Test TV

We're a couple of weeks into the fall television season, and if you're like me, you can't focus on one show long enough to get with the program. Missed the first few episodes of what is supposed to be a cool show? Step into the world of television via the Internet. But before you explore Hulu and YouTube, here's a roundup for all the TV junkies who'd rather surf channels than ride the wave. All times are Eastern.


Watch This: The Cleveland Show (Fox) at 8:30 p.m.

In this African-American Family Guy, the head of the family, Cleveland, is voiced by a white man, but the show's hilarious. And just like Family Guy, there are plenty of slick culture references. Watch Cleveland "ghost ride the whip."


Watch This: Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) at 9 p.m.

This season? The cantankerous Larry David (also the show's exec producer) coaxes the cast of Seinfeld to join in on the fun. Also: Vivica A. Fox is gone for now, and Larry wants his wife back.

Skip This: Desperate Housewives (ABC) at 9 p.m.

Haven't paid attention to this nighttime melodrama since Alfre Woodard and Mehcad Brooks were kicked off Wisteria Lane.

Watch This: Mad Men (AMC) at 10 p.m.

It's a highly stylized ‘60s period drama. The show's directors and producers have paid super-close attention to detail. But some critics say it's missing an appropriate amount of racial context. While the critics debate, tune in-and make your own "Mad Men" avatar.


DVR This: Mario's Green House (TV One) at 6 p.m.

TV One is slowly but surely stepping up its original-series game. But its reality show, Mario's Green House, which documents the attempt by Mario Van Peebles' family to build an eco-friendly home, is way too scripted. However: his father, Mr. Sweet Sweetback himself, is must-see TV. At 77, he hasn't lost any of his spunk-or his ability to mack on women. Watch the promo.



Watch This: Trauma (NBC) at 9 p.m.

Derek Luke stars in this high-octane medical drama. It's a worthy antidote to Grey's Anatomy. Watch the promo.


DVR This: Accidentally on Purpose (CBS) at 8:30 p.m.

Fans of The Game will want to see Derwin's (Pooch Hall) new gig. Odd fact: Hall replaces Melanie's (Tia Mowry) real-life husband (actor Cory Hardrict) mid-season.


Skip This: Gossip Girl (CW) at 9 p.m.

No black gossip girls. But let's keep it that way.

YouTube This: Dancing With the Stars (ABC), Mondays at 8 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m.


Formulaic American Idol knockoffs like this deserve about 30 seconds of your time. Somebody falls. A dress rips. A football player (or Master P) with two left feet, shuffles across the floor. And now that Tom DeLay is gone, the laughs are pretty much over.

Skip This: Jon & Kate Plus 8 (TLC) at 9 p.m.

Now that Jon's been cut out of the deal, viewers are left with sulking, fringed, not-quite-right Kate and her whiny confessionals. The kids aren't getting paid, TLC is getting over, and Kate's become totally woe-is-me. For better TV, watch Jon on Larry King Live as he explains why he wants TLC to say "cut" to Kate-and cut check(s)-for him and his kids.


Fan Favorites: Heroes (NBC) at 8 p.m., House (Fox) at 8 p.m., CSI: Miami (CBS) at 10 p.m.


Watch This: NCIS (CBS) at 8 p.m.

If you like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but don't need the over-the-top twist at the end of an episode, NCIS is your show. Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J star in the series' spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) at 9 p.m.


Skip This: Melrose Place (CW) at 9 p.m.

Some shows should be get another chance at life-Girlfriends, The Game, Everybody Hates Chris, insert your favorite canceled show here. Melrose Place 2.0 and 90210 Redux? Not so much.


DVR This: The Biggest Loser (NBC) at 8 p.m.

The winter months are almost upon us, and this addictive weight-loss show might be just the warm-up needed to get us in shape for next summer. Watch Bob's heated outburst from last season.


DVR This: Glee (Fox) at 9 p.m.

It's High School Musical on television.


Watch This: Modern Family (ABC) at 9 p.m.

It's a quirky and, well, modern look at family life in America. This show just might extend the age of the half-hour sitcom. There's the traditional family with homemaker mom and working dad. Ed O'Neill (Married … With Children) plays the dad-getting-his-groove-back with his much younger wife and preteen stepson. Oh, and did we mention the cast includes two gay characters raising an Asian baby? Watch the two dads welcome their baby into the "circle of life."


