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Three new series to watch, and one to avoid

This spring, fans of new TV got a glimpse of the medium's future. Forget about those creaky old days when new series starts were confined to a few spots of the calendar; March and April brought a lengthy list of new and returning shows, from HBO's In Treatment, Showtime's The Tudors and FX's Rescue Me, to NBC's Kings, ABC's The Unusuals and CBS' Harper's Island. So it should come as small surprise that there are four notable new series coming this week. Here's a brief breakdown on what's coming and whether it's worth your time:

Sit Down, Shut Up 8:30 tonight, WTVT-Ch. 13

This animated comedy, from hotshot producers behind Fox TV's critically acclaimed Arrested Development and CBS' hit Two and Half Men, centers on the dysfunctional teaching staff of a high school in a small Florida fishing town. Unfortunately, it feels like a show dreamed up on the back of cocktail napkin, featuring characters named William Deutschbog and Miracle Grohe. There is a science teacher who believes in creationism and Ouija boards, a principal who always says no and a German instructor with a taste for odd pornography. And those are the best jokes.

TiVo or Ti-NO? For managing the impossible feat of sucking the funny from Arrested Development's Will Arnett, Happy Days star Henry Winkler and Saturday Night Live's Keenan Thompson, a hearty Ti-NO.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent 9 tonight, on USA

CI has always been the forgotten stepchild of the Law & Order franchise, exiled to cable-land before it was cool. Now, cable's most underestimated series returns with its unique rotating lineup, first featuring Vincent D'Onfrio's quirky-yet-brilliant Detective Bobby Goren in a routine episode about a murder involving the wayward child of a prominent political family. The real test comes next week, when Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), above inset, steps up as quirky yet-brilliant new Detective Zach Nichols, unraveling the murder of a young musician like a handsomer, geekier Goren. His edgy, nerdy vibe is an odd replacement for diva Chris Noth, who walked off his role as streetwise blue collar hero Detective Mike Logan last year.

TiVo or Ti-NO? If only to watch D'Onfrio get beefier and guess how they'll work in Goldblum's real-life piano skills every week (he plays in the April 26 episode), a cynical TiVo.

In Plain Sight 10 tonight, on USA

Star Mary McCormack, above, remains the best thing about this series, nailing cynical, tomboyish witness protection agent Mary Shannon with the right blend of edgy cool and vulnerable allure (minus the absurd mysticism that sinks Holly Hunter's carbon copy character on TNT's Saving Grace). She returns after a near-death experience during a kidnapping with a zest for life that would be welcome in anyone else; for a U.S. marshal who worked best when insulting the world, it could be a career-ending turn.

TiVo or Ti-NO? For McCormack's gritty marshal trapped in a model's body — and co-star Leslie Ann Warren's attention-getting turn as her self-centered mom — a Ti-Vo.

Heroes: Nowhere Man debuts Monday on

Fans of NBC's Heroes will remember skeevy puppeteer Eric Doyle (David H. Lawrence) and his struggle to stop using his powers for evil before a messy death weeks ago. NBC now offers three webisodes explaining exactly what happened, in a compelling, focused story that plays like The Office meets X-Men.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Since it's the perfect look-like-you're-working break for comic nerds stuck at a computer all day, a geeked-out Ti-Vo.

Three new series to watch, and one to avoid 04/18/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 18, 2009 5:54pm]
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