for women's/gay lib to get going. A major murder provokes serious civic drama, while club scenes spotlight retro escapes like Ike and Tina Turner. Can producers keep juggling all these balls?
Premiere Sept. 26, 8 p.m., Fox
Stars Jason O'Mara, Stephen Lang
Fleeing an environmentally trashed-out Earth, 22nd century American family takes a "time fracture" back 85 million years to join a new (high-tech) society being built among dinosaurs. Every cliche of the family-friendly sci-fi template is here, but at least it's dynamically presented.
HART OF DIXIE
Premiere Sept. 26, 9 p.m., CW
Stars Rachel Bilson, Scott Porter
Would you be shocked if a driven young New York surgeon ended up in a Southern small-town practice? Not if she's an "O.C." refugee, this is The CW
and her narration covers "making out with the electricity-stealing buffoon from next door." Too cute, if nicely played (with a tricky twist or two).
Already on Tuesday, 9 p.m., CW
Exotic dancer under witness protection flees to find her Manhattan socialite twin. Then rich sis vanishes. Should dancer-addict pretend to be her? Pilot is all setup, so how its mysteries unfold will be key. We love "Lost" immortal Nestor Carbonell as the cop on her case.
Premiere Tuesday, 9 p.m., Fox
Star Zooey Deschanel
It's all about Zooey, and that may just be enough. She puts all three C's in the word eccentric, rooming with three single guys who can't understand why she's forever writing theme songs to score her life. So they stumble through learning about life together, saying stupid things. It clicks. You just gotta be there.
Premiere Tuesday, 10 p.m., CBS
Casting counts. And these stars shine as former detective partners, reluctantly reunited, when Montgomery just can't keep her photographic memory under wraps. Oh, yeah, and she's got this other secret life involving guns and money, and, inevitably, the one key case she could never solve. It all works anyway, expanding CBS' crime scope beyond police procedure to cool characters.
LAST MAN STANDING
Premiere Oct. 11, 8 p.m., ABC
"What happened to men? Men used to build cities just so we could burn 'em down!" Ha-ha! Loved "Home Improvement"? Here it is again, with Travis this time made to grin at Allen's "manly" rantings, with him spouting via the Web rather than TV, and with three daughters (and a grandchild!) instead of sons. Boy, do we miss Wilson.
Premiere Oct. 18, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Stars Christopher Moynihan, Dan Fogler
I watched this show the night before I typed this, and I already forgot what it's about. Oh, wait -- three grown guys from "the overinvolved generation of pantywaists" play video games and moan about not being "real men" like their dads. Lots of gamy talk and implausible antics. "Hangover," anyone? They've even got the bearded dude!
Already on Wednesday, 8 p.m., CW
Stars Mario Lopez, host
Oh, how I H8 myself for gobbling up this show-biz slime. "Stars" like Snooki hang with decided non-fans trying to win hearts and minds. Celebs and haters both put their worst foot forward. Which makes it sort of irresistible.
UP ALL NIGHT
Already on Wednesday, 8 p.m., NBC
First-time parents get first-time frazzled. Dad braves baby and the supermarket while Mom goes back to work producing diva Maya Rudolph's talk show. Single-camera anecdotes nicely walk the fine line between edgy and sweet, hip and sentimental.
Already on Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Stars Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn
On Showtime, just maybe, this might seem profound. With network expectations, it seems a bit too, um, conceptual. Contemporary executive colleagues find themselves negotiating heartbreak, rebound sex and other emotional obstacles, amid office small talk and odd abstractions during which not much actually happens.
THE X FACTOR
Premiere Wednesday, 8 p.m., Fox
Apparently, X equals presence, charisma, likability and, sometimes, real talent. But it also equals behind-the-scenes interest. The only available eight-minute preview shows a too-cute 13-year-old and a 42-year-old desperate single mom, both wowing audition audiences and judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul (together again!).
