The 2009 fall TV season is off with a bang -- or a bite -- and a bomb.
The CW network scored first with the "The Vampire Diaries," earning strong ratings and positive reviews for its bloody brand of vampire drama and teen angst, while the same network's modeling melodrama, "The Beautiful Life," landed with a thud.
"Bored to Death" caused some excitement last week on HBO and "Melrose Place" reopened for business on the CW network, while "Cougar Town" and "Modern Family" premiered Wednesday night on ABC.
So what else is on the way? We take a look ...
"FlashForward" -- "Lost" isn't long for this world, and ABC hopes its successor is this mind-bending, sci-fi drama from David S. Goyer ("The Dark Knight") and veteran "Star Trek" writer-producer Brannon Braga. The drama explores what happens after everyone on the planet simultaneously blacks out for two minutes and 17 seconds and experiences "flash-forwards," or visions of themselves several months into the future. The crackerjack cast includes Joseph Fiennes, John Cho and, for good measure, "Lost" stars Dominic Monaghan and Sonja Walger. (ABC; premiered Sept. 24)
"Brothers" -- Michael Strahan, you've won a Super Bowl and just retired, what are you going to do now? The ex-New York Giants superstar is headlining this sitcom about -- big surprise here -- a former football player who moves back home with his mother (C.C.H. Pounder), father (Carl Weathers) and brother (Daryl "Chill" Mitchell), who uses a wheelchair. Mike, of course, quickly realizes he'd much rather be back on the field facing hulking opponents. (Fox; Sept. 25)
"The Cleveland Show" -- Peter Griffin's neighbor, Cleveland Brown, relocates to his hometown of Stoolbend, Va., and comedic misadventures ensue. An animated African-American sitcom? It's about time. A "Family Guy" spin-off? Bring it on. And the strong voice cast includes Mike Henry, Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan and Seth McFarlane. But, really, they had us at Stoolbend. (Fox; Sept. 27)
"Trauma" -- NBC finally removed "ER" from life support, but the network just can't seem to stay out of the medical-drama business. It has the promising, freshly premiered "Mercy," and also this ensemble piece about the pulse-pounding exploits of a group of first-responder paramedics in San Francisco. That explosive helicopter crash depicted in the relentless teasers ups the tune-in factor, as does the casting of Derek Luke (as a paramedic) and the always-reliable Jamey Sheridan as a doctor who's aloof with patients but uber-protective of his staff. (NBC; Sept. 28)
"Hank" -- Kelsey Grammer gathers no moss. Fox dropped the costly, only so-so rated "Back to You" last year after one season, but Grammer returns with this comedy that's nothing if not timely. Grammer, who also executive produces, stars as the title character, a CEO thrown for a life-altering loop when he loses his job. Oh, and his family isn't too happy about it, either. (ABC; Sept. 30)