TV: My Unfair Previews, Fall 2007: NBC
Last week, the major networks announced their new programs for the Fall Season. Which means once again, it's time for me to start prejudging these shows based on nothing more than title, cast, and the official promo website. Also, for the first time, I'll be watching the video clips, which should be twice as painful. Here come the Unfair Previews!
We start with NBC, since they were first out of the gate at the upfronts (quick explanation: they're called "upfronts" because advertisers buy time on these programs up front, before they air, prior to any ratings information).
Before I get to the new shows, I'd like to note that I admire what NBC is doing with Heroes. Wanting to avoid the audience erosion of the third season of ABC's Lost, which was greatly due to long gaps between fresh episodes, NBC is increasing the episode count of Heroes, and adding six episodes of the tie-in series Heroes: Origins. However, I don't like the idea that Origins has a voting aspect built into it: the home audience can vote on which of the six new characters introduced on Origins gets added to Heroes. Leaving this decision up to idiots like me seems unwise. My hope is they're striving to create six characters, all of which they want to add to the regular series, so they can later say, "We added the one you voted on... but we liked the other five so gosh darn much, we added them, too." The way the end of the first season of Heroes is shaping up, they're going to need six new characters, anyway. Minimum.
Okay, the new shows.
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
The comparison point most people are using for Journeyman, the new Monday night drama, is Quantum Leap: it's about a guy traveling randomly through time. But since I'm currently reading Slaughterhouse-Five, I'm going with that reference instead. I guess he's trying to fix the past, which indeed is more QL than S-5, but he's also traveling within his own life, in his own body, which is more S-5 than QL.
Anyhoo. It's got a couple things going for it: it's set in San Francisco, which I always enjoy, as it's my favorite city on Earth, and it stars Kevin McKidd, who was so brilliant in Rome. (Watching the clips, I kept expecting him to scream, "THIRTEEN!!" and, like, stick a gladiator sword in Gavin Newsom or something.) And McKidd is definitely bringing the same maniacal intensity (though he shouldn't even bother with the American accent -- and he hardly is, from the sound of it). But it's a high concept show that doesn't otherwise hold a lot of promise. I have the feeling I'm going to want to like this show much more than I actually do, and that it's not going to last to 2008. Oh, also, the actress who plays McKidd's romantic interest from the past is named "Moon Bloodgood." Which sounds like the distaff version of a name made up by MST3K. "Fist Rockbone! Blast Thickneck! Big McLargehuge!"
Tuesday brings us Chuck, a dramedy about a Best Buy "Geek Squad"-type (here called the Buy More "Nerd Herd") who gets an email that downloads all of the government's top secrets into his head. I like Zachary Levi, who plays Chuck, and who used to be very funny as Kipp on Less Than Perfect, and I dig that Firefly's Adam Baldwin plays the bad government agent chasing him. (The good government agent is a hot blonde who falls for him, naturally.) Looks like this could have potential.
Wednesday has Bionic Woman. I'm so presold on this show it's not even funny. I loved the two original Bionic series of the '70s; the new show's creator is from Battlestar Galactica, a brilliant reimagining of another cheesy '70s sci-fi show; it co-stars Miguel Ferrer, basically playing the same role he did in RoboCop, which is enough to make me weep with joy -- though, sadly, his name is not Oscar Goldman; and it guest stars Katee Sackhoff, Starbuck on BSG, and one of the Objects of My Affection, as the first Bionic Woman. I'm there, front row, opening night.
Looks like this Jaime Sommers (the British Michelle Ryan, whose American accent does work, as opposed to Journeyman McKidd's) has a more adversarial relationship with her creators than the original. And it looks like she doesn't live in my hometown of Ojai, CA, anymore, which pisses me off. Also, looks like they're building up her personal life more than before (Mae Whitman, Ann/Egg on Arrested Development, plays Jaime's deaf sister) -- but where's her bionic German shepherd, Max, dammit? Despite those changes -- or, maybe in some cases, because of them -- I am all over this show. I'm not kidding: the preview clip gave me chills. This is my most anticipated new show of the season. Make of that what you will.
Also on Wednesday: Life, about a detective who is sentenced to life in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and then, when he is vindicated and freed, and wins a $50 million settlement, returns to his job and sets out to enjoy the rest of his life in the fullest. See how I used "life" twice there? NBC wants you to notice, too. As the tagline says: "Life was his sentence. Life is what he got back." Life, life, life!
This is the first of the shows I really don't like. I don't care for the lead actor, Damian Lewis, and I don't care for his character, who has become a Zen Buddhist in prison, which is a TV shortcut to "quirkiness." There are a couple of cute moments, and it does feature both Adam Arkin (for whom I will always have a soft spot because of Northern Exposure) and Robin Weigert (who was so fantastic as Calamity Jane on Deadwood). But this looks like a pass.
On Friday, 1 Vs. 100 will share a timeslot with The Singing Bee, which is karaoke in game show form. Mercifully, there are no preview videos for this. This is a big, big miss for me. Big. Yuck.
And that's it for the Fall for NBC. There are a couple of mid-season shows already announced, but I'll wait until mid-season to look at them. Check back tomorrow for the rundown of ABC's new lineup. It promises to be much, much worse. Much.