MONDAY, SEPT. 17
8 P.M. | FOX
Your tattoos ain't gonna help you this time, Sonny! Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is back in the slammer, a Panamanian hellhole, and trapped into organizing a new breakout. Not the most plausible twist, but it's inventive. Most of the old gang are still hanging around, too, fleabitten.
10 P.M. | SHOWTIME
GUEST STAR ALERT
, now 21, takes on her first significant adult acting role: She'll be turning up for 10 episodes as Tara, a girl from the new community that's called Majestic.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19
COME RAIN OR COME SHINE: FROM GREY'S ANATOMY TO PRIVATE PRACTICE
9 P.M. | ABC
A special that traces the emotional evolution of Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh
), from her chilly reception at Seattle Grace to the promise of Private Practice
(premiering Sept. 26).
8 P.M. | CBS
Forty kids go out to a ghost town to forge their own pioneer society. Prior to airing, though, this show has kicked up a lot of dust in Grownup Nation about the children's safety and other issues.
AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL
8 P.M. | CW
, luscious woman of a certain age, returns with the ninth cycle of her reality-show search for models. The girls start out donning lifejackets and doing runway walks on the deck of a ship, then Tyra enters in a feathered headdress. Okay! By the way, she just moved her syndicated talk show to New York City.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 20
9 P.M. | USA
One of summer's best-received series, this spy caper ends with Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) staging a big rescue involving his pal (Bruce Campbell). It's renewed.
8 P.M. | CBS
The show's most daring gambit yet: Tribes will set up on islands on Zhelin Lake in the Jiangxi Province. Whichever team wins a challenge gets to kidnap a loser. That's the American way!
CW, Sept. 19, 9 p.m. ET
Something like Cruel Intentions but with streaks of kindness applied as adroitly as highlights by a top-end salon, this is about catty life among rich teenagers on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Willowy young socialite Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), a reformed hard-partier, returns to town from an unexplained spell at quote-unquote boarding school. No one knows, really, what's been going on with her, nor are they by any means all high-fiving her comeback. Her ex-best friend (Leighton Meester) worries that Serena will steal her turf—and boyfriend.
This girl's name, by the way, is Blair Waldorf, and I keep waiting for some member of the hoi polloi to ask if she's related to the salad.
The show is narrated by Kristen Bell in a tone of dry, omniscient malice, yet Serena seems to be genuinely kind, and possibly made kinder by her secret sorrow. She even befriends a boy lower on the social ladder named Dan (Penn Badgley). The premiere, in fact, does a nice, light job of laying out the connections among cliques, friends, enemies and family. Josh Schwartz is an executive producer here, and the show has a similar tone to his OC
: sexy, young, tugged by chic empty melancholy. This looks like a most promising debutante.
FOX, Sept. 17, 9 p.m. ET
The "K" is for Katrina. This crime drama is shot in post-hurricane New Orleans, which means it can't take advantage of what used to be known as "atmosphere." It's a struggling town, the Big Uneasy, troubled with plenty of crime, and Anthony Anderson and his new partner, Cole Hauser, patrol the streets that once were flooded. The concept is good, but the pairing of Anderson and Hauser doesn't work in the premiere. Anderson has the showier role—blunt, tough—but even his quieter moments feel pushy, as if he were pressing against the TV screen. You end up gravitating toward Hauser. He's intense but quiet, leaving you to guess at his personal storms.
FOX, Sept. 19, 9 p.m. ET
Chef Gordon Ramsay, such good company when screaming "You're pa-THEH-tic!" on Hell's Kitchen
, now displays a greater instinct for affirmation. Enlisted by desperate restaurateurs to save their failing establishments, he comes in quietly, checks things out, picks over a disgusting appetizer, becomes enraged, rips the place apart, reopens it, exchanges hugs with the grateful people and leaves. He's like some mythic hero out of a western, or maybe Dr. Phil with pesto. But does anyone need to watch a great chef help a restaurant owner confront his father issues?
BACK TO YOU
FOX, Sept. 19, 8 p.m. ET
This is an old-school sitcom—a character will mutter a punch line in passing and then scuttle away—but it's a good, solid vehicle for the right performers. (If it had been a play, a husband-and-wife team could tour in it for years.) And the performers here are two of the best: Kelsey Grammer (Frasier
) and Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond
). They play TV coanchors reunited on the Pittsburgh news after 10 years. He had gone on to L.A., then had a tumble. She stayed on in Pittsburgh and is wary of his return for reasons both obvious (he's a gasbag) and unexpected. The writing can be crude, but the stars bring fire and spine to their jousts. Even a spat over goldfish is anchored in believable, and funny, emotion.
THE NEW BACHELOR
• ABC's latest bestower of roses is a 34-year-old Austin, Texas, bar owner who hopes nothing's gonna bar him from love. The season starts Sept. 24.
HOW'D YOU GET INTO THIS?
One of my staff members recommended me.
WHAT'S YOUR DATING HISTORY?
I'm fortunate enough to have had three very good long-term relationships, each one lasting about two years. They were down-to-earth, girl-next-door types.
WHO BAILED ON WHOM?
I can't say that I haven't had my heart broken in my past, but most of the time, I've been the one who's bailed. Usually it was because I would just become so focused on work.
WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM PRIOR BACHELORS?
Well, for starters, I'm not a millionaire! My name isn't Andrew Firestone.