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New York • It’s a time-honored rite harking back to an era of black-and-white TVs and the trio of networks whose programs they delivered: the grand unveiling of new fall fare.As part of the ritual, this latest fall crop is an occasion for handicapping the good and the misfires. Granted, it’s a risky business to rate a new series’ prospects on the basis of its pilot episode, which is typically the only thing critics have to go on. But even if it doesn’t guarantee a great series will follow, a pilot must at least trigger interest at a level to get viewers to return the second week.Here are 10 new series that might catch your fancy:• “Red Band Society” (Fox; premieres Sept. 17). A group of teenagers meet as patients in the pediatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital. Sure, a show that gathers kids to frolic, flirt and even face death sounds like “Glee” without the jazz hands. But what could have been an overglossed rendering of life’s gravest moments instead comes with heart and a dose of authenticity that ground the good times.• “Gotham” (Fox; Sept. 22). In an industry where nothing is a sure thing, fall’s most-awaited show by the most-desirable demo would seem to be a sure thing. “Gotham” turns out to be not only an “origin series” about Batman but also a humdinger of a noir crime thriller. Rolling back the clock to when Bruce Wayne was a youngster and his alter ego was years from being conceived, the series lays the groundwork for the Batman myth while introducing not-yet-Commissioner James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) as a rookie cop.• “The Mysteries of Laura” (NBC; Sept. 24). Debra Messing stars as a brilliant, rules-breaking NYPD homicide detective and harried single mother whose estranged detective-husband becomes her boss (awkward!). Messing (“Will & Grace”) has an indisputable gift for comedy. Here she’s arresting as a brassy, disheveled cop in a series that clearly wants to match the light-comedy tone of the long-ago “Columbo.”
Theater Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts has announced the opening of its first YouthWorks production of the season. “The Tales From The Arabian Nights” opens on Sept. 12 and runs through Sept. 28 (select dates and times).“The Tales From The Arabian Nights” is a humorous production that retells a selection of action-packed tales from “The Thousand and One Nights.” More than a millennium ago, a sultan, bewitched by a magic sword, decrees that he will marry a new bride every evening and chop off her head the next morning. To save her neck, the clever Scheherazade begins telling her husband a tale each night that is never quite completed by the morning – thus postponing her execution. Scheherazade keeps up the stories for 1,001 nights, finally freeing her husband from the evil spell.“The Tales From The Arabian Nights” is directed by Chris Hamby, with musical direction by Jennifer Whiting and choreography by Paul Pedersen.Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is at 8355 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria. For information, call 623-815-7930 or visit www.theaterworks.org.
Classic cars, hot rods and motorcycles will be roaring into Westgate Entertainment Distinct this fall with the return of Westgate Hot Rod Night and Bike Night.The two weekly events will host guests for family-friendly fun, live music and more.Hot Rod Night• Every Wednesday night Sept. 10 through Nov. 19.• Hosted at the WaterDance Plaza from 5 to 9 p.m.• More than 250 classic cars and close to 700 attendees.
Harkins Theatres celebrates the late Robin Williams with a weeklong presentation of his best work at Harkins Valley Art, beginning this Friday.
Theater Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts has announced the opening of its first YouthWorks production of the season.
Red Embers Bar & Grill, inside local family entertainment venue Uptown Alley in Surprise, is offering 10 wings for $5 all day long (with the purchase of a beverage) on Tuesday in honor of National Chicken Wing Day.