Welcome to the new Fall TV season, TV watchers! As brand new series get ready to make their debuts in September and attempt to elbow their way onto your DVRs, we rounded up some of our favorite fun facts about the new shows, returning favorites, hottest stars and notable themes of the season. We can’t say the network offerings are particularly inspiring this year, but this list might help you decide what to hit and what to miss.
MAY WE PRESENT, 25 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT FALL TV 2012
1. Returning Favorites: The likable Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights,” “American Horror Story”) is back in another wildly different role, singing a new tune in ABC’s drama “Nashville.” Matthew Perry makes new “Friends” in NBC’s “Go On,” about a sports radio host in mourning who joins a group of misfits in grief counseling (Note: it’s a comedy). With his deep voice and stern glare, Andre Braugher brings his commanding presence to ABC’s “Last Resort” (from “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan) as the commander of a U.S. nuclear sub that defies mysterious strike orders and takes refuge on island in the middle of nowhere. If that’s not enough to bring you aboard, “Felicity” fave Scott Speedman returns to TV as the second hunk, er, officer in command.
P.S. “ER” fave Anthony Edwards is checking back in to series TV in midseason’s “Zero Hour.”
2. Big Stars on the Small Screen: More movie stars are flocking to TV because that’s where “exciting things are happening” according to “Vegas” star Dennis Quaid, who plays a sheriff (based on real-life lawman Ralph Lamb) in a power struggle with a mobster (Michael Chiklis of “The Shield”) during the birth of Sin City in the 1960s. Ellen Barkin has a politically incorrect role as the filter-less matriarch on “The New Normal.” And for midseason, viewers can look forward to Kevin Bacon starring in the Fox thriller “The Following” as an FBI agent brought out of retirement to track a serial killer with a cult following.
Those film actors join Madeleine Stowe, who’s been exacting juicy “Revenge” on ABC; Jessica Lange, who’s locked up a mind-bending role on FX’s “American Horror Story”; Sigourney Weaver, who’s a “Political Animal” on the USA Network; Don Cheadle, who’s built a “House of Lies” on Showtime; and Jane Fonda, who’s popped up as a Ted Turner-like character on HBO’s “The Newsroom.” Not to mention last year’s flops: Ashley Judd’s axed ABC thriller “Missing” and Josh Lucas’ remake of “The Firm.”
Watch an Extended Preview of “Revolution”:
3. The Gamble: NBC’s “Revolution” turns off the lights after an unexplained global event and unveils a new (old) world that must function without anything that has an electrical charge … no cell phones or TV’s or Macs? … oh, my! A struggle for power – literally and figuratively – ensues as a lawless land brings out the baddies, while those fighting to survive try to unravel the mystery surrounding the blackout.
Why is it a gamble? Because it’s a serialized drama predicated on a mystery, requiring a broad and loyal viewership to ensure it stays on the air long enough for the questions to be answered. The good news: It comes from J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Fringe,” “Alias”), a master at these kinds of shows, and “Supernatural’s” Eric Kripke.
Fun Fact: “Rescue Me’s” Andrea Roth, originally cast as the mother, has been replaced by “Lost’s” Elizabeth Mitchell because, according to producers, “We started to realize that there were facets of that character that Elizabeth would be best suited to play.”
4. Scene Stealer: Crystal the Monkey costars as “Dr. Rizzo” on the NBC sitcom “Animal Practice” and steals the thunder from the humans every time she’s on screen.
Fun Fact: The 18-year-old female capuchin monkey makes $12,000 per episode, and her extensive resume includes “The Hangover II,” “Community,” “We Bought a Zoo,” and “Night at the Museum.”
Check Out the Monkey on the Pilot Episode of “Animal Practice” Here:
5. Daytime’s Newest Darlings: Katie Couric, Ricki Lake, Jeff Probst and Steve Harvey all have new daytime talk shows premiering in September. Marie Osmond also has a talk show in the works for the Hallmark Channel. The heir to Oprah’s throne is still an open position, with Katie Couric, who’s moved from morning show to evening news to daytime, being the frontrunner.
Notable Quotable: Katie Couric on her chatty nature: “I think I’m just a natural-born extrovert, to be honest with you, and I’ve always been exceedingly outgoing and friendly and probably overly so. My mom used to worry about how I was just sort of like a puppy dog and would come up to everybody and talk to everyone, and I think she worried about my personal safety at times.”
Notable Quotable: “We are planning a very big, exciting last season,” said “Office” showrunner Greg Daniels after announcing it was quitting time. “We’re going to have a lot of familiar faces coming back. We’re going to Roy’s [David Denman] wedding. David Wallace [Andy Buckley] is running Dunder Mifflin. We have a lot of funny stories, great Dwight [Rainn Wilson] stories that we’ve wanted to tell for years, just a lot of drama in the Jim [John Krasinski] and Pam [Jenna Fischer] story this year. The story’s definitely not over for them. We have a lot of great things planned, basically.”
