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New shows this fall

Nutty roommates, fairy tales, crusty doctors and dysfunctional families are on the slate.

September 11, 2011|By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

Last Man Standing (ABC, Oct. 11). Tim Allen stars in his first sitcom this century as a man among women (three daughters, wife Nancy Travis) who longs for the days when "men used to build cities just so they could burn 'em down." Of course, he's a softy beneath the bluster. "I'm living with Lord Voldemort," complains his sensitive middle daughter. "I don't know who that is," Tim says, "but he sounds like a very caring father."

Man Up! (ABC, Oct. 18). The jock block continues. Three suburban friends (Mather Zickel, Dan Fogler and Christopher Moynihan, who also created the series) fret over their masculinity or lack thereof. This is a real issue, I guess, that not even being married to Teri Polo can easily put to rest.

Unforgettable (CBS, Sept. 20). Poppy Montgomery plays an ex-ex-cop who remembers everything except who killed her sister in this latest detective-with-a-talent procedural romance. (It's female-friendly!) Dylan Walsh is her former boyfriend and present partner; they make out in flashbacks.

Ringer (CW, Tuesday). Sarah Michelle Gellar plays twins, one an exotic dancer on the lam from a killer, the other rich and remote and not what she seems. One may be evil. Nestor Carbonell is the federal agent as confused as you.

New Girl (Fox, Sept. 20). Kooky, klutzy Zooey Deschanel moves in with strangers Jake Johnson (scarecrow), Max Greenfield (tin man) and Damon Wayans Jr. (cowardly lion) after a sudden breakup. Deschanel's sotto-voce, heart-on-sleeve affect feels original; in a year of solid sitcoms, this is the one they'll have to pry from my fingers.

Reed Between the Lines (BET, Oct. 11). Former "Cosby" kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner plays an English professor raising a family of three with psychologist wife Tracee Ellis Ross. Press releases promise warmth, as in days of old.

Wednesdays

Suburgatory (ABC, Sept. 28.) Single father Jeremy Sisto, unable to tell a frying pan from a fire, drags heroically ironic teenage daughter Jane Levy from Lower Manhattan to the picket-fenced mainland. Surprisingly generous to the exaggerated objects of its comical disaffection. As a done-up, done-over neighbor, Cheryl Hines makes shallow deep.

Revenge (ABC, Sept. 21). A younger-set "Dynasty," older-set "Gossip Girl" atmosphere reigns as Emily VanCamp sets out to serve the proverbial cold dish to the Hamptonites who destroyed her father. Madeleine Stowe is the woman next door, possibly more sinned against than sinning, Nick Wechsler a selfless townie.

H8R (CW, Sept. 14). Celebrities (Snooki, Kim K., like that) attempt to sway with their citizen-critics.

The X Factor (Fox, Sept. 21). Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul reunite, under a new flag, as bad and good fairy godparents in this cash register disguised as a talent show. The net is cast wider here than on "Idol": Singers do not — technically — have to be hot or even young to win. Radical! Hosted by Steve Jones — not the Sex Pistol, sadly.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Fox, Nov. 23). Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran are best friends whose best-friend daughters treat them like the losers they already fear they are. The jokes run to harsh, but the stars have good chemistry and Finneran will smear pie on her face for a laugh.

Up All Night (NBC, Sept. 14). Will Arnett, playing a relatively normal person for a change, and the invaluable Christina Applegate are late-maturing new parents in a comedy from "SNL"/"Parks and Recreation" staffer Emily Spivey that stays ahead of its premise. Maya Rudolph costars as a bad influence.

Free Agents (NBC, Sept. 14). Singled co-workers Hank Azaria (divorced) and Kathryn Hahn (widowed) sleep together despite themselves; nosy boss Anthony Head comments. "Party Down" co-creator John Enbom and director Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle") remake the British original.

American Horror Story (FX, Oct. 5). A troubled Boston family (Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga) moves to L.A. for a fresh start. Oh, snap! The house is haunted. (But Jessica Lange does live next door.) Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk ("Nip/Tuck," "Glee") have made this for you.

Whitechapel (BBC America, Oct. 26.) Copycat killers ape famous crimes of history in East London; detectives Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis would like them to stop.

For Better or Worse (TBS, Nov. 23). Indefatigable Atlanta movie mogul Tyler Perry extracts two characters from his "Why Did I Get Married?" films — sports commentator Michael Jai White and salon owner Tasha Smith, still asking that question — for his third TBS sitcom. (One day that'll stand for Tyler's Broadcasting System, doubtless.)

The Exes (TV Land, Nov. 30) Kristen Johnson ("3rd Rock from the Sun") is the classic-sitcom tent pole supporting this fourth TV Land sitcom, as a divorce lawyer who foists needy client David Alan Basche upon roommates Donald Faison and Wayne Knight.

Thursdays

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