Category Archives: Schedule

What I’m watching when.

FALL IS FUN: New Series for 2011/2012 – CBS

LAST ONE!!! I’m doing this in a bit of a rush, so please forgive any insane errors or typos or whatever. Thankfully for my time crunch, there are only three new CBS shows I care about. (For other Fall Fun, see my posts on the new series from ABC, NBC, FOX, and miscellaneous networks.)

UNFORGETTABLE
Premieres Tuesday September 20 at 10pm

Here is a series that definitely falls under that potentially leaky umbrella of “quirky and improbable procedural.” The main character remembers everything. Like, crazy photographic memory everything. And she’s a cop, so she uses that delightful superpower to solve crimes. I’m actually really excited about this show. For one thing, the insane memory thing is a source of endless fascination for me (part of the reason I love Suits so much, truth be told). And for another, This Is The Type Of Show I Hate Prime Suspect For Not Being (see: my rant in the Fall is Fun NBC post). Finally, a procedural about a main character with wacky amazing awesomeness…who just happens to be a woman. As in, where the fact that she is a woman isn’t the point. This series has the potential to be a pretty sweet cop show, and I am definitely looking forward to it.

PERSON OF INTEREST
Premieres Thursday September 22 at 9pm

Michael Emerson. Jim Caviezel. Fighting crime, Minority Report style. Emerson’s character built an email-reading-phone-call-listening supercomputer after 9/11, and the entire purpose of his mission is to stop crime before it happens. To do this, he’s privately recruited ex-CIA agent Caviezel’s character to do the dirty work. I’d be lying if I said I was crazy fascinated by this premise. Because, again, Minority Report. Been there, done that, right? But here’s the punchline: showrunners for this series are J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan. If you don’t recognize that first name, just leave. If you don’t recognize that second name, it’s not entirely your fault, it’s because he doesn’t always get the spotlight cred he deserves. Yes, he is the brother of Christopher Nolan, a writer of the Batman films, and, oh yeah btw, he didn’t just write the script for Memento, he also wrote the short story it is based on.

I don’t really know what to expect from this show, other than Michael Emerson playing a character even nerdier and socially inept (but probably significantly less terrifying) than Ben. I do expect to be impressed. I will be very very disappointed if the pilot doesn’t knock my socks off. LITERALLY.

A GIFTED MAN
Premieres Friday September 23 at 8pm

This is another series I don’t quite understand. Patrick Wilson plays a brilliant surgeon who, for some unknown reason, suddenly starts hallucinating his dead ex-wife. And, supposedly, after the initial period of insanity she starts being helpful or something. Emphasis on the “or something.” It is very possible I won’t stick with this show much beyond the pilot. Sad but true: 90% of the reason I’m watching at all is the actors. I enjoy Patrick Wilson for sure. And, like any self-respecting person who has seen the 1995 A&E Pride and Prejudice, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jennifer Ehle. I mean really.

Feel like I missed something? That’s probably because I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. If you want a full Fall/Midseason schedule, I suggest Zap2It’s nifty interactive chart, which will provide you with a nifty little interface and handy links to check out the titles you don’t recognize.

PHEW. FEELS NICE TO HAVE THAT ALL OVER WITH.

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This Week 9/19 to 9/24

We’ve had a week of discovering just how much my life is ruined by not having internet access. (How much, you ask? SO MUCH.) Anyway. Ducks are in something resembling a row-like formation, approximately, so now here we are: a This Week post for the first time in MONTHS. It’s almost like I’m making a legitimate effort or something.

TONIGHT:
8pm – Eureka on Syfy (season finale!)
10pm – Castle on ABC (season premiere!)
10pm – Hawaii Five-0 on CBS (season premiere!)
10pm – The Playboy Club on NBC (series pilot!)

Really, Monday nights at 10? Really? Of course I’m going to be watching Castle, no question there. But it’s the principle of the thing. Also going on tonight: Ashton Kutcher’s Two and a Half Men debut. (Am I the only one who thinks the title should be changed to One and Two Half Men?) AND, two hours later, Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. Somewhere out there is a marketing genius.

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS (season premiere!)
8pm – Glee on FOX (season premiere!)
9pm – NCIS: LA on CBS (season premiere!)
9pm – New Girl on FOX (series pilot!)
9pm – Ringer on the CW

So I haven’t watched the pilot of Ringer yet…or the finale of Glee. Probably going to watch NCIS prime and then New Girl (just to finally put my morbid curiosity to rest).

WEDNESDAY:

Apparently I’m going to spend Wednesday catching up from Tuesday and Monday. Or maybe I’ll give in to the temptation to watch the pilot of Revenge at 10pm on ABC.

THURSDAY:
8pm – Charlie’s Angels on ABC (series pilot!)
9pm – Person of Interest on CBS (series pilot!)
10pm – Prime Suspect on NBC (series pilot!)

What is Prime Suspect doing on Comedy Thursday? Can anyone explain this?

FRIDAY:
8pm – A Gifted Man on CBS (series pilot!)
9pm – CSI: NY on CBS (season premiere!)
9pm – Fringe on FOX (season premiere!)
9pm – Supernatural on the CW (season premiere!)

