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SATURDAY

Everwood

CTV, 9 p.m., premieres Monday,

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Sept. 21 at 9 p.m.

Genre: drama

Stars: Treat Williams, Gregory Smith

After the death of his wife, noted neurosurgeon Andrew Brown (Treat Williams) is shattered. He abandons his Manhattan practice, packs up his two children - nine-year-old Delia (Vivien Cardone) and problem teen Ephram (Gregory Smith) - and moves to the rugged environs of Everwood, Colo. Once settled, the children face the usual adjustment problems while Dad opens a free clinic, much to the consternation of the town's other medic, Dr. Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes). Picked as a breakout hit, Everwood is solid family drama in the vein of 7th Heaven or Providence. The show also borrows slightly from Gilmore Girls, in that there seems to be an array of oddball small-town characters. It's strange CTV would put such a highly touted series on Saturday nights. Perhaps as counter-programming to Hockey Night in Canada? The lads and louts watch Don Cherry while the ladies take this in? Strange but probably true.HHH(AR)

SUNDAY

Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within

Global, 7 p.m., premieres Sept. 15

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Genre: documentary series

Stars: Cast of Cirque du Soleil's Varekai

This 13-part documentary series goes behind-the-scenes of Cirque du Soleil's latest touring showVarekai. Produced by Montreal's Galafilm and Creations Musca, a subsidiary of Cirque du Soleil, it was filmed over a year and culled from over 1,000 hours of footage. This video diary begins eight months before opening night in Montreal and even at that stage there is great tension and scurrying about. The program is a series of profiles of the performers in Varekai, and they are from all over the map, literally. There is the British gymnast, Gareth, away from home for the first time; there is Oleg, an older Russian circus star trying to make it as a dancer; there is Stella, a Toronto gymnast trying to find her own way in the show. The physical and mental demands are extreme. Self discipline is a must. In the end, some have their hearts broken, of course, and don't make the final cut, but the show still goes on, as it should.HHH(AR)

Bram and Alice

CBS, 8 p.m.; CH, Wednesdays,

10:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 29 on

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CBS; Oct. 9 on CH

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Alfred Molina, Traylor Howard

Pulitzer-winning novelist Bram Shepherd (Alfred Molina) is a crotchety sod who hasn't written a book in years. Usually, he spends his time drinking and chasing women. Wide-eyed student Alice O'Connor (Traylor Howard) is about to abandon her dream of becoming a writer when she learns that Shepherd is, you guessed it, her father. Oh, the irony of it all! From that flimsy setup, daughter makes Dad feel guilty about abandonment; daughter moves into Dad's posh New York apartment; wackiness ensues. This includes the neighbours - a Catholic priest who doubles as a bartender, and Dad's assistant whose name is Paul Newman. There is much joking about that, of course. Dumb and pointless, Bram and Alice looks like something out a '70s time capsule. It is proof of what happens when producers run out of all possible sitcom combinations. In this case, they thought a father-daughter combo would work. Well, wrong again.H(AR)

American Dreams

NBC, CH, 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 29

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Genre: drama

Stars: Brittany Snow, Will Estes

Set in Philadelphia, circa early '60s, this coming-of-age drama is built around one very precocious teen. Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow) is an affable 15-year-old whose main goal is life, it seems, is to be a dancer on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. It's all Meg and her friend Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies) talk about. Meg's blind ambition gives her respite from an erratic home life. Her father Jack (Tom Verica) spends a lot of time badgering his son JJ (Will Estes) into playing college football. Her mother Helen (Gail O'Grady) is starting to question her thankless role as homemaker, in large part due to her new friendship with a radical-thinking friend (Virginia Madsen). The show does a clever job of integrating old Bandstand footage into the story. There are several teasing plotlines in the pilot but, fortunately, the story keeps coming back to Meg. She is the star here. Snow is a marvelous young actor, seen before only on the soap opera Guiding Light and her wonderfully earnest face lights up each scene. It's her show.HHH(AR)

