Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Volume 6, Number 11: Another Fall, Another New TV Season

In an entry I wrote a year ago, I mentioned that one reason that fall is my favorite season is that a lot of new TV shows start in the fall. At that time, I mentioned that there were four new shows that had my interest--No Ordinary Family, Detroit 1-8-7, Outsourced and S*#! My Dad Says, all of which didn't keep my interest long (those last two were shitcoms that didn't even keep my interest for one episode), and incidentally, all have long since been cancelled.

This season offers six new shows that could potentially grab my interest. These are ordered by the day on which they premiere.

Ringer (The CW, Tuesdays at 9 starting September 13)
Synopsis: This is the story of two twin sisters. One, Siobhan, is a socialite who is on the run from a would-be killer. The other, Bridget, is an ex-prostitute on the run from a mobster, and thinking that Siobhan really is dead (following a suspicious boat accident), she assumes Siobhan's identity, hoping this helps her hide from that mobster, but not knowing that Siobhan was also being hunted.
Why I'm interested: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays Siobhan and Bridget in a dual role. Triple if you include Bridget-posing-as-Siobhan. Gellar has been terribly underused in recent years, and considering she already had an Emmy Award to her credit when she was still in her teens, and how dedicated she is to her craft, it's a crime that in the last 20 years, the only memorable major motion picture roles she's had were Cruel Intentions, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scooby-Doo and The Grudge.**

The Playboy Club (NBC, Mondays at 10 starting September 19)
Synopsis: Set in 1963, this series centers around the Bunnies at the first Playboy Club in Chicago.
Why I'm interested: Two words: Eye candy. There is also the potential to examine how women in American society saw themselves at the time and how this self-image evolved over the course of the next few years, but there's one show further down this list (ABC's Pan Am) that I figure will work with this context better, and as a result, last longer as a series. Anyway, the early '60s were a very interesting time for me--it was as though the country still wore a veneer of prosperity, perfection and innocence, but that veneer was starting to wear thin and crack due to the turbulence and trouble that lay beneath (the ongoing fight against sexism and racism, the Cold War, and the JFK assassination, and later on in the '60s, the MLK and RFK assassinations and a general increase in civil unrest).

The X Factor (Fox, starting September 21)
Synopsis: Simon Cowell brings this singing competition to the USA from the UK. (Why another singing competition, you ask? Well, back in his native UK, Cowell wanted to have a singing competition in which he owned part of the TV rights, whereas with Pop Idol--the show on which American Idol is based--he did not. In the UK, Pop Idol was cancelled after just two seasons and replaced by X Factor, but here in the US, both American Idol and X Factor will exist, on the condition that only one show can air at any time; X Factor will air in the fall and American Idol will air in the winter and spring.)
Why I'm interested: I enjoyed Cowell's criticism of various auditions on American Idol, especially the bad ones. I stopped watching American Idol after he left that show.***

Pan Am (ABC, Sundays at 10 starting September 25)
Synopsis: Like The Playboy Club, this series is also set in 1963. This series revolves around the flight attendants working for the now-defunct Pan Am Airways.
Why I'm interested: Christina Ricci, another actress that you wondered where she had been lately, was hot in Sleepy Hollow (you know, the 1999 Tim Burton film that starred Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane), and she looks just as delectable in that Pan Am stewardess'--oh, excuse me, flight attendant's--uniform.

Terra Nova (FOX, Mondays at 8 starting September 26)
Synopsis: A group of people in the 22nd century, threatened with extinction in their own time, travel back to prehistoric times to begin civilization anew.
Why I'm interested: I like the idea of using time travel to correct mistakes, and Terra Nova takes it to the extreme. Also, Jason O'Mara, who plays a cop trying to bring his family back together in this series, played a cop who found himself in 1973 after a car accident in a series that ABC cancelled way too soon (Life On Mars).

Grimm (NBC, Fridays at 9 starting October 21)
Synopsis: A modern-day homicide cop fights supernatural creatures infiltrating the real world.
Why I'm interested: The juxtaposition of fantasy and real worlds has always interested me (I recall a miniseries called The 10th Kingdom in which a young woman and her father find their world colliding with a magical fairytale world). As long as it stays closer to the modern world side--a few years ago, the fairy tale-style narration in ABC's Pushing Daisies just turned me off. Also, the pilot was co-written by David Greenwalt, who worked with all-time great creative genius Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel. Sadly, given that this series gets a relatively late start, was placed on a crappy night, will likely be on against a baseball playoff game or two, and its network (NBC) has fared poorly on Friday nights in recent years, I suspect that this series may not last long.

So there you have it. Out of this group, I am looking forward to Ringer and Pan Am the most; The X Factor, I'll watch the audition stage but (as with American Idol) may not watch the competition proper; the other three shows, I'll take a wait-and-see approach (meaning that as much as I like the premises for these three, they better tell good, riveting stories or they'll lose my interest quickly).

** You know, if I had been casting the movie Charlie's Angels back in 2000, I would have cast Gellar as the athletic, tae kwon do butt-kicking one; Reese Witherspoon as the "street-smart" one who had "been around" (you ought to check out Witherspoon's performance in the 1996 film Freeway if you don't buy into that particular casting decision); and Kellie Martin (yet another criminally underemployed actress) as the more intellectual, "book-smart" one.

*** I wished the producers of American Idol had brought in British TV critic Charlie Brooker, who like Cowell uses awesomely acerbic wit, just to find out if he could skewer bad auditions the way he skewers bad TV shows and disconcerting TV trends in the UK. in Screenwipe and Newswipe).

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