I don’t know what CSI: NY is doing on my schedule – I pretty much stopped watching. I don’t know what Fringe is doing on my schedule – I’m now two and a half seasons behind or some damn thing. I do know what Supernatural is doing on my schedule – just finished S4, so as soon as I slam down S5 (so to speak), I’m working it in because that show is freaking awesome.

SATURDAY:

Saturday is not even a day on TV.

And now I have to go do my last Fall is Fun post REALLY REALLY QUICKLY before I end up staying at this Starbucks for an awkwardly long time. Enjoy your week! Premieres, guys! Funandnews!

FALL IS FUN: New Series for 2011/2012 – Other Networks

So if my original plan had worked out, this fourth Fall Is Fun would have been about CBS. But time has moved quicker than I have and one of my most-anticipated new shows is actually premiering tomorrow, and so what was intended as the fifth and final post, series “other” non-Big-4 networks, has been moved up. (Check out posts 1, 2, and 3 – FOX, ABC, and NBC for more Fall Fun!)

RINGER (the CW)
Premieres Tuesday September 13 at 9pm

This is the show that premieres tomorrow. I am not going to get to watch it, and that is making me Very Upset. Because holy crap does this show look exciting.

The most important thing about Ringer is that Sarah Michelle Gellar Is Finally Back On Television. She’s had a good break after her seven-year stint of Being Buffy. And now she is returning and ready to remind us exactly how ridiculously phenomenal she is. Not only do we get one Sarah Michelle Gellar, we get two. DOUBLE THE FUN. And since each twin she is playing seems to come with her own insanely twisted plotline, DOUBLE THE AWESOME. Plus, as if Sarah Michelle Gellarx2 wasn’t enough, the cast also includes Ioan Gruffudd* and Nestor Carbonell.

I’m almost confused that this series is on the CW. It seems way too…legit. Yes, there are certain network-typical elements already obvious in the preview, e.g. way too much designer clothing, way too much glitter, way too much everybody having sex with everybody (and probably a CW-standard horrible pop soundtrack). But so far, all of the characters appear to be adults. And the general theme appears to be rather…dark. And not mopey vampire dark or tweens on drugs dark. Mob hits and druglords and sororicide dark. I almost wonder if Ringer would work on one of the major networks…

Possible production flaws (and by “flaws” I do mean “it’s mostly a matter of taste”) aside, there is one definite upside to this series being on the CW: less ratings anxiety. The CW does not compete for ratings on the same level as the four major networks, so this series doesn’t need to draw quite the same numbers in order to survive. Not that I think finding an audience is going to be a problem, because the show does look pretty damn intriguing and, again, Sarah Michelle Gellar Is Back On Television.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX)
Premieres Wednesday October 5 at 10pm

Apparently, this show is what happens when the creator of Nip/Tuck teams up with the co-creators of Glee. Which, personally, I find incredibly confusing. I never watched Nip/Tuck, largely because when it was at its prime I was way too young for watching it to be even remotely appropriate (but also because depictions of plastic surgery tend to make me want to barf – see: The X-Files S4e6 “Sanguinarium”). I do watch Glee, which is primarily why I find this confusing. I’m hoping the total genre shift is just going to prove that Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy are actually as good as the early days of Glee implied they were. One show writer who doesn’t have to prove a damn thing: Tim Minear. His involvement means I would watch this show purely on principal, nevermind who the other writers or the cast are (Zachary Quinto, Dylan McDermott, Jessica Lange, anyone?).

I say “would” because I don’t know for sure that I’m going to be able to watch this one. I am not a horror movie girl. I will readily admit that I don’t have the stomach for it. Usually, I acknowledge that thriller/slasher/horror films are a prominent feature in the landscape of American-grown entertainment and leave it all well enough alone. Time was, I could have been assured that TV content limitations would keep me moderately safe from being plagued from nightmares but, well, yeah. Those days are gone and you’re allowed to say “shit” on Suits. My curiosity may outweigh my fear at least as far as the pilot episode. The only preview I can find for the show is thirty seconds long and pretty much embodies the term “teaser trailer.”

I GREATLY ENCOURAGE OTHER PEOPLE TO WATCH THIS SHOW. Because it will probably be awesome, and because I will feel less bad about chickening out. And because it may not last very long. (Sorry, Tim Minear but you did choose the Twitter handle @CancelledAgain for a reason…)

HELL ON WHEELS (AMC)
Premieres Sunday November 6 at 10pm

I think I am more fascinated by the idea of this show than I will be by the show itself. Post-Civil War America? Awesome. Building of the Transcontinental Railroad? Awesome. Classic Western vibe? Awesome. Cast including Colm Meaney and Tom Noonan? Awesome. And then I remember that I don’t actually like Westerns all that much, nor do I tend to care about AMC shows. When the reality that I’ll need to prioritize and cut some things out of my viewing schedule sinks in, this will be one of the first things to go. So once again, I ENCOURAGE OTHER PEOPLE TO WATCH THIS SHOW. It will probably be good. It’s just not really my taste. (Which may mean, more than anything, that I ought to expand my horizons…)

HOMELAND (Showtime)
Premieres Sunday October 2 at 10pm

When all I knew about this show was that it starred Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and Damian Lewis, it was the new series I was most excited about. Now I know it also stars Morena Baccarin, and I know that Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa of 24 (and other awesome things) are involved, and I’ve learned a bit about the premise, and as a result the impossible has happened: I am Even More Excited.

