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Tonight’s Big Premieres, in Brief

  • 9/23/09 at 11:11 AM
Modern Family.

Modern Family.Photo: Courtesy of ABC

I took a day off yesterday, but TV stops for no one! And so I missed the one show that looked interesting on Tuesdays, CBS's Silda Spitzer–flavored The Good Wife. How was it? It's on my TiVo at home. I'm always afraid to attach to any network show early on, since so many of them get the ax.

Anyway, tonight is a funky enough lineup, with one standout new comedy you MUST WATCH, and then some other shows.

The Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): They showed the entire pilot to advertisers at the Upfronts back in May, a sign of how confident ABC was about the series. They were right to be so cocky: While NBC's Community is an appealingly zippy, self-referential little sitcom, The Modern Family is the more original entry, an attempt to merge the odd-rhythm sophistication of the modern mockumentary series (Arrested Development, The Office) with a family setting. It's also very funny.
Related: Five Reasons You Simply Must Watch Modern Family Tonight [NYM]

Cougar Town (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): The pilot was truly grotesque, managing to waste not only Courteney Cox but also poor old Busy Phillips, now gussied up with a 2004-era SATC-style cowboy hat. It features horrible wisecracking teens who say sarcastic meta-things like "Lesbian mom jokes, awesome!" and rips off that sexy real-estate-billboard bit from I Love You, Man, rendering it unfunny. However, I've been dutifully hypnotized by the posters of a creamy-complexioned Courteney Cox all over Manhattan, and I think she may be luring me to my death.

Eastwick (ABC, 10 p.m.): I can't even stand to watch the premiere, because it not only seems like a truly dreadful second-gen riff on the great misogynist masterpiece that is Updike's novel, but it also wastes the fabulous Paul Gross, star of my beloved Slings and Arrows.

The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS, 8 p.m.): I tend not to mention this in my regular "We are living in an era of great sitcoms!" rants, because the quality is actually kind of spotty. And yet when the show is on, it's really on, with an undersung antiheroine — a drunk, slutty, self-destructive single mom played wonderfully by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. Basically, we've already got a Cougar Town show out there, and this one is a lot better than the depressing one on ABC.

Gary Unmarried: Eh.

Criminal Minds: I'll watch almost any procedural, but this one has never pushed my buttons. However, if you like your serial killers to be called the Reaper, here's your show.

CSI: New York: Not a CSI fan, personally (the necro-porn bugs me in a way that it never does on Bones), but the opener follows up on a shootout in last season's finale — a grand television motif at this point, and one that gives me the opportunity to link to that hilarious Saturday Night Live "Sister" parody of The OC.

Mercy: Sadly, this has even worse buzz than TNT's nurse-themed and horrifically-titled HawthoRNe. (Nurse Jackie is a more complicated matter: It lost me in the second half of the season with what felt like a huge waste of major potential.)

Law & Order: SVU: Rapes! More rapes! But actually the show is well acted and often surprisingly complex, so I should stop making fun of it now.

Glee: Is it just me, or is anyone unnerved by this show's progress? There are wonderful moments, but the Acafella plot was so lackluster, the wife character is unbearable, and there's an overall ... I'm not sure how to describe the quality, but brittleness is sort of what I mean. I liked the candied archness of Popular, so I thought I'd like this show, but the tone is throwing me. Win me back, Show Designed for My Brain! Especially because I totally adore Chris Colfer as fey flamer Kurt.

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