Premiere Wednesday, 10 p.m., ABC
Stars Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe
It's "Dallas" in the Hamptons. With a younger, cuter cast. And ocean beaches! Our all-grown-up protagonist arrives with devious designs on the title act toward the family who decades earlier sent her innocent pop to prison. Throw in neighbors with mysterious motives, also haunted by history, plus corporate intrigue. Hectic pilot hour establishes a juicy mood.
Premiere Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Single city dad moves his hip teen daughter to Westchester, where everyone thinks she's a lesbian because she doesn't wear pink. The culture clash couldn't be more exaggerated -- or funny, or charming, or delicious. Brainy sarcasm meets its match in the land of animal print and synthetic breasts. Levy's narration makes it sing.
I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER
Premiere Nov. 23, 9:30 p.m., Fox
Daughters dis moms. Moms trash daughters. Laugh track turns up the volume. It's a plastic mishmash of name-calling, pointed humiliation, flaky dads, flashbacks/forwards and "Dirty Dancing" nostalgia.
THE SECRET CIRCLE
Already on Thursday, 9 p.m., CW
Stars Brittany Robertson, Thomas Dekker
When the narration starts with "Destiny's not easy to run from," I'm outta there. You'll know pretty quick whether you'll stick around for supernatural voodoo set to spooky/rock music in a funky old house in a town where all the cool kids are witches.
Premiere Sept. 22, 8 p.m., ABC
Male supervisor Bosley has a hot young bod now; we meet him topless. Not so boss Charlie's trio of babe crimefighters. But they still dress sleek and kick butt. Add high-tech spy gear, a more glam Miami setting and generous action effects. And what have you got? Not much, actually. This lifeless "rethink" seems brain-dead.
PERSON OF INTEREST
Premiere Sept. 22, 9 p.m., CBS
Have "Lost"-ies found a new obsession? Emerson revisits his unsettling Ben Linus persona as a cyber-billionaire who "computes" to trouble-bound folks before their disaster strikes. Then he asks Caviezel's resurfacing ex-spy guy to step in and stop it. Such a conspiracy theorist's dream -- surveillance and databases worked from some old-library lair, then Caviezel all "Death Wish" after the baddies. (Or, are they?) Densely plotted, often unpleasantly brutal. Have fun!
Premiere Sept. 22, 9:30 p.m., NBC
Stars Whitney Cummings, Chris D'Elia
Distinctively loose and quirky winner about the title comic's relationship with her live-in, buoyed by sharp observational dialogue. Incidents seem to take spontaneous shape.
Premiere Sept. 22, 10 p.m., NBC
Think nobody can top Helen Mirren's '90s U.K. original? Then why not mold that no-nonsense police detective in a fresh way for a new generation? Now in today's New York, her colleagues' sexist resentment feels dated, but Bello's brisk from-the-gut gumption, the cast's itchy earthiness and the very American grittiness of city filming makes this hour the first since (early) ""ER" to merit NBC's legendary Thursday-at-10 slot.
HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN
Premiere Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Stars David Hornsby, Kevin Dillon
One guy knows how to be a gentleman, the other how to be "a man." Guess who's teaching whom? Personal trainer and etiquette writer are sitcomedy's latest odd couple. But their show's meandering structure does them no favors.
A GIFTED MAN
Premiere Sept. 23, 8 p.m., CBS
Hardhearted New York super-surgeon gets a surprise visit from his long-distant ex, who leads him toward a more people-centered path. It's a "cosmic gift," gasps his new-agey sis, in a busy drama that manages to be scientific and spiritual in equal measure. Touched by a doctor?
Premiere Oct. 21, 9 p.m., NBC
Stars David Guintoli, Russell Hornsby
Portland cop discovers he's descended from the title's ancient fairy-tale tellers, and fated to battle fabled villains on modern ground. (Never wear a red hood into the woods!) Pilot hour is dark and ponderous, with a not-so-shocking final reveal. Not likely to satisfy either crime lovers or tale buffs.