Sorry for not writing in a bit, but with the fall TV season in full swing, what little free time Christine and I have has been spent clearing shows off our new 80-hour Tivo, Snape. Yes, we name everything and since Elvis was taken, Snape it was!
When we first took up Tivo’s offer to upgrade — they let us transfer our no-mothly-payment/lifetime membership plan to the new machine for a one-time fee…cool, huh? — 80 hours seemed kinda excessive, but with Ken Burn’s “The War” on PBS clocking in at 20-something hours alone, we’ll definitely need the space!
At least until the networks start axing some of their shows, like Fox has already done with their super-fake crapfest “Nashville” (We watched it once and yikes, terrible!). But for now, we’ve been sampling a little bit of everything, and except for a few scorching hot bright spots, most of the new shows are kind of a snooze.
I’ll get to our favorites in a second, but first, the worst of the worst.
BIONIC WOMAN (NBC, Wednesdays @ 9pm)
Sadly, the show we were most excited about turned out to be the worst. With production values and acting that makes “Heroes” look like Shakespeare in the round, this show is just plain boring. And with such rich source material — in the form of the classic and far-superior original show — that is just a crime against TV. From it’s totally-NOT-San-Francisco-locales (hello, Vancouver much?) to it’s strangely lethargic fight scenes and B-grade Sci Fi channel-ish cast, everything about this sloppy, badly acted show screams low-budget.
“Bionic Woman” should have been way, way better. Nerds everywhere deserve it. And the worst thing of all, they totally ditched the super cool bionic sounds — you know: “chh-chh-chh-chh-chh-chh” — from the original. Why bother remaking this show without those sounds? I mean, seriously…
JOURNEYMAN (NBC, Mondays @ 10pm)
This needlessly complicated time-travel romance/drama feels cobbled together from a bunch of other (and better!) shows and again, is stuffed to the gills with boring, no-name actors.
The main dude is from HBO’s “Rome”, which I hear was good, but as far as time-traveling heroes go, he’s no Scott Bakula and as far as being the next “Quantum Leap”? “Quantum Sleep” is more like it. Seriously boring stuff, if this show doesn’t put you to sleep, the next one will for sure…
MOONLIGHT (CBS, Fridays @ 9pm)
I liked this show better the first time I saw it when it was called “Angel”! A totally cheesy rip off of Joss Whedon’s classic “Buffy” offshoot, this show doesn’t have an original bone in it’s pasty white body and though it’s sly “Veronica Mars” references are amusing (as is the brief appearance of “Mars” regular Jason Dohring) the lead character’s noir-lite voice over is so laughable it makes the narration on “The Wonder Years” look positively “street” by comparison.
If you’re looking for cool vampire action, steer clear of this lame-o copycat and rent yourself some “Buffy” and “Angel” on DVD. Way cooler shows!
And speaking of cooler shows, here begins the list of the mid-level shows. Not the worst things you could watch, but not necessarily Tivo-worthy either.
CANE (CBS, Tuesdays @ 10pm)
A tad overseasoned for my taste, this super Cuban version of “The Godfather” is beautifully shot — and the picante cast of over-sexed, pseudo-Cubanos isn’t exactly hard on the eyes — but the waves of Latino platitudes wear on you after a while. Seriously, if I heard Jimmy Smits or Hector Elizondo (who were both great, by the way) proclaim how much they loved this country one more time…ay, carumba!
As they say in Oaxaca: “a little mole goes a long way” and the same can be said for this show. Though I’m not saying I won’t watch it again, I seriously doubt “Cane” will ever make it’s way onto our “Season Pass” list. Lo siento, hermanos.
BIG BANG THEORY (CBS, Mondays @ 8:30pm)
You know that geek-chic has officially run it’s course when the oldie olsen “Tiffany” network makes a show about it. So cynical you can almost hear the Network suits slapping this thing together “Hey, kids like those Mac vs. PC commercials, maybe they’ll dig this!” That said, the show is surprisingly funny at times and the cast is not nearly as annoying as you’d expect from the near-constant promos.
This is probably due to the presence of exec-producer Chuck Lorre, who also created the similarly one-note, funny-for-one-season “Dharma & Greg”. So, if Mr. Lorre’s past is any indication, this show will be funny for one year and then totally suck for two and a half more. Not bad for CBS!
ALIENS IN AMERICA (CW, Mondays @ 8:30pm)
A zippy premise (high school outcast becomes even bigger outcast when his family sponsors a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan) a charming cast of fresh faces (emphasis on the fresh, as is not that great acting-wise yet, but cute!) and hands down the best use of 80’s music in a pilot, this show has the potential to develop into something kinda cool.
But those “Veronica Mars” and “Everwood”-killers at the CW have squandered the potential of far-greater shows in the past, so you never know. Not sure if we’ll watch next week or not, but I would say it’s worth a look if you’re in the mood. And we did laugh out loud more than a few times which is always a good sign!
