The fall season really kicks in tonight, with the premieres of "2 Broke Girls" and "The Playboy Club" and the season premieres of "Two and a Half Men" (with Ashton Kutcher's debut), "The Sing-Off," "How I Met Your Mother," "Dancing with the Stars," "Castle" and "Hawaii Five-O."
Notes on where my viewing tendencies lie, and on the Emmys, are after the jump.
I will be watching "Dancing With the Stars" and hoping two things: that Chaz Bono does adequately (because I would hate to see all this principled support for a transgender performer run up against bad dancing) and that Nancy Grace is so terrible that she will depart quickly.
I will also be watching "Two ad a Half Men" because it has not been available for preview as CBS milks the interest in how the show will be without Charlie Sheen.
(Sheen, meanwhile, will be visible over on Comedy Central at his roast. Which, based on the clips CC has been releasing bit by bit, will be quite mean and sometimes funny about Sheen. And, in the case of roaster Mike Tyson, nearly incomprehensible. But it should make an interesting companion to Sheen's current "Defiance Did Not Work So I'll Try Contrition" media tour.)
Anyway, I have watched "Men" faithfully through good and bad episodes, and -- admittedly sight unseen -- I am not pessimistic about tonight's telecast. Jon Cryer has been consistently good, and stepped up even more when Sheen was having his troubles. (I think of last season as Charlie sitting on his couch while the other characters did things.) The series made me laugh.
I will not be watching "HIMYM" because I saw it already, and it's not an episode I need to see again. Much as I like the characters, there are times when it is trying far more than it is succeeding, and this is one of those shows. UPDATE: I forgot there was a second "HIMYM" episode tonight and will deal with it later.
I have also seen "2 Broke Girls," and while it's not great I will be back for at least one more because Kat Dennings is just plain funny. In fact, she may be the main reason the show is funny at all, since it comes from Whitney Cummings, and Cummings' own show, "Whitney," is so unbearably jokey that I have failed to get all the way through the pilot in several tries.
I won't be watching "Castle" because I don't care. I started to watch a screener of the season premiere, and I did not care enough to finish. I did sit through all of "The Playboy Club" and will not make that mistake again. Gloria Steinem's criticisms of the show seem misplaced -- this hardly makes the life of a Playboy bunny seem appealing -- but the show is still a turgid, slow, clumsy exercise in retro TV-making. (Watch it, and then watch "Mad Men," and lament what NBC has wrought.)
I also object to this and "Pan Am" for suggesting that somehow it was empowering for women to have demeaning jobs where their wardrobe faux pas were more important than their intelligence.
Not that I expect greatness from everything. I will watch "Hawaii Five-O," which I recognize as the TV series equivalent of a big dumb action movie, because it requires very little effort and because Hawaii looks so good in HD.
And I will watch some of "The Sing-Off," I suspect, although that's a time-permitting show for me. It's enjoyable here and there, but I'm not hooked.
As for the Emmys, I did not watch much of the telecast. In fact, I was grading papers during most of it. But I did make note of the winners -- and was quite happy for "Friday Night Lights" (finally some Emmy love AFTER the show has ended) and Kyle Chandler (although I wish he could have gotten a tandem award with Connie Britton); "Mad Men," honored for an amazing season); Melissa McCarthy (whom I wrote about in my video column on Sunday), since she and "Mike and Molly" are better than TV snobs would allow; the divine "Modern Family" and Margo Martindale, who has been playing wonderful little roles in TV and movies for years before "Justified" gave her a showcase that could not be ignored.
On balance, looking at the winners, I have seen worse years. I would have gone with Steve Carell over Jim Parsons, not least because Carell's farewell was so beautifully done, and Connie Britton over Julianna Margulies, but Parsons and Margulies are also very good at what they do. Besides, it's past time to stop thinking about last season and fall deep into the new one.