It’s that time of the year again. The major networks roll out a slew of new shows, hoping that one or two of them will be the next Friends or Grey’s Anatomy, and none of them will suffer the same fate as Viva Laughlin. Throughout the course of the week, the Popdose staff will be posting first reaction reviews to the new shows appearing on the four major networks. Here’s a preview of those shows.
The Event (9:00, NBC)– FlashForward failed to capture the attention of the viewing public, but NBC still went ahead with this serialized thriller/drama starring Blair Underwood as the President, Jason Ritter as an everyman searching for his missing girlfriend, ER’s Laura Innes (nice to see her in front of the camera again) as a detainee in a mysterious military prison, and the always great Zeljko Ivanek (Damages, Homicide) as sinister CIA man. Hopefully this show will learn from the mistakes that FlashForward and Heroes made and place an emphasis on character rather than plot. I personally think that the series success will hinge on Ritter. He has already proven that he can play someone you root for and could fall in love with (last year on Parenthood); here’s hoping that the producers of The Event utilize his appeal and give him something dramatic to sink his teeth into.
Lone Star (9:00,Fox) — A con man (James Wolk) leads two lives. In this corner, he’s married to a rich, young woman (Friday Night Lights’ Adrianne Palicki) and working for her father (Oscar winner Jon Voight) at his oil company. In the other corner, he has a girlfriend that he loves just as much as his wife (Eloise Mumford) and he’s running a long con with his dear old dad (veteran character actor David Keith). Lone Star has the potential to be a great nighttime soap.
Mike and Molly (9:30,CBS) – A new sitcom from Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) about two overweight adults who fall in love after meeting at Overeaters Anonymous. He’s a cop, she’s a schoolteacher; fat jokes and hilarity ensue. I don’t know much of the work of Billy Gardell (“Mike”), but Melissa McCarthy (“Molly”) has been a favorite of mine ever since her days on Gilmore Girls.
Hawaii Five-O (10:00,CBS) — CBS reboots the cop classic, this time with Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight), Scott Caan (Entourage, Ocean’s Eleven) and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost). Note that Kono is no longer a burly Polynesian dude, but a hot, bikini clad Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica). The network has put a lot of muscle behind this series, hiring Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Fringe) to help reimagine the show and Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard and the Underwold movies) to direct the pilot. Hawaii Five-O should have something for everyone: O’Loughlin brooding and walking around with his shirt off, Scott Caan mouthing off like a smartass, Kim acting soulful, Park acting sassy and sporting a two-piece whenever called upon, and of course, the coolest theme song on television. Everything points to this show being a hit, especially with the choice timeslot following CBS’ Monday night comedies.
Chase (10:00, NBC) –The trailer for this series pretty much tells you everything you need to know. It’s another Bruckheimer action show, this one about U.S. Marshals tracking down fugitives. I suppose that those people hurting for some 24-style action may flock to Chase, but I suspect that it will not do well against Hawaii Five-O. Although Kelli Giddish as lead character Annie Frost seems intriguing, the rest of the show seems very “been there/done that.”
No Ordinary Family (8:00, ABC)– The commish — er, Michael Chiklis — stars in the TV version of the Fantastic Fo – I mean, a show about a family of four who are suddenly blessed/cursed with super powers. Dad (Chiklis) becomes super strong; Mom (Julie Benz of Dexter) can suddenly run at super speed; daughter (Kay Panabaker) can read minds, and son (Jimmy Bennett) becomes a genius. One of the shows executive producers is Greg Berlanti, who knows a thing or two about family dramas, having created Everwood and helped develop Brothers and Sisters. He also co-wrote the upcoming Green Lantern movie and co-created the underrated Eli Stone, so he’s dealt with fantasy fiction, too. Part of me wants to write this show off because it looks so hokey, but Berlanti has a good track record, so I’m willing to give it a shot.
Raising Hope (9:00, Fox) - A 23-year-old slacker (Lucas Neff) suddenly learns that he’s a dad and he has to care for the baby. He moves in with his weird parents and grandma (played by the legendary Cloris Leachman). Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood) play the parents in a show created by Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl). The trailer promises an irreverent series in the vein of Malcolm in the Middle. I hope so.
Running Wilde (9:30 PM, Fox)– A new sitcom from Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) starring Will Arnett and Keri Russell. Arnett is always funny. I thought Keri Russell was very charming in Bedtime Stories (one of that film’s few high points), so I’m looking forward to this one. If Running Wilde is even half the show Arrested Development was, it’ll be hilarious. Of course, let’s hope that Running Wilde has better ratings than Development — and doesn’t get shuffled around the schedule.
Detroit 1-8-7 (10:00 PM, ABC)– Here’s another hand-held cop drama, this one starring Michael Imperioli. It takes place in Detroit. The original concept was to shoot this series as if a documentary crew was following the cops, something Homicide pulled off in one of their episodes years ago. That idea was scrapped, giving us a gritty show about homicide detectives. The show is shot on location in Detroit, so it should have a look and feel that is unique to television. The vibe I’m getting is something akin to Homicide, which was shot entirely in Baltimore and was a real depiction of detectives, including all of the gallows humor and the methods men and women dealing with death each day go through to deal with human loss. If it turns out to be just another procedural, I’ll be greatly disappointed.
