Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Scott Garfield/NBC

The Class
CBS: Mondays, 8-8:30 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 18
Starring: Andrea Anders, Lizzy Caplan, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Heather Goldenhersh, Sean Maguire, Lucy Punch, Jason Ritter
Review: The Class, billed as a good old-fashioned half-hour comedy, seems to be more of a dramedy or a tragi-comedy than anything. The pilot alone features an attempted suicide, a serious car accident, the abandonment of one relationship and adultery in another. But believe it or not, it actually is funny! The basic premise of this show--from Friends producer David Crane--is to ask and answer how it is that sweet, hopeful third graders evolve into clumsy, confused, screw-up adults, and, thanks to the cast, it zings. Caplan as goth girl Kat is dead-on with her comic timing, and Ritter as preppie Ethan, Goldenhersh as daffy Lina and Ferguson as morose Richie are highly entertaining as well. Sympathetic and sincere in tone, this old-school sitcom (a laugh track--how quaint!) could very well become a new comedy favorite.
Bottom Line: Your new Friends?

Heroes
NBC: Mondays, 9-10 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 25
Starring: Santiago Cabrera, Tawny Cypress, Noah Gray-Cabey, Greg Grunberg, Ali Larter, Masi Oka, Hayden Panettiere, Adrian Pasdar, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Leonard Roberts, Milo Ventimiglia
Review: The basic premise of Heroes is frankly irresistible. Regular joes discover they've developed superpowers that just so happen to also be metaphors for their lives. Teenagers think they're indestructible, so the teenager really is indestructible. Artists see things that never were and paint visions of the future--literally. Ambitious young men aim high, only to discover they actually can fly. The first episode of this show is essentially issue one of a new comic book, and over the course of what will inevitably be an epic graphic novel, our heroes will unwrap their gifts, discover allies and enemies, and eventually (if all goes according to plan) join forces to save the world! Good times. The plotting is suspenseful and intricate, the characters are perfect, and the overall prospects for this show are totally super.
Bottom Line: They'll be your heroes.

Vanished
Fox: Mondays, 9-10 p.m.
Premiere: Aug. 21
Starring: John Patrick Amedori, Rebecca Gayheart, Gale Harold, Joanne Kelly, Margarita Levieva, Ming-Na, John Allen Nelson
Review: Why did Sara Collins place an urgent phone call to her parents just hours before she went missing when all seemed so happy at home? Why did she secretly meet with her husband's ex-wife just a few days before, and why was another missing persons report filed on her 12 years earlier?! If you've been watching Vanished, you know that these are merely a few of the burning questions introduced in the first episode that threaten to drive us nuts for the rest of the season! When the wife of a Georgia senator disappears, a convoluted and somewhat crazy plot starts to unravel, as her secrets are uncovered with the help of two FBI agents and an ambitious reporter. While the story seems to get more unbelievable with each scene, it's not difficult to get sucked in. However, it's unlikely Vanished will be able to hold an audience if they plan to leave us hanging all year long.
Bottom Line: There's better stuff to watch.

Runaway
The CW: Mondays, 9-10 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 25
Starring: Susan Floyd, Nathan Gamble, Leslie Hope,  Karen LeBlanc, Dustin Milligan, Sarah Ramos, Donnie Wahlberg
Review: What could be more suspenseful than Wentworth Miller on the run? How about Donnie Wahlberg on the run with three small children?! No? Not buying it? Okay, well, we'll admit that Runaway doesn't quite have the same heart-pounding suspense and hair-raising twists of that other Fugitive-esque show this season over on Fox, but it's still pretty dang entertaining. Wahlberg stars as Paul, a man who has jumped bail, because he was falsely accused of murdering his associate/lover, and is on the run with his formerly estranged wife (Jack Bauer's formerly deceased wife, Hope) and their three kids. What the children don't know is the true reason their parents decided to leave: The real killer threatened to murder their children. The twists and drama should keep you watching.
Bottom Line: The CW could have their first new Runaway hit.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
NBC: Mondays, 10-11 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 18
Starring: Timothy Busfield, Nathan Corddry, Evan Handler, D.L.Hughley, Carlos Jacott, Sarah Paulson, Amanda Peet, Matthew Perry, Steven Weber, Bradley Whitford
Review: Studio 60 is a strong contender for the best new show of the season, but what else would you expect from some of the sharpest pros currently working in the TV business? The most important thing to know about Studio 60 is that it's trademark Aaron Sorkin, and his exceptional intelligence, humor and virtuoso verbosity are present, accounted for and altogether welcome at Studio 60. The superb cast is perfectly paired with the serio-comic material–-and, most importantly, you'll find yourself realizing how much you missed Matthew Perry and how glad you are that Bradley Whitford didn't quit TV to stay home with the wife and kiddies. Set your season passes now, people, this is the return of Must-See TV.
Bottom Line: Studio 60 is top-drawer television.

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