Chuckwagon

Last year I knew there was a strong possibility I might have to flee my home and go on the run. Yet despite that knowledge, I (quite selflessly) watched every new show I could to bring mini reviews to you. I got no love for this, except from Neil Kramer, and Lord knows if he was being sarcastic, and I vowed not to kill myself for you haters again.

But there I was last week, feeling ashamed of myself. Though you may not show your love in comments (or even readership), I know that many of you count on me to watch the new shows and give you my take, trusting in my keen eye and sharp judgment. I tried to run from my responsibilities, but like Paul McCartney's soon-to-be ex-wife, I'm not running anymore.1 There are 25 new shows this fall, and who's going to watch them and report back to the folks: you? I don't think so. That's why there's me.

However, instead of doing this all in one massive 10,000 word column, I have broken it up by nights. Each day I will tackle that night's viewing on the main networks (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX and NBC), reviewing the new shows, steering you to what is good, and what to avoid like a hooker with crabs.


A few general notes before we begin:

If you've been reading me for awhile you're well aware that I consider some of the cable shows (especially HBO and FX) to be generally far superior to anything on network fare. This is true. I will continue to bring you reviews of shows you should rent like you would movies. But network TV doesn't suck right now. It's in somewhat of a golden age, with many fine programs to fit every niche. This season may not be as strong as some in years' past, but there are still intriguing new shows worth giving a try. Don't tell me TV's a waste of time. If you are too busy, fine, but there is great art being made out there, if you know where to look for it.

TV on DVD may be the greatest invention of the 21st century, and for the HBO shows, I definitely recommend it. However, for the network stuff, you lose the immediacy and the "now" factor of tomorrow's water-cooler buzz. Tivo can help, although it can also be a trap. Another great avenue is watching the programs online. All five networks offer many of their shows on their websites, and with far fewer commercials than you'd catch on TV. Especially if you're a couple of weeks late, consider catching up. After all, it's not like you're actually working, right?

I don't watch Reality TV. If that's your thing, great. Find reviews somewhere else.

Shockingly, the best two pilots so far have been on the CW. I know! I feel so alien watching a show on them, but I go where there are quality things to watch, no matter what's stuck to the floor.

I have more notes, but I will parcel them out over the next five days. Let's get rolling! (New shows in Bold.)


Monday Lineup on the 5 Networks:


ABC Dancing With the Stars; Samantha Who? (October 15); The Bachelor
CBS
How I Met Your Mother; The Big Bang Theory; Two and a Half Men; Rules of Engagement; CSI Miami
F0X
Prison Break; K-Ville
CW
Everybody Hates Chris; Aliens in America; Girlfriends;
The Game
NBC – Chuck;
Heroes; Journeyman


from worst to best….


CBS - How I Met Your Mother; The Big Bang Theory; Two and a Half Men; Rules of Engagement; CSI Miami

New Show – The Big Bang Theory
The universe has not yet reached a large enough size to contain all the awful of this show. The concept: two nerds (combined IQ: 340) with virtually zero social skills, and a hot but stupid girl who moves in next door. Trust me: hilarity does not ensue. I was actually chuckling at the end, but only because it was slightly less awful than before, which by comparison seemed like a Dave Chappelle special. I have never gotten into How I Met Your Mother or 2 ½ Men, but if this is the level of comedy, I am so glad.

New Show – Rules of Engagement
It wasn't until I finished the season premiere that I found out that this time-filler debuted in March, so technically I did not need to watch it. There's 23 minutes of my life I'm not getting back. Kaida and I disagree over David Spade; she thinks he sucks in all settings while I think he can be funny in the right situation, but the argument is not solved, as Spade is boring here. Putty from Seinfeld plays Putty, and there's a reason he never got a spin-off with Newman. I suppose (and this is a big suppose), that there are guys who would identify with these dudes, trapped in relationships, talking "real" about women, but this is CBS's version of hip and edgy; it's like they are drawing an animal they have never seen.

CBS Overview – I like my comedies a little edgier and without so much lame, and you couldn't pay me to watch Horatio Caine, so I won't be back.


ABC - Dancing With the Stars; Samantha Who? (October 15); The Bachelor

New Show – Samantha Who? (premieres October 15)
Christina Applegate awakens from 8 days in a coma with total amnesia. Surprisingly, she used to be a total bitch. Can she make amends? Sounds suspiciously like My Name is Whore. (Too Far, Amy. Too far.2) I'll hold off judgment until the show actually airs, provided I can stomach the idea of watching a Christina Applegate show.

ABC Overview – Dancing with the Bachelor has never been my cup of tea. Next.


CW - Everybody Hates Chris; Aliens in America; Girlfriends; The Game

New Show – Aliens in America (Premieres October 1)
A Wisconsin woman sends away for a foreign exchange student to make her 16 year old geek more popular. She's hoping for a dashing Scandinavian but instead gets a Muslim from Pakistan. Hilarity ensues.

CW Overview – I really like Everybody Hates Chris, and the Aliens in America at least sounds like it might be interesting, or gawd-awful, either of which would be a good reason to watch, but I have my Monday night dance card already filled. As for the 9 O'clock hour, let's just say if MLK were still here he'd be marching on Somewhere demanding justice.


