As a self-proclaimed television aficionado, you’d think I’d be more upset about the writers strike. Let’s face it, aside from the So You Think You Can Dance fetish, I’m pretty much only interested in scripted television. I should be crying my eyes out. But while I’m following the strike coverage religiously (Deadline Hollywood Daily, dudes), I’m perfectly content to miss out on the 2008 season. Doesn’t bother me at all. So what’s going on here?
1. A really weak pilot season. None of the year’s new shows were particularly thrilling. The only ones I still watch regularly are Dirty Sexy Money and Pushing Daisies, and I sort of want to love those shows more than I actually do, you know? I loved Mad Men, but it finished its run mid-fall. My parents adore The Big Bang Theory. It’s cute, but I don’t need to watch it every week. They’re more into it, I decided, because they don’t know any super geeks. I do, so watching fictional geeks is considerably less thrilling. So, yeah. Big yawn to the new shows. And I have extremely low expectations for the ones yet to air (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cashmere Mafia, whatever).
2. No exciting cliffhangers. As for the other shows I watch, I’m happy to press the pause button on their current plotlines. In previous years, I was into heavily serialized shows like Veronica Mars, Alias and Lost. I would’ve been irate if the networks put Logan in jail or left Vaughn caught in the throes of some Rambaldi device and then left me hanging for months on end. But this year, I don’t really have a must-see heart-pounding drama. I love Friday Night Lights, but c’mon, it’s just football. Heroes is the only show around with life-or-death stakes, and I hate to point this out to you, but Heroes is mediocre. It’s exciting occasionally, and some of the people are pretty, but it’s never awesome. So, yeah, Heroes going off the air for months? I’ll survive.
As for the softer dramas — Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty — no big cliffhangers there either. Sure, McDreamy is flirting with the new nurse, but we the viewers know a stupid plot twist when we see one. It’s not like Meredith has her hand stuck in Bomb Guy’s chest. Now there’s a cliffhanger! Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be as emotionally involved with Grey’s Anatomy again, even if they taped Christina to the front of a speeding train or something. You can’t top Bomb Guy. It’s fourth season, the show’s peaked. It’s all downhill from here.
There’s nothing crazy going on with the half-hour comedy romantic subplots, either — and that’s the Catch-22 with comedies. They’re more accessible to viewers, but people won’t skip happy hour to go home and watch except in two situations: the show’s attained cult social status, or some folks on the show are about to make out. Romantic tension is key. For example, 30 Rock is my favorite show. I’m obsessed. But I’m willing to DVR it. Last season, DVR was unacceptable; I had to watch in real time — because Floyd and Liz were going to hook up. Same thing with Jim and Pam on The Office: they’re together now, so we can all take a deep breath and relax. I can even relax all the way to 2009. As long as I’m assured these shows will come back eventually, I’m happy.
3. College basketball. I mostly watch ACC games during the regular, and this means I’m woefully underinformed when March Madness rolls around. When it comes to the Big East, I’ll end up picking teams with stupid mascot names for my bracket, crap like that. Because normally I’m watching too much TV already to have time for SportsCenter — but this year, there won’t be any good TV to get in the way! It’s all college hoops all the time, baby! (Apologies for channeling Dickie V.)
4. The writers are right.
5. The Wire. I’ve never seen it! I’m going to rent it! I’m pretty excited about it!
I watched the return of the late shows last night — loved that Conan seemed to play by the rules; while clearly there was planning about what went on the air, it didn’t seem as “written” as the Leno material did. And Dave was fantastic, continuing to publicize the writers strike while keeping the material hilarious. Hey, I guess that’s what professional writers are good for!
It’s kind of a casting spoiler, so stop reading now if you don’t want to know which former Lost cast member will appear on the show this season … I said stop reading if you don’t want to know … Harold Perrineau!
Thank goodness. Last season I was extremely pissed about the rumors that Harold was refusing to return for a guest spot after being written off the show, because I felt the fans were “owed” a resolution to Michael’s story. This is a relief — maybe the initial refusal was just due to scheduling problems, maybe the money wasn’t right, maybe he just had a change of heart. Whatever. Thank you, Harold Perrineau!
