Our Picks: The Five Best New Shows of Fall 2009

With dozens of new shows set to air during the 2009 Fall Premiere Season, what's a devoted TV lover to do? With only so many hours in a day, you need to make the most of your TV viewing time. Not to worry -- we've already done the homework. We asked our writers to tell us what shows they plan to follow during the weeks ahead, and here are their picks.

SHOW: Glee
PREMIERE: Wednesday, September 9th, 9 p.m., Fox
WHY WE LOVE IT: Glee, from Popular creator Ryan Murphy, is what High School Musical should have been. The show, a comedy about the strange and wondrous subculture of high school glee club, is cheerful and charming, with a surprising and genuine (if not terribly deep) undercurrent of nostalgic melancholy that mixes perfectly with its sour humor. Glee is wickedly funny in the same gonzo way that Popular was, with strange cutaways and almost-cartoonishly manic characters who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Oh, and it has musical numbers! Big, beautiful, clear-voiced pop numbers sung passionately and without any of that irksome irony that's been laid on too thick in most of the things people deem “smart” these days. The cast, led by Broadway vets Matthew Morrison (South Pacific at Lincoln Center) and Lea Michele (Spring Awakening), is attractive and majorly, earnestly talented. And hey, it's nice to see that it’s so gay-friendly, considering that it’s on Fox. Glee is purely what its name implies. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be grinning like an idiot the entire hour. -- Richard Lawson

SHOW: The Good Wife
PREMIERE: Tuesday, September 22 at 10 p.m., CBS
WHY WE LOVE IT: Alicia Forrick has known better days: Her politician husband was involved in corruption and sex scandals, and now he's on his way to jail. Left to fend for herself, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) goes back to work -- as a criminal defense attorney -- in order to support her children. As she fights to win cases in court, she struggles at home to cope with her husband's infidelity and neglect. Politics and sex seem to go together like strawberries and chocolate. (Hey, power is hot.) But after the deed is done, the good wives of adulterous politicians stand by their husbands at press conferences and silently wipe away tears. What happens after the cameras stop rolling? The Good Wife fills in the blanks. -- Anna Hiatt

SHOW: Modern Family
PREMIERE: Wednesday, September 23, 9:00 p.m., ABC

WHY WE LOVE IT: Modern Family is the next best thing to Arrested Development being brought back from the dead. Packed tightly with smart jokes and timely physical humor, the sitcom follows three dysfunctional families -- a traditional husband, wife, and kids setup, an older man and his younger Latina lover, and a homosexual couple with a newly adopted Vietnamese baby -- in mockumentary style. Phil, played by Back to You's Ty Burrell, is part AD's Gob and Tobias, and is destined to become a fan-favorite. How much do we like this show? I've rewatched the pilot episode five times. -- Tim Surette

SHOW: Cougar Town
PREMIERE: Wednesday, September 23, 9:30 p.m., ABC
WHY WE LOVE IT: Jules ( played by Courteney Cox) has a hot bod and a ragin’ sex drive -- but she’s also 40 years old, newly divorced, and mother to a high school-aged son named Travis (Dan Byrd). Determined to prove to her sleazy single older male neighbor (who beds a new twenty-something girl each night) that she can get a younger guy, Jules goes out on the prowl and gets back in the game. The awkward moments that result are hilarious, and the dialogue is witty, thus putting a new spin on the tired TV premise of suburban life. Cougar Town has lots of potential: Cox is on her way to a triumphant comeback, and Byrd is just coming into his own. -

- Stefanie Lee

SHOW: FlashForward
PREMIERE: Thursday, September 24, 8:00 p.m., ABC

WHY WE LOVE IT: With its ensemble cast, sci-fi storyline, and flashbacks, FlashForward will no doubt be compared to Lost. And with Lost ending next season, FlashForward could very well fill the gaping hole that be created when the show departs for good. Heck, FlashForward even added Lost's Penny (Sonya Walger) and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) to the cast. The premise is simple, yet eerie: Everyone on the Earth blacks out for a few minutes, during which time they have visions of the future. One character sees her marriage falling apart, one sees nothing and thinks he's dead, and another sees a huge conspiracy theory. The future looks like crap, but the question is: How will we get there? -- Tim Surette

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