TV Gal Tries to Tidy Up for Fall
I'm not sure if I've ever confessed to you guys that I, by nature, am messy. My name is Amy and I am so not tidy. Ask anyone who knows me and they will confirm this with glee. I don't even know where this came from since my mother, my father and my sister are super neat. It's quite annoying.
That makes this time of the year the most challenging for me. Every day packages arrive full of new DVDs, press releases and knickknacks like a "Back to You" mug or a "K-ville" sweatshirt. It's me versus the clutter and I'm sorry to report that the clutter continues to be victorious.
After all these years of writing about TV, I still haven't figured out a sure-fire way to remain organized. I'm telling you, you would be horrified if you saw my office.
So, as I make my way through the piles and the revised pilots continue to pour in, let's take a look at my picks for the best and worst of each network. Once I've seen the revised pilots, I'll have full reviews as the shows premiere. Consider this your cheat sheet until then.
You already know that I'm not in love with "Pushing Daisies." The pilot was too cute and too "aren't we so clever" for me. But I do commend ABC for continuing to take risks with their programming and putting something a little different on television.
Best: It's no secret that ABC needs a good comedy and lucky for them, they have "Samantha Who?" Christina Applegate stars as a woman with amnesia and the cast includes Barry Watson, Melissa McCarthy and Jean Smart. I also loved "Dirty Sexy Money," which is a nice hybrid of an over-the-top soap and mystery. "Dynasty" meets "24."
Worst: "Caveman" wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was still bad.
Verdict Still Out: As I'm writing this column, the pilot of "Private Practice," the "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off finally arrived. Now we all now the episode that set up this spin-off last spring made me extremely cranky. I was in awe of how they could take all these actors I really liked and create such an awful show. Did Shonda Rhimes listen to the criticism and make improvements? We shall soon see.
We all know that I'm kind of in a fight with the CW -- they never picked up "Everwood," they cancelled "Veronica Mars," they never treated "7th Heaven" shabbily and they kind of had a disastrous premiere season. But, darn it all, if I'm not proud of them this season. They don't have that many new shows but their shows are among my favorites.
Best: Ray Wise is positively delightful as the devil in "Reaper" and Bret Harrison (who we loved in "The Loop") is a perfect foil for him.
Worst: You know I have concerns about the over-the-top, pretty people in pain nature of "Gossip Girl," but I'm not ready to make it the worst new show on The CW. In fact, I'm going to say the CW doesn't have a worst show this year.
Verdict Still Out: I think "Life Is Wild," about a family that relocates to South Africa, has the potential to be the network's new "7th Heaven," but both the parents have been recast (Stephanie Niznik on "Everwood" plays the mom -- Yay!). I need to see how these casting changes have affected the series before I decide.
I don't know what to say about FOX. I'm exhausted by how quickly the network pulls new series ("Anchorwoman" was gone before you even knew it was on).
Best: I don't love any of FOX's new shows but "K-ville," about cops in a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, is the best of a mediocre bunch. Despite a pretty unbelievable plot twist, I'm all for star Anthony Anderson being on a series. He's that rare actor who effortlessly vacillates between comedy and drama. I would love for him to find success on TV, I'm just not sure this is the show that's going to do it.
Worst: "New Amsterdam" is so bad that FOX has already shuffled it from a fall launch to midseason. I fearlessly predict it will never air, or will be pulled after one episode. Anyone want to take the over on this bet?
Verdict Still Out: "Back to You" is a kind of traditional sitcom. I didn't find the pilot uproarious but with Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer as the stars, I'm willing to keep watching to see how the show progresses.
I think we should start off by commending CBS for not going their traditional crime dramas route. The network is really trying to do new things but, alas, it didn't work out so well for them.
Best: Best is a relative term here. "Cane" wasn't fantastic, but like "K-ville" is the best of a mediocre bunch. Jimmy Smits always smolders on screen but he's really not given enough to work with in the pilot. I'll at least watch the second episode to give the show a fair chance.
Worst:When I watched "Viva Laughlin," where the actors sing quite horribly over existing tracks, I really thought that what I was watching couldn't possibly be what they actually planned on airing. Imagine my horror when I went to LA and realized it was intentional. I've decided to pretend like DB Woodside, one of my favorite actors, isn't in the series.
Verdict Still Out: On the plus side, Jason Dohring stars in "Moonlight" (sigh), but on the concerning side, practically the entire cast has been replaced, the show has gone through a few producers and I still haven't seen a pilot.