Here’s the latest on the fate of ABC’s new and returning series:
Dancing with the Stars: Will air a 90-minute show on Monday at 8 pm, then an hour-long show at 9 pm on Tuesday.
Boston Legal: Returning in the fall, will air Tuesday at 10 pm.
Lost: Lost will return with 16 episodes airing straight through, no repeats. It’ll probably start up around February sweeps, and will move back up to 8 or 9 pm on Wednesday.
Ugly Betty: Staying at Thursday at 8 pm.
Grey’s Anatomy: Staying at Thursday at 9 pm.
Men in Trees: Fridays at 8 pm.
Notes from the Underbelly and October Road: Will start midseason, either to fill in during hiatus or in case something gets canceled.
Big Shots: This is the one we’ve been waiting for — Michael Vartan’s return to series television. Haven’t you always been fascinated by the personal dramas of rich white guys? ABC is betting you are, especially when some of those dudes are Dylan McDermott, Christoper Titus, and Joshua Malina. Hopefully this prestige cast will deliver another Brothers & Sisters, not another Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. ABC is airing it in its best timeslot, post-Grey’s Anatomy, Thursday at 10 pm.
Sam I Am: Christina Applegate stars as a total bitch who, after a week-long coma, starts over as a nice person. Presumably, this will all be funny. Will air at Monday, 9:30 pm after Dancing with the Stars.
Cavemen: That’s right, the Geico cavemen got their own show. It sounds heinous, and according to those in the know, it is heinous. Airing Tuesday at 8 pm.
Carpoolers: Hilarious hijinks will ensue in the carpool lane, featuring Jerry O’Connell as one of the aforementioned carpoolers. Will air at 8:30 pm after Cavemen, until Cavemen gets canceled.
Pushing Daisies: Plan to watch, because this is supposed to be the best pilot of the season. Billed as a “forensic fairytale,” it’s about a guy named Ned who can bring things back to life, and uses this ability to help solve murder cases by asking the dead to name who killed them. But life sucks even for miracle workers — Ned brings his childhood sweetheart back with a touch, but if he touches her again she’ll die for good. Airing Wednesday at 8 pm.
Private Practice: The Grey’s Anatomy spinoff starring Addison. We got a preview of this show a couple of weeks ago, and it looked cute. Paul Adelstein, Amy Brenneman, Merrin Dungey, Chris Lowell, and Taye Diggs costar — and of course, Tim Daly, who is so smoking hot, he makes the rest of them look like uggos. The big question here is, why isn’t this airing on Thursday? Instead, it’ll be on Wednesday at 9 pm.
Dirty Sexy Money: Very interesting premise, about a lawyer who becomes the personal attorney for a large, Kennedy-ish New York family, and presumably scandal and corruption ensue. Great cast, too: Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland star. Airing Wednesday at 10 pm.
Women’s Murder Club: A detective, a district attorney, a medical examiner, and a reporter pool their resources to solve crimes. The gimmick: they’re females! Now that’s progress. Will air Friday at 9 pm after Men in Trees.
Cashmere Mafia: This one sounds exactly like Lipstick Jungle, except with four women instead of three, which makes it exactly like Sex and the City. The cast is strong, though, with Lucy Liu, Frances O’Connor, and Bonnie Somerville. Will start midseason.
Eli Stone: About a lawyer who starts having visions, wondering if he has a higher calling, or if this is due to a brain aneurysm. This one’s been held over until something gets canceled, but the cast alone is worth a look. It stars Jonny Lee Miller, Victor Garber, and Natasha Henstridge.
Miss/Guided: Judy Greer stars as a former geek who returns to her high school as a guidance counselor. But nasty Brooke Burns, the former cheerleader turned English teacher, is out to steal Judy Greer’s man, ruin her life, and generally be a bitchy menace. This one is also being held on the backburner.
You can watch video previews of the new series here. You’re welcome.