FOX - Prison Break; K-Ville

New Show – K-Ville
I have to admit, when I heard they were making a show set in New Orleans, I was ambivalent. On the one hand, the city could desperately use the attention, and I have always been a huge Anthony Anderson fan. On the other hand, there are so many ways this could be propaganda, or worse, schlock. The show started early, so I just now got to the pilot (on fox.com), and Wow! I was very impressed. The first scene featured a black cop running out on helping people during Katrina, and the very next scene had a black woman buying a new car that, "…only cost me two FEMA checks." Say what you will, that's ballsy. The show itself was understandably gritty, but major points for how hard they were trying. Anderson is a tortured soul trying to hold his city together, in a Jack Bauer sort of way.3 Cole Hauser is his partner, and in case you're interested in checking it out I won't say any more than that. If for some reason you're not into Heroes, K-Ville might well be worth your time.

Fox Overview – I gave up on Prison Break years ago; last I checked, they're back in another prison! Fox has been replaying stuff on Friday nights, so I may try to keep up with K-Ville, if only for Anderson and to see where they take it. New Orleans has not yet recovered, and anything and everything anyone can do to remind America of that fact can't but be a good thing.


NBC - Chuck; Heroes; Journeyman

New Show – Chuck

Total Nerd and social misfit suddenly finds himself as the holder of every government spy secret we have, although he doesn't know that he knows it, and even when he finds out, he still doesn't know what he knows. Think Alias meets John Doe. The pilot (which, if you didn't watch last week you simply MUST go to nbc.com and catch up) was fresh, funny, sweet and instantly likable. I watched it with my mother and sister, calling Kaida every commercial to say "OMH!" (Oh My Hyperion.) Both Kaida and Jerrica aver that Chuck is super hot, both in character as the nerd and off-screen, while I'm more impressed with Adam Baldwin on board, so beloved as Jayne in Firefly. I like the hottie girl, sort of a rich man's version of Ben Stiller's wife. (I'd look up her name, but I might accidentally seen Ben Stiller, and that I try to avoid.) You simply have no excuse not to try out such a charming winner of a show. Seriously, folks, it's time to be up with Chuck, to be upchuck. (Or I could have said get on the Chuckwagon.)

New Show – Journeyman
Kevin McKidd (Lucius Vorenus in Rome, if that means anything to you), plays Dan Vasser, a newspaperman who starts journeying back in time to various points in his life when he falls asleep. This is a problem, not only because he's time travelling, but because he "disappears" from present-time, causing his wife and job to think Dan's on drugs. (He shows back up two days later, wearing the same clothes and filthy. What would you think?) In the first episode, Dan journeys to several points in his life and keeps running into the same random stranger, making him eventually realize he's supposed to affect that man's life somehow. That he'd figure it out—and that this would probably happen every week—was a foregone conclusion for me and not that interesting. What was intriguing—at least potentially—is that Dan's own past is so haunted. He let his fiancĂ© get on a plane that crashed, something that has torn him up ever since. (She's played in the flashbacks by Moon Bloodgood, which is not only one of the coolest names of all time, but one of the hottest actresses ever. Kaida didn't think so, but she's a hater.) Anyway, Dan want so badly to tell her and keep her from dying, but he has a wife (also hot) and kid back in our time! Furthermore, the flashbacks reveal that his wife used to be his brother's girlfriend, and if that's not enough, it would seem that his dead (or maybe not) fiancĂ© is also travelling through time. If reading that tired you, imagine watching it. I can't say I was bowled over impressed by the dense plotting or the grim tone of the pilot episode (available on nbc.com), but since I'm firmly NBC's bitch on Monday nights I'm willing to give Journeyman a few more trips down memory lane to see what they have cooked up.

NBC Overview – As the previous sentence indicates, Monday on NBC has become the go-to appointment viewing night for me. Along with Chuck and Journeyman is the second season of Heroes. You may recall that it was I who told you about Heroes last year, before I had to go away to the Outlaw Camp. In fact, if you love the show, you owe me cash. However, because of my exodus I did not get to watch the show as I would wish. It was not until 7 minutes before 8 last Monday that I finally caught up with all the episodes. (What a weekend that was!) Kaida watched the evening's shows too, but didn't watch the DVD of Heroes to catch up (because she hates me and wants me to suffer), and she found the Season 2 premiere tough to follow. I have to agree. They should have done a good bit more to introduce what was going on. They had to know that because of the buzz many new people would tune in, and if you didn't know why Hiro was in Japan, you'd be lost. That said, I still loved it. I'm renaming Monday Night "the Casbah," because NBC rocks it!

Up tomorrow: Tuesday, you idiot. Seriously: do I have to spell everything out for you?

Hyperion
October 1, 2007

Notes
1 Because she lost her leg…
2 In one of the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, Christina Applegate plays Rachel's sister Amy. The two get into a fight because Rachel doesn't want her sister if she and Ross were to die. Amy is furious and spits out, "And your baby isn't even that cute!" Everyone sucks in their breath and Ross steps up and says (very very seriously): "Too far, Amy. Too Far." Kaida and I use that joke all the time (mainly when she's mean to me), so when I made a joke punning Christina's new joke with My Name is Earl, I thought it was a good double-dub reference.
3 Even though he drinks on the job and abuses suspects at will, we trust him because he's a good guy. Some day I'm going to write a scholarly article about the propaganda of shows where the no-nonsense cop tramples the fourth amendment to fight crime. But not today.

2 comments:

Sea Hag said...

I'm sorry but 'Moon Bloodgood' makes me think of menstruation and that is far from hot.

Lady Jane Scarlett said...

Hyperion, believe that it's a compliment when I tell you that you are almost making me to want to completely hurl my television from the love abode chez Scarlett.

....after I watch Heroes on DVD.
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