Because Fox has so many new shows, I'm splitting them up into gendre. The three sitcoms right now, the dramas to follow at some point.
Usual disclaimer applies: these are not reviews, just initial impressions. Too many things can and will change between now and September to make any kind of final judgments on any of these shows at this early stage.
"Back to You"
Who's in it: Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Fred Willard and that one guy from "Out of Practice" who wasn't a showkiller
What it's about: A successful anchorman loses his job for an on-air flub and has to return to his old gig in Pittsburgh, where the female partner he left behind a decade earlier resents his return.
Pluses: Grammer, Heaton and Willard (as a sexist sportscaster) are all comedy veterans who know their way around a punchline.
Minuses: The punchlines aren't very good. I wrote about "'Til Death" last year that Brad Garrett was able to sell some lousy jokes, and either he's a better salesman than Frasier and his ex-sister-in-law, or the jokes are even lousier here. I laughed a handful of times, but I cringed far more often.
"The Return of Jezebel James"
Who's in it: Parker Posey, Lauren Ambrose and Scott Cohen
What it's about: Long-estranged sisters -- one a Type-A book editor unable to conceive, the other a slovenly 20something -- reunite when the older one asks the younger one to carry her baby.
Pluses: Posey and Ambrose have great chemistry, and the pilot picks up significantly when the two of them get to work together.
Minuses: Amy Sherman-Palladino's writing does not work with a laugh track, which makes jokes I might have otherwise smiled or even laughed at feel like hackery.
"The Rules for Starting Over"
Who's in it: Craig Bierko, Rashida Jones, Shaun Majumder and Johnny Sneed
What it's about: Four friends in their 30s struggle to re-enter the dating world at the end of long relationships.
Pluses: Umm... it's nice to know Rashida Jones will have another job lined up once "The Office" sends Karen on her way.
Minuses: This is produced by the Farrelly brothers, but it feels like bad imitation Farrelly, with token gags about a human being sexually assaulted by an animal, a disabled character who tells jokes about his condition but won't tolerate them from others, etc. Bierko can be interesting when he gets to play manic (see his ADD musician on "Sex and the City," or him on "Boston Legal" this year), but he makes a poor straight man.