5 Best Picks for Returning Fall Shows

by Paul William Tenny

Here are my top 5 picks for returning fall shows that must be seen.

heroes.jpg#1 Heroes
Though I doubt the second season premier will see the kinds of numbers that Lost did, the sophomore kickoff should be one well worth checking out even if you're not a fan of the show. If you haven't seen it before, that is even more incentive to check this one out. The cast has expanded, the DVD box set is out, volume one is in the books we're just five days and change away from kicking off premier week with a bang. I am most looking forward to this, even more than some of the new fall shows.

Heroes premiers September 24th at 9PM EDT on NBC.

#2 House
Although the supposed shakeup of Doctor House's team will have a lasting impact on what happens, don't be surprised if those characters show up from time-to-time. All three actors are signed through 2008 and you don't sign talent like that just to keep them off screen. Let's also remember that this is House M.D., not House's Team of Misfits. This is currently Fox's hottest drama, second on the network only to American Idol.
House returns September 25th at 9PM EDT on FOX.

lost.jpg#3 Lost
It lost its way in the third season, for a short time falling in the ratings to 10-11 million overall, down from the high water mark of 23+ million that tuned in to watch the second season premier. Although many people say they found their mojo near the end, we already know that Lost has fallen out of favor at ABC. A time frame has been set for the series cancellation sometime between 2009-2010. The fourth season will be a limited run of just 16 new episodes (8 less than normal) and will air without interruption for the first time, in much the same way that Fox's 24 does. The fifth and six seasons are planned to be produced the same way, meaning that for three "seasons", Lost will only actually produce the equivalent to two full seasons worth of episodes in a three year span.

Lost will not return to the air this fall, but in February of 2009.

stargate-atlantis.jpg#4 Stargate Atlantis
While this will probably be the most dismissed pick, Atlantis will benefit hugely from no longer having its creative talent divided between two shows of the same theme. Stargate SG-1 was canceled after running a record-setting 10 seasons. Atlantis will experience a number of additions and sustain a few loses to the cast right off the bat, with Amanda Tapping signing up as a regular to replace Torri Higgins, who may or may not return as a guest star.

Despite SG-1 doing some really great things during its final season, Atlantis has consistently been more fun and and loose, due in no small part to not being tied down by ten years of its own history to live up to. With the best talent from both shows coming back together, I only expect Atlantis to get better.

This will be Battlestar Galactica's final season, which will temporarily leave Atlantis and Eureka as the Scifi channel's only big originals. Once again, after BSG goes off the air, Atlantis will benefit from a larger audience. I suggest you give this one a try if you're looking for some fun science fiction without all the depressing, drawn out confusing drama you'd get from a Lost or a Heroes.

Stargate Atlantis drifts through a galaxy near you on September 28th at 10PM EDT on Scifi.

friday-night-lights.jpg#5 Friday Night Lights
I know a lot of people will be loving me from including FNL on the list, and cursing me in the same breath for not ranking it higher. They can all relax, because the ranking of the list is significant only in my personal opinion. Sort them any way you want, I still recommend these shows.

I've never even seen FNL but I'm considering adding it to my list. I don't like highschool football and I'm not a fan of religious/heartland dramas because of the complete hypocrisy of "good little towns" that often turn out to be filled with hateful bigots that are only nice and good when you're white and religious, just like them.

That said, good, intelligent people rave about the quality of FNL, so I'm adding it to the list and taking my own advice. FNL just barely made it to a second season (same for 30 Rock) because of disappointing ratings, but both shows were given another chance which fans really need to take advantage of. Just watching yourself isn't enough anymore, if your favorite show is in danger, the best thing you could do and the thing you really need to do is get other people to watch it. Co-workers, friends, family, ask them to give it a chance.

Then buy it on DVD -- that helps tremendously when the studio that produces it is selling the show to a sister-company network. I don't know if that is the case with FNL, but it never hurts to send a little money back to the people who make the shows you love, anyway.

Friday Night Lights bows on October 5th on NBC.

There are a lot of shows I could have put on this list that I'm keeping an eye on, such as Prison Break, that struggled last year. Instead, with the exception of FNL, these are sure bets. So what's on your list?


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