Fall television preview: what to watch

Fall is upon us and with it comes network television’s annual mix of promising new shows and returning favorites. Here are a few suggestions to fill your nightly viewing schedule””the most promising series, new or old, for each night of the week (not that we ever watch TV when it actually airs).

Sunday: “Once Upon a Time” (7 pm on ABC)

More intriguing than actually promising, “Once Upon a Time” is set in a parallel universe in which fairy tale characters live amongst normal people and are unaware of their true identities. This new series is created and written by two major writers for “Lost,” which gives me hope that the show will rise above its premise. “Once Upon a Time” stars Jennifer Morrison (“House”) in the lead role of Emma Swan.

Monday: “Hart of Dixie” (8 pm on The CW)

I’m branching out of my demographic a bit with this one, but, honestly, I’d watch Rachel Bilson (“The O.C.”) do anything for an hour. Here she plays a recent medical school graduate from New York City who opens a practice in a small town in Alabama. Expect an old-school WB vibe (“Gilmore Girls,” “Everwood,” etc.) and charming performances from Bilson and Scott Porter (“Friday Night Lights”).

Tuesday: “New Girl” (9 pm on Fox)

Tuesday is shaping up to be a pretty bleak night for network TV (“Dancing with the Stars,” “Biggest Loser,” among others), but critics have set my hopes high for “New Girl,” starring Zooey Deschanel (“500 Days of Summer”). “New Girl” is a half-hour sitcom that promises to be a perfect outlet for Deschanel’s quirky sense of humor. The premise involves a Deschanel’s character moving in to an apartment with three guys, but I don’t think plot is going to matter much with this one.

Wednesday: “Modern Family” (8 pm on ABC)

The second season of “Modern Family” didn’t quite reach the bar set by its outstanding freshman year, but it still remains one of the funniest half-hours of television. Let’s hope the writers are able to keep things fresh in the show’s third year. With such a great cast, my hopes are high. I’m also interested in “Up All Night” (7 pm on NBC), a sitcom starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, but “Modern Family” remains the safest bet for Wednesday.

Thursday: “Parks and Recreation” (7:30 on NBC)

What began as a mediocre imitation of “The Office” is now the best comedy on network television. Starring Amy Poehler as a small-town government employee, “Parks and Recreation” mixes humor and heart in an engaging, original manor. Every cast member is hilarious, especially the wonderful Nick Offerman. Watch it, you won’t be disappointed.

Friday: “Chuck” (7 pm on NBC)

Usually a TV dead-zone, Friday night is now home to one of my favorite series, “Chuck,” returning for its fifth and final season. Though I always recommend starting from the beginning, “Chuck” is a show that anyone can pick up at any time. As a spy comedy, it has elements that will appeal to every demographic and, most importantly, it’s just a fun hour of television, boasting a great mix of comedy, action, and romance. Catch “Chuck” while you still can.