Friday Night Lights

Dan Hendler/NBCf

NBC: Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m.
Premiere: Oct. 3
Starring: Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler, Gaius Charles, Zach Gilford, Minka Kelly, Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki, Jesse Plemons, Scott Porter, Aimee Teegarden
Review: Food? No. Sleep? No. In Dillon, Texas, making it to the high school football state championship and winning is all that matters So, when Eric Taylor (Chandler) takes over as head coach, the hopes and dreams of everyone he knows are in his hands. And you thought his gig on Grey's disarming a bomb in a patient's chest cavity was pressure! Chandler has more on his plate with this role, especially when his star quarterback is seriously injured in the season opener. That said, you might be surprised to hear that this isn't really a show about football. It's about relationships and growing up in small-town America. From talk-radio shows questioning every move the coach makes to the team visiting their elementary school counterparts to impart advice, this show will have you rooting for more.
Bottom Line: Friday—er, Tuesday—night is for football.

Fox: Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 5
Starring: Raquel Alessi, Michael Cudlitz, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, Gina Torres
Review: Shows that star not one but two Band of Brothers actors (Livingston, Cudlitz) and a Firefly alum (orres) come packaged with a lot of critical goodwill, but even the best efforts of the talented cast probably can't save this stunted, confused show from itself. Standoff has noticeable tone issues and can't decide if it's a hard-bitten procedural or a schmoopy romantic comedy set against the backdrop of hostage taking. The show seems to lack a real point of view or a unique voice, and the chemistry between the leads is underdeveloped. Cudlitz and Torres pop in their parts (as a tactical officer and a team leader, respectively), but Livingston seems almost bored.
Bottom Line: Standoff just doesn't stand up.

ABC: Tuesdays, 9-9:30 p.m.
Premiere: Oct. 17
Starring: Josh Grisetti, Maz Jobrani, Donal Logue, Kevin Michael Richardson, Lenny Venito, Sofia Vergara
Review: It's been a question for the ages, ever since men wore feathers in their hats and funny little tights: Is it really a crime if you're stealing from the rich to give to the poor? What if the poor people just happen to be a couple of your buddies? Well, this is the question janitor Eugene Gurkin (Logue) sets out to answer after his coworker drops dead on the job and he realizes it's time to make something of his life. After Eugene catches an E! News exclusive tour of Mick Jagger's opulent residence, and he assembles a motley crew of wannabe burglars (the self-proclaimed Knights of Prosperity) to pillage the rock star's pad. Though Eugene and his fellow "knights" are offbeat and loveable in a My Name Is Earl sort of way, the laughs are a little lacking.
Bottom Line: It's too early to tell if Knights will prosper.

ABC: Tuesdays, 9:30-10:00 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 26
Starring: Jere Burns, Ted Danson, Charlie Finn, Darlene Hunt, Suzy Nakamura, Jim Rash
Review: What would happen if the beloved Bluths from Arrested Development were a bunch of strangers who went to group therapy together? This is the feel of ABC's latest attempt at smart comedy (after the network tried to buy the Bluths, then copy them with the funny but ill-fated Sons & Daughters). Though Help Me Help You isn't quite Arrested, its tone, punch, quirkiness and turn of phrase are enough to make this show laugh-out-loud funny in parts (if you're a fan of offbeat comedy). And Danson is endearing and convincing as Dr. Bill Hoffman, the man who seems to have it all together but is actually more in need of a straitjacket than his patients.
Bottom Line: Easily one of the best new comedies of the season.

CBS: Tuesdays, 10-11 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 19
Starring: Simon Baker, Franky G, Jonny Lee Miller, Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Amy Smart
Review: This show's gang of charming baddies could very well turn Smith into a cult hit, but the involved backstories and darkish atmosphere seem likely to hold it back from mainstream breakout success. Liotta is the "Smith" of the title, leading an experienced gang of robbers through their criminal paces, but he actually fades into the background a bit when set opposite the glittering charisma of bad-boy Baker, the wry intelligence of Miller and the sharp-eyed beauty of femmes fatale Smart and Madsen. It's those four who give the series some serious sex appeal--a factor that should come in handy as a counterbalance to the careless violence their characters seem to enjoy.
Bottom Line: Smith might not be Mr. Right, but it could be Mr. Right Now.

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