Let's get this out of the way first. There are times of the year TV lovers crave -- those weeks in May when shows finale; the hour after the Super Bowl, to see if the lucky series that scored the plum spot is a goody; awards shows that honor television, like last night's Emmys or the Golden Globes. Ahhh, good times.
For me, however, this week is the week -- when almost everything we've been waiting for is finally back. "Grey's Anatomy." "CSI." "Fringe." "The Good Wife." "Dancing With the Stars." "Criminal Minds." "Castle." "The Big Bang Theory." "Modern Family." "Hawaii Five-0." "Once Upon a Time." "New Girl." And those are just the ones I watch. That's right, partly because I love television, mostly because I have no life, I watch all the shows I just mentioned, and that's on top of the new ones and the shows that don't return until October (I'm looking at you, "Raising Hope," "The Walking Dead," "Happy Endings," "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" and "Nikita"). Sigh. I just re-read all those shows and ... wow, I truly am a loser.
Anyway, two returning comedies that I have been anxiously awaiting are "New Girl" and "Raising Hope" (which premieres Tuesday, Oct. 2), and not because they ended with crazy cliffhangers. It's merely for their awesomeness. But what better way to celebrate two of television's best and brightest comedies than by teaming them with two of television's best and brightest newbies: "The Mindy Project" and "Ben And Kate."
Really, whoever's idea it was to make Fox's Tuesday night a full-on funny one -- as well as bumping "Glee" to Thursdays (where it totally fits in with "The X Factor") -- definitely made the right decision.
I've already written about my love for the Mindys (Kaling and her character, Lahiri), so now it's Ben and Kate's turn to get some love. Nat Faxon (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Seth Meyers) and Dakota Johnson (who looks and sounds like Renee Zellweger), play titular siblings Ben and Kate Fox. Ben's a goofy slacker who constantly upends the life of his straight-laced sister Kate whenever he unexpectedly drops in. But all that changes by the end of the premiere when SPOILER ALERT! (but not really) Ben decides to move in and help Kate raise her five-year-old daughter, Maddie (Maggie Jones).
The concept is loosely based on the experiences of creator Dana Fox and it's probably just a coincidence that she landed on the network of the same name, though it makes total and complete sense. Her tone is an ideal fit with Fox's other comedies, making it hands-down the strongest comedy block on television. Not since "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place" has the network boasted such a strong 120 minutes of sheer entertainment.
And in Canada, Citytv is no fool -- it followed in Fox's footsteps and picked up the two new shows (and caps off its Tuesdays with "Private Practice"). "Ben and Kate" might not be all knee-slapping and wocka-wocka, but you will definitely laugh out loud (the high-fives and cookie jar scenes were my favorite chuckle-worthy moments). I promise.
After a hilarious stint on HBO's "Girls" (which he'll also return to for Season 2), we're thrilled that Rannells ended his Tony-nominated run starring in "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway to play one-half of Ryan Murphy's new comedic leading gay couple on "The New Normal." His scene-stealing skills are still very much intact -- he goes head-to-head with co-stars NeNe Leakes and Ellen Barkin and still manages to get the last laugh.
Yes, "Nashville's" big draw is the rivalry between Connie Britton's one-time queen of country music and Hayden Panettiere's up-and-coming starlet; but the real gem here is Bowen's Scarlett O'Connor, a sweet girl with an even sweeter singing voice. This Australian native might not be a big name in the States just yet, but it's only a matter of time.
British actor Weeks plays Jeremy Reed, the devilish doctor who tempts Mindy Kaling's title character to the dark side on "The Mindy Project." This is his first US TV role, and we're already expecting great things.
We only caught a glimpse of katana-wielding Michonne in the "Walking Dead" Season 2 finale, but it was enough to get fans excited for more. As our survivors seek shelter in the prison and meet The Governor (David Morrissey), they're gonna need someone who knows how to wrangle up zombies right, and Michonne's their girl.
Now that Puck (Mark Salling) has graduated from McKinley, there's a new generation of Puckerman in town -- Artist is signed on to play Jake, Noah Puckerman's half-brother, in Season 4. If he's even half as talented, sweet and prone to causing trouble, we'll happily have a slushie or two waiting in the wings with his name on it.
Benanti was a bright spot in NBC's drama flop "The Playboy Club" last season, but while the Broadway vet got to sing and shake her tail feather (literally), we didn't get to see her show off her comedy chops there or on her "Law & Order: SVU" stint. Now playing opposite Matthew Perry, there's great comedic potential and some sexual tension to mine.
Evans, a male model (and current <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/08/tyra-banks-robert-evans_n_1580287.html" target="_hplink">Mr. Tyra Banks</a>), is stepping into some pretty big shoes <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/americas-next-top-model-n_n_1524091.html" target="_hplink">to judge "ANTM" this season</a>, and we have high hopes that he can pull it off. He's got the looks to keep us watching and the pedigree to critique this cycle's contestants ... we'll still miss Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander, but this is a nice refresh.
Montgomery made the final season reboot of Fox's "Human Target" bearable, popped up on "Entourage" and even danced around the company in "Black Swan," but this starring role is her true US TV breakout, and her convincing Jersey accent and go-get-'em attitude will make you forget she's actually a Brit.
There aren't many Oscar winners that could come to TV without fanfare ... but that's the case with Faxon, who brings all his funny sidekick experience up a notch to take on one of the lead roles (he's Ben) in this quirky family comedy. He's been around for a while, is a Groundlings member and, yes, even took home an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for George Clooney's "The Descendants" last year, which he co-wrote with director Alexander Payne and his writing partner Jim Rash, a.k.a. "Community's" Dean Pelton. TV is lucky to have him.
Spiridakos has done TV guest spots here and there (including a stint on Syfy's "Being Human" last season), but this is the show that should make her a star. "Revolution" has its issues, for sure, but even surrounded by more established stars, Spiridakos shines playing an emotional <em>and</em> gun-toting badass.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/greys-anatomy-camilla-luddington_n_1687544.html" target="_hplink">Camilla Luddington is on call at Seattle Grace Mercy West hospital</a>. The "Californication" and "True Blood" alum will don scrubs on "Grey's Anatomy" this fall to play a (sexy) new doc, with the option to sign on as a series regular next season. Start placing bets now about who she'll hook up with first!
Amell's most memorable TV role to date might be as Jason, the rival male prostitute on the last season of HBO's "Hung," but his new superpowers really suit him. As Oliver Queen, aka The Green Arrow, Amell has some big leather hoodies to slip into ... but we guarantee no one will complain about the way he fills them out.
Swedish-born Masöhn was a bright spot on Fox's ill-fated "Bones" spinoff "The Finder" -- and she's got quite the sense of humor -- but we're loving her in this darker role as one of the residents of a very haunted building. Cast alongside Terry O'Quinn, Vanessa Williams, Dave Annable and Rachael Taylor, she still manages to stand out as a Park Ave. resident to watch.
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