Thursday, June 5, 2008

CBS "Swingtown" and NBC "Fear Itself" Premiere Tonight

The networks are congratulating themselves for finally figuring out that audiences don't disappear during the summer; the rest of television has known this for years, but better late than never, of course. In my years in independent TV we used to love the July rating book (except for lower HUT levels), and cable has made solid inroads programming interesting (and some not-so-interesting) series while the broadcast nets used to sleep.

But no more snoozing! CBS unveils its new 1970s-themed series Swingtown tonight at 10pm; they've already asked for 13 episodes so we'll assume their fingers will be crossed tonight bigtime. The basic premise: an upwardly-mobile married couple moves into a snazzy neighborhood where their new friends include an airline pilot and his stewardess mate who are wife-swappers. What will happen when the straight-laced husband and wife meet the swinging 70s? If this were on HBO or Showtime we'd get some skin, but since this is CBS we'll probably
have to make do with saucy innuendo. I think the most interesting thing about Swingtown are the actors playing the new couple, namely talented Canadian actress Molly Parker (Six Feet Under, Deadwood) as Susan, and Jack Davenport (Steve from the original Brit series Coupling and the Pirates of the Caribbean movie trilogy) as Bruce. The pilot and his wife are played by former Melrose Place star Grant Show and Lana Parrilla (Boomtown, 24), and there's another couple, old friends of Bruce and Susan and even more socially conservative, played by Josh Hopkins (Ally McBeal, Brothers & Sisters) and Miriam Shor (Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

I'm guessing the show will 1.) be a more-than-a-little mocking of life in the 70s and 2.) probably put you off sex entirely for a while, if this so-hip-it's-almost-sickening Perez Hilton-like (and the show is prominently advertised on Hilton's front page) promo is any indication.

Hey, it's probably worth giving it a shot despite the promo, right?

Also premiering at 10pm tonight is NBC's new horror anthology Fear Itself, helmed by writer/director/producer Mick Garris (Masters of Horror, Amazing Stories, and so many more). Now, this being NBC you won't get the gooey, gory goodness of Showtime's Masters of Horror, but what you will get is a bunch of impressive genre talent -- John Landis, Dan Knauf (Carnivale), Eric Roberts, Brandon Routh -- and hopefully some thrills. I'd certainly rather have scary monsters than another cop show; you night want to record Fear Itself and catch it later if you're busy watching Swingtown. Here's a short promo:

And just as a little reminder about Jack Davenport, here's a fun clip from Coupling of the time he tried to breakup with the gently but certainly deranged Jane (played by Gina Bellman).


Jane said...

Hmmmm. Swingtown. The country is falling apart, gas is $4.50 a gallon, and the economy is slower than an airport security holiday queue. Do we feel like watching a series about folks in the 70's who have nothing better to do than plan orgies in their suburban homes (which, by the way, you could purchase for about $75k and the same place today will run you $750k) Do we want to watch it on CBS where there won't even be a hint of real sex? No thanks. If I want 70's erotica, I'll watch The Match Game. I predict a new ratings low. It will last 2 weeks tops.

Jeri said...

And the only thing to fear about Fear Itself is that it might return next week.