Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011-2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on The CW, AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, FX, HBO, Showtime, Syfy, USA

Holy hell there are many shows to write about today. I've included nearly every scripted series on The CW and various cable/premium channels. If I included every returning show this fall, the post will rival the length of a novella. Yesterday, I went on and on about the NBC lineup, specifically writing about its present and future. I'll keep the intro briefly today because there's great variety among the returning shows previewed today. If you like zombies, you're in luck. If you like Atlantic City intrigue set in the 1920s, you're in luck. If you like a comedy centered on a group of guys in a fantasy football league, you're in luck...and so on and so on. The good thing about TV--if you don't like a show, just turn the channel because you'll find something else. I'm sure a reader will find a show they live amidst the many shows previewed today.

90210 returns Tuesday, September 13 at 8PM on The CW

The rich and entitled characters of Beverly Hills take their melodrama to college in season four. I watched the final two episodes of the third season out of curiosity and found myself perplexed by the one female character that nearly killed herself because the ghost of another female told her to. Even more perplexing was the marriage between two characters because the male's destined to die. The last scene of the series revealed that the main female character's pregnant with the smart guy's baby. The press release promises new relationships and friendships for the various characters in the fourth season. Name one teenage melodrama that didn't introduce tertiary new relationships once the college years arrive. Expect an unrealistic portrayal of college. Also, the show has two new show runners.

GOSSIP GIRL returns Monday, September 26 at 8PM on The CW

TheWB and, now, The CW employ the lazy pregnancy device every year. I remember several years ago when nearly every WB show concluded their season with a surprise pregnancy. Pregnancy arcs aren't interesting. Lo and behold, two of the female characters enter Gossip Girl with child (or possibly with child). Apparently, the season also concluded with a heart-wrenching decision from Chuck Bass to allow Blair to begin a new life as 'princess-to-be' with some fellow named Prince Louis. From what I've read and heard, Chuck Bass is a reprehensible character who possesses no redeeming qualities yet the female audience sympathizes with him and even roots for him. I don't understand what's heartbreaking about Blair pursuing a life where she isn't treated like an object. Expect some royal wedding fun in the new season.

NIKITA returns Friday, September 23 at 8PM on The CW

The CW's the only network to provide informative press releases for their returning series. In comparison, the NBC press releases were from November 2010. I don't care for the Nikita franchise. I won't try to write informatively about the new season. Instead, I present the informative press release:

(from The CW's press release, May 2011) In season one of this sexy and suspenseful series featuring international action star Maggie Q in the title role, the charming and deadly Nikita waged a war against Division, the agency that created her. Michael - the man who trained her, a man she trusted - was hunting her. But Nikita had an ace up her sleeve: Alex, a girl she trained to infiltrate this secret unit of the government. At the end of season one, Nikita and Alex's relationship had been shattered, and Nikita and Michael's relationship was restored. Now, Nikita and Michael are on the run with a hard drive containing the government's darkest secrets and conspiracies. Together, they are going to right the wrongs that Division has committed over the years, one mission at a time. But leading the hunt for them this time is Alex...and she knows all of Nikita's tricks. 

SUPERNATURAL returns Friday, September 23 at 9PM on The CW

Supernatural heads into its seventh season. During its middle seasons, the show received great coverage for its addictive and entertaining seasons. Entertainment Weekly devoted a number of pages to the show once upon a time. Soon, the creator departed and Supernatural's not as beloved. The events of season six are confusing for someone who hasn't watched the show. In season seven, Sam and Dean will meet a foe unlike any other, which is daring since the brothers battled Lucifer, the King of Hell, etc. The brothers won't be able to use their old familiar tricks because the new foe's rendered them useless. So...game on then.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES returns Thursday, September 22 at 8PM on The CW

The Vampire Diaries just produced two terrific seasons in a row. The narrative's told at a break-neck pace with enough twists to impress George R.R. Martin. The second season concluded with Klaus successfully bringing the beast out of Stefan following his successful transformation into a were-vamp. Damon and Elena grew closer when Damon battled a werewolf bite that threatened to kill him. Jeremy saw the ghosts of his two ex-girlfriends. In season three, we'll learn more about Klaus' plans. We'll witness Damon and Elena's growing bond as well as what kind of message Vicki and Anna have for Jeremy. Also, a war between the Forbes and Lockwoods might break out. I'm excited to return to Mystic Falls. TVD's terrific television.

THE WALKING DEAD returns Sunday, October 16 at 9PM on AMC

I'm sure anyone reading already knows about the Darabont/Mazzara switch. No one knows why Darabont resigned. It's assumed that he was forced to re-sign but who knows. Mazzara recently gave an interview to EW about the upcoming second season. He revealed that the season would follow Kirkman's comic. We'll meet Hershel, a farm owner, who houses the season one characters. The farm storyline will make up the majority of the season. Interestingly, the season one folk become as troublesome for Hershel as the zombies were for them during season one. It's an interesting twist. I'm always in favor of shifting perspectives in a narrative. I didn't enjoy season one but season two seems more promising. For more on the season, check out ew.com.

LUTHER returns Wednesday, September 28 at 10PM on BBC America

Luther's execution separates the series from generic procedural--it's an intense and fierce police procedural set in England, led by the hulking presence of Idris Elba. The series returns to BBC America for a four part sequel. The first season ended with a crazy cliff-hanger. I'm not sure how it'll be resolved. Luther will join a new police force and solve various crimes while dealing with the murder of his ex-wife. Like many procedurals, Luther's a complicated character in the mold of Vic Mackey. The line between menace and officer of the law's very thin. Elba's terrific in the role. I hope the four part sequel has room for Ruth Wilson's Alice Morgan.

SOUTH PARK returns Wednesday, October 5 at 10PM on Comedy Central

The mid-season finale motivated nearly every TV blogger and critic to speculate about the future of the show as well as Trey and Matt's love for it. In response, Comedy Central's launching the second half with aplomb. Before the actual premiere, there'll be a documentary about the last fifteen years of the series. The 15th season's been dubbed "The Season of the Fan." I'm not sure what the premiere will be about. I doubt Matt and Trey know (or will know until the week before the premiere). The long-running animated series won't be going anywhere for three years. Bloggers, fans and critics can relax and take their new criticism perspective of the show elsewhere.

WORKAHOLICS returns Tuesday, September 20 at 10:30PM on Comedy Central

I've never seen an episode of Workaholics. I had no idea such a show was on the air. I'll assume the series has a decent following. The new season's back with more stories about the characters' lives from 9 to 5 and 5 to 9.

If interested, Nick Swardsen's Pretend Time returns October 5 (a Wednesday) at 10PM. Tosh.0 is back Tuesday, September 20 at 10PM.

SONS OF ANARCHY returns Tuesday, September 6 at 10PM on FX

I'm going to use a familiar phrase for Sons of Anarchy. Kurt Sutter seems caught between a rock and a hard place. The second season of the show delighted fans so much that it's become the gold standard of the show. Last season, Sutter broke formula, took SAMCRO to Dublin to rescue Jax's child and then put them in prison. People didn't like the season. Now, SAMCRO's back in Charming, beating people up and stuff (presumably). Early reviews haven't been great. The show's in no-win territory, apparently. Charlie Hunnam and Kurt Sutter have gotten into public squabbles recently, so the fans aren't alone in their frustrations with the show's creative direction.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA returns Thursday, September 16 at 10PM on FX

The promos for the new season have delighted me. The show's been presented as a Lifetime tear-jerker. Every so often, there's an actual promo with footage from the new season. Indeed, Mac's 50 pounds heavier and the gang's as politically incorrect and offensive as ever.

ARCHER returns Thursday, September 15 at 10:30PM on FX

I don't know how many people watch Archer. The ones who do adore the show. Jon Benjamin's been extremely successful since Archer launched. FX will air only three episodes of the successful animated series in the fall before it's 2012 return with 13 episodes.

