It's a big night for TV fans. One new series debuts; there are seven — count 'em, seven — season premieres of returning series; and there are four hours of new episodes of other series.

And that's just on the broadcast networks.

Here's a look at what to expect:

The Big Bang Theory (second season premiere, 7 p.m., Ch. 2) hasn't lost a beat from its writers' strike-shortened first season. This is laugh-out-loud funny stuff.

You'd be well advised to record it so you don't miss any jokes because you're laughing too hard.

In tonight's episode, titled "The Bad Fish Pardigm," Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) go on their first date, and things don't turn out all that well. And Sheldon (Jim Parsons) — who's one of the funniest characters on TV — gets caught in the middle when he has to keep Penny's secret.

Dancing with the Stars (seventh-season premiere, 7 p.m., Ch. 4) opens with a two-hour extravaganza, with two more hours on Tuesday (when one couple will be eliminated) and still another hour on Wednesday (when another team will exit).

Two-time winner/Utahn Julianne Hough and her brother, Derek, are both back for another season.

Call me crazy, but I'm looking forward to seeing tart-tongued octogenarian Cloris Leachman perform.

Heroes ("Countdown to Premiere" special, 7 p.m., Ch. 5; third-season premiere, 8 p.m., Ch. 5) is back with a vengeance. And it hits the ground running. There's a lot going on in the first half of the two-hour premiere (which was screened for critics). And there's a lot more promised in the second half (which wasn't screened for critics).

I'm reluctant to tell you much for fear or spoiling it, but we do quickly discover who shot Nathan (Adrian Pasdar); what's up with Sylar (Zachary Quinto); what Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) is doing; and how Hiro (Masi Oka) is handling being the head of his late father's corporation.

And there's a huge development at the end of the first hour that could change everything.

There's been a lot of complaining about last season — a lot of criticism that wasn't really fair because the season was cut in half by the strike. But I'm very encouraged by the first hour of this season.

How I Met Your Mother (fourth-season premiere, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 2) opens the season with a quick answer to last spring's cliffhanger — will Stella (Sarah Chalke) accept Ted's (Josh Radnor) marriage proposal?

The more interesting storyline involves Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) secret love for Robin (Cobie Smulders) — a story that's sweet, funny, surprising and hilarious.

"How I Met Your Mother" really is "Friends" for the 21st century.

Two and a Half Men (sixth-season premiere, 8 p.m., Ch. 2) wasn't made available to TV critics, but the season begins with something that had to happen eventually.

One of Charlie's (Charlie Sheen) many, many, many ex-flames has a son who looks a whole lot like him.

Worst Week (series premiere, 8:30 p.m., Ch. 2) is a mildly amusing new comedy about Sam (Kyle Bornheimer), a guy for whom everything goes wrong. And goes wrong in unimaginably terrible ways. In front of his future in-laws.

This show is more likely to make you smile than make you laugh. And the big question is whether the frenetic pace of the pilot can be repeated in future episodes.

CSI: Miami (seventh-season premiere, 9 p.m., Ch. 2) picks up right where it left off in May — Horatio Caine (David Caruso) has apparently been shot and killed.

Um, if you believe that, I've got some swamp land to sell you out by the Great Salt Lake. (And, no, I'm not giving anything away. Not only has it been widely publicized that Caruso isn't leaving the show, but the title of tonight's episode is "Resurrection.")

Anyway ... I don't watch "CSI: Miami" on a regular basis, and I quickly figured out what was going on here. And it's not like I'm such a genius, so it must be pretty obvious,

Boston Legal (fifth-season premiere, 9 p.m., Ch. 4) marks the start of the final season — a 13-episode season that's scheduled to wrap up in early 2009.

And from the looks of this episode, it's time for this show to go. Tonight's narrative involves yet another of Alan's (James Spader) former girlfriends; yet another court battle against a tobacco company; and an unfunny, excessive storyline about Denny's (William Shatner), um, male dysfunction.

"Boston Legal" aired what could have been a very nice final episode back in May. Maybe creator/executive producer David E. Kelley should have called it quits then.


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