For most folks, there are four regular seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Sports fans have their additional seasons: baseball, football, basketball, etc. Fashion designers have their own as well.
For people who love television, there’s the beloved Fall TV Season, that blessed time of year when (hopefully) your favorite shows return with all new adventures, mysteries, hook-ups, break-ups, twists, turns and other happenings while new shows debut and vie for your attention, rope you in and entice you to keep watching, giving them broadcasting life and subsequent seasons to come.
Back in the old days, there was a clear cut, measurable TV season: shows premiered/returned in September, new episodes ran consecutively for a couple of months, followed by a couple of weeks of repeats, then back to new episodes. Sweeps pulled out all the stops in November, February and May, and seasons – usually capping off at an average of 22 episodes – ended in late May, leading into a vast wasteland of repeats throughout what seemed like an endless summer.
It’s vastly different now. While most network shows still run around 22 episodes long, cable peppers the on-air landscape with 13-episode runs, ending with a “fall,” “winter” or “spring” finale, picking up a few months later to finish off the season. It’s often hard to tell where a season begins and ends, finally coming to light with the DVD release.
As for network shows, it’s common now for them to take a painfully long, extended winter break, affectionately known by many as “hellatus,” which can be nearly as long as summer.
Summer itself is actually nowadays a bearable viewing time, teeming with new, often very entertaining series, some scripted (USA, TNT and HBO in particular), others reality and talent-show based (America’s Got Talent, Project Runway).
Still, there’s nothing quite like counting down the days till Premiere Week and anticipating what you’ll be watching, both again and anew.
That being said, here is part one of my “Introduction to the 2011 Fall Season” and what I am observing about the new shows debuting in the coming weeks:
Many familiar faces are returning to TV this fall. Being a big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I am eagerly awaiting Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to the small screen, though I’m fully aware Ringer is going to be a far different show. Of particular interest will be to see how she makes twins Bridget and Siobhan their own entities. Also making returns in this show are Kristoffer Polaha, last seen in the CW’s Life Unexpected, and LOST alum Nestor Carbonell.
The male alumni of LOST are popping up all over TV. In addition to Carbonell (Richard Alpert), Terry O’Quinn (John Locke) reunites with Daniel Dae Kim (Jin Kwon) as he joins the team (and returns to the Aloha State) on Hawaii Five-0. Lance Reddick (Matthew Abadden) returns for another season of the delightfully twisty Fringe. Ian Somerholder (Boone) continues his reign as bad boy-vamp Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. Michael Emerson (Ben Linus) headlines the highly anticipated Person of Interest over on CBS, while mid-season welcomes Jorge Garcia (Hugo “Hurley” Reyes) to another mysterious island, Alcatraz, over on FOX.
As for FOX, the net has a heavy hitter in producer Steven Spielberg with his dinosaur-on-the-small screen Terra Nova, a show that follows a family from the future back into the past to establish a second-chance colony of humans in prehistoric times.
Anyone missing American Idol shouldn’t fret: FOX welcomes The X-Factor with the judge-you-just-love-to-hate, Simon Cowell. Adding to its animated block on Sunday, the network welcomes Allen Gregory from co-creator Jonah Hill, and it’s a little You Again meets Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion in the sitcom I Hate My Teenage Daughter, which welcomes back Jaime Pressly (My Name is Earl) back to the airwaves.
FOX is also making it a family affair as Zooey Deschanel’s comedy New Girl, about the sexual politics of men and women, joins the same network that airs big sister Emily’s long-running series, Bones.
A family affair of a different kind is happening over on NBC with Saturday Night Live alum Maya Rudolph co-starring in Up All Night, airing on the same network as 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation with fellow alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, respectively. Another close branch extends from Up All Night with co-star Will Arnett, Poehler’s real-life husband. Rounding out the cast is another familiar face, Christina Applegate, last seen on TV in ABC’s Samantha Who?
NBC welcomes comedienne Whitney Cummings and her sitcom Whitney. Cummings is actually pulling double-duty this season, as she is also the co-creator and co-producer of the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls (reminiscent of Tom Welling, who starred on-screen in the CW’s Smallville and executive-produced both Smallville and last season’s Hellcats).
Check back for Part Two tomorrow …