Question: Maybe I'm a teensy bit spoiled by the excellent summer programs that sucked me in (like Top Chef, Damages, Mad Men and Army Wives), but the fall season so far left me feeling kind of blah. There are some mediocre shows (like Bionic Woman, whose second episode was terrible), some good guilty pleasures (Gossip Girl and Dirty Sexy Money) and some downright stinkers. (Private Practice, anyone? Sorry, I'm not tuning in to watch Addison McBeal ever again.) Even some of my returning faves have gotten off to rough starts. Heroes is plodding along at a dinosaur's pace. Ugly Betty has yet to leave me with the warm and fuzzy feeling that it did last year. What gives? Am I doomed to suffer the fall blahs until Project Runway returns on Nov. 14, or can you suggest some shows that can brighten up my TiVo to-do list? Do you agree that this fall season has been rather lackluster?
Answer: I think that's a fair critical consensus of a fall season that hasn't produced a true breakout smash,
Jimmy Smits and Paola Turbay in Cane by Cliff Lipson/CBS
Just as NBC has shown some love to four of its new series, CBS has ordered four more scripts for Cane, even though the Jimmy Smits serial (like the Peacock's Life and Journeyman) has had trouble mustering an eye-opening audience.Meanwhile, the CW which was the first network to give a full-season order to a new show (Gossip Girl) has ordered three more scripts for Aliens in America. Thank Allah!
Question: I enjoy your writing very much and very often completely agree with you. But after reading your recent Dispatch on Wednesday-night shows, I felt compelled to write and say I disagree with you on Dirty Sexy Money and Life. I know Money is supposed to be a hoot of a soap, but I found it pretty insufferable. Who wants to spend time with these people? Even for all that money, why would Peter Krause's character (who's constantly praised by the others as being such a "good" person) put up with them for one more day? And I'm hardly drawn to even sample cop shows anymore (don't get me started on the CBS procedurals), but I found Life to be a very nice surprise. Funny and tense, with some moving moments, (Spoiler alert) like Crews helping his recovering partner when she's freaked out by unexpectedly encountering drugs and acknowledging that by shooting a suspect, he's shot and killed another human being. I do think Damian Lewis' performance isn't exactly "beyond reproach" — sometimes ...
This Monday, as a two-hour (!) Dancing with the Stars averaged 20.34 million total viewers:8 pm/ETPlacing second was Chuck (8.22 million), albeit down a mil from its debut. CBS' Mother (7.88 mil, -400K) and Big Bang (8.58 mil, down a mil) each slipped. Prison Break held steady with 7.22 mil. The CW's Everybody Hates Chris (2.58 mil) was up 140 thou from last fall's premiere, while lead-out Aliens in America (with 2.33 mil) did not at all "terror"-bly, matching All of Us' 2006 opener.9 pmCBS' Men (13.4 mil) was on par with last week, but Rules (10.5 million) disengaged some 1.5 mil viewers. Drawing 11.94 mil, Heroes saw 15 percent of its premiere audience fly away. (Is Peter's new storyline using leftover Black Donnellys scripts and sets? I digress.) K-Ville (5.48 mil) KO'd another 680 thou. Girlfriends (2.6 mil) was down 150K from its previous premiere, but The Game (2.99 mil) was up 400,000.10 pmCSI: Miami dominated with 14.87 million, followed by The Bachelor (9.57 mil, down 10 pe...
Garrett Dillahunt by Jesse Grant/WireImage.com
Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood) has come on board Fox's midseason drama The Sarah Connor Chronicles, as a mysterious character named Cromartie.... Also from the Reporter, Jennifer Siebel (In the Valley of Elah) has been cast as the ex-wife of Damian Lewis' cop in NBC's Life.... Adam Rose (The Squid and the Whale) has been added to the CW's Aliens in America as a misfit pal of Justin's.... Paul Schulze (Mad Men) is joining NBC's Journeyman as an FBI agent.
Question: Matt Roush gave us his top fall picks — where's yours?
Answer: Here they are for the umpteenth time: Pushing Daises, Dirty Sexy Money, Aliens in America, Chuck, Reaper and Samantha Who?.
Question: I snapped up TV Guide's Fall Preview issue, and I find it a mixed blessing. While I appreciate the behind-the-scenes reportage and the luxurious layout, there's one crucial aspect that I miss greatly: your Picks (and yes, the capital P is deliberate). Of course, there were the "10 Shows with Buzz," but they included some shows you don't even like (Gossip Girl, etc.). And while you gave a helpful day-by-day analysis of the new programming, I and no doubt many other readers miss the days when you essentially said, "Here are the best dramas and comedies airing." And so, for old times' sake, I put in this plea: What is your must-see list among 2007's new crop?
Answer: I would think it's pretty clear from reading those nightly roundups which shows I'm crazy about, and I state pretty bluntly that Pushing Daisies is unquestionably my favorite pilot. Everything else, even those I more or less like, pale by comparison in terms of ambition and execution. But in a nutshell, my short list
Question: Since you are always a source of trusted guidance, I was wondering if you could give me advice on how I should set my TiVo Season Passes this fall? Of course, I'll keep my returning favorites: Heroes, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, ER and Prison Break, but what new shows need to be added?
Answer: Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, Samantha Who?, Aliens in America, Reaper and Chuck. You should also tag Gossip Girl, Bionic Woman, Journeyman and The Return of Jezebel James, but you may wanna go week-to-week on those until they prove themselves Season Pass-worthy.
The CW's fall schedule kicks off with two-hour premieres of both Beauty and the Geek (which this season will add into the mix a hunky dude and a geeky gal) and America's Next Top Model. Here are the deets:Tuesday, Sept. 188 pm/ET Beauty and the GeekWednesday, Sept. 198 pm America's Next Top ModelFriday, Sept. 218 pm Friday Night SmackdownSunday, Sept. 237 pm CW Now7:30 pm Online NationTuesday, Sept. 259 pm Reaper (sorry, but I don't see why all the fuss over the pilot....)Wednesday, Sept. 269 pm Gossip GirlThursday, Sept. 278 pm SmallvilleMonday, Oct. 18 pm Everybody Hates Chris8:30 pm Aliens in America9 pm Girlfriends9:30 pm The GameThursday, Oct. 49 pm SupernaturalSunday, Oct. 78 pm Life Is Wild
Question: What's your take on the new crop of shows making their way to the tube this fall? Any standouts? Stinkers?
Answer: Having watched 98 percent of the pilots, here's my breakdown of the great, the good, the "eh" and the avoid-at-all-costs.
Pushing Daisies (ABC)
Aliens in America (CW)
Solid/Not Quite Spectacular
Bionic Woman (NBC)
Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)
Women's Murder Club (ABC)
Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox)
Back to You (Fox)
Gossip Girl (CW)
Samantha Who? (ABC)
Return of Jezebel James (Fox)
Private Practice (ABC)
Could Take It or Leave It (Probably Leave It)
Thanks, But No Thanks