Here's the funny thing about writing about Fall TV this year: There are still some new series that no one has seen, thanks to the lasting effects of the writers' strike.
Still, after interviewing the producers and actors, checking out the promos and previews and digging deep into what's going on behind the scenes and even scripts, I have a pretty good inkling as to which shows should be worth your time. (Especially the ones I've seen—some of which I loved and some of which made me break out in hives, ahem, Gary Unmarried, ahem.)
Also, just for fun, I reached out to a nationally syndicated Vegas oddsmaker with a crazy-good track record for predicting Hollywood successes—Benjamin Eckstein of America's Line—for his take on what will succeed among some of the notable new series.
So today we kick off E! Online's night-by-night look at all the new fall shows with Monday's offerings—CBS' Worst Week, NBC's My Own Worst Enemy and TNT's Raising the Bar—and will tackle a new day each day this week.
Find out what's worth a look, and then weigh in with what you'll be watching...
WORST WEEK (CBS)
Premiere: Sept. 22, 9:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Heroes, Samantha Who?, Prison Break, One Tree Hill
Cast: Kyle Bornheimer, Erinn Hayes, Kurtwood Smith, Nancy Lenehan
Status: I've seen the first episode
If you've seen the giant billboards around town of a guy striking a pose in a diaper, you know what you're in for: The sexiest show of the season!
OK, so that's not true at all. But this does look to be the funniest new show (based on what I've seen so far), and Kyle Bornheimer, who plays leading man Sam Briggs, is undeniably likeable and just, well, awesome.
Worst Week is the story of Sam Briggs, a sweet schlub of a man who has wonderful intentions and terrible, terrible luck. His life is a veritable Rube Goldberg device of misunderstandings, mistakes and unfortunate decisions, where every catastrophe is the direct cause of a new, different and even more humiliating disaster. You will laugh your booty off at Sam's misfortune, and you should be sure to enjoy it, because Bornheimer is killing himself just to make you giggle. Kyle told me last week, "I was set on fire yesterday...sometimes I wonder, Am I part of some new reality show where they tell a guy that he's the star of a TV show and it's really just to put him through really torturous situations?" Torturous for Sam, maybe, but pretty uproarious for the rest of us.
Vegas Odds on Survival: 50-1
My Verdict: Definitely watch it
MY OWN WORST ENEMY (NBC)
Premiere: Oct. 13, 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Boston Legal, CSI: Miami, Raising the Bar
Cast: Christian Slater, Alfre Woodard, Mädchen Amick, Saffron Burrows, Mike O'Malley
Status: No screeners available yet
Hey, look! It's Christian Slater, and he's on TV! That just might be enough to make some of you tune in, but FYI, the show's premise also sounds wickedly intriguing. Enemy is about a stay-at-home dad who lives a double life as an international superspy, but because of government meddling in his frontal lobe, he doesn't actually know what his spy side does at night.
As Slater puts it, "It's a Jekyll and Hyde story, with a little bit of James Bond thrown in. And yet it's very relatable—it's about the question, What do you do when you find out the person you can't trust is yourself?"
As for the real-life mystery, Enemy is one of the new NBC series that no one has seen yet. The all-star cast is a good sign, and I really like creator Jason Smilovic, but right now, there's just no telling if My Own Worst Enemy is worth our while.
Vegas Odds on Survival: 10-1
Verdict: Wait and see, but looks promising
RAISING THE BAR (TNT)
Premiere: Sept. 1, 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Boston Legal, CSI: Miami, My Own Worst Enemy
Cast: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben, Jane Kaczmarek, J. August Richards
Status: I've seen the first three episodes
Trade the scrubs for suits and Raising the Bar is essentially Grey's Anatomy in a courthouse: Gorgeous young professionals wrestle their personal demons, flirt with each other and conspire to get ahead, always working out at least a temporary solution to both problems by the end of act four.
Created by Steven Bochco, Raising centers around a group of law-school classmates who now face off as district attorneys and public defenders in the New York City courts. Respectable writing, decent production values, a sustainable procedural premise and a cast of TV favorites—Malcolm in the Middle's Jane Kaczmarek, ER's Gloria Reuben, Angel's J. August Richards and, of course, Zack Morris himself—add up to a pretty good time.
Verdict: DVR it for a rainy day