TV or Not TV 

Medical, mystery and comedy angst highlight the new season.
What to watch and what to skip.

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“Bored to Death”
Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) is supposed to be working on his next book. He tried booze and pot to chase away the writer's block, but only succeeded in chasing away his girlfriend. In a moment of either brilliance or idiocy, Ames decides to hire himself out as an unlicensed, untrained private detective. With Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis as regulars and a who's who of comedians in guest roles, this show is a comedic, existential, film noir powerhouse.
When: Sunday, Sept. 20, 9 p.m.
Where: HBO
Verdict: Strong watch. If you don't have HBO, time to subscribe.

The latest addition to NBC's vaunted Thursday night comedy lineup stars Joel McHale (“The Soup”) as a disgraced lawyer who winds up at a community college. McHale accidentally starts a study group for a language he doesn't speak while attempting to hit on a coed.  In the process he creates a community of outcasts. Hilarity and life lessons ensue. Also starring Chevy Chase.
When: Thursday, Sept. 17, 9:30 p.m.
Where: NBC
Verdict: Watch.

“Accidentally on Purpose”
Jenna Elfman stars in a vehicle most easily described as “Dharma and Greg” meets “Knocked Up.” Elfman plays a thirtysomething film critic who finds herself pregnant after a fling with a twentysomething chef. Things get crazy when she decides to keep the baby and the chef. Expect stoner humor, clichAc sidekicks and a love triangle.
When: Monday, Sept. 21, 8:30 p.m.
Where: CBS
Verdict: Pass.

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>“The Beautiful Life”
An hour-long scripted drama that follows up-and-coming models, “The Beautiful Life” is pretty people with pretty problems. Brimming with teen angst, teen sex and the general emotional depth of a Frisbee, this show is exactly what you'd expect from an Ashton Kutcher production.
When: Wednesday, Sept. 16, 9 p.m.
Where: The CW
Verdict: Avoid at all costs.

“The Good Wife”
The always adept Julianna Margulies stars as the wife of publicly disgraced (and jailed) Chris Noth in this drama built around a single question: Why would she stand by him? Margulies attempts to answer while returning to the legal career she once gave up and saving what's left of her family.
When: Tuesday, Sept. 22, 10 p.m.
Where: CBS
Verdict: Strong browse.

As “Lost” enters its final season, ABC looks to “FlashForward” to carry the mysterious, serial drama torch. Built loosely on Robert J. Sawyer's Nebula winning novel of the same title, the premise is simple: The entire world experiences a simultaneous blackout lasting a little more than two minutes. But instead of a dreamless unconsciousness, people witness their lives six months in the future. From there, the big questions must be answered.
When: Thursday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.
Where: ABC
Verdict: Strong watch.

Here we see the Fox formula for sitcoms: Find a clichAc and add a novel twist. The clichAc that “Brothers” beats into the ground — that you can never go home again — is twisted by the protagonist being a retired professional football player. Fox did well to cast Michael Strahan in the lead role, but failed to come up with a decent reason to actually watch the show.
When: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Fox
Verdict: Pass (no pun intended).

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Billed as an action medical drama, NBC's “Trauma” doesn't follow doctors or nurses, but rather paramedics and first responders. That gives the effects team on the peacock's payroll a workout, with explosions galore. The show also has a strong plus with New Zealander Cliff Curtis in one of the lead roles.
When: Wednesday, September 30, 8 p.m.
Where: NBC
Verdict: Browse.

“Three Rivers”
Look! Another medical drama! Setting a show in Pittsburgh might be enough of a twist for some, but that's not what makes “Three Rivers” unique. Nope, these are doctors who specialize in organ transplants. The premise sets up the series for heart-warming human interest stories, heart-breaking experiences and plenty of hearty clichAcs.
When: Saturday, Oct. 4, 9 p.m.
Where: CBS
Verdict: For fans of medical dramas only, but don't expect a second season.

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