Tuesday, Sept. 8 (FX)
Season Premiere: The first season of Sons of Anarchy mostly lived up to its premature Hamlet-on-Harleys buzz, even though young central star Charlie Hunnam (Jax) didn’t really prove he could carry a show until the final episodes, and even then was still being overshadowed by scene-chewing vets Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal—hell, even Drea De Matteo blew him off the screen, and she was barely around. He’s more up to the challenge as Season 2 opens; Jax is chipping away at Clay’s (Perlman) authority within the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club with disgusted gusto after last season’s string of deadly decisions. Meanwhile, a newly arrived white-supremacist group (led by Adam Arkin and, yes, Henry Rollins) aims to run SAMCRO out of town by any means necessary—including attacking Clay’s old lady Gemma (Sagal). Sons of Anarchy isn’t FX’s guts-’n’-grit sequel to The Shield just yet, but Season 2’s first few episodes are clearly gunning for the rep.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 (The CW)
Season Premiere/Series Debut: Having been there for the Fox originals in the ’90s, just have to ask: Where’s the CW update of Herman’s Head? Ned & Stacey? Get a Life? Plus, if 90210 and Melrose Place become hits—which, for The CW, entails a thousand or so viewers and a slight uptick in Twitter followers—will a spin-off remake of Models Inc. (Wiki it, kids) follow? And when is The CW going to ditch the gawdawful green color scheme? Are Sunday nights still available to rent? So many questions, so little interest. Oh, 90210 and Melrose Place: If you’re 14, you’ll love ’em.
Wednesday, Sept. 9 (Fox)
Series Debut: So, So You Think You Can Dance? is back … already. Upside, it leads into Glee, the biggest (pleasant) surprise from Fox since the renewal of Dollhouse and the cancellation of the craptacular Morning Show With Mike & Juliet (despite all the “current hot topics!” ads still being run, M&J hasn’t produced a new episode since June). If you missed the oddly early airing of the Glee pilot back in May, Fox is repeating it Wednesday, Sept. 2 and Friday, Sept. 4; tonight’s “debut” is actually Episode 2. If High School Musical were dragged through the teen-angst snark puddle of Popular (creator Ryan Murphy’s forgotten pre-Nip/Tuck gem from the days of The WB) and rinsed off with a little of Waiting for Guffman’s faux earnestness, you’d have the wet-hot mess that is Glee. Just skip the hoofer show before it.
Wednesday, Sept. 9 (The CW)
Season Premiere: Not only is the latest installment of ANTM the first to feature “short” model wannabes (5-foot-7 and under), it also introduces the most loony-tunes contestant in the history of the series: Amber, a crazy-eyed religionut who’s heaven-bent on dry-humping Jesus and “saving the world” as a petite model. Since no one’s allowed to be more insane than Tyra Banks on her own show, sadly, Amber only lasts through the first half of the two-hour premiere. But, she’ll probably have her own series on VH1 by October.
New Series: The Only TV Column That Matters™ gave it a shot, watching this new post-Project Runway filler—but spending extra time with the models ain’t all you’d imagine it to be. Lifetime has kept Models of the Runway (which follows what happens with Runway’s clothes-hangers after the designers are done with ’em) at a merciful 30 minutes, but the professionals have even less to say than the amateurs of America’s Next Top Model. But, oddly enough, this actually seems more like a Bravo series than what Project Runway has become—discuss your de-gayed conspiracy theories now.