NOTE: Heroes will get its own post each week. Usually, Mondays will be reserved for HIMYM and Chuck. This is the only time I’ll write about The Big Bang Theory.

How I Met Your Mother — Wait For It

…Dary! HIMYM starts the season right where it left off, chronologically and emotionally. Ted’s not ready to get back into the dating scene, so he grows a beard and turns down Barney’s repeated offerings. After two weeks, though, Robin returns from Argentina with Gael (Enrique Iglesias), and Ted finally decides he’s ready. Of course, he dives in head-first and goes a little too far (with Mandy Moore, who did the music for the episode). At the same time, Marshall and Lily fail in their attempt to hate the beautiful Gael, and fall under his spell. Barney is the lone voice of reason throughout, and he pulls off the part with limited success. Eventually Ted realizes his mistake, and though he doesn’t try to get back with Robin, at least he gets some closure on the issue, and even a little macho ego boost. Then, we’re left with a classic HIMYM teaser, as a foreshadowed figure with a yellow umbrella approaches the bar. And to cap it all off, the Slap Countdown is ticking!

The guys were firing on all cylinders with this episode, penned by show creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. The characters were perfectly in their humor element, as if they’d filmed this episode the minute they finished the last. The guys refusing to understand Gael’s name was great (Gayle? Kyle? They eventually settle on Male Gayle), as were Ted’s shaving stages and the respective nicknames (Olde-Timey Inventor). Also brilliant was the moment leading up to Ted’s discovery of his tramp stamp, where his friends were bursting at the seams trying to keep it in. There were a million great jokes in the episode, and I really can’t explain them all here. If you didn’t watch it, find it somewhere and do so. It was fantastic.

Chuck — Pilot

So to you newspaper readers out there, if they publish my picks this week you’ll see that this is rated my #2 new show of the season (wait for tomorrow for the review of my #1). I really recommend that you go on NBC’s site and watch this show if you’ve got free time at 8 p.m. on Mondays, it looks like it’s going to be a strong one. In short, Chuck is a Geek Squad-type who dropped out of college and is pretty content moping about his lost girlfriend and playing XBox with his bumbling sidekick. One fateful night, though, he involuntarily takes in a slew of government secrets, and unbeknownst to him he becomes the most valuable man in the country.

It might sound like a premise you’ve heard plenty of times before, but what takes this show above the rest is the execution. Creator Josh Schwartz (The O.C.) has plenty of hipness under his belt, and also knows what it’s like to be a young geek. This makes the show feel cool and makes character, played very ably by Zachary Levi, very likable. Schwartz gets it; he doesn’t use geekiness as a weakness, but rather as a source of endearment. A great mix of comedy and action, with room for plot development and solid characters. This is how a show should start.

The Big Bang Theory — Pilot

Deplorable. The only way I could make it through this disgusting half-hour was by assuring myself I’d never do it again. Never in my life have I seen cheesier stereotypes, heard cornier dialogue, or hated characters so much. The two nerds completely miss out on what shows like Reaper, Chuck, and especially shows like Beauty and the Geek or Freaks and Geeks get so right: Geeks, nerds, and losers are not the enemy. They all aren’t these equation-citing, masturbating, high-socks-having freaks who have never seen a real girl. And blondes all aren’t cross-eyed big boobed waitresses. Characters should be likable, and not just because they’re nice. You can hate a character and love them at the same time, a la Sylar from Heroes. They’ve got to have something that makes you want to watch them, and nothing on this show is desirable. The jokes, as you’d expect, are generated by a playground full of middle school bullies whose idea of comedy amounts to “And then the nerd should say something about math! And that he’s never seen boobs before!” Shows like HIMYM feel right because the characters early on were not settled into cheesy stereotypes, instead developing into real people with lots of levels. And shows like Chuck work because even though they do use a stereotype or two, they show a genuine love of the characters.

Honestly, nobody wants to laugh at their TV. They want to laugh with their TV. Until writers figure that out, they’ll keep putting out crap like this. The best thing you can do is just not watch it, and send them a message that you deserve better.