Monk

NewVR, 8 p.m., premiered Sept. 8

Genre: drama

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Stars: Anthony Shalhoub, Bitty Schram

This series, which had a summer preview in August in the U.S. and a few weeks later here, is already one of the nicer surprises of the TV season. The title character, Adrian Monk, is a hopelessly neurotic but a terribly smart police detective. He is well played by Anthony Shalhoub, best known from his several seasons of comic relief on Wings. On this show he is still very funny but for a different reason: His character is obsessive-compulsive as a result of a nervous breakdown after his wife was murderered. The show doesn't make light of his disorder, naturally, but it does make for some very funny scenes. Even though Monk is being chased down the street by a bad guy, he still has to stop and methodically touch every parking meter along the route. It's his habit. Monk also has a wacky but effective assistant, Sharona (Bitty Schram). This show is a unique gem and, even better, it has a real heart.HHH(AR)

The Grubbs

Fox, Global, 9:30 p.m., premieres Nov. 3

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Randy Quaid, Carol Kane

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Mike Grubb (Randy Quaid) is as content a man as you'll ever meet. A former steelworker, he doesn't have to work now, courtesy of a monthly disability check from his "accident." He has a loving, ditzy wife (Carol Kane) and two sons. Sometimes he gives his sons advice, such as: "Beautiful girls - they have what they call options. You need a girl backed into a corner. That way, if it's either you or nothing, you've got a 50-50 shot." Eldest son Jimmy (Brian Sites) is just like Dad - he can't wait to drop out of school and go work at the steel mill. Younger son Mitch (Michael Cera), however, has some degree of hope instilled in him by an idealistic and attractive young teacher (Lori Rom). The Grubbs is unabashedly lowbrow and lunkheaded. Quaid is playing a variation of the dimwitted character he's played in the National Lampoon Vacation films, except that his Mike Grubb is much more affable. He has low standards but is still somehow admirable. Don't write The Grubbs off early. Remember, Fox has mined this territory before with Married with Children, which ran for 11 seasons.HHH(AR)

Boomtown

NBC, CTV, 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 29

Genre: drama

Stars: Donnie Walhberg, Neal McDonough

The mean streets of Los Angeles are the setting for this diverse and very compelling cop drama. Created by Graham Yost, the show employs intertwining views of a criminal act from several perspectives. There is the weary detective (Donnie Wahlberg), the laidback detective (Mykelti Williamson) and the young beat cop (Jason Gedrick) trying to move up. There is the brusque Deputy DA (Neal McDonough) who is given to sermonizing. There is also a tough newspaper reporter (Nina Garbiras) and the burned-out paramedic (Lana Parrilla). In the first show, all these personalities weave in and out of a heinous murder investigation and the story cleverly unfolds outwards from each of them. It doesn't come off as standard cop show fare. The dialogue is crisp and real. NBC has been describing Boomtown as "Rashomon meets Pulp Fiction." It's actually much better than that.HHHH(AR)

Band of Brothers

Global, 10:00 p.m., premieres Sept. 15

Genre: drama

Stars: Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

This 10-part miniseries aired last year on HBO to substantial acclaim. With a budget of $120-million, it's a sprawling wartime story that follows a U.S. army regiment throughout the course of the Second World War - starting in boot camp and leading up to D-Day. This project was executive produced by Tom Hanks, who was inspired to make it after starring in Saving Private Ryan. The battle scenes are spectacular, although wincingly graphic at times. Note: In the U.S., Band of Brothers ran interspersed with commentary from American war veterans; here Global is including Canadian veterans.HHHH(AR)

