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Watching Stuff Friday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 27, 2013

Tonight brings the series premiere of "Masterchef Junior" along with the season premieres of "Dateline NBC," "Undercover Boss," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Blue Bloods." The DVR is set for "Five-0" just because I like to see Hawaii in HD (even when the plots are silly) and "Blue Bloods."

Other stuff I have watched, with notes below, includes the season premieres of "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory," "Nashville" and  "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" as well as a second episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

"Modern Family" held to the recent rhythms in two episodes, with funny business leading up to warm-and-fuzzy, although it managed to shake up the formula a little by having Jay get sentimental in the first episode. The marriage-proposal story hit some pretty familiar notes, but the ending was nice enough -- and I liked the way it more than once reminded people not to put "gay" in front of references to marriage. The back-to-school episode was not as adept; the Cam-in-costume gag went on far too long, and I didn't buy his wearing it on the football field. The show's still good, but no more than that.

"The Big Bang Theory" also has its own rhythms, and they still clicked in its back-to-back episodes on Thursday. The Howard and Raj scene was very funny and well played, especially in having Bernadette watch but not interrupt. The Bernadette/Amy business also worked well. And, in terms of characters, the best spot may have been Sheldon calling out Penny for hurting his feelings. Good show.

Because it has been on so long and undergone so many cast adjustments, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" does not get talked about much -- and that's underestimating a show that can still be effective and is willing to get very grimj about its characters' lives. The season premiere certainly demonstrated that, putting Brass through an emotional wringer again and again -- and refusing to spare him with a happy ending. All right, you could see the twist coming from a long way off. But it was still rough, and a good showcase for Paul Guilfoyle, who helps make Brass my favorite character on the show.

"Nashville" seemed to lather up the soap for its season premiere. More yelling, more scheming and less believability. To be sure, it's attempt to be a soap-with-character in its first season could be a bit dull. But did anyone ever doubt that Rayna would wake up and that Deacon would not linger in jail? And this bad-girl/not-bad-girl thing with Juliette makes less and less sense -- not to mention I question how you show that you care from a singer in a coma by doing an uptempo song.

I liked the pilot for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and the second episode was OK. But this one felt more "New Girl"-ish in its presentation, and I willl drift away if that continues. On the other hand, I still like the Samberg/Braugher dynamic and the way Braugher isn't playing funny. But Samberg is always on the edge of grating.

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