Believe it or not, the fall TV season is less than a week away. Fittingly, one of the best-looking new shows and one of the best returning shows will throw out the first pitches of the season when they premiere on Tuesday. Here’s a closer look at those shows and more — my top six new shows and top six returning shows of Fall 2011. (Showing my non-coast bias, all times are Central.)
TOP 6 NEW SHOWS
“Ringer” (8 p.m. Tuesdays starting Tuesday on The CW) — Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to TV (and on Tuesdays on the network that used to be The WB and UPN, no less). She’ll get to show her acting chops big time, as she plays a pair of twins caught up in some good ‘ol noir-style intrigue.
“New Girl” (8 p.m. Tuesdays starting Sept. 20 on Fox; Tuesday on Hulu) — Zooey Deschanel gets a TV series! It’s a sitcom, true, but previews suggest that the indie starlet’s presence punches up the “quirky single gal moves in with a bunch of bachelors” material nicely.
“Pan Am” (9 p.m. Sundays starting Sept. 25 on ABC) — Christina Ricci gets a TV show (I’m noticing a trend: This fall’s series are almost worth tuning into for the cute actresses alone), and if done well, this blast from the early days of passenger planes should provide tasty period detail to go with its theme of the emerging independent woman.
“Terra Nova” (7 p.m. Mondays starting Sept. 26 on Fox) — If you ever thought “Jurassic Park” would make a fun TV series (and if you didn’t, I don’t want to know you), this is for you. With the Earth dying in the future, humanity starts anew with prehistoric colonies thanks to time travel.
“Hart of Dixie” (8 p.m. Mondays starting Sept. 26 on The CW) — I have a “Life Unexpected”-size hole to fill in my TV-geek heart, and this could do the trick. Rachel Bilson, having proven in film that she’s much more than the former Summer Roberts, gets the lead role as a young doctor who lands her first job in a backwater town a la Joel Fleishman.
“American Horror Story” (9 p.m. Wednesdays starting Oct. 5 on FX) — The good news is it’s an ambitiously weird horror TV show starring Connie Britton. The bad news is it’s from the creator of “Glee,” a series that has gotten too weird for my taste.
TOP 6 RETURNING SHOWS
“Parenthood” (9 p.m. Tuesdays starting Tuesday on NBC) — Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter hook up again in the new season, Sarah Ramos continues to play the truest teen on TV, and Max continues to struggle (and sometimes thrive) with Asperger’s. There’s a lot to like here.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (9 p.m. Thursdays starting Sept. 15 on FX) — Mac shows up 50 pounds heavier in the long-awaited season premiere, the first episode since last December. At this point, all I need to hear is a ridiculous premise like that, and I’m already laughing.
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (7 p.m. Fridays starting Sept. 16 on Cartoon Network) — My favorite show (only partly because I’m a “Star Wars” geek, honest) gets a little better each year, and it starts Season 4 (tagline: “Battle Lines”) with a full-fledged underwater battle.
“Parks and Recreation” (7:30 p.m. Thursdays starting Sept. 22 on NBC) — The most easy-to-like sitcom on network TV. Pawnee, Indiana, is not a real town. And yet it is; that’s where the laughs come from.
“Fringe” (8 p.m. Fridays starting Sept. 23 on Fox) — To be honest, last season was so bizarre that I kind of lost track of what was happening (Did they do a cartoon episode, or did I just eat some bad Mexican food?). Still, no current show does weird science better, and I love the central trio of Peter, Olivia and Walter.
“The Walking Dead” (8 p.m. Sundays starting Oct. 16 on AMC) — With all that pesky exposition out of the way, it could be fascinating to see the post-apocalyptic world come together in the battle against the zombie plague in Season 2.
What shows are you looking forward to this season?