Lost‘s creators have been promising all along that their show is actually going somewhere, and not just wandering aimlessly — but I think we can all agree that nevertheless, some aimless wandering has occurred. In an unusual move, ABC has announced that Lost will continue for three more seasons, sixteen episodes each, in order to help the writers map out the twists and turns. Hopefully, this will result in a more fast-paced show. (And hopefully Sawyer and Kate will stop doing it.)
I’ve got a love-hate thing with Lost, and lately it’s more hate than love. The Locke episode was cool, sure. I know a lot of people liked the Nikki/Paolo episode, but it kind of annoyed me. For one thing, the creators basically admitted they were written off the show due to bad viewer response. That’s so irritating — I want to watch a show with a clear direction and creative vision, not one that’s swayed by the whims of the masses. Did they not read the Federalist Papers? If we don’t like the characters, make us like them! It’s not that hard; give them a few funny lines or have them do something useful.
While I’m pointing fingers, I’d like to point another at Harold Perrineau, who is refusing to come back for the season finale. Dude, that’s fucked up. I understand he’s probably mad about being written off, but c’mon, he can’t take a week and go to Hawaii? He owes it to the show. It made him famous, and the fans deserve a follow-up to his storyline. Think about it: how cool would it be if we saw Walt and Michael living in New York, refusing to think about the past or talk about the time they spent on the island, just trying to live normally, but unable to forget? And then Desmond’s girlfriend Penny shows up at their door, somehow tracking them down? That would be an AWESOME cliffhanger, and now we’re not going to get to see it. Damn that Perrineau.
We’ve got a month to go before the May upfronts, but the networks have already presented some pilots to media buyers. Here’s a rundown of some contenders, organized by network:
Action News: Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, also starring Fred Willard (yay!) and poor dead Billy from Battlestar Galactica. Grammer plays a hot shot news anchor whose career goes down the drain and ends up back at his former local news station with Heaton, his old co-anchor. In a TV first, they will share a tempestuous love-hate relationship. Aw, I kid. This sounds pretty cute.
The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Lena Headey plays Sarah Connor. She is very pretty. Basically, this picks up where Terminator 2: Judgment Day leaves off. John Connor’s played by that Zach kid from Heroes.
The Apostles: About cops or something. Both the cast and the description makes me yawn.
Canterbury’s Law: Julianna Margulies is a rebellious defense attorney. Eh.
The Cure: Oded Fehr (the Egyptian guy from The Mummy who wasn’t the Mummy), Esai Morales and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon are doctors, but they’re like radical guerilla doctors raging against the machine.
Gossip Girl: I hate it when a CW pilot looks good, because that means it might bump Veronica Mars off the schedule. Anyway, this one features Carrie Bishop (Leighton Meester) from Veronica Mars and other pretty no-names in a fancy Manhattan rich kid school. I love a good rich kid high school drama, and actually, that Meester girl is really talented, so … dammit.
Wild at Heart: Brett Cullen has been everywhere lately (Lost, Tim’s dad on Friday Night Lights, that Beau-Mart guy on Ugly Betty), and now he’s a veterinarian who moves to a game reserve in South Africa with his undoubtedly brooding kids.
Dash 4 Cash: Jonathan Chase (murder suspect Josh from Veronica Mars) and a bunch of nobodies star in a fake racing reality show. Could be a lot of fun.
Aliens in America: Two teenagers, one Muslim, one Whitey, engage in some sort of wacky hijinks.
Reaper: A slacker becomes the devil’s bounty hunter. Seriously.
CBS didn’t meet with buyers, but two possibilities:
I’m in Hell: Stars Jason Biggs (remember him? American Pie, anyone?) as a Wall Street type who dies, then gets sent back to live life as a schlub.
Twilight: Amber Valetta, Rade Serbedzija (Eurotrip and tons of other stuff) and others in a show about a vampire private investigator. So basically, Angel.
