Question: I might be the last person on earth who still cares about ER — and frankly, I'm not sure why I do — but do you have any scoop for me? Answer: You're hardly the last person. Did you see those premiere ratings last week? Not only did it trounce the debuts of Six Degrees and Shark, but it was up six percent over last year. Not bad for a show entering its 13th season. As far as scoop goes, producers are currently casting an 11-year-old boy who will have a significant impact on Neela. He's been living on the street and believes that she has some kind of angelic healing powers. Also, somebody close
OK, how overwhelming is Thursday-night TV? (It's only going to get worse next week when ABC's delightful Ugly Betty enters the mix.)Thanks to some preview screeners, I managed to see nearly everything that aired last night (except on Fox, which is oh-so-easy to ignore right now). And while Survivor was a snooze and ER so glum and ludicrously melodramatic that I'm once again considering throwing in the surgical towel for good (though I will check out John Stamos' arrival to see if the show will neuter his charisma as well), the rest of the night was quite interesting.Commenting on the early news from last night's ratings: Woo-hoo to ABC and Grey's Anatomy for exploding out of the gate, clobbering (though hardly burying) CBS' still-sturdy but slipping CSI, which had a solid opener (and dazzling glimpses of Cirque du Soleil) and a disturbing finish that revealed Catherine had been drugged and taken to a strange hotel/motel room overnight. In an extended scene of wordless anxiety, Cathe...
This is where the ratings get fun, folks. Cutting to the chase for a moment, Grey's Anatomy's new time slot (and those multiple video-playing online ads, I suppose) paid off big time, as the ABC drama bested 9 o'clock-hour stalwart CSI in their premieres' head-to-head clash. The overnight tally: Grey's 25.15 million total viewers, CSI 22 mil. Of note: CSI's most recent season finale drew 25.05 mil, whereas Grey's was watched by 20.9 mil. ABC can also claim bragging rights to the droolworthy 18-49 demo, where Grey's snagged 50 percent more than CBS' crime drama.Rewinding to 8 pm, Survivor: Cook Islands led the pack with 17.7 million, followed by a Grey's clip show (13.4 mil) and NBC's My Name Is Earl/The Office combo (each with about 9 mil). Leapfrogging to 10 pm, we had a bit of a horse race as ER, still showing a pulse in its kazillionth season premiere, admitted an audience of 15.5 million, edging out newbies Shark (CBS, debuting with 14.9 mil) and Six Degrees (ABC, with 13.3 mil)...
Here now, the rest of mine own fall forecast:WednesdayThe Nine, ABC: A fun little cast of familiar faces (24's Audrey! Bailey Salinger! The shadowy Prison Break dude!) and a far-out premise make this serialized drama more than worthy of a long hard look. But the crux of the show ? What exactly happened to the nine people involved in a seemingly life-altering 52-hour bank hostage situation? ? could prove frustrating if the mad-cryptic flashbacks are only parceled out mere seconds at a time. Jericho, CBS: As I told the show's publicist, I was loving this pilot, about a small town isolated from the rest of civilization after some sort of nuclear assault on major cities, until the very final scene, which in my opinion rang illogical. Blocking that moment out, however, I'm excited for this series. Justice, Fox: Alias' Spy Daddy (Victor Garber) as the most cunning of cunning, high-priced defense attorneys? I'm so there. Plus, I like the gimmick of showing us, in the coda, what really happ...
Question: Which are the top five new shows you would recommend this fall? From the previews I have read, I am most looking forward to The Nine, Heroes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Jericho and Ugly Betty. Six Degrees sounded intriguing to me when I read the premise, but critics have bashed it, so I'm uncertain. Although it does have J.J. Abrams involved, so I'm hoping.
