5 new fall TV shows you shouldn’t miss

By Frazier Moore

NEW YORK – A critic making TV picks this fall is obliged to play prophet more than usual. That’s because previews for many of the new shows still aren’t ready to see. (Blame last winter’s writers strike for throwing things off schedule; everybody else does.)

Meanwhile, the five broadcast networks are unveiling a total of just 17 fall series, roughly half the normal number. (Blame the strike for this, too.) But cable channels are introducing series, too.

Five series stand out:

– “90210” (CW, Sept. 2). Erstwhile fans of 1990s sensation “Beverly Hills, 90210” will want to take a peek, if only to behold the refugees from the original cast (Shannen Doherty, Jason Priestley and Jennie Garth are reprising their roles, along with Joe E. Tata as Peach Pit cafe owner Nat). But viewers who watch for old time’s sake are beside the point. “Young” is what counts, and if the young, sexy cast of mostly unknowns doesn’t pull in young viewers, this ZIP code could quickly get zapped.

– “Sons of Anarchy” (FX, Sept. 3). Picture the Sopranos on Harleys, with a club that’s nothing like the Bada Bing! These Sons are working-class antiheroes as their motorcycle club keeps an outlaw grip on their California town, while striking a blow for family values. Ron Perlman is perfect as the tough, overburdened club boss who’s often spinning his wheels. Katey Sagal is fierce but nurturing as his other half. Her son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is likely to be the club’s next president, but he wrestles with his hair-trigger temper and his conscience.

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– “True Blood” (HBO, Sept. 7). Brooding, brawling, campy and hot-blooded, this horror-romance imagines a live-and-let-live breakthrough in a small Louisiana town. Now vampires can buy synthetic blood to quench their thirst, therefore keeping their fangs out of humans. Does that mean ordinary folks will accept vampires as their equals? Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is ready to, especially when the first vampire she has ever met (handsome Stephen Moyer) moves into town. Of course, Sookie isn’t so ordinary: She is cursed with the ability to overhear what people are thinking. But not this vampire, she finds to her relief. Looks like she and her fellow oddball are an item. Then things get weird.

– “Somebodies” (BET, Sept. 9). BET’s first scripted series, this half-hour comedy is the brainchild of one-named, multitalented Hadjii, the writer-filmmaker-actor who plays an easygoing college student in no hurry to do much of anything – least of all graduate. Filmed on location in Athens, Ga., which both Hadjii and the University of Georgia call home, “Somebodies” has a sparkling look and a cast of refreshing new faces. Its lessons in self-motivation should tickle anyone who ever had a little too much fun matriculating.

– “Fringe” (Fox, Sept. 9). Surely the fall’s most talked-about new show. From J.J. Abrams (“Alias,” “Lost”), this is a creepy-crawly sci-fi-mystery. It’s got a doomed airliner, a lab with a pet cow, yucky special effects, a mad scientist and a sexy FBI special agent (John Noble and Anna Torv). The cast also includes Mark Valley, Joshua Jackson, Kirk Acevedo and Lance Reddick. Any show this talked-about (even if it’s talked about for being talked about) should be seen. So you can find out what all the talk’s about.