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THE HERC CURSE!! Learn Which Shows Coaxial Dooms With Endorsement!!

I am – Hercules!!

I’ve seen all of the six broadcast networks’ new scripted shows for fall (except for “Related,” because one of its leads was recast), and a few of their midseason entries, and there’s not a “Lost,” “Gilmore Girls,” “24” or “Alias” in the bunch.

As a result? This year could easily mark the return of the “Herc Curse.” Fall 2005 brings the weakest crop of pilots I’ve seen in my five autumns as TV editor here at AICN. Some I like, but the ones I like don’t seem long for the airwaves.

Do as you will with your own TiVo. I am directing mine to “season-pass” these, at least in the early going:

1. “Bones.”
What is it? Hourlong, created by writer Hart Hanson (“Judging Amy,” “Joan of Arcadia”), about a “forensic anthropologist” and an FBI agent who team up to solve murders.
Who’s in it? Zoe’s big sister Emily Deschanel (“Spider-Man 2,” “Boogeyman”), David Boreanaz (“Angel”), Michaela Conlin (“The D.A.”), Jonathan Adams (“American Dreams”) and T.J. Thyne (“Ghost World,” “How High”).
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? The globe-trotting twentysomething Deschanel character, Dr. Temperance Brennan, is a best-selling author, knows her way around a handgun, and can beat up enormous men. It’s zippy and fun. The jokes work. The dialogue is snappy and smart and cool. There’s a baseball bat. “I don’t know what that means” is uttered often, and always to amusing effect. I never notice sets, but the set design here is striking, and very hard to miss. Deschanel, who reminds me more of “Rescue Me’s” Diane Farr than her movie-star kid sister, is fabulous. Even Boreanaz, my least favorite cast member in both “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” acquits himself ably as the FBI lunkhead outmatched by Dr. Brennan at every turn.
What could go wrong? “Judging Amy” and “Joan of Arcadia” sucked.
Where can I see it? Fox Tuesdays at 8 p.m., opposite the WB’s “Gilmore Girls,” as well as NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” CBS’ “NCIS,” ABC’s “According To Jim” and UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model.” Premieres Sept. 13.

2. “Criminal Minds.”
What is it? A crime drama centering on a genius FBI profiler back from medical leave following a “major depressive episode.” It was created by somebody named Jeff Davis.
Who’s in it? Mandy Patinkin (“Dead Like Me”), Lola Glaudini (“The Sopranos,” “The Handler”), Thomas Gibson (“Dharma & Greg”), Matthew Gubler (“The Life Aquatic”) and Shemar Moore (“Birds of Prey”)
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? This may turn out be my favorite scripted CBS series since Patinkin first left “Chicago Hope” almost a decade ago. The pilot, at least, is enormously well-done, riddled with cool twists and character moments. It’s got a great opening; you like and feel for the victim. Mandy Patinkin is stellar as the lead brainiac suffering from post-traumatic stress. Almost as watchable are Gubler as a doctor who looks like he might be in high school, and Lola Glaudini as the Karen Sisco surrogate.
What could go wrong? What’s a Jeff Davis? Can he keep this up?
Where can I see it? It’s on CBS Wednesdays at 9 p.m., a terrible timeslot that puts it up against my two favorite rookies from last fall, ABC’s “Lost” and UPN’s “Veronica Mars” (as well as NBC’s “E-Ring,” Fox’s “Head Cases” and the WB’s “Related”). Premieres Sept. 22.

3. “Commander-In-Chief.”
What is it? Hourlong drama, from writer-director Rod Lurie (“The Contender,” “Line of Fire”) about the first female U.S. president. I believe this is the only show on both my list and the one compiled by Entertainment Weekly.
Who’s in it? Geena Davis (“The Geena Davis Show”), Kyle Secor (“Homicide,” “Veronica Mars”), Julie Ann Emory (“In the Line of Fire”), Leslie Hope (“24,” “In the Line of Fire”), Donald Sutherland (“Cold Mountain”), Ever Carradine (“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”), Caitlin Wachs (“Thirteen Days”) and Harry Lennix (the “knuckle-up!” guy from the “Matrix” series).
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? Lurie has ideas. Things move fast. The villains are really evil. This series looks to explore, perhaps, how the Muslim world might react to a female U.S. president. Which is an interesting thing to explore. I thought “Line of Fire,” ABC’s “Wire”-like tale depicting both sides of the law, was one of the best shows aired last season.
What could go wrong? ABC cancelled “Line of Fire” in one hell of a hurry.
Where can I see it? ABC Tuesdays at 9 p.m., opposite CBS’ “The Amazing Race” and Fox’s “House,” as well as NBC’s “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl,” and the WB’s “Sex, Lies and Secrets.” Premieres Sept. 27.

