Boardwalk Empire

HBO, Sept. 19, 9 p.m. ET/PT

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DRAMA

This not-to-be-missed series, with director Martin Scorsese and Sopranos writer Terence Winter among its executive producers, is a mob epic set in 1920s Atlantic City during Prohibition. The town, like the ocean, stays quite wet. This is thanks to the criminal cunning and Protestant work ethic of county treasurer and city boss Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who endlessly wheels and deals with gangsters in Chicago and New York City. The show is gorgeously produced and spectacularly violent-imagine a mashup of GoodFellas with Ragtime-but its success depends chiefly on Buscemi. The actor, who has the look of a man who's worried he won't find his car before it gets towed, plays the part with biting humor and the shrugging haplessness of a silent-film clown. But there's no doubt Nucky means business-always. A brilliant, brutally funny performance.

Sons of Anarchy

FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT

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DRAMA

I probably couldn't give my heart wholly to this blood-spitting, bone-crunching drama about a motorcycle gang unless they rode tricycles. Grit gets me down. But it's a good show, powerfully acted-especially by Katey Sagal as tough mama Gemma-and true to its convictions. The new season starts with Gemma's boy Jax (Charlie Hunnam) barely able to mind the road: He's devastated by the kidnapping of his infant son. These people can be sentimental. Just don't expect nice. No no no.

Outlaw

NBC, Sept. 15, 10 p.m. ET/PT

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DRAMA

Jimmy Smits plays Cyrus Garza, a conservative Supreme Court justice who has a change of heart and walks off the bench to become a crusading private attorney, cherry-picking cases he wants to defend across the country. This is as plausible as Antonin Scalia signing up for Dancing with the Stars. Smits is breezily bold, but the show feels fussy-flushed out with "interesting" detail and characters. Not only does Garza have a vice (gambling) but his team includes an investigator who flaunts her confident sexiness as if she were a Pussycat Doll.

1 MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS

SUN. 9/12 9 P.M.

MTV

Kanye West performs, and Chelsea Handler hosts the night.

2 TRUE BLOOD

SUN. 9/12 9 P.M.

HBO

Will Anna Paquin dump her vampire lover? Would anyone blame her? Finale to another nutso season.

3 PARENTHOOD

TUES. 9/14 10 P.M.

NBC

It's the season 2 kickoff for the hit multigenerational drama, starring Lauren Graham as a single mother.

4 FASHION'S NIGHT OUT

TUES. 9/14 10 P.M.

CBS

Justin Timberlake joins the style-and-shopping event.

5 THE APPRENTICE

THURS. 9/16 9 P.M.

NBC

Mr. Trump returns, this time with non-celebrity candidates.

Oprah's favorite interior decorator, 39, has created his own daytime program: The Nate Berkus Show, debuting Sept. 13.

ARE YOU NERVOUS GOING OUT ON YOUR OWN?

Actually, I'm not. I told Oprah that, and she said, "Neither was I when my show went national." I feel good about that.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS IS YOUR DEBUT GUEST.

She's told her story; my focus was how she's reclaiming her life. It's something we both have in common, having been through so much in the public eye.

HOW DID YOU LIKE MOVING TO NEW YORK FOR THE SHOW?

My new apartment is very modern, different from what I'm used to. My favorite thing about it is, I can see the Statue of Liberty from my breakfast table!

-CHARLOTTE TRIGGS

The new season of Gossip Girl (CW, Sept. 13) finds Blair and Serena (Leighton Meester and Blake Lively) summering in Paris, handing out their cell numbers to waiters and princes alike. Coming episodes will prove whether the show can overcome its basic problem-everyone has already slept with everyone-but there's something ridiculously charming about hearing Meester say, "Je m'appelle Blair."

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Doctors in love Cristina Yang and Owen Hunt say 'I do' on the ABC hospital drama's season 7 premiere.

If Grey's Anatomy's May season finale-in which a crazed gunman terrorized Seattle Grace Hospital and left two doctors dead-wasn't shocking enough, the ABC drama has another big twist up its sleeve. In the Sept. 23 premiere Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) spontaneously pops the question to fellow doc Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and the two rush to the altar-actually, Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) living room. "Big life things happen when people go through traumatic events that are life and death. You understand what is important to you," says Oh, 39. "[Cristina] decides to get married based on an essential need to be safe." Filming the "relaxed and casual" nuptials was fun for the cast, especially because they weren't wearing scrubs. "Everyone looking so great and glam," says Oh, "it's rare for us!"

-MONICA RIZZO