Sunday: New + Returning Shows |


Sunday: New + Returning Shows

''Once Upon A Time,'' ''Boardwalk Empire,'' and more

Once Upon A Time
Returning Drama, 8 p.m., ABC
Once upon a time there was a fairy-tale show that everybody watched, but then it got super-complicated and its Sunday-night spell began to fade. In season 3, Once will be more focused, with the core cast on a mission in a new world. ”You can jump right in,” says exec producer Adam Horowitz, who offers this pithy summary: ”It’s fairy-tale Avengers on Captain Hook’s boat going to Neverland to rescue a kid from Peter Pan.” (Yes, Once’s Peter Pan has a dark streak.) Oh, and the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) gets a love interest, and a mermaid named Ariel (JoAnna Garcia) shows up. Fingers crossed for a talking crab. Sept. 29

The Simpsons
Returning Comedy, 8 p.m., Fox
Season 25 opens with a different kind of Homer: He returns from a nuclear workers’ convention acting so weird that Lisa calls the FBI. ”He doesn’t eat pork, he doesn’t drink beer,” says exec producer Al Jean. ”It’s creepy to see him behave that way.” Speaking of creepy, this year’s ”Treehouse of Horror” features a couch gag courtesy of Guillermo del Toro and a parody of the 1932 cult movie Freaks. (”Barney is the legless guy, and the most hideous freak of all is just normal Moe,” hints Jean.) In other episodes, Homer delivers a baby in an elevator and Sideshow Bob pops up as a food scientist. Also, Comic Book Guy finds love with a Japanese woman. Notes Jean, ”He’s so excited, he says, ‘Is it too early to give you flowers and a Hulk hand?”’ Sept. 29

Boardwalk Empire
Returning Drama, 9 p.m., HBO
Coming into season 4, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is finding that maybe it ain’t all that good to be the king. The boardwalk emperor won the war against hotheaded mobster Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), but it’s a Pyrrhic victory: His wife (Kelly Macdonald) has left him and he’s keeping a lower profile. ”The carnation’s gone and with that, I think, so is the glad-handing and the politicking,” says Buscemi. ”He’s more behind-the-scenes now, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with.” There are new forces out there as well, including Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), a highly educated Harlem gangster. ”He’s a very different threat than Gyp was,” says showrunner Terence Winter. ”He’s much more of a chess player, very manipulative and Machiavellian.” In other words, Nucky had better watch the throne. Premiered Sept. 8

Family Guy
Returning Comedy, 9 p.m., Fox
The Griffin family’s adventures begin this season when Peter finds a clue for a treasure…on a kids’-menu place mat. ”Everyone thinks he’s an idiot until he discovers there’s a buried clue — one clue leading to the next,” says exec producer Steve Callaghan. ”It’s either going to be one of our highest-stakes or lowest-stakes episodes.” Speaking of high stakes, in a separate outing ”one of the Griffins meets his or her maker,” Callaghan teases. ”We will replace them with another character.” Also on tap for season 12: Quagmire counsels Meg when she’s being bullied at school, Cleveland returns, and Peter has a twin growing out of his neck. ”The family ends up liking him better than Peter,” explains Callaghan, ”so there’s a rivalry between Peter and his vestigial twin.” Sept. 29