Wondering whether there’s anything worth watching on NBC this fall? If so, here’s our handy guide to what’s new (and old) on the network. Actors won’t be the only thing that’s familiar for 2011 – 2012 as series tap into classic ideas, remake existing ones and put a sometimes unique spin on oldies but goodies.
What It Is: “Better Off Ted” with Hank Azaria
How It’s Different: Azaria (“The Simpsons”) plays Alex, an unlucky divorcee who finds love (again) at work with Helen (Kathryn Hahn), only to turn her off by crying about his kids.
Why You Might Watch: An exceptional cast, including Anthony Head (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), comedienne Natasha Leggero and Hahn (“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”
Why You Might Not: The way Alex’s sex life becomes the focus during company meetings may give any office drone nightmares.
What It Is: “Castle” meets the graphic novel “Fables.”
How It’s Different: In this re-imagining of Grimm’s fairy tales in the 21st century, Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he’s a descendant of a group of elite hunters known as Grimms who are charged with stopping the proliferation of supernatural creatures in the world. Luckily, he gets a hand in sorting out this strange new (but old) world from Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who just might be more big, bad wolf than regular guy.
Why You Might Watch: Executive producer David Greenwalt (“Angel,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) has one heck of a track record.
Why You Might Not: You got tired of the fairy tale revamp after (or even before) “Red Riding Hood” bombed in theaters.
What It Is: “Mad Men” meets “Las Vegas” plus bunnies
How It’s Different: This Hef-approved look at Chicago’s Playboy Club in the early ‘60s examines the first glimmers of the sexual revolution – but also looks at the city’s seamy side when Bunny Maureen (Amber Heard) accidentally kills a mob boss and must look to club member and aspiring district attorney Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian) to help her cover her tracks.
Why You Might Watch: The same reason you watch “Mad Men” – smoking, drinking, skinny ties, cool tunes and pre-feminist banter.
Why You Might Not: Sadly, “Mad Men”’s ratings wouldn’t keep a network show afloat for more than half an episode.
What It Is: “Nurse Jackie” meets the original BBC “Prime Suspect”
How It’s Different: While Dame Helen Mirren gave the role of a brilliant but beleaguered detective her trademark steely charm, this time Maria Bello (“A History of Violence”) tackles the role with a hard-living slant.
Why You Might Watch: You love Maria Bello, who recently wowed us as a drug addict on “Law & Order: SVU.”
Why You Might Not: Helen Mirren isn’t in it.
What It Is: “Mad About You” meets “Mr. Mom” plus “30 Rock”
How It’s Different: Less family-friendly goop, more “SNL” attitude
Why You Might Watch: Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”), Christina Applegate (“Samantha Who?”) and Maya Rudolph (“SNL”) should be reason enough to tune in. With Lorne Michaels and “SNL” writer Emily Spivey behind the camera, it might be reason enough to stick around.
Why You Might Not: You hate people who swear like sailors around babies. Killjoy.
What It Is: “The New Adventures of Old Christine” but younger and hipper
How It’s Different: Whitney Cummings (“Chelsea Lately”) loves her live-in boyfriend but refuses to get married.
Why You Might Watch: Cummings has a sometimes crass, sometimes wacky charm that is sitcom ready.
Why You Might Not: You’re way over wacky sitcoms.
What It Is: “Leaving Las Vegas” but (hopefully) funnier
How It’s Different: The Chelsea Handler character (Laura Prepon) probably won’t die on the show, though we may want to kill her.
Why You Might Watch: We loved Laura Prepon on “That ‘70s Show.”
Why You Might Not: The show is based on Chelsea Handler’s book of the same name, and Handler plays the part of Sloane, Chelsea’s sister. If you’re not a Handler fan, that’s a whole lot of Chelsea.
What It Is: “Sliding Doors” meets “Jacob’s Ladder”
How It’s Different: Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs, the “Harry Potter” franchise) has a car accident which kills his wife. Or is it his son? Every time Britten wakes up, he flip flops back and forth between contrasting realities in which either his wife or his son is dead. Keeping track of who he’s coming home to is only part of the problem: he also has to keep track of different cases at work and different shrinks (played by Cherry Jones and B.D. Wong).
Why You Might Watch: Jason Isaacs (who’s so deliciously malevolent in the “Potter” movies) grabs our attention even when he’s weighed down by grief, and we’re always happy to see Fez (Wilmer Valderrama, as Britten’s partner Efrem Vega) working.
Why You Might Not: If this show has the same finale as “Jacob’s Ladder,” you’re going to be almost as ticked off as when you watched the ending of “Lost.”
What It Is: “Cheers” without the beer
How It’s Different: Amanda Peet (“Something’s Gotta Give”) plays Alex, a hard-driving career mom who fights her feelings of attraction for her feel-good lothario contractor, (David Walton, “Perfect Couples”)
Why You Might Watch: Because Amanda Peet is always worth watching. Plus Jeffrey Tambor as Pete’s dad will give us “Arrested Development” flashbacks – hopefully in a good way.
Why You Might Not: We get plenty of meet-cute coupling on another NBC show, “Community.”
What It Is: “Fame” meets “A Chorus Line” times “All About Eve”
How It’s Different: When a successful songwriting team (Debra Messing and Christian Borle) start work on a musical about Marilyn Monroe, two strong contenders emerge for the coveted role: polished Broadway vet Ivy (Megan Hilty) and greenhorn Karen (Katharine McPhee). Who will win? And will the production ever get off the ground?
Why You Might Watch: “American Idol” castoff Katharine McPhee. Oh, and Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston as the powerful producer and Jack Davenport (whom BBC fans will recognize from “Coupling”) as the womanizing director of the show.
Why You Might Not: This could be great high drama or it could be pure camp – only time will tell.