TV Talk: The New Fall TV Season – New Show Overview (2007)
Instead of doing reviews for every new pilot I watched over the past couple of weeks (which I really didn’t have time for), I figured I’d just combine them all into mini-reviews in one post, judging each on whether or not I would continue watching the series. Each series will be listed in the order in which its pilot debuted, along with the network and time slot it occupies.
Tell Me You Love Me: HBO, Sunday 9:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 9
Starring: Jane Alexander, Ally Walker, Tim DeKay, Sonya Walger, Adam Scott, Michelle Borth, Luke Kirby
Created by: Cynthia Mort
Series in a nutshell: A frank look at the relationships and sexual dysfunction of three couples going through couples therapy. With lots o’ graphic sex.
This show is already four episodes in, but I figure most people get their HBO through DVD or… other non-broadcast means that might not be exactly legal (I get premium cable shows through Movie Central up here in Canada), so I thought I’d weigh in on this show in case anyone was thinking about renting or downloading it down the road. My advice: don’t. The show is a glacially-paced depiction of the problems of six unlikable, upper middle-class white people that could basically be solved if the couples ever, you know, TALKED to each other. Yes, there is some very graphic sex on display, to the degree where it’s tough to tell where the actors’ various bits are going besides into each other, but it’s stripped of almost all its eroticism, and comes off as rather cold and clinical. I was so detached from it all during the pilot that it took me a few minutes to register that I had just seen a money shot on television. I stopped watching after the pilot, so I can’t say whether or not the show figuratively, along with literally, shot its wad in the first episode, but I can say that watching this with my wife would’ve led to some uncomfortable conversations that really weren’t worth the trouble (as watching things like this tends to make her look for problems in our relationship where there aren’t any).
Verdict: Stopped watching after the pilot. With this and the impenetrable John From Cincinnati, HBO is really struggling in the post-Sopranos era.
K-Ville: Fox, Monday 9:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 17
Starring: Anthony Anderson, Cole Hauser, Blake Shields, Tawny Cypress, John Carroll Lynch
Created by: Jonathan Lisco
Series in a nutshell: Buddy cop action/drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans.
I already reviewed this episode in depth here. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t come back for the second episode.
Verdict: Was ready to stop watching after 15 minutes, but stuck out one episode. The worst new show of the season that I’ve seen so far.
Gossip Girl: CW, Wednesday 9:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 19
Starring: Blake Lively, Chace Crawford, Connor Paolo, Ed Westwick, Kristen Bell, Kelly Rutherford, Leighton Meester, Matthew Settle
Created by: Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, and Cecily von Ziegesar (Book)
Series in a nutshell: Based on the teen novels of the same name, the show follows the lives of rich socialite teens from New York’s Upper East Side as told by the gossipy blog of the same name.
Here’s the deal: I liked The O.C. for its first two seasons. It was fresh, fun, and reasonably intelligent for the genre. Since Gossip Girl is also from Josh Schwartz (who created The O.C.), I figured I’d give it a shot in the hopes that it could accomplish the same thing. Plus, it features Kristen Bell as the title character (in voiceover form only), so I had to see if it was worthy of her. Turns out that Gossip Girl is exactly what you’d assume to be, and no better. Hateful rich brats texting and whining their way through their overprivileged lives. Honestly, I don’t even feel right about judging the show, since I’m so not its target audience (despite the fact that I just said that I “so” wasn’t something in a blog). But, if you were wondering if it had something to offer people outside its demographic and managed to rise above its genre, the answer is a resounding no.
Verdict: Won’t be watching any more, even after sticking around for two episodes (mostly because of my wife).
Chuck: NBC, Monday 8:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 24
Starring: Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, Joshua Gomez, Sarah Lancaster, Ryan McPartlin, Matthew Bomer
Created by: Josh Schwartz
Series in a nutshell: Slacker-nerd Chuck accidentally downloads top secret information into his brain, making him a valuable asset to the CIA and NSA and thrusting him into the world of national security espionage.
I wasn’t all that psyched to see this show in the first place, but was eventually worn down by the constant promos (which were pretty annoying) and significant buzz to at least check it out. After doing so, I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed. The show comes off as a self-conscious, overly pithy attempt to capitalize on the geek chic movement that made Heroes the surprise hit of last year (CBS is doing the same with the terrible-looking The Big Bang Theory). The show tries to combine comedy and action, but the comedy isn’t all that good, and the action ends up seeming ridiculous in context with the show. I’m surprised that this is an hour-long show, cause it feels like a high-concept sitcom in the My Name is Earl mode. It might’ve even worked for me as a half-hour, but as is, the whole thing feels too winking and calculated.
Verdict: Not a terrible show, but not one I’m interested in watching.