7. Reality Show Judge Is the Hottest Gig on TV: It’s a high-profile and high-paying job. Britney Spears and Demi Lovato bring the youth factor to Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” for Season 2; Mariah Carey will sit at the “American Idol” judges’ table next year for a cool $17 million; and Howard Stern has already been asked back for a second season of “America’s Got Talent,” banking something in the neighborhood of $15-$20 million.
8. Hot Single Moms: Warning: You might get confused by the multiple sitcoms this fall about young, hot, blonde single mothers: Georgia King plays a single mother who’s hired by a gay couple to be their surrogate in “The New Normal.” Dakota Johnson is the single mom to cutie patootie Maggie Elizabeth Jones (from “We Bought a Zoo”), and when mom’s juvenile brother moves in with them, chaos and fun ensues on Fox’s “Ben and Kate.” “Scrubs” star Sarah Chalke must learn “How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life” when she and her kid move back home with her wacky parents (Brad Garrett, Elizabeth Perkins) in midseason.
Fun Fact: There are nearly a dozen new sitcoms debuting in the 2012-2013 TV season. P.S. Comedy may be king of the fall schedule, but very few of them have a shot at being crowned the next big hitcom (a la “Modern Family”).
CBS’s “Partners” Move into Monday Night Comedy Lineup:
9. Shows Based on Their Creators’ Lives: “The New Normal,” about a gay couple that hires a surrogate to carry their baby, is loosely based on TV producer Ryan Murphy’s life with his partner; while “Partners” is derived from the real-life friendship between creators/executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (“Will & Grace”), who’ve been friends since they were 14 years old.
Other Family Matters: Mindy Kaling, who ditched “The Office” for “The Mindy Project,” plays a successful OBGYN in her new Fox comedy. Kaling reveals the character is based on her mother and jokes, “I’ve done a lot of research [on gynecology] throughout my life.”
Another Fox sitcom has deep family roots: “Ben and Kate” executive producer Dana Fox says the bumbling character of Ben (Nat Faxon) is based on her real-life brother. “He’s kind of a Ferris Bueller type of guy,” Fox reveals, adding, “He’s really smart but intentionally does dumb things.”
Fun Fact: Claudia Lonow, a former actress from “Knots Landing,” is now a TV writer and the creator of the new ABC sitcom “How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life,” and at age 49, does, in fact, still live with her parents.
10. Famous Daughters: Mamie Gummer, Dakota Johnson and Katie Cassidy
Notable Quotable: “I feel like I’ve been the star of my own show for a while now, and I’m just really glad that everyone’s decided to tune in,” says “Emily Owens, MD” star Mamie Gummer aka the daughter of the often Oscar-nominated actress Meryl Streep.
And don’t expect Dakota Johnson’s famous parents Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith to pop up on Dakota’s new sitcom anytime soon: “This is MY show,” joked the budding actress, who stars in Fox’s “Ben & Kate.”
Meanwhile, Katie Cassidy – spawn of “The Partridge Family” heartthrob David Cassidy – plays a potentially juicy character on The CW’s “Arrow”: When the actress was recently asked by reporters if her character will turn into the “Black Canary” she said, “That’s a very good question,” and after a pause, grinned: “Maybe.”
11. On the Move: Your favorite show may be doing the prime-time shuffle. This fall, “Glee” and “Two and a Half Men” move to Thursdays; “Touch,” “CSI: New York,” “Top Model,” “Community” and “Whitney” move to Fridays; and “The Mentalist” and “Revenge” move to Sunday nights.
12. Where Have I Seen Them Before? Justin Bartha, who stars in the NBC sitcom “The New Normal,” played the missing groom Doug in the blockbuster film “The Hangover.” Jonathan Jackson, one of the hunks on ABC’s “Nashville,” is a grown-up Lucky Spencer (son of Luke and Laura) from “General Hospital.” British actress Janet Montgomery, who stars in CBS’s “Made in Jersey,” got her break playing an assistant on “Entourage” and a ballerina in the creepy Natalie Portman film “Black Swan.” Taylor Kinney, one of the hot guys on “Chicago Fire,” is Lady Gaga’s boyfriend. And you saw Nat Faxon – bumbling “Ben” from “Ben and Kate” – accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing George Clooney’s “The Descendants.” He won this year along with director Alexander Payne and “Community’s” Jim Rash – the one who made for a memorable acceptance speech by mocking Angelina Jolie’s Oscar leg-flashing on stage.
