Last Man Standing, 8 p.m., ABC
Debuts Oct. 11
No, Tim Allen's new character Mike Baxter is nothing like his old character, Tim Taylor from ABC's blockbuster sitcom Home Improvement. Baxter has three daughters and a too-smart, exasperated wife. Taylor had three sons and a too-smart, exasperated wife. And Baxter doesn't make that chimplike noise when he cracks a joke about macho culture. Well, not every time.
TiVo or Ti-No? Like a fixer-upper with a new coat of paint, Allen's new sitcom barely hides its status as a thin copy of his past TV success. But here, his new character seeks to "get men back to their rightful place," wisecracking about life in a house with a just-promoted, working wife and three daughters. I'm thinking his rightful place might be somewhere he can learn female success doesn't equal male failure. Ti-NO.
Man Up!, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Debuts Oct. 18
The second show in ABC's trilogy of new comedies on men fighting emasculation centers on three guy pals trapped in a sea of smart-alecky wives, bitter divorcees and crazy ex-girlfriends (thank you, Modern Family, for prompting the networks to feature three sets of characters in every other new comedy). Somehow, these cappuccino-sipping, manscaping yuppies forget the macho dads they now glorify often were trapped in their own limited gender roles, struggling to connect with family and themselves.
TiVo or Ti-No? I'm still wondering why a comedy about men trying to be macho features former NYPD Blue hunk Henry Simmons taking off his shirt. Ti-NO.
The New Girl, 9 p.m., Fox
Google the word "adorable" and you'll likely snag a photo of Zooey Deschanel, whose goofy beauty powers this predictable comedy about a nerdy charmer who moves in with three male roommates. To the cast's credit, despite being stuck with a story ripped from 1,000 previous rom-coms — five minutes in, you know she's going to get jilted on a date and saved by her surprisingly caring roomies — the first half-hour still leaves you involved with these characters and eager to see more.
TiVo or Ti-NO? Forget the critics who nitpick that Deschanel is too pretty to play an overlooked nerd; the same eccentric, bohemian charm that launched a dozen indie films now makes this comedy the fall's best new show. TiVo.
Ringer, 9 p.m., the CW
Debuted last Tuesday
Often one actor playing multiple roles is little more than a distracting gimmick. So Sarah Michelle Gellar can't be blamed for floundering a bit as reformed wild child Bridget and her wealthy twin sister Siobhan — especially when Siobhan mysteriously disappears during a boating trip and Bridget conveniently takes over her life, unbeknownst to anyone else. Need I mention that Bridget is a fugitive from witness protection and Siobhan has a dark past that may be even more dangerous?
TiVo or Ti-NO? Originally developed for CBS, this show wastes some pretty cool actors (Lost alum Nestor Carbonell as a dogged FBI agent and Fantastic Four's Ioan Gruffudd as Siobhan's arch, wealthy husband, to name two). Too adult for the CW but too lightweight for CBS, it's a game effort in need of serious innovation. Ti-NO.
Unforgettable, 10 p.m., CBS
Nine months after 60 Minutes reported on people with "superior autobiographical memory," CBS has built a cop drama featuring Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as an ex-detective with the ability to remember every day of her life in detail. Well, except for the most important day — when an unknown bad guy killed her sister. The key for such series: building a character you care about aside from her unique talent, which means Poppy's got her work cut out playing a reluctant downer of a crime fighter who counts cards for extra cash.
TiVo or Ti-NO? Five minutes into watching the pilot, Marilu Henner (the star of 60 Minutes' story and a series consultant) called producers to flag a mistake. As Montgomery recounts March 27, 1998, she gets the day wrong, bad for a show about a cop with the world's best memory. Ti-NO.