Good Morning Miami (NBC; Thursday, Sept. 26, 8:30 p.m.): NBC describes Good Morning Miami’s fictional show-within-the-show as the worst a.m. TV train wreck in America … out of respect for City Weekly pal Mitch English, no Daily Buzz jokes, please. The hotshot producer (Mark Feuerstein) brought in to save GMM is ready to bolt when he catches a whiff of the show’s comely hairstylist (Ashley Williams)—he’s gonna stay and help these eccentric characters, after all! Good: Discernable NewsRadio flavor. Bad: What good did it do NewsRadio?
Without a Trace (CBS; Thursday, Sept. 26, 9 p.m.): CSI deals with physical murder evidence; the FBI crew of Without a Trace specializes in psychological missing-persons evidence—in other words, it’s nothing/exactly like CSI. With the impossibly beautiful agents (Poppy Montgomery, Eric Close) balanced out by a simmering dickhead boss (Anthony LaPaglia), plus cool visual effects and smart mysteries equal to CSI’s, who cares? Good: Could be the show to knock off ER. Bad: You’ve heard that one before.
That Was Then (ABC; Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.): A 30-year-old loser (James Bulliard) is magically transported back to age 16 and tries to fix everything he screwed up in 1980s high school in a slow, slow, SLOW comedy-drama numbingly lacking in both. The producers call it “Back to the Future meets The Wonder Years.” Good: Amazing they put down the bong long enough to craft that quote. Bad: Let the record reflect that no obligatory mention of The WB’s near-identical Do Over was used here … d’oh!
Hack (CBS; Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.): Disgraced Philadelphia ex-cop-turned-cabbie (David Morse) seeks redemption by helping out victimized fares and going vigilante on perpetrator ass—(and you thought is was about TV writers). Since taxi drivers are apparently above traffic law, why not the rest? Good: Shot on gritty location in, as an expatriate City Weekly sales diva would say, “f**kin’ Philly.” Bad: It f**kin’ sucks.
Robbery Homicide Division (CBS; Friday, Sept. 27, 9 p.m.): Michael Mann, he who brought you Miami Vice and The Insider, vows to make “the greatest cop drama ever” with tough side-of-beef film star Tom Sizemore along for the ride as a tough side-of-beef LAPD homicide detective. CBS didn’t send a tape, possibly due to the Hollywood FedEx office having reached its shipping limit on 2002 cop dramas. Good: Sizemore is a manly man’s man. Bad: So is Mariska Hargitay on NBC’s opposing Law & Order: SVU.
American Dreams (NBC; Sunday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.): It’s That ’60s Show and, wouldn’t ya know it? Pretty middle-class white families had problems back then, too! A huggy nostalgia-fest with all the right clothes and music (plus plenty of American Bandstand footage—Dick Clark exec-produces, by the way), American Dreams kicks off on an up-note with … the JFK assassination? Good: The occasional oddity of current pop stars (like Michelle Branch) playing past ones (like Leslie Gore). Bad: No JFK conspiracy theories explored!
Boomtown (NBC; Sunday, Sept. 29, 9 p.m.): Another Los Angeles crime drama unfolds and … no, wait! Don’t glaze over yet! This one stars former New Kid On the Block Donnie Wahlberg and … come back! It’s a good one! Despite the generic title, Boomtown has a far better chance of living up to that “greatest cop drama ever” promise than the aforementioned Robbery Homicide Division does. Good: Multiple-viewpoint storytelling and twisting just-try-and-figure-this-out cases. Bad: They forgot to tack a bulletproof Law & Order on the front end.
Still Standing (CBS; Monday, Sept. 30, 8:30 p.m.): Lovable lug Mark Addy (The Full Monty) and eternal beauty Jami Gertz (last seen on Ally McBeal) star in The King of Queens 2.0. Addy’s American accent is as fleeting as Madonna’s English burr, but at least the damned kids aren’t around much, either. Good: Funnier than Monday mediocrities Becker (which Still Standing is replacing) and Yes Dear (still on the air—gawd, why?). Bad: Could face the ultimate humiliation of being bumped for Baby Bob.
Less Than Perfect (ABC; Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8:30 p.m.): Sara Rue (Popular—I know, I’m the only one who watched it) is a low-level office temp at a network news station who lands a sweet job as the head anchor’s (Eric Roberts!) personal assistant. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the tight-assed higher-ups (The Pretender’s Andrea Parker!!) nor her old temp pals (including Andy Dick!!!). Good: Discernable NewsRadio flavor (especially with Dick in the mix). Bad: Here we go again …