"Shameless" is back for another season, and I have a quick review of the premiere coming up just as soon as we can afford pulp...

At the end of last season, I noted that the finale felt more like the end of the series than anything else. Jimmy/Steve was apparently dead, Frank's medical condition had deteriorated to the point where further drinking would kill him, Lip was in college, Ian joined the Army and Fiona had landed a white collar job that, if not a cure-all for the problems of the clan Gallagher, at least gave them some real stability (and health benefits) for the first time in forever. When the series returned, I thought, it would have to be very different, or else it would have to roll back the changes as quickly as possible.

To its credit, "Simple Pleasures" manages to commit to the new status quo (for now, anyway) while still feeling like an episode of "Shameless." Fiona's still at Worldwide Cup — and now being enrolled in the 401K plan — and finally sleeps with her boss Mike, but her problems aren't all solved, and she hasn't magically become a new person. (I liked her description of Mike being a relative gentleman: "It's definitely weird. He doesn't, like, force himself onto me, where I've gotta decide if I'm going to taser him or go along, like I do with the guys around here.")

And the rest of the family (plus affiliated folks like Kev and Veronica) remain as messy (and messed-up) as ever. Ian is absent, and the family has no idea that he enlisted in Lip's name, but Lip is struggling to adjust to college because he can't coast anymore, Veronica discovers she's pregnant after the nightmare they went through impregnating her mom, Carl becomes Frank's caretaker, while Frank is committed to finding ways around his condition to consume alcohol and other drugs, and — in perhaps the most promising story arc introduced here — Debbie starts raiding Fiona's wardrobe as part of her attempt to kickstart her adolescence.

It's an excellent, appropriately effed-up beginning (like Frank's advice to Carl about not masturbating in the shower because "That's how incest babies get born") and suggests the creative team has found a way to evolve without having to radically change what the show is.

As usual, I won't be writing about "Shameless" weekly, but I'll check in from time to time this season. But as for the premiere, what did everybody else think?