by TED S. MCGREGOR JR. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & h, fall -- the networks put out their best efforts, and America ignores most of them. Yes, we've gotten pretty fickle about TV. Like any long-term relationship, people just aren't willing to make the necessary investment in a series unless there's a payoff. So if you're thinking of dumping the shows you loved last year, we'll try to make the rebound easier.
If you used to love Lost, but you just can't take another new, pointless character, you should switch to HEROES. The creators of this video comic book know viewers want payoff, and they deliver, even as they manage to introduce new storylines. (Heroes' Season Two premiere is Sept. 24; it shows Mondays at 9 pm on NBC.)
If you've been hooked on Desperate Housewives, but it's become too, well, desperate, try BROTHERS AND SISTERS. Where neither the drama nor the comedy are working they way they used to on Wisteria Lane, the drama is heating up on the show that follows Housewives on Sundays. Brothers and Sisters runs on star power, with Sally Field (an Emmy winner for her work as the Walker family matriarch), Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths and Rob Lowe. (Brothers and Sisters' Season Two premiere is Sept. 30; it shows Sundays at 10 pm on ABC.)
If you loved the laughs from Cheers, Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond but you've already memorized every episode, then BACK TO YOU might do what so many new sitcoms fail to do: actually make you laugh. Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are back on TV -- as TV newscasters. With an all-star batch of producers, Back to You seems to have a shot -- but its secret weapon is Fred Willard as an idiot sportscaster. (Back to You shows Wednesdays at 8 pm on Fox.)
If you cry every time you think of how far Saturday Night Live has fallen, then 30 ROCK, which is about a SNL-ish show, might give you the right mix of nostalgia and laughs. Alec Baldwin is hilarious, Tina Fey was actually on Saturday Night Live and the show (which won the Emmy for best comedy series) has the closest thing to a Seinfeldian, stream-of-consciousness ethic on network TV. (30 Rock's Season Two premiere is Oct. 4; it shows Thursdays at 8:30 pm on NBC.)
If you're a Law and Order junkie, but you can't live without Fred Thompson, then switch to Law and Order -- CRIMINAL INTENT, that is. Yes, there are three versions of the Dick Wolf dynamo, but all the effort these days is behind Special Victims Unit (premieres Sept. 25 on NBC). And while the original Sam Waterston Law and Order won't return until January, my favorite is back, but it's been moved to USA Network. Criminal Intent features two of the best detectives ever to get rung in by the trademark "bong, bong" -- Chris Noth and Vincent D'Onofrio. (Law and Order: Criminal Intent Season Seven premieres Oct. 4; it shows Thursday nights on USA.)
Finally, if you don't think they've made any good TV since the 1970s, especially The Bionic Woman, then you're probably already planning a viewing party for the debut of BIONIC WOMAN -- yes, they're remaking the cheesey Six Million Dollar Man spinoff. Back in 1976-78, America loved Jaime Sommers, who was put back together by Oscar Goldman after a skydiving accident. No word on whether she still works for OSI, but a) she still kicks ass, b) is still a woman and, hopefully, c) will strut her bionic stuff with that cool "nah-nah-nah-nah-nah" sound effect. (Bionic Woman premieres Sept. 26; it shows Wednesdays at 9 pm on NBC.) n