By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service
By Mike Hughes
"Ugly Betty" debut, 7 p.m., ABC. No, Betty Suarez isn't really ugly. She's cute and smart; America Ferrara — who has ranged from film-festival movies to the Disney Channel's "Gotta Kick It Up" — makes her attractive and immensely likable. But Betty is an outsider. Wearing bright, Latina fashions, she works at a magazine that savors a dark, distant look. Her boss is a cad; his rival (Vanessa Williams) is cruel. "Betty" is based on a soap-style "telenovela" that has been a hit in several Latino countries. The U.S. version has been transformed into a semi-comedy series, blessed with stylish work from Sarah Pia Anderson, who directed the opener. Fresh and different, "Betty" has drawn strong praise from some people. I see it as an erratic blend of mismatched elements; it's pleasant enough but no match for the similar "Devil Wears Prada."
"My Name is Earl," 7 p.m., NBC. Last week's delightful season-opener had Joy stealing a truck. "It was a matter of principle," she explained. "Like when Rosa Parks stole the bus." Now she needs bail money and the only way to get it is for Catalina (Nadine Velazquez) to return to her old job, dancing at a strip club. This episode isn't terribly witty but suits the show's strong male viewership; guys will notice that Velazquez is in excellent physical condition.
"The Office," 7:30 p.m., NBC. Michael's at a Philadelphia convention with his boss, Jan, and his underling, Dwight. Back at home, Ryan and Kelly go on a double date.
"Grey's Anatomy," 8 p.m., ABC. Colleagues scramble for a way to help Izzie get her job back.
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," 8 p.m., CBS. Danny Bonaduce plays an old rock star who is killed in his kitchen. Meanwhile, Catherine is doing her own investigation, to see why she was abducted.
"Shark," 9 p.m., CBS. Most cops still hate Sebastian Stark (James Woods), because of his years as a top-dollar defense lawyer, getting rich people free. He's a prosecutor now, but they give him little help in convicting the killer of an undercover cop.
"ER," 9 p.m., NBC. Abby and Luka survived the shoot-out, but their baby teeters toward death. Abby's manic-depressive mother (Sally Field, now of ABC's "Brothers & Sisters") arrives and wants to take over. Meanwhile, Sam (Linda Cardellini) is back; she only jumped into the shooters' vehicle to be with her son, but she's afraid she'll be charged with their crimes.