MONDAY

girls club

Fox, CH, 9 p.m., premieres Oct. 21

Genre: legal drama

Stars: Kathleen Robertson,

Gretchen Mol, Chyler Leigh

There's not much to review with this latest series from creator/executive producer David E. Kelley. Such is the calibre of the multi-tasking Mr. Kelley (The Practice, Boston Public) that he wasn't asked to shoot a pilot episode. In July, Kelley told TV critics that in girls club, "I'm looking to capture both the nerves of a young associate and the gender politics that still go on inside big corporate law firms." He added that unlike the Boston law firms in The Practice and Ally McBeal, girls club is set in San Francisco and the trials are not important to the plot, they exist only to further the personal stories of the lead characters (Hamilton-born Kathleen Robertson, Gretchen Mol and Chyler Leigh). Since Kelley has a knack for getting inside a gal's head, girls club pricks our curiosity, but is impossible to rate.(CDM)

Still Standing

CBS, Global, 9:30 p.m.; premieres

Sept. 23 on CBS, Sept. 30 on Global

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Jami Gertz, Mark Addy

Sweet, light and, unless you're a parent, a complete waste of time. Many parents, however, might argue that point too. Judy and Bill Miller are trying to make ends meet and stay in love while raising three kids. Mark Addy (you'll remember him from The Full Monty) plays the Dad-as-dunce role while Jami Gertz (Gilda Radner: It's Always Something) is the brains of the family unit. There's comic chemistry here that has nothing to do with catching Addy's American accent slip. The sitcom relies on self-recognition laughter but the jokes aren't as sophisticated as those in its lead-in, Everybody Loves Raymond. If it can capture half of Raymond's audience waiting around for CSI: Miami to start, Still Standing might actually stand a chance.H(CDM)

CSI: Miami

CBS, CTV, 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 23

Genre: cop drama

Stars: David Caruso, Kim Delaney

CBS is so sure this spinoff will be a hit that it didn't order a pilot episode. CSI viewers met the new cast during a sweeps episode in May, but that show didn't include after-work storylines for the CSI: Miami characters. This is the main difference between the two series: The forensic team on CSI: Miami are a bunch of extroverts who go out after work. Their personal lives are part of the story, something CSI scrupulously avoids. Like Law & Order, CSI sticks to the case and that's why it's been such a success (actually beating ER in the ratings). So even though David Caruso is as commanding on screen as he was in NYPD Blue, and Emily Procter gets more air time in tank tops than she did in business suits on The West Wing, lightening may not strike the CSI franchise twice. We haven't even seen how Kim Delaney fits in, though she's rumoured to be a rival and love interest for Caruso. Without a pilot, it's hard to tell.(CDM)

TUESDAY

8 Simple Rules

ABC, CTV, 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 17

Genre: sitcom

Stars: John Ritter, Katey Sagal

John Ritter returns to the sitcom format (did he ever leave?) as a father attempting to preserve the purity of his two teenage daughters. Katey Sagal (of Marriedwith Children and Futurama) is his doctor wife, for one or two seconds between rushing off to the hospital (presumably to give dad time to stumble through parenthood - no problem here with her frequent exits). Ritter, in his Three's Company days, played a career womanizer and there are a few laughs watching him on the other side of the door. A few laughs as in three, but not company enough.H(SC)

In-Laws

NBC, 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 24

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Dennis Farina, Jean Smart

Two recently married young folks (Bonnie Somerville and Elon Gold) move in with the bride's parents to make ends meet as the groom heads off to culinary school. Dennis Farina, a career tough guy who stoops here to tough-guy softy plays the father (and father-in-law), and the mother is Jean Smart, of Designing Women and more recently Frasier. To be charitable, Farina does deliver a few laughs in some scenes with Smart, but this is so obviously derivative (primarily of the movie Meet the Parents, but also every in-law stereotype in existence) that it practically begs to be overhauled.H(SC)

Life With Bonnie

ABC, CTV, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 17

at 8:30 p.m., moves to 9 p.m. on Oct. 1

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Bonnie Hunt, Mark Derwin

Yes, another show about television people. This one has comic Bonnie Hunt playing a morning-show host in Chicago while juggling the requisite harried home life (another universal theme this fall). Mark Derwin, last seen in the very similar 1995 series The Bonnie Hunt Show, plays her doctor husband. Hunt is manic and often funny, as is the guy who plays her producer, David Alan Grier, and there's a redheaded kid you need to see to believe; he's proof of extraterrestrial life. Still, not much is new in Life With Bonnie. Hunt has attempted to carry a show like this in the past, with tepid results, and will need more help from Derwin if this effort is to change that pattern.HH(SC)

