“Ugly Betty” (Thursdays, ABC): Among new series this fall, this one is the most popular, its first two episodes drawing enough viewers to put it in the top 20. I’m afraid I don’t share America’s sentiments on this one. It’s a cute, campy dramedy about a frumpy, unattractive Latina girl who gets a job at a fashion magazine. (Yes, it’s just like “The Devil Wears Prada,” although “Ugly Betty” is based on a Colombian series that pre-dates “Prada.”) I found the pilot just too precious and whimsical, with a cartoonish musical score and big, broad acting. TiVo verdict: I will continue to enforce my “no ugly chicks” policy.
“Friday Night Lights” (Tuesdays, NBC): I greatly admired the film that inspired this series, about a small Texas town where high school football is king, and the pilot episode — written and directed by Peter Berg, who wrote and directed the film, too — was among the best two or three pilots of any show this season. The drama, passion and intensity of the sport were powerfully conveyed, along with the humanity of the players and the coach. Don’t care about sports? ME EITHER! But I still found it gripping. TiVo verdict: Season Pass.
“The Nine” (Wednesdays, ABC): I’m intrigued, but I’m wary. The premise is that nine people were held hostage during a bank robbery for 52 hours before the ordeal ended. They bonded during that time, and of course now their lives are forever changed. What we don’t know, yet, is exactly what happened in those 52 hours. The first episode hinted tantalizingly at a few things — an off-duty cop wound up handcuffed to a pillar; the bad guys cut off locks of two women’s hair — but mostly the focus is on the aftermath, not on the crisis itself. Will it become an emotional melodrama, or a creepy mystery? TiVo verdict: I’m going to give it another couple episodes.