The Middle, hour-long season premiere at 8pm on ABC
– Forget about athletes, movie stars and politicians. Parents are the real heroes—but we think Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond), must be some kind of superhero. A loving wife and mother of three, she’s middle class in the middle of the country and is rapidly approaching middle age. Frankie and her husband, Mike (Neil Flynn), have lived in Orson, Indiana, their whole lives. A man of few words (every one a zinger), Mike is a manager at the town quarry and Frankie is the third-best used car salesman (out of the three) at the local dealership. She may not be a high-powered career woman, but when it comes to her family, she’ll go to just about any length. And with kids like these, she had better. There’s Axl (Charlie McDermott), her semi-nudist teenage son conceived while under the influence of Guns N’ Roses; Sue (Eden Sher), the awkward teenage daughter who fails at everything… but with the utmost of gusto; and their seven-year-old son Brick (Atticus Shaffer), whose best friend is his backpack. Sometimes it seems like everyone is trying to get to the top, or struggling not to hit bottom, but we think Frankie and her family will find a lot of love, and a lot of laughs, somewhere in The Middle.
Animal Practice, official series premiere at 8pm on NBC
– Justin Kirk stars as Dr. George Coleman (Weeds, Angels in America), a top veterinarian with an impressive list of famous animal patients at the Crane Animal Hospital – a bustling New York City veterinary practice where it often seems as if the patients are running the place. Despite his unorthodox style, George has an undeniable gift with animals of all kinds – except the human kind. Much to his chagrin, George recently learned that his ex-girlfriend, Dorothy Crane (JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Better with You), has inherited the family business and is now George’s boss. Whip-smart and ambitious, Dorothy shakes up the hospital as she brings order to the chaos and butts heads with George’s animal-friendly administration. Tyler Labine (Reaper, Sons of Tucson) plays Dr. Doug Jackson, a vet who’s great with animals, but hapless in matters of the heart; Bobby Lee (“Harold & Kumar”) stars as Dr. Yamamoto; Kym Whitley (“We Bought a Zoo”) stars as Juanita; and newcomer Betsy Sodaro (“The Nick Show Kroll”) stars as Nurse Angela. Dr. Rizzo, the resident capuchin monkey at Crane Animal Hospital and George’s closest companion is played by Crystal (“The Hangover II,” Community).
Guys With Kids, official series premiere at 8:30pm on NBC
– This new comedy from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jimmy Fallon is about three 30-something dads who try to hold on to their youth as they face the responsibilities of having kids. Thankfully, Gary (Anthony Anderson, Law & Order), Chris (Jesse Bradford, The West Wing) and Nick (Zach Cregger, “Friends with Benefits”) have each other to help navigate the highs and lows of fatherhood – while still trying desperately to remain dudes. Balancing work or staying at home, happily married or happily divorced, taking care of the “littles” while maintaining a social life is a daily challenge. Whether it’s hosing down their babies in the kitchen sink or hitting the bar strapped with “babybjorns,” these guys are taking on fatherhood in ways no one has ever seen before. Nick and Gary’s wives – Emily (Jamie-Lynn Sigler, The Sopranos) and Marny (Tempestt Bledsoe, The Cosby Show) also offer their own parenting advice. Dads today are more involved in their kids’ lives than ever, and these guys are no exception. No tantrum is too loud, no diaper is too dirty – Nick, Chris and Gary are up to the challenge.
Criminal Minds, season premiere at 9pm on CBS
– Among CBS’s long roster of crime procedurals, Criminal Minds revolves around an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze the country’s most twisted criminal minds, anticipating their next moves before they strike again. The Behavioral Analysis Unit’s most experienced agent is David Rossi, a founding member of the BAU who returns to help the team solve new cases. The team is lead by Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, a strong profiler who is able to gain people’s trust and unlock their secrets. Other members include Emily Prentiss, a former Interpol agent and daughter of high-powered diplomats whose past life has caught up with her, leading to her presumed demise; Special Agent Derek Morgan, an expert on obsessional crimes; Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid, a classically misunderstood genius whose social IQ is as low as his intellectual IQ is high; Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau, the team’s confident unit liaison who was called to a top Pentagon job but returns to the BAU under mysterious circumstances; and Penelope Garcia, a computer wizard who helps research the cases. Each member brings his or her own area of expertise to the table as they pinpoint predators’ motivations and identify their emotional triggers in the attempt to stop them.
