Squee! It’s…

Nostalgia squee tonight, as Bess Armstrong pops up on Criminal Minds. Now, I got fooled last week into watching Criminal Minds (Randy Mantooth=totally worth it), but I found it to be one of those off-putting crime procedurals where putting beautiful young women in torture-bondage situations where they are fighting for their lives passes as entertainment. Not for me, thanks. But…but…Angela Chase’s mom is on tonight! <cough> Er, in addition to My So-Called Life, you may remember Bess Armstrong from shows such as Boston Legal, One Tree Hill, and The Nanny. And My So-Called Life! <cough> Sorry.

If you just can’t stomach Criminal Minds, you can get double your nostalgia fix over on the US version of Life on Mars. Not only will you swim through the 70s, but tonight you’ll do it with Jason Kravits, the most excellent ADA Richard Bay on The Practice. You might also remember Mr. Kravits from shows such as Gilmore Girls, Ed, and various crime procedurals. Speaking of nostalgia, he recently survived Liz Lemon’s high school reunion. Wonder when Angela Chase’s is? Criminal Minds on CBS at 9 Eastern and Pacific; Life on Mars on ABC at 10 Eastern and Pacific.

Squee! It’s…

You know, I was going to go all squee about how Wallace Shawn is going to be on Life on Mars tonight (and, yes, I was preparing to go with an “Inconceivable!” joke), along with Cheyenne Jackson (which will impress you if your squee sways toward musical theater, which, frankly, mine does). But holy squee, y’all–Randolph Mantooth is going to be on Criminal Minds. You may recall Mr. Mantooth from recent stints on daytime shows As the World Turns and One Life to Live, or from guest roles on, well, everything, from JAG and Diagnosis Murder to Baywatch and MacGyver through LA Law all the way back to old-school Battlestar Galactica and beyond.

Or, if you are like me, you remember him from Emergency!. Somewhere on this planet, there is a block of wood with a preschool picture of me pasted on it. I can’t imagine what the preschool teachers must have thought trying to get a picture of a kid who was gesticulating  wildly while telling them about how paramedic Johnny Gage had been bitten by a rattlesnake the night before trying to save joyriders who had driven off a cliff on Emergency!. See, TV Bacon was always in my blood. If you had asked me last week, I would have said there was pretty much nothing that could get me to watch Criminal Minds, but I’ll be tuning to CBS at 9 Eastern/Pacific. Randy Mantooth, people!

Handy Dandy Guide to Returning Fall Television 2008

Suffering from Olympics withdrawal? Burned out on election coverage? Not to fear, my friend, because the new fall television season is upon us. That’s right, all (well, some) of our beloved TV shows are coming back to us. Below is a list of premiere dates for all our favorite (and some not-so-favorite) returning series. And stayed tuned, because coming soon, look for our guide to all the new fall series.

