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Hits, misses in fall TV lineup

So far, it's been a pretty mild season for fall TV, if you don't count Bruno Tonioli calling Michael Bolton's jive probably the worst one ever on "Dancing With the Stars."...

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
Jennifer Grey and her partner, Derek Hough, perform on "Dancing with the Stars" on Monday in Los Angeles. Associated Press / ABC

So far, it's been a pretty mild season for fall TV, if you don't count Bruno Tonioli calling Michael Bolton's jive probably the worst one ever on "Dancing With the Stars."

Nothing about the new shows seems as extreme as Bruno's comment. Some of them probably will stick around for a while - yes, I'm talking about you, "Hawaii Five-O" and "Blue Bloods." A couple - "Lone Star" and "My Generation" - were canceled quickly.

Even so, there's a lot to appreciate on the small screen. Here are some impressions of the most entertaining shows and performances of the past few weeks. I don't know whether Bruno would agree. And I'm afraid to ask him.

  • "The Middle" (7 p.m. Wednesday, ABC): Although "Modern Family" gets all the compliments, this sitcom is also dependably funny - and watching it is a great way to unwind after a hard day at a stressful job. Because when Patricia Heaton, as a charmingly frazzled working mom, throws bags of frozen brownies at her kids because there's no time to pack a lunch, you can relate.
  • Scott Caan of "Hawaii Five-O" (9 p.m. Monday, CBS): Magnetism runs in the family of this emerging actor, who's the son of "Godfather" star James Caan. As Danny (Danno) Williams, he brings some edgy charisma and humor to this reboot of the original CBS drama. His energy is as cool as the show's theme song.
  • "Detroit 1-8-7" (9 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): No one is portraying a tormented character better than Michael Imperioli, who, as the brusque but dedicated detective Louis Fitch, is bringing back memories of David Caruso's great first year with "NYPD Blue."
  • Will Arnett on "Running Wilde" (8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fox): This latest effort from Arnett and "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz isn't wowing critics. But Arnett is surprisingly understated and sweet as a billionaire who's trying to win back his former sweetheart (Keri Russell). Even with the blatant product placement - recent jokes about Arnett being introduced to KFC chicken were followed by a KFC ad - he's hilarious.
  • "The Office" (8 p.m. Thursday, NBC): This is supposed to be Michael Scott's big year because Steve Carell is leaving the show at the end of the season. But so far, there's been too much focus on cartoonish antics and not enough time devoted to naive secretary Erin (Ellie Kemper) and shy, tentative bureaucrat Gabe (Zach Woods), who are now dating. Sorry, Andy, but they're my nominees for the awkwardly adorable couple of the year.
  • Alison Brie of "Community" (7 p.m. Thursday, NBC): As the sweet but invariably tense Annie, the actress stands out in a talented cast led by Joel McHale. She also plays Trudy, the supportive, 1960s wife of Pete Campbell on AMC's "Mad Men." It can't be easy juggling two jobs - in two different decades.
  • "The Event" (8 p.m. Monday, NBC). Jason Ritter and Blair Underwood are bringing realistic angst to the mysterious, action-laden drama. Their performances are a good argument for why fans of "24" and "Lost" should consider making this similarly intriguing program a weekly viewing event.
  • Jennifer Grey of "Dancing With the Stars" (7 p.m. Monday, 8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): How do you compete for attention with Bristol Palin, the Situation and the Bruno-Bolton feud? It's easy for Grey, who is as graceful now as she was in 1987's "Dirty Dancing." Like Sally O'Malley from "Saturday Night Live," she likes to kick, stretch and kick - she's 50!
  • "Blue Bloods" (9 p.m. Friday, CBS): It's good to see Tom Selleck starring in a CBS series again. The show is off to a good start in the ratings. Now if only they could do something about the overly obvious dialogue.
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