Law & Order: SVU, two-hour season premiere at 9pm on NBC
– This hard-hitting and emotional series entering its fourteenth season is the most successful of the Law & Order franchise, even outliving the original. The crime drama chronicles the life and crimes of the Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department, the elite squad of detectives who investigate sexually based crimes. Since Stabler’s departure after season 12, the show tried to make up for this massive loss by giving Benson two rookies to train. Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) joined the unit for season 13 but Stabler’s absence was noted by viewers and ratings dipped. In the Season 13 finale, Captain Donald Cragen woke up next to a dead hooker. Teaser photos of the season premiere released by NBC show Cragen in an orange jumpsuit. Criminal Minds actress Paget Brewster will handle the case against Cragen as the head of the Public Integrity Unit at the District Attorney’s office. In the meantime, Firefly and Chuck veteran Adam Baldwin will appear in at least three episodes as the interim captain. Look for friction between him and the elite squad of detectives known as the Special Victims Unit.
Modern Family, season premiere at 9pm on ABC
– The three-time Emmy award-winner for best comedy series can also add ‘favorite show of Ann Romney’ to its list of impressive accolades. Phil Dunphy is a loving husband/devoted dad who dreams big while making the most out of the little things in life. Claire is his grounded, responsible, regimented (but in a good way) wife. These two are the perfect mix when it comes to raising their three way-different kids. Haley is the independent, eye-rolling teen. Middle sister Alex is wise beyond her years. Little brother Luke, well, isn’t. At least, that’s what he’d like you to think. Claire’s gruff, no-nonsense dad, Jay Pritchett, married a much younger Colombian beauty named Gloria. Her passion for life has rubbed off on her young son Manny, who marches to the beat of his own drum, usually in a burgundy dinner jacket. Jay has done the parent thing with his two adult kids and is currently enjoying Round 2 as dad to Manny. Round 3 is just around the corner now that Gloria has announced there’s a new baby headed their way! Jay’s lawyer son, Mitchell, embraced a major life change when he and his carefree, trophy wife partner, Cameron, adopted their super-cute Vietnamese baby, Lily. They’re learning all the parenting ropes as they go. Attempts to adopt another child haven’t panned out. Fortunately, they have the loving support of their extended, eclectic, funny family to keeping them going strong.
The Neighbors, series premiere at 9:30pm on ABC
– Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) just wants the best for his wife Debbie (Jami Gertz, aka that girl who was screaming all the time in one of my favorite movies ever, “Twister”) and their three kids. That’s why he’s moving them to Hidden Hills, New Jersey, a gated community complete with its own golf course. Marty is certain that their new home will be a dream come true. And then, they meet the neighbors. The residents of Hidden Hills are a little… different. Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) introduces himself as the “leader” of the community. Then, he presents his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) and their two sons (yes, they’re named after famous athletes – Dick Butkus and Reggie Jackson). After Debbie and Marty frantically try to make sense of the weird neighbors — very European? A cult? Amish athletes? – they discover that the entire Hidden Hills community is comprised of aliens from the planet Zabvron. Turns out the Zabvronians have been holed up in Hidden Hills for the past 10 years, awaiting instructions from back home. And the Weavers are the first humans who have ever lived amongst them. At first, the Weavers are ready to cut and run. But the aliens seem harmless enough. And there is a lot of closet space… So, they decide to stay and help their new neighbors adapt to life on this confusing planet we call home. As the Weavers and the aliens face the struggles of everyday life together, they discover that some things – the ups and downs of marriage, the desire to be a good parent and raise a happy family – are universal. Intergalactic, even. And the Weavers realize they’ve found an ally in the family next door… even if they do cry out of their ears.
CSI, season premiere at 10pm on CBS
– CBS’s signature fast-paced drama follows a team of forensic investigators trained to solve crimes by examining the evidence. They are on the case 24/7, scouring the scene, collecting the irrefutable evidence and finding the missing pieces that will solve the mystery. D.B. Russell, the new CSI Supervisor for the grave shift, comes to the team after heading the Seattle Crime Lab. He’s a family man and scientist, but not a nerd. Son of hippie parents, he’s a “Left Coast” Sherlock Holmes who devours crime novels and looks at every crime scene as if it were a story waiting to be told. Other CSI members include Catherine Willows, the team’s former supervisor and an investigator with a cop’s instinct for reading human behavior; Nick Stokes, the conscience of the team, often driven by his emotional connection to the victim to always get the job done; Sara Sidle, aka Mrs. Grissom, the moral compass of the team who is relentless in her pursuit of criminals; Greg Sanders, once an off-beat tech analyst and now an experienced and intuitive crime solver; and Morgan Brody, an exile from the Los Angeles Crime Lab and the daughter of Undersheriff Ecklie. She’s a natural born investigator who still has a lot to learn about politics and family. The CSI team members also work closely with Captain Jim Brass, a seasoned detective and protector of CSI, sometimes to a fault; Dr. Albert Robbins, the ever-professional medical examiner; his wise-cracking assistant, David Phillips; and David Hodges, a tech of many talents who often rubs people the wrong way, but never fails to deliver.