Reaper: CW, Tuesday 9:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 25
Starring: Bret Harrison, Ray Wise, Tyler Labine, Rick Gonzalez, Donavon Stinson, Missy Peregrym, Allison Hossack, Andrew Airlie
Created by: Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters
Series in a nutshell: Slacker Sam’s casual life is interrupted when he turns 21, and learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil. He now must serve as a bounty hunter for Satan, tracking down souls that have escaped from Hell.
A big reason why I’m not interested in watching Chuck is that it and Reaper are pretty much the same show, simply replacing spies for the supernatural, and Reaper is far and away the better show. As with Chuck, I wasn’t that interested in checking out Reaper, but I did, and I’m glad I did. The surprise of the season, and a challenger for the early title of best new show, Reaper does everything right that Chuck does wrong, serving as a spiritual descendant of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, albeit with a much more comedic tone. The pilot was fun, funny, and unique, offering promise that it will have interesting directions to go in future episodes (if it doesn’t get cancelled first). Also, Ray Wise as the Devil is the best casting of the new season.
Verdict: Really enjoyed it and am excited for how much better it can get. Recommended.
Bionic Woman: NBC, Wednesday 9:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 26
Starring: Michelle Ryan, Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, Katee Sackhoff, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Sheppard
Created by: David Eick
Series in a nutshell: A remake of the 70s tv series of the same name, the series follows a woman. Who is bionic.
Going into the season, before I started reading fall TV previews and such, this was the only show I was interested in seeing. After NBC’s success with Heroes and all the raves I’ve read about Battlestar Galactica (I don’t watch that show, but I probably will someday), I thought that it had a good chance to be the next must watch appointment show. It still might be, but not if it’s anything like its pilot, which was pretty awful. There were a lot of problems with the pilot, almost all related to writing. The biggest problem was probably that they decided to do four episodes of story in one episode, rendering all dialogue into exposition and all plot rushed and completely lacking in development. In one episode, Jamie Sommers goes from shiftless bartender, to crash victim, to horrified science experiment, to inexperienced superhero, to reconciled girlfriend, to ass kicker, to government agent. At no point does the show give the audience a chance to sympathize with the character or care about her situation. The worst part was when she was running with her new legs, and the little girl in the car was all “I just thought it was cool that a girl could do that”. UGH. Terrible writing. We get it, you’re trying for a girl power thing. Now shut up.
Verdict: I’m gonna check out another episode in the hopes that it will get better now that the origin story is over, but if the pilot is any indication, I won’t be watching for long.
Private Practice: ABC, Wednesday 9:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 26
Starring: Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald, Paul Adelstein, KaDee Strickland, Chris Lowell
Created by: Shonda Rhimes
Series in a nutshell: Dr. Addison Montgomery-Sheppard leaves Seattle Grace for a Los Angeles co-op wellness center and wacky hi-jinx ensue.
When I heard about the plan for a Grey’s Anatomy spin-off starring Kate Walsh‘s Addison, I didn’t think it was a good idea. I was already tiring of Grey’s proper, so I really didn’t see the need to double its content, or divide the attentions of series creator Shonda Rhimes (even though Walsh was my favourite performer on Grey’s). Then I watched the pseudo-pilot mashed into a Grey’s episode last year, and thought it god awful. But I figured I’d give the pilot proper a shot, figuring that it could improve on what didn’t work, and might’ve suffered from trying to fit into the tone of a different show. Nope. It was just as stupid the second time around, and for me, there won’t be a third. Almost as bad an hour of television as was K-Ville, the whole thing came off as a silly David E. Kelley knock-off, and I tired of that guy’s shtick somewhere around the third season of Ally McBeal.
Verdict: Abysmal. Not only will I not be watching the spin-off, I’m that much closer to cutting out Grey’s Anatomy from my life as well.
Dirty Sexy Money: ABC, Wednesday 10:00p (60 minutes)
Debuted: September 26
Starring: Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, Natalie Zea, Glenn Fitzgerald, Samaire Armstrong, Seth Gabel, Zoe McLellan, Jill Clayburgh
Created by: Craig Wright
Series in a nutshell: After the death of his father, altruist lawyer Nick George takes a job with his father’s former employer, a wealthy, powerful, and famous family full of problems.
A primetime soap opera with all the trappings of the genre, including a glimpse into the lives of the rich and beautiful and various racy storylines, Dirty Sexy Money managed to rise above its lurid plots and terrible title to deliver one of the better pilots of the season. It doesn’t quite rise above its genre, so if you’re not into soapy dramas then you won’t be into this, but it was a lot of fun. Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh all add a touch of class to the proceedings, with a pilot that really zips along while making us interested in what happens next. A very pleasant surprise.
Verdict: I’ll definitely be watching this. I just hope it doesn’t devolve too quickly and get too silly.
There you are, eight new shows, and I’ll only continue watching three of them (with one of those three very much on the bubble). I’ve got a few more new shows to catch this week (including Journeyman, which debuted last week but I haven’t had the chance to watch yet), so I might do one more of these previews, and hope to catch one or two more great shows.