THE LEAGUE returns Thursday, October 6 at 10:30PM on FX

The League had an extraordinary second season. I barely watched any of it but the buzz tells me that the comedy's above-average with great characters and great episodes. I'm sure there'll be some famous faces dropping by and some football humor.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE returns Sunday, September 25 at 9PM on HBO

Terrence Winters' ambitious period piece has its critics. Occasionally, the narrative meanders without purpose or direction. There stretches when I wondered what the point of an episode was. The second season's poised to inject consistent energy. When season one ended, Nucky's republican president won the election battle and he reunited with his woman. He overlooked the ocean from the boardwalk, content and happy, unaware that the commodore and Jimmy have begun conspiring. Nucky's enemies are everywhere--in Chicago, in his family, in New York, in politics, in the KKK. The man's excellent diplomatic abilities prevented the tensions from exploding but they're closing in now. Season 1 concluded terrifically and the promos for season 2 have been tremendous. If you're interested in the series, you could watch from season two but I'd recommend renting season one first.

HUNG returns Sunday, October 2 at 10PM on FX

Hung's still churning, eh?

HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA returns Sunday, October 2 at 10:30PM on HBO

How to Make It in America's either underrated, properly rated or overrated (depending on whom you hear it from). I've heard comparisons between this series and Entourage. America seems more authentic and grounded than Entourage's Hollywood fantasy. For the second season, I presume the characters will continue their attempts to sell shoes and make a life for themselves in the city that never sleeps. HBO ordered eight episodes--an order that could mean cancellation because 10's the magic number for comedies; however, 8 might be the new 10 now.

BORED TO DEATH returns Monday, October 10 at 9PM on HBO

Bored To Death also returns for an eight episode second season. The show hasn't been the hit the premium channel wanted. Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson and Jason Schwartzman are funny individuals. Presumably, the comedy would produce never-ending laughter. From what I've read, the comedy's unremarkable. It's got that quirky quality that nearly every HBO series has, which is annoying. I don't know what the exact issue with the series is as I don't watch it. Perhaps it's not a whole show. Maybe the characters or the cases aren't defined enough. I don't know. HBO's airing the show on Mondays because they want two nights of original programming. I don't think this is the show to experiment with.

DEXTER returns Sunday, October 2 at 9PM on Showtime

I don't know what's in store for season six of Dexter. I heard mixed opinions about the fifth season and Julia Stiles as Luman. Luman left the show after she lost the desire to kill people. She and Dexter worked together to kill and, in the process, became romantically involved. I haven't found information about the new season. I'll guess that Dexter targets another serial killer or something. Isn't it time for the sister to learn about her brother's hobby? The discovery seems like the natural place for the narrative to go. If that happens, though, the show probably wouldn't be able to continue.

SANCTUARY returns Friday, October 7 at 10PM on Syfy

The Syfy show's about a 160 year old professor who protects people and creatures with abilities while containing the dangerous ones. I don't think anyone new to the show would understand the fourth season without watching the previous three. I read about armies, a place called Praxis, someone named Magnus and possibly a rogue Abnormal. I'm in no place to comment on the show, so here's the press release about season four:

(from Syfy's press release, August 2011) The 13 all-new episodes of Season 4 change everything. With the arrival of the Hollow Earth refugees, the balance between Abnormals and humans is severely upset. In order to keep the peace, Magnus and team must throw out the rulebook. But forging their own way means they're not just dodging dangerous Abnormals anymore, now they've got world governments and new villains nipping at their heels. 

PSYCH returns Wednesday, October 12 at 10PM on USA

The longest running USA show returns for its sixth season and, apparently, Shawn might pop the question to his girlfriend in between solving crimes, with his buddy Gus and his father, by using his acute powers of observation and deduction. William Shatner, Kristy Swanson, Corey Feldman and Danny Glover will guest star this season.

COVERT AFFAIRS returns Thursday, November 1 at 10PM on USA

USA's airing the second half of season two this fall, in hopes the show finding success in the fall (possibly?). Annie's transformation into a seasoned operative continues while she tries to restore the trust between her and her sister following her confession about her true job as an operative. Like many procedurals, the series mixes the personal with the business.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011-2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on NBC

I'd like to compare NBC's prime-time lineup of returning shows to a major league baseball starting lineup. I briefly considered the Astros but Carlos Lee is their best hitter and I won't insult Community with a comparison to Carlos Lee. The gimmick's stupid, though, and a waste of time. The NBC primetime lineup of returning shows isn't bad. The comedy block on Thursdays is great. The highlight of the night Community followed by Parks & Recs. The lineup's very thin, though. None of the returning shows will be a decent lead-in for a new series because their ratings are bad enough. NBC just can't cancel everything that underperforms like FOX did in May. If they did, the network wouldn't have any programs to air besides reality shows and Sunday Night Football.

Of course, the network DID cancel every new series that launched last season except for David E. Kelley's Harry's Law. Every network cancelled the bulk of their new show, though, so that's not a bold move by NBC. The move speaks more to an inability to develop good script shows. The network lucked out when the people of America decided that they needed to watch another singing competition, which turned The Sing-Off into a success and caused entertainment writers and TV critics to ponder whether or not Cee-Lo Green and company harm the launch of Simon Cowell's The X Factor. I can't criticize the network too much because they're obviously trying to develop sustainable shows. They developed the most shows during the developmental season and they picked up quite a few (and half will launch in 2012). The executives aren't married to their returning shows. SVU's bound for cancellation in a year or two; Chuck's done after their season; Harry's Law will never receive a third season. The Thursday comedy block should remain in tact but the executives need some of their new shows to hit with the audience (as I wrote on Friday). NBC's dedication to development might pay off mid-season with the launch of (at least) two promising shows.

Anyway, I doubt the majority of people wonder about the NBC lineup and its future. People are much more interested in who replaces Michael Scott as boss. People are interested in Michael K. Williams on Community as well as Tammy I in Parks & Recs. I don't have any insight into the writers' rooms for any of the aforementioned shows. After all, I can't even successfully acquire press photographs. I have some info to offer about the majority of the shows, though. For example, on SVU, someone will commit a crime that Mariska Hargity will solve by the end of the episode. Read on for the premiere dates and thoughts on each returning series.

CHUCK returns on Friday, October 21 at 8PM

Chuck is the little show that could. The audience hasn't grown in two or three years but NBC continued to renew it because they had nothing to replace Chuck with. Why drop a show that performs decently for the network? Season 5 will be the last for Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak's show. From what I know, their season four finale was a game-changer. The Intersect went to another character while Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Morgan opened their own freelance spy business. Chuck learned that he'd been manipulated his entire spy career, landed a billion dollars, and opened the aforementioned spy business. Morgan accidentally uploaded the Intersect into...himself. There's tons of intrigue for the final season. The show has Mark Hamill for the final season. It should be a tearjerker for the devoted fans when Chuck battles his last villain.

COMMUNITY returns on Thursday, September 22 at 8PM

When we left the Greendale campus, we learned that Pierce had been enrolled in Greendale Community College for the last twelve years. Also, he abandoned the study group. As the new semester begins, Pierce remains separate from the group. John Goodman joins the show as assistant dean and Michael K. Williams joins the show as the group's just-released-from-prison biology professor. Dan Harmon stated that the episodes would be more grounded. In an interview with A.V. Club's Todd Vanderwerff, Harmon talked about the grand narrative of the show. It's important for he and his writers to progress the grand narrative of the series, involving Jeff earning his degree from the college.

Community's the funnest and funniest show on TV. I'm looking forward to seeing the group again. I'm excited to see how the Pierce arc is resolved. Most of all, I look forward to heart-felt, funny, and entertaining storytelling. I hope the show explores the characters lives away from campus more. I hope the show doesn't lose its ability to produce moving episodes like "Mixology Certification" and "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." Harmon knows his show, so I trust that he'll continue telling the stories I want to see, even if it'll drive him insane by February.