Homeland dissects the chilling possibility of the rescue of a hero turning into the aiding of a terrorist. It combines the oh-so-current flavor of fear of American homeland security with the pulse-pounding excitement of a conspiracy thriller, and tops all that off with the heartbreaking flavor of human ability to cope with the most extreme abuse (mental, emotional, and physical). I sound like a talking point dictionary or something, but seriously: there are some big, scary, brilliant story elements at work here. And some big, scary, even more brilliant production and performance elements putting them together.

I want this show to be The Next Greatest Thing from Showtime. I want it to succeed and flourish and lead to massive amounts of well-deserved recognition for everyone involved. (If this doesn’t end up being as good as I hope/expect it is, I might cry a little bit.)

Bonus Mention:
The Secret Circle (premieres Thursday September 15 at 9pm on the CW). This is based on another series of novels by the same author whose work forms the basis for The Vampire Diaries. So it is probably Not That Bad At All. Plus, it has Thomas Dekker. If there was nothing else good on, I would watch it. Maybe I’ll watch the reruns in a few years or something.

Feel like I missed something? That’s probably because I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. If you want a full Fall/Midseason schedule, I suggest Zap2It’s nifty interactive chart, which will provide you with a nifty little interface and handy links to check out the titles you don’t recognize.

*I never want to have to spell this name Ever Again. OMG BE LESS WELSH.

FALL IS FUN: New Series for 2011/2012 – NBC

And now for the NBC installment! (See my posts on FOX and ABC for more Fall Fun.) Of everything I’ve looked at so far, I’m most anticipating NBC’s new lineup. There’s some good stuff here. Bonus points to any person who picks up on my Firefly reference. It’s not actually that hard to find.

PRIME SUSPECT
Premieres Thursday September 22 at 10pm

I’m going to make the unusual move of starting with the show I am least thrilled about. Prime Suspect is the remake of a hit British series that starred…Helen Mirren. Yeah. You’re feeling that immediate gut reaction of “what dumbass decided this was a good idea?” aren’t you? And you should. Because seriously: as if the rampant remakes weren’t bad enough, NBC now trying to pass off Maria Bello as a suitable replacement for Helen Mirren. I don’t mean this as an insult to Maria Bello in any way but, Bitch Please.

If that were my only objection to Prime Suspect, I would attempt to get over it because the honest truth is that remakes are not always a poor choice (see: The Office, also on NBC). But I actually have an even greater objection, which is the premise of the show itself: woman in a man’s world. I beg the pardon of any turn-of-the-last-century suffragettes who are rolling around in their graves as we say this, but Can We Just Get On With It Already? Perhaps in British society (which I know very little about), about a decade ago (when the original series premiered), this might have been a premise worth spending time on. But in this day and age, looking at the growing number of series featuring female cops without the flavor of sexism, the theme seems outdated and backward to me. Is there a reason we can’t have a show about a badass female cop where the focus is on the badassery, rather than on the femaleness? Or any type of character – doctor, lawyer, private detective, whathaveyou. House is not about the fact that Gregory House is a man being a doctor, it’s just about that he is a doctor. So wouldn’t the truly progressive thing to do be to just make a show about an awesome lead, and leave the character’s gender as an ohbytheway?

I’m sure Prime Suspect will be a perfectly passable crime procedural. It may even include some really great performances from, yes, Maria Bello, as well as the rest of what looks like a rather outstanding cast. It’s a perfectly good show, I’m sure. But I worry about the moral/social forces at work here.

GRIMM
Premieres Friday October 21 at 9pm

The preview for Grimm is disconcertingly awesome. And by that I mean I find it disconcerting that it is awesome. Mostly because it is forcing me to reconsider my initial, even-less-informed opinion of the show.

See, initially, I was very very wary of this idea. Crime procedural based on fairy tales? Come on now. Obviously I was interested and planning on watching, but I wasn’t actually expecting it to last (or even be worth lasting). The biggest concern for me was endurance. For other paranormal-edged procedurals of this sort (see: The X-Files, Supernatural, etc), “the fairy tale episode” tends to be just that. One episode. So stretching that out into a series? Chancy. Sure, you can do the Little Red Riding Episode, the Hansel and Gretel Episode, the Snow White Episode. But eventually you are going to run out, especially if you are limited to Brothers Grimm variety Western folklore stories.

