Television’s fall line up is better than you think

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There’s nothing on TV to watch, you say? Ah, friend, you are sorely mistaken. These days, great television shows such as Arrested Development, Scrubs, and The Office are often passed by in favor of classics on scale with E.R. and recent hits like Desperate Housewives. Yet these shows are equally hailed by critics and have gained a cult-like following among avid television viewers. Arrested Development, the Emmy Award-winning zany comedy, is narrated by the character Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman, The Sweetest Thing, Dodgebal) who takes over his father’s (Jeffrey Tambor, City Slickers, There’s Something About Mary) real estate business after he is arrested for tampering with the accounts. Michael balances limiting the family’s extravagant expenses (such as funding brother Gob’s career as a magician) with continuing to raise his son George Michael amidst his offbeat relatives, all the while living in one of the family’s show houses. Portia de Rossi (Ally McBeal) and David Cross (The Ben Stiller Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) also star. With high-profile guest stars, five Emmy Awards (including Outstanding Comedy Series), and Lucy-and-Ethel-worthy screwball situations, Arrested Development is well on its way to becoming one of the FOX network’s most successful shows, with its third season premiering Monday, Sept.19, at 7 pm. The quick-paced Scrubs documents the characters employed by the Sacred Heart Hospital from inside the head of medical resident John “J.D.” Dorian (Zach Braff, Garden State). Comedy is found in the unlikeliest of places and it abounds at this hospital full of oddball and at times eccentric personalities. John C. McGinley (Office Space, Any Given Sunday) improvises his way through the witty dialogue from creator Bill Lawrence of Spin City fame, and laughter always ensues, largely fueled by unlikely guest stars and surprising portrayals of the male inner psyche. Actor Donald Faison (Clueless, Felicity) plays surgeon Chris Turk, J.D.’s closest compadre, and Sarah Chalke (Roseanne) portrays the awkward and quick-talking Elliot Reid. Nominated for plenty of awards, including four Emmys and a Producer’s Guild Award (2004), Scrubs is in its fifth season on NBC airing Thursday nights at 8 pm. Another NBC show gaining critical acclaim is the American adaptation of the BBC hit comedy The Office. Filmed in a documentary-style format, office life is accurately captured in all of its pocket protector glory in the show’s first season. Steve Carell (The Daily Show, Anchorman) leads a cast of Hollywood unknowns as the regional manager of a paper supply company in Pennsylvania, quite possibly the most mundane job ever to be given a television show. Believing he is the funniest boss in all of Pennsylvania, Michael Scott (Carell) seemingly does nothing but nurse the coffee in his self-purchased “World’s Greatest Boss” mug while viewers cringingly look on as he attempts to appear cool. St. Louis native Jenna Fischer (Miss Match, Six Feet Under) plays office receptionist Pam, who largely spends her days ignoring the boss and laughing at office politics with laid-back and handsome Jim Halpert (John Krasinski, Kinsey). The brunt of much amusement is the irritatingly odd and egotistical Duane, played by Rainn Wilson (Six Feet Under, America’s Sweethearts, Sahara). The second season of NBC’s “The Office” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 8:30 pm.