Sunday, September 25, 2011
Thursday: Lots of new on a night that's fraught with tough competition for all!
At 8pm, Fox offers the 2nd half of its The X Factor from Wednesday. The X Factor Results Show will rely on what happens the previous night. If the show doesn't hit, Fox will have two dead spaces on the schedule, which seems highly unlikely.
Also a 8pm, ABC debuts their reboot of Charlie's Angels, with producing power including Drew Barrymore who was involved in the Charlie's Angels features. Are people thinking that the original Charlie's Angels was a deep, thoughtful series that somehow a flirty, superficial remake is disrespecting? The original was of course immensely popular, but for tight t-shirts, visible nipples, attractive female stars -- glitz, not guts. Let's not forget that when judging today's Charlie's Angels. Today's Angels are a multi-racial trio, equally as attractive as the original Angels, with a new Bosley who's a hunky Latino (Ramon Rodriguez -- Day Break, Battle: Los Angeles), with an eye for the ladies. Victor Garber (Alias, Titanic) supplies the voice of Charlie, his languid narration a bit too tepid to crank up the excitement level. Australian Rachael Taylor (Transformers, Bottle Shock) plays the rich girl Angel, Annie Ilonzeh (General Hospital) is the bad cop Angel, and Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) is the Angel who steps in when her sister is killed. Charlie's Angels is a steamy Miami-based action-adventure, nothing special, not particularly good, unmemorable, but it won't kill you. Neither will it charm you or make you want to watch another episode, probably.
At 8:30pm following The Big Bang Theory, CBS debuts How To Be a Gentleman, based on the book of the same name, a sitcom that belongs into the mini-genre of shows bemoaning the feminization of masculinity. No denying the great cast here -- David Hornsby (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Kevin Dillon (Entourage), Dave Foley (NewsRadio, The Kids in the Hall), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, Punch Drunk Love), Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords), and Nancy Lenehan (The New Adventures of Old Christine, Worst Week). That is a tremendous list of people, many personal favorites of The Flaming Nose in there. In a nutshell, etiquette columnist Hornsby hires his old friend/fitness guru Dillon to teach him how to butch up. Dillon was always the best thing about Entourage, Foley is always outstanding, Darby adorable, Rajskub strange and wonderful -- what's not to like about this? Its terrific lead-in will give it a strong leg-up, but the provenance of How To Be a Gentleman will keep it around. If this turns out to be the less weird and more mainstream 8:30pm comedy -- compared to NBC's great but far from invincible Parks & Recreation -- How To Be a Gentleman will be a go-to show for the long haul.
At 9pm, CBS brings in its new cop drama Person of Interest, starring two of the eeriest actors anywhere, paired together in a complicated crime-solving premise involving ex-CIA operatives, mysterious billionaires, and unorthodox tactics. Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Angel Eyes) and Michael Emerson (Emmy winner for Lost and The Practice, Saw) join up to try to stop crimes before they happen, using super-secret computer software and their own brilliant minds. Also starring are Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Larry Crowne) and Kevin Chapman (Brotherhood, Rescue Me). Hard -- make that impossible -- to imagine that this won't work, with a good lead-in and CBS' expertise in the crime drama genre.
Also at 9pm, the CW brings in The Secret Circle, coming out of the strong (for them) cult favorite The Vampire Diaries. The Secret Circle is about a modern day coven of witches called The Secret Circle, and the young woman who returns to her mother's hometown only to learn that her destiny lies within the Circle, too. This is prime CW fare, and they know how to do it up right, with a cast full of gorgeous young thespians and enough supernaturality to keep things interesting. Britt Robertson (Life Unexpected) stars, along with Thomas Dekker (Cinema Verite, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Gale Harold (Queer as Folk, Hellcats), Australians Phoebe Tonkin and Louis Hunter, Shelley Hennig (Days of Our Lives), Jessica Parker Kennedy (50/50), and Natasha Henstridge (Species, Eli Stone). There's no reason why fans of The Vampire Diaries should even consider changing the channel -- The Secret Circle was made just for them. Hard to imagine other than a young demo being drawn to this, what with so many other very strong choices out there, but the CW would be happy just making sure their core audience is kept content.
