Monday, October 5, 2009

The Flaming Nose 2009 Network Preview

They're Here! Is it Fall 2009 already? We're a little late with our Fall Preview -- sorry about that! We've been so caught up with HBO's TrueBlood, the return of Dexter on Showtime, and AMC's Mad Men that we almost forgot about the broadcast networks, and we're not the only ones, judging from the lack of buzz about most of the new season. But it's upon us, and here's our night-by-night rundown on what's out there this Fall.


Not much new for Sunday nights, not on the traditional networks. CBS goes for a new hospital drama with Three Rivers, using the life-and-death world of organ donation medicine as the springboard for its stories. Naturally, the doctors are handsome -- Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) -- and multicultural -- Joaquim De Almeida (24, Crusoe), Daniel Henney (X Men Origins: Wolverine), and there is impressive distaff participation from Julia Ormond (Sabrina) and Katherine Moenning (hairstylist Shane on The L Word). I'd certainly prefer this over the fading Desperate Housewives on ABC, though the series seems like a tough sell out of the much lighter Amazing Race. Especially when you consider that cable puts its snazziest series on Sunday nights, Three Rivers might need to be put on life support, stat!

Fox offers a new animated series The Cleveland Show spun off from Family Guy, a move that seems guaranteed to work nicely in their popular Sunday animated block. Surprise strength might be seen from the CW's encore of their The Vampire Diaries, at 8pm.


Of course the big news is the 10pm M - F The Jay Leno Show, a much-debated move by NBC to transfer Leno's late-night audience to an earlier slot. Affiliates around the country are concerned about the lead-in to their newscasts, but everything is up for grabs right now and it will take a while before initial impressions settle into a consistent audience -- or not. Evidently it doesn't have to do much of a number to make plenty of money for NBC, and maybe that will be enough to give it a big thumbs up for a long run.

Earlier in the night NBC premieres a high-energy medical action drama Trauma, a San Francisco-set hour featuring the adventures of paramedics. It's got a good producer -- Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights -- and a talented cast: Cliff Curtis, the Maori actor who was great in The Whale Rider, Aimee Garcia (George Lopez), Anastasia Griffiths (Damages), Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher), Jamey Sheridan (L&O:Criminal Intent), Kevin Rankin (Friday Night Lights), and Taylor Kinney (Fashion House). Word is that one of the main characters will be gay, but other than that this sounds pretty traditional which doesn't mean it can't be terrific, of course. For us old-time TV fans, think of this as Emergency on steroids.

As ABC goes for the gold with their popular returning franchises and the second season of the Nathan Fillion series Castle, CBS adds to their successful Monday comedy block with their Knocked Up knock-off, Accidentally on Purpose, the new Jenna Elfman series about a near-40 successful newspaper film critic who ends up getting pregnant by a charming fellow many years her junior. The cast is good -- Elfman, Grant Show, Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty, brilliant in Extras), Jon Foster as the young father-to-be, and various actors as his slacker-ish buddies -- and if you can accept the premise (and plenty did with Knocked Up) and think being pregnant is just the best thing ever, Accidentally on Purpose should work for you. There's no reason to think it won't fit perfectly into CBS' strong Monday.


ABC's Shark Tank has already debuted to not very positive buzz, but their new 10pm show The Forgotten has a much better chance to succeed. A Jerry Bruckheimer production, this is yet another crime procedural, this time the plotlines focusing on a group of amateur forensic enthusiasts who work together to name the unidentified victims of unsolved crimes. With a cast including Christian Slater (who unfortunately bombed out last season in his show for NBC), Michelle Borth (HBO's Tell Me You Love Me), and Rochelle Aytes (Madea's Family Reunion), The Forgotten appears like a can't-miss 10pm show.

In fact, The Forgotten sounds like a perfect lead-out for CBS' new 9pm spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles, and we would predict more than a few viewers making that connection. NCIS:LA stars Chris O' Donnell (who's moved easily between features and TV the past few years), singer/actor LL Cool J as his partner-in-crimesolving, and Linda Hunt. It's easy to predict that NCIS:LA will deliver the same solid entertainment package as its parent show. The lead-out is another rookie series The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies (still coasting on her ER popularity), Chris Noth (Sex and the City), and Christine Baranski. Margulies' husband is sent to jail after a nasty scandal, and she has to step back into her old life as a high-powered defense lawyer in order to support her two kids (in the manner to which they've become accustomed, no doubt). Certainly a showcase for the intelligent and bracing Margulies' intensity, The Good Wife will be a good test of the ability of a woman to headline a series on her own, a conundrum which has no consistently correct outcome.


ABC, despite the risky proposition of a night of all new programs, is off to a strong start with their 8p - 10p comedy block. Hank is Kelsey Grammer's new series, focusing on his once-rich CEO who suffers a reversal of fortune and returns to his wife's hometown to live the regular life. The Middle stars Everybody Loves Raymond alumni Patricia Heaton as a mother of a quirky-but-lovable brood in Indiana. Her husband is played by Neil Flynn (Scrubs), and her best friend by SNL veteran Chris Kattan. Modern Family is the critical darling of the bunch, centering around a trio of conventional/unconventional families and their domestic adventures. Married With Children vet Ed O'Neil is an older guy married to a sexy Hispanic divorcee (Sofia Vergara, Dirty Sexy Money). There's a more traditional two-parent family headed by Ty Burrell (Damages) and Julie Bowen (Ed, Boston Legal, Weeds), and the two-daddies family of Eric Stonestreet (CSI) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The Class).

