Friday, August 18, 2006

New fall TV shows

With the fall TV season looming, there doesn't seem to be a lot to get excited about. Here, however, are five shows that sound promising enough to at least not make me get queasy.

1. Studio 60

This one wouldn't even make the list if it weren't for Aaron Sorkin. "The West Wing" was one of the best shows on the air until he left, and his previous "Sports Night" was even better.

"Studio 60" is definitely more in the "Sports Night" vein, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the weekly workings of a "Saturday Night Live"-style show.

As far as I can tell so far, it's about two up-and-coming filmmakers (Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford) who are brought into become showrunners at the place their careers started. They will surely clash with the required network executive, the always sexy Amanda Peet. Other promising cast members include Steven Weber, D.L. Hughley and Timothy Busfield.

This all sounds terribly familiar, but Sorkin always keeps things fast and often very funny. I'll be tuning in 10 p.m. Mondays on NBC for this one.

2. Jericho

I have trouble getting attached to serial dramas with intriguing premises due to my (thoroughly rational) fear that they will be cancelled just as I get interested. I'll still take the chance on CBS' "Jericho," and just hope for the best.

As best as I can tell, as the series opens, a small town in Kansas loses all communication with everything beyond its city limits just as a huge mushroom cloud appears over Denver. Among the many odd things happening all at once is the fact that the mushroom cloud registers no radiation whatsoever.

Skeet Ulrich is your requisite man with a mysterious past, and I don't recognize any of the other names in this large ensemble. It all sounds properly creepy to me, and I need a good sci fi fix each fall, so I'll be there for this one at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS.

3. Heroes

This one seems to be "Unbreakable" as group phenomenon, but it somehow intrigues me quite a bit.

In it, a group of fairly ordinary (but surely extraordinarily attractive) people find out at the same time that they have superpowers. An artist-addict finds he's clairvoyant, a cop discovers he can read minds, a cheerleader discovers an ability to heal her injuries, etc. Beyond the fact that, well, I just like superheroes, the large number of scenarios (there are five other characters with newfound powers) should make for some good storytelling.

Milo Ventimiglia, aka Rory Gilmore's former paramour Jess Mariano, and Ali Larter lead the cast which will surely be filled with familiar TV faces. Tune in at 9 p.m. Mondays on NBC to find out just where this all goes.

4. Runaway

The CW's only new drama sounds like a sure winner to me. It starts with a lawyer who is framed for the murder of his rather beautiful co-worker and forced to go on the run with his family in tow.

What should make this a lot of fun, beyond the "Fugitive"-style intrigue, is that his family is suitably pissed off at this rather sudden upheaval. The son is angry because he had to ditch his hot cheerleader girlfriend to share a room with his brother in the middle of nowhere, and the wife is of course none-too-happy that it's her husband's wandering eye (and perhaps hands) that caused it all.

Donnie Wahlberg will play the dad, and Leslie Hope, who you'll remember from the first season of "24" as Jack Bauer's wife, plays the wife. Tune in for some serious family dysfunction. This one will air opposite "Heroes" on Monday nights on the new CW.

5. "Gilmore Girls"/"Veronica Mars"

OK, so these aren't new shows, but it is a shrewd packaging by the CW that makes Tuesday nights, for me, the best TV night of the week.

When we left the Gilmores, Lorelai had delivered an ultimatum to elope to Luke, which he expectedly rejected. Logan took off for London, leaving Rory behind at Yale. As the finale ended, we see Lorelai back in the arms of Christopher, though we don't know if there was any good lovin' or not.

I know this all sounds awfully soapy (and frankly, girly), but so what. It's the funniest, smartest show on TV, and it needs a bigtime recovery following what was an unsteady season six. I'm confident the Gilmores are in for a big comeback.

I first tuned into "Veronica Mars" to fill the "Buffy" void, but soon fell in love with the show on its own merits. Kristen Bell is perfect as our hero who, like Buffy, of course, is a crimefighter who somehow manages to make time for high school in her spare time. It's all very sharply written, and the plot should just keep getting thicker as the show enters its third season this fall.

Tune in to the CW Tuesdays for "Gilmore Girls" at 8 and stick around for "Veronica Mars" at 9. I guarantee you'll be glad you did.