Fastlane

CTV, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 17;

Fox, Wednesdays, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 18 for two weeks then is pre-empted for baseball playoffs

Genre: action

Stars: Tiffani Thiessen, Peter Facinelli

Spot quiz: Do you know and enjoy the film canon of Guy Ritchie? If Fred Durst, frontman of the rock band Limp Bizkit, appeared in a cameo (as he does here), would you care? Answer yes to the first question and you may find a few stylistic treats in Fastlane, the hyper-charged story of two young cops seeking to revenge a murdered friend. The pilot is smooth and dripping with cinematic pans and swoops and creative edits. Style aside, however, the content is laughable, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. The leads, Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy, play out the mismatched partner routine with Tiffani Thiessen, horribly miscast as their crime-fighting boss, providing little back-up. And yes, Durst shows up, which is apt: Fastlane is one long music video, with pretty scenery and action but little beneath the surface.HH(SC)

Haunted

NewVR, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 24; Space, Mondays, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 30

Genre: drama

Stars: Matthew Fox, John Mann

Matthew Fox once played the serious, older sibling on Party of Five, now he's a seriously disturbed private investigator. He's haunted by memories of his abducted son and spooked by wandering souls out to avenge their untimely deaths. The pilot episode is dark and creepy with a pretty good fright factor, but the script is predictably bland. Fox kills a very bad guy early in the show (played by John Mann from the pop/folk band Spirit of the West), but he's not dead for long. Haunted is good for a scare, but not much else.HH(CDM)

Less Than Perfect

ABC, CTV, 9:30 p.m., premieres Oct. 1

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Eric Roberts, Sara Rue

Less Than Perfect takes one small part of the old Murphy Brown show and expands it, without much foundation, into an entire series: the trials of a temp assistant to a television personality. The floating assistant is Claude (Sara Rue), a plus-size career office worker who seems to be defined by her body shape: she talks continuously about it throughout the pilot. She takes over a job in the land of the beautiful people waiting on the big-shot anchor, played annoyingly by Eric Roberts who continues to be unable to turn off his Coca-Cola Kid persona. Just when you think things couldn't get worse, up pops Andy Dick (NewsRadio), the personification of blackboard scratching. Less Than Perfect has a few clever lines and gags to please cubicle dwellers but they're terribly rare.H(SC)

Hidden Hills

NBC, Global, 9:30 p.m.,

premieres Sept. 24

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Paula Marshall, Justin Louis

Hidden Hills is a suburban fairy tale, a comedy for the Volvo set, about a busy couple (Paula Marshall and Justin Louis, both familiar respectively from the short-lived sitcoms, Cupid and The Fighting Fitzgeralds). They attempt to raise their kids, go to work and find time for the better things in life (as in sex, which has lost out to baseball practice one too many times). The show has the now ubiquitous fantasy sequences (Ally McBeal-inspired daydreams are a scourge, and should be banned), but also has charm, a keen eye for everyday oddities and even a few genuine laughs. On a slow night, it may not be hidden for long.HHH(SC)

The Osbournes

CTV, 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 17

Genre: rock-star reality

Stars: The Osbourne family

Earlier this year The Osbournes created a record amount of ripples for a show on MTV (or on a digital, MTV Canada). Shock-rocker Ozzy and his bizarre family live in a posh mansion and have ridiculously little to worry or fight about (or swear about), but that doesn't stop them from biting each other's heads off in every half-hour episode and unloading profanity-laced harangues. Ozzy is a shell of a man, though he does spring entertainingly to life on occasion, and the real hero is wife Sharon, the puppet master of the whole brood. CTV is airing it without bleeps and it's a mistake: It was funnier with them, like a translation game.HHH(SC)

