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Style & Arts: TV Special

Fresh Faces of the Spring TV Season

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

If your fall TV watching felt a little less than fresh, blame last year's writers' strike, which killed any chance of an autumn filled with colorful new characters and plotlines. Now, because of the delay, spring is swamped with new midseason shows. Here's a look at 10 with plots from the familiar to the completely farcical.

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-- Emily Yahr

United States of Tara, Sundays at 10 p.m., Showtime

Plot: "Juno" breakout writer Diablo Cody is back! Cody collaborated with Steven Spielberg to produce this dramedy starring Toni Collette as a mom with dissociative identity disorder, and three (maybe four?) alternate personalities.

Tom Shales says: "It's fascinating, the television equivalent of the book you can't put down and maybe the jigsaw puzzle you never quite complete. But you keep trying."

Lie to Me, Wednesdays at 9 p.m., Fox

Plot: Eccentric scientist Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) knows when you're lying. Lightman, who has dedicated his life to studying facial and behavioral cues, runs a company that's hired by anyone -- from a local school to the military -- trying to discover if someone is telling the truth.

Tom Shales says: "Debuting with one of the best-looking pilots in a long time . . . 'Lie to Me' seems an unusually meaty, thoughtful and thought-provoking crime drama -- another police procedural, yes, but one with a dramatic and mesmerizing difference."

Trust Me, Tuesdays at 10 p.m., TNT

Plot: Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace") and Tom Cavanagh ("Ed") play happy-go-lucky BFFs who work at the same ad agency; drama commences when McCormack's character gets a big promotion, and a high-maintenance, frazzled woman (Monica Potter) joins the agency.

Tom Shales says: The show "combines the flip, snippy buddy language of 'Nip/Tuck' with the advertising-world setting of 'Mad Men,' thereby double-cloning two of cable's few scripted hits. But 'Trust Me' shares another characteristic of those series: dumb, numbing soullessness. It has the emotional intricacy of a Ritz cracker."

Dollhouse, Fridays at 9 p.m., Fox


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