Ellen Gray: 3 new shows accompany the return of 'Glee'

BROADCAST PREMIERE week continues tonight with the debuts of three series and the returns of CBS' "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles," Fox's "Glee" and NBC's "The Biggest Loser."

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

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Michael Imperioli in ABC's new cop drama, "Detroit 1-8-7."

 

8-9 p.m.

 

What's new: No new shows, but "Glee" moves into its new time slot to kick off the evening with an episode that finds New Directions again in recruiting mode - pop star Charice plays one prospect - and Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) uniting in the face of a common enemy, the new football coach (Dot Marie Jones).

"NCIS," meanwhile, opens its eighth season with an episode I haven't seen.

Things to consider: ABC's new family-with-superpowers show, "No Ordinary Family," launches here next week.

What I'd watch: "Glee." It's not the show's strongest episode - how many times has "Glee" pushed reset by now? - but I can't resist the music.

What I'd record: Nothing until next week, when "No Ordinary Family" premieres.

 

9-10 p.m.

 

What's new: Fox's "Raising Hope" and "Running Wilde," as well as the season premiere of CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles," which has new episodes airing back-to-back tonight.

Things to consider: Fox has had mixed success applying the sensibility of its animation franchise to live-action sitcoms.

Tonight, the mixed results continue as Greg Garcia ("My Name Is Earl") brings us the wacky, winning "Raising Hope" and Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett of "Arrested Development" unveil "Running Wilde," a promising pairing of Arnett and Keri Russell that needs tweaking.

On seeing the pilot of "Raising Hope" this summer, my older son, knowing my feelings about TV's long predilection for dads who can still date, suggested the twisted story of how a pool cleaner named Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) became a single father might be "the secret back story to 'Full House.' "

On the off chance that Fox's promos haven't already spoiled the story for you, I'm not going to tell you exactly what happens, except to say that no actual babies were hurt during filming of this piece of insanity, which also stars Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton as Jimmy's parents and Cloris Leachman as his "Maw Maw," whose occasional flashes of lucidity are a source of terror to her family.

There's at least one inside joke for fans of the canceled "Earl" - pointed out to me by Mario Machi, a member of this year's Everybody's a Critic panel - but overall, "Hope" feels like a very new take on an old, old story.

But if I sometimes hated myself for how hard I was laughing at "Raising Hope," I hated more how little I even giggled at "Running Wilde," whose pilot doesn't quite live up to its pedigree.

Arnett stars as Steven Wilde, the spoiled heir to an oil fortune (think of his "Arrested Development" character as an only child) whose childhood crush, Emmy (Keri Russell), comes back into his life as an activist who opposes just about everything he and his company stand for.

The problem is that Emmy risks becoming as unbearable in her righteousness as Steven is in his wrongheadedness, and the one vaguely sensible character, Emmy's daughter, Puddle (Stefania Owen), who doubles as narrator, isn't quite enough of a presence to ground a show that so far plays like a series of sight gags involving, among other things, miniature horses.

One hopeful sign: The revised version of the pilot, which now includes "Arrested" alum David Cross, is better than the one I saw early in the summer, if only a little.

What I'd watch: For now, I'll stay tuned to Fox and hope for "Wilde" improvement.

What I'd record: The first hour, at least, of "NCIS: Los Angeles," a show that never quite worked its way onto my must-viewing list last season, and perhaps the CW's "Life Unexpected," though I was disappointed in last week's premiere and its cliched I-accidentally-kissed-my-teacher twist.

 

10-11 p.m.

 

What's new: ABC's "Detroit 1-8-7."

Things to consider: Last season, this was one of the toughest time slots around, thanks to CBS' "The Good Wife," NBC's "Parenthood" and an FX rotation that included "Sons of Anarchy" and "Justified."

"The Good Wife" doesn't return until next week, but the continually improving "Parenthood" is already back and "Sons of Anarchy" has a particularly kick-ass episode tonight, with a small but memorable appearance by novelist and "Sons" fan Stephen King.

But between the viewers who like their families upscale and outspoken and those who want them tattooed and in leather, there are probably millions who'd still prefer yet another cop show to either.

That's where "Detroit 1-8-7" hopes to come in.

Originally conceived as a pseudodocumentary about homicide detectives, it stopped breaking the fourth wall after Detroit stopped allowing ride-alongs in the wake of a fatal shooting being caught on film by a documentary crew.

Now it's a talky but straight-ahead ensemble cop show whose cast includes Michael Imperioli ("The Sopranos") and James McDaniel ("NYPD Blue"). Think "Southland" in Detroit.

What I'd watch: For tonight, "Detroit 1-8-7" deserves a look, though once "The Good Wife" returns, it will probably have to fight for a place on my two-tuner DVR.

What I'd record: "Parenthood" and "Sons of Anarchy." *

Send e-mail to graye@phillynews.com.