The broadcast network season flooded the airwaves with new series this week. Here's a night-by-night look at what hits and what misses:
Sunday: CBS makes a bold move by moving its underappreciated Shark to Sunday night, where it might find some love. It's up against Brothers & Sisters (ABC), another overlooked series that may get some attention now that it has an Emmy win (Sally Field). The dud of the night is Viva Laughlin, the weird "musical" featuring Hugh Jackman. The problem is Jackman appears too infrequently. The other problem is that it's not as cool as it so desperately wants to be. Maybe it was my screener, but it plays like a karaoke version of High School Musical for boomers.
Monday: Two very likable new series air this evening. The first is Chuck (NBC), an hourlong dramedy featuring the charming Zackary Levi as a computer nerd reluctantly turned super spy. Lots of improbable (but way cool) action sequences, thanks to McG, make this series fun to watch. However, much brighter is Aliens in America (CW), a wry comedy about a Pakistani exchange student (Adhir Kalyan) who finds himself in suburban America. Along with the fish out of water elements, there is a lot of fun poked at the U.S. ignorance of other cultures, set against the anxiety-ridden backdrop of high school life. As for dramas, K-Ville (Fox) has potential. It started out of the gate a bit too self-conscious about its setting (post-Katrina New Orleans) but may settle into a groove. And it's good to see Anthony Anderson in a leading role.
Tuesday: The hands down best new comedy of the season is Reaper (CW). Bret Harrison (Grounded for Life) stars as Sam, a 21 year-old underachiever who discovers his parents sold his soul to the Devil. Sam Wise (Twin Peaks) is disarmingly charming as the leader of the fallen angels, but it's Tyler Labine (Invasion) who nearly steals the show as Sam's shlubby wingman, Sock. The wacky premise is so well executed you just want to roll with it. The new drama worth watching is Cane (CBS). Jimmy Smits stars as the leader of a Cuban family and their rum and sugar cane business. Unfortunately, it has strong competition with Boston Legal (ABC) and Law & Order: SVU (NBC). Then again, if you've seen one SVU, haven't you really seen them all?
Wednesday: This night is packed with several high-buzz new series, but what stands above the rest (and my choice for best new drama) is Dirty Sexy Money (ABC). Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) stars as a lawyer who becomes the family lawyer to the über-rich Darling family. What makes this series great is that it stops just short of absurdity while poking fun at the self-absorbed behavior of the blue bloods, while showing Krause's Nick as both tempted and repulsed by the Darling family excess. Dirty Sexy Money anchors an all-new programming lineup for ABC, led in by the humorous (and potentially too precious) Pushing Daisies, about a man who can bring back the dead, and the Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice. I've never been big on cop shows, but Life (NBC) is surprisingly intriguing. It stars Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers) as a detective who returns to work after being wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years.
Thursday: The only new series on this night is the not bad but far from great Big Shots (ABC). With an appealing ensemble that includes Dylan McDermott (The Practice), Michael Vartan (Alias), Joshua Malina (The West Wing), and Christopher Titus (Titus), the series is already in a sweet spot. If only the writing were brighter. Enter Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars), who recently signed on as a consulting producer, and this series might get the kick it currently lacks.
Friday: The one and only good thing about Friday night is Friday Night Lights (NBC). But who watches it on Friday night? My guess is that DVRs across the nation are set to record this swell series, which takes some surprising turns in its second season.
As always, stay tuned.