GOSSIP GIRL (CW, Tuesdays @ 9pm)
A slick, juicy prep school sudser in the vein of “Cruel Intentions”, this show has a lot of interesting things going on and could be cool, or, more likely, could beat a pretty hasty retreat into “One Tree Hill” and “Dawson’s Creek” territory.
The acting on the male side — with the notable exception of the main “poor” dude, Penn Badgley — is uniformly horrendous. Totals models making pretty faces in pretty clothes. But the girls are far more nuanced, most especially the youngest daughter (Taylor Momsen) and the smoking-hot lead blonde (Blake Lively) who was even better in “The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants” as, you guessed it, the smoking-hot soccer chick.
The only real problem we had with this glammed-out NYC-set show is that the actors playing the parents are way, way too young to have sired these kids. They look like siblings at best, but hey, it’s the CW, and if you’re looking for cheesy fun with a cool soundtrack, you’ve come to the right place!
BACK TO YOU (Fox, Wednesdays @ 8pm)
OK, we totally wanted to hate this show, but the one episode we watched was actually VERY funny. It might be the cast, it might be the concept, or it might be the setting (which is ripe for classic “Mary Tyler Moore”-ish tomfoolery) but I think the main reason we liked this show so much was that it felt so familiar. Like that warm blanket of bad-TV “Suddenly Susan” this show just felt comfortable, safe and totally watchable. I’m not saying they’re breaking any new ground with this most sitcomy of sitcoms, but sometimes old ground is just fine.
Check it out, but if you’re watching it live, make sure and change the channel as soon as it ends or I swear to God, that shit-tastic Brad Garrett show will scorch your corneas. Yikes!
And now, our pics for the top three new shows of the fall season. Yeah!
DIRTY SEXY MONEY (ABC, Wednesdays @ 10pm)
Now, this show is teetering on the edge right now, but we have committed to watching a second episode, so, unless it really starts going downhill, we’ll stick with it. The pilot flew by, the writing was first-rate and the cast was amazing: Donald Sutherland, Peter Krause, Jill Clayburgh, Billy Baldwin and, surprisingly, one of our favorite “Passions” graduates, Natalie Zea!
But the most exciting thing about the show — aside from the fact that “Everwood” creator Greg Berlanti is one of the producers and writers — is that it feels hip, fresh and original. For example, Billy Baldwin’s senatorial candidate character is having an affair with a Transexual! I know that might be old hat on “Nip/Tuck” but that is pretty radical fare for ABC prime time.
The mystery at the core of the show is kind of cool too and hey, even if it totally falls apart, we’ll just drown our sorrows in “Lost” when it starts up again in January. Yeah!
CHUCK (NBC, Mondays @ 8pm)
OK, forget what I said above about the cynical commodifaction of nerds. This show — about how a CIA supercomputer’s data is accidentally implanted into the brain of a geeky IT expert (“Less Than Perfects” Zachary Levi) working at the Best Buy-ish Nerd Herd station — is absolutely hilarious! Funny, exciting, and full of goofy car chases and kung fu fights with plastic forks and flying harddrives, the show has a great sense of humor and feels totally original.
Produced by Josh Schwartz (“The OC”, “Gossip Girl”) and McG of “Charlie’s Angels” and “Fastlane” fame, the show flies along at an awesome clip and is so packed with gravity-defying physical comedy and awesome one-liners that your rewind finger will be hurting for days afterwards.
Having already secured a cushy spot on our Tivo’s “Season Pass” listing this show is so entertaining that if you don’t watch it, we’ll save them up and force you to watch it when you come over. Yep, it’s that good!
So, whatever you do, don’t miss “Chuck”!
REAPER (CW, Tuesdays @ 9pm)
Feeling more like a great cable show than something that would air after the totally played-out “Beauty & The Geek” (Yes, it’s STILL on!) on Tuesday nights CW line-up, “Reaper” is appropriately enough, funny as Hell, and hands down our favorite new show of the season.
The show was co-created by writing partners (and super cool former Peet’s customers of mine!) Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, and from the opening scenes in the pilot (directed with slacker flair by Kevin Smith) you know you’re watching something truly unique.
I won’t give away too much for those of you who have “Reaper” stored up somewhere on your own Tivo, but suffice to say, the show revolves around the misadventures of a wayward slacker (Bret Harrison) who is recruited by Satan (a fantastic Ray “Laura Palmer’s Dad” Wise) to hunt down escapees from Hell.
Helped by his motely crew of co-workers at a Home Depot-ish superstore, our reluctant hero’s shaggy dog adventures seem ripped from the pages of the coolest, funniest comic book you’ve ever read. But they’re not. This show is wholly original and it shows in every witty, kick-ass line the characters utter. Really, truly inspired hilarity! You gotta watch it at least once!
That said, I’ll call it a night for now and return to hour five of “The War” (which is amazing if you have the time to slog through it!) already in progress. Man, are my eyes tired…