What all the TV-loving kids will be talking about this week …
We've already got Jax on "Sons of Anarchy" and Walter White on "Breaking Bad," and this week brings some additional entries to the list of primetime characters you love, despite their sometimes unlovable ways.
First up, it's Wednesday's season two premiere of "Luther" on BBC America. Like counter-terrorist Jack Bauer before him, British cop Luther (Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Idris Alba) is so dedicated to finding the uber-creeps that fall under the jurisdiction of his Serious and Serial Crime Unit that his cases become obsessions and everything else in his life takes a back seat. In the four-episode second season — which originally aired in the U.K. as a pair of two-hour specials — Luther's attention is torn between trying to capture a killer who plots his actions based on the roll of his dice and trying to save the daughter of an old friend who's caught up in a prostitution ring.
Read more: Comic-Con: 'Dexter' Finds Religion?
On Sunday, Showtime premieres the sixth season of "Dexter," revolving around the only serial killer you'll ever root for. The season opens with Dexter (Michael C. Hall) hilariously attending his high school reunion (for purposes that aren't so hilarious), and the foes he'll face this season (played by Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks) are among the show's most mysterious, ookiest ever.
Following "Dexter" Sunday on Showtime is "Homeland," the thriller created by — speaking of Jack Bauer — "24" producer Howard Gordon. Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison, a CIA op reassigned to counterterrorist duty in Langley after running an unauthorized operation in Iraq. When long-missing U.S. Marine Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is suddenly rescued from his torturers, Mathison suspects he might be a threat. Too bad her bosses won't believe her.
The complicated heroes, and heroine, make for great viewing.
WORD ON THE 'STREET'
Elmo, Grover, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby and the whole "Sesame Street" gang are back with the show's 42nd season this week. The new season will focus on STEM education — science, technology, engineering and math — and, as always, will use clever spoofs and celebrity guests to teach. "G" is a "Glee"-ful bit that finds members of the "G Club" trying to make it to the "G-gionals," for instance, while "SpiderMonster: The Musical" features Grover all ready to star in a musical, if only he can figure out how to fly.
Among the famous names taking a walk down the "Street": Elvis Costello, Conan O'Brien, Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams, Amy Adams, Joel McHale, Naomi Watts, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Mila Kunis, Sofia Vergara, Emma Stone, Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Bruno Mars, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, Carmelo Anthony, Johnny Galecki, John Krasinski and Ken Jeong.
CONRAD MURRAY: YET ANOTHER TRIAL OF THE CENTURY
Still fatigued from the Casey Anthony trial? Prepare to just as quickly tire of, yet be glued to the tube for, the Conrad Murray trial. It begins Tuesday and will be aired live on HLN. The personal physician to Michael Jackson is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's 2009 death.
HLN, which earned its all-time best ratings for around-the-clock coverage of the Anthony trial in June and July, hopes to draw even bigger numbers with the Murray trial, which touches on the ongoing issue of the medical community's treatment of celebrities, and promises appearances by the Jackson family. From "Morning Express" at 6 a.m. every day through live courtroom coverage and Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew and Joy Behar's shows in the evening, HLN will again be on the case, all day long.
A VERY BILL O'REILLY WEDNESDAY
Fox talking head Bill O'Reilly hasn't sat down with the co-hosts of "The View" since last October, when Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the set during a heated debate with O'Reilly about plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero.
So set your DVR for "The View" on Wednesday, as O'Reilly returns to spar with the hosts once again. Goldberg and Behar were scolded by "View" mama Barbara Walters right after they rode off the set on their huffy bikes, but since there's a good chance O'Reilly will say something that offends them again, there's also a good chance they, particularly Behar, won't respond well.
Oh, and in case a daytime dose of the Fox Newsie doesn't quench your political thirst, O'Reilly also sits down with Jon Stewart Wednesday night on "The Daily Show."
SAVING THE 'DAYS OF OUR LIVES'
"All My Children" is gone, and "One Life to Live" has one foot out the door. That will leave just four daytime soap operas on the airwaves after January, and producers of NBC's sole surviving soap, "Days of Our Lives," are taking steps to make sure they stick around as long as possible. The plan: Fewer over-the-top storylines and more focus on the show's core characters, including some of those who were dismissed from the series not so long ago.
This week, Deidre Hall, the "DOOL" answer to Susan Lucci, returns as Salem psychiatrist Marlena Evans, who, after more than three decades on the show, was unceremoniously dropped for budget reasons in 2008. She returns with the equally popular Drake Hogestyn, as her on-screen hubby, John Black. Fan faves Patrick Muldoon, Matthew Ashford, Mary Beth Evans, Christie Clark and real-life and reel-life couple Bill and Susan Hayes are also returning to the series.
Could the key to saving the genre really be as simple as spotlighting the characters the most devoted fans know and love, instead of throwing up poorly-written plots and stunt castings (we're looking at you, James Franco)? What a novel idea.