The Mindy Project

FOX, Sept. 25, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

Mindy Kaling, leaving behind NBC's The Office to create and star in her own sitcom, could very well be the next Tina Fey. But not necessarily with The Mindy Project, a sitcom that veers uncomfortably between charmingly cute and cloyingly sarcastic. She plays Mindy Lahiri, a smart young OB/GYN whose clinical mind is often shoved to the back of the line by girlish fantasies she learned from movies like Sleepless in Seattle. In the premiere she finds swoony ecstasy with a fellow doctor, but after he dumps her, she gets drunk at his wedding, makes a poisonously mean toast to bride and groom, then rides a bike into a swimming pool. It's hard to find any of this especially enchanting. And yet Chris Messina, as her colleague, does much the same thing, throwing out blunt put-downs while obliquely flirting-and makes it work. Kaling's next project is to align her performance with his.

Revolution

NBC, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET/PT

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DRAMA

A global blackout sends us back to the Dark Ages and forever kills Facebook's chances on the stock market. Fifteen years later, in an America now dominated by militia, a strong young woman (Tracy Spiridakos) sets off to find her kidnapped brother and maybe unlock the mystery behind the catastrophe. (Her dead dad was involved.) I sat through Revolution's pilot three times and failed to ever detect a live current: The potential for suspense is exponentially greater in our high-tech world than in one that's unplugged. This is well-produced, but it could just as well be Mission: Colonial.

I'd honor both the vets (Jon Hamm) and the rookies (Girls)-and please let Homeland go home a winner

BEST COMEDY

GIRLS

Writer-director-star Lena Dunham, only 26, seemed to spring into the public consciousness fully formed-it's as if we've known her for years-with her small-scale but brilliant HBO series about love, ambition and renting in Brooklyn. It's Jane Austen for the indie era.

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, VEEP

The Seinfeld alum was ferociously funny as a vain politician trying to locate every loop she'd been left out of. Louis-Dreyfus never let us feel sorry for this dodo: She's on a major power trip, only it's to nowhere.

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA

CLAIRE DANES, HOMELAND

A rattlingly tough, raw performance. As the secret-intelligence ace who early-on spots a traitor, Danes let us see every nerve ending stretch until it snapped. She should prevail in a fairly weak field.

BEST DRAMA,

HOMELAND

Showtime's killer thriller is about parallel breakdowns: one in national security, the other in the mind of a fragile CIA analyst. If Downton Abbey wins instead, I'll cut the television academy out of my will.

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA

JON HAMM, MAD MEN

Don Draper already won his Clio, but Hamm has yet to get a trophy. He should: His acting was superb this season, as dissatisfied Don tasted the ashes of middle age and second marriage.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY

LOUIS C.K., LOUIE

Is Louis C.K. even acting? He's a passive slab of humanity-the liveliest thing about him is a fringe of red hair on his bald head-but he's constructed a crazy, scary world, and we experience it filtered through his anxiety. And it's funny. Yes, this is terrific acting.

FRINGE

Fans (and there aren't enough of them) can't wait for the fifth and final season of Anna Torv's brilliant sci-fi fantasy, which resumes...in the year 2036. FOX, Sept. 28.

SCANDAL

Kerry Washington is back as Olivia Pope, the best fixer in Washington, D.C.-but in the season premiere, one client is about to go bust. ABC, Sept. 27.

NEW GIRL

Still adorkable? Check! Season 2 begins as unemployed Zooey Deschanel tries to make the best of things by wearing a tiny sparkly hat (above). FOX, Sept. 25.

With no new Downton Abbey episodes for months, the next best thing is PBS Masterpiece's Call the Midwife (check local listings). This BBC hit is the soppily tender story of '50s midwives in London's poor East End. Many of the crises-breech births, illegitimacies-we see through the eyes of new midwife Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine, who has the right prettiness for the period). But the show belongs to Chummy (Miranda Hart), a big, bumbling, upper-class girl whose good breeding registers as saintly decency. Who needs Lady Mary?