HARRY'S LAW returns on Wednesday, September 21 at 9PM

Harriet will continue defending questionably innocent people who the viewer perceives as guilty because the teaser establishes the guilt of the criminal (I think). No one seems to like the show except for Ed Bark. Many people expressed a certain amount of shock when NBC renewed the show. David E. Kelley's earned a second season on name alone. Despite the poor quality of Ally McBeal, Kelley's one of those one man brands in the TV industry. Kathy Bates' presence doesn't affect the show negatively because she's a successful film actress. Harriet's one of those characters looking to redeem herself after a long and hard fall from the top.

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT returns on Wednesday, September 21 at 10PM

Law & Order is a dying franchise. Dick Wolf claims he possesses a lifetime of stories for the show; however, he'll eventually have no medium to tell those stories that fill his brain. SVU's embarking on its 13th season. Christopher Meloni's gone. Mariska Hargity will appear in fewer episodes. The producers added Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino to investigate murders when Hargity's on break. People continue to watch. Will they stop when they realize that Meloni's not coming back? Who knows.

THE OFFICE returns on Thursday, September 22 at 9PM

Dunder-Mifflin-Scranton branch remains an office without a boss. James Spader's been added as the Big Boss of the company. The jury's out on whether the series should've ended when Steve Carrell left. The revolving door of guest stars hurt the series, according to fans and bloggers. I haven't watched the show in several years. The documentary style with its never-ending talking heads pushed me away from the series. In the season premiere, a list will drive the employees insane as they try to decipher its meaning and you just might find out who permanently replaces Michael Scott. There's another surprise but it might not surprise long-time viewers. I'm not sure. Tune in, if interested.

PARENTHOOD returns on Tuesday, September 13 at 10PM

Jason Katims took the majority of his FNL writers with him to Parenthood. After 35 episodes, the show's dismissed as a worthwhile soap. I don't understand why Friday Night Lights avoided the dreaded 'soap' term because FNL had many soapish stories throughout its five seasons. Nevertheless, Parenthood's entering its third season. The show uses personal stories from the writers for its episodes and they've found a devoted audience of parents who have autistic children. Jason Ritter's returning to the show. I don't know what's planned for season three. I'm not sure what happened in season two or season one.

PARKS & RECREATION returns on Thursday, September 22 at 8:30PM

Parks & Recs was an afterthought last year. Fans were furious that NBC relegated the show to mid-season. Critics worried about the third season airing at all. Now, Parks & Recs is the most-talked about comedy on network television. The show seemingly does no wrong. For its fourth season, Leslie's making an electoral run despite some skeletons in the closet. Besides that, I'm not sure what will happen in Pawnee. Well, Patricia Clarkson's been cast as Tammy I. Schur commented about the importance of putting the characters in very different places at season's end from where they were when the season began. So, there's that.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, August 29, 2011

2011-2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on ABC

The preview for returning shows will be slightly different this year. In 2010, I followed the format of the new TV shows preview. I broke down each returning show into several categories, which proved problematic because I don't watch every show on TV. I told readers what happened last season as well as what to expect from the new season of their favorite TV. I learned that press releases and summaries of season finales only offer so much information about a series' new season. When I wrote about CBS last year, I provided the premiere date and wrote a paragraph for select shows. I realized that specific format works rather well because I can mix information with some light-hearted humor about various TV shows.

Last week, I wrote about the various veteran shows across the ABC lineup. Indeed, ABC's stocked with veteran performers. The key word is performance. If a show sucks, it doesn't matter as long as it performs well. The returning lineup's boring, though. ABC's a network in love with night-time soaps. Currently, they're basically a more successful version of The CW. Instead of shows populated with good-looking people in their 20s, ABC shows are populated with good-looking people in their mid-30s and 40s. On the reality front, the network's very successful. Dancing with the Stars is a staple; ditto Extreme Makeover. Their comedy department's been revived since Modern Family's debut two years ago. I don't think the network will draw new fans in with their returning crop of shows. Body of Proof or Happy Endings might find some new fans. The veteran shows have their fanbase. Usually, fanbases decrease rather than increase at a certain point. Anyway, read on for the premiere dates of your favorite ABC shows and some thoughts on each:

BODY OF PROOF returns on Tuesday, September 20 at 10PM

Body of Proof premiered in March, aired nine episodes, and performed well enough for a second season pick-up. I thought about watching an episode in April because of guest star Christina Hendricks but went through with the thought. Dana Delaney portrays a complicated neurosurgeon who can no longer perform surgery because of an accident, so she became the chief medical examiner. Naturally, she met resentment in her new post. The character's personal life isn't a bowl of roses, either. Her and her 12 year old daughter struggle to get along and things aren't harmonious between her and her ex-husband. I gathered that her personal life often interferes with her professional life and vice-versa. Expect more of that in the second season because it’s a procedural.

CASTLE returns on Monday, September 19 at 10PM

Caste's a show with a devoted fanbase, mostly because of Nathan Fillion. Last season's sent ripples across the interweb because Castle confessed his love for Beckett; however, Beckett was shot and left for dead. The assassin who knew the details of the murder of Beckett's mother's murder presumably pulled the trigger. Fans don't know whether Beckett lives or dies. I'll take a wild stab at the answer and guess that the female lead survives. The season four premiere's titled "Rise." The more interesting aspect will be how the dynamic between Castle and Beckett shifts following Castle's confession and her near-death experience. Might they become a couple finally? Maybe I'll tune in to find out. I've never watched the show before.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES returns on Sunday, September 25 at 9PM

Desperate Housewives has produced 157 episodes thus far. Terriers had just 13 episodes. What's the point of comparing the two shows, though, especially when the latter was cancelled nearly a year ago? I wonder what the end-game will be. Maybe the women decide to move from Wisteria Lane. I never watched an episode of the show. Every preview suggests that the women scheme and the men murder or vice-versa. Marc Cherry plans to return to the Mary Alice mystery though the mystery already had resolution. One actress worries about the show jumping the shark. It seems entirely pointless to devote the final season to something that's already been told.

GREY'S ANATOMY returns on Thursday, September 22 at 9PM

Season 8 opens with a two parter. Whenever I catch a promo of the show, the actors and actresses always have the same distressed expression on their face. Surely every episode can't have life or death consequences, right? What can possibly distress the characters for 24 episodes a season? I jest, of course. The series relies on melodrama so the acting's predictably overwrought. I have no idea what happened last season or what will happen in season eight. Is it fair to guess that there'll be dramatic medical emergencies and dramatic relationships between characters?

HAPPY ENDINGS returns on Wednesday, September 28 at 9:30PM

I considered watching the comedy when it premiered in mid-season because of Elisha Cuthbert. I think she's swell and I refuse to listen to the criticisms of 24 fans who loathed Cuthbert because the writers failed to write her a decent character. Usually, I defend writers and insult actors but not today. In the season finale, Dave made a sex tape and Alex and her sister fought. The two characters were supposed to marry, so I assume Dave's tape will have comedic ramifications on the group of friends. Megan Mullally will have a recurring role in the second season as Penny's mother. Perhaps I'll watch some Happy Endings before VanCamp's show. I'll add that the Russo brothers are producers of the show, so they've brought some talented directors for episodes.

THE MIDDLE returns on Wednesday, September 21 at 8PM

Does it matter what happened in last season's finale? Will ignorance dramatically affect someone whose never seen The Middle before but happened to tune in for Patricia Heaton and Ray Romono's sitcom reunion? I'm not among the people who will watch for Romono's appearance in the one hour season premiere. I'm just asking on behalf of interested readers.

