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Fall TV Special

Meet the Season’s Best Characters and Most Memorable Scene-Stealers

Fall TV Special: Meet the Season's Best Characters and Most Memorable Scene-Stealers

Photograph by Robert Trachtenberg for RollingStone.com

In the opening scene of the new season of Mad Men, an interviewer asks Draper, "Who is Don Draper?" Rather than confess the truth — that he's a flimflam man who fabricated his whole identity from a dead Korean War officer and built his entire life on a lie en route to a Madison Avenue advertising career — Draper merely takes a drag on his cigarette. "I'm from the Midwest," he says. "We were taught it's not polite to talk about yourself."
• Video: The cast at their RS shoot
• Photos: Behind the Scenes on the Mad Men Set
• Q&A: Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner
To read the rest of Eric Konigsberg's story, continue on to All Access. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

America's Favorite Mean Girl: Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Lately

Photograph by Robert Trachtenberg for RollingStone.com

America’s Favorite Mean Girl: Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Lately

How did a failed waitress from Livingston, New Jersey, become America's favorite mean girl?

• Video: On set with Handler at her Rolling Stone shoot

To read Erik Hedegaard's story in full and the best of the rest of Fall TV, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Choir Boy Kurt, Glee

Photograph by Robert Trachtenberg for RollingStone.com

The Choir Boy Kurt, Glee

Even on a show that prides itself on being wickedly funny, deliciously catty and unapologetically gay, Glee's Kurt Hummel stands out. In the midst of the show's off-the-charts camp, Kurt's touching, often confusing journey from victim to, well, less of a victim may be the most honest and inspirational portrait of a gay teenager ever attempted on TV.

• Video: Colfer on the best and worst parts of playing Kurt Hummel — and his favorite Britney Spears tune

To read Josh Eell's full story, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Baby Vampire: Jessica, True Blood

John P. Johnson/HBO

The Baby Vampire: Jessica, True Blood

Jessica, the 17-year-old "baby vampire," is one of the few characters that Alan Ball added to True Blood's script from Charlaine Harris' original book series. She was a virgin when Bill Compton "made" her in Season One. Deborah Ann Woll, a Brooklyn-born actress, shares some of the secret vampire knowledge she's gained from the role with Vanessa Grigoriadis.

• Q&A: Woll on vampire fiction, losing her vamp virginity and her preferred mythical creature

To read the rest of the best of Fall TV, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Hot Mom: Sofia, Modern Family

Photograph by Lauren Dukoff for RollingStone.com

The Hot Mom: Sofia, Modern Family

There are hot tv moms, there are inappropriately hot TV moms, and there are just plain dangerously hot TV moms. Then there's Sofia Vergara, from ABC's Modern Family, who may well qualify as America's second-favorite Colombian import. Vergara plays Gloria, a smoldering bombshell with a preteen son, a barely comprehensible accent and an older husband played sitcom icon Ed O'Neill, from Married With Children.

• Video: Go on set during Vergara's steamy shoot

To read the rest of Rob Sheffield's story, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Vampire: Damon, The Vampire Diaries

Photograph by Dan Monick for RollingStone.com

The Vampire: Damon, The Vampire Diaries

Damon Salvatore might be the world's worst boyfriend. As played by the awesomely pervy Ian Somerhalder on The Vampire Diaries, he's not the kind of guy who will stroke your hair while you cry, because the undead can literally shut off their emotions. You'll never mold him into a family man. ("Vampires can't procreate," he observes, "but we love to try.")

• Video: Somerhalder on Off the Cuff with Peter Travers

To read Melissa Maerz's full story, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Bad Girl: Olivia Munn, The Daily Show

Photograph by Williams + Hirakawa

The Bad Girl: Olivia Munn, The Daily Show

Olivia Munn is every fanboy's dream: She looks like an anime princess, hosts a show about video games (G4's Attack of the Show) and serves as Senior Asian Correspondent for The Daily Show. In contrast to her bubbly TV persona, she's sarcastic and fearless off-camera. "I want you to like me," she says, "but I don't care if you don't."

• Video: Olivia Munn on the do's and dont's of dating her (hint: size matters).

To read the rest of Josh Eell's story, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Super Nerd: Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

Photograph by Chris Buck

The Super Nerd: Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

merica's love affair with the geeks of The Big Bang Theory largely comes down to one man: Sheldon, the brilliant yet painfully maladjusted Caltech physicist who showers with Luke Skywalker shampoo and needs someone to sing "Soft Kitty" to him when he's sick. Jim Parsons plays Sheldon with a nimble wit that has helped make Big Bang the nation's favorite sitcom, despite its insanely obscure sci-fi references.

