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Hi-Def Dish: Look for lots of LGBT-friendly TV this fall

Once again, ABC leads the pack in LGBT-friendly network programming.

ABC Family, the cable affiliate, is ranked No. 1, having received an “Excellent” score by GLAAD. But then there’s here!, established in 2002 and self-proclaimed as “America’s premium gay television network.” And how can this be a discussion without LOGO? So, who’s really on top?

By sheer numbers it’s ABC, and since ABC has been so good to the community, let’s return the favor and say that we’re looking forward to some of the returning shows and the promise of some of the newcomers.

This is the final season for “Desperate Housewives.” Wisteria Lane has been a hospitable and accepting place for the gays to call home. Bree showed the country that not all gun-loving Republicans are homophobic. Her acceptance of her gay son Andrew and her love for his boyfriend was refreshingly light- handed. Bob and Lee, the gay couple next door, also demonstrated to Middle America the good fortune of having gay neighbors: great house, great cooks, great yard, great parties and the comfort of a gay BBF and confidant just a few steps away. All of straight America should be so lucky.

And God only knows what Cam and Mitchell did over the summer with their “Modern Family.” Some find Cam and Mitch to be insulting stereotypes. Hardly. There are a million couples just like Cam and Mitchell. We all know them, but truth is they’re seldom quite as comical and quirky as these two.

“Dancing With The Stars” is another gem. If you haven’t given it a chance, it’s time. “DWTS” is authentic reality programming and the outcome is something very rare in celebrity: nuance, athleticism, beauty and humility.

And, Chaz Bono is a contestant on “DWTS” this season. This is the historic presentation of transgender people to mainstream America, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Coming this fall on ABC

-- “Apartment 23” is being played as a female Odd Couple. Unconfirmed gay rumors swirled around Oscar and Felix, the original Odd Couple, all the way from Broadway to television. Doubtful that will be the same track with actors Dreama Walker and Krysten Ritter, the girls of Apartment 23.

The previews look bitchy and irreverent, and lord knows we just can’t get enough of that. Originally titled “You can’t trust the Bitch in Apartment 23,” the renamed “Apartment 23” promises a wonderful premise: Innocence gone bad. Small-town girl rooms with a city slicker, and small-town girl turns out to be a fast learner.

It looks like ABC is holding off to midseason for this one.

-- “Once Upon A Time” looks interesting and sits in the very coveted 8 pm Sunday time slot. Evil queens, fairy princesses, handsome princes and magical kisses can all be had in the comfort of your living room and without the bother of buffing up for the local gay bar. Indulge, without the risk of a DUI.

Jennifer Morrison plays Emma Swan, the long lost daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. (Who knew?) This is all news to Emma as her own, long lost son leads her to the sweet town of Storybrooke, Maine and an alternate world beyond. “Once Upon A Time” is an original premise for the small screen. Like New York City in the big screen “Enchanted,” the town of Storybrooke is a place where fairy tales and 21st century America apparently are going to collide.

This could either be really good or really bad. Regardless: “A” for TV originality, chutzpa, old school camp and for not being another reality show.

-- “Pan Am” looks interesting too, and what more styling era than the groovy 1960s? One foot’s stuck in the white bread of the 1950s and the other foot is mired in a 1970s magic brownie. It was a blessedly adventurous decade, and a publicist friend hints at an evolving, lesbian subplot. This won’t be Christina Ricci’s debut to the little screen. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role in “Grey’s Anatomy.” But let’s hope she’ll have an opportunity to exercise her comedic chops.

"Pam Am" premieres on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 10 pm. It seems to based in part on the success of AMC’s “Madmen,” so the big question is, can there possibly be another Jon Hamm for the boys?

-- NBC is giving gay-friendly Chelsea Handler another program. Look for “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.”

In the perfect circle of life that is celebrity PR, Handler handily used E! Network’s “Chelsea Lately” to promote her book, “Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.”

It’s a case of a TV program giving birth to a book that gave birth to a TV program: Just think chicken, egg, chicken, etc.

Laura Prepon of “That 70’s Show” fame plays a role, loosely based on Handler’s life. One of the show’s premises is pretty funny: Chelsea Handler plays Prepon’s born again Christian sister. That’s gotta be good.

And speaking of E!

-- Joan Rivers and “Fashion Police” is back. I LOVE this show, but then I love Joan Rivers. She’s a perfect role model for everyone who says, “F@#k aging gracefully. I’m taking all you bitches with me!”

George Kotsiopoulos returns to the panel as the prime specimen of the well-turned-out gay man. Check out his shoes.

BTW, there’s a petition going around asking Joan to ban one of the best segments, “Starlet of Streetwalker.” Don’t sign it! And everyone who does? Lighten up. Only Snooki’s face is revealed. The streetwalkers remain incognito. Besides, they keep getting confused with celebrities, so there has to be some satisfaction in that!

When watching E! you have to hold your nose and plow through an ocean of Kardashians, but eventually you’ll get to “The Soup.” Watch it. It’s hilarious. Not especially gay, not especially not … just hilarious.

A similar format is Comedy Central’s sexually ambiguous Daniel Tosh, “Tosh.O.” Tosh takes his pants off at the drop of a hat and does stuff like hire a West Hollywood professional nipple massager to treat his staff. This is what happens when you’re raised in Florida and the son of a preacher man. Watch it too.

Last but not least,

The Republican presidential candidates

Like Oscar and Felix, rumors continue to swirl about Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his alleged affair with former Texas Secretary of State, Geoff (note the spelling) Connor. This is an especially juicy bite of the hamburger that is Texas politics, and this rumor just won’t go away. There’s no doubt that it’s going to make for some of the best television drama /reality/comedy programming leading up to the Republican National Convention. There are few things that are more entertaining and comical than hyper-machismo posturing.

It’s gonna be great fall season.

Kurt Niece is a freelance journalist from Tucson, Ariz., and author of "The Breath of Rapture." He writes about television for Echo Magazine in Phoenix and SDGLN. He is also an artist who sells his work on his website.