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Everything Old Is New Again

(Posted September 24, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

LOS ANGELES ( This week, ABC and NBC offer hotly anticipated season premieres of existing shows, hoping a nip and tuck here, and a fresh coat of paint there, will make these return offerings look shiny and new.

Last season, Sunday night belonged to ABC, with its blockbuster lineup of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Desperate Housewives" and "Boston Legal." A midseason switch to "Grey's Anatomy" as the clean-up hitter boosted ratings even further.

The sophomore "Housewives" went out with a bang after its first season, and ABC promises that the season-two premiere will pick up where that left off, with plumber Mike Delfino (James Denton) coming home to find troubled teen Zach Young (Cody Kasch) holding Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) at gunpoint.

Elsewhere, Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) interviews for an ad-agency job while husband Tom (Doug Savant) stays home, but her prospective boss (Joely Fisher) wonders about hiring a mom.

Also, Shirley Knight guest-stars as the late Rex Van de Camp's (Steven Culp) mother, who comes to town for his funeral and drives widow Bree (Marcia Cross) to distraction. And, fans learn a bit more about the mother and son (Alfre Woodard, Mehcad Brooks) who recently moved to Wisteria Lane.

After several seasons on Wednesday, NBC's perpetually Emmy-nominated "The West Wing" shifts to Sunday this year, continuing the presidential-campaign story line that pits Democratic Congressman Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) against Republican Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda).

To kick up the political heat, comedian, actor and political commentator for the liberal Air America radio network Janeane Garafalo begins a three-episode arc on Sunday, Oct. 2. She plays Louise Thornton, a successful but controversial media strategist that Santos hires to be his director of communications. This throws her into conflict with Santos staffer Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford).

Next up is NBC's solidly successful "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," which shakes things up this year by splitting its cast. Half the show's episodes will continue to feature the Major Case Squad team of Detectives Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe), who've been with the show since the beginning.

The other half will feature Chris Noth, reprising his "Law & Order" role of Detective Mike Logan, who's partnered with Detective Carolyn Barek, played by Annabella Sciorra ("The Sopranos"), a "brilliant criminal profiler" who spent two post-9/11 years with the FBI.

Rounding out the evening is "Crossing Jordan," which returned from a long maternity leave for star Jill Hennessy, who plays Boston medical examiner Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, to become a standout performer for NBC. Jerry O'Connell is back as Detective Woody Hoyt, Jordan's on-again/off-again love interest.

Last season, the duo headed west for a two-part crossover episode with NBC's "Las Vegas," which airs Monday. In October, the two shows join forces again, with Jordan and Woody calling on old pals Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel) and Sam Jane Marquez (Vanessa Marcil) from the Montecito Casino to solve another long-distance crime.

Booted from its Sunday slot by the unexpected midseason success of "Grey's Anatomy," ABC's "Boston Legal" returns on Tuesday, starting out with four of the five episodes left unaired last spring. Two of the leftovers -- which will be updated before airing -- feature Heather Locklear as a high-profile murder defendant.

Other changes in the show's Beantown law firm include the departures of Monica Potter, Rhona Mitra (now on FX's "Nip/Tuck") and Kerry Washington, and the arrivals of new cast members Julie Bowen, as senior associate (and partner fast-tracker) Denise Bauer, and Ryan Michelle Bathe as brainy junior associate Sara Holt.

UPN's teen-sleuth drama "Veronica Mars," starring Kristen Bell, earned a second season, only to find itself on Wednesdays, across from ABC's monster hit "Lost." Undaunted, "Veronica" adds new recurring stars Charisma Carpenter ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel") as trophy wife Kendall Casablancas, and Steve Guttenberg ("Cocoon," "Police Academy") as Woody Goodman, owner of a major-league baseball team.

Also, on the Wednesday, Oct. 5 episode, writer/director/actor Kevin Smith ("Clerks," "Dogma") guest-stars as a convenience-store clerk.

Facing the challenge of newlywed (to Ben Affleck) Jennifer Garner's pregnancy, the fantastical spy drama "Alias" returns for its fifth season with a critical mass of new cast members (but Mia Maestro is no longer a regular).

French actress Elodie Bouchez has signed on as Renee Rienne, an international criminal who may shed light on the mysteries surrounding Vaughn (Michael Vartan), the father of CIA operative Sydney Bristow's (Garner) baby. Rachel Nichols, seen this past summer on FOX's "The Inside," will play Rachel Gibson, Sydney's protege, a tech analyst for a CIA black-ops division. And Balthazar Getty ("Ladder 49," "Pasadena") has been cast as Thomas Grace, a new agent who brings deep-cover experience to the team.

Finally, Emmy favorite "Will & Grace" returns to Thursday for its eighth and final season, with a live premiere episode (on both coasts, meaning two run-throughs and a few different jokes). Eric Stoltz reprises his role as a married man on the verge of romancing Grace (Debra Messing); and Alec Baldwin returns as Will's (Eric McCormack) new boss, who is romancing Karen (Megan Mullally).

Source: Zap2it

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