4. “Sons and Daughters”
What is it? Semi-improvised sitcom overseen by two guys named Fred Goss and Nick Holly.
Who’s in it? Goss (Bravo’s “Significant Others”), Desmond Harrington (“L.A. Dragnet”), Jerry Lambert (“Wake Up, Ron Burgundy”), Gillian Vigman (“After the Sunset”), Dee Wallace (“E.T.”) and Max Gail (“Barney Miller”).
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? It’s funny, and its improvisational dialog reminds one of some of the best comedies of the past decade, including “Freaks & Geeks,” “Undeclared” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
What could go wrong? ABC could pair it with “According To Jim.” Or “Hope & Faith.”
Where can I see it? ABC Midseason.

5. “What About Brian.”
What is it? Hourlong, from writer Dana Stevens (“For Love of the Game,” “Life or Something Like It”), about a thirtysomething man who realizes he’s in love with his best friend’s girl.
Who’s in it? Barry Watson (“7th Heaven”), Polly Shannon (“Street Time”), Amanda Detmer (“The Majestic”), Matthew Davis (“Blue Crush”), Rosanna Arquette (“The L Word”), Raoul Bova (“Alien Vs. Predator”) and Rick Gomez (“Sin City”).
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? Like all pilots from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot (which produces the show), it leaves you a little crazy to know what happens next.
What could go wrong? Despite how ably it evokes the “Felicity” pilot, it was not actually created by Abrams. And “Life or Something Like It,” bluntly, sucked.
Where can I see it? ABC Midseason.

6. “The Loop.”
What is it? Sitcom, created by writer Pam Brady (“South Park,” “Team America: World Police”) about a recent college grad adjusting to a work environment.
Who’s in it? Bret Harrison (“Grounded For Life”), Becki Newton (“P.S.”), Eric Christian Olsen (“Cellular”), Mimi Rogers (“The Geena Davis Show”) and Philip Baker Hall (“The Amityville Horror”).
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? It’s funny, unpredictable, and harbors the promise of a romance one could care about.
What could go wrong? Pam Brady could suddenly stop being funny.
Where can I see it? Fox. Midseason.

?. “The Unit.”
What is it? Hourlong, from writers David Mamet (“State & Main,” “Heist,” “Spartan”) and Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") about the lives of Delta Force agents.
Who’s in it? Dennis Haysbert (“24”), Robert Patrick (“The X-Files”), Scott Foley (“Felicity”), Michael Irby (“Line of Fire”), Regina King (“Miss Congeniality 2”) and Max Martini (“Taken”).
Why does Herc not entirely disdain it? David Mamet is a god. His unfriendly=to-kitties episode of “The Shield” was the series’ best ever. Look at the cast!
What could go wrong? I haven’t actually seen the pilot. And I hear they fired Amy Acker!!
Where can I see it? CBS Midseason.

The fall slate:


8 p.m.
Fathom (NBC)
The King of Queens (CBS)
Wife Swap (ABC)
Arrested Development (Fox)
7th Heaven (The WB)
One on One (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Kitchen Confidential (Fox)
All of Us (UPN)

9 p.m.
Las Vegas (NBC)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Monday Night Football (ABC)
Prison Break (Fox)
Just Legal (The WB)
Girlfriends (UPN)

9:30 p.m.
Out of Practice (CBS)
Half & Half (UPN)

10 p.m.
Medium (NBC)
CSI: Miami (CBS)


8 p.m.
The Biggest Loser (NBC)
According To Jim (ABC)
Bones (Fox)
Gilmore Girls (The WB)
America’s Next Top Model repeat (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Rodney (ABC)

9 p.m.
My Name Is Earl (NBC)
The Amazing Race (CBS)
Commander-in-Chief (ABC)
House (Fox)
Supernatural (The WB)
Sex, Lies & Secrets (UPN)