Let's go ahead and give the peacock network an "A" for effort. They are really trying to move out of fourth place.
Best: You've already heard so much buzz about "Chuck," which I liked and really benefits from executive producer Josh Schwartz clever writing. And I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed "Journeyman," about a man who time travels.
Worst and Verdict Still Out: I really hated the "Bionic Woman" pilot. It was more like the "Boring Woman," but there have been cast changes and plot changes since then not to mention the casting of Isaiah Washington. My curiosity is piqued.
What shows are you looking forward to this fall? Write me at email@example.com and let me know.
Quotes of the Week
"This is worse than a couple's party, this is a family party," Brendan to Mike and Kenny on "My Boys."
"She spends all day on the Internet talking into her webcam. It's like living with lonelygirl15," Jen K about her roommate on "Greek." Of course Jen K is played by Jessica Rose, aka lonelygirl15. Thanks to Suzi and Matt who were the first ones to send in the most popular quote of the week.
"This is like being at a slumber party with Jack Bauer," Cappie to Rebecca on "Greek." I've decided Cappie is the new Seth Cohen. All his quotes are great.
"Wow you look different," Heidi to Jen on "The Hills" referring to her nose job. Thanks to Robert for the quote.
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Michael Landes is Evan, the cute botanist PJ met on "My Boys." He played Jimmy Olsen the first season of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and we just saw him as David on the short-lived FOX series "Wedding Belles."
"The Closer" is ending its season by giving us a slew of familiar faces. James Patrick Stuart is Deputy D.A. Garnett. He was Attorney Adam Matthews on "CSI" and Keith on "Andy Ritcher Controls the Universe." Jennifer Aspen was the wife of the murdered attorney. She was Trina on "Rodney," Janet on "Bob Patterson," and, most importantly, Daphne on "Party of Five." Steven Culp was the attorney for the accused dentist. We saw him this summer as Special Agent Fred Chambers on "Traveler," Rex on "Desperate Housewives," and Speaker of the House Jeff Haffley on "The West Wing."
Joel Murray is the ad man who let Peggy write the copy on "Mad Men." He was Danny on "Still Standing" and Pete on "Dharma & Greg." Paul Sculze was the homeless man in Don's flashback. He was Father Phil Intintola on "The Sopranos" and Ryan Chappelle on "24."And all this week's bonus points go to Ginny who recognized Barry Livingston, Ernie on "My Three Sons," as one of the guys in the art department.
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for Sept. 10 to 16
Before we can say hello to the new shows, we have to say goodbye to some summer favorites. Three of the best summer series come to a close Monday night. Charisma Carpenter guest stars as a representative from the national sorority on the season finale of "Greek" (Monday at 9 p.m. on ABC Family). I love her in everything she's in and I cannot wait to see her in a scene with Spencer Grammer. I so totally heart this series.
Larry King, Dominick Dunne, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez all play themselves in the season finale of "The Closer" (Monday, 9 p.m., TNT)
And "My Boys" comes to a close far too quickly with back to back episodes Monday at 10 p.m. on TBS. The season ends on a terrific cliffhanger.
I don't have anything nice to say about the season finale of "Rescue Me" (Wednesday, FX, 10 p.m.) so I'm not going to say anything at all.
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" returns for a third season Thursday at 10 p.m. on FX. I continue to find this show hilarious but I don't need to watch it every week and I really wish it wasn't returning right smack in the middle of the launch of the new fall season. But I'm delighting in how much Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Kaitlin Olsen have grown as actors since the first season. McElhenney, in particular, has honed his comic timing to near perfection.
Okay, I'm going to tell you something but you have to promise not to tell anyone. I'm not going to be able to watch the Emmys live on Sunday night at 8 p.m. on FOX. My friend is getting married that same night. Kind of selfish, don't you think? I was in such denial about this that it literally only occurred to me two weeks ago that the wedding and the Emmys were the same night. And the wedding is out of town so I won't even be able to watch them on TiVo until I return home. I see this as a real opportunity for growth for me and maybe this is the universe's way of confirming for me what so many of you have been trying to tell me -– that the Emmys don't matter and aren't reflective of the best of television. Ryan Seacrest hosts and look for Steve Carell, Kyle Chandler, the cast of "Entourage," Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Katherine Heigl, Hayden Panettiere, Jimmy Smits, Jon Stewart, Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Walsh as presenters.
That's all for today. I'm back next week with a look at the third season of "Prison Break" (it is a very bad report), a full review of "K-ville" and "Gossip Girl," and much, much more. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.