Notable Quotable: “I booked this the day after I won the Oscar,” Nat Faxon joked of landing his part in the upcoming Fox sitcom.
13. Old Characters in a New Light: While they aren’t out and out remakes, several new shows feature famous characters we all know and love … or love to hate.
CBS’s “Elementary” puts its trademark procedural twist on Sherlock Holmes with Johnny Lee Miller playing the quirky crime-solving genius, setting it in modern-day New York, and featuring a female Watson (Lucy Liu) as Sherlock’s sidekick – and “sober companion.”
The CW opens up “The Carrie Diaries” for midseason, traveling back in time for a prequel about the formative years of Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s sex columnist from the HBO series “Sex and the City.” AnnaSophia Robb plays a teen Carrie in the ’80s, as she discovers her intoxicating love of love, fashion — and New York City.
The lambs will be screaming come midseason with the arrival of “Hannibal,” as NBC takes a stab at a serial killer drama about Hannibal Lecter starring Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen as the psychiatrist with a dark secret, Hugh Dancy (who’s married to “Homeland’s” Claire Danes) as special agent Will Graham and Laurence Fishburne as his FBI boss Jack Crawford.
14. Same Name, New Show: This season CBS hits the strip sixties-style with “Vegas,” the same name as 1978’s “Vega$” starring Robert Urich, while James Caan starred in NBC’s “Las Vegas” (2007) and TruTV has “Vegas Strip.”
CBS is also having title déjà vu with the David Kohan-Max Mutchnick (“Will & Grace”) comedy “Partners,” about business partners and best friends — one gay (“Ugly Betty’s” Michael Urie) and one straight (“Numbers” David Krumholtz). The new “Partners” has been criticized for being too similar to Fox’s “Partners” from 2005, which had a similar premise and was created by “Will & Grace” exec producer Jeff Greenstein, comparisons the producers call “unfortunate.”
This Year’s Unnecessary Remake: “Beauty and the Beast.” The CW gets its pretty paws on the classic love story with an update of the CBS series from the ’80s starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perelman (now on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”). This one transforms it into a procedural and stars “Smallville” beauty Kristin Kreuk as a detective and Jay Ryan (“Terra Nova”) as the beast, who’s already been criticized for being too good-looking. “He’s going to become beastlier” as the season goes on, producers promise.
15. Guest Star Alert!: Some fun stunt casting is coming to your favorite shows returning this fall: Look for Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker on “Glee”; Ex-“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” star Kathryn Erbe will be crossing over for an episode of “Law & Order: SVU”; and Melanie Griffith and her famous mother Tippi Hedren will appear on Fox’s “Raising Hope.” Meanwhile, “The Good Wife” has a good deal of guests planned for Season 4: Maura Tierney, Nathan Lane, Rita Wilson, Dominic Chianese, Marc Warren and Kristin Chenoweth, whose multi-episode arc was reduced to a single episode after she was recently injured on the set and needed time to recover.
Talk About the Mother Lode: We also have Christine Lahti as McGarrett’s thought-dead mother on “Hawaii Five-0” and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Emily’s thought-dead mother on “Revenge.” Plus, the mothers of the “NCIS: Los Angeles” cast will appear on an episode of the show.
16. Two Country-Singing Redheads on ABC: Connie Britton plays a ginger-haired seasoned country star in ABC’s sudsy “Nashville” who’s forced to go on tour with a young blonde tartlet (Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes”) to save her career.
Fun Fact: Both actresses do their own singing for the show, which comes from writer Callie Khouri of “Thelma & Louise” fame and features musical arrangements by legendary music producer T. Bone Burnett.
On the comedy front, fiery country star Reba McEntire returns to sitcom TV in “Malibu Country” playing Reba 2.0, who moves from Nashville to Malibu with the outrageous Lily Tomlin along for the ride as her mother.
17. A Supernatural Soap? We’re In!: Forget “Hotel Hell” and move into “666 Park Avenue” instead. It’s like “Dynasty” meets “Rosemary’s Baby” says star Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”), who may or may not play the devil. But he’s devilishly fun, as is former “Desperate Housewife” Vanessa Williams who plays his wife. When a young couple (Dave Annable, Rachel Taylor) become the property managers of a haunted luxury NYC apartment building, they’re soon spooked by some sinister happenings.
18. Murphy’s Law: TV producer Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee”), who’s known for pushing the envelope, can claim the title of First Boycotted Show of the Season: “The New Normal,” which features a gay couple trying to have a baby, has the group One Million Moms up in arms. He reveals that Ellen Barkin’s controversial character is loosely based on his own grandmother and represents exactly the kind of woman who protests the show.
