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New TV season is a blast from the past

John Russo / NBC / Today
"The Playboy Club" stars Eddie Cibrian, third from left, as attorney Nick Dalton, a bachelor who rubs elbows with Chicago's power players.

This fall, television is trying to recapture vintage lightning in a bottle.

From the go-go '60s to the post-Civil War era and even the Cretaceous period, what’s old is new again on the tube. Nostalgia is still a factor -- “Charlie’s Angels” is back (Sept. 22 on ABC), whether we wanted it or not. But TV creators apparently find revisiting the past much more exciting than the present day.

It’s taken a bit longer than we probably expected, but the success of AMC's “Mad Men” has finally made its way to network TV. The early 1960s will be the showcase of not one but two new series.

“Pan Am” on ABC (debuts Sept. 25) circles a group of stewardesses (c’mon, it was the '60s; that’s what they were called back then!). The show is set during a time when air travel wasn’t a nerve-wracking series of security checks, delays and $8 blankets. Star Christina Ricci looks right at home in the nifty Pan Am uniforms.

On “The Playboy Club” on NBC (debuts Sept. 19), Eddie Cibrian is playing a Don Draper-esque attorney with all sorts of secrets. He hangs out at the legendary Chicago pleasure dome, along with mobsters, politicians and numerous Bunnies.

On another note, are we about to hit pre-Summer of Love '60s overload? I’m as big a fan of “Bewitched” and skinny ties as the next guy, but at this point, what’s left for TV to say about this period in history?

“Mad Men’s” home network, AMC is bringing Western back with “Hell on Wheels” (debuts Nov. 6). The ambitious series is set in the 1860s, during the building of the transcontinental railroad. The title refers to the "anything goes" towns that moved with the construction. Judging from the press releases -- Indian ambushes, Civil War revenge plots – the show will try to live up to its tough name.

Want a real blast from the past? FOX’S “Terra Nova” (debuts Sept. 26) is set 85 million years ago. The show's calling card will be the dinosaurs chasing around the humans who relocated to the Land of the Lost to try and save Earth.

Part of the show actually takes place in the future, the year 2149, to be exact. Which gives new meaning to the phrase, "back to the future," doesn’t it?

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