9:30 p.m.
The Office (NBC)

10 p.m.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
Close To Home (CBS)
Boston Legal (ABC)


8 p.m.
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (NBC)
Still Standing (CBS)
George Lopez (ABC)
That ‘70s Show (Fox)
One Tree Hill (The WB)
America’s Next Top Model (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Yes, Dear (CBS)
Freddie (ABC)
Stacked (Fox)

9 p.m.
E-Ring (NBC)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
Lost (ABC)
Head Cases (Fox)
Related (The WB)
Veronica Mars (UPN)

10 p.m.
Law & Order (NBC)
CSI: New York (CBS)
Invasion (ABC)


8 p.m.
Joey (NBC)
Survivor (CBS)
Alias (ABC)
The OC (Fox)
Smallville (The WB)
Everybody Hates Chris (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Will & Grace (NBC)
Eve (UPN)

9 p.m.
The Apprentice (NBC)
The Night Stalker (ABC)
Reunion (Fox)
Everwood (The WB)
Cuts (UPN)

9:30 p.m.
Love, Inc. (UPN)

10 p.m.
10 p.m. ER (NBC)
10 p.m. Without A Trace (CBS)
10 p.m. Primetime Live (ABC)


8 p.m.
Three Wishes (NBC)
Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
Supernanny (ABC)
Bernie Mac (Fox)
What I Like About You (The WB)
WWE Smackdown! (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Malcolm in the Middle (Fox)
Twins (The WB)

9 p.m.
Dateline NBC (NBC)
Threshold (CBS)
Hope and Faith (ABC)
The Gate (Fox)
Reba (The WB)

9:30 p.m.
Hot Properties (ABC)
Living With Fran (The WB)

10 p.m.
10 p.m. Inconceivable (NBC)
10 p.m. Numb3rs (CBS)
10 p.m. 20/20 (ABC)


8 p.m.
Movie (NBC)
Repeats (CBS)
Movie (ABC)
Cops (Fox)

9 p.m.
America’s Most Wanted (Fox)

10 p.m.
48 Hours (CBS)


7 p.m.
Dateline NBC (NBC)
60 Minutes (CBS)
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
reruns (Fox)
Reba reruns (The WB)

7:30 p.m.
King of the Hill (Fox)

8 p.m.
The West Wing (NBC)
Cold Case (CBS)
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Charmed (The WB)

8:30 p.m.
The War at Home (Fox)

9 p.m.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC)
Movie (CBS)
Desperate Housewives (ABC)
Family Guy (Fox)
Blue Collar TV (The WB)

9:30 p.m.
American Dad (Fox)

10 p.m.
Crossing Jordan (NBC)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

