Fall TV 2011 hits, misses and mehs: Week of September 12

By the Channel Guide staff

Each week during the next few months, we at Channel Guide Magazine will be updating you on notable new series, specials, movies, documentaries and more that are premiering during the new TV season, with thoughts from our editorial staff on whether you should tune in — or stay far away.

Some of the new fall programming begins this week, so here we go with our first installment. Categories include “Hits,” which are shows we liked; “Misses,” shows we didn’t; and “Mehs,” the shows we could take or leave but aren’t going to go out of our way to watch. And for a more comprehensive look at the new TV season, visit our Fall TV Preview site.


Miracle Babies
Nat Geo Wild
September 13-14, 8pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? This miniseries travels the world to follow dedicated people working to save baby animals that are often the last hopes for their critically vulnerable species. Each animal they raise to adulthood is a step away from extinction, with the ultimate challenge to return them to the wild. The program chronicles ambitious programs to save diverse species from the outback of Australia, the savannas of East Africa, the Brazilian Amazon and some of the most successful zoo breeding programs in the world.

Up All Night (pictured above)
Sept. 14, 10pm ET/PT
Wednesdays, 8pm ET/PT starting Sept. 21
Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, James Pumphrey
What’s It All About?
Reagan (Applegate) and Chris (Arnett) find their careers, their marriage and their good night’s sleep disrupted when they bring home their baby daughter. Reagan has difficulty returning to the demands of her job at a daytime talk show and her boss Ava (Rudolph). Meanwhile, as a new stay-at-home dad, Chris is having trouble finding normal cheese and avoiding the old ladies in the grocery store. Up All Night is a realistic and funny portrayal of what new parents go through, and as odd as it is to see Applegate and Arnett playing the role of parents, they pull it off beautifully.

Free Agents
Sept. 14, 10:30pm ET/PT
Airs: Wednesdays, 8:30pm ET/PT starting Sept. 21
Stars: Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn, Mo Mandel, Al Madrigal, Anthony Head
What’s It All About? Alex (Azaria) and Helen (Hahn) work together at a big-time corporate PR firm. Alex is having trouble getting back into the dating game following his divorce, while Helen is still struggling with the death of her fiancé a year ago. After a night of drinking ends up with them in bed together, they have to decide where their relationship goes next. The sexual tension bubble gets burst in the pilot episode, but Alex and Helen are likable enough that you want to see them get together and be happy — something the show’s writers will put off for as long as they can. If you don’t like this version, you can wait for the original Free Agents British series to debut next month on BBC America.

The Secret Circle
The CW
Sept. 15
Airs: Thursdays, 9pm ET/PT
Stars: Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker, Phoebe Tonkin, Natasha Henstridge
What’s It All About? For those hotblooded teens for whom vampires have grown long in the fang, here comes another supernatural series based on a series of books by Vampire Diaries author L.J. Smith. This time she’s focused on witches in a story that plays like The Craft meets Footloose. When Cassie Blake’s (Robertson) mother dies in a fire, she’s sent to live with her grandmother in a small Washington town, where she encounters a witchy group of teens who want her to join their ranks. This fits perfectly into the kind of show The CW is trying to make itself known for, and as long as audience fatigue for the supernatural doesn’t set in, it will probably gain a respectable following.

Too Cute! Puppies
Animal Planet
Premieres: September 17, 9pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? Ever want to know what it’s like to start life as part of a litter of puppies? This lighthearted nature documentary follows three separate litters from birth through their first few months, in all their adorable glory, as they look their cutest and woo their owners into fawning all over them and working to accommodate their every need. Who doesn’t love puppies?


