Hellcats

CW, Sept. 8, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

bgwhite bgwhite   



DRAMA

I had such hopes when I saw the first clips for this new series. It looked like Showgirls with college cheerleaders. But the end product should be called Hellkittens-not bad, but its tiny claws neither grip nor rip. Aly Michalka plays Marti, a pre-law student who reluctantly joins the sis-boom-bah squad to win a scholarship. Michalka, who's miscast, is the problem: With her head helmeted by what look like solid-gold waves of hair, she's blazingly untouchable and remote. When Marti stuns the other girls with her gyrations, it's like a fembot trying out for So You Think You Can Dance. Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical) steals the show as squad captain Savannah, a girl with a revolting amount of team spirit but an underlying decency. Go, Sharpay, go!

America's Next Top Model

CW, Sept. 8, 8 p.m. ET/PT |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



REALITY

Tyra Banks tilts her modeling competition upscale for its new season: The winner will be featured in Italian Vogue. The girls, who keep breathlessly repeating the phrase "high fashion" as if it were a mantra, nonetheless behave as they always do, which is most of the fun. They are Snookis on stilts.

Terriers

FX, Sept. 8, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite 



CRIME

Here's one of the most offbeat new shows of the new season. Also one of the best. Co-executive-produced by Shawn Ryan (The Shield), Terriers is a contemporary, character-driven noir about two scruffy detectives: ex-cop Hank Dolworth (Life's Donal Logue) and reformed petty crook Britt Pollack (True Blood's Michael Raymond-James). They operate mostly by the seat of their pants and out of a used pickup. The stories have a loping, slacker humor to them but with an undercurrent of bruised sadness. Logue is especially good as Hank. A reformed alcoholic with a failed marriage, he's a joker and he's desperate.

Weeds

Showtime, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET |

bgwhite bgwhite   



COMEDY

Mary-Louise Parker, who stars as Nancy Botwin, drug-pushing mother of three, recently said she didn't like the show's previous season. Well, that's just crazy. Season 5 was an unpredictable joyride that ended with murder by croquet mallet. Unfortunately, that blow left the show wobbling: Season 6 staggers from incident to incident as Nancy and family run from their enemies-and the authorities. Parker's performance hasn't lost its shimmery darkness, even when Nancy is forced to work as a hotel maid, but I miss Elizabeth Perkins as her florid frenemy Celia.

1 MEL B: IT'S A SCARY WORLD

SUN. 9/5 9 P.M. STYLE

And it's a reality show! The home and showbiz lives of the ex-Spice Girl and mom.

2 WHITE COLLAR

TUES. 9/7 9 P.M. USA

Will Matt Bomer solve the murder that haunts him? Last new episode until winter.

3 THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

THURS. 9/9 8 P.M. CW

Paul Wesley wants to know why an old villainess is back in town. Season 2 premiere.

4 ROOKIE BLUE

THURS. 9/9 9 P.M. ABC

In the two-hour season finale, Missy Peregrym seriously messes up a drug bust.

5 STAND UP TO CANCER

FRI. 9/10 8 P.M. MULTIPLE NETWORKS

Telethon includes Maura Tierney, who battled the disease.

THE ITALIAN JOB

She's usually seen on the arm of boyfriend George Clooney, but Elisabetta Canalis is going solo to play the international woman of mystery known as "The Italian" on the TNT drama. "We thought because she's a big star in Italy, and with her relationship, she'd have an entourage," says executive producer Dean Devlin of Canalis, 31, who returns for Leverage's Sept. 5 episode. "But she comes on her own." While her icy Italian is dark and manipulative, Canalis "is very self-effacing," says Devlin. "You say 'Cut!' and she's cracking jokes all day long."

In May the actress, 18, split with Joe Jonas, her costar in the new Disney Channel film.

YOU JUST TURNED 18.

It doesn't mean much, other than I can date who I want. Someone a little older would be nice! Also, I can vote. It will be cool to put my name on a ballot.

HOW ARE YOU DOING SINCE THE SPLIT?

I'm perfectly happy [but] learned my lesson. If I'm going to have a new romance, I'd like to keep it private. I'll go public when I marry someone.

Ralph Macchio's mom in The Karate Kid, 63, plays Jon Hamm's batty assistant.

YOU'RE CREATING BUZZ AS A NOT-SO-EFFICIENT SECRETARY.

Miss Blankenship has been a gift that's fallen from the sky. I like that she marches to her own drum and comments on the truth that nobody likes to hear.

HOW DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH JON HAMM?

The first day, I had to hide my eyes because he's so handsome. I was afraid he'd catch me staring!

DO YOU STILL GET RECOGNIZED FROM KARATE KID?

It starts like a little fever and catches on. When people find out, they get very excited. The film has a special connection with people, and I'm very proud to be a part of it.