Thus were my concerns, until I heard the three most important words in the preview: spoken by a badly injured woman in a hospital bed, “You’re a Grimm.” What is a “Grimm” and what exactly does that mean? I have no idea. But it does mean Something. And that was the turning point for me, where I veered away from resignation of failure to a cautious sort of hope. It’s hard to explain in brief terms exactly what I mean by “show mythology.” Effectively, it’s what makes The Vampire Diaries actually good, rather than just another shitty CW show with (slightly) more neckbiting. It is a Good Thing. Also a Good Thing: it looks like werewolves might finally be getting some love on this series, and it’s about damn time (but that is a rant for a later date). One last exciting thing, and its a Really Exciting Thing: one of the producers is David Greenwalt (Angel, Buffy).

I don’t know what all of this means for Grimm’s chances of survival. It could still fail miserably. Especially since it’s starting out in the Friday Death Slot. And, for all I know right now, I could be getting all worked up for something that ends up being awful afterall. But oh my dear and fluffy lord I hope not.

SMASH
Midseason

If you loved Glee when it started but have become increasingly disenchanted with its tween-audience-mongering as it has gone on, you are not alone, and you are not without hope. At least, not if you’re anything like me.

Glee celebrates people who love musical theatre, and that’s fine and lovely and commendable. But Smash is a celebration of theatre itself, of the business and the people in it. So, yes, there is a certain amount of narcissism at work here. But when narcissism includes bona fide Broadway star Megan Hilty (who you may or may not know as the only person to out-Galinda Kristin Chenoweth), it is hard to complain. Particularly when she is part of an ensemble cast that also includes Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Anjelica Huston, and Katharine McPhee. It sounds like I should be making this cast up, but I’m not.

The story of Smash is the creation of a musical about Marilyn Monroe, from inspiration to production. It goes at the process from all angles – actresses are most prominently featured, of course, but Debra Messing’s lyricist character is a close second. The show will feature original songs, and all the wonderful nonteenybopper drama the world of theatre has to offer.

I, theatre geek extraordinaire, am Ridiculously Excited about this show. I worry about it’s chances. Musicals do not survive well on TV, with the one obvious exception. And if Smash is trying to compete directly with Glee, it is going to lose because, well, it is. But if it can capture the folks disenchanted with Glee‘s childishness and also a new audience looking for something singy and dancey but a bit more mature, it just might be able to stick around.

AWAKE
Midseason

The premise of Awake is possibly the most fascinating premise to hit television in the past decade. The main character, a detective played by Jason Issacs (you probably know him as Lucius Malfoy), is in a car crash with his family and afterward finds his existence split into two realities: one where his wife survives, one where his son does. And, apparently, the two realities start to collide. If I have to explain to you how fascinating this is, how broad the potential for craftiness and excellence, then maybe you should just watch the upcoming Napoleon Dynamite cartoon and not worry your pretty little head. Personally, I am going to watch every single episode of this that I can, as it airs. Because its quite possible the show won’t last very long, and I expect every second to count.

And that is pretty much all I have to say about that. I am REALLY looking forward to this show.

Bonus Mention:
The Playboy Club (premieres Monday September 19 at 10pm). I haven’t made up my mind whether I’m interested in this or not. The title is a bit off-putting, as is the getting-tireder-every-second ’60s setting. BUT, well, boobs and dead people and a promised appearance by Sean Maher. I’m having an understandably hard time resisting the pull.

Feel like I missed something? That’s probably because I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. If you want a full Fall/Midseason schedule, I suggest Zap2It’s nifty interactive chart, which will provide you with a nifty little interface and handy links to check out the titles you don’t recognize.

FALL IS FUN: New Series for 2011/2012 – ABC

Next up in the fall premiere rundown, new shows on ABC! (Next after what, you ask? Check out my post on FOX’s new shows here.)

CHARLIE’S ANGELS
Premieres Thursday September 22 at 8pm

Yes, you heard right. Charlie’s Angels is back. Again. Producer Drew Barrymore has convinced ABC to try yet another retro show reboot (despite the rather catastrophic failures of Bionic Woman and Knight Rider in the recent past). The mere fact that this is, in fact, a reboot is a major count against the show. As is the fact that many people who watched the show as it aired the first time are still alive and still represent a fair amount of the overall competitive ratings pool. And you just know that they aren’t going to favor the new series. Especially since, odds are, it won’t be that good.

Certainly there will a group of people that is either large or largely vocal or both complaining that the new series is “not as good” as the original. And that right there is one of the two major problems with remaking anything. The new will always be in disfavor with some people merely on principle. The new is not “not as good” because the original was any good itself, but just because it is new and clearly we just hate new things. Which (second major problem) is why people continue to try and recreate what has been successful before. New ideas are not an assured win. And neither are reboots, really, but there’s a psychology that they are and so they keep on coming.

To be fair, there have been some successful and even genuinely good reboots over the past decade. For example, 2003’s Battlestar Galactica, now a major institution within sci-fi, and last year’s break-out CBS hit Hawaii Five-0. So it is possible Charlie’s Angels could surprise us all. My personal hang-up with the series is that it is Charlie’s Angels. If it wasn’t attached to that title, and all I knew about it was the premise (Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh, and Minka Kelly redeem their criminal pasts by kicking ass in sexy outfits), I admit it: I would totally watch that show. And so, I am going to do my best to suspend my bias.