What are the other new fall shows about?
* "Close To Home." (CBS) Hourlong, from writer Jim Leonard (“Night Visions,” “Thieves,” “Skin”), about a young mother and freshman prosecutor working cases of suburban crime. It stars Jennifer Finnigan (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Christian Kane (“Angel”), John Carroll Lynch (“Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire”), David Starzyk (“Free Enterprise”) and Kimberly Elise (“The Manchurian Candidate”).
* E-Ring. (NBC) Actioner, from screenwriter David McKenna (“Blow,” “SWAT”), about the activities of the Pentagon starring Dennis Hopper (“24”) and Benjamin Bratt (“Catwoman”).
* "Everybody Hates Chris." (UPN) Sitcom, created by writers Chris Rock & Ali Leroi (“Down to Earth,” “Head of State”), about a teen Rock attending a mostly white school in 1982. It stars Tyler Williams as Rock (who lends narration), as well as Tichina Arnold (“Big Momma’s House”), Terry Crews (“White Chicks”), Tequan Richmond (“Ray”) and Vincent Martella (“Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo”).
* Fathom. (NBC) Sci-fi hourlong, from Josh and Jonas Pate (“G vs. E,” “Dragnet”), about a race of creatures who emerge from below the oceans’ surface near Anarctica, California and the Gulf States. It stars Lake Bell (“Boston Legal”) and Rade Serbedzija (“Eyes Wide Shut”).
* "Freddie." (ABC) Sitcom, written by Freddie Prinze Jr. (!) and someone named Conrad Jackson, about a successful chef raised by females. With Prinze (“Scooby Doo 2”), Megyn Price (“Grounded For Life”), Jenny Gago (“Coach Carter”), Jacqueline Obradors (“NYPD Blue”) and Brian Austin Green (“Beverly Hills 90210”).
* "The Gate." (Fox) Drama, created by writer Josh Berman (“CSI”) about San Francisco detectives charged with the city’s most “bizarre and twisted crimes.” It stars Johnny Messner (“The OC”), Marguerite Moreau (“The OC”) and Chi McBride (“Boston Public”).
* "The Ghost Whisperer." (CBS) Hourlong, from TV-movie writer John Gray (the remakes of “Brian’s Song” and “Helter Skelter”), about a newlywed who sees dead people. It stars Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Garfield”), Aisha Tyler (“CSI”) and David Conrad (“Relativity,” “Miss Match”).
* "Head Cases." (Fox) Hourlong, created by writer Bill Chais (“The Practice,” “Family Law”), about a hotshot attorney who forms his own firm following a a nervous breakdown. It stars Chris O'Donnell (“Kinsey”), Rachael Leigh Cook (“Josie and the Pussycats”), Krista Allen (“Baywatch,” “Unscripted,” “Feast”), Adam Goldberg (“The Hebrew Hammer,” “How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days”), Aimee Garcia (“A Lot Like Love”) and Rocmond Dunbar (“Earth 2”).
* "Hot Properties." (ABC) Sitcom, from writer Suzanne Martin (“Frasier,” “Maybe It’s Me”) about young Manhattan realtors in love. It stars Gail O’Grady (“American Dreams”), Sofia Vergara (“Soul Plane”), Audra Blaser (“Bandidas”), Nicole Sullivan (“Mad TV”), Stephen Dunham (“Monster-in-Law”), Amy Hill (“50 First Dates”) and Evan Handler (“Sex and the City”).
* "How I Met Your Mother." (CBS) Sitcom, from writers Carer Bays & Craig Thomas (“Last Show With David Letterman,” “American Dad”), about a man who recounts to his kids the story of their parents’ courtship. It stars Alyson Hannigan (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Neil Patrick Harris (“Doogie Howser, M.D.”), Jason Segal (“Freaks & Geeks”) and Josh Radnor (“The Court”).
* Inconceivable. (NBC) Hourlong, from writers Marco Pennette (“All About The Andersons,” “I’m With Her,” “What I Like About You”) and Oliver Goldstick (“American Dreams,” “Desperate Housewives”) about a fertility clinic. It stars Ming-Na (“ER”) and Jonathan Cake (“The American Embassy”).
* "Invasion." (ABC) Sci-fi hourlong, from writer Shaun Cassidy (“American Gothic,” “The Agency,” “Cold Case,” “The Mountain”) about a small town secretly plagued by extraterrestrial body snatchers. It stars Eddie Cibrian (“Third Watch”), Kari Matchett (“5ive Days to Midnight”), Ariel Gade (“Envy”), Evan Peters (“Sleepover”), Tyler Labine (“My Boss’s Daughter”), William Fichtner (“Crash”), Liz Sheridan (“Seinfeld”), and Aisha Hinds (“The Shield”).
* "Just Legal." (The WB) Legal procedural comedy-drama, from writer Jonathan Shapiro (“Boston Legal”), about a 19—year-old lawyer and his defense-attorney mentor. I stars Jay Baruchel (“Undeclared,” “Million Dollar Baby”), Don Johnson (“Nash Bridges”) and Amy Aquino (“In Good Company,” “A Lot Like Love”).