MODERN FAMILY returns on Wednesday, September 21 at 9PM

The family plans on vacationing in the underrated state that is Wyoming. I don't know what else is in store. People love the show or they alternately hate and love the show. I wonder if the sitcom's become a showcase for the actors and actresses rather than a series with any kind of storytelling. Sepinwall complimented the season finale for having overlapping plots. What the hell kind of show is this?

PRIVATE PRACTICE returns on Thursday, September 29 at 10PM

I briefly thought of Private Practice as The Practice and soon wondered how many seasons The Practice's been on. I confused the two because of their titles. The content of both couldn't be more different. Furthermore, I haven't seen a single scene from either show. Shonda Rhimes' spin-off heads into its fifth season. Audiences love Rhimes' shows. I wonder if Combat Hospital fared well in the ratings. The main character apparently wants to have a baby in season five. Expect the week-to-week cases to remain the same with folks who present moral and ethical dilemmas for the team of doctors. Also, expect uplifting narratives that warm your heart. The design for the title screams 'heartwarming and uplifting procedural storytelling."

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The 2011 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "The Unveiling" Review

"The Unveiling" explores the relationship between Ephram and Andy once more. The 1 year anniversary of Julia's death is upon the Brown Family and they need to return home from the unveiling. For Ephram, the anniversary and a piano piece awaken dormant memories. He remembers his father suddenly leaving for Boston after a fight as well as the truth that Andy never went to Boston. So, naturally, he assumes that Andy cheated on Julia. Andy didn't, though. Julia slept with another man. The truth shatters the perception Ephram had of his mother. Andy insists, "This doesn't change anything." Ephram solemnly responds, "Everything's changed."

The A story's about Ephram's relationship with his parents. Whereas other episodes sympathized with Andy, Berlanti and Mimoun chose to tell the A story through the lens of Ephram, so that the audience understands why Ephram feels the way he does towards his father. Julia succeeded where Andy failed. Each time Andy blew an important event off, Julia covered for her husband and saved the day. Through flashbacks, we witness a mother-son outing for a recital suit. Mother and son bond and joke. Julia encourages her son to invite his crush to his piano recital. Andy's never seen in the flashbacks; he's only a voice on the answering machine, breaking his word yet again. Ephram tries to convince his mother to leave her husband because "he's good for nothing." Julia resists the notion and gently says that she needs him.

The revelation that Julia cheated on Andy doesn't damn her as a character. Andy defends his wife and her reasons for straying from marriage because he knows how lousy a husband he was. Ephram realized that he needed the idea of a perfect mother because Andy was a crummy father in Manhattan. The next day, in a nuanced scene, Ephram makes peace with that ugly truth about his mother. Ephram states that he doesn't need Julia's memory to be perfect anymore because Andy's evolved as a father, and that's enough for him now.

This is the last episode in which Ephram resents Andy in comparison to how he treated Julia and how he inactive he was as a father. Father and son have more rough patches in their lives but Ephram's made peace with his memories of Manhattan. The unveiling of a tombstone's part of Jewish tradition. For a year, the surviving family repeats a prayer three times a day until the anniversary of the deceased's death. The belief is that it takes one year for the soul to reach heaven, for the soul to find peace. Of course it's no coincidence that Ephram finds peace one year after the death of his mother (that's good storytelling)--peace with his memories and father.

The B story portends something bad. Since "Colin the Second," Colin Hart's experienced positive changes--his memories returned and his relationship with Amy's blossomed; however, he's sick. After running to the couch with Amy, he vomits into a toilet. Before he leaves the bathroom, he looks at himself in the mirror with an expression that suggests Colin has gotten sick before. The concerned Amy tells her father, who responds that it's probably a bug. Harold informs Andy of the nausea, and then things fall apart.

The people around Colin prefer to bury their heads in the show instead of consider the thought that Colin's sick, that the cranial issue could be deadly. Amy lashes out at her father breaking her trust. The Harts fire Andy for insisting that Colin be monitored 24/7 because once-a-month generic visits to Denver aren't enough. The teen's sick and only Andy, Harold and Laynie acknowledge that truth. Laynie flees for boarding school; Andy's fired; Harold won't take the patient because of the wrath of Amy. Colin's as reluctant to accept the reality as Amy and his parents are. The collective bunch are in a stage of denial. Soon they'll experience other stages and then, eventually, acceptance.

Amy directs her anger and frustration at her father. Colin became angry with her for telling her father about the nausea. The girl's scared, though. Fear makes her act terribly. She's just fearful that she'll lose Colin, that his recovery's too-good-to-be true. And, well, we'll see if his recovery is too good to be true.

Other thoughts:

--Delia and Ephram had a sweet scene in which Ephram assured his little sister that his mother won't be mad if Delia doesn't think about her constantly. He tells Delia that when she thinks about her, it'll be more special than usual. Delia beamed when she heard that.

--Gregory Smith, Treat Williams, Emily Vancamp and Tom Amandes were spectacular once again.

--Greg Berlanti and Rina Mimoun wrote the episode; Michael Schultz directed it.

--I'll be writing about the season twice a week until I reach the end of the re-watch. Every Monday and Thursday will be Everwood Re-Watch days.

UP NEXT: "The Miracle of Everwood"--Although Amy and Bright are still living in denial regarding the state of Colin's recovery, Ephram can't ignore the bad signs any longer after he witnesses Colin freaking out and vandalizing the gym teacher's office. Meanwhile, a New York Magazine reporter pays a visit to Dr. Brown in hopes of uncovering the truth behind why the famed surgeon is still living in Everwood; and Delia decides to secretly spend the night in the Museum of History while on a school field trip. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002SLOO8S

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Entourage "The Big Bang" Review

What is the big bang that the episode derives its name from? I'm not sure and I don't care. I'm interested in writing about the activity in each scene. Since the show premiered in July, I've basically ripped Doug Ellin week after week for lousy storytelling, shallow characters and no discernable purpose for the characters or narrative. Well, I'm going to compliment the show for its active direction in their scenes this week.

The show would be unwatchable if the characters stood around and talked. Literally, the show would be unwatchable because the scenes don't have any substance or nuance. Mostly, it's bros being bros or bros fretting about a paragraph in an article or a useless strike or Johnny Galecki possibly dating Sloan. Active direction injects life into lifeless scenes. For example, Billy Walsh called Drama to rant about the strike. The scene would've been fairly boring if Walsh called from home, lying on a couch, and cussing Drama and his strike out but Walsh's side happened at a little kid’s birthday party. Billy Walsh whispered obscenities into the phone, dressed as a pirate, as children swatted at a piñata. Walsh reminded Drama that he's a father of five who won't be able to afford maple syrup without the Johnny Bananas gig.

Does the scene work just because Walsh is dressed as a pirate with crazy children swatting at a piñata? No. The scene works because it shows instead of tells. Any creative writing 101 class instructs the students to show, not tell (another rule is: make descriptions active and actions descriptive but that rule's for novels, novellas and short stories...and no teacher taught me that--my father did). In any scene, a screenwriter needs to hit his or her beats. The manners in which the beats are hit make a difference between an average screenplay and a great screenplay. Ellin and Ferrara showed us Walsh's domestic life, his children, and even gave one of the children the line about maple syrup. The scene revealed character in more ways than just dialogue.

In another scene, Drama's at the gym, working stress off. Lloyd interrupts his punching session to talk business with the on-strike actor. Each time Drama attempts to re-start his session, Lloyd gets between Drama and his trainer. The audience knows that Drama's stressed about the situation and that he purposely avoids agents and executives because of his stress level. Kevin Dillon's a physical actor and his scenes are usually visceral. Visceral scenes are essential because the audience needs to feel what the character feels. Drama and Lloyd's scene wouldn't have achieved the desired affect in the office or in a cafe. In the scene, Lloyd explains that CBS will cancel the series if he and Dice continue to hold out for more money. Once Lloyd leaves, we know Drama's defeated because he's lost the desire to punch.

