Tuned In

The new fall television schedule is unfurling before our eyes in such a speedy manner that it’s easy to overlook, in all the detritus and neglect, the few shows of real quality. In an attempt to save you time and get you glued right back to that box, I’ve highlighted the season’s best offerings (including a couple of choice efforts based in Seattle):

Armageddon The hit Bruce Willis film gets a timely spin-off series, in which the president, disappointed that the planet will no longer be destroyed by a really cool asteroid the size of his beloved Texas, decides to declare war on a Middle Eastern nation without the approval of Congress. A bit of a stretch, certainly, but sure to make for engaging television.

C.S.I.: Sheboygan CBS continues to strive for originality with the creation of one more version of its popular blood-and-mystery shows. Following the unique casting of its two existing incarnations, this new series features yet another actor taking a brave respite from his failed movie career to play a crime scene investigator, this time in a hip Wisconsin city. Suspenseful cases involve gruesome murders at breweries and sausage plants.

Those Were the Days Thank god for Disney and ABC. Giving us a break from the “War on Terrorism,” the corporations present this reminiscence of the good ol’ ’50s, when women were content to be chained to a stove and blacks weren’t yet so damn successful with that desegregation stuff. Andrew Dice Clay may win an Emmy in his comeback role, portraying an average Joe who gets to relive his glory years—screwing his French teacher, balling a homecoming queen who doesn’t even notice his gut, and telling Mom (Bea Arthur) that he’d like his dinner right now, dammit!

KCTS Bites! Putting a spin on its epic specials KCTS Cooks!, channel 9 offers its boldest programming move since Charlotte Church turned 16. Local celebrity chef Kathy Casey and the venerable George Ray sit at a kitchen counter, eat sticks of butter, and giggle maniacally at each other while showing extended clips from all the programs that have already aired earlier in the week. Highlights include Dr. Wayne Dyer, who appears as a guest with what he calls “the whole enchilada”: 12 new self-help books with accompanying videos, five new audio tapes, a really horrible sweater, and a promise to find a way to finally push all those other “hoity-toity” PBS programs like Frontline off the air.

In My Dreams “Reality” shows and the increasing federal invasion of privacy are daringly meshed when the government plants a chip into the brain of a Weekly columnist and broadcasts his nightly reveries. Viewers are treated to months and months of his disturbed slumber, including: anxiety dreams that have him showing up for work naked or forgetting to attend his college finals; nightmares in which the Fringe Festival uses a quote of his out of context in one of its ads; and fantasies that feature a shirtless and newly widowed Brad Pitt shaking him by the shoulders with an astonishing degree of impassioned force while sobbing, “I’m not leaving here until you love me!”