The New Fall Season: A Yawn and A Few Laughs

2011 FALL TV PREVIEW

Today’s the official start to the new fall season on network television, and while a few shows have already premiered (mostly on The CW), slightly more than two dozen new shows start filling up the prime time slots starting tonight.

After months of development and millions in promotion, it’s surprising how mediocre most of the new stuff is. But if there are fewer absolute winners among the mix, there are also less absolute stinkers as well. Just a general malaise of OK which, networks have proved in the past, are perfectly fine with audiences.

The standouts for me were almost entirely comedies. While there are some awful ones this year, and others that seem so old fashioned they should have been pitched to TV Land, a couple have a bright and sharp outlook, thanks mostly to the strong female voices they bring. That includes not only “New Girl” and the double whammy from Whitney Cummings, “2 Broke Girls” and “Whitney,” but the new baby series “Up All Night.”

It’s almost odd to call “The X Factor” new because its format is already so well known from its British incarnation (and U.S. variants) and its judges panel is pure déjà vu, with Simon Cowell alongside Paula Abdul. But his presence as an honest assessor of talent was sorely missed on “Idol” last season and sheer hype alone (and no screeners) makes it easy to put the show on a hopeful list.

The best shows of the fall will likely be on cable — “Homeland” on Showtime, “Enlightened” on HBO, maybe AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” and “Boss” on Starz. But those come later, after the broadcast hubbub.

As the days go on this week, I’ll post what’s new for each night, as well of summaries of five shows to watch, five to avoid and five trends for the fall.

Here’s the breakdown for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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