The fall 2009 TV season, from Jay to 'V'

Jay Leno walks on the stage for the Jay Leno walks on the stage for the debut of 'The Jay Leno Show' on September 14, 2009 in Burbank, California. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Jay.

There's your 2009 fall season wrap in a word, or, if you prefer, a name.

Jay, who commands nearly one-fifth of a broadcast network's prime-time lineup.

Jay, who has completely changed the game.

Jay, who could save NBC.

(Or Jay, who might not.)

There have been "major" changes in prime-time TV lineups before, but even this powerful little word doesn't quite do justice to "The Jay Leno Show," or what it represents. If this works - and we've had a week now to get a taste - NBC may well have created a precedent for other networks looking to cut costs or even save their own necks. If it does not . . . then that's another story for another day.

Even so - surprise! - this isn't the only key development or show of the fall, although it does seem to crowd everything else out.

Here are the top 10 shows and trends to look out for over the next couple of months. You can guess numero uno:

1. Jay Leno. As you read these words, a week after debut, several questions will have already been answered. But as Leno and everyone else has observed, this isn't a one-week story, but a marathon. The impact of this move has only just begun to be felt.

2. "NCIS: ." This CBS drama, which bows Tuesday at 9 p.m., is the most important new fall show, after "Leno" - another extension of a network's major franchise. (And if past is prologue - specifically I'm thinking about "CSI: Miami" - the spinoff could rival the mother show in popularity.)Los Angeles

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3. Return of the star. TV without stars is like the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal without stars, but this season we get a bountiful crop. Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth ("The Good Wife"); Christian Slater ("The Forgotten"); Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J and Linda Hunt ("NCIS: LA"); Scott Wolf ("V"); Ed O'Neill ("Modern Family"), Courteney Cox ("Cougar Town"), Kelsey Grammer ("Hank"); Patricia Heaton ("The Middle"), and Chevy Chase ("Community").

4. "FlashForward." Will this riveting ABC thriller, debuting Thursday, become the next "Lost"?

5. "The Middle" and "Modern Family." Two new ABC family comedies may have the most buzz of all - and they have to shore up a brand-new Wednesday for the network. Tough job.

6.

. Wanda!? Yes, Wanda. If her new Saturday late-night show clicks (it premieres Nov. 7), this could become a weeknight late-night show in the future. Wanda Sykes

7. "Glee." Are you a Gleek yet? Fox hopes so. This is a rare and important new fall series entry for the network.

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8. The triumph of the " " hit. Two sci-fi sophomores that flew under the mainstream radar last year are back, Fox's "Fringe" and " Dollhouse." Both - particularly "Fringe" - have enormous promise.Fringe

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9. " ." Could this be the season when "Big Bang" becomes TV's giant sitcom? Don't be surprised if it is. The Big Bang Theory

10. "V." The ABC remake of the cult NBC mid-80s series looks great. A mid-fall hit (the launch is Nov. 3)? "V" fans - let's dub them "Veeks" - certainly hope so.

The starting dates for the fall shows

 

NEW SERIES

Already on: "The Beautiful Life: TBL" (CW); "Community" (NBC); "Glee" (Fox); "The Jay Leno Show" (NBC); "Melrose Place" (CW); "The Vampire Diaries" (CW)

Monday "Accidentally on Purpose" (CBS)

Tuesday "the forgotten" (ABC); "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS); "The Good Wife" (CBS)

Wednesday "Modern Family" (ABC); "Cougar Town" (ABC); "Eastwick" (ABC); "Mercy" (NBC)

Thursday "FlashForward" (ABC)

Friday "Brothers" (Fox)

Sept. 27 "The Cleveland Show" (Fox)

Sept. 28 "Trauma" (NBC)

Sept. 30 "Hank" (ABC)

Sept. 30 "The Middle" (ABC)

Oct. 4 "Three Rivers" (CBS)

 

RETURNING SERIES

Already on: "90210" (CW); "America's Most Wanted" (Fox); "America's Next Top Model" (CW); "The Biggest Loser" (NBC); "Bones" (Fox); "Cops" (Fox); "Fringe" (Fox); "Gossip Girl" (CW); "The Office" (NBC); "One Tree Hill" (CW); "Parks and Recreation" (NBC); "So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox); "Supernatural" (CW); "Survivor" (CBS)

Monday "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC); "Castle" (ABC); "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS); "Two and a Half Men" (CBS); "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS); "CSI: Miami" (CBS); "House" (Fox); "Heroes" (NBC)

Tuesday "NCIS" (CBS)

Wednesday "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS); "Gary Unmarried" (CBS); "Criminal Minds" (CBS); "CSI: NY" (CBS); "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC)

Thursday "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC); "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS); "The Mentalist" (CBS)

Friday "Ghost Whisperer" (CBS); "Medium" (CBS); "Numb3rs" (CBS); "Smallville" (CW); "Dollhouse" (Fox); "Law & Order" (NBC); "Southland" (NBC)

Sept. 27 "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (ABC); "Desperate Housewives" (ABC); "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC); "The Amazing Race" (CBS); "Cold Case" (CBS); "The Simpsons" (Fox); "Family Guy" (Fox); "American Dad" (Fox)

Sept. 28 "Lie to Me" (Fox)

Sept. 29 "Shark Tank" (ABC)

Oct. 1 "Private Practice" (ABC)

Oct. 2 " 'Til Death" (Fox)

Oct. 4 "America's Funniest Home Videos" (ABC)

Oct. 9 "Ugly Betty" (ABC)

Oct. 15 "30 Rock" (NBC)

Oct. 16 "Supernanny" (ABC)

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