Why the influx of semi-obscure Brits in starring roles on high-stakes American network shows? Well, it’s a global TV market, and it helps if American programs have non-American actors in them to sell abroad. On the flip side, British actors (who have always been less snobby about doing TV work than their Yankee counterparts) benefit from the American network exposure, which often leads to raises in their Hollywood profiles and paychecks. Case in point: Hugh Laurie, the star of Fox’s House. Yep, House is the main reason you’ll be seeing so many British actors on network prime time this season. Before the American accent, the facial stubble, and the limp, Hugh Laurie was “that guy from Blackadder” (and, to audiences under age five, Stuart Little’s father). Now, Hugh Laurie is House and House is Hugh Laurie, and the networks are hoping lightning strikes twice. (The best chance of that lies with Damian Lewis’s magnetic turn as the eccentric, damaged — and very House-like — cop on Life.)
And now, some night-by-night highlights of the fall line-up. Tally-ho!
ALREADY PREMIERED | The Doctor Who spinoff TORCHWOOD (BBC America, Saturday at 9 pm); the couples-therapy drama TELL ME YOU LOVE ME (HBO, Sunday at 9 pm); the sixth and final (maybe) season of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO, Sunday at 10 pm); IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (FX, Thursday at 10 pm).
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 17 | K-VILLE (Fox, 9 pm) stars Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser as partners on the post-Katrina New Orleans police force.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19 | Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton play squabbling news anchors on the sit-com BACK TO YOU (Fox, 8 pm). With Fred Willard as the sports guy.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 20 | SURVIVOR: CHINA (CBS, 8 pm) has contestants fighting to outplay, outwit, and outlast one another in a sweatshop making lead-poisoned Dora the Explorer dolls. Well, not really.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23 | ONLINE NATION (CW, 7:30 pm) aims to be the America’s Funniest Home Movies for the YouTube generation. THE SIMPSONS (Fox, 8 pm) opens Season 19 with guest Lionel Richie. KING OF THE HILL (Fox, 8:30 pm) and FAMILY GUY (Fox, 9 pm) also return.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 24 | HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS, 8 pm), HEROES (NBC, 9 pm — with Kristen “Veronica Mars” Bell!), and CSI: MIAMI (CBS, 10 pm) are back. CHUCK (NBC, 8 pm) is an hour-long action-comedy about a tech-support geek who becomes a reluctant CIA operative.
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25 | BONES (Fox, 8 pm), HOUSE (Fox, 9 pm), and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC, 10 pm) open their seasons. Jimmy Smits returns to prime time as the star of CANE (CBS, 10 pm).
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 26 | Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick unleashes a better, stronger, faster BIONIC WOMAN (NBC, 9 pm); that’s followed by the premiere of LIFE (NBC, 10 pm). Kate Walsh leaves McDreamy and McSteamy behind to start over in LA in the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC, 9 pm). Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) headlines the drama series DIRTY SEXY MONEY (ABC, 10 pm), which is about a wealthy New York clan and the lawyer who cleans up their messes. Looking for LOST? It returns to ABC’s Wednesday schedule in January.