A new season begins with no new Saturday shows to speak of. The big three networks will dedicate the night to movies and reruns and "48 Hours Mystery." Fox's Saturday-night lineup has remained unchanged since the mid-1990s, and the WB and UPN networks don't even bother scheduling anything on Saturday. And this was once the night of "Mary Tyler Moore," "The Jeffersons," "Starsky & Hutch," "Bob Newhart," "The Love Boat" and the first two seasons of "Hill Street Blues."
But Sunday is another story. Ricky Gervais ("The Office") returns to episodic comedy in "Extras" (9:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO). As in "The Office," Gervais mines humor from self-deception and delusions of grandeur, or at least talent. He's Andy Milman, a would-be actor who quits his day job to work as a film extra, all in the hopes of landing a speaking part. The comedy arises from Milman's petty conversations with fellow extras, most notably Maggie (Ashley Jenson).
While "The Office" made the most of a flat documentary style to accentuate the drudgery of white-collar existence, "Extras" contrasts the opulent cinematography and scenery from Milman's many movies with the tedium of a film set. In one episode he flirts with a fellow extra while wearing a Nazi officer's uniform. In another, he's dressed in a powdered wig and 18th-century finery, but still dismissed as a "fat-faced extra" by an angry cameraman.
Like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO), returning for a fifth season this week, "Extras" trades in very small situations and cringe-worthy behavior. It's not so much laugh-out-loud hilarious as snicker-to-yourself droll. But you'll probably still find yourself laughing about it on Wednesday, and that alone should have you coming back next week.
¢ Scheduled on the season premiere of "48 Hours Mystery" (9 p.m., CBS): A serial killer's "victim" shows up at his trial.
Sunday's season premieres
¢ Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): an interview with Roy Hallums, who was held hostage by kidnappers for 10 months in Baghdad; the hunt for Osama Bin Laden; Derek Jeter.
¢ A new member of the squad (Sarah Brown) on "Cold Case" (7 p.m., CBS).
¢ Leo receives bad reviews on "The West Wing" (7 p.m., NBC).
¢ Health inspecting can be a killer on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (8 p.m., NBC).
¢ Red tape on "Crossing Jordan" (9 p.m., NBC).
¢ A bartender in need on "Grey's Anatomy" (9 p.m., ABC).