There's no official holiday to commemorate it, but it's become a fall tradition for TV watchers to sit down and program their DVR with both the new and returning shows they hope to find time to watch. We asked six writers to share three of the shows they'll be recording this season.
Bringing baby to ‘The Office’
I’m both excited and worried about the return of NBC’s “The Office.” (Thursdays, 9 p.m., NBC.) I’m concerned that Pam and Jim’s impending baby will wreck the crazy Dunder-Mifflin adult-focused atmosphere in the way babies have wrecked everything from “Mad About You” to “Roseanne.” But I’m going to trust that the brilliant writers and the cast of other, non-childbearing characters (More Creed! More Andy!) will keep things Scranton-riffic.
Loved Julianna Margulies on “ER,” didn’t care about her on “Canterbury’s Law,” but I’ll give her a shot on “The Good Wife.” (Tuesdays, 10 p.m., CBS.) Margulies plays a cheating politician’s wronged wife who returns to defense attorney work, but knows everyone is gawking at her thanks to hubby’s indiscretions. The pilot is promising, especially if you’ve ever wondered what’s churning inside those silent, steaming wives.
“Goodbye, Chocolate People,” baby Stewie chirps as Cleveland Brown and his son drive away from Quahog, R.I., and Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy.” Cleveland’s heading to “The Cleveland Show” (Sundays, 8:30 p.m., Fox), with a new wife, her kids, and some weird neighbors, including a bear family. (Arianna Huffington provides the bear wife’s voice.) If “Family Guy’s” flashback filled, pop-culture-jammed style appeals to you, you’ll likely say “Cleveland rocks.” —Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Lizard babies live!
I am not too proud to admit that I watched some of the original "V" miniseries on NBC back in the day, and now that it's reemerging on ABC, I will be there to see just how lizard babies can be incorporated into our less forgiving plotline environment. Remaking the lizard-baby show (it's all I remember!) is a commendably audacious project. (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., ABC)
The rise of the DVR and the online episode cache has made me much more likely to watch plot-heavy, continuing dramas. I like a story I don't totally understand, and like a lot of other people, I'd like it if “Flash Forward" turned out to be as perplexing and satisfying as the better parts of "Lost." The implications of getting a glimpse at your future seem promising, as is the creepiness factor of a shared traumatic experience such as a minutes-long blackout. (Thursdays, 8 p.m., ABC)
There is very solid buzz behind “Modern Family,” the ABC family comedy with Ed O'Neill, and I'm on board. Despite an instinctive suspicion of O'Neill based on "Married With Children," I'm open-minded, and I'd love to see ABC produce some good comedies, since they've been focusing so heavily on dramas in recent years. (Wednesdays, 9 p.m., ABC) —Linda Holmes
As someone who watches both “Gossip Girl” and “Greek,” I just can’t resist The CW’s “The Beautiful Life,” (Wednesdays, 9 p.m., CW), which follows the lives of a group of female and male models who all live together in New York. Especially since it features former “O.C.” star Mischa Barton. Please let this mean that chairs will be thrown!
Jason Schwartzman has been one of my favorites since his role in “Rushmore.” In HBO’s new “Bored to Death” (Sundays, 9:30 p.m., HBO), Schwartzman plays a guy who pretends to be a private detective and “Hangover” star Zach Galifianakis is the pal who thinks he’s crazy. If this quirky comedy is half as funny as “Eastbound & Down,” sign me up.
Last season, I fell hard for “Fringe” (Thursdays, 9 p.m., Fox) And, yes, thanks to star Joshua "Dawson's Creek" Jackson, my sister and I still call it “The Pacey Show.” But the real reason I tune in is for John Noble’s Dr. Walter Bishop, one of TV’s most original and fun creations. Anna Torv’s Olivia is even starting to grow on me. —Paige Newman
A TV season filled with ‘Glee’
Please don’t let the chorus of critics praising “High School Musical’s” smarter sibling “Glee” doom this finger-snapping subversive series. Right now I’m feeling like a mom sending her gifted child out to the schoolyard for the first time, fearful of that first negative review. But I’m confident the “Glee” club has the chutzpah to survive. (Wednesdays, 9 p.m., Fox)
Wasn’t sure I’d be into “House” this season after enduring the writers’ unending fascination with all things 13 and that tiresome Cuddy/baby marathon. But a sneak peek at the two-hour season premiere changed my mind. I’ve taken Hugh Laurie for granted lately, turning my fickle eyes elsewhere. But this season, I’ll be House-bound. (Mondays, 9 p.m., Fox)
When I first reviewed “Big Bang Theory” I panned it, saying it would never progress past the stereotypical Cal Tech boys ogling the sexy dumb neighbor. Strike me down with a protractor and bury me in a pocket protector. Nothing makes me laugh like the Bangers — and a full phaser blast-out to Jim Parsons for capturing the quintessential self-involved genius. (Mondays, 9:30 p.m., CBS) —Susan Young
I never miss an episode of "Survivor" (Thursdays, 8 p.m., CBS), which after 18 seasons is as strong as it was nine years ago. The show constantly delivers moments that are worth rewinding, whether during the always-impressive challenges or at Tribal Council.
"So You Think You Can Dance" (Tuesdays 9 p.m., Wednesdays 8 p.m., FOX) is the best talent competition on TV in large part because it lacks the interpersonal sniping that generates headlines on "American Idol." Its first-ever fall season will hopefully give "SYTYCD" the exposure it deserves for its amazingly choreographed dances and skilled contestants.
I'll also record ABC's new "Cougar Town" (Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m., ABC), which is better than its title and jokes about its main character (Courteney Cox) hitting on younger men. Instead, the single-camera comedy works because its conflict comes from a woman trying to balance being both a sexual woman in her 40s and a single mom to a teenage son. —Andy Dehnart
The great thing about “Dancing with the Stars” is how seriously all of the C-list celebrities take it. It might start off as a lark, but it doesn’t take long before the competitive instincts take over. Will UFC legend Chuck Liddell threaten violence if the judges slam him? Can Michael Irvin match the performance of ex-teammate Emmitt Smith? And more importantly, how bad is Tom DeLay going to be? (Mondays, 8 p.m., and Tuesdays, 9 p.m., ABC)
“Community” is one of those comedy ideas that’s so obvious it’s amazing nobody has thought of it before. The mix of people at a community college makes a great canvas for comedy, and NBC has pulled out all the stops to get people to tune in. Plus, it’s a chance to see Chevy Chase in a supporting role and “The Hangover’s” Ken Jeong with his clothes on.
As the father of two small children, I’m most excited about not having to use the TiVo to watch "The Jay Leno Show” on NBC. The move to prime time (10 p.m. ET) is a perfect fit for his low-risk jokes that won’t offend the stray schoolchild staying up late, and if the premiere is any indication, he’ll still be culturally relevant in his new time slot. But mostly, it’ll be interesting to record both his show and Conan’s and track who gets the better guests. —Craig Berman