NBC at 9:30pm slots in new half-hour sitcom Whitney, starring comedienne Whitney Cummings (who's also creator of CBS' Monday night offering Two Broke Girls) as Whitney, one-half of a happily unmarried couple who are facing increased pressure -- from friends, family, and society -- to get officially hitched. Stand-up comedienne Cummings (Chelsea Lately, Money Shot, Punk'd) stars (her character's a photographer), with Chris D'Elia (Glory Daze, Lopez Tonight) as her boyfriend who evidently lives off his profits from selling an internet company, Zoe Lister-Jones (Delocated, Bored to Death, Breaking Upwards) as a good friend, Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock) as her boyfriend, Rhea Seehorn (I'm With Her, The Shaggy Dog) as a dagger-tongued divorcee, and Dan O'Brien (The Greatest Movie Ever Made) as a next-door neighbor who's a cop and an inveterate womanizer.
Since we've seen the pilot, we'll say that Whitney is no Liz Lemon, that's for sure; Whitney is as over-confident about her sexuality as Liz is under, and this includes feeling good about putting on naughty nurse costumes and showing off her ass. You're going to have to be a fan of Whitney Cummings to really enjoy Whitney, because though as pure sitcom it's not exactly bland, it is wince-worthy as it combines nasty talk with otherwise very conventional set-up and pacing and ultimately nothing new under the sun. Co-star Seehorn as the cynical divorced friend seemed to have all the good lines in the scenes she was in, more than Whitney had, anyway. Plus Cummings isn't too confident or natural in her line readings. I think the better bet is to catch her behind-the-scenes comic chops in Two Broke Girls over on CBS. I'm sure it seems like a wonderful thing to have another multi-talented female comedy force out there, but she may not have quite the depth right now to headline her own show. But we will see if Whitney catches on...
At 10pm, NBC introduces their remake of the acclaimed British series Prime Suspect, substituting actress Maria Bello (The Cooler, A History of Violence, Auto Focus, The Company Men, Grown Ups, ER) for Helen Mirren, and those are some shoes to fill, but she's up to the challenge. The rest of the cast is impressive, too, all strong actors (and we mean actors because they are all guys): the talented Aidan Quinn (An Early Frost, Benny and Joon) co-stars, along with Kirk Acevedo (Oz, Fringe, Band of Brothers), Peter Gerety (Brothers & Sisters, The Wire) as Bello's father, Tim Griffin (Star Trek, Iron Man, Grey's Anatomy, Party of Five), Damon Gupton (Unfaithful, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Deadline), Bryan F. O'Byrne (Flash Forward, Mildred Pierce, Tony winner for Frozen), and Kenny Johnson (The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Saving Grace).
If you watched the original version of you know the story -- tough woman comes into a detective squad, makes waves rather than friends, and doesn't let the department politics or gossip deter her from getting the bad guys. While we know that there's no way that this U.S. version can ever exactly duplicate the taut British brilliance that was Mirren in Prime Suspect, we can at least hope that it hasn't been Americanized too much and dumbed down past tolerance. Many japes have been thrown about because of the weird hats that they've put Maria Bello in, no doubt to demonstrate her edgy uniqueness, but they don't do her any favors and maybe they'll be toned down in future episodes. This is sort of another "how can it lose" situation, but if lead-in Whitney doesn't get some loyal viewers/ decent numbers, and CBS' Person of Interest hits the deck at full force and funnels viewers straight into The Mentalist, then Prime Suspect will have a difficult time getting its niche going. Maybe this will be the one that gets DVRed and watched later on. It's hard to imagine that any lover of police procedurals is going to ignore Prime Suspect completely, but it might not have the impact to warrant original eyeball viewing on Thursday nights. Early reviews are lukewarm, too.
Next up, Fridays and Saturdays, one of which is interesting and one of which is the same-old, same-old.