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I guess this is one way to establish a brand. With "The Cleaner," its first original drama series in six years, A&E has created what is essentially a TNT drama. "The Cleaner" is a serviceable hour-long procedural with an ensemble cast anchored by a bona fide star.
Given that just-above-generic procedurals are what CBS does best and given that just-above-generic procedurals are what CBS viewers have proven most likely to embrace, it's surprising to see CBS casually dumping "Flashpoint" in the mid-summer in a Friday night slot which, under the best of circumstances, would make it a hard sell.
Premiering Monday (June 16) night after "Weeds," Showtime's "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" is basically a calling card for 25-year-old Billie Piper, a star in the United Kingdom for a decade, but a relative unknown to American audiences (or at least those unfamiliar with "Doctor Who").
Last May, CBS announced a slate of new shows that were going to change the way the Tiffany Network did business. "Cane" was going to break ethnic barriers, "Viva Laughlin" was going to transcend genre expectations and "Swingtown" going to erase the artificial content boundaries between broadcast and cable.
The fourth and final season of "Battlestar Galactica" picks up where the last left off, with most of our major characters questioning the notion of identity.
TV comedy is not especially healthy right now; not many people would argue with that idea. Given the way ABC is handling its new series "Miss Guided" -- a sweet and charming show starring the wonderful Judy Greer -- I almost wonder if the network even recognizes what a potentially valuable asset it has on its hands.
TV critics are a little snow-blind when it comes to Amy Sherman-Palladino's new FOX sitcom "The Return of Jezebel James." You see, like its small-yet-dedicated audience, we all loved "Gilmore Girls." We loved that in an hour, "Gilmore Girls" could be funny, touching, heart-warming and smart. It was a show that defied genre and TV convention.
After mastering the mixture of character drama and procedural hijinx on shows like "House" and "Bones," FOX has fallen into a bit of a rut. The fall saw the speedy failure of "K-Ville," a drama that wasted fantastic location work and a solid cast in a morass of police banality. The jury's still out on "New Amsterdam," in which a potentially fascinating immortal lead is stuck doing by-the-numbers detective work. Monday (March 10) sees the premiere of "Canterbury's Law," in which a complicated and tortured attorney plies her trade in courtroom sequences that won't ring true even to viewers who know nothing of the law (much less previous network legal shows).
I don't know how those investigators on the "Law & Order" and "CSI" franchises do it. Yes, they seem to make the necessarily busts each and every week, but one stray bullet and they're toast. No, the really cool crimefighters this TV season all enjoy the added benefits of immortality.
The problem for FX's "Dirt," one of them anyway, is that no matter what sort of outrageousness the show's writers can come up with for its fictional tabloid magazine, they just can't top real life these days.
Some shows -- think "Law & Order" or "CSI" or "E.R." -- can stay on the air for over a decade without ever varying what they are at their core. CBS' protean drama "Jericho" returns on Tuesday (Feb. 12) night in probably its fourth or fifth different permutation in under 25 episodes.
Despite a tried-and-true formula and a cast of reliable performers, the new CBS comedy "Welcome to the Captain" is a disappointingly flat and laugh-free affair. There's no question that the main situation could yield laughs under different circumstances, but this assortment of characters, who range from one-note to no-note, aren't likely to be embraced by viewers.
There's a lot I can't talk about in regard to "Lost," which begins its fourth season at 9 p.m. ET Thursday.
Writing teachers will tell you that one of the keys to a good story is "show, don't tell." Rather than have a character tell you about something he or she did, it's better to have the reader experience it as the character does.
Even after a full season of "Mad Men," it's still a little difficult to get my head around AMC as a destination for quality series. This is, after all, a channel that several years ago sold its classic-movie soul for ad revenue and quickly forgotten stabs at original programming.
Life doesn't always provide a happy ending. But wouldn't it be nice if it did?
Even if the writers strike wasn't in the process of turning the entire television landscape into a diaspora of repeats, retreads and reality, there was already going to be a lot of pressure on FOX's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
The problem with praising the new season of "The Wire" is twofold: First, dozens of critics (this one included) went on and on last year, pointing out how it's one of the best, if not the best, drama ever brought to life on television. Not much more to add there.
ABC brings "Cashmere Mafia" into the world on Sunday, beating NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" by a month in the let's-get-the-next-"Sex and the City"-on-the-air race.
"October Road" returns for its second season on ABC Thursday, and not much has changed.
In both incarnations, the story of Battlestar Pegasus has marked a turning point for "Battlestar Galactica." In the 1970s, Lloyd Bridges' Commander Cain indirectly led into the Ship of Lights plotlines, wherein the Galactica's occupants stopped merely running and started thinking about their destinies. On Sci-Fi's re-imagining, Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) introduced a militaristic command still echoed in season three.
To start, a confession: I am not a die-hard "Nip/Tuck" fan. I keep tabs of the show, and I'll watch maybe half the episodes in a given season. I appreciate its satirical edge and its cynicism, but there usually comes a point every year where the show goes a little too far over the top for my taste, and I have to cool it for a while.
"Scrubs" was initially scheduled to return at midseason last year, but various pratfalls on NBC's fall 2006 schedule moved the premiere date up to late fall. Consequently the early episodes of last season felt a little unfinished.
Narratively lax, creatively unfocused and in every way inferior to its British source material, "Viva Laughlin" isn't a very good show. But do you know what has been amusing? Watching CBS scramble to promote an unpromotable show.
The question with "Samantha Who?" is whether its premise -- amnesia victim tries to piece her life back together -- is sturdy enough to sustain what in success would be several years on the air.
The joke around the Zap2it office this summer is that we'd be more interested in "Women's Murder Club" if it were about a group of women that committed murders. But that's probably a cable show.
"Life Is Wild" is about as lame as its name. The CW's latest family drama makes a feeble attempt at keeping a finger on the pulse of today's youth, but just ends up like that embarrassing uncle who can't keep hip-hop lingo straight. Add in a gorgeous environment, fuzzy critters and family altercations, and you have a program that struggles to mesh the hip and the wholesome, the domestic and the outdoorsy.
In the past 20 years, the American League Rookie of the Year has gone to future superstars including Mark McGwire, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Ichiro Suzuki. In that same period, other players to win that same award include Pat Listach, Bob Hamelin and Marty Cordova. As we're at the start of both the fall television season and the baseball playoffs, I use this analogy to make a simple point: Sometimes a great start is an indication of a legendary career, but other times it's better to quit while you're ahead.
Confession time: I laughed a few times during the second episode of "Carpoolers," one of two new ABC comedies premiering Tuesday night. Having seen the pilot earlier this summer, I wasn't expecting that.
The CW's "Aliens in America" is a perfect example of how a sitcom should work. Take a simple premise -- a typical small-town Wisconsin family takes in a Pakistani Muslim exchange student -- and draw on human nature, good writing, competent actors and a healthy dose of irreverence/borderline offensiveness to create a passport to comedy.
A creative overhaul in the pilot phase need not be damning for a new TV series. Sometimes you get a show like "Brothers & Sisters," which started off rough, but came out of its troubled genesis as a stronger finished product. More often, though, I suspect you get something like "Moonlight."