Tuesday, Aug. 26
Greek (ABC Family) 9 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 1
Prison Break (Fox) 8 p.m.
Gossip Girl (CW) 8 p.m.
One Tree Hill (CW) 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 2
The Shield (FX) 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 3
Bones (Fox) 8 p.m
America’s Next Top Model (CW) 8 p.m.
Top Design (Bravo) 10 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 4
Kitchen Nightmares (FOX) 9 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 5
Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? (Fox) 8 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 7
Entourage (HBO) 10 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 8
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox) 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10
‘Til Death (Fox) 9 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 12
Don’t Forget The Lyrics (Fox) 9 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 13
MadTV (Fox) 11 p.m.
Saturday Night Live (NBC) 11:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 16
House (Fox) 8 p.m.
The Biggest Loser (NBC) 8 p.m.
Lincoln Heights (ABC Family) 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18
Survivor (CBS) 8 p.m.
Smallville (CW) 8 p.m.
Supernatural (CW) 9 p.m.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) 10 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 22
Dancing With The Stars (ABC) 8 p.m.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 8 p.m.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS) 8:30 p.m.
Two and a Half Men (CBS) 9 p.m.
Heroes (NBC) 9 p.m.
Boston Legal (ABC) 10 p.m.
CSI: Miami (CBS) 10 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 23
NCIS (CBS) 8 p.m.
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) 10 p.m.
Without a Trace (CBS) 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 24
The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) 8 p.m.
Criminal Minds (CBS) 9 p.m.
CSI: NY (CBS) 10 p.m.
Lipstick Jungle (NBC) 10 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25
Ugly Betty (ABC) 8 p.m.
Survivor (CBS) 8 p.m.
My Name is Earl (NBC) 8 p.m.
The Office (NBC) 9 p.m.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 9 p.m.
E.R. (NBC) 10 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 28
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC) 7 p.m.
The Amazing Race (CBS) 8 p.m.
The Simpsons (Fox) 8 p.m.
King of the Hill (Fox) 8:30 p.m.
Desperate Housewives (ABC) 9 p.m.
Cold Case (CBS) 9 p.m.
Dexter (Showtime) 9 p.m.
Family Guy (Fox) 9 p.m.
American Dad (Fox) 9:30 p.m.
Brothers & Sisters (ABC) 10 p.m.
The Unit (CBS) 10 p.m.
Californication (Showtime), 10 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 29
Chuck (NBC) 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 1
Private Practice (ABC) 8 p.m.
Pushing Daisies (ABC) 9 p.m.
Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) 10 p.m.
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV 101) 9 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 2
Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style (Bravo) 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 3
Wife Swap (ABC) 8 p.m.
Ghost Whisperer (CBS) 8 p.m.
Everybody Hates Chris (CW) 8 p.m.
The Game (The CW) 8:30 p.m.
Supernanny (ABC) 9 p.m.
Life (NBC) 10 p.m.
Numb3rs (CBS) 10 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 5
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 7 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 6
Samantha Who?
(ABC) 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 9
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS) 9 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 10
The Starter Wife (USA) 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 14
Eli Stone (ABC) 10 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 30
30 Rock (NBC) 8:30 p.m.

CBS Announces Fall Premiere Dates

There’s not a whole heck of a lot on CBS that I’m really anticipating this fall, but just in case ya’ll are dying to know when all of their eleventy hundred procedurals are premiering, here ya go:

Thursday, Sept. 18
8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR (17th Installment Premiere)

Monday, Sept. 22
8:00-8:30 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY (2nd Season Premiere)
8:30-9:00 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (4th Season Premiere)
9:00-9:30 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN (6th Season Premiere)
9:30-10:00 PM WORST WEEK (Series Debut)
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI (7th Season Premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 23
8:00-9:00 PM NCIS (6th Season Premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM THE MENTALIST (Series Debut)
10:00-11:00 PM WITHOUT A TRACE (7th Season Premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 24
8:00-8:30 PM THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (4th Season Premiere)
8:30-9:00 PM PROJECT GARY (Series Debut)
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS (4th Season Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: NY (5th Season Premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 27
8:00-9:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY (Season Premiere)

Sunday, Sept. 28
7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES (41st Season Premiere)
8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE (13th Edition)
9:00-10:00 PM COLD CASE (6th Season Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM THE UNIT (4th Season Premiere)

Friday, Oct. 3
8:00-9:00 PM GHOST WHISPERER (4th Season Premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM THE EX LIST (Series Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM NUMB3RS (5th Season Premiere)

Thursday, Oct. 9
9:00-10:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (9th Season Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM ELEVENTH HOUR (Series Debut)

Picking Up the Pieces: What’s Left of the TV Season?

Assuming the outcome of today’s WGA vote is positive, we’re only hours away from an end to the strike. So, in the immortal words of President Josiah Bartlet, “What’s next?”

A number of showrunners have already gone back work, making plans for the remainder of the season and scrambling to figure out how many episodes they can throw together. The networks, meanwhile, are making their own lists, deciding which shows will go on the block and which ones will live to fight another day. ABC got the ball rolling today, announcing nine pickups for next season, and the other networks are expected to follow suit in the coming days.