Undercovers (8:00, NBC)– At this point, J.J. Abrams could poop in a cup and one of the networks would put it on their fall schedule. The man is this generation’s Spielberg. His latest drama/adventure is about a married couple (Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who used to be spies, quit to become caterers, but are called back to be spies again. The couple don’t know much about each other’s pasts, so there’s a whole Mr. & Mrs. Smith element that will keep the drama going for awhile. There is a lot of attention being thrust at this show. It’s sad to say this, but it was a bold gesture to cast two black actors as the leads. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but television is pretty homogenized. I think everyone involved and everyone watching is hoping that Undercovers is exciting and dramatic enough to make the casting decision a moot point. I’m rooting for it — are you?
Better with You (8:30, ABC)– JoAnna Garcia (Privileged) is part of this ensemble comedy that focuses on three different stages of relationships. Garcia’s Mia is engaged (to Jake Lacy) after having just met him. They’re in the early, “lovey dovey” stage. Her sister, Maddie (Jennifer Finnigan) has been with the same man for years and has to constantly defend their decision not to get married. This is the “settled in” stage. Her boyfriend is played by Josh Cooke. Finnigan and Cooke once co-starred in the quirky sitcom Committed. They had a good rapport back then; let’s hope it carries over. Rounding out the cast are the ever-funny Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) and Kurt Fuller (who stole every scene he was in on Supernatural) as the girls’ parents. They represent the tired, sometimes bitter, “we’ve been together for many, many years” stage. The trailer makes the series look kind of routine. However, it has a plum spot in ABC’s revamped Wednesday night comedy lineup, so maybe it will get a chance to become something. I hope so — my television always seems brighter when the perky Garcia is on it.
The Whole Truth (10:00, ABC)–Maura Tierney and Rob Morrow star as lawyers on opposite sides of the courtroom. The concept is to show both sides of a case, the prosecution (Tierney) and the defense (Morrow). Tierney stepped in when the original female lead, Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck), had to drop out. It may take a couple episodes before The Whole Truth finds its way, especially since parts of the pilot were reshot when Tierney came aboard. Tierney is a great actress, whether it’s comedy (NewsRadio), drama (ER) or a little of both (Rescue Me), and Morrow is no slouch, either (despite that ridiculous beard). Even though it’s yet another legal show, The Whole Truth has potential.
The Defenders (10:00, CBS)– Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell are a couple of Vegas lawyers. No, seriously. I could make some snide comment like O’Connell has no sex appeal or Belushi has no appeal whatsoever, but someone will just throw the names Rebecca Romijn and According to Jim at me, so I’ll keep my mouth shut.
Law & Order: Los Angeles (10:00, NBC; premieres Sept. 29)–The Law & Order mothership may have gone down, but another offspring pops up in the city of angels. Skeet Ulrich, Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina are the big names that lead the cast. I hear they hired Brian Wilson to add eight part harmony to the “dun-dun.”
My Generation (8:00, ABC)– It was only a matter of time before the cinema verite style of television comedies like The Office and Modern Family was applied to a nighttime drama. My Generation is a faux documentary show about a group of twentysomethings and what they’ve achieved in life since they graduated from high school in the year 2000. (Be prepared to hear plenty of “classic rock” by Soul Asylum and Paula Cole.) The characters have been categorized into stereotypes (“the jock,” “the nerd,” “the heartthrob,” etc.) which makes it look like the writers were going with the most general characters they could come up with to get the show made. That doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence.
$#*! My Dad Says (8:30, CBS)– The Shat stars in a sitcom based on the infamous Twitter account. I like Shatner when he’s being self referential, as in his commercials, or when he’s speaking the words of David E. Kelley or Gene Roddenberry. On a sitcom in which he’s a cantankerous old man? I don’t buy it. This role requires someone like Kurtwood Smith or Jerry Stiller. Of course, those actors have already had their fill of this kind of role, so why continue? The series has the good fortune of airing right after the newly moved The Big Bang Theory, so it could stick around for awhile.
Outsourced (9:30, NBC)– As the preview indicates, a low-level management guy is shipped off to India to run the call center for an American novelties company. With jokes like “It’s like Frogger, but with real people,” I have absolutely no confidence in this series. NBC finally solidified their Thursday night lineup with its strongest slate of shows in years — YEARS! — and they push the hilarious Parks and Recreation to mid-season for this…show. I can’t even come up with a good insult because I’m so pissed.
Blue Bloods (10:00, CBS)- Tom Selleck (the original ‘stache), Donnie Wahlberg (the original New Kid) and Len Cariou (the original Sweeney Todd) appear as three generations of New York cops. Selleck is the police commissioner, Wahlberg his loose cannon detective son, and Cariou the patriarch of the family. The series also features Will Estes (Reunion) as the youngest son, a Harvard law grad turned street cop and Bridget Moynahan (Six Degrees) as the daughter who works for the DA’s office. It’s a show about families, a show about cops, and a show about living in the gray areas of the law. Friday has suddenly become a hotbed for original series. With two solid lead-ins (Medium and CSI: New York) Blue Bloods could stand a chance. Maybe the Friday curse will finally be broken!
Outlaw (10:00 PM, NBC)– Jimmy Smits returns to his birthplace in this series about a Supreme Court Justice who steps down to return to being a lawyer. Only the classy Smits, with his abundance of charisma, could pull off something as preposterous — I mean high concept — as this.