I’m not a huge fan of TV dramas. I tend to get invested in characters only to see really good, innovative and groundbreaking series cancelled due to lack of ratings. *cough* “Boomtown” *cough* “Life” *cough* “Journeyman” *cough* “Human Target” *cough*
My finger isn’t exactly on the pulse of the mainstream. But I watch them (well, most of them) to see for myself which one will break my heart next.
“Person of Interest”
CBS, Thursdays, 9/8
For those of you who miss “The Human Target,” “Person of Interest” fills the void quite nicely. There isn’t as much humor, but there are so few shows these days that feature a guy who can enter a room full of thugs, beat them all down with a briefcase and walk away without killing anyone or getting scratched.
The premise is intriguing. After 9/11, the government developed a machine that monitors all communications, security cameras, text messages, cellphone calls and everything else. It looks for terrorist activity and divides everything into two categories: relevant (terrorism) and irrelevant (everything else). The irrelevant data is erased each day. Or that’s what the government thinks.
Instead, the irrelevant data is sorted and sent to the original programmer in the form of a list of social security numbers. The number at the top of the list represents a person who has some connection to a violent crime that has yet to be committed. So, that person gets stalked until we figure out if they’re the victim or the criminal and then doors get kicked in and people get beat up with briefcases. It’s all quite exciting and fun.
Oh, and if it’s Mark Valley you’re missing from “Human Target,” he just joined the cast of “Harry’s Law” as a different lawyer than the one he played on “Boston Legal.” Personally, I miss “Keen Eddie.”
CBS, Sundays, 10/9
This is a period piece about the long-gone airline and how, in the 1960s, people treated flying as an occasion worthy of wearing one’s Sunday best. I like Christina Ricci very much, but she’s going to have to turn down the doe eyes (or I’m going to have to work out some sort of filter on my TV). She occasionally looks like an anime character.
I like this weirdly sanitized version of the 1960s where no one smokes and an airline stewardess might just be a courier for the CIA. “Pan Am” follows four stewardesses as they jet-set across the globe finding adventure, when they’re not being harassed by the company snitch during their pre-flight weigh-in and girdle check. There is international intrigue, cool locations, some historical recreations and at least one overly aggressive passenger getting jabbed with a serving fork. I like it.
Fox, Mondays, 8/7
We all knew this one was going to be a spectacle. First off, it stars Jason O’mara who we last saw in “Life on Mars” in which he played a cop who travels back in time. In “TerraNova” he . . . well . . . plays a cop who travels back in time. This time, instead of the 1970s, it is a parallel Earth some 35 million years in the past. I don’t like the kids, not crazy about the wife or the oldest son’s love interest. But the plots have been interesting so far and the effects are pretty incredible.
What the series really needs a cool villain.
NBC, Thursdays, 10/9
This is not your British grandmother’s “Prime Suspect.” For one thing, Detective Jane Timoney doesn’t take an entire season to solve a murder. She wraps it up in about an hour. She’s tough, she’s quick, she’s trying to quit smoking and she looks good in a fedora. I like this show a lot, but I put it in the “meh” category because it is another in a long line of cop procedurals without much to distinguish it from every other one. Ooooh, there’s a woman detective in homicide. Just like in “Castle” today or “Police Woman” back when my dad was in control of what TV shows I watched.
It’s 2011. Is it really all that novel to have a female lead in a police procedural? Nope. Does every female homicide detective have to be harassed by the men on the force? Yeah, most of the time (not so much on “Castle”). I have yet to see that “ah-hah” episode that’s going to make this series stand out from the hundreds that have come and gone before it. It is a well-written, gritty police drama. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll find something to like here.
CBS, Tuesdays, 10/9
Hey look! It’s a police drama with a woman detective. The difference here is that she has a rare condition that makes it impossible for her to forget what she sees. She can remember everything that’s ever happened to her except for the day her sister was murdered. Oh, and her mother is in a nursing home and can’t remember anything. I like the show because Poppy Montgomery is amazingly hot and she wears a lot of tank tops. That might be enough to carry the series (if I were in charge it would be) but I doubt it.
Last season Dr. House had a patient with the same condition. She had a problem with forgiving people who had slighted her because her memory of it was always fresh on her mind. In “Unforgettable,” she mostly uses it to count cards and remember mysterious shadows and objects that were different the last time she was there.
The new “Lost?”
A “Bones” spin-off with only a tangential connection to the original series.
“Once Upon A Time”
ABC, Sunday, 8/7
I sometimes wonder if TV writers all share the same water cooler. That’s how we get evil twin brunettes on “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeanie” in the same season.
NBC, Friday, 9/8
“The Playboy Club”
The cancelation isn’t all that surprising, seeing as how I couldn’t make it through the entire pilot. It had the professional tongue cluckers in a lather, worrying that it might be too sexy for network television. They shouldn’t have bothered. It was too boring to capture anyone’s attention for very long.
