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Look out: A fall harvest of new broadcast TV shows

  • This image released by NBC shows Jack Gore as Graham Henry, left, and Michael J. Fox as Mike Henry in "The Michael J. Fox Show," premiering Sept. 26. (AP Photo/NBC, Eric Liebowitz)

NEW YORK — There's something antiquated about the custom long known as the Fall TV Season.

It was born of a bygone era (and still harkens back to it) when fall signaled all things important in America: the much-anticipated return to school, the resumption of football and the grand unveiling of next year's car models.

It was an era of the Big Three. And not just General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, but also ABC, CBS and NBC, which each autumn launched their new shows with the stated intention of airing these dramas and comedies through much of the season to come.

Fall TV Preview

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This was an orderly, narrowly consigned TV world. So the Fall Season represented for viewers most of what they could expect to see in prime time for months ahead, at least until the "summer replacement" shows arrived the following June.

"Midseason" (a term even Fox boss Kevin Reilly said recently he'd love to ban) wasn't part of the lingo back then.

Nor, of course, were terms like "cable networks," HBO, Hulu or Netflix.

A half-century later, the Fall Season persists — a festival of premieres by not three, but the five self-designated broadcast "majors" (which somehow includes the little-watched CW), with, some years, no discernible dividing line between the fall crop and the winter harvest.

And no acknowledgment that outside this magic garden, bumper crops of other network shows are always blooming, stealing viewers (and a large share of Emmy love).

With all those caveats in mind, then, make way for the Fall Season.

DON'T I KNOW YOU?

Many of more than two dozen new series may already be familiar, at least by name, to viewers, since the networks have been flogging them all summer.

They are familiar to TV critics, too, who got early copies of many of the new shows as long ago as June (with the proviso from the networks that some of these episodes were "non-reviewable," since they were subject to be altered in small or large ways before their premiere date — or even re-shot completely).

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