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Television frame grab of Last Resort.
Television frame grab of Last Resort.


Fall season preview: Paranoia rules on the new U.S. network shows Add to ...

666 Park Avenue (Sunday, 10 p.m., ABC, CITY-TV, starts Sept. 30). A nice young couple move into a fab old apartment building in Manhattan where, it seems, the owners Gavin (Terry O’Quinn) and Olivia (Vanessa Williams) just like young people and help them succeed. In fact everybody in the building seems to be on the cusp of greatness. Except those who are terrified. Terrible things happen in this building and it is strongly suggested that Gavin is the Devil himself, buying and selling souls as he accumulates a vast fortune. O’Quinn (Lost) is excellent, as ever, though Vanessa Williams continues to act mainly with her widow’s peak. Grabby, well-paced and spiky enough to keep you guessing, it’s delicious fun, apart from its paranoid theme. American Horror Story-lite is the gist.

The Mindy Project (Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., Fox, CITY-TV, starts Sept. 25). This romcom has the biggest buzz among the comedies, thanks largely to the charm and wit of Mindy Kaling (The Office), who created it and, of course, plays main character Mindy Lahiri. She’s a gynecologist and romance addict looking for a love interest that matches her fantasies. It’s all Bridget Jones storytelling with a dash of New Girl-style zaniness. As she tells it, Mindy fell in love with Tom (Bill Hader) and it was dreamy. Then he dumped her, married someone younger and she got arrested after getting loaded at Tom’s wedding. This is the first five minutes of the show. It has undeniable charm and even snark, but Kaling, famous for her tweets and her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), is actually funnier than this and the show needs more wit and less goofy, syrupy charm.

Nashville (Wednesday, 10 p.m., ABC, CTV Two, starts Oct. 10). With an absolutely killer pilot, Nashville is the season’s swiftest, smartest soap opera. All About Eve by way of bitchy country-music melodrama, it has a sizzling power struggle at its core. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story) plays Rayna, a Nashville superstar living large until she’s told her new album isn’t selling, her tour is in jeopardy and, well, this kid Juliette (Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader on Heroes) is the hottest new thing. As it happens, Juliette wants Rayna’s songs, backing musicians and power, but Rayna has what Juliette doesn’t – money and political influence. Sex, politics, ambition and gorgeous country songs saturate the storyline. Obviously derived thematically from the movie Country Strong, Nashville is fabulous froth. Anyone who doesn’t have a hate-on for Juliette has no heart.

The Neighbors (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ABC, starts Sept. 26; Saturday, 10 p.m., CTV, starts Sept. 29). Oh man. The show that some critics see as the first to be cancelled is indescribably goofy, but good, venomous fun, so watch it while you can. A family moves into a gated community that, they discover, is populated entirely by aliens. The aliens, who have been waiting for years for instructions from home, have half-integrated. They name their kids after famous American sports stars. So there are characters named Larry Bird, Reggie Jackson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. They try to be good neighbors but don’t understand boundaries about sex-talk and stuff. What unfolds is a raucous satire of American suburban conventions and a sharp poke at uniformity. Jami Gertz is excellent as the harried mom who finds herself surrounded by very weird critters from space. Cartoonish, mad, but inspired comedy.

Elementary (Thursday, 10 p.m., CBS, Global, starts Sept. 27). The CBS take on Sherlock Holmes is, to the surprise of almost everyone, very charming. Jonny Lee Miller is Holmes as a gadfly in contemporary Manhattan, a bundle of chic neuroses. Lucy Liu is Dr. Joan Watson and, for all the talk of gimmickry in casting a woman as Watson, the chemistry between the two is shockingly good, vaguely sexy and subtly perverse. No point in trying to sell it to fans of the new BBC version, with Benedict Cumberbatch. This is a kind of punk take on the Holmes persona and universe.


Last Resort (Thursday, 8 p.m., ABC, Global, starts Sept. 27). This is more interesting as an idea than in execution. Andre Braugher is fine as the enraged submarine commander who goes rogue, but the plotting is furiously florid and the acting style of most of the cast is manic. For all its bravura paranoia (it was created by Shawn Ryan, who did The Chicago Code and The Shield), it feels like there’s a long wait to figure out what’s actually at the core of the story.

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