TV Article

Fall TV 2009: Sunday

''Desperate Housewives,'' ''The Amazing Race,'' ''Curb Your Enthusiasm,'' and others return to Sunday night

Desperate Housewives
Returning Drama — 9-10PM — ABC
''I've come up with my own version of 'Who Shot J.R.?''' says creator Marc Cherry. Indeed, season 6's central plot stems from an attack on a ''beloved character'' in the premiere. Suspects include the Bolens, Wisteria Lane's newest clan, headed by The Sopranos' Drea de Matteo and 24's Jeffrey Nordling. Hints Cherry, ''They're running from something.'' Lynette (Felicity Huffman) hides her pregnancy from boss Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) in order to secure a promotion; Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker) will battle with niece Ana (Maiara Walsh); and Bree (Marcia Cross) will ''discover her sexuality in a major way'' through her affair with Karl (Richard Burgi). So was it Susan (Teri Hatcher) or Katherine (Dana Delany) at the altar with Mike (James Denton) in the finale? Says Cherry, ''You'll know within the first minute.'' (Sept. 27)

The Simpsons
Returning Comedy — 8-8:30PM — Fox
How to mark Homer & Co.'s 20th anniversary? On Jan. 14, The Simpsons will unveil a Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary about the show's impact. ''It's the anti-self-congratulatory documentary,'' insists exec producer Al Jean. Meanwhile, celebs will help celebrate all season: Seth Rogen co-wrote the opener and voices a trainer tasked with whipping Homer into shape to play a big-screen superhero; Bart gets a girlfriend (Sarah Silverman); an older prankster (Jonah Hill) serves as a cautionary tale to Bart; and Krusty finds romance when a princess character (Anne Hathaway) is added to his show as a ratings ploy. Oh, and when the Simpsons go to Israel on a Bible tour, Homer gets a vision of Larry the Cucumber from VeggieTales, who instructs him to unite all faiths. So, how's Homer as a prophet? ''He says, 'Some of us don't eat shellfish, some of us don't eat pork, but all of us love chicken,''' notes Jean. ''His message is: Peace and chicken.'' (Sept. 27)

The Amazing Race
Returning Reality — 8-9PM — CBS
Contestants in The Amazing Race's 15th installment begin their frenzied sprint around the world in Los Angeles and immediately jet off to Tokyo, where things get rather spicy. ''We threw 'em right in the middle of a Japanese game show, where there's a couple hundred people cheering them on and just going berserk,'' says executive producer Bertram van Munster. ''They have to eat this unbelievable wasabi bomb. And that's just the introduction!'' The 21-day race, which also hits such countries as Estonia, offers an array of contestants including Harlem Globetrotters, female professional poker players (who prove to be ''tough as nails''), a man with Asperger's syndrome, and, yes, a highly combustible husband/wife tandem. (''This guy was so frustrated with something, I thought he was going to break his hand,'' notes van Munster.) And we're extremely curious to watch this roadblock: ''We have a challenge that involves 2,000 animals,'' boasts van Munster. ''I have tried this for years and finally pulled it off. It will make you laugh and cry.'' (Sept. 27)

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Returning Reality — 8-9PM — ABC
In season 7, look for more celebrities! Patricia Heaton, Mary J. Blige, and Ashley Tisdale will take part in the ''Get on the Bus'' campaign, which features a special guest who'll assist during each five-day build. Plus, ''we want to show — warts and all — the crazy things that happened'' during construction, says exec producer Anthony Dominici, like when a Mack truck flips over. (Sept. 27)

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Returning Comedy — 9-9:30PM — HBO
Living under the world's biggest rock? Here's a news flash: The Seinfeld cast is reuniting on Curb! ''This was really the only way to do it,'' says Larry David. In the offbeat story line, the actors play heightened versions of themselves who've been recruited by Larry — their old boss — to stage a reunion show. Somehow this connects to Larry trying to win back his wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), but first he'll need to wriggle out of his relationship with his cancer-stricken girlfriend Loretta (Vivica A. Fox). We know that other guest stars include Meg Ryan, Rosie O'Donnell, Elisabeth Shue, and Christian Slater, but what else happens in season 7, Larry? ''There's some dating,'' he says, noting that his alter ego courts a wheelchair-bound woman. ''You can expect some Leon [J.B. Smoove]. You can expect people to hurl obscenities at me. You can expect me to cross over the lines of social boundaries. The usual.'' Wouldn't have it any other way. (Sept. 20)