* "Kitchen Confidential." (Fox) Sitcom, created by David Hemingson (“Just Shoot Me!” “Jesse”), about a “bad-boy” New York chef. It stars Bradley Cooper (“Alias”), Jaime King (“Sin City”), Nicholas Brendon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), John Francis Daley (“Freaks and Geeks”), John Cho (“Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle”), Frank Langella (“Unscripted”), Bonnie Sommerville (“NYPD Blue”), Sam Pancake (“Legally Blonde 2”) and Owain Yeoman (“Troy”).
* "Love, Inc.” (UPN) Sitcom, created by writer Andrew Secunda (“Late Night With Conan O’Brien”), about a successful dating consultant who cannot find love for herself. It stars Shannen Doherty (“Charmed”), Holly Robinson Peete (“Like Family”), Ion Overman (“The L Word”) and Reagan Gomez-Preston (“Beauty Shop”).
* My Name Is Earl. (NBC) Sitcom, from writer Greg Garcia (“Yes, Dear”), about a crook who goes straight after winning the lottery. It stars Jason Lee (“Vanilla Sky”).
* "The Night Stalker." (ABC) Supernatural thriller, from writer-director Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files”) about a journalist named Carl Kolchak who believes his wife’s murder is tied to forces of the uncanny. It stars Stuart Townsend (“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”), Gabrielle Union (“Bring It On”), Cotter Smith (“X2”) and Eric Jungman (“Not Another Teen Movie”).
* "Out of Practice." (CBS) Sitcom, from writers Christopher Lloyd & Joe Keenan (“Frasier,” “Bram and Alice”), about a family of doctors. It stars Paula Marshall (“Cupid,” “Snoops”), Christopher Gorham (“Jake 2.0,” “Medical Investigation”), Henry Winkler (“Arrested Development”) and Stockard Channing (“The West Wing”).
* "Prison Break." (Fox) Hourlong, created by writer Paul Scheuring (“A Man Apart”), about an innocent man sentenced to die on death row, and the engineer brother who works to engineer his escape. It stars Dominic Purcell (“Blade: Trinity”), Sarah Wayne Callies (“Tarzan”), Robin Tunney (“Vertical Limit,” “The In-Laws”), Wentworth Miller (“The Human Stain”), Amaury Nolasco (“2 Fast 2 Furious”).
* "Related." (The WB) Hourlong comedy-drama, from writer Liz Tuccillo (“Sex and the City”) about four sisters in Manhattan. It stars Lizzy Caplan (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Tru Calling,” “Mean Girls”), Jennifer Esposito (“Crash”) and Laura Breckenridge.
* "Reunion." (Fox) Flashback-happy hourlong, created by writer Jon Harmon Feldman (“American Dreams,” “Tru Calling”) about friends reunited for their 20th high school reunion. (Each episode will examine a different year in their lives.) It stars Amanda Righetti (Hailey Nichol on “The OC”), Alexa Davalos (Lightning Lass Gwen Raiden on “Angel”), Chyler Leigh (Claire Wyatt on “The Practice”), Sean Faris (Dino Whitman on “Life As We Know It”), and Will Estes (J.J. Pryor on “American Dreams”).
* "Sex, Lies & Secrets." (UPN) Hourlong comedy-drama, created by writers Michael Gans & Richard Register (MTV’s “Spy Groove”), about twentysomethings living in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. It stars Denise Richards (“Love Actually”), Lauren German (“A Walk to Remember”) and Eric Balfour (“Hawaii”).
* "Supernatural." (The WB) Supernatural thriller, from writer Eric Kripke (The WB’s “Tarzan”), about two brothers who take a cross-country road trip to solve their mother’s 20-year-old murder. It stars Jensen Ackles (“Dark Angel,” “Smallville”) and Jared Padalecki (“Gilmore Girls,” “House of Wax”).
* Three Wishes. (NBC) Reality series, from Andrew Glassman & Jason Raff (“Average Joe”), about a team of do-gooders who grant wishes. It’s hosted by recording artist Amy Grant.
* "Threshold." (CBS) Sci-fi hourlong, from writers David Goyer (“Blade: Trinity”) and Brannon Braga (“Star Trek: Enterprise”), about a government analyst leading scientists and military in response to the arrival of an extraterrestrial lifeform. It stars Carla Gugino (“Karen Sisco”), Charles S. Dutton (“Roc”), Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: Nemesis”), William Mapother (“Lost”) and Robert Benedict (“Felicity”).
* "Twins." (The WB) Sitcom, created by the writing team of David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (“Boston Common,” “Will & Grace,” “Good Morning, Miami”), about twin sisters “who could not be less alike.” It stars Melanie Griffith, Mark Linn-Baker, Sara Gilbert and Molly Stanton.
* "The War at Home." (Fox) Sitcom, created by writer Rob Lotterstein (“Suddenly Susan,” “Will & Grace”), about parents raising teens. It stars Michael Rapaport (“Boston Public,” “Hitch”), Anita Barone (“The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” “Daddio”), Kaylee Defer (“The Mountain”), Dean Collins (“Jack & Bobby”) and Kyle Sullivan (“All That”).

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