Wednesday, September 21, 2011
At 8:30pm NBC brings in Free Agents, a sophisticated comedy which really doesn't belong in the 8:30pm time slot, by virtue of some very salty talk. Adapted from the British series of the same name, Free Agents takes on the dilemma of a once-married couple struggling to re-enter the dating scene, of course fighting those ol' romantic feelings which still simmer between them. The series stars Hank Azaria (The Simpsons, Huff, Tuesdays with Morrie), Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan, Hung), Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Mo Mandel (Chelsea Lately, Love Bites), Natasha Leggero (Ugly Americans, Nick Swardson's Pretend Time), Al Madrigal (Gary Unmarried, Wizards of Waverly Place), and Joe LoTrulio (Sons of Tucson, Reno 911!, Backwash). Free Agents couldn't be truly horrible with such a talented cast, but it does have a sad sack quality that the British do so well -- and believably -- but whether this American re-do can achieve what The Office did isn't guaranteed. (The original Brit version will be coming to BBC America in October; it stars the terrific Stephen Mangan from Episodes). Free Agents U.S.-style (a least in the pilot) seems not to know whether to make fun of Azaria or empathize with him, and his office-mates are a horrible bunch. Eh. Maybe if it were on cable, darker, sadder, more desperate, it would actually be something we'd try to watch.
Fox at 8pm brings in Simon Cowell's The X Factor, the U.S. version of the series that has been on top in the U.K. for seven seasons. Cowell's expertise in the singing competition genre is unquestioned, and this one is different because the initial auditions are performed not only in front of the judges but in front of an audience. The winning contestants advance through several stages -- Boot Camp, Judge's Houses -- and finally to the long audience performance finals. Serving as The X Factor judges with Cowell are L.A. Reid, head of Island Def Jam Records, Nicole Scherzinger (Dancing with the Stars, member of The Pussycat Dolls group), and Paula Abdul, whose history with Cowell from American Idol adds to this new program's sizzle. Could this not work? Unlikely. Nail-biting suspense and raw emotions will assure The X Factor is Fox's newest phenomemon. (Not until the end of November does Fox bring in its Jaime Pressly/Katie Finneran comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter, so let's just hold off on that for now!).
Unfortunately set up at 8pm against The X Factor over on CW is a new series with a cute premise, the Mario Lopez-hosted H8R. The affable Lopez (Extra, Nip/Tuck) brings people who hate a certain celebrity together with that celebrity who then tries to win over the hater. Two haters and two celebrities per episode, celebs like Snooki from Jersey Shore or Eva Longoria meet their loathers -- maybe a funny premise and certainly of interest if you devour People magazine. In a horribly tough time slot but maybe CW's loyal audience will get into the catty vibe and glom onto H8R.
At 8:30pm, ABC debuts new sitcom Suburgatory, about a single father who discovers his teen daughter is going wild and decides to move them away from big NYC to a calmer life in the suburbs. Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order, Kidnapped, Six Feet Under) stars as the alarmed dad, Jane Levy (Shameless) is his precocious daughter, Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Waitress) their new next-door neighbor, Carly Chaikin her daughter, plus Rex Lee (Entourage), Alan Tudyk (Dollhouse, V, Firefly) and newly-announced Jay Mohr (Gary Unmarried, Ghost Whisperer, Action) will be joining as Hines' husband. The buzz is pretty good on this one and it's certainly got a great home snug in ABC's very successful Wednesday comedy block.
At 10pm ABC premieres Revenge, about a spurned young woman who returns to a hoity-toity Hamptons neighborhood to wreak vengeance on those who ruined her family's life years before. Emily VanCamp(Everwood, Brothers & Sisters) stars as the wronged lass, and the rest of the cast is plenty impressive, too, including Madeleine Stowe (The Last of the Mohicans, 12 Monkeys), Henry Czerny (The Tudors, Clear and Present Danger, Mission: Impossible), and a whole bunch more. Buzz is also good on this one, with the swank setting and super-soapy melodramatic mystery of Revenge hitting a lot of the right buttons.
Next up, the strong and very important weeknight Thursday!