To read the rest of Rob Sheffield's story, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

The Voice: Will Lyman, Frontline

Photograph by Rich Gastwirt

The Voice: Will Lyman, Frontline

As the somber, the-world-is-ending-but-please-remain-calm narrator of PBS's investigative news magazine Frontline, Will Lyman may be the most trusted voice on TV. The 62-year-old veteran actor says he owes his distinctive style to direction he got while narrating a film three decades ago. "I want the narrator to sound like there's a really knowledgeable guy sitting next to you on a couch," the director told him. Lyman takes his role seriously. "You can't abuse it," he says. ?People get very upset if they hear that voice they trust doing something else.? Lyman is so good the Frontline team knows it can lean on him to class up the joint. Says executive producer David Fanning, "Will Lyman could read the phone book and make it feel like it's important to the country." SEAN WOODS

The Good Kid: Butters, South Park

Courtesy of Comedy Central

The Good Kid: Butters, South Park

Throughout 10 seasons of South Park, Leopold "Butters" Stotch has caught his dad having gay sex in a bathhouse, been sold by his parents as a pet to Paris Hilton and wound up photographed asleep with Eric Cartman's dick in his mouth. Yet the hopelessly naive nine-year-old has uttered little more than a mildly irritated "Oh, hamburgers." In a town full of demented, foulmouthed children, Butters is the only character who seems like an actual fourth-grader. While Cartman plots things like the extermination of the Jewish race and the murder of his own mother, Butters wants little more than to play chutes and ladders, please his teacher and have dinner at Bennigan's. Since everybody hates Cartman, Cartman often has no choice but to involve Butters in his plots — creating one of television's all-time great odd couples. ANDY GREENE

The Idiot: Michelle Bachmann, C-SPAN

The Idiot: Michelle Bachmann, C-SPAN

Michele Bachmann, the anvil-brained congresswoman from Minnesota, may be the most entertaining TV dummy since Peggy Bundy. As pure physical comedy, she's almost unbeatable: Frantically spewing racist demagogy in her pearls and her cutesy pink blazers, she comes across like a DAR-chapter chair in the throes of a strychnine seizure. What makes her increasingly frequent rants must-see TV is the fantastic literary quality of her scatterbrained paranoia. She denounced the do-gooder teachers at AmeriCorps as a plot to force children into liberal re-education camps and suggested that same-sex marriage is a bigger threat than Islamic terrorism. And now that she has formed a Tea Party congressional caucus on the eve of the midterm elections, we're guaranteed even more TV appearances by this modern-day cross of Imelda Marcos and Elmer Fudd. MATT TAIBBI

The Grouch: Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

Hawthorne/Getty

The Grouch: Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

In July, 60 Minutes ran an episode featuring a segment on the troop surge in Afghanistan and an in-depth profile of Penelope Cruz. At the end of the show, a 91-year-old man dumped the contents of his kitchen drawer onto a desk to complain. ?In the past few years, I?ve bought three can openers and none of them work,? Andy Rooney said, in a tone of absolute disgust. ?Two of these for cutting spongecake!? And so it's gone nearly every Sunday night since 1978. At first, Rooney came across like Grandpa Simpson, rambling but kindly. But in recent years, he's begun to resemble a crazed dadaist: He devoted one segment to a history of his desk. He's become that network rarity — an unedited, undirected, uncancelable mess, a mash-up of Strom Thurmond and Larry David. And he's going to keep right on going, at least for another 30 years or so. ANDY GREENE

The Best of Fall TV 2010

Goldstein/NBC(30 Rock), Patton/NBC(Pudi), Vespa/WireImage(Buscemi)

The Best of Fall TV 2010

To read the rest of the Fall TV special, you must be a subscriber to All Access. Already a subscriber? Continue on to The Archives. Not a member and want to learn more? Go to our All Access benefits page.

• The Mad Scientist: Dr. Walter Bishop, Fringe

• The Washed-Up Jerk: Kenny, Eastbound & Down

• The Below-Average Guy: Chumlee, Pawn Stars

• The Power Couple: Jack and Avery, 30 Rock

• The Boss: Nucky Thompson, Boardwalk Empire

• The Vulcan: Abed, Community

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Photo courtesy of FX

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

"We never think, 'How can we get more outrageous or outdo ourselves?'," says It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator and actor Rob McElhenney. "We try to think about what in American culture is simply taboo; things that are talked about in living rooms and barrooms but not on television. It's very easy to get mean-spirited because of the personalities of the characters, but it's important to us that the show itself never comes across as mean spirited."

Video: Gay marriage, mysterious pregnancy and more — your sneak peek of the new season

And catch up with your favorite episodes when Season 5 comes out on DVD Sept. 14