What to say about the new Fox sked? Lotta new shows, lotta familiar faces a la Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Julianna Margulies and Parker Posey. Lot of star power behind the scenes, from the "visionary" Lasse Hallstrom (as he's billed in Fox's press release) directing a guy who can't die in "New Amsterdam" to the Farrelly brothers ("Rules for Starting Over") to Mike Figgis (Margulies' "Canterbury's Law") to the drama pilot zen-master David Nutter ("The Sarah Connor Chronicles") who can get a pilot picked up just by touching the script. James Burrows brings his gracious touch to the Grammer/Heaton sitcom-cast "Back to You." I'm curious why Fox is going the "'Til Death" route with that high-profile comedy (which is also graced with the comedy stylings of Fred Willard) by launching it the fall rather during the second front in January when the network has the "Idol" glow around it. But Fox scheduling guru Preston Beckman has been at this game a long time. He knows what he's doing.
"Back to You" (20th Century Fox TV/ Wednesday 8 p.m.) by all rights outta be funny, given its pedigree that also includes, most importantly, creators Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. Midseason entry "Anchorwoman" also sounds promising (though with all these TV news-themed projects you gotta wonder if Roger Ailes was sitting in on the pilot screenings this year). It sounds like a hybrid make-most-of-it-up-as-we-go-along half-hour revolving around a former WWE female wrestling star who takes a job as at a tiny Texas news station. Fox's press blurb on the show (sorry, no pictures posted on the Fox site yet) says that stars Phil Hurley, Lauren Jones, Annalisa Petraglia, Dan Delgado and Michelle Reese play themselves in the show. Am I supposed to know who these people are?)
On the drama side, "K-Ville" (20th Century Fox TV/Monday 9 p.m.) sounds like an ambitious effort to take on the very contemporary story of life in post-Katrina New Orleans, through the prism of two courageous cops who are dedicated to keeping the peace in the Big Easy. Star Anthony Anderson demonstrated his menacing-guy acting chops on "The Shield" a while back; he outta be able to do the same as a member of the NOPD's Felony Action Squad, as Fox's blurb describes it.
"New Amsterdam" (Regency TV/ Wednesday 9 p.m.) is the aforementioned cop show about a guy who's cursed with immortality. His longest-ever bad day begins way back in 1642 when he falls on a sword to save the life of an Indian girl amid a massacre at the hands of his fellow Dutch settlers. Things go downhill for him from there, and then he gets a job as a NYPD homicide detective. It kinda figures that his best friend, and only keeper of his secret, is a "sage jazz club owner" named Omar. It's not exactly sage jazz but there's an old Elvis Costello & the Attractions tune just dying to be licensed as the theme song for this oddball-sounding show.
At first glance "Canterbury's Law" (Sony Pictures TV/Thursday 9 p.m. in January) looks like it might be more at home on NBC or ABC, except that it hails from Denis Leary and Jim Serpico's Apostle production shingle, purveyors of FX's "Rescue Me." Julianna Margulies' character, crusader lawyer Elizabeth Canterbury, is described as a "force of nature" and no doubt Margulies will pull that off just fine with an assist from Linus Roache as Mr. Force of Nature. She and her husband are haunted by a tragic event in their recent past but it's a pretty depressing one for all of us who received Mother's day cards this past Sunday so let's move on to...
"The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (Warner Bros. TV/Sunday 9 p.m. in January), which is a big bid to translate the tortured "Terminator" franchise to the small screen. No Lena Headey doesn't have a bad guy in a head lock in this picture. It's actually Thomas Dekker as her son, and those two now have to save the world and fight off the enemies from the future that are dead set on wiping him out. The series is supposed to pick up where 1991's "T2" left off. (Maybe they just didn't like what went down in 2003's "T3," or its a rights-issue thing.)
"The Return of Jezebel James" (Regency TV/Wednesday 8:30 p.m.) ought to be whip-smart and fast-talking a la its creator, "Gilmore Girls" maven Amy Sherman-Palladino. It's got Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose going for it too, in the story of a successful children's book editor who decides to have a baby one day but is dismayed to find out that she can't. Enter her estranged younger sister, who has plenty of time on her hands and apparently a fully-functional uterus. So the sisters decide to bond in a most unusual, oh-so-contemporary way -- especially after the younger sis realizes that older sis has based a whole book series on one of their inside family jokes. Now that's heartening. To paraphrase an old song: Once in love with Amy's work, always willing to check out her new endeavor. Her husband and fellow "Gilmore" steward Dan Palladino is along for this ride too as an exec producer, which is another good sign.
"The Rules for Starting Over" (20th Century Fox TV/TBD) is automatically intriguing because it features Rashida Jones, and that portends somethingerother for the unrequited (I think, I have to catch up on a few episodes) love of Jim 'n' Pam on NBC's "The Office." (Jones entered the picture on that show this season as a love distraction for John Krasinski's Jim.) But it's also got the Farrelly brothers behind it so it ought to appeal to the folks their movies appeal to. In a nutshell, a group of newly single friends find themselves starting over in their 30s, and Jones plays the just-turned-30 lawyer who just happened to handle all three of their divorces. The cast also includes Shaun Majumder, who's known for his stint on "24," but I recall him best as a guy who really made me laugh a few years ago at a Middle Eastern comics standup showcase hosted by 20th Century Fox TV at one of those shoebox theaters on La Cienega. Nice to see talent make good, and nice to know there really are good reasons to take in those industry showcases every now and again.