The Holmes Show

CTV, 10:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 24

Genre: sketch comedy

Stars: Jessica Holmes

The pilot tape, though we're told it has been completely reshot, is unmentionably bad. The idea is that standup veteran Jessica Holmes leads a comedy troupe through a variety of what are supposed to be cutting-edge bits. Sketch comedy is difficult, it really is, and surely our tiny nation, which has populated every sketch show in existence, has to sooner or later run out of the necessary ingredients. This will move to Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21, if it's still around.HH(SC)

WEDNESDAY

Dinotopia

Global, 8 p.m., premieres Oct. 9; ABC, Thursdays, 8 p.m., premieres Oct. 10

Genre: fantasy

Stars: Erik von Detten, Shiloh Strong

You may remember that eye-popping but dreadfully written and acted dinosaur miniseries that aired last year. This 13-episode series is set in the same strange world where humans and dinosaurs co-exist, but, since the miniseries aired, the humans have been recast and ABC/Disney is facing a lawsuit over the show's most popular dinosaur, Zippo. (The lighter company wants a cut of Zippo's merchandizing profits.) No pilot episode was available, so we've no idea if the new cast or scripts are any better than the old. It would be hard to be worse.(CDM)

Birds of Prey

NewVR, 8 p.m., premieres Oct. 9

Genre: action-adventure

Stars: Dina Meyer, Ashley Scott,

Rachel Skarsten

Seems Batman has flown the Gotham City coop and left a group of alpha-gals in charge. There's Batgirl, who's been paralyzed from the waist down and monitors criminal activity from a secret lair; Helena, the lovechild of Catwoman and Batman; and teenage Dinah, who's just learning how to use her superpowers. Birds of Prey imports the sensibilities of Buffy the Vampire Slayer into Gotham City to great effect. It's quirky and will draw comic-book lovers not upset by this perversion of the Batman legend. For these viewers, Birds of Prey has no competition in this time slot. It should kick butt.HH(CDM)

Cedric the Entertainer Presents

Fox, 8:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 18

Genre: variety/sketch comedy

Stars: Cedric, Shaun Majumder

Someone is always trying to revive the variety show, but it never works in this day and age. The self-titled show (Cedric the Entertainer was born Cedric Kyles) is much more entertaining when the dancing girls leave the stage. The sketch comedy isn't biting, but it is fun. The series is notable mostly as the big American break for Newfoundland comic Shaun Majumder, who's written for This Hour Has 22 Minutes and has been appearing on CBC and Comedy for ages.HH(CDM)

The Twilight Zone

NewVR, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 18; Space, Sundays, 7 p.m., premieres Sept. 22

Genre: suspense

Stars: Forest Whitaker, host

The Twilight Zone is a brand that keeps getting resurrected. This is the third time its been redone since Rod Serling launched the show in 1959. Too bad it just keeps getting worse. Forest Whitaker is incoherent and mumbling throughout his wry Serling-like introduction. Hopefully we just received a faulty screening tape; Whitaker is a great character actor who deserves better than this. Two stories air in each hourlong show. In the pilot, both contained not-so-great actors reading not-so-suspenseful scripts. Why won't Hollywood let the sun finally set on The Twilight Zone?H(CDM)

MDs

ABC, newVR, 10 p.m., premieres

Sept. 25

Genre: medical drama

Stars: John Hannah, William Fichtner

In September 1994 two medical dramas set in the same city premiered on the same night on opposite networks. ER won that ratings battle long before Chicago Hope was cancelled two years ago. Talk about déja vu. Next week, the San Franciso-set medical dramas MDs and Presidio Med lock horns. It won't take long for MDs to put Presidio Med on life support. Both are ensemble shows, but there's just more life in MDs thanks mostly to William Fichtner (Black Hawk Down, The Perfect Storm) and John Hannah, who turns his Scottish accent up full tilt. Both are renegade doctors who enjoy antagonizing the hospital administrators (onetime Codco member Robert Joy plays the goofy suit). They all work in a cash-strapped hospital so there's lots of arguing with HMOs, but the patients seem better served than if they'd checked in to any Ontario hospital.HHH(CDM)

