09/04/2012 11:24 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2012

Fall TV 2012: 10 Shows You Can't Miss

Hi there, my name is Denette Wilford and I like fluffy TV. No, not trashy, guilty pleasure stuff (OK, well, not always), and not super-important, super-serious fare that gives me a knot in my stomach for an entire hour for its entire season. Rather, I like my shows to be a fun and light escape, occasionally suspenseful, often action-packed but, most importantly, entertaining. Oh, and a heads-up, I also tend to gravitate towards shows that have me reaching for Kleenex during its heart-wrenching moments (ahem, "Friday Night Lights," "Parenthood").

While I've been a TV critic for a few years now and I have watched just about every show at least once, my taste in TV hasn't changed. I'm still an avid viewer, loyal to the major networks. So if you're like me, just an average person who loves TV, then you might want to check out what shows I'll be watching this season.

New Must-See Shows

"The Mindy Project"
Debuts: Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET on Citytv/Fox
"The Mindy Project" is the kind of show where Barbies talk, women make fun of kids and Bill Hader is the hottie the lead wants to marry. So, not typical. Nor is the lead. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) may be attractive, charming, hilarious, great at her job, and has amazing friends, but her obsession with rom-coms (presumably more than the average OB-GYN) and crappy taste in men makes her someone we can all identify and sympathize with. Kaling (writer, producer, co-star of "The Office") is delivering the comedy that everyone should be watching this season. "The Mindy Project" is as self-deprecating as her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and I don't think there's a woman -- or man, even -- around who can't relate to this frank and funny sitcom.

Why you should watch: It will make you laugh out loud. A lot. And that's all you can ask for in a comedy, right? Plus, it's teamed with "New Girl," making it arguably the most hilarious one-two punch this fall ("Happy Endings" and "Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23" comes in at a close second). And aside from Mindy, the series boasts one of my favourite new characters of the season: Danny Castellano. Trust me. You'll love him.

Debuts: Monday, Sept. 17 at 10 p.m. ET on Citytv/NBC
What would I do without the laptop I'm furiously typing on, a television to watch these shows on, my iPod to listen to my favourite songs (I'm going through an '80s phase right now), my iPad to play Words With Friends on, and my BlackBerry to check my emails and BBM friends with? Well, that's what happens in "Revolution," when all the electricity in the world shuts down and everyone is thrown into the Dark Ages 2.0. It relies heavily on flash-forward elements -- which may or may not be your thing -- but I dig the concept because a straightforward tell right from the beginning when the power shuts off would've been too tedious.

Why you should watch: It comes from J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Fringe") and Erik Kripke ("Supernatural"), both of whom have the chops to make "Revolution" a fun ride. And unlike what I thought before I watched the first episode, "Revolution" has the makings of being like "Lost," not "Flash Forward."

Debuts: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV Two/ABC
Even having not seen 2010's "Country Strong," I knew when I saw the previews for "Nashville," it was basically a rip-off of the 2010 movie about an aging country star and a hot, young up-and-comer, with Connie Britton in Gwyneth Paltrow's role and Hayden Panettiere in Leighton Meester's. But that's OK. Britton is fabulous as Rayna Jaymes, a legend who refuses to believe her time is up, while Panettiere is perfection as Juliette Barnes, an ambitious, entitled, sluttier Taylor Swift with a secret. Throw in the rest of the characters -- those in the industry, those trying to make it in the industry, and Rayna and Juliette's families -- and what we're left with is a gripping, well-rounded drama.

Why you should watch: While there's more to the show than the women's rivalry, it still is the main reason to watch. They may share the same twang, but Rayna is no Tami Taylor, and Panettiere is perfect as the bad girl (you'll immediately forget "Save the cheerleader, save the world") who you just know we'll feel sorry for in the coming weeks, even though I want to keep hating her. Oh, and country music may not be your thing, but the songs are sweet. "Glee" and "Smash," watch out.

"The New Normal"
Debuts: Monday, Sept. 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET on CTV/NBC
It's simple -- if a show makes me laugh, out loud, more than twice, it has me. (And why, sadly, "Partners" did -- and will -- not.) "The New Normal" is the latest from Ryan Murphy (who continues to wow me with "Glee" and freak my freak with "American Horror Story"), and sets out to show that couples of all colours, sizes and sexes want to have families, too. The premiere manages to be both sweet and mean, thanks to Goldie Clemmons (Georgia King), who may be the nicest woman (with a backbone) on television, and her grandmother, Jane Forrest a.k.a. Nana (Ellen Barkin) , who makes Sue Sylvester seem caring and compassionate.

Why you should watch: Nana's one of my new favourites of the season (can she, Danny Castellano and "New Girl'"s Nick Miller please hang out?), but I love the adorable, relatable, believable wannabe dads, Bryan and David. Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha are perfection and I want to hang out with them. Well, go shopping with Bryan and watch the Super Bowl with David.

Debuts: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV Two/The CW
I used to watch "Passions," so when Justin Hartley joined "Smallville" as billionaire Oliver Queen/Arrow, I was pleased as spiked punch. So I was a little biased against Canadian Stephen Amell right off the bat for stealing a role I felt was already perfectly played by the former soap actor. But all those bitter feelings quickly went away after watching Amell kill it. Er, Justin who? (Though he may have gotten a better offer, co-starring on another CW show, "Emily Owens, M.D.") The pilot may be one of the best (it's visually stunning, and its sheer entertainment factor and action scenes will have you gripped and on the edge of your seat), and shouldn't be shrugged off as just another comic book series. Oliver/Arrow is a man trying to fix his corrupt city with his slick bow-and-arrow prowess, a hood and some raccoon-like makeup. Sounds cheesy, but it's not. Not only can he physically beat the baddies to a pulp, but his archery and parkour skills would make Katniss Everdeen and "New Girl'"s Schmidt jealous with rage.