The two scenes are small samples of one of Entourage's few strengths. It's worth taking the time to watch a scene and figure out why it works beyond the dialogue. Anyway, nothing changed between last week's episode and this week's episode. Drama and Dice eventually forced CBS to cave to their demands (what a fantasy--would CBS really cave for an animated show starring the voices of two washed up actors?). Melinda Clarke and Eric ate lunch together. Johnny Galecki interrupted and insinuated that he and Sloan have become sexual partners. Vince was offended by a single paragraph in the Vanity Fair article that criticized his relationships with women, so he met with an ex-girlfriend who happened to be the journalist's sister.

Ari learned that divorce would be expensive, and not just in legal fees. Ari could lose a stake in the company to pay his wife her share of their capital. He resisted the divorce, went to the house to talk with her only to lose his mind when he saw Bobby Flay in the foyer. And that point, he declared that he'd settle their relationship with lawyers. Bobby revealed Mrs. Ari's real name, which received too much publicity in the season previews. Each scene indicates that the series will end with the two separated (and it might because of the movie) but they'll find one another again. Mrs. Ari's too hesitant with Flay and Ari's never stopped loving his wife.

Two episodes remain in this damn series. #807 is available on HBO Go, so I'll have the review up at 10:55PM next Sunday. One character's life will experience a positive change.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

2011-2012 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on NBC

As I write, every news outlet's providing wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Irene. Naturally, I assume my readers wonder if Irene will affect the blog. The storm's definitely going to pound my city and many other cities and towns. In fact, I'll be making the trek south to check on possible damage. The Foot won't be affected by the hurricane, though. After all, I'm in the midst of a Fall TV Preview and scrambling to finish the Everwood re-watch before the official end of summer. Earlier in the week, I wrote about CBS as ten seconds of earthquake hit. The blog's built to endure all sorts of natural disasters.

Anywho, today's the last day of the previews for new TV shows. Last year, I promised to review shows that I abandoned after two episodes despite my declaration that I write about a show no matter how bad it gets. Well, I changed my tune this season. I only committed 100% to two shows that don't premiere until October (spoiler alert: the second show is Grimm). The new shows just aren't exciting. I have an idea of what the weekly schedule will be. Mid-season features more exciting television. As for NBC, the network's been managed as poorly as the Baltimore Orioles. I don't think any of their new shows for the fall will receive a second season, let alone save the network. If I'm an NBC executive, I'm banking on Smash and Awake in mid-season. Read on for all you need to know about their new dramas and comedies this fall:

FREE AGENTS



Created By John Enbom

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 14 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2011) "Free Agents" is a crooked workplace/romantic new comedy  based on the cult U.K. series of the same name that explores the trials and tribulations of two public relations executives on the rebound.

Thoughts: John Enbom developed the American version of Free Agents. Enbom, of course, ran the terrific Party Down for two seasons on Starz. I'm skeptical of every show America stole from England because American writers have a long history of not understanding what made the show worked overseas. The show stars Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn, two talented and funny actors. In the 3.5 minute preview, they have good chemistry. Beyond the initial pilot premise, I'm unsure what the week-to-week episodes will be about. Anthony Stewart Head portrays a quirky boss. I assume each episode will mix work and sex. It could work. We'll see. I won't write about the show.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

GRIMM



Created By David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf

Premiere Date: Friday, October 21 at 9PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2011) "Grimm" is a new drama series inspired by the classic Grimm's Fairy Tales. Remember the fairy tales your parents used to tell you before bedtime? Those weren't stories -- they were warnings.

Thoughts: Grimm certainly won't be for everyone. The premise is sort of ridiculous but I'm excited for the show because of David Greenwalt. Greenwalt worked with Joss on Buffy and ANGEL for six seasons. Greenwalt's received some credit for the quality of early Buffy. The man knows genre, understands character and how to incorporate myth without sacrificing the character. The main character in Grimm's the lone Grimm left on earth, so he's responsible for keeping people safe from the monsters they read about as children. I'm interested in the contemporary use of the Brothers Grimm fairytales. I'm also just excited to watch a David Greenwalt show again.

Chance of Weekly Review: 100%

THE PLAYBOY CLUB



Created By Chad Hodge

Premiere Date: Monday, September 19

Amber Heard stars in The Playboy Club
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2011) From Academy Award-winning executive producer Brian Grazer, "The Playboy Club" is a provocative new drama about a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary entrepreneur created an empire and an icon changed American culture. It's the early '60s, and the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago is the door to all of your fantasies -- and the key is the most sought-after status symbol of its kind. Inside the seductive world of the bunny, the epitome of beauty and service, the clientele rubs shoulders with the decade's biggest mobsters, politicos and entertainers.

Thoughts: The Playboy Club is another Mad Men wanna-be. The club setting allows Chad Hodge and his writers to tell a myriad of stories involving gangsters, actors and other powerful people. The thought of another Mad Men wanna-be's not appealing to me; however, Amber Heard's portrays the most prominent female character in the show and I adore the actress. I'm prone to watching various television shows just because of an actress, so yeah, I'll tune in for some episodes of The Playboy Club. I don't really care for their version of Don Draper or the inciting incident that kick-starts the long-form narrative and brings Amber Heard closer with the Don Draper type. But, at the end of the day, Amber Heard's in the show, so I'm tuning in.

Chance of Weekly Review: 11%

PRIME SUSPECT



Created By Alexandra Cunningham

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 22 at 10PM

Premise: (from NBC press release, May 2011) Timoney finds that being a homicide detective in New York City is tough enough and having to contend with a male-dominated police department to get respect makes it that much tougher. She's an outsider who has just transferred to a new precinct dominated by an impenetrable clique of a boys' club. Timoney has her own vices too -- with a questionable past -- and she tends to be forceful, rude and reckless. But she's also a brilliant cop who keeps her eye on one thing: the prime suspect.

Thoughts: Initially, I thought NBC hadn't cancelled Chase because Prime Suspect, at a distance, seems like Chase. There's the tough-as-nails female cop surrounded by men who don't respect her. In the preview, there's a bit where Bello swears to find a criminal for a child, just like in Chase's preview last season. Bello has great screen presence. Timoney doesn't seem too different from other lead female characters in a procedural. They all have the same basic make-up--strong, determined, tough, snarky, etc. Prime Suspect should be a good series for fans of procedurals. I never enjoyed procedurals, though.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

UP ALL NIGHT



Created By Emily Spivey

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 14 at 8PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2011) From Emily Spivey (NBC's "Parks and Recreation," NBC's "Saturday Night Live") and legendary Emmy Award-winning producer Lorne Michaels, comes "Up All Night," a modern take on parenthood that shows the challenges of balancing a career, marriage and a new baby.

Thoughts: I'm sure you've seen the promos on NBC of Applegate seductively talking to the audience before we discover she's a tired new mother seeking some relief from her parental burden. The modern take on parenthood is a popular narrative now. FOX has a drama about modern parenthood. The media went gaga for that book which implored a child to get the f--- to sleep. I'll probably appreciate these takes on parenthood when I become a parent. I don't know. I wonder how many fresh takes there are for these parenthood narratives. Generally, new parents complain about the same thing. If I want to read about parenthood, I'll read Drew Magary's tirades against parenthood as well as his subsequent praise of it. So, I assume much of the show will find its comedy in the trials of taking care of a baby but its heart will be how special it is to have a child.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

WHITNEY



Created By Whitney Cummings

Premiere Date: Thursdays, September 22 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2011) A hilarious look at modern love, "Whitney" is a new multi-camera comedy series about Whitney (Whitney Cummings, "Chelsea Lately") and Alex (Chris D'Elia, "Glory Daze"), a happily unmarried couple. Together for five years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched. However, after attending yet another one of their friends' weddings, Whitney realizes that she and Alex are dangerously close to relationship boredom.