Presidio Med

CBS, Global, 10 p.m., previews Tuesday, Sept. 24, 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 25

Genre: medical drama

Stars: Dana Delaney, Blythe Danner

Presidio Med introduces its star, Dana Delaney, with a nod to China Beach, her late 1980s star vehicle where she played a triage nurse at an American army base in Vietnam. Too soon in the pilot, she is airlifted from an exotic desert locale to the series set: a San Francisco clinic. Boring! Surprisingly, Presidio Med is brought to us by the same trio that run ER, John Wells, Lydia Woodward and Chris Chulack, but this show's pace is much slower and skews heavily toward a female audience. The doctors are almost all women (including another West Wing refugee, Anna Deavere Smith) and the lone male doc is the tall, dark and handsome Oded Fehr. In spite of the stud, the characters and stories are unoriginal and much too earnest to land this female viewer.HH(CDM)

THURSDAY

Do Over

WB, 8:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 19

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Penn Badgley, Gigi Rice

There's this guy, mid-30s, sells paper, has bad hair implants, who one day gets a defibrillator shock accidentally in the noggin. For unexplained reasons, this sends him back to 1981 and allows him to relive his painful teenage years. Amazingly, Do Over is one of two shows this fall with that exact premise (though That Was Then is minus the magic defibrillator). On the credit side, Penn Badgley is not half bad as the lead, adding a bit of convincing maturity to the teen hijinks. The debit side is sizable, but can be boiled down to its utter lack of originality. Plus - oh, the horror - music made in the mid-80s shows up in 1981, which automatically loses it one star.H(SC)

Push, Nevada

ABC, 9 p.m., previews Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. (repeats Sept. 19 at 8 p.m.), premieres Sept. 19

Genre: drama

Stars: Derek Cecil, Scarlett Chorvat

If there's going to be a cult hit in this year's batch of new shows, this is going to be it. It has name-brand recognition (it's from the creative team of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) and a get-rich gimmick: solve the mystery of some missing money and you pocket the cash. The show itself is amazing for the first three minutes and 20 seconds. That sets up the missing money, introduces IRS accountant Jim Prufrock (Derek Cecil, who does wear his trousers rolled) and instigates a road trip to Nevada, where the wonderful actor Jon Polito heads up a menagerie of odd characters. After this great opening, some problems: It attempts to be David Lynch-style quirky but the dialogue and acting let it down, and the awful Armand Assante takes over the bad-guy role from Polito, which is not a good sign. Still, it's a very slow year.HHH(SC)

Good Morning Miami

NBC, Global, 9:30 p.m.,

premieres Sept. 26

Genre: sitcom

Stars: Mark Feuerstein, Ashley Williams

Mark Feuerstein, recognizable from his guest stints on The West Wing, plays a crackerjack TV producer who doesn't really want a new job heading up a terrible morning show in Miami. Then he sees Dylan (Ashley Williams), who is too cute for words (which is good, because she doesn't get many lines). He falls for her, only to find out she's with the sleazy on-air host (not the Latino stereotype, the other one). Good Morning Miami is from the production team behind Will and Grace, but beyond Feuerstein and Williams it has little going for it. Expect some pre-premiere tweaks to fill out the edges.HH(SC)

Without a Trace

CBS, Global, 10 p.m.,

premieres Sept. 26

Genre: crime drama

Stars: Anthony LaPaglia

This ensemble crime puzzler shares a lot in common with CSI, not necessarily a good thing. It focuses on the FBI's missing-persons squad in New York, headed by Anthony LaPaglia. In the first episode, the super-group of well-dressed beautiful people scours the city for one missing woman, a publishing executive who has disappeared (not a bad career move these days). There are camera tricks galore to enliven the search, but not much in the way of character development or convincing dialogue.HH(SC)

