Fall TV Preview: Wednesdays



The Fall TV Season of Our Discontent continues on hump night, with none of the new shows especially standing out. It’s a night mostly for the returning “Survivor” or “Modern Famiy.”


“Undercovers”  (NBC, 8 p.m., starts Sept. 22). The brand of J.J. Abrams used to mean something. But its brand will be tarnished by this bland series about husband and wife former CIA operatives who have retired and are running a catering business for some reason. They’re called back into action and some “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” capers ensue. It’s good to have a series with newcomers as good as Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe but there’s not much going on here.

“Better With You” (ABC, 8:30 p.m., Sept. 22), likewise, is a variation on that contemporary sitcom – the various couples representing varions stages of the union, new, married and long married. It brings back a lot of familiar faces from past canceled series, including Josh Cook, Jennifer Finnigan, JoAna Garcia, Kurt Fuller and Debra Jo Rupp. But you get a feeling they’re all just between gigs.

“Hellcats” (The CW, 9 p.m., started Sept. 9). The college cheerleading story that plays like a weekly “Bring It On” has a feel as if it should have been on ABC Family instead. Aly Michalka (half of the sister recording duo Aly & AJ) is ok in the lead, as is Ashley Tisdale as a rival. But can cheerleading capture imagination week after week?

“The Whole Truth” (ABC, 10 p.m., Sept. 22) is one of a handful of new courtroom dramas this year, reacting either from the demise of “Boston Legal” or last season’s success of “The Good Wife.” This one stars Rob Morrow as a defense attorney opposite prosecutor Maura Tierney (replacing Joley Richardson, who was in the first version of the pilot). Cases are meant to be seen from both sides in this Jerry Bruckheimer production, and sometimes both are wrong, as the episode ending scenes show. But the sex seems a little forced and the action, as in most procedurals, is unrealistically fast.

“The Defenders” (CBS, 10 p.m., Sept. 22) suffers from some of the same sins of court procedurals. This one is based on on a couple of real life Las Vegas defense attorneys about whom a docu-series was being developed until another network thought a scripted approach was better. This way, you can star Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi as the leads. Their mugging around doesn’t constitute a light touch.

“Law & Order: Los Angeles” (NBC, 10 p.m., Sept. 29) was not sent out for review, so your guess is as good as mine. I have a pretty good idea how the format will work, though. In this version, replacing the mothership “Law & Order” which won’t be coming back this year,  it stars Skeet Ulrich, Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina.


“The Middle” (ABC, 8 p.m., Sept. 22,), “Survivor: Nicaragua” (CBS, 8 p.m., Sept. 15), “Lie to Me” (Fox, 8 p.m., Nov. 10), “America’s Next Top Model” (The CW, 8 p.m., started Sept. 8), “Modern Family” (ABC, 9 p.m., Sept. 22), “Criminal Minds,” (CBS, 9 p.m., Sept. 22), “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox, 9 p.m., Sept. 22) and “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC, 9 p.m., Sept. 22).

Here’s the outlook for Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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