Family Guy
Returning Comedy — 9-9:30PM — Fox
Fans already know what they won't see this season — except perhaps on DVD: the infamous ''abortion episode.'' (Fox declined to air the show in which Lois serves as a surrogate for a friend who dies, and then debates whether to have an abortion.) A Spies Like Us reunion with Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase, the return of James Woods, and an Empire Strikes Back spoof should satisfy fans longing for standard fare, but with seven seasons under their belts, says exec producer Steve Callaghan, the Family guys want some strange. ''And if we fail, fail big.'' (Sept. 27)

Bored to Death
New Comedy — 9:30-10PM — HBO
This dark comedy follows a recently dumped writer named Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) who decides to become a private eye and win back his girlfriend (The Wackness' Olivia Thirlby). Jonathan's detective adventures will provide Bored with a plethora of guest stars, including Parker Posey and SNL's Kristen Wiig. When he's not tracking down missing persons, Jonathan works as a magazine writer for eccentric, wealthy boss George (Ted Danson) and hangs with his sad-sack pal Ray (The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis). ''The thing I love about it is that they're all f---ing up, but from such a good place,'' says Schwartzman. ''The three of us are like planets in our own solar system, and we need each other for the gravitational pull.'' (Sept. 20)

American Dad
Returning Comedy — 9:30-10PM — Fox
It's the end of the world as we know it, and CIA agent Stan Smith feels...lonely. ''The Rapture happens and Stan gets left behind,'' says American Dad co-creator Mike Barker, ''and he's furious.'' Well, no wonder: It's the Christmas episode, and he's spending the end of (holi)days trying to rescue wife Francine from the Antichrist. That's rough, but Dad's fifth season is even harder on son Steve, who goes to a Vietnam War restaging and gets a case of Post-Traumatic War-Reenactment Stress Disorder. Yes, freaky is a theme this season — so are cool guests: Andy Samberg and Zach Galifianakis (is there any show he's not on?) appear, as do the late Harve Presnell and Ricardo Montalban, in their final roles. ''We hope they're watching,'' says Barker. Us too. (Sept. 27)

Californication
Returning Comedy — 10-10:30PM — Showtime
With Karen (Natascha McElhone) away, Hank (David Duchovny), who takes a job teaching writing at a university, will play with three women: a twentysomething student/stripper (Eva Amurri); his thirtysomething TA (Diane Farr); and the fortysomething head of the English department (Embeth Davidtz), who's married to the college dean (Peter Gallagher). Also in season 3: Divorcing couple Charlie (Evan Handler) and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) will share a home á la War of the Roses — a plot that inspired creator Tom Kapinos to cast Kathleen Turner as Charlie's new superagent-from-the-'70s boss. (Sept. 27)

Brothers & Sisters
Returning Drama — 10-11PM — ABC
Another health crisis kicks off season 4. ''This galvanizes the Walkers and brings them together,'' says exec producer Alison Schapker, who declines to ID the patient (our money's on Sally Field's Nora). Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) pursue parenthood via surrogacy; Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and Robert (Rob Lowe) try to mend their marriage; Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) gets lucky with Sex and the City stud Gilles Marini; Nora and Holly (Patricia Wettig) lock horns over planning Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca's (Emily VanCamp) wedding (Marion Ross' Ida returns for the engagement party); Ryan (Luke Grimes, now a series regular) will find out the role Saul (Ron Rifkin) played in his mother's suicide; and prodigal son Tommy (Balthazar Getty) returns for a visit within the first 10 episodes. ''He's not going to be completely MIA,'' says Schapker. But the biggest surprise is that not every episode will end with a dinner-party disaster. Admits Schapker, ''You don't want to feel like you can time it so that at 10:40 p.m. they're fighting around the table. But there will still be dinner parties.'' (Sept. 27)

Cold Case
Returning Drama — 10-11PM — CBS
Season 7 finds Detective Rush (Kathryn Morris) off her game. ''Things are going haywire in her life,'' says exec producer Greg Plageman, adding that the military-academy official (Daniel Baldwin) who almost killed Rush remains ''a thorn in her side.'' (Ya think?) And as Rush reconciles with her father (Raymond J. Barry), she'll have mixed feelings about her newfound stepmom and half siblings. All the angst will naturally be set to a kicking soundtrack, featuring Santana, Ray Charles, and the O'Jays. (Sept. 27)

Originally posted Sep 18, 2009 Published in issue #1065-1066 Sep 18, 2009 Order article reprints