This year’s fall TV lineup couldn’t be geekier. With two new network shows breaking out the beakers and several returning shows ratcheting up the scientific tension, it seems lab coats have taken over the small screen, no doubt to the chagrin of grizzled cops, desperate housewives and testy lawyers.
this gallery, we tell you which shows should top your TiVo queue, which ones are as fun as math camp, and which you can watch with your girlfriend. (Just kidding, we know you don’t have a girlfriend.)
Fox, Tuesday, 8 p.m. Plot: A mad scientist teams up with a bombshell FBI agent to solve paranormal mysteries. Think Mulder and Scully, but people believe them. Watchability: Tune in if you like the high-tech shenanigans of J.J. Abrams’s other shows, Lost and Alias. Real Science: Teleportation and mind control mean a hefty helping of pseudoscience.
CBS, Thursday, 10 p.m. Plot: Based on a British series, Eleventh Hour brings us another awkward scientist paired with a sexy FBI agent. But unlike Fringe, the show tackles plausible science, like genetic engineering. Watchability: CSI producer Jerry Bruckheimer is on board, so at the very least expect creepy laboratories. Real Science: There’s hope. Then again, Bruckheimer also made Con Air.
Discovery Channel, check listings Plot: Think MythBusters in reverse. Host Zoz Brooks and team try to make mythical technology and failed inventions a reality. Watchability: Watching someone finally build the waffle iron–cellphone combo has its appeal. Real Science: Brooks, an MIT grad, should inject textbook smarts, even if he last appeared on TV as a UFOlogist.
NBC, Wednesday, 8 p.m. Plot: This remake of the 1980s David Hasselhoff classic tasks an ex–Army Ranger, a sexy molecular biologist and an artificially intelligent talking car with saving the world from evildoers. Watchability: Destined to be huge in Germany. Real Science: It stars an artificially intelligent car, dude. That talks.
PBS, check listings Plot: The venerable science documentary series enters its 35th season with shows on Arctic dinosaurs, the space shuttle and fractals. Watchability: Loads of eminent scientists, high-tech research and free tote bags, but no sexy FBI agents. Real Science: High, but likely to remain unknown, since everyone will be watching that talking-car show.