Friday: A pair of new series on a night which already has a super-competitive 9pm hour.
At 8pm -- a timeslot where years ago CBS put a terrific little series called Joan of Arcadia and too quickly let it die but where Medium prospered quite handily -- the network goes again into the big-concept feel-good arena with A Gifted Man, a medical drama with a touch of the supernatural. Patrick Wilson (Little Children, Angels in America, Watchmen) stars as a elitist high society neurosurgeon whose deceased do-gooder-doctor ex-wife returns from the grave to advise him and help him make his life -- and the lives of those around him -- better. Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice, The King's Speech, Contagion, and she's the daughter of actress Rosemary Harris, too) is the back-from-beyond wife, Julie Benz (Dexter, No Ordinary Family) plays Wilson's unconventional sister (a role that has since been changed from regular to recurring), recent Emmy winner Margo Martindale (Dexter, Justified) as Wilson's medical office manager. Rachelle Lefevre (Swingtown, Twilight, Life on a Stick) joins the cast in the newly-created role (not in the pilot) of another doctor, as does Pablo Schreiber (The Wire) whose pilot character of a New Age spiritual leader will now be a show regular.
Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married, The Manchurian Candidate, Philadelphia, The Silence of the Lambs) directed the pilot and is one of the executive producers along with Susannah Grant (writer of Erin Brokovich), and that's a good start. Probably the worst thing about A Gifted Man is its 8pm time slot; it's awfully early for something of substance, though it's happened before. A Gifted Man could definitely jump-start CBS' already strong Friday night drama line-up, plus give fans of solid genre drama an extra hour of appointment viewing. It isn't a stretch to imagine this working, especially with ghosts so popular on cable so-called reality shows, and America reportedly becoming more supersititious every day. It's easier to believe that a man's ghostly wife could come back than to have faith in our political system, isn't it?
At 9pm, NBC brings in Grimm, a series that's gotten a lot of mocking and is already on a lot of the cancellation watch lists even before it begins (on October 21st.). Grimm is the second new series (along with ABC's Once Upon a Time) set in the world of fairytale reality, and lovers of cool will enjoy its real-life co-setting of Portland, Oregon, currently the designated go-to city for hipsters. The premise of Grimm is storybook simple: The stories of the Brothers Grimm were really early efforts in criminal profiling, detailing the modus operandi of a whole slew of mythological creatures wreaking havoc on humanity. Their work is carried on by current day "Grimms" who are on the front lines of this otherworldly battle. All I can think when I hear this is that at least two excellent series with somewhat the same general storyline that bit the dust far too long ago and I'd rather have them back than this series. (I'm talking about UPN's Special Unit Two and USA Network's G vs. E...gone but not forgotten!)
You can't fault the cast assembled for Grimm: David Giuntoli (Love Bites, Turn the Beat Around) stars as a newly-minted Grimm, Russell Hornsby (Lincoln Heights, In Treatment) his non-Grimm cop partner, Silas Weir Mitchell (Prison Break, My Name is Earl, Burn Notice) a creature-turned-stool pigeon, internet actress Bitsie Tulloch (quarterlife, lonelygirl15, The Artist) is the hero's girlfriend, Reggie Lee (Prison Break, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Fast and the Furious, Drag Me to Hell, Tropic Thunder) is another cop in the Portland P.D., and Sasha Roiz (Caprica, Warehouse 13, and several Canadian series) is another Grimm who's also in real police work.
Will & Grace actor Sean Hayes' production company is behind this series, and you've got to give him kudos for showing some imagination. Maybe the fact that naysayers are already gunning for this one should put it on our must-watch list! But OMG -- the competition! In the same spooky genre there are Fox's excellent Fringe and CW's equally excellent Supernatural, and if you're looking for sraight police drama you'll probably opt for CBS's CSI: NY. Doesn't leave much audience underserved, does it?
And now to Saturday!
Really, there's nothing going on Saturdays...nothing new, that is. There are opportunities to watch replays of CBS and NBC shows -- not a bad thing for viewers, and if the nets are going to go into automatic pilot then economically this is a sound idea.
CBS has placed the returning David Spade/Patrick Warburton Rules of Engagement sitcom in the 8pm slot -- talk about being consigned to a desert island! Yikes! What did they do to deserve this? CBS also is running a comedy encore in the 8:30pm slot, before turning to a repeat of one of their many procedurals and then into their 48 Hour Mystery franchise.
Fox highlights the everlasting Cops in their 8pm hour -- so ahead of its time in its fascination with rednecks and the things they do! -- followed by unnamed encores and some assorted America's Most Wanted specials. AMW, after being essentially cancelled by Fox, was the subject of a heartfelt "save the show" campaign which seems to have worked. Lifetime cable network will be picking up the show beginning next May for a regular run, and that seems like a good fit. Fox will still run several specials of AMC, starting in October.
Our final post will be all the network schedules in one last look!