The only project mentioned in the article is the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff (tentatively titled “Private Practice,” ew), but I wanted to highlight at least one other project …
Untitled Jon Feldman Project (a.k.a. Bedrooms & Boardrooms): Michael Vartan, Dylan McDermott, Josh Malina and Christopher Titus star. What a fantastic cast! A bunch of male CEOs who gossip Sex and the City-style. Vartan’s the lead, naturally. Dylan’s a “cosmetics CEO who can’t resist sex with his age-defying ex-wife,” just like Dr. Cox from Scrubs. Josh Malina’s a cheater. Titus is totally whipped by his wife (I’m giggling just thinking about this one). If this isn’t on ABC’s fall schedule … well, then it probably sucks, but it can’t suck! It’s got Vartan!
With only a few months of regular season programming left, now’s as good a time as any to reflect back on this season. Here’s my current top five tv shows:
1. Friday Night Lights
At first I was mildly curious, now I’m completely addicted. The acting is incredible, the stories are compelling, and the boys are good-lookin’. It all adds up to near-perfect television.
2. Veronica Mars
I can’t believe I’m ranking my perennial favorite in the number two slot, but the twists were just less jaw-dropping this year. Plus, Wallace was MIA, Logan was declawed, and Lamb was offed by Richard Grieco, of all people. It’s still awesome, but it’s got some work to do.
3. Ugly Betty
I shouldn’t like Ugly Betty as much as I do. A secretly undead trannie fighting for control of the family business? That’s way too campy over-the-top soap opera … but I can’t get enough of it. The klutzy heroine, the gorgeous scoundrel boss, the hilarious dialogue — it’s Bridget Jones’s Diary! (And that’s a good thing!) And it just keeps getting better.
4. Battlestar Galactica
This show’s also taken a hit. The past few episodes were — dare I say it? — boring. Then, they killed Starbuck! This could be the show’s shark-jumping moment, depending on how it all plays out. Is Starbuck a Cylon? Is she some supernatural guide to Earth? Or is she just gone for good? Eh, I don’t love any of these possibilities. That being said, Matt Roush says good things are in store, and I trust him.
Folks don’t gossip over this show like Sex and the City or The Sopranos, but I still adore it. Even though the major plot twists have been spoiled hundreds of years in advance, it doesn’t lessen the anticipation. I knew Marc Anthony was going to marry Octavia, but I didn’t think Atia would be alive to see it, much less standing by her side. Plus, it’s got the best credits of any TV show ever.
Honorable Mention: The Amazing Race: All-Stars. I couldn’t bring myself to put a reality TV show in the top five, but I’m really obsessed with this season. I’m rooting for Danny and Oswald or Rob and Amber, because they’re competent racers, funny, and more importantly, having fun. Charla and Mirna are some of the most appalling villains on reality TV, and it’ll be sweet, sweet justice when they get the boot.
The Rest: NBC’s comedies, particularly 30 Rock, are still must-see TV. Scrubs and The Office can be uneven at times, but 30 Rock just keeps getting better. A hilarious exchange from last week:
Kenneth: You need to take some of your own advice! Aren’t you the man who told me to live every week like it’s Shark Week, and who told me that nothing’s impossible except for dinosaurs? Don’t give up on life, sir!
Tracy: Wow. The manatee has become the Mento.
Of course, House is still awesome, and South Park. And I’m still watching Grey’s Anatomy and Lost, even though I can’t remember why sometimes. (Thank goodness for TiVo, otherwise I’d never get anything done.)
I’m so disappointed with myself. I usually spend September watching all the new television shows, hoping to find new favorites, but this year I’ve been way too busy, dang it. That being said, I still managed to fit a whole lot of TV in.
I did get to watch Ugly Betty, and I really liked it. Sure, it’s a little over-the-top, but endearingly so. (Desperate Housewives, pay attention. You could learn a thing or two.) Plus, I’m a sucker for anything Bridget Jones’s Diary-ish. Eric Mabius is adorably clueless. He’s been on my radar since Cruel Intentions, and was great on the short-lived series Eyes. I’m a fan!