Answer: I'll give you a top six: my three favorite new dramas and my three favorite new comedies (the latter is almost by default because there are so few of merit). Dramas, in no particular order: The Nine, Studio 60, Friday Night Lights. Comedies, in no particular order: 30 Rock, The Class, Ugly Betty. There are a handful of shows I'll be tracking that fall on a second tier, but I can tell you that Heroes and Jericho will not likely be among them. (I know that because I write this particular column on the Internet, I'm supposed to gush on and on about any show with an element of fantasy — call it the Comic-Con factor —
I am so glad to hear that Everwood creator Greg Berlanti is now collaborating with the writing team for Brothers & Sisters. This show has been a big question mark for me (along with Six Degrees), but I have been looking forward to trying it out. It has a great cast, appealing promos and now a fantastic writer! Do you think Berlanti's involvement has the potential to make this my Everwood semireplacement?
Answer: The news that Berlanti is giving Brothers a creative hand is one of the few positive headlines I've heard lately. I'm still not sure a show like this can fill the Everwood void, though. Also on the Brothers & Sisters front, Ryan wonders: "I heard a rumor they are reshooting the pilot of Brothers & Sisters without Dan Futterman! Say it ain't so! He had great chemistry with Calista Flockhart in The Birdcage, and in the scene available on the Web from the original pilot. I was ecstatic when he returned to Judging Amy in 2004 and saddened that it was the show's final
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
It's nice to see that ABC wised up and invited Ugly Betty to the Thursday-night ball.
The new show — which will now be paired with Grey's Anatomy this fall — has been getting raves from those who have seen it. Executives from other networks have called it the best pilot they saw from their competition this year. Adapted from a telenovela that's been wildly popular for years in Latin America, Ugly Betty stars America Ferrera as a glamour-challenged woman from an immigrant family trying to make it at a flashy fashion magazine.
Salma Hayek and producer Ben Silverman have been trying to sell a U.S. version of Betty
Question: I know it's still summer, but have the networks announced tentative dates for their season premieres?
Answer: As of now, the only network not to announce premiere dates is CBS, which will likely launch most of its new and returning shows the weeks of Sept. 17 and 24.
Here's how the others shape up: The season kicks off early on Fox, with Prison Break and Vanished on Aug. 21; then the limited reality series Duets on Aug. 29; Justice and Bones on Aug. 30; House and Standoff on Sept. 5; the comedies 'Til Death and Happy Hour on Sept 7; Nanny 911 on Sept. 8; Cops and America's Most Wanted on Sept. 9; Fox's animated comedy lineup plus The War at Home on Sept. 10; and MADtv Sept. 16. (The O.C. won't return until after postseason baseball on Nov. 2.)
On ABC, 20/20 officially kicks off Sept. 8; Dancing with the Stars returns Sept. 12 and 13; Wife Swap premieres Sept. 18; Grey's Anatomy and Six Degrees on Sept. 21; Ugly Betty and Men in Trees on Sept. 22; Extreme Makeover: Home
Question: I was reading about how Six Degrees is the first U.S. series to air in the U.K. during prime time in nine areas, and I wondered, "What if it's a hit there but a bomb here?" I know you don't always like the hypotheticals, but would ABC stick with it longer with that added investment from the BBC? (I mean, they did renew What About Brian.) Or if it were canceled here, would it also be canceled there, even if it was a U.K. smash?
Answer: If it doesn't work on ABC, it won't matter how well it's playing overseas — Six Degrees will be zero degrees. It's not going to stay in production just to satisfy other markets, unless of course it decides to make history or something. Which, having seen it, I strongly doubt. It's intriguing, but a bit pretentious, nebulous and terribly contrived. I'm curious to see what J.J. Abrams will do with this one, if he has time and gets the chance ...
Question: Which fall pilots would you deem worthy of my time?
Answer: I finished watching the last of the pilots over the weekend and I have fantastic news: For the first time in recent memory, the good fall shows easily outnumber the bad ones — at least based on the pilots I saw. As Desperate Housewives taught us, the second and third episodes tell us much more about a show's creative bones than a season premiere. With that said, here are the fall offerings that have the most FauxVo potential.
* Vanished (Fox) and Kidnapped (NBC): Among the things these two thrillers share in common: They both&