By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Coupling (9:30 p.m., Channels 5, 22) Simply put, NBC's new TV friends comedy is not Friends. Based on scripts for the British comedy, Coupling explores the world of six singles obsessed with coupling - sex - and nothing else. It's crude and crass, without any of the humor or charm we find in Rachel, Ross and NBC's other Friends. Rena Sofer (General Hospital), Jay Harrington, Colin Ferguson, Sonya Walger, Lindsay Price and Christopher Moynihan play young professionals who hang out in a bar and have sex in the bathroom. The premiere includes jokes about oral sex, shaved pubic hair, "porn buddies," exposed breasts, lesbians, bisexuality and condoms. And NBC executives think this show could replace Friends as its signature 8 p.m. comedy next fall? As Sally (Walger) says: "As every day goes by, my standards get lower." The same can be said for NBC. (BBC's Coupling airs 10 p.m. today, and 9-11 p.m. Friday, on BBC America, Time Warner digital channel 120).
Friends (8-8:45 p.m., Channels 5, 22) The 10th and final season opens with the gang still in Barbados, where Joey and Rachel (Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston) try to figure out how to tell Ross (David Schwimmer) that they've kissed. Ross, meanwhile, is busy snuggling with Charlie (Aisha Tyler).
Will & Grace (8:48 p.m., Channels 5, 22) Will and Jack (Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes) awake nude and in bed together at sea, wondering if they had sex, while Grace (Emmy-winner Debra Messing) thinks Leo may be messing around with a college friend.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (9 p.m., Channels 12, 7) Nick (George Eades) leaks details about two double homicides, which end up on the TV news and give the murderers valuable insight into the team's investigation.
ER (9:59 p.m., Channels 5, 22) Everyone is happy to see Carter (Noah Wyle) return from the Congo except Abby (Maura Tierney), who insists he give back the key to her apartment. Into the ER remodeling confusion comes a new British medical student (Parminder Nagra, Bend It Like Beckham) who answers a phone and gets shocking news from Africa about Dr. Kovac (Goran Visnjic), setting up next week's heart-pounding episode. (Warning: CSI fans should note ER's early 9:59 p.m. start time.)
Without A Trace (10 p.m., Channels 12, 7) Jack (Anthony LaPaglia) is overprotective of Samantha (Poppy Montgomery), back at work after being taken hostage, as they search for a hijacked school bus carrying 13 students.
Other shows worth watching
Survivor: Pearl Islands (8 p.m., Channels 12, 7) CBS promises a "photo finish" at the immunity challenge.
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