FRIDAY

Firefly

Fox, Global, 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 20

Genre: sci-fi

Stars: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres

Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) decided that in his new series, "I wanted to stay away from the easy science- fiction fixes. The android, the clone, the alien." So Firefly is set 500 years in the future - far enough that spaceships are the norm, but not far enough to take the technology out of its frontier beginnings. It's a sci-fi/western. Weird, but it works. Nathan Fillion of Edmonton plays the captain of a transport ship that doesn't have a planet to call home. He leads a motley crew of eight (including Jewel Staite from Da Vinci's Inquest) who speak with the appropriate wit and sarcasm you expect from a Joss Whedon show. Fox rejected the original two-hour pilot because it didn't have enough action. Still, in the segments I saw the characters were fun and the Stagecoach/Lost in Space settings helped it stand out from any other new show this season.HHH(CDM)

That Was Then

ABC, newVR, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 27

Genre: drama

Stars: James Bulliard, Tyler Labine

Two really nice Canadian guys star in this awfully silly show that doesn't stand a chance. That Was Then is one of two shows this fall about a 30-year-old guy (James Bulliard of Toronto) who time

travels back to high school to fix what's wrong in his future. Of course, it doesn't work out the way he planned. But isn't it funny to see everyone in 1980s clothes and haircuts, particularly his best friend, played by Tyler Labine of Vancouver. The pilot is entertaining, but where is it going to go from here? If Bulliard's character ever gets the girl, the show's over. He's got to stay stuck on a hamster wheel of time-travel and that'll grow old fast, just like the '80s jokes do by the end of the first hour.HH(CDM)

Hack

CBS, Global, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 27

Genre: drama

Stars: David Morse, Andre Braugher

David Morse (St. Elsewhere) plays a cop who has been kicked off the force for stealing and ends up driving a cab at night. He still fights bad guys, however, by solving the problems of those who end up in his cab. To do this he calls in favours from his old partner (Andre Braugher from Homicide: Life on the Street). Morse and Braugher are very good, and, with the exception of Morse's superhero fighting skills in the pilot, the show is credible. There's not much buzz about Hack and only the people who live in Philadelphia are excited about it. The show is filmed there, and that makes Hack a very expensive show for CBS. Don't expect it to last long if the ratings are middling.HHH(CDM)

John Doe

Fox, 9 p.m., premieres Sept. 20;

newVR, Mondays, 8 p.m., premieres Friday, Sept. 20, 9 p.m.

Genre: drama

Stars: Dominic Purcell

Man is found floating naked in ocean. Once rescued, man finds he has amnesia but also knows absolutely everything. (He knows this because he tests himself in a reference library.) And yet, man is sad. He doesn't know who he is. Man thinks he's clever to rename himself John Doe. Amazingly, man is trusted by police to do autopsies and lead searches for missing kids. Man, Fox should have let this show drown.H(CDM)

Robbery Homicide Division

CBS, newVR, 10 p.m.,

premieres Sept. 27

Genre: cop drama

Stars: Tom Sizemore, David Cubitt

There was no tape available for this new series executive produced by Michael Mann, but critics were shown a three-minute clip of the pilot. Mann doesn't write the scripts or direct, but the short clip had the harsh, jarring look typical of his films. Robbery Homicide Division doesn't have the light, breezy style made famous in Mann's other cop show, Miami Vice. Set in L.A., Tom Sizemore plays a veteran detective who doesn't always follow the rules. He heads an elite unit of cops that includes David Cubitt (best know here for his work on Traders). We can only rate it on style, not substance.HHH(CDM)

The Shield

Global, 10 p.m., premieres Sept. 20

Genre: cop drama

Stars: Michael Chiklis

This cable series kicked up a stink in the States because of its language, nudity and raw violence. Naturally, it was nominated for three Emmy awards. Michael Chiklis plays the kind of cop who's hard to separate from the criminals he puts behind bars. Chiklis has bulked up some since he played The Commish years ago, and his character, detective Vic Mackey, is a helluva lot more ruthless once you really get to know him. The series resembles NYPD Blue in the early days when Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) was still a drunk beating up suspects behind closed blinds. Now that NYPD Blue (celebrating its 200th episode on Tuesday, Sept. 24) is more soap opera than cop show, The Shield, and CBS's Robbery Homicide Division seem decent alternatives.HHHH(CDM)

MOVIES & SPECIALS

National Geographic

Presents Pyramids Live: Secret Chambers Revealed

Fox, Sept. 16, 8 p.m.

