Appointment Viewing: The Fall Season Begins with “90210,” “Ringer,” “Always Sunny,” “The Vampire Diaries” and More!

It’s time again to review a week of Appointment Viewing, and things are starting to get busy as The CW debuts its new fall lineup including the highly-anticipated Ringer, the first all-star season of America’s Next Top Model, and the return of The Vampire Diaries. As if that weren’t enough to keep you busy, this week also has the season finale of True Blood and the return of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

This weekend also includes a number of specials and repeats to commemorate the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. Because there’s a lot going on there (and, honestly, I’m still feeling emotionally drained just from watching a repeat of Frontline’s “The Man Who Knew”) I’m going to refer you to Andy Dehnart’s roundup of the specials and documentaries or this thorough guide to the weekend’s memorial programming.

Friday’s big event is the finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day as the team takes on a desperate mission against the Three Families. This being Torchwood it’s unlikely everyone is getting out alive. Too bad I’m not feeling optimistic that we’re finally going to be rid of Gwen.

If you want something lighter, Nick has Neil Patrick Harris in a new Penguins of Madagascar special. In Blowhole Strikes Back, NPH returns as the voice as the villainous dolphin who has tried to outwit the penguins before. His plan has him using the evil “Diabologizer” to destroy the penguins’ headquarters, but not before performing four different musical numbers.

Does anyone suspect Harris’ twins are going to have a whole shelf of age-appropriate videos starring their father by the time they’re old enough to watch movies?

Friday also sees the Haven police station fall under lockdown, the return of the underwater coffin on One Man Army, while Roseanne also deals with being menopausal on another two episodes of Roseanne’s Nuts on Lifetime.

I hear Rory gets to shine on Saturday’s Doctor Who when a vacation ends up being an encounter with a deadly disease and Amy ends up finding herself locked up in a quarantine. I have to admit, I adore Rory, but while seeing him get a moment to shine is welcome, it’s Amy who is in need of a few great scenes. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be another episode where she waits to be rescued by The Doctor.

BBC America also has the finale of the charming Friday Night Dinner. You might have heard that NBC is developing its own version of the series, so here’s your last chance to check out the original.

Meanwhile, I’m particularly excited about Saturday’s newest Syfy original movie. Taking inspiration from the Lewis Carroll poem, Jabberwock stars Battlestar Galatica stud Tahmoh Penikett as a peaceful man who wields the vorpal blade in order to defend his village from the terrible Jabberwock. If the monster attacks at brillig and has a bandersnatch defending its lair, I am going to be one very happy nerd.

It’s been a while since we last saw George Takei in a new episode of Supah Ninjas, but the trio of young ninjas return Saturday when a computer geek takes on a superhero identity.

Sunday is the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and there’s a long list of programming commemorating the event. There’s also the season finale of True Blood on HBO. I know this season has inspired some mixed reactions, but I’ve been enjoying watching Marnie’s journey (I’m not sure how else to describe it, it’s not like she’s been plotting and scheming) as well as the way the show has tried to look at the characters from new angles. As much as I adore Tara and Lafayette, they were in danger of falling into a rut, and I’m glad the True Blood team has tried to address that in the new season.

Meanwhile AMC has a new Breaking Bad on Sunday as Gus has to continue to deal with more pressure from the cartel. I have to admit, while Breaking Bad has challenged me to look at the characters in different ways, I wasn’t expecting to wonder if Gus might be motivated by thoughts of avenging the man he loved. Considering how Gus is depicted as the man who is in control of his life the way Walt wishes he were, I think it’s quite edgy to leave the audience asking if Gus and Max’s relationship was a romantic one.

As for (Breaking Bad creator) Vince Gilligan’s response that he would let the audience decide how they see Gus and Max’s relationship, I’m satisfied with that response. Gilligan has been open to considering viewers’ different interpretations in the past and I’m hoping the debate inspires some ideas for Breaking Bad’s final season.

