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New TV shows on Thursday nights this fall

Charlie's Angels, 8 p.m., ABC

Debuts Thursday

Like gaudy gift paper wrapped around an overpriced bottle opener, ABC's remake of its cheesy '70s-era action series deploys beautiful stars, fight scenes, explosions and Miami glamor to disguise one dud of a story. They may look like supermodels, but this era's crime-fighting trio consists of an heiress-turned-world-class cat burglar, a disgraced Miami cop and a former Army lieutenant. When one dies, Friday Night Lights alum Minka Kelly joins the crew as a street racer with a mysterious past.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Like most remakes, this year's Angels doesn't understand, let alone re-create, the charm that made an unlikely hit of the original. Allowing shapely young women to beat up bad guys doesn't make up for the way they're objectified in scanty clothing. Ti-NO.

How to Be a Gentleman, 8:30 p.m., CBS

Debuts Sept. 29

Kevin Dillon's knuckleheaded charm is mostly wasted in this limp comedy about a dense personal trainer who helps an etiquette columnist be more manly than an expert in fine wines and Burberry scarves could manage alone. Positioned like a crass Odd Couple update, it also fits the trend of guys resisting emasculation that seems all the rage in network TV this fall.

TiVo or Ti-NO? The key to a hit sitcom is creating characters that viewers want to spend time with. Given that I'd cross both sides of the Howard Frankland to avoid these dudes, I'm going to Ti-NO.

Person of Interest, 9 p.m., CBS

Debuts Thursday

No one does creepy cool like Lost alum Michael Emerson, and there's no better earnestly reluctant hero than Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ). So what happens when superstar producer J.J. Abrams puts Caviezel's emotionally wounded CIA agent together with Emerson's mysterious billionaire, using a machine that vacuums up public data to predict crimes and calamities before they happen? I'm not sure, but it's going to be fun watching them all find out.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Action-fantasy geeks see this as one of the most promising new shows of the fall, blending the mystery of Lost with the spy toys and surveillance magic from Enemy of the State. Ti-Vo for sure.

The Secret Circle, 9 p.m., the CW

Debuted last Thursday

Since Buffy the Vampire Slayer, rules for the teen horror drama are pretty simple: Hero (or heroine) discovers weird powers-supernatural business then has adventures mirroring the angst of high school. Since vampires and werewolves were taken, creator Kevin Williamson (Vampire Diaries, Dawson's Creek) slapped this formula on witches, featuring a young girl who moves to a new town and discovers she belongs to a coven of teen spellcasters. She also happens to be the key to a centuries-old battle between good and evil, not including the mean girls in homeroom.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Most of these tween-appeal shows start in mediocrity and build to soapy, emotional glory. I'd TiVo awhile, just to see if it becomes another Vampire Diaries.

Whitney, 9:30 p.m., NBC

Debuts Thursday

Ace comic Whitney Cummings is a fresh breed of standup: sexy, independent and raunchy enough to tame a house full of frat boys on homecoming weekend. But NBC's sitcom strips away her humor and sands down her edgy style, turning Cummings into a shrill, self-obsessed girlfriend who dominates her longtime live-in guy pal with the relentlessness of a belt sander set to maximum.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Sample joke: "Cosmo (magazine) is for skanks." Ti-NO.

Prime Suspect, 10 p.m., NBC

Debuts Thursday

No one expected NBC to match the heights of its source material, Helen Mirren's legendary British TV cop Jane Tennison. But ace movie actor Maria Bello deserves better than seeing her Detective Jane Timoney (why a different name?) stranded in a sexism-drenched remake with story lines imported straight from the 1980s, with a visual look left over from the last Law & Order spinoff.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Bello may find a way to rescue a character so careerist that she asks for a guy's job hours after he dies in an office meeting. But this version feels too direct at times, the ultimate version of a woman succeeding in a man's world by being more macho than the guys. Ti-NO.

New TV shows on Thursday nights this fall 09/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 3:20pm]
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