Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cuts and Keepers

I'm actually not talking about the Avs or any NHL roster.  Sure, I could talk more about Elliott not making the opening night roster, but this is about the new fall TV shows!  Thus far, there have been three official cancellations; the NBC shows The Playboy Club and Free Agents and the CW reality show H8R.  None of which were on my lineup, so this does not impact me and my fans in the least.  I, myself have also cut three shows from my DVR Series List; Revenge, Whitney, and The Office.

First of all, Revenge isn't terrible.  It's watchable and Emily VanCamp is actually good in the lead role.  It is very soap opera-like with campy dialogue and plot lines.  Nonetheless, I decided to keep only one soap opera-like show on my roster and I chose to go with Ringer.  Whitney was underwhelming.  I think Whitney Cummings is funny, but she would do better on cable than being restricted by network TV.  When The Office first became a U.S. TV show, I was not too impressed.  The short, 6-episode 1st season mirrored its U.K. counterpart too much and was pretty unoriginal.  However, I was convinced to give it another shot and in the 2nd and 3rd seasons, the show really took off.  Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute, and Jim Halpert established themselves as top sitcom characters and they and the rest of the cast has great chemistry and humor.  However, around the 6th-7th season, the show started to decline.  It was announced the Steve Carell was leaving the show after the 7th season and many speculated that would be the end of The Office.  However, they decided to limp on and cast James Spader as the new CEO.  After 2 episodes with Spader, I have been unimpressed.  I like James Spader, but his character just didn't do it for me.  The other characters seem to have gotten stale too.  So, after 7 seasons and 2 episodes, The Office is now closed.

The big winners of the new TV season thus far are Homeland and Person of Interest.  Homeland is Showtime's newest original show and immediately follows Dexter, its most popular one.  It is produced by Howard Gordon, a former producer of 24.  Claire Danes makes her first starring TV appearance since the teen cult drama, My So Called Life of the 1990s.  She is very good as a CIA agent who may be paranoid and a little crazy or just ahead of everyone else.  Damian Lewis returns to TV as well.  He starred in the short-lived NBC police procedural, Life.  In Life and Homeland, Lewis plays a character who is imprisoned for several years.  The similarities end there.  In Life, Lewis was quirky, charming, and of course, a little out of touch.  In Homeland, he is much darker after being imprisoned by Al-Qaeda for eight years.  Carrie Mathison (Danes) suspects him of being "turned" by Al-Qaeda and working with their sleeper cells in secret.  Obviously, she has to tread lightly with her theory as Nicholas Brody (Lewis) is now regarded as a war hero from surviving 8 years of Al-Qaeda capture and torture.  The supporting cast is solid as well with Morena Baccarin (V) as Brody's wife and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, Mathison's mentor.  So far, Homeland has received universal acclaim.  Expect this to be green-lit for a 2nd season very soon.

The best new network show of the fall 2011 TV season is Person of Interest.  The new JJ Abrams vehicle is a winner.  Last year, Abrams made an attempt at a lighthearted espionage-themed show with Undercovers, but that did not succeed and was canceled after 11 episodes.  Person of Interest reunites Abrams with Lost breakout star Michael Emerson.  Emerson brings his same dark, mysterious, and creepy persona of Ben Linus to his new character, Harold Finch.  While Ben Linus was certainly a villain, who kind of became a good guy, but still did bad things until the end, Finch seems to be a hero, genuinely interested in helping others.  He recruits John Reece (Jim Caviezel), a former CIA agent who has fighting skills comparable to a James Bond or Jack Bauer.  Finch has developed a machine that allows him to see crimes before they happen and Reese is enlisted to stop them.  Kind of like Minority Report, but less futuristic and sci-fi.  Caviezel is good as the badass fighter and Emerson as the mysterious mastermind.  Expect PoI to succeed.

As previously mentioned, I like Ringer.  It's the one guilty pleasure on my DVR.  Sarah Michelle Gellar is very good in her dual role of twin sisters Bridget and Siobhan (still not quite sure how to pronounce that).  Bridget is being hunted by the mob and assumes the identity of her wealthy sister, whom she thinks has killed herself.  Ioan Gruffudd, best known as Mr. Fantastic in the Fantastic Four films, plays Siobhan's husband, and Nestor Carbonell of Lost and The Dark Knight plays an FBI agent who is searching for Bridget.  Like Revenge, Ringer is very soap opera-like, but I like the casting and the storylines are a bit more suspenseful than Revenge was.

This fall season has not really produced any great comedies so far.  Earlier this year, we got Happy Endings, which I say is the best network sitcom out right now and FX's Wilfred, the funniest show of the summer.  However, a couple of sitcoms have made it onto my roster that were not initially in the lineup.  The first is Up All Night.  It stars Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as parents of a young baby.  The couple tries to balance parenthood and Reagan (Applegate) returns to work as a TV producer and Chris (Arnett) becomes a stay-at-home dad.  Maya Rudolph also stars as Ava, the star of the Oprah-like show where Reagan works.  All three lead actors are comedy veterans and are good in UAN.  Already picked up for a full season, it is a good show, but not the funniest show out there.

The other show that was a late addition to my lineup is New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel.  Its pilot episode was really good.  The problem was that the character, Coach, played by Damon Wayans, Jr. was the funniest part.  When Happy Endings was renewed (it's a much funnier show anyway), Wayans left New Girl to continue his role as Brad on Happy Endings.  They wrote the character Coach out of New Girl, and replaced him with a character named Winston who is not nearly as funny.  The 2nd episode of New Girl suffered from a major sophomore slump, but the 3rd episode was good.  So, I'll keep New Girl for now, but with a couple more bad showings, it could be in trouble. 

The final new sitcom is How to Be a Gentleman.  This show was created by, produced by, and stars David Hornsby, Rickety Cricket from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  In fact, Mac, Dennis, and Charlie are credited as "Creative Consultants" on Gentlemen.  Unfortunately, How to Be a Gentleman is no Sunny.  Hornsby plays Andrew Carlson, a magazine columnist who is determined to be a gentleman.  The best character of the show is Bert Lansing, played by Kevin Dillon, who becomes Andrew's personal trainer and roommate.  Lansing is essentially Johnny Drama as a trainer rather than a struggling actor.  So I guess if you're still depressed over Entourage ending, you can watch HTBAG (catchy acronym) to see a bit more Johnny Drama.  Rounding out the cast are Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe from 24) and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) as Andrew's sister and brother-in-law respectively.  I'm still on the bubble with this one.  Although critical reception and ratings have been poor, so it might not be long before CBS pulls the plug and makes the decision for me. *Update* CBS has halted production after nine episodes and will effectively burn off the remaining seven episodes on Saturdays starting this week.  So, only seven more chances to watch it.  Perhaps Kevin Dillon will get a third gig playing Johnny Drama.  There are always Entourage reruns too.

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