Hulk Hogan’s MCW
Sept. 14
Airs: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT
Stars: Hulk Hogan
What’s It All About? Looking to inject a little life into the stagnant world of pro wrestling entertainment, legendary grappler Hulk Hogan teams up with his former WCW and TNA colleague Eric Bischoff to bring the Micro Championship Wrestling pro wrestling league — that’s MCW for short — to television. Hogan will mentor the new league, made up of professional wrestlers who happen to be little people, providing guidance in recruiting and training the talent with the ultimate goal of turning MCW into legitimate competition to the existing televised leagues. According to the show’s partners, Hulk Hogan’s MCW aims to “show the world that little people are serious athletes who have the determination to succeed.” For viewers used to seeing little people dressed up like leprechauns and skittering under the ring on other wrestling shows, this could be a bracing take on the world of pro grappling — if it’s handled accordingly.

Love Begins
Hallmark Channel

Premieres: September 17, 9pm ET/PT
Stars: Nancy McKeon, Wes Brown, Julie Mond
What’s It All About? Author Janette Oke’s popular characters are back in this prequel to the Love’s series. At the start of it all, Clark Davis (Brown) has his world-traveling plans put into jeopardy when he’s involved in fight that damages a local café and has to reckon with the local justice system. A bit of creative sentencing finds Clark working off his sentence as a farmhand for a pair of sisters whose farm has become a bit too much to handle alone. When he’s injured in a fall and nursed back to health by older sister Ellen (Mond), he realizes that his feelings for her may be starting to curb his wanderlust — until her former fiancé comes back to town with hopes to win her back. Frankly, if we’ve seen one of these films we’ve seen them all, but for those who have seen them all and enjoy them, you’ll likely find more entertainment from this latest installment.


The CW
September 13
Airs: Tuesdays, 9pm ET/PT
Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristoffer Polaha, Ioan Gruffudd, Nestor Carbonell, Tara Summers
What’s It All About? Bridget (Gellar), a recovering addict who’s just starting to get her life back on track, has it all thrown into turmoil when she’s the only witness to a professional hit. She knows she’s living on borrowed time, so after an accident on a boat with her twin sister, without a word to anyone — not even her trusted Narcotics Anonymous sponsor — she flees to New York to hide, assuming Siobhan’s life and identity. But she soon finds that her sister’s life isn’t the uncomplicated bed of roses she thought it to be. Originally developed by CBS, this series is probably a better fit for The CW — with Gellar being a veteran from her Buffy days on The WB, as well as the liberties it takes in the plausibility department. It’s a compelling enough hypothetical premise, but watching Gellar’s character take over her sister’s life with her husband not catching on more than he does is pretty absurd, and Ringer tends to miss its mark.

The CW
September 14
Airs: Wednesdays, 8pm ET/PT
Hosted By: Mario Lopez
What’s It All About? Lots of celebs get the chance to meet their biggest fans — but what about their biggest detractors (we mean, outside of securing a restraining order)? In this Mario Lopez-produced series, famous folks ambush their most vocal hater — that’s H8R to the texter generation — and try to change the anti-fan’s mind. In the pilot, a macho, mouthy Italian stallion named Nick Petrillo waxes H8R-sophical on Jersey Shore bonbon Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, whose TV presence he views as the ultimate affront to his heritage: “Snooki’s birth was a hate crime to Italians.” Cornering Petrillo at a pool hall, the Snookster troops off to Nick’s house to cook chicken cutlets for his family in an attempt to turn a houseful of haters into full-fledged, fist-pumping Polizzi faithful. In the second part of the premiere, H8R Danielle meets former Bachelor Jake Pavelka (pictured). While the show’s concept is appealing, H8R is entirely full of caca. The whole thing comes off a bit contrived, and the H8Rs are reality-star wannabes themselves, perhaps aiming to become the next “H8ee” or the next Mario Lopez, the ubiquitous host whose annoying personality hasn’t stopped him from getting lots of work in quick gigs like this.


Up All Night: Trae Patton/NBC

Secret Circle: © 2011 The CW Network, LLC.

Hulk Hogan’s MCW: © truTV. Credit: Mark Hill

H8R: Scott Humbert/The CW