For all I know, it isn’t going to suck at all. They’re certainly making an effort – Minka Kelly’s character is a new one, a replacement for original Angel Gloria. This tactical decision – and it is a tactical decision on the part of the show-runners – helps immediately separate the new from the old. Plus, it conveniently does away with the most glaringly outdated character name.

PAN AM
Premieres Sunday September 25 at 10pm

The first time I saw promotional material about this show, I was totally uninterested. Probably because I’m not the target demographic. Pan Am is partly riding on the fact it is set in a certain decade not too long ago that has been relaunched into public adoration by way of a certain smash-hit AMC series. Also a decade during which most of ABC’s Sunday audience (or at least, who I imagine is ABC’s Sunday audience, aka the people who watch Desperate Housewives) was alive and kicking significantly skinnier legs than they’ve got now. So, potentially, there is an audience ready and raring to go.

What piques my interest is not the glamour (although that is always fun), or the soap opera-y interpersonal storylines (mostly just a depressing reminder that we are living the end of the soap op-era), nor is it the stylized setting (which promises to be delightful and slick and chic and all those good things). Instead, I am intrigued by an element just barely hinted at in the previews for this show: the little secret side business the Pan Am girls are in. No, I don’t know what it is. I’m guessing probably drugs or stealing things or something of that sort.

Now, if I had my way, this show would be awesome. Because the Pan Am girls would be assassins, or spies, or both. And the series would use the retro setting as an opportunity to explore the idea of “the modern woman” and how that did begin to change starting in the mid twentieth century. If I had my way. Realistically, I’m expecting this to be mostly a fluff piece. A complement to its ABC Sunday cohorts. And that’s fine too, but I probably won’t watch after the pilot.

ONCE UPON A TIME
Premieres Sunday October 23 at 8pm

I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about this series. There are a elements in the premise/preview that make me worry. And that’s just ignoring the fact that this show is kind of weird and probably really expensive to make and putting those two things together usually results in early cancellation. Even if the show is good (which we will have to wait and see, because there are so many elements at work).

One thing that greatly concerns me is that the entire premise rests on a sort of parallel universe scenario. On the one side is the charming but semi-creepy small town, another member of the Twin Peaks wannabe collective. On the other is a straight up fantasy environment snatched right out of a bedtime story, with castles and pouffy dresses and monsters and some wacky SFX makeup (all of which look sick, so immediate props to the production team for that). The exact same individuals exist in both worlds and the exact same scenarios occur, but (supposedly) there is no cross-universe-awareness. This is, in short, a bold move. Parallel universes are a tricky situation no matter what you do or who you are. Ask ten people how they liked the final season of Lost, and I’ll bet you $20 that at least seven of them will complain about The Sideways. And Lost was already fully established. If there is any sort of falter or flaw in the presentation of this new series’ parallel universe, it is doomed. Even if the presentation is flawless, it could still be doomed. Fantasy/sci-fi scenarios like this do not tend to attract wide audiences, no matter how spectacular they are.

Another major worry is perhaps just a matter of personal taste. From what I can surmise, the central character of Once Upon A Time is played by Jennifer Morrison, lately of House. I am not a fan of Jennifer Morrison. She is capable enough as an actor, but I don’t find her intriguing in the least. It may well be that Once Upon A Time is actually more of an ensemble piece – I think it’s safe to assume that Lana Parrilla‘s Evil Queen is going to be the performance of the show, because that’s just how Evil Queens work. But I just can’t see myself maintaining interest in a series that single-mindedly focuses its story on a character played by Jennifer Morrison. It’s just a problem for me.

I will honestly be surprised if this show lasts very long. Airing on Sundays + Unusual Plot + Fantasy = Uh Oh, in simple terms.

THE RIVER
Midsesaon

I’m really interested to see if this series actually works out. It looks like an attempt to adapt the creepy-things-in-the-dark horror/thriller/shrieker movie genre for television. Not a bad plan, altogether. If every person who enjoys this sort of movie could be pulled into watching the series…well, let’s just say that there’s a lot of potential audience out there. And not an audience likely to care if the episodes get repetitive, because that’s kind of one of the major hallmarks of the genre. Not to mention that the Paranormal Activity-type camera work and filtering will be pretty unique among major network shows, another potential draw.

What may or may not work against The River is the fact that it appears to be one of many attempts to fill the void left by Lost. ABC is especially suffering for a slice of the sci-fi fan pie these days, but I am totally on the fence about whether or not The River could be a solution to its woes. The Amazonian setting is a good move, I think. Fascination with that area, which is one of the last mostly-untouched zones of the planet, is a pretty popular thing these days (partly thanks to the fact that a lot of wacky foods fueling the antioxidant/smartfood crazy come from there – society is weird). Plus, even without the paranormal twist, there’s a lot of Really Terrifying Stuff lurking in the various levels of the rainforest. Venus Fly Traps and Big Ass Snakes, guys. What might be missing for some of the floating former Lost audience is the complicated, tricky storyline. I expect that a wider, twistier plot is planned for The River if it lasts long enough. But the initial scenario, family searches for mysteriously disappeared father and gets freaked out by things, looks to be about 90% cheap thrills, 10% anything else.

