TONIGHT'S CAN'T AVOID: “The X Factor”
debut, 8-10 p.m., Fox.
For all of the “American Idol”
popularity last season, the show was flawed. It had no perspective,
no real judgment; it had no Simon.
Now Simon Cowell is back with his own
show. He produces it and is a judge, alongside Paula Abdul, Nicole
Scherzinger and music producer L.A. Reid. This one is open to any age
(12 and older) and to groups; tonight has auditions, which will let
Cowell be his most Simon-esque.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Middle”
season-opener, 8-9 p.m., ABC.
As the school year nears, Frankie
(Patricia Heaton) decides her family needs a burst of togetherness.
Mike disagrees, but he's willing to try a camping trip.
Then the complications begin – lost
food, a jumbled board game and a bear. Also, we flash back to the
Mike-Frankie honeymoon – yes, Mike chose camping for that, too –
spoiled by a sad sack interloper. He's played by Ray Romano, Heaton's
“Everybody Loves Raymond” husband. This hour builds slowly, then
has some great moments, especially with the board game.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Revenge”
debut, 10 p.m., ABC.
Amid the big-money beauty of the
Hamptons, a newcomer (Emily VanCamp) fits neatly. She's slender,
smart, beautiful and terribly rich.
No one realizes that these people
ruined her father and her life. Now she's back, under a new identity,
for revenge. Beautifully crafted by movie director Phillip Noyce
(“Salt,” “Patriot Games”), this looks great. Still, viewers
will have trouble feeling attached to any of the characters.
Other choices include:
– “Up All Night,” 8 p.m., NBC.
Reagan and Chris envy the “cool” new couple across the street.
– “Modern Family” season-opener,
9 and 9:30 p.m., ABC. Fresh from winning five more Emmys (including
best comedy), this opens with two episodes. The first is at a dude
ranch; the second has Mitchell and Cameron ready to adopt another
baby … until they have doubts about Lily's reaction.
– “Harry's Law” season-opener, 9
p.m., NBC. Here's a bizarre change: This show was a surprise hit its
first year, as a quirky tale of a tiny, storefront law office in a
shoe store. Now that notion is virtually scrapped. Above the store,
Harriet (Kathy Bates) suddenly has a big, robust office. Producer
David Kelley has virtually re-created his “Boston Law,” even
adding one of that show's lawyers, Mark Valley. The opener –
starting a three-parter – is merely OK.
– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”
season-opener, 10 p.m., CBS. It's changeover time. Ray (Laurence
Fishburne) is gone; also, Ted Danson is the new supervisor. He has a
lot to deal with, after multiple shootings and stabbings on a Las
– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit” season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC. The rape charges against
Dominique Strauss-Kahn are barely fictionalized here, with Franco
Nero as the accused and the gifted Anika Noni Rose as the
complainant. This introduces a new “SVU” world, with Christopher
Meloni gone; Kelli Giddish (“Chase”) is a good addition, with
Danny Pino (“Cold Case”) coming soon..