His show: "Vegas," premiering 9 p.m. Sept. 25, WCCO, Ch. 4.
His character: Ralph Lamb, sheriff of Las Vegas in the early 1960s, fighting to keep the Strip from turning into Gangsters Row.
Why we love him: Quaid, who spent the first half of his career leaning on his pretty-boy smirk, has gracefully aged into a fine character actor. Watching him ride through this quasi-western is the visual definition of true grit.
Why he's doing his first series: "I came in because a lot of exciting things are happening on television right now. A lot of the best writers have come to television. I think they feel like they have more control. And the idea really appealed to me of getting to unfold a character over, hopefully, a very long period of time."BRIGHT NEW STAR: MAMIE GUMMER
Her show: "Emily Owens, M.D.," 8 p.m. Oct. 16, WUCW, Ch. 23
Her character: An impressive new doctor who dazzles in the operating room, but can't talk to a cute boy without sticking her metatarsals in her mouth.
Why we love her: Up to this point, she's primarily been known as Meryl Streep's daughter. That's about to change. True, the dramedy is little more than a reboot of "Grey's Anatomy," but Gummer's willingness to embrace her inner klutz is the season's nicest surprise.
On following in her mom's footsteps: "I was always putting on shows as a kid, and obviously my household was really creative, and my parents both really supported and let that strive in all of us. And I just liked it so much and kept doing it and kept doing it. Then I was at drama school and I was doing it, and then I graduated, and all of a sudden I was a person in the world doing it for real."BEST NEW MYSTERY: 'REVOLUTION'
The show: Premieres 9 p.m. Sept. 17, KARE, Ch. 11
The premise: Who turned out the lights? That's what the entire planet must mull over when electricity goes the way of the dinosaurs. Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito lead a plucky cast that takes on the mystery -- as well as roving bandits and a mysterious leader.
For fans of: "Lost."
Why we're excited: Serialized series always make us nervous because they could get canceled before we get answers, but the pilot's jaw-dropping twists, plus the involvement of Hollywood heavyweight J.J. Abrams, have us praying we won't be left in the dark.
Executive producer Eric Kripke's take: "Because the writers are a bunch of nerds, we brought a physicist into the 'Revolution' offices and we pitched him what we wanted to have happen and we gave him the big secret as to why it all happened. His face just lit up. I mean, he was like, 'That is absolutely possible.'"BEST NEW THRILLER: 'LAST RESORT'
The show: Premieres 7 p.m. Sept. 27, KSTP, Ch. 5
The premise: A nuclear submarine captain (Andre Braugher) and his right-hand man (Scott Speedman) are told by the U.S. military to annihilate Pakistan. When they question the order, they are told to go stand in the corner for 30 minutes. Oh, wait. They're bombed by their own planes.
For fans of: "24."
Why we're excited: There are so many goosebump moments throughout the taut first hour that you might want to watch while wearing a sweater. Make that two sweaters.
Executive producer Shawn Ryan's take: "The world's a crazy place right now, and this country is divided in many ways. You look at the Tea Party on one side and the Occupy movement on the other, and they share something, which is a distrust of our institutions and the people running our governments and what these people might do. That's something that we're tapping into."BEST NEW SITCOM: 'GO ON'
The show: Premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday, KARE, Ch. 11
The premise: Matthew Perry plays a sports-radio host, forced to play ball with his bosses and attend therapy sessions after a personal tragedy. Could he be any more annoyed?
For fans of: "Community."
Why we're excited: Perry could do sarcasm in his sleep (some think he did just that in "Mr. Sunshine"), but this time he's surrounded by a deep bench of character actors who are also allowed to get laughs.
Perry's take: "My favorite role? Well, it would just be stupid to not say this one. There's a scene in this show that gave me one of the biggest acting challenges I've had dramatically, so I really like this. So it's either this or 'The Whole Ten Yards.'"BEST NEW SOAP: 'NASHVILLE'
The show: Premieres 9 p.m. Oct. 10, KSTP, Ch. 5.
The premise: The claws come out when an aging country star (Connie Britton), in desperate need of a hit, goes up against an ingenue (Hayden Panettiere) who's in desperate need of a bra. Actual Nashville sites and stars play strong supporting roles.
For fans of: "Smash."
Why we're excited: The backbiting and bedhopping are being choreographed to new music supervised by none other than the legendary T-Bone Burnett, who happens to be married to the show's creator, Callie Khouri. Elvis Costello is among the big stars who are contribting songs.
Khouri's take: "When I lived in Nashville, one of the things that used to really blow me away about the place was you would be in a restaurant and somebody would take the plates from your table one night and then the next night, you would go into a club and they would just break your heart. There's just so much talent in that town. So we carefully looked for the people that we felt were representative of what you were likely to find there."