I’m not a horror movie girl by any means. And I really really hate snakes, no matter how not-real and not-going-to-get-me they are. But for some reason, I’m very interested in this show. At the very least because its got some pretty excellent actors including Sam Neill (appearing in the pilot as the lost father/explorer), Leslie Hope (24‘s Teri Bauer), and Paul Blackthorne (also of 24, but who I am interested in primarily because of my recent discovery of The Dresden Files).

No promised release date on this series yet. It’s one of those coming-in-midseason-but-only-if/when-something-else fails-spectacularly-and-we’ve-got-space-in-the-schedule series. But it will get here eventually, and I’m looking forward to it.

Feel like I missed something? That’s probably because I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. If you want a full Fall/Midseason schedule, I suggest Zap2It’s nifty interactive chart, which will provide you with a nifty little interface and handy links to check out the titles you don’t recognize.

FALL IS FUN: New Series for 2011/2012 – FOX

I will admit, I’ve been struggling to find the inspiration/motivation to start up here in earnest again. I have found the answer*: NEW FALL LINEUP. There is nothing more energizing than the anticipation of a whole list of new shows. Mostly because of the implied opportunity to both praise and bash. I am Very Excited.

And so Melted Brain begins again. The method of this year’s Fall Lineup Preview is a network-by-network breakdown of the shows I’m going to be watching/tracking. First up: FOX.

TERRA NOVA
Premieres Monday September 26 at 8pm

I have every faith that this series is going to be terrible, but I am totally going to watch it. Why? Dinosaurs. I mean really. What more could a show possibly need…..that said, I have serious misgivings about Terra Nova. For several reasons.

1) It is trying so hard to be Avatar but it just can’t. They’re even using the same scary old guy – Stephen Lang – although he appears to be more toward the benevolent end of the scale in this series…although maybe that’s just a trick and he’s actually playing the exact same character. Anyway. 99% of the appeal of Avatar was the technological techniques innovated and utilized to produce it and network television just can’t match that. By a long shot. Also, Terra Nova also seems to be lacking the one minute glitter of moral appeal from Avatar: environmental undertones**. Which leads and expands into my next issue with Terra Nova,

2) The premise of this show breaks my nature-loving, pacifist little heart. No really, I have one, and the previews of Terra Nova are making it cry. I am not generally a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, not least because sometimes I think that I’ll end up living one sometime in the next eighty years or so. But, accepting the fact that post-apocalyptic literature is and always has been a major staple of Western world fiction, I will say that the appealing theme is usually humanity redeeming itself through the practice of basic kindness in a cutthroat environment (and also the creation of really awesome tools from rudimentary and scrap materials). In Terra Nova, humanity’s solution to a broken society is apparently to send humans, guns and plastics in tow, back to the Jurassic so that humans can start wantonly killing the wildlife and destroying the planet a few million years sooner. Even if we totally disregard the time travel paradoxes inherent in this scenario, there is something really wrong with this. If the apparent moral implications of this premise doesn’t worry you, you worry me.

3) The thing that confounds me most about Terra Nova is how it came to be at all. It’s about time-travel and a post-apocalyptic society, but also they fight dinosaurs. Fighting dinosaurs and other forms of violence appear to play a key role, but the story appears to revolve around a wholesome, loving family. And that family is so loving and wholesome and relatable, but apparently they are also those good guys who flagrantly disregard rules (two child limit for an overpopulated world, but they have three) and father figure is apparently that stereotypical alpha male family man who is both the biggest hero and the biggest asshole when it comes to basic law abiding. Basically, there are an awful lot of logic-gaps. And this is even before the story starts.

I keep trying to convince myself that Terra Nova must be better than it looks, because how else could it possibly have earned air time. But then the more I think about what I have seen and learned, the worse it seems. So I’m going to watch the pilot, and a few more episodes after if I find I can stomach it. But I am not hopeful. And I maintain the suspicion that Terra Nova has come to fruition simply because there is still a major sci-fi void on the major networks (because Fringe just doesn’t count for some reason)¬†and everyone is trying desperately to fill it and inherit the ratings-bringing nerdhoards.

NEW GIRL
Premieres Tuesday September 20 at 9pm

I do not want to watch this show. I do not want to watch this show. I do not want to watchthisGODDAMMIT. Even I am hopeless against the powers of Zooey Deschanel. I think she is overrated in so many ways. I think her domination of the “quirky girl” market is ridiculous and aggravating. I think this show is going to be pretty awful but that it will survive at least a full season just because it is Zooey Deschanel. And those three guys who were cast because they’re vaguely good-looking, you’ve never heard of them, and they won’t distract from Zooey Deschanel at all. Mostly this is just going to be a Zooey Deschanel temple disguised as a television show.

Of course, I could always be mistaken. This could end up having the same sort of sneaky charm-coated-clever that makes How I Met Your Mother so damn appealing. (Probably not, though.)


