Terminators, love triangles and Tyra Banks

The fall semester has begun and students are already juggling lengthy reading lists, projects and term papers. The chaotic schedule of a college student might not allow much room for TV, but after a long summer and an even longer writer’s strike, students can pick from a wide array of new and returning shows. The Oracle reviewed five shows premiering this and next week.

Premieres Monday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. on FOX

Season two of Terminator starts right where the season finale left off. It is filled with even more action, explosions and car chases than the previous year. Sadly, there is no improvement in the bland dialogue and confusing plotline, and it may be hard to follow for viewers who have not seen season one (which is available on DVD).

The heart of the story is the same, however. It’s about a mother, Sarah (300’s Lena Headley) trying to save her son, John (Heroes’ Thomas Dekker), from the Skynet robots of the future.

Summer Glau (Serenity), who plays Cameron, a good terminator, is getting more comfortable in her role. She has the monotone speech and rigid movements of her character down to an art form.

— Candace Kaw

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. on FOX

From the creative minds of producers J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias), Alex Kurtzman (Alias) and Roberto Orci (Alias), comes Fringe — an X-Files-inspired show grounded in the mysteries of science.

“We thought about all the TV we loved growing up, and decided to make something we’d want to see as fans,” said the producers a press release.

True to their word, this show is a worthwhile mix of genres, with everything from sci-fi action to mystery to romance. Fringe follows FBI agent Olivia Dunham as she uncovers a pattern of terrorist attacks across the nation as well as drama in her own life. It keeps a fast pace from the beginning, drawing you in, and if the continuous action and easy-to-relate-to characters don’t keep you hooked, the unanswered questions in the storyline will.

Although some scenes are over-dramatic and the acting isn’t always convincing, the show more than makes up for it with an interesting story and special effects that will make you cringe. The ending of the first episode will leave you wanting more.

— Emily Handy

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m. on the CW.

In the new show Privileged, Joanna Garcia (Reba) stars as Megan Smith, a sexy live-in tutor for twin Palm Beach socialites.

The first half of the pilot moves a little too slow as it sets up the plot, but viewers should keep watching, because the second half is worth it.

The show is filled with dysfunctional family drama and love triangles, all set in the high society world of Palm Beach with its luxury cars, designer clothes and hot men. It is the ideal mix for a new CW drama.

— Robin Roup

Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. on the CW

The reality show has tried to make each cycle unique. This season is no different — and in this case, that’s not a good thing.

The producers tried so hard to be new and different that the show has become cheesy. In the first episode, the finalists enter the “Top Model Institute for Technology,” where they will be “transformed” into top models. The futuristic set consists of white walls and cheap special effects, including Tyra Banks and fellow judges being “beamed” away.

It seems Banks has been everywhere the past year, so when the girls get a glimpse of the former model and scream their lungs out,  it could strike viewers as an unworthy amount of noise.

The contestants are dull and blend in together like in the last cycle, except for the transgender and Mormon models who appear to be there for the sake of stirring up controversy.

— Candace Kaw

Premieres Wednesday Sept. 8 at 9:30 p.m. on FOX.

Do Not Disturb continues the trend of office humor sitcoms. It’s set in an inn, but if it weren’t for the characters saying so it would be impossible to tell, since most of the show takes place in the basement. This lets the show focus on the employees rather than the building itself.

Unfortunately, like thebasement they work in, the characters are grey. Rather than take the time to develop each personality, the show resorts to stereotypes like the overly clueless blonde, the devilishly  good-looking boss and the flamboyantly gay guy. This provides one-dimensional characters that are funny and lovable, but easy to forget once the show is over.

Despite the lack of substance, Do Not Disturb brings back all the things Americans love in a sitcom: a laughing studio audience, cheesy one-liners and plenty of sexual tension.

— Emily Handy