Saturday, May 20, 2006

The New Fall Season:

Every year, I enjoy looking ahead at what's coming up on TV and seeing what I think might catch my eye. Usually, there's at least one show I never even heard of until Entertainment Weekly or one of my friends mentioned it to me that gets on my viewing schedule (Veronica Mars, Arrested Development and My Name is Earl are all in that category). The upfronts ended last week, so for those who are interested, here's my take on TV starting in the fall.

After last year's supremely lame offerings (were there *any* good new shows on the networks last year, aside from stuff on F/X, and midseason replacement The Unit?), I was pretty pleased. There's a good eight or nine shows I think could be good, and odds are good at least one or two of them actually won't suck.

Monday 9 Heroes (NBC)
Monday 9 24 (NBC) - January

HEROES (NBC) is probably doomed, but that could be a good thing, as it'll clear my schedule for 24 in January. With Greg Grunnberg in, Adrian Pasdar and Ali Larter, and a RISING STARS-esque superhero concept, I'm really anticipating this one, and hoping it'll: A) be good B) survive if it is.

Tuesday 8 Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Tuesday 8 Standoff (FOX)

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS sounds potentially very interesting, and I like Peter Berg, but STANDOFF sounds more interesting, because it's got Ron Livingston and Gina Torres and is about hostage negotiators, which engages me more than high school football. Either one could wind up being very good.

Tuesday 9 The Unit (CBS)
Tuesday 9 Veronica Mars (CW)
Tuesday 9 Let's Rob Mick Jagger (ABC)

One of two contested spots for me this season, with three shows on at the same time that I might want to watch. I'm not big on sitcoms these days, but I do like heists and spoofs and Donal Logue, so LET'S ROB MICK JAGGER gets my attention... of course, it's on against both THE UNIT and VERONICA MARS, so I'll never see it unless I download it.

Tuesday 10 Smith (CBS)

SMITH sounds potentially good, if only because I'd like to see if Ray Liotta can manage a Kiefer Sutherland-esque transition from OK movie actor to great TV actor. And I like criminal/heist stories.

Wednesday 8 Jericho (CBS)

JERICHO has a neat premise, but like INVASION, does seem like it's trying too hard to echo the success of LOST. I hold out a slim chance it could be good, but more than likely it's going to be weak genre second helpings.

Wednesday 9 Lost (ABC)
Wednesday 9-9:30 20 Good Years/30 Rock
Wednesday 9 Justice (FOX)

Wednesday at 9 is the other (moderately) competitive spot this season. 30 ROCK and 20 GOOD YEARS, both of which sound potentially entertaining, JUSTICE (which is yet another legal drama, but it has Victor Garber and Eamonn Walker in it)... I might watch either one in different time slots, but up against LOST? Forget it.

Wednesday 10 The Nine (ABC)

THE NINE: It's all in the character stuff, though, just like LOST. I'm not wildly enthusiastic, but seeing people pick up their lives after a traumatic event has potential, and the cast (Chi McBride, Tim Daly and a *ton* of VM and 24 vets) has potential as well.

Thursday 8 Big Day (ABC)
Thursday 8 My Name is Earl (NBC)
Thursday 8:30 Notes From The Underbelly (ABC)

BIG DAY (up against MY NAME is EARL, but that's not a deal-killer) and NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY are my sitcom picks to try out this year. But then, wedding day and upcoming baby are relatively recent events in my life, so I can relate to both. And I like Wendie Malick (BIG DAY) and Rachael Harris (UNDERBELLY). My expectations are that neither will really grab me, but I'll give them a look. Honestly, after the death of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, I've started to doubt any sitcom that's successful will ever catch on with me again. My tastes in comedy clearly run far outside the mainstream.

Thursday 9 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP is the closest thing you can find to a sure thing, quality-wise. It may not get the ratings, that's a crapshoot, but Sorkin's record on TV is spotless, and the cast and premise sound fantastic. I'm legitimately excited about that one.

Thursday 10 Six Degrees (ABC)
Thursday 10 The Black Donnellys (NBC/Jan)
Thursday 10 Shark (CBS)

SIX DEGREES - I'm mildly interested because of Abrams and it's a decent cast and premise... but it's gone as soon as THE BLACK DONNELLYS (new TV from Paul Haggis!) premieres in January. I'll probably watch the season premiere of SHARK, since it's going to be directed by Spike Lee, but for now, legal dramas and cop dramas need not apply to the Lander household. We're full.

All in all, I'm optimistic. 4 number of returning shows that are creatively high right now for me (LOST, VERONICA MARS, 24 and THE UNIT), plus 7 shows that I think have the potential to be great (HEROES, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, STANDOFF, SMITH, JERICHO, THE NINE, SIX DEGREES), 2 I think could be good (SHARK and JUSTICE) and 2 I'm almost sure will be great (STUDIO 60, BLACK DONNELLYS)? And that doesn't even include HBO or F/X (which should start running THE SHIELD, my favorite show on TV, again either at Fall or in January). Pretty good odds for TV. Certainly better odds than we're getting for great comics right now.

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