To try and help you make sense of all of this, I’ve scoured the trades and entertainment sites and come up with a (mostly) comprehensive list of what’s coming, what’s going, and what’s gotten stuck in limbo. Of course, a lot of this is still just speculation right now, and all of it is subject to change. But I’ll keep updating as new information becomes available, so check back for the latest–shows with new or updated information will be marked with an asterisk (*).

24 (FOX) – Jack Bauer’s seventh season has been completely torpedoed by the strike and will most likely be postponed until January 2009. Yeah, you read that right–2009.

* 30 ROCK (NBC) – Look for Liz Lemon and crew to return in on April 10. NBC is hoping to produce five additional episodes this season, depending on the availability of Alec Baldwin, who’s scheduled to start work on a feature film.

ALIENS IN AMERICA (CW) – Eight pre-strike episodes (bringing the season total to a respectable 18) will air starting March 2, but no more will be produced this season. The show is still considered to be in contention for renewal next season, though.

* ARMY WIVES (LIFETIME) – A mini-season is planned to air in June, with a full second season premiering in December.

* BACK TO YOU (FOX) – Will return Feb. 26 with three pre-strike episodes followed by eight additional episodes.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SCI FI) – Season four will debut April 2, with the first 11 of the show’s final 20 episodes already in the can. Production on the second half of the season may resume in March, but it’s unknown exactly when they’ll air.

* THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) – Will return on March 17 for the first of nine new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

BIG LOVE (HBO) – Production on season three begins in March, and the premiere date will most likely be pushed back to the end of the year.

BIG SHOTS (ABC) – It’s unlikely we’ll be subjected to any more episodes of this testosterone-laden flop. Hurrah!

BIONIC WOMAN (NBC) – Say goodbye to this expensive disappointment, which won’t resume production and won’t be back next year. RIP Jaime Sommers.

* BONES (FOX) – Will return with four pre-strike episodes on April 14, and may produce 2-6 additional episodes, although the airdate for those is still undetermined.

* BOSTON LEGAL (ABC) – Two pre-strike episodes remain and eight more are already slated for production. The series is expected be one of the first dramas to resume shooting post-strike and given Kelley’s notoriously quick turnaround time it looks like they might actually complete their entire 22-episode order. But the legal drama wasn’t included on ABC’s list of pickups for 2008-09, so this season may be the last.

BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) – One pre-strike episode remains and 4-5 more episodes are expected to be produced for airing in April and May. The series has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

BURN NOTICE (USA) – Production on season two is expected to start in late April, with new episodes airing this summer.

* CANE (CBS) – No new episodes will be produced this season and it wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, so the future is looking dim for this stinky soap.

CANTERBURY’S LAW (FOX) – This Julianna Margulies vehicle from the producers of Rescue Me will premiere April 14 for a six-episode run.

* CHUCK (NBC) – The bad news is that the good folks at the Buy More won’t be back this season. The good news is that they will be back–NBC has ordered 13 episodes for 2008-09.

THE CLOSER (TNT) – Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson should return for her fourth season in June, about three weeks later than originally planned.

* COLD CASE (CBS) – Will return on March 30 with five new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS) – Will return on April 2 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI (CBS) – Will return on April 3 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI: MIAMI (CBS) – Will return on March 24 with eight new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI: NEW YORK (CBS) – Will return on April 2 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. The ladies of Wisteria Lane have also been picked up for a fifth season.

DIRT (FX) – Returns for a seven-episode sophomore season on March 2.

DIRTY SEXY MONEY (ABC) – Three pre-strike episodes have yet to air, but don’t expect to see them until the Darling family returns to ABC’s schedule next fall.

ENTOURAGE (HBO) – The new season has been pushed back to fall, rather than the summer return originally planned.

* E.R. (NBC) – Yes, this fossil will actually be coming back on April 10 with six new episodes. And the network is reportedly in negotiations to bring the dang thing back for yet another season. Will it ever die?

