Tonight: Official Start to Fall Season

Now that the Emmys are over (and the same people won again), the fall season lurches into full on mode. Starting tonight, with the season premieres of CSI: Miami and Heroes, no more free ride for Jay Leno.
Checked in on a couple of returning cable shows this weekend at the cottage (where that lake side wall soaked up three gallons of primer. Gulp!). Larry David`s Curb Your Enthusiasm returned Sunday on HBO Canada and, judging by the first three episodes, it is better than ever. Episode Two next week is particularly funny, a perfect example of how this series will go to any length to tidy things up with a funny, full-circle ending. The third episode is when the whole. much-talked-about Seinfeld reunion storyline kicks in. The premise–about David bringing the four main cast members back together for a reunion for his own selfish and petty reasons–is neatly set up.
The guys at the cottage, on the other hand, were horrified at the Season Three screener for Californication, the Showtime series which returns Sept. 27 in Canada to The Movie Network and Movie Central. I loved the first season of this show, especially the tightly-written, profane pilot and even the too-tidy first season finale. The relationship between father-daughter Hank Moody (David Duchovny) and young Becca (Madeliene Martin) was tender, insightful and unlike anything else on TV.
Season Two had its moments but started to wallow in the sex, drugs and rock and roll storylines. The Season Three opener was even less appealing. Hank Moody is no longer sympathetic on any level. The smutty behaviour and one liners, eye-opening and clever at first, seem tiresome now. The series is so stuck on outrageous it all fails to register. It almost seemed like the show runners were daring Showtime to end the series.
The good news over on the broadcast channels is that there are several very funny new comedies this season, if the pilots are any indication. Check out the all-new ABC lineup this Wednesday night (simulcast on City). Modern Family is very funny, with a great cast (including an older, wearier Ed O‘Neill) and sharp writing. I laughed at the Cougar Town pilot, too, although some seem all bent out of shape at the title. Get past that and give it a look. Avoid, however, new shows from old friends Kelsey Grammer (Hank) and Patricia Heaton (The Middle). Both were funnier on the quickly canceled Back to You.
For my take on a few other fall rookies, I wrote a Top-10 new shows feature for Tribute.ca, check it out here. I‘m also part of David Bianculli‘s critic posse over at TV Worth Watching. You can read our short takes on the fall network newbies right here.

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