Notable Quotable: “I just shot an episode of ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta,’ which was a dream come true,” revealed Ryan Murphy, who has cast “Real Housewife” NeNe Leakes in two of his shows, “Glee” and “Normal.”
19. “Modern Family” Gets Mo’ Money: The stars of the Emmy-winning sitcom banded together and held out for raises, eventually scoring a big payday. Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara and Ed O’Neill will now earn $170,000-$175,000 (including bonuses) per episode for the upcoming 22-episode season — more than doubling their old salaries of $65,000 per episode.
Baby on Board: The Season 4 premiere picks up where the May finale left off — with Gloria’s (Sofia Vergara) baby bombshell — and with everybody learning she’s pregnant, marked by their inevitably hilarious reactions to the news that Jay and Gloria are expanding the “Modern Family.”
“There will be a child,” “Family” man Ty Burrell recently confirmed to xfinityTV. “So far in the first four episodes, the storylines really have revolved about having more kids. She [Gloria] is having a kid, and there is an episode about Phil and a vasectomy and whether or not they [Phil and Claire] are done.” There’s also Mitch and Cam’s plans for another adoption, but Burrell stayed tight-lipped about that storyline, so we’ll just have to stay tuned.
20. And Whoa, Baby! There were fourteen babies used to film the seven children featured on the NBC sitcom “Guys with Kids” from producer Jimmy Fallon: four sets of twins and two sets of triplets. “It was like we were running a preschool on set,” says executive producer Amy Ozols. Fallon adds that the show, which aims to portray fatherhood as “cool,” was originally pitched as “DILFs” (“Dads I’d Like to…” you know) but the network said, “’Yeah, we probably can’t call the show DILFS, so we’ll have to change that.’”
The CW’s “Arrow” Is Right on Target:
21. Superheroes Swoop into Fall: There are two Supermans and two Green Arrows on TV this fall. TV “Superman” Dean Cain is a contestant on “Stars Earn Stripes,” while movie “Superman” Brandon Routh costars on CBS’s “Partners.” Stephen Amell plays Green Arrow in The CW’s “Arrow,” while Justin Hartley, who played Green Arrow on “Smallville,” costars on Fox’s “The Mob Doctor.”
Notable Quotable: “Going from superhero to gay man is not a big step, is it?” Brandon Routh joked to TV reporters when asked about the challenges of taking on different characters after playing “Superman.”
22. “The Voice” Rocks New Twists – As if the battle rounds weren’t brutal enough, now producers are adding a “Knock Out Round” for Season 3 of the hit NBC singing competition. That’s not all: another twist will allow thievery – coaches will be allowed to “steal” contestants from another team during the battle rounds. Meanwhile, the coaches will have new advisersthis year: Michael Buble joins Team Blake; Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong joins Team Christina; Mary J. Blige joins Team Adam; and Rob Thomas joins Team Cee Lo.
Fun Fact: “Voice” coach Cee Lo Green’s “Purrfect” pal, the white fuzzball lap cat that mysteriously appeared last season, has just as mysteriously vanished (she was last seen being limo’d away to a “Victoria’s Secret shoot”). This season, that dirty bird Cee Lo will debut a new sidekick — a pink cockatoo named “Lady.” And, yes, like Purrfect, Cee Lo’s new “Lady” also has her own Twitter page.
23. Tinseltown loves Chi-Town: This season, the city of Chicago is represented in no less than three new series: Fox’s “The Mob Doctor,” Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire,” and NBC’s “Revolution” are all set in the Windy City. There are also four new series this fall with famous cities in the title: “Chicago Fire,” “Malibu Country,” “Vegas,” and “Nashville.” P.S.: The entire state of New Jersey — stereotypes and all — is represented in CBS’s’ “Made in Jersey.”
Meet “The Mob Doctor”:
24. Must-Watch TV Movie: HBO’s “The Girl,” starring Sienna Miller as Hitchcock blonde Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones as Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock, who became obsessed with his leading lady during the filming of the 1963 thriller “The Birds” and 1964′s “Marnie.”
Notable Quotable: ”He ruined my career but not my life,” the fabulous looking 82-year-old Tippi Hedren recently told TV reporters. She later described the infamous horror director as “genius and evil and deviant, almost to the point of dangerous” and an “extremely sad” person.
25. DOA? “The Mob Doctor” might want to take a hit out on the competition — the new Fox drama, as the title implies, is about a young doctor (Jordan Spiro of TBS’s “My Boys”) who reluctantly moonlights for the mob — has the unfortunate time slot airing Mondays at 9/8c opposite the second hours of NBC’s hit “The Voice” and ABC’s “DWTS: All-Stars.” Yikes.