Fall officially started on Monday, but don’t tell anyone over at Fox or the CW. The two networks have been touting their new fall shows in subway posters and magazine ads since Labor Day, and premiered their new big dramas—Fringe (Fox, Tuesday, 9 p.m.) and the new 90210 (the CW, Tuesday, 8 p.m.)—weeks ago. Lucky for us, the networks have a few other things to try out.
CBS isn’t the first network that comes to mind when we think of sitcoms. With their laugh tracks and old-school plotting, Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory feel about as fresh as The Dick Van Dyke Show. But How I Met Your Mother (Monday, 8:30 p.m.)—an ensemble comedy about a group of Manhattan friends and their relationship foibles—is a real gem, canned laughter and all. Here’s hoping CBS can duplicate that kind of comedic success with Worst Week (Monday, 9:30 p.m.). Based on a BBC comedy, Worst Week centers on newly engaged and soon-to-be dad Sam Briggs (Kyle Bornheimer), who constantly runs into problems when he’ s around his fiancée’s parents (Kurtwood Smith and Nancy Lenehan). Mr. Smith, who perfected the grumpy dad role on That 70s Show, should be able to grouchily charm audiences all over again. Or, us, at least!
Worst Week isn’t the only import this fall. NBC, having already had success with its remake of The Office, went to Australia for their next potential hit: Kath & Kim (Thursday, Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m.). The Americanized version stars Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live) and Selma Blair (Hellboy 2: The Golden Army) as a mother and daughter who are forced to live together after the daughter breaks up with her husband. Fun fact about Ms. Blair and Ms. Shannon: despite playing mother and daughter on the show, they are actually only eight years apart. And honestly, you can kind of tell.
There’s also Life on Mars (ABC, Thursday, Oct. 9, 10 p.m.), a remake of the BBC show of the same name. The premise is intriguing enough—a New York City cop is hit by a car while chasing a bad guy and magically transported back to 1973—but it’s the cast that’s truly impressive: Harvey Keitel, Gretchen Mol, Lisa Bonet and Michael Imperioli. David E. Kelley was the original executive producer, but after some bad reactions to his pilot, he was replaced by the guys behind October Road (and this is not a good sign).
Tired of imports? We are! Try some House rip-offs instead. CBS is lucky to have two. On The Mentalist (CBS, Tuesday, 9 p.m.), British actor Simon Baker (The Guardian) plays a cranky American psychic who helps a forensics team solve crimes, all the while putting them down with snide comments. Meanwhile, on Eleventh Hour (CBS, Thursday, Oct. 9, 10 p.m.), British actor Rufus Sewell plays an American biophysicist who works with the government to investigate bizarre occurrences. Somewhere Hugh Laurie is scowling.
And then there’s Knight Rider (NBC, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.). Remember David Hasselhoff and KITT (voiced by William Daniels), and their weekly transportation-related adventures? The new version doesn’t look to be nearly as fun (but also, it’s not the ’80s), despite the presence of a souped-up, transforming car. Val Kilmer takes on the voice of KITT. And while we love Iceman, he’s got nothing on Benjamin Braddock’s dad.