The network's Cougar Town stars Courtney Cox (Friends) as the 40-something divorced mom of a teenage son who finds herself about to enter the dating scene again. Her ex is Brian Van Holt (Black Hawk Down), her neighbor is Josh Hopkins (Ally McBeal, Private Practice), and her assistant is Busy Phillips (Freaks and Geeks). ABC changes gears at 10pm with the hour Eastwick, based on the 1987 film The Witches of Eastwick. Rebecca Romijin (Ugly Betty, X-Men) stars as one of the ladies, along with Lindsay Price (Beverly Hills 90210, Lipstick Jungle), Jaime Ray Newman (General Hospital), the wonderful Veronica Cartwright (The Right Stuff, the Eastwick movie), and Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect). On the male side, taking the role of the Devil is Canadian star Paul Gross (Due South, Slings and Arrows), with Estonian actor Johann Urb and Jon Bernthal also co-starring.

CBS has no new shows on Wednesday, but NBC brings us hospital drama Mercy, standing in for the delayed Parenthood which has been pushed back due to the illness of star Maura Tierney.
Mercy is nurse-centric, featuring a trio of good young actresses -- Taylor Schilling, Jaime Lee Kirchner (Rent onstage, Rescue Me) and Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy, Gossip Girl, Inspector Gadget).

Fox features its early starter Glee at 9pm. The show is becoming a fan favorite, generating much positive buzz and we'll see if it translates into lasting ratings strength. The CW has already cancelled This Beautiful Life and it's been replaced by an encore of Melrose Place.


ABC hopes to create another Lost with Flash Forward, the intriguing tale of a catastrophic global mental blackout which confounds everyone on Earth, causing chaos and fear as people seem to have been shown parts of their own future while unconscious. The cast is excellent -- Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth), Sonya Walger (Lost, Sleeper Cell), John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar, American Pie), Courtney V. Vance (ER, L&O:CI, The Tuskegee Airmen), Brian F. O'Byrne (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Bug), among others. The network has been encoring the series hoping for sampling, and it looks so far like this will be a show with a future.

NBC brings in their new higher education sitcom Community, starring Chevy Chase, Joel McHale (The Soup), Gillian Jacobs (Choke), comedian Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express), writer-actor-comedian Donald Glover, singer-actresss Yvette Nicole Brown and Allison Brie (Trudy Campbell in Mad Men). (Jane has sung the praises of Community here.)

Fox has a strong line-up of hour dramas with Bones and the sophomore thriller Fringe, making Thursday night not only a comedy powerhouse for viewers but also the home of some of the most interesting new dramas as well as returning favorites from several nets. The CW slots their new and so-far-doing-fangtastic Atlanta-filmed The Vampire Diaries in at 8pm, hoping to capture the television equivalent of Twilight's rabid teen fanbase. Nina Dobrev (DeGrassi, Away From Her), Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Paul Wesley (Wolf Lake), Steven R. McQueen (Everwood, grandson of THE Steve McQueen), Newfoundland native Sara Canning, Zach Roerig (Friday Night Lights), Candice Accola (Juno), actress-singer-songwriter Katerina Graham, dancer-actress Kayla Ewell, and Michael Trevino (Cane, The Riches) make up the attractive youthful cast, a CW trademark. The Vampire Diaries' lead-out is the returning chiller Supernatural which continues to deliver in its fifth season.


It's pretty much business as usual on Friday, though ABC throws Ugly Betty pretty much to the lions with its new Friday 9pm slot. It faces competition from CBS' new acquisition -- from rival net NBC -- of the Patricia Arquette psychic drama Medium which is paired up with the Eye's successful Ghost Whisperer (did you know that psychic James Van Praagh is one of the co-exec producers of the show?) in its fifth season.

Fox doesn't do new comedy Brothers any favors by sticking it in the 8pm slot here. Brothers stars former NFL star Michael Strahan (Pros vs. Joes) as a former NFL star, Daryl Chill Mitchell (Ed, House Party) as his wheelchair-bound restauranteur brother. (Mitchell is a former rap star turned actor who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2001 motorcycle accident). Actress CCH Pounder (The Shield, ER, The X Files) co-stars, along with veteran actor Carl Weathers who plays the brothers' high school football coach father. Dollhouse is back at 9pm, somewhat surprisingly considering it never quite got off the ground last season, but you don't bid a casual goodbye to Joss Whedon or his talent.

On the CW, its longstanding quiet hit drama Smallville is relegated to the 8pm slot; this is one case of an abundance of riches in the same genre for the CW -- supernatural dramas -- and nowhere to put them all. Hopefully the show will survive this graveyard shift of a time period.


Saturday is the comfortable home of the stalwart Cops and America's Most Wanted on Fox, and an assortment of encores of various weeknight dramas on the other networks. Fox also gives comedienne Wanda Sykes an hour-long 11pm comedy/talkshow beginning in November.

The Flaming Nose will be here to watch what happens as the season progresses. So far we're liking Community and Flash Forward, and more on these and the other new series coming soon!

1 comment:

Jane said...

Great post Lisa! I'm excited about Flash Forward and already hooked on Community. The new season for House is off to a strong start too. Oh and of course Dexter...plenty to talk about there. So far I'm completely riveted by Lithgow's nightmare inducing bad guy. Don't care for the baby thread, but we expected that!

It's a fall programming feast when you fold the cable shows into the mix!