THE FINDER
Midseason

This series has already been premiered, to an extent, in a crossover episode with Bones last season (this is known as a “backdoor pilot”). I didn’t particularly enjoy it then, and I don’t expect a full non-Bones pilot is going to change my mind. Why? Because this series is nothing new. The Finder is going to be just another iteration of That Show. Which That Show do I mean? It could be any of three.

First possibility: TV Procedural Based On A Book Series (primary and obvious reference example, Bones). There is something about basing television series on book series that makes my teeth itch. Because when the television series is good, I wonder how a premise/story so well-suited to TV could possibly work as a book. And when the television series is bad, I just wonder why the television series had to happen at all…and again I wonder how good the book could possibly be. Which is maybe more a commentary on my bias about television series that do get adapted into TV series…anyway.

Another good fit is Quirky Procedural (examples: The Mentalist, Lie to Me, Raines). CSI is old now. We as a general public are no longer fascinated by standard forensic investigation, because we have finally figured out that it’s just a bunch of science nerds pouring chemicals and tapping at computers and that, realistically, the whole process should be a lot more drawn out and a lot more boring than television has trained us to think it is. So instead we get these off-the-beaten-path “investigators” who have superpowers, explicable and believable or not, that we are supposed to be fascinated by. This backfires, of course, when we realize that the reason we don’t understand said superpowers is because They Don’t Make Any Sense, that the writers are basically free to make up random shit, and the entire thing becomes obnoxious. These shows, in an attempt to sidesweep their nonsensicality, often also rely heavily on one other key element, the last category,

Procedural That Revolves Around An Attractive Male Lead. “Attractive” is a general term I use that doesn’t necessarily (although usually does) include the physical. Familiar favorites of this category include House, The Mentalist, and the recently deceased Lie to Me. Basically, these shows rely heavily-to-excessively on the charm of their lead character. Every other character can be boring as all hell and the premise can be totally ridiculous (or, again, boring as hell), just so long as the principal is enigmatic/handsome/eccentric/badass enough to keep the attention and affection of an audience.

The Finder fits into those two latter categories really well, but I have no hopes for it. I don’t find Geoff Stults particularly talented or particularly physically attractive. The “Finder Power” as previewed in the initial Bones episode seems especially ridiculous (Pyramids on the ceiling mean somebody is thinking about dying which means they are dying prematurely of a disease? Because pyramids have a traditional symbolic meaning of soul-immortality which of course everybody knows and…how did we get to that conclusion again?). And even giving some actual screen time to Michael Clarke Duncan is not enough to make a show worth watching. Unfortunate fact. FOX keeps trying to find that elusive new procedural to join/replace House and Bones as they dwindle into old age. But I don’t think this is it. Shoulda kept Lie to Me, guys…

ALCATRAZ
Midseason

Alcatraz is the newest form of awesome from JJ Abrams and supposedly he has promised that it will be Even Weirder Than Lost. Given the preview, I’d say that’s a distinct possibility. Which is, for those of us suffering through a world where great shows we want to watch get cancelled and dreadful shows we would never watch endure Methuselah-style, probably the greatest selling point.

I did a little research into the storyline of Alcatraz, because it’s hard to tell from the preview exactly what the show is going to look like in the long run; what the preview gives us is probably a good half of the substance of the pilot. (For other shows, I’d assume closer to 80%, but JJ Abrams is the king of pilot episodes so there is definitely way more to it than what we’re seeing already.) What you can’t tell from the preview is that the story actually largely revolves around a woman called Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and her multigenerational family history with the infamous prison. She appears to be the newest member of a well-known archetype, Fairly Dull Blonde Government Agent Female Lead. But she could always surprise us (read: me). Certainly the rest of the cast is spectacularly exciting: Jorge Garcia of Lost, Parminder Nagra (ER and Bend It Like Beckham), Heroes alums Robert Forster and Santiago Cabrera, and Sam Neill (SAM. FREAKING. NEILL.). Also featured in (at least) the pilot, an actor you maybe haven’t seen before but who I have high hopes for, Jeffrey Pierce, who I know as the alcoholic would-be rapist/murderer from Life but who you might know from any number of guest roles. Or not. Either way, I have the expectation that he’ll prove to be excellent.

My general feelings about Alcatraz run somewhat opposite my feelings about Terra Nova. I worry a little that it is going to be a sad knockoff-cum-rehash of previous JJ Abrams projects. What we know so far is that bad people with secrets disappear and then reappear mysteriously on an island and get into fights with other secret-holding morally-questionable persons and there’s a huge conspiracy underlying everything that happens that may or may not ever be explained in a totally logical way. And it takes place on an island. Ringing some rusty bells for ya? Tired-sounding or not, though, we can be assured that the pilot will be spectacular. Because again, pilots are what JJ Abrams does better than almost anyone in the business.

Alcatraz won’t be coming until the midseason, but it’s never too early to create buzz. JJ Abrams projects thrive on two things: anticipation and introductions. (Case in point, the year-and-a-half lead-in to Star Trek and then the first ten minutes of that movie.) So start getting excited. It’s not too early.