Monday also brings us the Design Star finale with Team Gay’s Karl in the final two. The final challenge will see both finalists create a pilot for their hopeful show, including a concept for the show and an example of them working with homeowners about to get a makeover. We haven’t seen a member of Team Gay win the big prize on Design Star since David Bromstad won the first season. Will we get a second winner this time?

Before it starts debuting its new fall lineup, the CW has a new special focusing on fashion and pop music. Gaga by Gaultier sees Lady Gaga meet with legendary designer Jean Paul Gaultier to discuss stardom, what goes on backstage at her shows, how she feels about her fans (I get the feeling that Saturday Night Live sketch was only slightly exaggerated) and her love of art. It should be an interesting conversation.

Following Gaga by Gaultier is The CW Fall Preview Special with a look at what’s airing on the network in the next few days.

After taking Labor Day weekend off, Syfy’s Monday night lineup returns with new episodes of Eureka, Warehouse 13 and Alphas. After the surprise that ended the last episode of Warehouse 13, we’re all wondering if we’ll ever see Steve Jinks again. I have a feeling we won’t get our answer this week, but at least it brings us an hour closer.

Monday also brings new episodes of The Closer, The Lying Game, The Big C, The A-List: New York, Hair Battle Spectacular and Death Valley.

The new CW shows start to debut on Tuesday starting with the return of 90210. Last season, we were quickly drawn into the story of Teddy Montgomery, a jock who realized he was gay, came out to his friends and was betrayed by his first boyfriend. It was a story that that was powerful and moving, even if 90210 producers seemed to think irritating stories featuring Adrianna or Annie were far more interesting. (It’s sad to think about how Shenae Grimes really got to shine on Degrassi and then compare that to the kinds of stories they give her on 90210.)

It’s not clear how much we’ll be watching 90210 this season, considering the report that we can only expect Teddy to guest-star in five episodes. Still, Tuesday’s season premiere should have a few good Teddy moments as he tries to work up the courage to come out to his parents.

90210 is followed by the premiere of Ringer, a thriller that brings Sarah Michelle Gellar back for her first TV role since Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Gellar plays estranged twins who reunite just as one of them, Bridget, is in the midst of crisis. There’s a lot more information in the CW’s press release but I’m afraid of spoiling you.

On a personal note, I’m curious if Ringer will be a repeat of The Vampire Diaries in my house. A big part of why I initially checked out The Vampire Diaries was my partner’s feelings for Ian Somerhalder. Unfortunately, he walked out of the room before Damon made his first appearance. Ringer has another one of my partner’s major celebrity crushes, Ioan Gruffudd.

Meanwhile, those of you who can’t resist the latest cute internet meme might want to check out Miracle Babies
on the National Geographic Wild Channel. The series takes a look at how
modern technology is being used to save critically endangered species
from extinction. Three hours of the series will air Tuesday beginning
with baby pandas and ending with koalas.

ABC News has a new special Tuesday that might be of interest to readers. Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words takes a look at  interviews historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. recorded with the former first lady. Kennedy didn’t speak publicly very often so this special gives rare insight into her mind as she witnessed history.

Considering the amount of drama that has happened on Flipping Out this season, Bravo isn’t going to let the show go without a reunion episode. Tuesday we’ll get to see the cast return to look back at the season. While I’m sure most Flipping Out fans are looking forward to seeing Jeff encounter Trace again, I’m looking forward to the moment Andy Cohen asks a question Jeff finds ridiculous. I always appreciate how Jeff won’t play along with Andy’s excesses.

As if all that weren’t enough, Tuesday also brings new episodes of Awkward., Web Therapy and Chopped Champions.

It’s been a while since we last saw a gay man compete on Survivor, but that changes Wednesday when out NTPD morgue detective Mark-Anthony Caruso tries to outwit, outplay and outlast along 17 other competitors, including past Survivor competitors Ozzy Lusth and Benjamin “Coach” Wade. I can’t remember the last time Survivor had an out gay man who turned out to be a strong competitor, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Mark-Anthony — he’d better last long enough to make watching Coach again worth it.

