It used to be that the TV criticism gig slowed down in the summer, with only repeats and baseball games getting in the way of trendspotting for the fall. Somehow, that didn't seem to be the case this summer. In addition to blue chip reality programming like "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Top Chef" (plus the ever-compulsively-watchable "Big Brother"), cable unleashed a scripted programming from "Burn Notice" to "True Blood" to "Make It or Break It" to "Mad Men." Even Saturday nights were busy this summer with "Harper's Island" and "Kings" and ABC's Summer Burn-Off Theatre. 

So forgive me if I'm not exactly ready for Fall Preview coverage. Unfortunately, with the new season unofficially starting on Tuesday, Sept. 8 with the return of "90210" and the premiere of "Melrose Place 2.0" on The CW, I don't have much choice.

[More after the break...]

My formal Fall TV previewing got started yesterday, when I looked at the season's best and worst new shows with Maggie Furlong of AOL-TV and AOL-TV's DVR Divas.

GIVE IT A LISTEN.

I'll be reviewing all of the fall's new shows and many of the returning shows in the week to come, but for preview purposes, all the cool kids like to do editorial photo galleries.

But how to break them up? 

By network? Well, ABC seems to have 50 new shows, while The CW only has three. That doesn't seem fair. 

By night of the week? Too diffuse. Also? Poor Saturday.

By "Best" and "Worst"? Well, you can't mess with the classics.

The problem: Most of this fall's new shows fall squarely in the middle range. There are definitely four or five awful shows (Yes, "Brothers," I'm looking at you). And there are also four or five shows I'm looking forward to seeing more of (including ABC's "V," which doesn't premiere until Nov. 3, which still counts as fall in my book).

That puts most of the season's new shows right in the middle, which isn't surprising at all. There are bad shows that I think I'll watch anyway (The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" comes to mind) and acceptable shows that I wish were better (I just can't get excited about "The Good Wife"). I made "Best" and "Worst" galleries, which is pretty binary, but there's room for shades of grey. I may have put a new show in the "Best" gallery or the "Worst" gallery, but the difference between the worst of the best and the best of the worst is negligible.

That's especially true in the case of shows that were categorized based on a really lame 10 minute clip reel (ABC's "The Forgotten"), a gloomy pilot that's been partially recap and won't even air as the premiere (CBS' "Three Rivers") or a spinoff that didn't look interesting in its backdoor pilot but may be better when it stands alone ("NCIS: LA"). The rankings are based on what I've seen, but that doesn't mean that some good pilots won't lead to bad shows or that some bad pilots won't lead to good shows.

Heck, HBO's "Bored to Death" (which I've included in one of the two galleries along with USA's "White Collar," just because they're both premiering in the fall) has a forgettable pilot, followed by two memorable and satisfying episodes, so I've had more to evaluate. Then again, having more episodes to evaluate didn't help "Brothers."

 

 

Enough preamble, though...

TV Season Preview: The Fall of 2009's Worst New Shows

 

Stay tuned on Sunday (or maybe Monday) of the season's Best New Shows... And the reviewing will also start on Monday.