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Fall TV Preview: Thursday night shows

Here are Thursday's most anticipated shows this season

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Fall TV Preview: Thursday night shows

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30 Rock
Retuning Comedy

Premieres Oct. 4, 8-8:30 p.m., NBC

A fulfilling career. True love. Children. A supportive boss who's good for a laugh despite being a Republican. Can't a working woman have it all? ''Our hope is to answer that question definitively for women everywhere,'' jokes exec producer Robert Carlock about the seventh and final season, promising that resolution for Tina Fey's Liz Lemon will be, as always, comically ''odd'' and ''outlandish.'' James Marsden's hunky hot dog vendor Chris will be back as Liz's beau, and two election-themed episodes are in the works. Jenna (Jane Krakowski) will be planning her wedding to Jenna impersonator Paul (Will Forte), with Liz as the (reluctant) maid of honor. Newly single Jack (Alec Baldwin) will juggle five different women at once while making a play for greater power within Kabletown. The mandate for 30 Rock's 13-episode swan song: ''We want to make sure these episodes feel like great 30 Rock episodes,'' says Carlock, ''and not always weighted with end-of-series heaviness.''

The Big Bang Theory
Retuning Comedy

Premieres Set. 27, 8-8:30 p.m., CBS

Though Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) tied the knot in the season 5 finale, his mission to space won't end anytime soon — much to the chagrin of his meddlesome mom (voiced by the brilliant Carol Ann Susi). ''Even in space, he can't escape the gravitational pull of his mother,'' explains exec producer Steven Molaro. Back at the apartment, Leonard's (Johnny Galecki) awkward proposal to Penny (Kaley Cuoco) has a ripple effect, and Amy (Mayim Bialik) drags Sheldon (Jim Parsons) kicking and screaming into the world of romance. No hibbity-dibbity is in the cards, but Amy is certainly ready to move beyond holding hands. ''It was a huge step for him to allow her to officially call him her boyfriend,'' explains Molaro, ''so Amy is as emboldened as ever.''

The Vampire Diaries
Retuning Drama

Premieres Oct. 11, 8-9 p.m., The CW

In the season 3 finale, Elena (Nina Dobrev) chose Stefan (Paul Wesley) over Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and sacrificed her life to save Matt (Zach Roerig). She died but awoke in transition to becoming a vampire. Now her defining characteristics — her compassion for others and her ability to divide the Salvatore brothers — will be heightened. ''Stefan, rightfully so, thinks that if she hurts anyone, she won't be able to handle it,'' exec producer Julie Plec says. ''Damon believes that that's inevitable, we're vampires, so anything you try to do to prevent it is just deluding yourself.'' A new vampire hunter (Todd Williams), who has an enigmatic origin story that piques the interest of Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and figures into the season's larger mythology, arrives in the second episode to complicate matters. ''Elena has to be very aware, which is difficult when you don't have control of your impulses,'' Dobrev warns. ''It's going to get her into a couple of sticky situations.''

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