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (CW) – Will return March 2 with 12 pre-strike episodes to bring the season total to 22. Still in contention for renewal next season.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) – Last week’s episode may very well be the last we’ll see of the mighty Dillon Panthers, as the forecast is grim for this critical darling (which has been on Ben Silverman’s hit list all season). Apparently clear eyes and full hearts can lose. No less than three different fan ventures have been launched in an attempt to save the show–one involves sending mini footballs to NBC, another is sending light bulbs, and a third group is sending Clear Eyes eye drops. So clever, those fans.

* THE GAME (CW) – Will return on March 23 with nine new episodes.

GIRLFRIENDS (CW) – This long-running series was expected to end after this season and it’s unlikely any new episodes will be produced, but the CW is reportedly working with the show’s producers to bring some closure with a retrospective or clip show of some kind.

* GHOST WHISPERER (CBS) – Will return on April 4 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* GOSSIP GIRL (CW) – Will return on April 21 with five new episodes. It’s also rumored the network may expand its order and bring the series back over the summer.

GREY’S ANATOMY (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. And yes, the docs at Seattle Grace will be back for a fifth season.

HEROES (NBC) – Won’t be back until the series returns with 22+ episodes next season.

* HOUSE (FOX) – Our favorite cranky doc won’t be back until late April or early May, but Fox may extend the current season into summer. David Shore says the storyline originally planned for the second half of the season will most likely be thrown out altogether.

* HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) – Will return on March 17 with nine new episodes. The comedy wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, but sources say it still has a good chance of renewal.

JERICHO (CBS) – Returns tonight with the first of seven new episodes (and in case you’re looking to jump in, EW has a handy cheat sheet to catch you up). No more episodes are expected to be produced this season, and as for next season… well, I guess it depends on the ratings tonight.

LAS VEGAS (NBC) – Two pre-strike episodes remain, but no more are expected this season. The show’s fate next season is uncertain.

* LAW & ORDER (NBC) – Will be back on April 23 with seven pre-strike episodes. It’s unclear how many additional episodes will be produced this season.

* LAW & ORDER: SVU (NBC) – Will return on April 15 with 4-6 new episodes.

LIFE (NBC) – Won’t be back this season, NBC has ordered 13 episodes for 2008-09 and plans to give the struggling show a proper relaunch. Let’s hope people actually start watching.

LIFE IS WILD (CW) – I’ve never even heard of this show, but apparently it’s a moot point now, as it’s not expected to return. Ever.

* LOST (ABC) – Six pre-strike episodes remain and five more will be produced in order to finish out the fourth season properly. That’ll make for a 13-episode season–three short of the 16 originally planned. Carlton Cuse says he hopes to incorporate the three “missing” episodes further down the line somehow. He also predicts there will be a four-week gap between the airdate of the last pre-strike episode and the first post-strike episode, rather than the uninterrupted season they were hoping for.

* MEDIUM (NBC) – Six pre-strike episodes remain in its current run and seven more are expected to be produced this season.

MEN IN TREES (ABC) – Will return Feb. 27 with 11 pre-strike episodes, but the series was not among ABC’s pickups for next season.

* MOONLIGHT (CBS) – Will return on April 11 with four new episodes. The vampire drama wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09 so its future is still up in the air.

* MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) – Earl Hickey will be back on April 3 with an hour-long episode, the first of 8-9 new episodes to be produced.

* NCIS (CBS) – Will return on April 7 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (CBS) – Six pre-strike episodes remain, but CBS is reportedly waiting to see how it performs before deciding whether to produce any more. The comedy also was left off a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, casting more doubt on its future.

NEW AMSTERDAM (NBC) – This mid-season drama will premiere March 4 for an 8-episode run.

NIP/TUCK (FX) – Will complete its fifth season on Feb. 19. Production is expected to resume on season six this summer.

