>A supernatural medical romance, a singular single girl and a booby trap in the burbs
1. A GIFTED MAN
(CBS, Sept. 23) Patrick Wilson is an arrogant neurosurgeon literally haunted by his dead wife (Jennifer Ehle), a kinder doctor who wants him to save her clinic. Silly premise, but the chemistry between surgeon and ghost suggests a thin, tense layer of ice over a deep pond of passion. Extraordinary acting.
2. PERSON OF INTEREST
(CBS, Sept. 22) And a show to match. J.J. Abrams creates a procedural drama flavored with the conceptual weirdness of his Lost and Fringe. Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) is a mystery man recruited to prevent crimes predicted by a computer program developed post-9/11. Caviezel cuts through the static hum of surveillance monitors with a bare-bones performance worthy of Clint Eastwood.
3. NEW GIRL
(FOX, Sept. 20) Zooey Deschanel lands a vehicle suited to her peculiar, somewhat precious, wide-eyed whimsy. She’s like that cat in the old “Hang in There” poster: She comes close to too-cute-for-comfort, yet you feel pity and love. The show is formulaic (hapless-cute single girl in an apartment with a bunch of guys), but Deschanel can twist a line into a corkscrew curl.
(ABC, Sept. 28). The most stylish series since Pushing Daisies, this sitcom starts with a flawed joke: Manhattan girl Jane Levy moves to the suburbs and finds the lifestyle perverse and plastic. Seriously? After Manhattan? But the cast is great, especially Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as a mall mom whose sunniness requires a high SPF.
5. AMERICAN HORROR STORY
(FX, Oct. 5) Some shows are crazy. This one is certifiable. Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s horror pastiche starring Connie Britton—and Jessica Lange!—is an innovatively shot, blindingly fast fright show that crams in every influence imaginable. (The Shining is prominent.) It makes True Blood look as leisurely as The Forsyte Saga.