Feel like I missed something? That’s probably because I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. If you want a full Fall/Midseason schedule, I suggest Zap2It’s nifty interactive chart, which will provide you with a nifty little interface and handy links to check out the titles you don’t recognize.

*The other newfound inspiration for a Melted Brain revival is my discovery of/pending involvement with Personal Arrogants. This is a website and podcast formed around the idea of pop culture and nerd culture colliding. If you like to think and you like to laugh and you like to use the Internet (and if you don’t, wtf are you doing here), I HIGHLY recommend their podcast.

**I remember reading this article when it came out and despairing at the sheer NO SHITness of it all. Avatar has environmental undertones? Really? Avatar might be slightly racist? NO WAY. Perhaps the writer was just trying to adjust to the shock of there being anything remotely resembling substance in a James Cameron megamovie but seriously. I make a hobby of pointing out the obvious, and even I think a Captain Obvious line has been crossed.

This Week 3/15 to 3/19

Wow. So. Monday just sort of got away from me there. Whoops.

Tonight:
8pm – Glee on FOX

Thankfully, Tuesday will give me time to catch up. Reminder: this week is Regionals on Glee and, supposedly, Rachel is debuting an original song. God help us.

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Justified on FX

THURSDAY:
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX

SATURDAY:

Nothing new is airing.

 

Apparently FOX is the only network interested in airing anything new this week. Works for me. I’ve still got quarter-to-half finished drafts of posts about last week’s Bones and The Adjustment Bureau sitting around waiting to be finished. Also, the real world is sort of encroaching on my TV time. Funny how that happens.

This Week 3/7 to 3/12

So yeah. I guess I’m back.

I’ve spent the last…however long its been…mostly hacking away at my To-Watch list of old. Progress so far: Seasons 1 and 2 of Damages, Seasons 1-3 of Dexter, rewatching Season1 of Dollhouse, attempting to watch The 4400, and then also watching hours and hours of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Next up is Season 1 of The Closer, and I’m very excited.

BUT. Time goes on. New things air. And I try to keep up, or at least catch up.

MONDAY:
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
8pm – The Event on ABC (2-hour midseason return!)
9pm – The Chicago Code on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy

Of these four, I’m only current on The Event, and that’s only because there haven’t been any new episodes since my Great Catch Up of early January. Actually, I haven’t even started The Chicago Code yet. But people I trust tell me I should, so.

TUESDAY:
8pm – Glee on FOX
10pm – White Collar on USA

GWYNETH PALTROW IS BACK ON GLEE!!! (Which reminds me. I finally caught back up on Glee after my period of disenchantment. And I LOVE IT again. Good times.)

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Justified on FX

Question for Wednesday: is Mr. Sunshine worth watching? I’ve been curious.

THURSDAY:
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Facing Kate on USA

This week on Bones: continuation of the “sniper arc” I keep hearing about. What makes that actually exciting: Arnold Vosloo!

FRIDAY:
9pm – CSI: NY on CBS
9pm – Fringe on FOX

I really need to catch up on Fringe. I miss it.

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Zach Galifianakis and Jessie J.) on NBC

In Big Screen Brain news, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau. Expect a review in the next couple of days.

This Week 1/31 to 2/5

My top priority for this week: first season of Dexter!! Everything else will have to wait.

MONDAY:
8pm – Chuck on NBC
8pm – Human Target on FOX
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – The Cape on NBC
9pm – Lie to Me on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy
10pm – Harry’s Law on NBC

Need to actually watch the first couple episodes of Harry’s Law.

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS
9pm – NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS
10pm – White Collar on USA

WEDNESDAY:
9pm – Human Target on FOX
10pm – Face Off on SyFy

Two new Human Target episodes in one week? Really?

THURSDAY:
8pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW
9pm – Nikita on the CW
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

First Glance on Fairly Legal is in the works.

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX
10pm – CSI: NY on CBS

Man, I really ought to catch up on Fringe one of these days.

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Dana Carvey and Linkin Park) on NBC

This Week 1/24 to 1/29

Coming this week from Melted Brain: one Big Screen Brain, three (maybe four) First Glances, and one Oh THAT Guy. I just need to figure out when to write them all.

ANYWAY. SCHEDULE.

MONDAY:
8pm – Chuck on NBC
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – The Cape on NBC
9pm – Lie to Me on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy
10pm – Castle on ABC

New Castle! My week is horribly sad when it doesn’t start with a good hour of snarky crimesolving.

TUESDAY:
10pm – White Collar on USA

Dear Tuesday,
Suck less.
Love,
Melted Brain

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Blue Bloods on CBS
10pm – Face Off on SyFy

Blue Bloods has been upgraded from Fridays. I guess that means it’s doing well. And, reminder, Face Off is a special effects makeup competition show.

THURSDAY:
8pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW
9pm – Nikita on the CW
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Jesse Eisenberg and Nicki Minaj) on NBC

Now THERE is an SNL lineup I am dying to miss. Also on NBC: US Championship Figure Skating, Ladies Free Skate. (Looks like I’ll be getting a call from my grandmother later this week…)