Couldn’t make it through the pilot, so I figured it was doomed. How do you make a show about three sexy women who kick butt and solve crimes and make it suck so bad? *cough* “Snoops” *cough*
After a Marine sergeant is rescued from al Queda, he comes home to a hero’s welcome. Of course during his 8-year stay as a POW, he may or may not have been turned. One woman at the CIA thinks so and sets up illegal surveillance on him to make sure. The Marines want him back, but they don’t see him praying to Allah in his garage. It’s all very psychological and thrilling and has a gloomy Mandy Patankin in it.
Kelsey Grammar plays the mayor of Chicago with a rare and debilitating brain disease that is slowly killing him. It’s good to see him stretch out and flex his acting muscles and playing the heavy. It’s an election year and Chicago isn’t exactly known for having free and fair elections (especially on TV). We’re still too early in the series to know if it will be any good, but I enjoyed the pilot, which Starz made available to non-subscribers via OnDemand.
“A Gifted Man”
CBS, Fridays 8/7
This isn’t written for me and, as much as I’d like to say I’ve reviewed it and found it wanting, I can’t bring myself to bother (at least not yet). A surgeon’s wife dies and her ghost helps him with his patients. I envision lots of soft light, lonely stares out of windows and good-natured friends trying to get him to move on. Pass.
ABC, Wednesdays, 10/9
I hear good things, but I can’t believe most of them because I hear them on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” I will probably get around to watching this, but I’m betting it gets canceled before I bother.
First off, it has been too long between posts. I know. I suck. But it is the Fall TV season, which means new shows. I love this time of year. I get genuinely excited at having something new to watch on TV. This is my SuperBowl. As always, I watch them all so you don’t have to. Let’s start with the new batch of sitcoms.
“The New Girl”
F0x, Wednesdays, 9:30/8:30
I love this show, which means it’s probably doomed. But I bet they get at least two seasons out of it. Zooey Deschanel plays Jess Day, a single gal who just got out of a bad relationship (of six years) and has moved into a really cool apartment with three guys: Schmitt, a thumb-ring-wearing, gym rat with a cadre of d-bag friends; Nick, who is still trying to get over his bad break up; and Winston, an out-of-work pro basketball player (in Latvia). Jess is a nrrrd grrl who negotiates her way through life by making Lord of the Rings references and constantly singing her own theme song.
It is clever, funny and one of the best new shows out there. So, like I said, doomed.
ABC, Wednesdays 8:30/7:30
George discovers that his teenage daughter Tessa has an unopened box of condoms in her room. He freaks and moves the two of them from Manhattan to the suburbs. There she is thrown into a microcosm of mean girls, desperate housewives and Heathers. The writing is good, the acting is spot on and the first two episodes made me laugh out loud. Tessa is the narrator of what seems to be an anthropology report about the weird people and customs she finds in suburbia. Extra points for the supporting cast which includes Cheryl Hines and Noah Werner.
“2 Broke Girls”
CBS, Mondays, 8:30/7:30
This is one of two shows created by very funny comic Whitney Cummings. This is the better of the two. It is a gal-pal comedy about Max, a fierce New York waitress struggling to get by and her new co-worker and roommate Caroline, an heiress to a fortune that recently vanished in scandal and ignominy. They work at a diner, saving up their tips so they can open a cupcake store. It sounds worse than it is. The dialogue is snappy and the stories (at least the first two episodes) are funny. I’m not sure how long they can maintain Caroline’s privileged naiveté or Max’s aggressive stand-offishness. A second season is doubtful and that’s too bad.
“How to Be a Gentleman”
CBS, Thursday, 8:30/7:30
I wanted to like this show. I really did. but it’s just not very funny. It’s about a magazine columnist (is that even a real thing anymore?) who writes about how to be a gentleman. The magazine is bought out and they want more columns about where to get good bottle service and less about where to buy shirts with French cuffs. So, he turns to his high school bully to help him. It is worse than it sounds. Pass.
“Up All Night”
NBC, Wednesdays 8/7
Christina Applegate and Will Arnet play new parents struggling with sleep deprivation, growing older and balancing work and family. They are funny together, but I feel like I’ve seen this before. The best thing about this show is Maya Rudolph as talk show host “Vera.”
NBC, Thursdays, 9:30/8:30
Whitney Cummings’ other (and lesser) series is based on her stand-up comedy. At its bones it is a relationship sitcom. It wants you to think that it is a new take, but it really isn’t. She and her live-in boyfriend struggle with the usual fare: he’s attracted to an attractive woman, she wants to spice up the relationship, guys don’t understand girls and vice versa. NBC must have high hopes as they’re using “The Office” as a lead in, but that didn’t help “Outsourced” very much, did it?
The Waiting In The Wings:
“Last Man Standing”
ABC, Tuesdays, 8/7
Is anyone really pining to see Tim Allen return to series television? I fully expect this show will help fill out the bad section after it premiers.
ABC, Tuesday, 8:30/7:30
I don’t know anything about this show other than what’s on the web site. Three guys trying to find love in a modern worl…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
NBC, Wednesday, 8/7
Ouch. Hank Azaria’s sitcom about a pr/marketing/advertising agent getting over a messy divorce, sleeping with an office colleague and trying to . . . oh who cares. It’s canceled. You can’t even find it on the NBC home page anymore. I laughed at the pilot, loved Natasha Leggero as the saucy executive assistant and Al Madrigal as the dopey married guy.