The notion of wacky people living next door is almost as old as the sitcom genre.

"The Neighbors" (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) asks us to imagine a family of brash New Yorkers who move to a sterile New Jersey development by a golf course, only to discover that it's populated entirely by a cult-like clutch of exiled aliens. The aliens have lived there 10 years, awaiting word from their home planet.

The human newcomers are played as broad stereotypes. Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) could be Ralph Kramden's TV grandson. His long-suffering wife, Debbie (Jami Gertz), has the most emotional range here, and that's not saying much. She goes from bossy semi-feminist to "I love you, you lovable lug" affection for her hapless hubby. The kids consist of a petulant teenage girl, a rude video-game-playing boy and a cute younger sister who just tags along.

The strange neighbors are green people in human form who speak in stilted English accents and have the overly polite deference of 19th-century Amish.

They've also adopted names from the sports pages. Group leader Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) is married to Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye), and they have two boys, Dick Butkus and Reggie Jackson. It's funny for about a minute.

The whole enterprise reminds us of what a Tim Burton movie might be like without the strange humanity of Johnny Depp. (And lately, even that's been in short supply.) It also shows why the Coneheads on "Saturday Night Live" were much funnier in a five-minute sketch than in a full-length movie.


Airing right after "Modern Family" and that show's remarkable talent for fleshing out comic stereotypes, "The Neighbors" is almost certain to alienate viewers.

---The new comedy "Guys With Kids" (8:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14) debuts in its regular time slot. The good news: One of the generic husbands is married to a character played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler of "The So pranos." The bad news is she's about as likely to save this stinker as Drea de Matteo was to salvage the wreckage of NBC's "Joey" in the mid-2000s.

---The comedy series "Key & Peele" (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central, TV-MA) returns for a second season, just in time for the November elections.

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele base many of their sketches on the exploration of racial and biracial identity. The comedians' most famous bit features a buttoned-down impersonation of President Barack Obama with his "anger translator," Luther, interpreting his remarks in incendiary ghetto-speak.

They also play two gun-wielding gangsters obsessed with the "Twilight" novels and riff on the ubiquity of haughty British judges on reality shows. Never afraid of pushing buttons, they present a biblical sketch where Jesus encounters Mary Magdalene's pimp, Galilee-on.


---Mike plays favorites on "The Middle" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

---An escaped con leaves his mark on "Criminal Minds" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

---Cragen's crisis and a new captain (Adam Baldwin) are raising tensions on "Law & Order: Spe cial Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

---Gloria doesn't know how to break the big news on "Modern Family" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

---Russell's granddaughter goes missing on "CSI" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).


---A recap of last season's intrigue and a few peeks at what's coming up on "Revenge" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).


Two men with very different motives seek insights from a shadowy math genius in the audaciously low-budget 1998 thriller "Pi" (8 p.m., The Movie Channel). Director Darren Aronofsky would go on to make "The Wrestler" and "Black Swan," among other films.


---Puppy love on "Animal Practice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG)

---The fall of the Dick Roman Empire on "Supernatural" (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).


---Olivia Wilde is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stew art" (11 p.m., Comedy Central)

---Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Deschanel and Jamie Lee appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS)

---Penny Marshall, Jeff Wild, Ross Mathews and Heather Mc-

Donald are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!)

---Jim Holt sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).

---Sofia Vergara and Jonny Lee Miller appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS)

---Jay Leno welcomes Kirstie Alley, Mike Sorrentino and Richie Sambora on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC)

---Keanu Reeves, Ginnifer Goodwin and Green Day appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC).

---Ricky Gervais, Scott Speedman and Little Big Town visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC)

---Craig Ferguson hosts Jim Parsons and Dispatch on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at