Thoughts: Of the two Whitney Cummings show, 2 Broke Girls is more promising. Whitney doesn't seem bad--it just seems average. For a network that gave Dan Harmon the chance to write his show without conforming to the standards of the network sitcom, I would've expected the network to let Cummings create a show with more edge. Instead, the series is basically generic. The show's built on its reversal of social norms and conventions. Her and her boyfriend live happily as boyfriend and girlfriend rather than as a wedded couple, she's unsure of wedding etiquette, unsure of how to be sexy, etc. Whitney Cummings' is energetic, though, and I expect a cable comedy of hers to be great--just not her NBC one.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011-2012 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on FOX

FOX is in a relatively comfortable place on network TV. Behind CBS, they're probably the second most secure network. ABC's sort of directionless and NBC is a mess. The CW's not strong enough to be considered equals with the other four networks. FOX has a stable of reliable veteran programs. The shows have aged quite a bit though, so ideally they'd like to launch a crop of new shows that hit with the audience. The big hope for them in the new TV season is the Spielberg produced dinosaur action-adventure drama, Terra Nova. In actuality, the best new shows won't premiere until mid-season for reasons unbeknownst to me. The network's banking on The X Factor in the fall for massive ratings that will destroy any competition from the other networks (I didn't write about The X Factor for the preview). Considering America's affinity for singing competitions and Simon Cowell, The X Factor WILL destroy its competition.

With a number of established shows, the fall slate doesn't include many new shows (only four). So, without further ado, check out what FOX is offering:

ALLEN GREGORY



Created By Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul and Jonah Hill

Premiere Date: Sunday, October 30 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2011) ALLEN GREGORY is a new animated comedy series that tells the story of one of the most pretentious 7-year-olds of our time.

Thoughts: I haven't watched an animated series in some time because Seth McFarlene created every animated program on television (that's an exaggeration). This new animated show from Jonah Hill and David A. Gordon's promising. The trailer's fun. I liked the unexpected crush Allen develops for his principal. I usually enjoy characters who behave older than they are, like Nasim Pedrad's one character on SNL. As smart as Allen Gregory is, he won't be able to avoid the pratfalls of kindergarten when kids exclude him and pick on him nor will he be able to avoid essential seven year old feelings. There's a ton of potential for the series. I won't write about the show but I'm going to watch it.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER



Created By Ellen Kreamer and Sherry Bilsing-Graham

Premiere Date: Wednesday, November 23 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2011) I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (working title) is a new multi-camera comedy about two best friends who are single moms struggling to raise their difficult and over-privileged teenage daughters.

Thoughts: The series follows the growing-trend of parents who complain and complain about their role as parents and their off-springs. The single moms don't struggle to raise their teenager daughters as much as they struggle to contain them. The show uses broad humor and a laugh track. I didn't laugh once but Jamie Pressley's a charming presence on screen, and her role's perfect. I don't have much interest in watching over-privileged teenagers, though I know there will be a healthy serving of heart each week. I'm sure there's an audience for the program--just not sure how large.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

NEW GIRL



Created By Liz Meriweather

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 20 at 9PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2011) NEW GIRL (working title) is a new single-camera comedy from Liz Meriwether ("No Strings Attached") that features a young ensemble cast and takes a fresh and outrageous look at modern male/female relationships. JESS DAY (Zooey Deschanel, "(500) Days of Summer") is an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. Goofy, positive, vulnerable and honest to a fault, Jess has faith in people, even when she shouldn't. Although she's dorky and awkward, she's comfortable in her own skin.

Thoughts: There are certainties with Zooey Deschanel's new comedy: she'll be charming and adorable. The girl will also sing. And let's not forget her quirkiness. The characters seem likable. Zooey's adorable-ness will be enough to carry episodes because viewers will just 'aw' at her and gush about how adorable she is. I expect the show to move beyond 'Zooey needs to get her groove back, sexually, with a man' in future episodes. I also expect the friendship between her and 'her coach' to become more romantic and sexual as the series progresses. I might tune in; however, Sarah Michelle Gellar's show will air at the same time, and Sarah owns Zooey.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

TERRA NOVA



Created By Craig Silverstein and Kelly Marcel

Premiere Date: Monday, September 26 at 8PM

Premise: TERRA NOVA follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race.

Thoughts: FOX originally planned to premiere Terra Nova in the fall of 2010. The network wanted to premiere the series in May 2011. Each time, production suffered a mishap or something. Now, the series is ready (sort of ). I'm pessimistic about any TV show that suffers repeated problems in production of one episode. Jose Molina's on the writing staff, which is good because he's one of the best genre writers in TV. I'm sure the series will look terrific. The story itself is 'eh.' I don't understand why a family travels back into dinosaur times following the end of the world. I wonder if the show will follow any rules of time-travel. I never thought the Jurassic Park movies were the bee’s knees. The series is an epic undertaking and I'm skeptical of its sustainability weekly.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

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The 2011 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "Everwood Confidential" Review

"Everwood Confidential" is a different kind of Everwood episode--the production of it is completely the product of the 23 episode beast of their first season order. I'll compare the episode to a spec script. Any aspiring TV writer writes spec scripts to break into the industry. Usually, writers spec existing shows because the producer or show runner needs to know that the writer can write with the show's voice. "Everwood Confidential" didn't come from a spec script but, damn does it feel like one. The A story's separate from the on-going narrative, ditto the B story. I imagine the writers sat around and wondered, "What would happen if Andy and Harold were forced to work together?" Soon, the dominoes fell. Presumably, the writers mapped out how and why the two doctors would work together. And, then, to avoid a superfluous A story, they included some emotional stuff about Harold's relationship with his late father.

Do not misunderstand--I like "Everwood Confidential." The A story's silly with a lot of laughs. Treat Williams and Tom Amandes are gold together. There's just nothing to chew on. Andy and Harold are brought together with a senile old man confesses to a murder that went unsolved thirty years ago. The local doctors involve themselves in the investigation for different reasons--Andy feels bad for accidentally getting Marvin arrested; Marvin is Harold's godfather and was his late father's best friend. It's not long before Hal sr. is implicated in the crime, so Harold's compelled to clear his father's name because the town holds onto a juicy scandal like it's the shroud of Turin. But Harold wonders if he knew his father at all because their relationship became more formal than he would've liked when they shared a practice.

The two doctors follow leads, clues, and anonymous tips. The playfully noir-lite feel's buttoned by Andy gravely telling Harold that he'll meet with him after he prepares dinner for the children. Throughout the investigation, Andy's falling ill with the flu. The flu is key to the entire investigation. The senile, old man never murdered the charming drifter who passed through Everwood in 1918; he accidentally ran over his wife's dog, buried it at the urging of Hal the senior, then discovered other sets of bones. The bones, though, were from people buried during the flu outbreak in Everwood 1918. Marvin returns to the retirement home and Harold restores his father's name. Later, Harold visits with Marvin to ensure he's okay. During the visit, Marvin (who thinks Harold is his father) politely ribs his best friend about how much he dotes on his son, how special he thinks his son is, and hands Hal a $5 to give to Harold. Harold hears what he needed to hear about his father's opinion of him and leaves Marvin to his Billie Holliday and dance with the memory of his wife. And leaves the $5 on the table.

The A's story's strength is its innocent poignancies--Marvin's never-ending love for his wife and Harold's love for his late father. Everwood always hit one's heart no matter how silly a story they told. Another strength of the A story is the performances from Treat Williams and Tom Amandes. The humor between the two characters is reminiscent of comedies from the 1940s--wholesome but hilarious. The characters are no longer at odds, as they were in the initial episodes. They're TV's version of The Odd Couple. I just love their friendship.

