Autumn has always been my favorite season. In late August, when others are lamenting the end of summer, Im always looking forward to cooler weather and changing leaves. Spring is natures season of renewal and rebirth, but culturally, autumn signals a return to normal.
As a child, I loved lining up my new school supplies, imagining what I might draw with the fresh box of crayons or write on the blank sheets of paper. These days, I still look forward to the autumn leaves and crisp air, even if I dread turning on the heat and the huge gas bills that will follow. But I also look forward to checking out the new TV shows and catching up with old favorites.
The wait didnt seem too long this summer, thanks to Fox kicking off its fall season in August (so viewers wouldnt have to wait until after the World Series for their fall season). When you think about it, Prison Break fans waited four months for the second half of the first season, but only three months between actual seasons.
TV critics are already saying this season will be a busy one for TiVos and VCRs across the country. An influx of solid new shows is only half the equation. Scheduling changes are going to make viewing decisions difficult for some of us.
Last year, my biggest conundrum was that Lost and Veronica Mars aired opposite one another. Now that the new CW is moving Veronica to Tuesdays at 8 Central (smartly pairing it with Gilmore Girls, which airs at 7), the dilemma will be: Veronica or House? I think Veronica is the smarter showbig medical words asideso if Im not able to watch one and record the other, Ill skip House. The upside is Fox actually repeats House, so I should be able to catch up without resorting to Internet downloads or streaming video.
Making Tuesday nights viewing decision even harder is that two of ABCs most promising new comedies, Knights of Prosperity (previously known as Lets Rob .) and Ted Dansons Help me Help You also share House and Veronicas timeslot. Decisions, decisions .
Im glad NBC re-thought putting 30 RockTina Feys new single-camera comedy (a show Ive been curious about since hearing a pilot was in the works)against Lost on Wednesday nights. Theyve moved 30 Rock from 8:30 to 7:30 Central, where it will instead compete with the results portion of another one of ABCs top performers, Dancing With the Stars.
30 Rock is just one of two behind the scenes of a late-night comedy show series debuting on NBC this fall. Who isnt interested in comparing Feys half-hour take with Aaron Sorkins hour-long dramedy Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? (Youve got to love the fact that the addresses in the titles of both shows also reflect their running time.) Can both succeed? Or will one outshine the other, and if so, which will come out on top?
30 Rock has tough competition, but Studio 60which was originally slated to air opposite Greys Anatomys new Thursday night timeslot (itself going against aging favorite, CSI)has a somewhat cushier 9 Central Monday night slot. Perhaps that will make a difference.
As with every year, some shows will disappear after just a couple of airings. The fun part is seeing which ones become hits.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.
From the Sept. 6-12, 2006, issue