Well, those are the new (and not-so-new) shows I'll be checking out this fall. If there are any new, promising shows I've missed, please feel free to let me know.


Chi-Chi said...

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Anonymous said...

"...the always sexy Amanda Peet"

Too true!

I don't watch much TV, but I'm definitely intrigued by Heroes. That and Lost are probably the only thing I'll watch regularly.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm truly ashamed that I have missed out on Lost, Bill ... I didn't watch at the beginning, and since it seems to have key details added each week, I didn't want to get in in the middle and just be, well, lost ... If they put out season two early enough that I can watch the first two seasons before season three starts up this fall, then I'll jump on board

Sameer Vasta said...

I really hope NBC scores big with Heroes, it looks promising. Some of my favorite shows are on NBC (Scrubs, L&O:SVU) but I know the network has been hurting for some time now.

Unknown said...

As much as a couple of these shows actually appeal to me, I'm going to be good and not get hooked on anything this coming season. I say that now. I know it's going to be hard but I'm gonna try. After all, I'm still totally hooked on "Big Love"

Have a great weekend!

Reel Fanatic said...

You too, Marina .. I skipped out on Big Love, but I'm gonna take the plunge with several shows this fall

J.D. said...

I can't wait for "Heroes."

And I'm with you on "Gilmore Girls." I'm a very masculine man, and I love that friggin' show. It's one of my absolute favorites.

Terence Towles Canote said...

Right now the only two shows I am excited about is Studio 60 (because of Sorkin, naturally) and Smith (I've always had a thing for caper movies and between China Beach, ER, and The West Wing, producer John Wells has a good track record). Heroes sounds like it could be interesting, but too often television's treatment of superhuman characters has left something to be desired. Jericho has possibilities, but I don't know if the concept can carry a whole season, let alone several. I guess we'll see. (-:

Reel Fanatic said...

Smith is one that almost made my list, Mercurie .. I'm a sucker for a good caper, too, so I'll definitely give it a try

TacoDave said...

Veronica Mars is so awesome!

The dialogue is witty, the story arcs are intriguing - the lead actress is hot... What more could you want?

Watch it, people, so it doesn't disappear!

Reel Fanatic said...

I can't think of anything, Taco Dave .. I think the viewership will grow now that it's packaged with the Gilmores

Mike Belding said...

sports night was my favorite show when it was alive, and this new show also looks quite promising. hopefully nbc doesn't bog themselves down with two new shows taking place 'behind the scenes' of a late nite comedy sketch show, as they have studio 60 (the drama) and 30 rock (the tina fey written comedy). hopefully they both work.
i have very similar taste in tv and films to you, as presented in your blog, aside from the gilmore girls. friends told me it was worthwhile, so i gave it numerous chances, but the snappy writing seems far too forced, too rolled out like a memorized christmas play. i understand the dialogue needs to be fast paced and witty, but it's unrealistically so. all conversations seem to follow this formula:
rory asks a question
lorelai gives sarcastic retort
rory gives retort to the retort
lorelai answers the question.

that would be fine, once or twice an episode, but when it's every five seconds it wears on me. the worst part of it is that the names could be flipped and the dialogue remains the same; the main characters all have the exact same sense of humour and delivery.
aside from that rant, i do like the story arcs and the writing itself. sorry for venting. haha

Reel Fanatic said...

You're welcome to vent here any time, Get Up Kid ... I can see how people might get tired of the Lorelai-Rory give-and-take, but it has sustained my interest .. plus the show, at least to me, has more interesting characters on it than any show since Northern Exposure, and probably more

Mike Belding said...

i love the characters of kirk, lane, and sometimes paris, but found jess and dean to be terribly boring characters. luckily they're at least gone.

Paj said...

I caught the pilot for Studio 60 a few weeks ago and I'm definitely excited for this show. In preparation for the season, I've been watching SportsNight episodes to get into the Sorkin flow of things again (I wasn't a West Wing Fan). Now if only Sabrina Lloyd could find her way onto the cast...

Reel Fanatic said...

Amen to that, Paj ... I'm glad to hear the pilot is good .. I've also added Sports Night to my Netflix queue as a refresher course in Sorkin

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