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    Fall TV Preview: Tuesday's New Shows

    Anna Torv, Joanna Garcia, Shenae Grimes Michael Lavine / Fox, CW, Justin Stephens / The CW

    House or 90210? Joshua Jackson, Simon Baker or Lance Bass?

    These, dear friends, are the choices you must be prepared to make as you prep your TiVo for fall's Tuesday night.

    While overall, I have to say the new crop of shows this season feels a bit mehhh (at least, based on what the networks have shown us so far), I did get into Fringe and The Mentalist and think Privileged could have promise.

    Read on for the lowdown on Tuesday's newcomers, then weigh in with what you'll be watching...

    (And a reminder: The "Vegas Odds" below were determined by Bejamin Eckstein, a nationally syndicated oddsmaker for America's Line.)

    90210 (CW)

    Premiere: Sept. 2, 8 p.m.
    Time-Slot Competition: Biggest Loser, House, NCIS, Opportunity Knocks
    Cast: Shenae Grimes, Tristan Wilds, Dustin Milligan, Lori Loughlin, Rob Estes
    Status: No one has seen it

    Ask anyone in this town and they'll tell you they know someone who knows someone who read an early pilot script and "hated it." But here's what you should know about the new 9-0: The series has now been through multiple rewrites and reshoots, and I'm hearing it's gotten better with every turn. "Pretty good" is the general assessment among those who've seen early cuts of the premiere (which is still being finalized, so no one has seen the real deal), and personally, I'm keeping an open mind. After all, some truly good series (see: Brothers & Sisters, 30 Rock) worked out many a kink before hitting the air. Not to mention the producers (Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs from Freaks and Geeks) seem to know what they are doing. Will it redefine television as we know it? Probably not. But it could be one hell of a juicy guilty pleasure, and you didn't get a TV to watch C-SPAN, did you?

    Vegas Odds on Survival: 4 to 1
    My Verdict: Watch the premiere

    FRINGE (Fox)

    Premiere: Sept. 9, 8 p.m.
    Time-Slot Competition: Dancing With the Stars, The Mentalist, Privileged
    Cast: Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Kirk Acevedo
    Status: I've seen the first episode

    Joshua Jackson is back on TV! If that's not reason enough to watch, I should mention that that other J.J., the guy who helped to bring you Felicity, Alias and Lost, is the man behind the curtain running this show, and the premise is pretty freaking cool. See, it's the new millennium, so it's time for a new generation of feds to investigate a new generation of paranormal mysteries. Move over, X-Files, and take your very special Chupacabra investigations with you, because Fringe is ditching modern American supernatural mythology—the Winchester bros have that all locked up anyway—for pseudoscience, where the mysterious happenings are almost plausible.

    Anna Torv (a sort of freckly, blond Jennifer Garner and wholly likeable) is the stalwart FBI agent sucked into the industrial-strength mischief, John Noble is the lunatic wizard who knows where the bodies of the failed clone zombies are buried, and Joshua Jackson is the witty raconteur who finds himself in the middle, translating between the two parties. Between the three of them, we may actually have a chance of preventing the Greed (personified here by mystery mogul William Bell and his conglomonster Massive Dynamics) from eating mankind alive.

    The pilot is one of J.J. Abrams' beautifully symmetrical creations (like quartz, those things), the writers are all refugees from other Bad Robot productions, and Fox is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this thing. So it should take off, and our Vegas oddsmaker Benjamin Eckstein agrees, placing it the second most likely new series to succeed this season. But of course, only you will truly decide.

    Vegas Odds on Survival: 3 to 1
    My Verdict: Watch it

    PRIVILEGED (CW)

    Premiere: Sept. 9, 9 p.m.
    Time-Slot Competition: Dancing With the Stars, Fringe, The Mentalist
    Cast: Joanna Garcia, Anne Archer, Lucy Hale, Ashley Newbrough, Allan Louis
    Status: I've seen the first episode

    It's been written that the primary duty of the tutor and governess in the wealthy household is to be on hand so that someone can fall inappropriately in love with them. This would seem to be the gist of Privileged, the story of Megan Smith (Reba's Joanna Garcia), a middle-class Mary Poppins who finds herself charged with redeeming two teenage termagants of Palm Beach society, Rose (Lucy Hale) and Sage (Ashley Newbrough).

    While trying to keep the brats on track, Megan has her own coming-of-age tale to write, both literally and figuratively. She will work on the great American novel in the morning, tutor the kiddos in the afternoon, and by night, vacillate between her sexy upper-class beau Will and her sexy working-class friend Charlie. Tough life, right?

    With Everwood's ultratalented Rina Mimoun running the show, Privileged should very well turn out to be a good story...however, I'm hoping the series overall is both wittier and less hectic than the pilot, which rang a bit hollow. That said, (a) it doesn't matter what I think because the tweens will determine whether this show lives or dies, and (b) it's never not fun to live the lifestyles of the rich and famous vicariously through a pretty young thing, so if the tweens are in, so am I.

    Vegas Odds on Survival: 50 to 1
    My Verdict: DVR it

    THE MENTALIST (CBS)

    Premiere: Sept. 23, 9 p.m.
    Time-Slot Competition:
    Dancing With the Stars, Fringe, Privileged
    Cast: Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Amanda Righetti, Owain Yeoman, Tim Kang
    Status: I've seen the first episode

    Patrick Jane is a former TV psychic who now puts his keen observational skills to work for the cops, instead of using them to make people cry for the cameras. The reason for this change of heart is pretty hard-core, but despite a darkish past, Jane still manages to be mostly charming, thanks to the natural charisma of Simon Baker. The murky, noirish atmosphere of The Mentalist means it is miles from Psych's territory and actually very close to the tone and style of CBS' other crime dramas (or an uninspired clone, depending on your level of discernment when it comes to crime-show distinctions).

    If the procedural elements keep pace, between sexy Baker and the pervasive threat of the season's major villain, Red John, there should be a lot to watch. Without using my third eye at all, I foresee a success.

    Vegas Odds on Survival: 40 to 1
    My Verdict: DVR it, or watch it live if you're a big procedural fan

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