Wednesday also brings the return of another long-running reality series as America’s Next Top Model kicks off its 17th cycle. For the first time ANTM is delivering its first all-star season with out cycle 15 competitor Kayla and the series’ only transgender competitor Isis back for a second try. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of testimonials about how much Tyra changed the top models’ lives for the better, because that’s an important element of many of Tyra’s shows.

Wednesday also brings the debut of NBC’s new comedies starting with Up All Night. The series has Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as a couple, Regan and Chris, who have a baby and realize what a struggle parenthood can be. As if things weren’t tiring enough at home, Applegate’s character produces a talk show hosted by Maya Rudolph’s Ava, a star who makes demands on the new mother’s time.

Check out our interview with Applegate as she discusses working with Maya Rudolph and what makes Up All Night different from other comedies about new parents:

Christina Applegate

Up All Night is followed by the debut of Free Agents, a comedy starring Hank Azaria that has so much bad buzz, the only reason I can think to watch is if you’re that loyal to Anthony Steward Head. Honestly, I just might be enough of a fan to tune in with a hot cup of instant coffee and maybe a VR headset connected to an old school modem.

Free Agents cast

Finally, BBC America also has new episodes of Law & Order: UK and The Hour while National Geographic Wild has two more hours of Miracle Babies.

It’s been a long summer since we checked on The Vampire Diaries and the supernatural soap returns with new episodes Thursday. The season premiere opens with Elena’s 18th birthday. While Caroline wants to celebrate the event, Elena is more concerned about finding Stefan.

I wasn’t that enthralled by the finale, but they certainly grabbed my attention by bringing Anna back in the final scene. (Can we have Pearl, too? Please?) Thursday’s premiere sees Jeremy try to figure out why he’s suddenly seeing Anna and Vicki everywhere. If Bonnie ends up telling Jeremy “I can’t compete with a ghost for your love” and mean it literally, that will be the latest example of why this show is so incredibly compelling.

The Vampire Diaries is followed by the CW’s latest supernatural soap with The Secret Circle. Based on a series of books by the writer of The Vampire Diaries, and executive produced by out Vampire Diaries producer Kevin Williamson, the small network is clearly hoping lightning can strike twice.

Instead of mixing high school drama with vampires, The Secret Circle focuses on young witches. That starts with Cassie, who moves to her grandmother’s small town after her mother dies. There, she learns she might have a special legacy that includes being the last member of a circle of witches who becomes more powerful when they’re together. While we’re not expecting to see any gay characters in the near future, if this is anywhere as compellingly plotted as The Vampire Diaries, this show should be a must-see.

Meanwhile, FX debuts a new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as the low lifes at Paddy’s Pub return for more selfish behavior and just desserts. Ever since it first premiered, Sunny has mined gay and homoerotic situations for humor. With one exception, they’ve avoided the homophobic joke for one that made fun of the selfishness, the bigotry and the self-centeredness of the gang.

And speaking of gay humor, for three weeks, Sunny will be followed by animated comedy Archer, a show that frequently put its clueless hero into homoerotic situations. The season begins with Sterling Archer missing in an episode called “Heart of Archness.” I hope that means we’ll get a sequence that features “Flight of the Valkyries.”

Thursday also brings new episodes of Project Runway and NTSF:SD:SUV::.

There’s plenty to choose from, so I’m really curious to find out what you’re eager to see in the week ahead:

Last week, it was a battle between Thursday finales and Futurama took the grand prize with 31% of your votes. I have to say, I was really looking forward to see what the show did with all those different animation styles and I was pretty pleased. Actually, I’m still bouncing like the black & white versions of the Planet Express team. USA’s new legal drama Suits clearly has made a strong impression on you  as it took second place with 27%. Another new fave, Wilfred, got the bronze medal with 13%.

Next week, things get even busier. Not only will we see Jane Lynch host The Emmy Awards, we’ve got the debuts of The Playboy Club, Revenge and Blue Mountain State as well as the returns of Modern Family, Hawaii 5-O and an overlooked show called Glee.

Lyle Masaki is a fan of obscure superheroes, video games, adorkable guys and that show you loved that got cancelled way too soon.