Ah, the overwhelming bounty of the new TV season! Old favorites are back, new shows are debuting, and sorting out what’s worth watching is almost as daunting as picking a presidential candidate. (Okay, not quite, but you get the idea.) To make it a little easier, we decided to consult the experts. This summer, we challenged dozens of actors to describe their shows in such a compelling way that we’d have to watch. Here’s the countdown of our 10 favorite pitches:
10. Oliver Hudson, ”The Mountain” (pictured)
(The WB, Wednesdays, 9 p.m.; premieres Sept. 22)
WHAT IT IS A slacker takes on the challenge of managing a ski resort following his grandfather’s death.
WHO HE IS David Carver, a carefree motocross racer turned resentful businessman
HIS PITCH ”It’s great drama, but even better is the action. The sports are really incorporated into the show; they’re not just casually dropped in. And it’s a guilty-pleasure show. You’re going to want to find out what happens each week, because there’s so many rich and juicy story lines. Trust me.”
9. Joe Mantegna, ”Joan of Arcadia”
(CBS, Fridays, 8 p.m.; premieres Sept. 24)
WHAT IT IS Teenager Joan (Amber Tamblyn) chats with God while her family wrestles with problems of their own.
WHO HE IS Will Girardi, Joan’s crime-fighting dad
HIS PITCH ”I feel confident enough about the show to say, ‘Invest an hour to just watch one episode.’ You’ll either get it or you won’t. But this show has got the whole package. I know it’s somewhat cliché to say it, but it has the capacity to make you laugh, to make you cry and make you think. Of all the shows on television, how many have the potential to do that? It’s a real short list. And I will stake my entire reputation as an actor on the validity of that fact, that this show does that.”
8. John Magnum, ”Drew Carey’s Green Screen”
(WB, Thursdays, 8:30 p.m.; premieres Sept. 16)
WHAT IT IS An improv comedy show in which actors perform before an animated backdrop
WHO HE IS A comedian who thinks fast on his feet
HIS PITCH ”The reason you want to watch improv is because it’s kind of a high-wire act. We could fall and bust our faces. We can fail. It’s the ultimate form of reality TV. It’s not like they cut it so everything works. If it’s really bad, we’ll keep it in.”
7. Brenda Strong, ”Desperate Housewives”
(ABC, Sundays, 10 p.m.; premieres Oct. 3)
WHAT IT IS Frustrated suburban women work out their problems through sex, sublimation, and suicide.
WHO SHE IS Mary Alice Young, the housewife who kills herself in the debut episode but emerges as a narrator from the beyond
HER PITCH ”The female characters are fabulous and interesting, and they’re not just sluts. The narrative is really powerful, but the flashbacks are where you’re going to get the mystery. All the little pieces unravel through flashbacks that are doled out week by week, like little treasures.”
6. Neal McDonough, ”Medical Investigation”
(NBC, Fridays, 10 p.m.; premieres Sept. 10)
WHAT IT IS A ”CSI”-like drama about virus-battling feds.
WHO HE IS Dr. Stephen Connor, the head of a team of National Institutes of Health specialists
HIS PITCH ”Our show is all about hope. There are so many procedural shows about death and destruction and murders and rapes and killings and hijackings. This show is about a simple microbe that’s trying to get out there and kill people, and we have to stop it. It’s so realistic it’s frightening. I think everyone who watches is going to be thinking before they drink. And washing their hands. A lot.”