Thursday, September 23, 2010

Film On TV: Sifting Through Fall's New Shows, Part 1

Every year around this time my DVR fills up with new shows fighting for attention, rookies looking to break into the Must See TV lexicon. And each year the Movie Gal and I sift through the batch, selecting a few special shows to share couch time with on exhausted week nights.

We watch too much TV, and me more than her. So over the past few years we’ve tried to curb our addiction, allowing only a few new Fall shows to remain in our lineup – since 2008, Community, Fringe, Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy, The Good Wife, The League and The Vampire Diaries (can you guess who watches what?).

I know. That seems like a lot. And it is. But the average American watches around 5 hours of TV a day (*Nielsen), and those shows add up to about that much spread out over the course of a week, so I think we’re doing okay.

There’s a plethora of new network and cable shows this year, the largest number in recent memory. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve seen so far…


The Pitch: Two half-assed PIs try to get their life together while battling crime in a laid back California beach town.

Creative Pedigree: Creator Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven, Matchstick Men), Producer Shawn Ryan (The Shield), star Donal Logue (Grounded for Life, Knights of Prosperity).

The Take: Love it. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the characters well drawn and the style is just the right combination of beach bum chill and earnest self improvement. This is a show to root for.

Status: Potential New Favorite

Lone Star

The Pitch: A charming Texas conman gets too attached to his marks, and ends up leading a dangerous double life married to two women.

Creative Pedigree: Writer Kyle Killen (The Beaver), Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), star-in-the-making James Wolk, star-in-the-fading Jon Voight.

The Take: The kind of nighttime soap that used to dominate prime time, but with high caliber writing and style. Lone Star is both an easy cheese fix, and a complex, challenging story. The problem? It might be too challenging. As charming and affable as leading man Wolk is, his “aw shucks” nature belies evil deeds. The core soap audience isn’t big on a hero with two wives, particularly one who plays it so close to the heart – The Movie Gal spent the whole pilot scowling at him (and she wasn’t alone – the show is near death). But I spent the pilot enjoying those challenges, and digging the Mumford and Sons soundtrack.

StatusHit (if it isn’t cancelled next week)

Hawaii Five-O

The Pitch: A special task force of cool cops fight crime in Hawaii. Stuff blows up. Basically the equivalent of a Hollywood Blockbuster.

Creative Pedigree: Writers/Producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Fringe, Star Trek, Transformers, lots of other fun blockbustery things), Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight, The Shield), Scott Caan (Ocean’s flix), Daniel Dae Kim (LOST)

The Take: The most fun you’ll have all fall! Or, well, next to Terriers anyway. And other things. The point is, H50 IS like a summer blockbuster, and in a less annoying way than CSI Miami. I never watched the 1960s series, but as far as remakes go, I don’t think we’re treading on hallowed ground. This one looks great, the action is strong, and if they concentrate more on Caan’s Dano character (surprisingly endearing), this one could be a hit.

Status: Contender


The Pitch: La Femme Nikita…again. A killer-hot killer gets blackmailed by the government to do secret governmenty things. She escapes, and vows vengeance against THE AGENCY or whatever it’s called, using a younger killer-hot killer to infiltrate the system and draw in the CW’s Gossip Girl crowd.

Creative Pedigree: Writer/Producer Craig Silverstein (Bones), Producer McG (Terminator Salvation, Chuck, Supernatural), Maggie Q (M:i:III), Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass) Shane West (lots of really bad movies).

The Take: Mediocre. The action is okay, the super-tech gloss is only bordering on tired. Maggie Q is stiff, Shane West still talks in that mockable gravel rasp. But Fonseca has spunk, and the show has fight.

Status: Borderline

The Event

The Pitch: Your network approved LOST replacement, now with additional government conspiracy and sci-fi spicing.

Creative Pedigree: Creator Nick Wauters (who?), Jason Ritter (John Ritter’s kid), Blair Underwood (Dirty Sexy Money), Zeljko Ivanek (Damages)

The Take: I didn’t love it. The jumping narrative, the flimsy dialogue, the vague mysteries, the special agent trying to stop a plane with his SUV while screaming something along the lines of “Bring it, bitch!” LOST it ain’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s Flashforward either. The pilot’s twist raised just the right amount of intrigue, and there were some strong moments throughout. Ritter Jr. is the key so far, and he’s provided just enough humanity to bring me back for more.

Status: Contender


The Pitch: A team of US Marshals tracks down criminals on the run.

Creative Pedigree: Jerry Bruckheimer (everything), Kelli Giddish (All My Children), Cole Hauser (a failed movie career).

The Take: It’s like The Fugitive, only more like US Marshalls, and without a throughline or Tommy Lee Jones. Instead they have Giddish. She’s good at being tough. But not so much at the human stuff. Maybe we can blame the dialogue. Or the cheap-feeling episodic nature. Violent and daring, this show isn’t afraid to pull punches, or sucker punches. But really I’m hoping it’s just pulled.

Status: DOA

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