Television shows to check out this fall

Gregory Nolen

Staff Reporter

This week, the major television networks return with their fall TV programming lineup, which means it’s time to set your DVR or TiVo and watch shows like these:

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit: SVU follows the investigation and prosecution of sexually based offenses through the eyes of Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), John Munch (Richard Belzer), Odalfin Tutarola (Ice-T) and Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek)

SVU has been one of NBC’s most popular shows since it debuted in 1999. However, L&O SVU faces some changes and questions entering its 12th season.

The most notable change is SVU’s new role as the face of the “Law and Order” franchise after the original series was cancelled in May after a record tying 20 seasons. SVU is now the longest running “Law and Order”, with the new series Law and Order: Los Angeles set to premiere September 29.

The biggest question is: who will be the new full time Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in SVU? This position has been in limbo ever since Casey Novak (Diane Neal) left after season nine. Over the last two seasons, the show experimented with 5 interns, including 2 reappearances by the show’s beloved original ADA, Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March), but none of them lasted more than half a season. “Precious” star Paula Patton was cast as SVU’s new full time ADA, but then dropped out to film the move Mission Impossible 4. Melissa Sagemiller, former start of TNT’s “Raising the Bar,” was cast as ADA Gillian Hardwicke.

Another question is whether this will be Christopher Meloni’s last season on the show, as his contract expires after this year. Meloni told an Australian magazine that he “thought 12 years was a good number,” which led many fans to believe he was going to leave. Meloni later claimed his comments were taken out of context and has said that he will remain on the show for the duration of the series.

Something that hasn’t changed is the show’s knack for getting big name guest stars. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Joan Cusack, and Marcia Gay Harden highlight the guest stars set to appear this season. Harden won an Emmy for guest starring in 2 previous episodes of SVU.

Another show to watch with a lot of hype and potential is ABC’s Modern Family, which returns for a second season after a hugely successful first season resulted in 3 Emmy wins. The show won Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for A Comedy Series, and Best Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series, all 3 times beating out FOX’s hit show Glee

Modern Family follows the adventures of Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neil) and his young wife and her child, his daughter Claire Dumphy (Julie Bowen) and her family, and his son Mitchell Pritchett and his family.

The three families get together in each episode for social events and other family gatherings. The show is different from others because it is presented in a “mockumentary” style, which is similar to a documentary except with fictitious events instead of real ones. This format is also used in the NBC show The Office.

The show seems to have a bright future. While ABC has not picked it up for a third season yet, the syndication rights to the show have been picked up by USA Network and the show is scheduled to premiere in syndication USA in fall 2013.

These and several other much anticipated returning shows this year seem to indicate a great season of Fall TV is on its way into American homes.