This is the big week. Yes, the week when literally 20-plus new and returning shows flood the airwaves.
Many of TV’s top shows are back, including “CSI,” “Desperate Housewives,” (left, with Drea Matteo joining the cast) “Grey’s Anatomy,” “NCIS,” “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Mentalist.”
Plus, TV viewers seeking new climes will have plenty to sample. Among the most promising: CBS’s “The Good Wife”on Tuesday, ABC’s “Modern Family” on Wednesday and ABC’s “Flash Forward” on Thursday.
“Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” 1 p.m. WAGA, 8 p.m. CMT (syndicated debut) — Jeff Foxworthy’s show in sped-up form.
“Dancing With The Stars” 8 p.m. ABC (ninth season debut) — Tom DeLay, put on those dancing shoes!
“Heroes” 8 p.m. NBC (fourth season debut) — A mysterious carnival clan arrives.
“How I Met Your Mother” 8 p.m. CBS (fifth season debut) – Barney and Robin? Boyfriend/girlfriend? Or not? Lily tries to clarify.
“House” 8 p.m. Fox (sixth season debut) — House tries to get out of a psych ward.
“Accidentally On Purpose” 8:30 p.m. CBS (new series) — Avoid this lame Jenna Elfman vehicle.
“Two and a Half Men” 9 p.m. CBS (seventh season debut) — Charlie struggles between his fiance and his old flame.
“Big Bang Theory” 9:30 p.m. CBS (third season debut) — Sheldon’s peeved his buds tampered with his lab data and he flees to Texas.”
“CSI Miami” 10 p.m. CBS (eighth season debut ) – As Delko’s life hangs in the balance, Horatio flashes back 12 years to when the team comes together.
“Dancing With the Stars” 8 p.m. ABC – The biggest cast yet, so big that the performance nights have been split in two, eight last night, eight tonight. Tomorrow, two will be eliminated.
“NCIS,” 8 p.m. CBS (seventh season debut) – Dinozzo and McGee are in charge of replacing Ziva.
“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m. CBS (new series) – Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J star in this spinoff, sure to get major sampling from NCIS fans.
“Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m. SyFy (first season finale) – MacPherson is now selling stolen artifacts from the warehouse on the black market.
“The Forgotten,” 10 p.m. ABC (new series) – Volunteers work on murder cases the cops have given up on. Christian Slater stars.
“The Good Wife,” 10 p.m. CBS (new series) – Julianna Margulies comes back after a failed Fox show “Canterbury’s Law.” This time, she’s the wife of a philandering politician (Chris Noth) who goes back into private practice. This is one of the most promising shows of the year and given the demographics of CBS, an almost sure-fire hit.
“Dancing With the Stars” 8 p.m. ABC (special night) – The first two celebs are cut.
“Mercy” 8 p.m. NBC (new series) – Nurse shows “Nurse Jackie” and “Hawthorne” came out earlier this year. Now NBC joins the crowd with this rather pedestrian version.
“New Adventures of Old Christine” 8 p.m. CBS (fifth season debut) – Christine and Matthew try to get Barb an illegal visa.
“Gary Unmarried,” 8:30 p.m. CBS (second season debut) – Gary tries to become a radio broadcaster.
“Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m. CBS (fifth season debut) – Hotch goes missing.
“Law & Order: SVU,” 9 p.m. NBC (11th season debut) – Wentworth Miller, fresh off “Prison Break,” guests as a cop to help the team on a set of rape cases.
“Modern Family,” 9 p.m. ABC (new series) – This comedy about mixed families starring Ed O’Neill (”Married…With Children”) and Julie Bowen (”Boston Legal”) is worth a look.
“Cougar Town,” 9:30 p.m. ABC (new series) – Courteney Cox seems a bit antic in this show about a divorced, middle-aged woman who hankers for younger guys.
“CSI: NY,” 10 p.m CBS (sixth season debut) – After a spray of gunfire, the team arises to deal with the chaos.
“Flash Forward,” 8 p.m. ABC (new series) – Everyone on earth blacks out for a couple of minutes. Some see visions of the future. What happens next? This is ABC’s attempt to find a replacement for “Lost,” which ends its run in 2010.
“CSI,” 9 p.m. CBS (10th season debut) – Jorja Fox returns.
“Grey’s Anatomy,” 9 p.m. ABC (two-hour sixth season debut) – The staff grapples with the surprise death of George.
“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m. CBS (second season debut) – Patrick Jane and the team are taken off the Red John case.
“The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” 10 p.m. Bravo – The much-teased clash between NeNe and Kandi finally happens.
“Brothers,” 8 p.m. Fox (new series) – Former NFL player Michael Strahan and Atlantan Daryl Chill Mitchell play brothers in the only comedy featuring a black cast on broadcast TV. The pilot has its moments.
“Ghost Whisperer,” 8 p.m. CBS (fifth season debut) – Melinda gives birth to a baby boy who has her gifts.
“Law & Order,” 8 p.m. NBC (20th season debut) – When a war vet dies, a law prof is suspected.
“Smallville,” 8 p.m. the CW (ninth season debut) – Jor-El tells Clark to cut ties to Lois before he starts training.
“Dollhouse,” 9 p.m. Fox (second season debut) – Echo now sporadically recalls past “imprints” due to Alpha’s machinations.
“Medium,” 9 p.m. CBS (sixth season debut) – New network, same Allison, who just had brain surgery.
“Numb3rs,” 10 p.m. CBS (sixth season debut) – Charlie awaits an answer from Anita about his marriage proposal.
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m. Saturday NBC (35th season debut) – Two new cast members, Megan Fox as the host and U2 as the music act.
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” 7 p.m. Sunday (seventh season debut) – Patricia Heaton guests.
“The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m. Sunday CBS (two-hour 15th season debut) – Among the teams: two Harlem Globetrotters!
“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m. Sunday Fox (21st season debut) – Comic Book Guy casts Homer in a sci-fi flick.
“The Cleveland Show,” 8:30 p.m. Sunday Fox (new series) – A “Family Guy” character gets a spinoff show.
“Desperate Housewives,” 9 p.m. Sunday ABC (sixth season debut) – Drea de Matteo (”The Sopranos”) joins the cast.
“Dexter,” 9 p.m. Sunday Showtime (fourth season debut) – Dexter has to fit a newborn into his complicated life.
“Family Guy,” 9 p.m. Sunday Fox (eighth season debut) – Stewie and Brian find a remote that enables them to travel to alternative universes.
“American Dad,” 9:30 p.m. Sunday Fox (fifth season debut) – Steve relives the Vietnam War.
“Californication,” 10 p.m. Sunday Showtime (third season debut) – With Karen gone, Hank has to deal with an increasingly rebellious Becca.
“Cold Case,” 10 p.m. Sunday CBS (seventh season debut) – Music from Ray Charles is featured.
“Brothers & Sisters,” 10:01 p.m. Sunday ABC (fourth season debut) – Kitty harbors a secret that will rock the Walker family.