Vegas (Tuesday, 10 p.m., CBS, Global, starts Sept. 25). Vegas has an expertly crafted pilot with Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis offering a masterclass in fine TV acting. Quaid is the Vegas-area rancher hired as a lawman to calm down an overheated town on the cusp of gambling mayhem, and Chiklis is the smooth thug who wants to control the action and funnel the money to his mob bosses. The retro, early-Vegas setting is nicely nourished and intriguing. With the two lead actors, this is a major testosterone high.
The Mob Doctor (Monday, 9 p.m., Fox; Sunday, 9 p.m., CTV, now running). What the title says – a doctor owes the mob so she does medical work for serious hoodlums. The pilot is overly dependent on ordinary medical stories and one longs for Jordana Spiro, in the lead role, to be given more spicy material.
Ben and Kate (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m., Fox, CITY-TV, starts Sept. 25) has a mercurial charm. It’s a kind of Glee-without-the-music, and about tolerance. Mainly it’s about a seemingly narcissistic slacker, Ben (Nat Faxon), moving in with his tightly wound sister Kate (Dakota Johnson), and everybody, including her kids, trying to get along. The stoner tone works in the pilot and the show has loads of room to expand into genuine weirdness, if it is allowed. In truth, this series is actually funnier and more female-friendly smart than The Mindy Project.
Go On (Tuesday, 9 p.m. NBC, Global, now running). Go On is the latest in a long line of vehicles for Matthew Perry and his alleged comedic charms. This one is so-so, largely because Perry isn’t central. He plays a sports-radio guy whose wife has died and he’s told to undergo grief-counseling sessions. It’s the group dynamic of oddballs that clicks, so far.
FOUR TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS
Beauty and the Beast (Thursday, 9 p.m., The CW, Showcase, starts Oct. 11). A woeful rehash of the 1980s soaper about a woman drawn to a hideously disfigured man. Here, it’s all mostly thin teen angst as Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) plays a cop drawn to a guy who is only slightly less than hunky. An offensively vapid conspiracy plot surrounds the romance.
Partners (Monday, 8:30 p.m. CBS, CITY-TV, starts Sept. 24). An impossibly cutesy, self-indulgent, unfunny comedy about two friends, one straight and one gay, who run some kinda architecture firm together, and is based allegedly on the lives of Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. So unfunny it almost makes it unhip to celebrate a gay-straight male friendship.
Animal Practice (Wednesday, 8 p.m., NBC, starts Sept. 26; Sunday, 7 p.m., Global, starts Sept. 30). Animal Practice features a wizard vet with a thing for critters, not people. But he’s got an ex-girlfriend who, of course, becomes his boss. Highjinks ensue for 30 seconds with a chimp in a lab coat. The pilot is dreck.
Guys with Kids (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., NBC; Wednesday, 9:30 p.m., Global, now running). Produced by Jimmy Fallon, who shouldn’t give up his night job hosting a chat show. This slim sketch of a sitcom is about guys who have kids and joke about it and, well, that’s about it.
NOTABLE RETURNING SHOWS
With a small smorgasbord of new and notable shows, returning hits are the main must-see TV. Few new cable dramas are scheduled for this fall and little wonder, with such shows as Boardwalk Empire (Sunday, 9 p.m., HBO Canada, now running) going ever stronger in a third season.
Dexter (returns Sunday, Sept. 30, 9 p.m., The Movie Network) has an entirely new and bizarre dynamic, since Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), adoptive sister to Dexter (Michael C. Hall), actually knows that he’s a vigilante serial killer. Since she’s a cop, that’s tricky.
Homeland (returns Sunday, Sept. 30, 10 p.m., SuperChannel) is, of course, one of the original paranoia dramas and was last season’s best new show. Returning hero Brody (Damian Lewis), who might be the most dangerous of terrorists, gets “good news” about his fate. And we’re told about what’s happened to Agent Carrie (Claire Danes) since undergoing electric shock therapy. The raw, nasty chemistry between these two characters is the most toxic thing on TV.
All times ET. Check local listings.