* NUMB3RS (CBS) – Will return on April 4 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

OCTOBER ROAD (ABC) – Four pre-strike episodes remain, but the series was not among ABC’s pickups for next season.

* THE OFFICE (NBC) – Expect to see our favorite Dunder Mifflin employees back at work on April 10. Greg Daniels has confirmed that they’ll be producing six new episodes, though they “might be able to squeeze in seven if NBC asks for them.” The first episode will be “The Dinner Party,” a script that was about to start shooting when the strike interrupted production. Another pre-strike script, this one for the annual Christmas episode, will likely be tossed. The writing team is meeting this week to decide how to advance the show’s storylines, but Daniels says he’s “tempted to just leap ahead to where we would have been.” What I want to know is how they’re going to deal with Angela Kinsey’s baby belly.

* ONE TREE HILL (CW) – Six pre-strike episodes remain and six more will be produced this season.

PRISON BREAK (FOX) – About to complete its scheduled 13-episode season. The future of the series beyond that is unknown.

* PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC) – Won’t be back this season, but has been given a 13-episode order for 2008-09.

PUSHING DAISIES (ABC) – Won’t return until the fall. But we can rest easy in the knowledge that our favorite piemaker will definitely be back.

QUARTERLIFE (NBC) – Will premiere Feb. 26 for a 6-episode run.

* REAPER (CW) – Will return March 13 with three pre-strike episodes, and five more have been ordered for this season.

* THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES (FOX) – Instead of the previously planned post-Idol preview on March 12, the mid-season comedy will debut with a one-hour premiere on March 14.

THE RICHES (FX) – Season two, which has been downsized from 13 to seven episodes, will premiere March 18.

* THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) – Expected to return on April 14 with six new episodes. The comedy wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09 so its future is still up in the air.

SAMANTHA WHO? (ABC) – Three pre-strike episodes remain and are expected to air in the spring, along with several new episodes, in the post-Dancing with the Stars time slot. The series has also been picked up for 2008-09.

* SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC) – Will be back on the air Feb. 23 with host Tina Fey. SNL plans to push out four straight weeks of shows (Juno‘s Ellen Page has committed to host on March 1), a tall order for the live series, which rarely goes more than three weeks in row without a break. NBC is keen to catch up on all the ripe political fodder that’s gone un-lampooned during the strike. Maybe now we’ll all finally be able to stop watching that Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon video.

* SAVING GRACE (TNT) – The series is expected to return in June, about three weeks later than originally planned.

* SCRUBS (NBC) – The docs at Sacred Heart will be back on April 10 with four pre-strike episodes. The real question is whether NBC will let Bill Lawrence make the 3-5 additional episodes he needs to give the series a proper send off in its last season. If not, there’s a chance that ABC/Disney will let him produce them for the DVDs. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

* SHARK (CBS) – Things are looking up for this series–CBS has ordered four more episodes this season, which may bode well for its chances for renewal.

* SMALLVILLE (CW) – Four pre-strike episodes remain and five more have been ordered for this season.

* SUPERNATURAL (CW) – Two pre-strike episodes remain and four more have been ordered for this season.

SWINGTOWN (CBS) – Only a couple of episodes of this mid-season drama have been produced and CBS is still deciding what to do with it.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX) – Four pre-strike episodes remain. What happens after that is still up in the air.

* TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS) – Will return on March 17 with nine new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

UGLY BETTY (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* THE UNIT (CBS) – No new episodes are slated to be produced this season and it wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, so its future chances are looking thin.

* WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS) – Will return on April 3 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB (ABC) – It’s looking like it may be the axe for this newcomer.

Squee! It’s…

Squee! It’s Michael O’Neill on Criminal Minds tonight. You know him from…well, name a drama and he’s probably guested on it, including The Unit and the late, somewhat lamented The Nine. We know and love him best as Agent Ron Butterfield, head of President Bartlet’s Secret Service detail (and forgiver of Toby Ziegler) on The West Wing. Ron Butterfield’s on TV tonight!