Watch This: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC) at 9 p.m.

The 11th season has gotten off to a roaring start. In the season opener, hot-and hotheaded-detective Wentworth Miller pushes a rapist out a bathroom window.


Skip This: America's Next Top Model (CW) at 8 p.m.

Tyra Banks' endless model marathon continues. What is this? Cycle 117? Well, at least this time, there's a slight twist. Tyra's giving (5-foot-7-and-under) shorties some time to shine. And what's a "top" model these days anyway? Arguably the most visible winner of the show, Eva Marcille, talks about the woes of being on the show on TV One's Life After.


Skip This: First In (BET) at 10 p.m.

At first look, a reality show about black firefighters in Compton, Calif., sounds intriguing. But with Tyrese's relentless narration (he's the executive producer), it's hard to just watch and appreciate First In.


Watch This: Mercy (NBC) at 8 p.m.

Take the quirky antics of Scrubs, the dry, witty humor of Nurse Jackie and the intrahospital rendezvous of Grey's Anatomy and you've got NBC's new drama. Watch the promo.



YouTube This: So You Think You Can Dance? (Fox) at 8 p.m.


Watch This: The Office (NBC) at 9 p.m.

Jim and Pam finally got married, and their colleagues in The Office, true to form, mocked one of the most viral YouTube videos of 2009.


Watch This: 30 Rock (NBC) at 9:30 p.m.

Tina Fey and Co. will be back this Thursday. If you're a fan of mockumentaries, this is a sure fit. Watch Tracy Morgan as he's confronted about his emotional issues. Be prepared to laugh.


Skip This: Grey's Anatomy (ABC) at 9 p.m.

Let's see. Derek and Meredith are together. Izzie's not dead. O'Malley is dead. Karev is the emotionally stunted heartthrob-turned-doting husband. Cristina's still the fierce competitor. And Burke really ain't coming back. Time to move on, stat.


Watch This: FlashForward (ABC) at 8 p.m.

Millennials: Remember fawning over the actor Lee Thompson Young in the '90s sitcom The Famous Jett Jackson? ABC's new sci-fi drama will bring back fond childhood memories.


Skip This: The Vampire Diaries (CW) at 8 p.m.

Plain and simple: Don't watch any vampire show other than True Blood.


If the network has already placed it in the time-slot-of-death on a Friday night, then why should you give it a chance?


DVR This: Ugly Betty (ABC) at 8 p.m.

DVR This: Brothers (Fox) at 8 p.m.

Coming Up Next: A Dose of Reality

Life After (TV One) Sundays at 10 and 10:30 p.m.

Jaimee Foxworth, Bell Biv DeVoe, Christopher "Kid" Reid. Get your "whatever happened to" questions answered.


Unsung (TV One) Sundays at 8 p.m. starting Nov. 1

TV One gave props to some of black America's most unsung artists, including Phyllis Hyman and the DeBarge family. In its second season, find out the back stories on Bootsy Collins, Teena Marie and Zapp!


I Want To Work for Diddy 2 (VH1) Mondays at 10 p.m. starting Nov. 2

Yes, Diddy is determined to stay on TV by any means necessary.

The Chilli Project (VH1, 2010)

Usher who? TLC's Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas has teamed up with VH1 to help Miss CrazySexyCool find the "love of her life."


Diamond in the Rough and Tumble?

Apparently Lisa Raye McCoy-Misick has a score to settle. And not with her ex-husband. She's going hard on her "friends" who turned their backs on her while she was having marital problems. Star Jones, Vivica A. Fox, Duane Martin, watch out.


Lopez Tonight (TBS) nightly at 11 p.m. starting Monday, Nov. 9

Late-night talk show starring George Lopez. This time, President Barack Obama is in on the joke, too.


The Wanda Sykes Show (Fox) Saturdays at 11 p.m. starting Nov. 7

Although she received a little flak from her remarks at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, this comedienne will be in raw form on her late-night show.


Monica: Still Standing (BET) Tuesdays at 10 p.m. starting Oct. 27

As far as black reality TV goes, here's hoping this turns out to be more Tiny & Toya, less Frankie & Neffe.


Erin Evans is a copy editor and writer for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.