In the B story, Ephram and Laynie have a date amidst complications. Laynie sees Ephram's attraction towards Amy clear as day, so his feelings for the girl submarine any chance of a long-term relationship with Colin's sister. Ephram freaks when he hears that Colin planned on dumping her pre-accident. At the end of their night, they part ways amicably. In the C story, the piano teacher, Matt, works with Ephram and worries about his desire to become a great pianist. Matt thinks that Andy's persistence hinders Ephram's desire to play, which is just another reminder about the undercurrent of issues between father and son. Ephram's piano playing becomes more central to his series arc but not yet.

The episode's a chance for the show to take a breath before the intense back-end of the season, beginning with "The Unveiling." The test of a great show isn't its ability to produce mind-blowing episodes every week, its whether or not the viewer wants to spend time with the characters even if they're running around like fools trying to solve a murder or making mistake after mistake with a tertiary character. Everwood's a wonderful place to escape to for 44 minutes and I never tired of its inhabitants.

David Schulner wrote the episode. Arlene Sanford directed it.

UP NEXT: “The Unveiling”--Approaching the anniversary of his mother's death, Ephram confronts a repressed memory of his father cheating on his mother, causing an even bigger rift between father and son that eventually leads to a firestorm of emotions. Meanwhile, Amy grows concerned that Colin might not be recovering as well as everyone thinks when he gets violently ill on one of their dates. http://www.amazon.com/The-Unveiling/dp/B002SLKXB0

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011-2012 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on The CW, FX, HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME

Welcome to the third day of the 2011-2012 Fall TV Preview. As per usual, The CW’s too small a network to develop a ton of new shows every year, so I’ve included the various new shows premiering on cable and premium channels in the fall.

The star of The Secret Circle (fanpop.com)
The CW continues to befuddle entertainment reporters and TV critics. No one knows how The CW makes a profit each season. No one knows how the network continues to exist when the ratings for their highest-rated show would be the lowest on the established, powerful networks. The CW replaced Dawn Ostroff with a 50 year old male who cracked jokes about his age, the demographic and confessed that he’s trying to catch up with each program whilst exercising in the morning. The network struggles with its new shows. They haven’t launched a hit, by their standards, since 2009. Their veteran shows get older each year. Eventually, One Tree Hill will run out of renewals as will Supernatural, and The CW has next to nothing as potential replacements. The  CW should be hopeful about the new shows, though. They have star power and built-in audiences. The executives need their three scripted dramas to find success or they’ll need a huge development season.

The new shows on cable and premium channels should satisfy the pretentious group of individuals who don’t dare watch network filth. The shows are diverse and interesting. Read on to find out what exactly will air on your flat-screens this fall:

THE CW

HART OF DIXIE



Created By Leila Gerstein

Premiere Date: Monday, September 26 at 9PM

Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2011) Fast-talking New Yorker and brand new doctor Zoe Hart has it all figured out - after graduating top of her class from medical school, she'll follow in her father's footsteps and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. But when her dreams fall apart, Zoe decides to accept an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, to work with him at his small practice in Bluebell, Alabama. Zoe arrives in this small Gulf Coast town only to find that Harley has passed away and left his half of the medical practice to her in his will. She quickly finds that Southern hospitality isn't always so hospitable.

Thoughts: Initially, upon reading about Hart of Dixie some months ago, I thought the show would harken back to the glory days of TheWB. The premise reminded me of Everwood until I read a story on Deadline comparing Gerstein's drama to Northern Exposure. In fact, that article made the show less interesting to me. Leila Gerstein described the show as "escapist" and called the show "city girl porn." Whereas I hoped for a series with the heart of Everwood, I realized how much of a CW show it is. The show's been criticized for its lack of African-American characters considering its Alabama setting. Gerstein's never been in the south hence her 'escapism' crutch she employs during interviews. Hart of Dixie might be a mess. Josh Schwartz, the OC's creator as well as Chuck's, works as an executive producer. I'm not sure how involved he'll be as he's working on the final season of Chuck. Rachel Bilson stars as Zoe Hart. Bilson's delightful. I'll watch the pilot and possibly the second episode. Despite the red flags, I'm still curious.

Chance of Weekly Review: 45%

RINGER



Created By Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 13 at 9PM

Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2011) Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin sister - only to learn that her sister's seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she's trying to leave behind.

Thoughts: CBS originally developed Ringer. During Upfronts, news broke that The CW swooped in to broadcast Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to TV. According to some, Ringer doesn't fit into The CW's brand. As you read above, the show's neo-noirish with elements of soap. The series will no doubt meditate on themes of identity and duality through Sarah's two characters. I'm drawn to series because of my never-ending crush on SMG. The premise and the trailer haven't hooked me though. The trailer's too vague. The full plot summary offers more about the characters and the central conflict but its relatively bland. SMG's good enough to compensate for weaknesses in the show.

Chance of Weekly Review: 50%

THE SECRET CIRCLE



Created By Andrew Miller; Based on the book by L.J. Smith

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 15 at 9PM

Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2011) Cassie Blake was a happy, normal teenage girl - until her mother Amelia dies in what appears to be a tragic accidental fire. Orphaned and deeply saddened, Cassie moves in with her warm and loving grandmother Jane in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington - the town her mother left so many years before - where the residents seem to know more about Cassie than she does about herself. She soon learns that her new friends are descended from powerful witches as is she. What don't they know is that dark powers are at play, wielded by the adults in Chance Harbor.

Thoughts: Kevin Williamson essentially developed the Secret Circle. Miller wrote the pilot, then The CW brought in Williamson for the heavy lifting (I think he re-wrote the script). No, the show isn't a companion piece to The Vampire Diaries. Yes, it involves pretty teenagers with supernatural abilities. Williamson's said that he aims The Secret Circle to appeal to both genders of all ages. The trailer's somewhat cheesy as the teenagers perform magic. I'm not going to write the series off, though, because of how great The Vampire Diaries became. It never hurts a show or a network to cast Britt Robertson. She's incredibly pretty with terrific screen presence. Williamson's proven that he operates separately from Twilight and Teen Wolf. His shows are more Whedon than Meyer. Don't write it off, friends and well-wishers. The Secret Circle might be good.

Chance of Weekly Review: 61%

FX

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

Created By Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk

Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 5 at 10PM

Premise: (from the FX Press Release, July 2011) American Horror Story revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish.

Thoughts: Mystery surrounds the series. There are various "clue" videos on YouTube. The advertisement that airs during FX shows reveals nothing about the show, which means I don't have much to write about Ryan Murphy's new series. Horror series haven't succeeded in the past but Murphy's riding a hot streak. I won't watch the series because I think the man's a d-bag who treats people like trash. The cast isn't too great. If you're interested in a horror series, though, , check it out.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

AMC

HELL ON WHEELS



Created By Joe Gayton & Tony Gayton

Premiere Date: Sunday, November 6 at 10PM

Premise: (from AMC Press Release, July 2011) "Hell On Wheels" transports audiences back to post Civil War America and examines the struggles and hardships of rebuilding and repairing our country after the bloodiest war on American soil. The series examines the railroad's institutionalized greed and corruption, the immigrant experience, the plight of the newly emancipated African-Americans during Reconstruction, and the ravaging of the Native American land and people, in the name of progress. The main throughline of "HELL ON WHEELS" is the story of Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) and his quest for revenge over the wartime death of his wife. Over time, "Hell on Wheels" chronicles this potent turning point in our nation's history, and how uncivilized the business of civilization can be.

