Monday, September 19, 2011

The Flaming Nose Fall TV Preview, Pt. 2: Monday!

Monday:  An interesting quartet of new series show up brand new on Monday nights this fall, something -- as they always like to say -- for everyone. 

CBS adds one new comedy to their newly-invigorated -- thanks to Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men -- but always very successful line-up.  2 Broke Girls -- premiering on 9/19 at 9:30pm but its regular slot is 8:30p -- comes from Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City, The Comeback, Will & Grace) and Whitney Cummings, the hot young-ish comedienne who also stars in her own eponymous sitcom Thursdays nights on NBC this season.  Channeling some Laverne & Shirley vibes, it's the tale of two slightly down-on-their-luck but plucky young women -- one is a disinherited heiress, the other a hard-knocks waitress -- who team up as roommates and restaurant co-workers.  Beth Behrs stars as the ex-socialite Caroline, Kat Dennings (E.R., Raising Dad) is the quick-witted Max, improv comic Jonathan Kite is their co-worker, Garrett Morris (SNL) the restaurant's cashier, and Matthew Moy is their boss.  This one's all about the chemistry between the two leads, and all indications are that they complement each other well and aren't afraid to get into some physical comedy.  Can 2 Broke Girls connect with the funnybone of a Americans facing a depressed real-life economy and still get the laughs?  They've got a great timeslot and we know CBS wouldn't put a mess in there. 

Debuting on Monday 9/19 at 10pm, NBC brings in the second Mad Men-era-inspired series with The Playboy Club, an evocation of ring-a-ding Chicago of the early 1960s where Hugh Hefner started his first gentleman's key club.  Produced by Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, 24, and so many more), The Playboy Club offers up a seductive mix of adventure, intrigue, beautiful ladies, and the delights of a vanished era, long gone with the tides of social and political change.  You can expect a bevy of gorgeous and talented ladies in the cast -- Amber Heard (Zombieland, Pineapple Express), acclaimed theatrical actress Laura Benanti, Canadian actress Leah Renee, Naturi Naughton (Notorious, and part of the singing group 3LW), and Jenna Dewan Tatum (Set Up, Step Up).  The male leads are also impressive -- Eddie Cibrian (Third Watch, CSI: Miami) and David Krumholz (Numb3rs, Ray), along with Wes Ramsey (The Guiding Light, Charmed).

As with the stewardesses of ABC's Pan Am, the alluring sexual mystique inherent in the Bunnies fuels the The Playboy Club, but for a start the series will have to be lots peppier than Mad Men to succeed on a broadcast network.  It's got some tough competition in the 10pm from ABC's Castle and CBS' successful Hawaii 5-0 reboot returning from last season.  What audience isn't being served there already?  And wouldn't you really rather see a show about Hugh Hefner's empire on a pay cable outlet?  Yes, I realize that Playboy Bunnies weren't anywhere close to call girls, but even the intellectual climate necessary to adequately portray Hefner's monumental achievement doesn't seem like network TV country.  Good luck to The Playboy Club, though, because it will no doubt look gorgeous while it lasts.

On Fox at 8pm, debuting Monday 9/26, is the long delayed (from last May) but much anticipated Terra Nova, a science fiction adventure from Steven Spielberg and an impressive list of executive producers with credits like 24, Castle, The Borgias, Nikita and other similarly classy series.  A hundred and fifty years from now the Earth is on its last legs, humanity essentially over, until a time rift makes it possible to send people back in time to re-establish the human race at a point in the planet's past, thus ensuring the continuation of the species.  That point is 85 million years ago, and the brave adventurers who make the journey back face unbelievable horrors from both the hostile creatures of that prehistoric time as well as the human companions who've made the journey with them. 

Avatar's Steven Lang, a terrific actor and dynamic presence, plays the pioneer leader of the mission, heading a cast that includes Jason O'Mara (Men in Trees, Life on Mars), Shelly Conn (Mistresses), Christine Adams (Tron: Legacy) and the young actors playing Conn and O'Mara's children. According to reports, the 8pm time slot necessitated a shift in emphasis to place the plight of the transplanted family at center stage in the drama, which definitely takes it out of Lost territory, at least. (But instead of Lost in Space, think "Lost in Time"...) To keep your dinosaurs straight, Terra Nova takes place in the Cretaceous Period, the prehistoric time which followed the Juraissic Period, a plot point that was deliberate in order to separate this from Spielberg's previous forays into the latter.  And don't worry about the Mass Extinction event that marked the division between the Cretaceous and the Tertiary Period -- that happened 65 million years ago so the Terra Nova time travelers will have at least 20 million years to play around.

Promising at least one dinosaur per episode, the spare-no-expense Terra Nova could be great but we're wondering if the family-orientation will suck the juice out of the premise.  We're hoping not, and any self-respecting dinosaur-loving kid (are kids still into dinosaurs?) would also prefer plenty of excitement and very little soap opera from a show like Terra Nova.  If it becomes too much of a family drama, no matter what perils may lurk outside hearth and home, it will lose viewers craving action and intensity.  Cross your fingers that Terra Nova gives us plenty of what we're looking for!

At 9pm, the CW offers up a distaff, soap opera version of Doc Hollywood in Hart of Dixie, the story of a beautiful and privileged NYC med school graduate who ends up practicing in rural Alabama and learning the meaning of life.  This is a romance novel for young women come to life, and as that fits in perfectly to CW's target demo and strength.  Rachel Bilson (The O.C.) stars as Dr. Zoe Hart, along with Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights), model-turned-actress Jamie King, Wilson Bethel (The Young and the Restless), and Cress Williams (Friday Night Lights).  This show is a good companion piece to its lead-in show Gossip Girl, and I think we can rest assured it won't be the last series to use Southern stereotypes to make a point. 

Next Up:  Pt. 3, Tuesday, coming tomorrow morning!


Amy said...

Nostalgia for an earlier, sexier era is one thing but I predict The Playboy Club will last about 2 minutes. Other than my prom night dinner at the Great Gorge Playboy Club in NJ, I'm not at all interested - and wonder who is - in a series about the bunnies (even if there is adventure and intrigue and a talented cast).

I will, however, give Pan Am a chance, if only for my fond memories of picking my Dad up from his overseas business trips at Idlewild Airport in the 60s.

I'm cautiously optimistic about Terra Nova. Despite Spielberg's producing credit(I thought Cowboys and Indians was very disappointing) I think this series is doomed. Nevertheless I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope it turns out to be a good story without all the family melodrama.

Homeland and Up All Night were highly lauded on NPR the other day. Any thoughts about these shows? Homeland sounds like an intriguing thriller. I'm not as sure about Up All Night. I may be too old to relate to that one.

The amount of new programming combined with the returning shows is overwhelming. I'm in the process of making a spread sheet :/

Jane said...

I somehow missed recording Playboy Club, although I'm sure it won't be anywhere near the quality of Mad Men. I love that period of time, but I think Pan Am is going to be a better bet. I'll check out Terra Nova, but jeez Spielberg has a lousy track record with TV. I always end up disappointed. I think JJ Abrams gets the small screen more than SS.

Of course I am now a (better late than never) Dancing with the Stars convert for Monday nights, so I will have a post on that show ready for next week. Don't want to interrupt the flow for your fabulous New Fall Season series! Actually I feel so old school about new fall season reviews...I want to print each of these posts out and put them on my coffee table!