The return of fall means the return of network TV (finally!). While my friends are tuning in to Gossip Girl, 90210, and Vampire Diaries, my picks for the best returning shows of the season steer clear of the CW.
Hear me out: some of these you may have given up on seasons ago or assumed you wouldn’t like, but I promise, they’re definitely worth checking out (or at least DVR-ing until that first sub-zero Saturday).
This is my number one pick, and for a reason: it’s hilarious. When I first started seeing promos on Comedy Central, I thought it’d be too frat-boy for my taste. But when I actually watched the first episode, it was a pleasant surprise. Make no mistake—it’s full of slacker humor, bong hits, and pointless excursions, and the adventures of Blake, Ders, and Adam are utterly devoid of meaning (case in point: Why does Blake don a full bear suit during episode 2? No clue).
But while the specifics of the show are absurd, the general sentiment is relatable. After all, everyone has dealt with the post-graduation doldrums, when the business suits and bosses of the working world strike a depressing contrast with the party days of college.
Which is ultimately the beauty of Workaholics: It’s everything you’d do to stick it to the Man if you dared—and lacked any sanity whatsoever.
Workaholics returns to Comedy Central Tuesday, September 20, at 10:30/9:30c.
2. Desperate Housewives
Yes, the series has been winding down for a while now, but don’t check out just yet. This is the last hurrah for the ladies of Wisteria Lane, but stay tuned for more than just nostalgia’s sake. This season, the show will pick up as Tom and Lynette start dating new people (rumor has it that Less Than Perfect actress Andrea Parker will be playing Tom’s new love interest) and the main characters deal with the fallout from last season’s murder.
Also keep an eye out for the return of several series characters, including Lynette’s sister Lydia, who has mended her train-wreck ways and is freshly engaged.
Desperate Housewives returns to ABC Sunday, September 25, at 9/8c.
3. How I Met Your Mother
Don’t let CBS deter you—How I Met Your Mother is still going strong into the seventh season, with at least one more season in the works. Admittedly, the Season 6 finale wasn’t as funny as the show’s best episodes (“Slap Bet” and Robin Sparkles’ “Let’s Go To the Mall” come to mind), as we saw the drama of the characters’ lives inevitably beginning to figure prominently into the plot (Marshall and Lily’s baby, Barney and Robin’s off-again-on-again romance).
But the suspense of the identity of Mrs. Ted Mosby (and of Barney’s bride) is worth watching for. Plus, the show takes interaction to a new level: every website, blog, or book mentioned in the show is available to the viewer (standouts include Barney’s The Bro Code, Barney’s blog, and the website internationalsuitupday.com).
Final note: if you haven’t watched this show from the beginning, purchase at least the first two seasons on DVD. The laughter is well worth the $40.
How I Met Your Mother returns to CBS on Monday, September 19, at 8 PM.
4. The Office
I know, I know—it seems like this show is the television equivalent of The Who’s Super Bowl halftime performance. But hear me out: it’s worth tuning it for at least the first few episodes, as everyone will have an opinion about the show in a post-Michael Scott world.
Few details about Season 8 have been revealed, but here’s what we know so far: after a guest stint in the Season 7 finale, James Spader’s eccentric character Robert California will replace Kathy Bates as CEO of Dunder Mifflin. The show will also feature several guest stars, including singer Josh Groban as the brother of Ed Helms’ character Andy Bernard and Stephen Collins and Dee Wallace as his parents.
Showrunner Paul Lieberstein (who also plays bumbling HR rep Toby Flenderson) told The Hollywood Reporter that the search for a new manager would be resolved in the first episode and that each episode of the season would explore the lives of the other Office characters. Stayed tuned to find out what happens—but don’t set up that TiVO season pass just yet.
The Office returns to NBC on Thursday, September 22, at 9 PM.