Thoughts: Hell on Wheels is ambitious. The scope of the series seems too much for a TV show to tackle. AMC has taken a hit since The Killing disaster. Many wonder if the network's reputation took a bad hit after the public spats during negotiations for Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Hell on Wheels seems like the show to restore AMC's image, except the show's been reviewed badly. The scenes in the trailer resemble Deadwood. The subject matter's worthwhile. I have reservations the "main throughline" of the series because revenge-driven protagonists and "how uncivilized the business of civilization can be" has been done many times before in westerns. I'm more interested in how the show portrays emancipated African-Americans, the ravaging of Native American lands in the name of progress and the immigrant experience. The revenge, greed and corruption of the time's old hat. I'm intrigued. I wonder, though, about the ability of the show runners to handle the immense scope of the narrative.

Chance of Weekly Review: 77%

HBO

ENLIGHTENED



Created By Mike White

Premiere Date: Monday, October 10 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from HBO's press release, July 2011) This new show focuses on a self-destructive woman (Laura Dern) who has a spiritual awakening after a meltdown. Determined to live a more enlightened existence, the former career executive's new lifestyle wreaks havoc both at home and at work.

Thoughts: HBO comedies are odd. Shows like Bored To Death, How To Make it in America and Hung elude me. The comedies aren't funny (Curb's the only show that's funny). The comedies either deal with dis-enchanted career people or groups of people attempting to make a name for themselves. Enchanted falls into the former category as Laura Dern portrays who suffers a breakdown then transforms her life, much to the chagrin of her family and co-workers. Mike White's a talented writer. His show's too damn similar to the other comedies, though. I have no interest in following this potentially quirky show with its cast of quirky and chaotic characters.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

SHOWTIME

HOMELAND



Created By Alex Gansa, Gideon Raff, and Howard Gordon

Premiere Date: Sunday, October 2 at 10PM

Premise: (from Showtime's press release, July 2011) HOMELAND is a psychological thriller that tells the story of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA officer battling her own demons, who becomes convinced that the intelligence that led to the rescue of Sgt. Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) a U.S. soldier who had been missing and presumed dead for nine years, was a set-up and may be connected to an al-Qaeda plot to be carried out on American soil.

Thoughts: Homeland has potential. The show taps into America's fear of terrorism and espionage. I'm interested the dynamic between Carrie and the U.S. soldier, who presumably might find themselves in a continuous game of cat-and-mouse. I'm not sure if the series can sustain a psychological thriller over the course of thirteen episodes. Psychological thrillers become tiresome in features after 90 minutes. A lot depends on Danes' character and the depth of terrorism plot. I'll probably tune in.

Chance of Weekly Review: 23%

STARZ

BOSS



Created By Farhad Safinia

Premiere Date: Friday, October 21 at 10PM

Premise: (from Starz's press release, June 2011) Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) sits like a spider at the center of Chicago's web of power; a web built on a covenant with the people. They want to be led; they want disputes settled, jobs dispensed, and loyalties rewarded. If he achieves through deception and troubling morality, so be it. As long as he gets the job done, they look the other way. Yet despite being the most effective mayor in recent history, a degenerative brain disorder is ripping everything away from him. He can't trust his memory, his closest allies, or even himself.

Thoughts: Presumably, Farhad Safinia's asking the audience to root for someone whose behaved terribly because other people will treat him terribly now that his brain disorder's ripping everything away from him. The character spun his web of power with deception and "troubling morality." I appreciate the effort to create an anti-hero who became one, and shade of grey, because of his business and the people within that world. But, boy, Boss seems bland. If I want complicated characters trapped within a world of backstabbers and power plays, I'll read A Song of Ice and Fire.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%

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The 2011 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "My Funny Valentine" Review

I wrote about "My Funny Valentine" briefly in a Valentine's Day post. The episode's about the various forms of love and how relationships change throughout everyone's lives. How does a married couple retain the spark of their early years together? How does a recently married elderly couple deal with the knowledge that one of them will eventually have to live without the other? Amy suggests that love becomes easier as one ages but it doesn't. Relationships continually change and evolve as does a couple's love. Everwood celebrates its married couples and their devotion to one another.

Andy Brown is separate from the characters in the Valentine's Day episode. All around him, the young and the old remember their love for one another, express that love and celebrate it. Of course, he's experiencing his first Valentine's Day without his wife. The day's lonely. Dr. Trott returned to offer couples therapy, so he can't even talk with the woman who helped him make the decision to perform surgery on Colin in a professional setting; however, Dr. Trott wants to spend time with him and they arrange a date. In "Snow Job," Andy reacted badly when confronted with the idea of another woman in his life romantically. Andy experiences the same feelings when he's with Dr. Trott. She's been in his mind since she left but he feels tremendous guilt about his thoughts and feelings about her. His guilt stems from his life in Everwood--Andy became the man Julia wanted in Manhattan and now she's gone; she's also his wife, and her death doesn't mean that Andy can date new women. But, on a lonely Valentine's Day night, he spends the night with Dr. Trott and they have sex. The next morning, he felt empty and ashamed.

Andy Brown's a layered character. The character has many roles--father, doctor, widow, neighbor. Andy's widow-hood hasn't been explored too much thus far. Episodes 15-18 explore his post-Julia life from the perspective of his widow-hood more than any stretch of episodes in the season. The A story's about more than Andy's first woman following his wife's passing; it's about his grieving process and what he needs to do to find peace and happiness in his new life. Dr. Trott opines that Andy's in need of personal expression. The thoughts about his wife shouldn't be bottled up inside of Andy. Dr. Trott suggests he write a letter, so he does. The letter's apologetic, sentimental and honest. Andy wrote about his love for her, about what they'd do together if she were alive but he acknowledges that he wouldn't have changed if he had one last day with her. And that's the sad truth--Andy could've only changed when his wife died, and that truth contributes to the guilt he feels. Andy Brown's not the poster boy for a successful life. He makes mistakes, displays poor judgment and pisses off the people he loves. He's a fantastic character who becomes more complicated as the series progresses.

The B story, with the Abbotts, explores how a married couple retains the spark of their early years together. For Harold, he hardly thinks about such things. The man's simple. All he wanted was a good wife and good children, and he has that. Rose, though, worries about their life when Amy and Bright move on with their lives. She worries about Harold's love for her as well as his desire for her sexually. The woman just wants a reminder that Harold feels the same for her as he did twenty years ago, so Harold indulges her with a romantic gesture he freely admits is manipulative. Rose melts all the same. She'll never have to worry about his love for her. Luckily for Everwood fans, season four explores the period Rose worries about.

Irv experiences a mild cardiac event. Edna flashbacks to the death of her first husband. Suddenly, she's confronted with the fact that she might experience the death of another husband, which terrifies her. The couple briefly fights. There's no magical elixir for Edna's concern. Yes, one day, she or Irv will pass, leaving the other alone. Irv urges that she and he live their lives as they want to--carpe diem, if you will--and Edna's fears rest.

On Valentine's Day night, Ephram and Laynie had their first date. Amy watched enviously from the bench. Colin called her on it and she came clean about her history with Ephram. Colin offered her the choice between him and the New York boy in the most polite way, explaining that she waited for him, so he'll do the same, because of his affection and regard for her. Her feelings were dormant until Laynie reminded her what she likes about Ephram. I possess completely knowledge of the series. I'll write that the D/E story's importance is admission from Amy about her feelings for Ephram. Don't expect a quadrangle of drama because far more compelling storytelling looms.

Overall, "My Funny Valentine" is another great episode of Everwood. It's a light-hearted with a poignantly sad core (Andy's story). Vanessa Taylor wrote the episode. Michael Schultz directed it.

UP NEXT: "Everwood Confidential"--Andy and Harold investigate a 30 year old murder to clear names when Harold's godfather confesses to the crime and claims Harold Sr was involved. Meanwhile, Laynie reveals that Colin intended to break-up with Amy before the accident. http://www.amazon.com/Everwood-Confidential-HD/dp/B002SLSH86

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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot. I write regular posts about Grimm & The Vampire Diaries.