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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Sept. 26

Your select viewing guide for Wednesday, Sept. 26

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COMEDY: Animal Practice (NBC, 8 p.m.) Is prime time ready for a sitcom in which the funniest characters are cats, dogs and monkeys? Debuting tonight, this new comedy stars ex-Weeds regular Justin Kirk as Dr. George Coleman, a respected New York veterinarian with a gift for taking care of ailing pets. Enter Dorothy (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), his former girlfriend whose family recently bought the animal hospital where Dr. George works, which makes her his new boss. To pad out the comedy premise, Dorothy has no idea how to handle animals and the clinic has two wacky vets, played by Bobby Lee and Canadian Tyler Labine. Oddly, the show has some genuinely touching moments, as in tonight’s pilot episode in which Dr. George bonds with a kid whose beloved terrier has kidney failure.

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DRAMA: Criminal Minds (CBS, CTV Two, 9 p.m.) Just when you thought this crime-procedural series couldn’t get any creepier, along comes tonight’s eighth-season premiere. FBI profiler David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and the members of the Behavioural Analysis Unit are summoned to a remote Texas prison following the escape of a violent prisoner. In his wake, the prisoner leaves behind his nasty trademark – sewing shut the mouths of his victims – which immediately alerts the BAU that the escapee is really an infamous serial killer known as “The Silencer.” The kickoff show also introduces the new regular of linguistics expert Alex Blake, played by the talented Jeanne Tripplehorn.


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COMEDY: Modern Family (ABC, Citytv, 9 p.m.) Welcome back to TV’s funniest family. The fourth-season opener brings viewers right up to date to the latest developments in the Pritchett and Dunphy clans. To whit: Phil (Ty Burrell) attempts to honour his father-in-law Jay (Ed O’Neill) on his birthday by arranging a chaotic fishing excursion. Haley (Sarah Hyland) tries to keep her parents from finding out her boyfriend Dylan (Reid Ewing) has moved into their house. Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) try to cope with their failed attempt to adopt another baby by adopting a cat. And Gloria (Sofia Vergara)? She’s waiting for the right moment to tell Jay that he’s going to be a father all over again. Happy birthday, Jay!

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DRAMA: CSI (CBS, CTV, 10 p.m.) Going into its 13th season, the original CSI remains the most popular. CBS pulled the plug last spring on spinoff CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY still draws a respectable audience, but the first show in the franchise still pulls the most viewers in its prime Wednesday-night timeslot. CSI was re-energized last season with the arrival of Ted Danson as the new forensic lab boss D.B. Russell (to replace the departed Laurence Fishburne, who replaced the departed William Petersen). The series ended last season with a cliffhanger finale in which D.B. Russell’s granddaughter was kidnapped. The new season begins with a frantic search for the missing girl, which naturally requires the full resources of the CSI team and Las Vegas police department. Ex-Frasier regular Peri Gilpin guest-stars as D.B.’s wife, Barbara.


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MOVIE: Harper (TCM, midnight ET; 9 p.m. PT) The late, great Paul Newman personifies slick sixties coolness in this 1966 mystery. Based on a novel by Ross Macdonald, the film stars old blue eyes as Lew Harper, a wry Los Angeles private investigator in need of work. Harper’s lawyer pal Albert (Arthur Hill) points him toward the wealthy Elaine (Lauren Bacall) whose husband has gone missing. While searching for the missing man, Harper encounters an alcoholic actress (Shelley Winters) and a heroin-addicted jazz singer (Julie Harris), and in the best gumshoe fashion is beat up on multiple occasions for asking too many questions.

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