I figured that Heroes would be kind of “eh,” but it exceeded my expectations. The premiere was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait until Greg Grunberg shows up next episode. It’s like the X-Men, but with a spooky, Unbreakable vibe. Which is a good thing. (I’m like the only Shyamalan fan left, I think.) That being said, I hope the writers have a really good plot charted out, because while all the destiny mumbo-jumbo is intriguing at first, it can get old really fast. (I’m looking at you, Alias.)
I tried to watch The Class and Shark, and didn’t like either of them. James Woods is creepy.
As for the returning shows, let’s start with Grey’s Anatomy. The season premiere was lame, I thought, except for the McDreamy speech at the end. I wasn’t in love with the second episode, either. Burke’s mom pissed me off excessively. And don’t get me started on Patient Eats-a-Lot shoplifting and racing a damn wheelchair all over the hospital. It’s a place of healing, not a hotel! Not that I’m condoning shoplifting in hotels. Let’s keep it legal, kids. But I loved drunk Addison and I loved Chris O’Donnell being all hot, and I loved McSteamy showing up. More McSteamy!
I have yet to watch the second episode of The Office, but that premiere was killer. Oscar and Michael … there are no words. Oh, wait, I thought of one: awkward! I liked the resolution to the Pam and Jim situation, although it irritates me a little that after basically turning down Jim, she called off her wedding anyway. What’s she doing, having a little “me time”? She could be hooking up with Jim, and instead she’s wasting time. Sigh. I like seeing Jim in the head office, with a whole new bunch of freaks to contend with. Another Pam and Jim interview here.
The Amazing Race is as fun as ever, although I’m feeling some guilt at not rooting for the 3.5-legged couple. They’re just too intense for my liking. An interview with the cheerleaders here.
And there’s a lot to look forward to in October: season premieres of Lost, Veronica Mars, and Battlestar Galactica, as well as The Nine. I may never leave my couch.
The creators of Lost spilled the answer in a video for the Lost Experience online. Watch below:
So basically, there’s some barely plausible explanation about how the numbers relate to the destruction of humanity. They keep referring to them as an “equation,” when we all know that generally you need an equals sign or an x or y to have one of those. And then some crazy dude is going to unleash a virus. Creepy!
Michael Ausiello has seen the Veronica Mars season premiere, and the word is: it’s amazing. Well, I wouldn’t expect anything less. And guess what: apparently there’s a little Battlestar Galactica crossover action! Love it. Those two shows are probably my favorite two dramas on tv (with Lost at number three), so I’m getting giddy just thinking about this.
Kristin Veitch had an especially Lost-filled column Friday, with a few spoilers for next season: Kate will choose a dude by the sixth episode, Ethan Rom will be back, and hot Rodrigo Santoro won’t be on until February.
Michael Ausiello is reporting that there will be a major death in the season premiere of one of these shows: Lost, Veronica Mars, or Grey’s Anatomy. Uh oh.
Also, in another question he discusses the possibility that Zach Braff will be leaving Scrubs. If that’s the case, both the creator and Donald Faison indicated that they would still like to continue the show. Scrubs without Zach Braff? Now that’s hard to picture.
Mike Ausiello is reporting that Kiele Sanchez has been added to the cast of Lost for third season. I’d never heard of her. Apparently, she was on Related, which explains why.
Mike Ausiello has big Veronica Mars casting scoop that should interest Gilmore Girls fans: Matt Czuchry will appear on an upcoming episode of Veronica Mars, playing Jason Dohring’s character’s half-brother. Yep, Logan will be playing Logan’s brother. And then the world will implode!
Also, in his Ask Ausiello column, Mike confirms that Desmond will be a regular on the new season of Lost. (Did we already know that? It was news to me.)
Kristin Veitch interviews Kristen Bell in this E! Online clip (scroll down). No new Veronica Mars information, but sometimes it’s fun to watch videos. If you keep reading that link, there’s Grey’s Anatomy spoilers a few pages in, and some Lost discussion.
Updated: Another Kristen Bell interview here.