Why you should watch: Not only is Amell hot (like, haaaaawwwwwt), he has the acting chops to back it up. Plus, there's something very Bruce Wayne about Oliver Queen -- always a good thing. And the series comes from Greg Berlanti ("Political Animals," "Everwood"), David Nutter ("The X Files") and Andrew Kreisberg ("Warehouse 13"), three savvy dudes in the industry.

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Returning Must-See Shows

"Grey's Anatomy"
Returns: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV/ABC
Holy. Crap. Was everyone else alternating between crying ad screaming at their televisions during the season finale? I know some people think the Shonda Rhimes show is tired but not me. The only time I questioned the hospital drama was during that Denny Duquette ghost period. Ugh. I wish those episodes were forever gone from my brain. But forget about that. Last we saw them, the doctors were moving on, most to different hospitals. Then -- bam! There was the plane crash that killed Lexie (Chyler Leigh). Whammo! Owen (Kevin McKidd) fired Teddy (Kim Raver) and let April (Sarah Drew) go after she failed her boards. Gah! Raver's officially gone, as is Leigh, of course. Eric Dane (Sloan) has also opted not to return, and since the new season picks up a couple of months after the survivors were rescued, I wouldn't be surprised if McSteamy dies of a broken heart. (In fact, I kind of hope for a "Notebook"-like ending since Lexie and Mark never got their happily ever after.) But just because they're three docs down doesn't mean more focus will be paid to the core cast. Multiple actors have signed on to the show -- including Tina Majorino ("Veronica Mars," "True Blood") and Gaius Charles ("Friday Night Lights") -- so the halls of Seattle Grace Mercy West will still be overpacked. And I'll still love every second of it.

Returns: Sunday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m. ET on CBC
I think everyone groaned when Amy (Amber Marshall) found her engagement ring in Ty's (Graham Wardle) bag. For fans who have been rooting for the couple for years, it was a letdown, and where we pick up isn't exactly romance and rose petals. I won't give anything away, but let's just say there is still some suspense to be had as far as Amy and Ty's future, and also with new character Georgie (Alisha Newton). A young newbie is exactly what "Heartland" needs to keep the family drama fresh and strong and keep the CBC sniffing elsewhere come budget-cut-and-cancellation time.

"The Good Wife"
Returns: Sunday, Sept. 30, 9 p.m. ET on CBS and 10 p.m. ET on Global
"The Good Wife" is returning after a couple of lows over the summer. Executive producer Tony Scott committed suicide last month, and before that, guest star Kristin Chenoweth was badly injured on-set and had to leave the role (her "GCB" co-star Miriam Shor replaced her). But on a lighter note, look out for Maura Tierney, Amanda Peet and Annabella Sciorra to join the cast, as well as Matthew Perry to return as evil Mike Kresteva. As far as story goes, I love how Cary (Matt Czuchry) is back at Lockhart Gardner, love that Peter (Chris Noth) confirmed that he would be running for governor, and love that Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) are kinda/sorta becoming friends again. But it was the ending that rocked, as Kalinda sat in front of her apartment door with a loaded gun, waiting for her husband (!!) to show up. Just when I think "The Good Wife" is at its awesome capacity, it unloads more complex drama on us to feast our eyes on.

Returns: Monday, Sept. 24 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV/ABC
They kissed, they finally kissed!!!! Squeeeeeeeee! It's uncertain whether Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) will go public with their relationship (if there is a relationship when season five starts -- though there better be, grrrrr), and I'm also assuming Kate gets her badge back after resigning in the finale. I'm hoping she and Castle -- as well as Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Ryan (Seamus Devers) -- finally solve Beckett's mother's murder, and the sooner, the better (November sweeps, maybe?). I also hope that the Canadian-led series doesn't get boring now that Castle and Beckett are finally together. Pfft, who am I kidding, they finally kissed! If anything, there's even more material for Castle and Beckett to work with.

"The Walking Dead"
Returns: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC
A season without Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Shane (Jon Bernthal) sounds ideal for some, but I suppose they couldn't all survive. I just don't get why it couldn't have been T-Dog (IronE Singleton), who, presumably, no one really cares about. But I guess that's the point. The season ended with all the remaining survivors fleeing Hershel's (Scott Wilson) farm, and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finally taking a stand against the group. Andrea (Laurie Holden) is presumed dead by the others, but she may be part of the most interesting part of the third season -- being saved by mystery woman Michonne (Danai Gurira) and her leashed, armless bodyguards/pets. Also joining the cast are David Morrissey as The Governor, as well as one of my favourites, Dallas Roberts ("Rubicon," "The Good Wife"), as Milton. Oh, and we'll be seeing Merle (Michael Rooker) again. Ugh. The Governor, who heads up the much-hyped Prison, will add a whole new layer of creepy terror. You know, because the blood, guts, growling walkers and slow-moving conflict isn't enough.

Where We Left Off And What's Ahead For Your Favorite Shows