Ellen Gray: One new show tonight, lots of season premieres Sunday

Michael C. Hall returns in the fifth season of "Dexter" on Showtime.
Michael C. Hall returns in the fifth season of "Dexter" on Showtime.
Posted: September 24, 2010

BECAUSE IN television, weeks start on Monday and end on Sunday, the official "premiere week" isn't quite over yet, even if it feels as if it's already gone on forever.

Things do slow down a bit tonight, with the premiere of just one new series, CBS' "Blue Bloods," and the return of a few others, but it's no longer possible to write off Friday nights as a dead zone.

On the ever-lively Sunday, people who pay a lot for cable will be making some hard choices - or counting heavily on On Demand - as the Season 5 premiere of Showtime's "Dexter" goes head to head for the first time with HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" on a night when CBS, ABC and Fox all have fresh everything (and NBC has football).

What to watch? What to record? What to skip altogether?

Tonight

What's new: "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., Channel 3) as well as new time slots for CBS' "Medium" (8 p.m., Channel 3) and "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., Channel 3).

Things to consider: The strongest show of the night is probably "Blue Bloods," which stars Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan, widowed patriarch of a family of New York law enforcement types and, not incidentally, the man in charge of the NYPD.

Donnie Wahlberg plays his detective son, Bridget Moynahan his prosecutor daughter and Will Estes ("American Dreams"), the family's newest cop, while Len Cariou is Frank's father.

There's nothing earthshaking happening here, but as someone whose extended family includes both lawyers and cops - and a lot of other argumentative types - I felt the family dinner-table conversation rang true, and so did the people.

For people who like their family dramas mixed with crime and a bit of conspiracy, it's a solid choice to end the workweek.

CBS is counting on "Medium" to keep the audience that once tuned in for "Ghost Whisperer" and though I still vastly prefer the Patricia Arquette show's approach to the occult, it has to be said that she doesn't really go in for the filmy lingerie and flowing, low-necked gowns that Jennifer Love Hewitt seemed to favor for her conversations with the dead.

There's more out-there stuff happening on the CW, where "Smallville" is launching its 10th - and final - season at 8 and "Supernatural" its sixth season at 9.

Note: ABC's "Body of Proof," which I'd earlier reported would be premiering tonight, isn't, and currently has no firm air date, according to an ABC spokeswoman who suggested the Dana Delany medical-examiner drama might even be pushed off to midseason.

Will "CSI: NY" fans follow the show from Wednesday? Will more viewers find Fox's hilarious cop spoof "The Good Guys" at 9 p.m. Fridays than found it on Mondays this summer? Will ABC's rerun of "The Whole Truth" premiere do better tonight than it did Wednesday? Will NBC's "Outlaw" ever start making sense? Stay tuned.

What I'd watch: "Medium," "The Good Guys," "Blue Bloods."

What I'd record: Nothing.

Sunday

What's new: No new shows, but season premieres galore.

Things to consider: "Boardwalk Empire" only gets better as it goes along, but so, too, does "Dexter," whose fifth season opener finds our favorite serial killer-with-a-code (Michael C. Hall) mired in guilt in the wake of his wife's murder, one he didn't actually commit.

Dexter's always been an unreliable narrator and his long insistence that he's not actually human is tested again in an episode that suggests once again that being a monster doesn't necessarily exempt you from the demands of humanity.

Yes, it's worth asking how long this dance can go on, given that yet another cop is beginning to sniff around Dexter's affairs, but as long as the character keeps growing and changing, I'm content to see him practice his grisly hobby a while longer.

CBS has the season premieres of "The Amazing Race" and "Undercover Boss" ("CSI: Miami" moves into the 10 p.m. slot next week).

On ABC, "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters" launch their seasons, and Fox is all-new, too, with new seasons of "The Simpsons" and "Cleveland" and an hour-long "Family Guy" at 9.

Oh, and for those who keep asking: HBO's "Bored to Death" and "Eastbound & Down" return, at 10 and 10:30.

What I'd watch: "The Amazing Race" (though I'll have to record some of it Sunday, when it's 90 minutes long and not scheduled to start until about 8:30), "Boardwalk Empire," "Brothers & Sisters."

What I'd record (or catch On Demand): "Dexter," maybe "Desperate Housewives," "Bored to Death." *

Send e-mail to graye@phillynews.com.

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