A glimpse inside the ancient burial tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs.(AR)

The Rats

Fox, Sept. 19, 8 p.m.

Vincent Spano and Madchen Amick star in this made-for-TV thriller about hordes of angry rats that invade the streets of New York.(AR)

The Forsyte Saga

CBC, Sept 29; PBS, Oct. 6

A remake of the 1967 BBC miniseries adapted from John Galsworthy's novel. This PBS/ Granada co-production stars Damian Lewis as Soames Forsyte and Gina McKee (Dice) as Irene.(CDM)

Prince William

ABC, Sept. 29

An unauthorized TV movie chronicling the life, so far at least, of Charles's and Diana's eldest son. Early word is it will focus on William's drinking habits. The Palace is reportedly not amused.(AR)

Celebrity Boot Camp

Fox, Sept. 30

Identical in theme to last year's Boot Camp reality series, this version will have B-list celebrities being put through their paces by the squad of Marine drill instructors.(AR)

Queen and Country

CBC, Oct. 9

The day before the Queen tours the CBC offices, the network premieres this four-hour history from the BBC. This is the one that sparked tabloid headlines when Lady Kennard, Prince Andrew's godmother, confirmed the Queen never did like her daughter-in-law Diana. Shocking!(CDM)

The Newsroom

CBC, Oct. 28

George Findlay and his gang of merry newsmen return in a two-hour film that also incorporates Leah Pinsent's character from More Tears. Ken Finkleman and Peter Keleghan star. (CDM)

Extreme Variety

NBC, November

Tom Cavanagh (Ed) hosts this homage to strange-but-true Vegas entertainers. Included in the list are sword swallowers and contortionists.(AR)

The Battle of Mary Kay

CBS, November sweeps

Shirley MacLaine makes a rare TV appearance as the woman who began her business career late in life and still built it into a multimillion dollar cosmetics empire.(AR)

The New Beachcombers

CBC, Nov. 25

Jackson Davies (Constable John) is the only returning actor from the original series that ran throughout the '70s on CBC, but the spirit of Nick and Relic live on in this spinoff. The new movie stars Dave Thomas and Graham Greene.(CDM)

The National Dog Show

NBC, November 28

A rare TV experiement, NBC is airing this show as a counter-programming alternative to football during the American Thanksgiving weekend. Filmed at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia's annual competition, the prestigious event is expected to attract over 3,000 breeds. Hosted by John O'Hurley (Seinfeld).(AR)

100 Days in the Jungle

CTV, December

Michael Riley is a stretch as a bullheaded, rough-around-the-edges type, but the film about eight Canadian pipeline workers kidnapped in Ecuador is tense and engaging. At least until the incredibly sappy ending, but hey, it is airing at Christmastime.(CDM)

Hitler

CBS, February 3

This probably seemed like a good idea to someone: The miniseries is based on the bestseller by Ian Kershaw, and is said to focus primarily on Hitler's prepolitical life just after the First World War. There is also attention to how he capitalized on Germany's weakened political state in order to become its leader.(AR)

Agent of Influence

CTV, airdate TBA

Christopher Plummer plays Canadian Ambassador John Watkins, who died mysteriously in 1964. The movie is

based on the book of the same name

by Ian Adams.(CDM)

The Eleventh Hour

CTV, airdate TBA

Could this be the next E.N.G? This 13-episode drama follows the lives and loves of the people who work on a hard-hitting TV newsmagazine.(CDM)n

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