Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Unfair Previews, Fall 2008: NBC

Hey folks! The TV networks have unveiled their Fall schedules, which means it's time for me to mercilessly mock them, sight unseen, based only on their titles, casts, and capsule summaries on their respective websites. It's completely unfair and totally inaccurate, except in the cases where I call a show awful and it turns out actually to be awful, which is about 80% of the time.

We're kicking things off with NBC, who got the jump on the other networks, which all revealed their Fall lineups last week. NBC revealed their Fall lineup several weeks ago, for some reason. Way to shake things up, Peacock! Let's see what you've shat out for us this year.

--Kicking off the week is My Own Worst Enemy, which stars Christian Slater. The easy thing to do would be to immediately rip on Slater. I'm better than that: I'm going to save it for the next paragraph. The concept here is that Slater is a suburban everyman with an alternate personality, one which is a super spy. When the dividing line between the two personalities begins to erode, hilarity and/or action-packed drama presumably ensue.

Sounds terrible. And somewhat familiar: NBC is already exploring a similar fish out of water/spy concept with Chuck (which I actually like, and I'm glad to see will be back next season). This won't make it to 2009. And as promised, here is the cheap (but obligatory) slam on Slater: The website describes the super spy personality as "an operative who speaks thirteen languages, runs a four-minute mile, and is trained to kill with his teeth." With his teeth? Typecasting!

--On Tuesdays is Kath and Kim, a remake of what is apparently the most popular comedy in Australian TV history, about a wacky mom and her spoiled daughter. Bear in mind, however, that Australians are a bunch of crazy bastards. Also bear in mind that foreign programs translated to American TV are a very dangerous proposition. For every The Office, there are half a dozen Couplings.

But I can see this working. Molly Shannon is Kath, and I like Molly Shannon when her mania is properly channeled. Unfortunately, most of the time it is not, and she is irritating as hell. Selma Blair is Kim, and I love Selma Blair. A lot. So there's not the intense whiff of doom about this show as the rest of NBC's offerings, but it's still got just the slimmest of chances to succeed. Also, Molly Shannon is only eight years older than Selma Blair, so that's kind of a burn on Shannon.

--Let me ask you: what was the single worst thing to air on television over the past season? I'll bet more than half of you said the new Knight Rider TV movie, even if you didn't watch it. Even if you didn't know it existed -- that's how bad it was. Even I could only watch five minutes of it, that's how immediately and obviously awful the very idea of this revival was. Clearly, NBC knows better than we do: they loved it so much, they want to turn it into a regular series -- and air it twice a week. I'm not kidding: new episodes Wednesdays, repeats on Saturdays. Why do you hate us, NBC?

What other tidbits can be gleaned about this impending disaster? Well, KITT now morphs into three different cars, making the show essentially an hour-long commercial for half the Ford line. And NBC's website proudly displays many photos from the movie's premiere party at the Playboy mansion, including this one, which appears to be of several topless women who have had the words "Knight Rider" spray-painted onto their breasts:

You stay classy, Bruce Davison.

Classy, NBC. (Hey, I never claimed this site was classy.)

One last, practically unrelated note: I once watched an episode of the original Knight Rider in Spain. It was entirely dubbed into Spanish (of which I speak barely a word), and it was retitled El Coche Fantastico. And it was awesome.

--Finally, on Thursday there is Crusoe, which apparently is actually based on the Daniel Defoe novel, rather than just stealing the name (which I was assuming). Dude gets shipwrecked for 28 years, makes friends with Friday. Good in book form, but not exactly the kind of thing you want to follow in series form, unless there are some generous liberties taken with the structure. It's hard to tell from the meager info NBC has provided whether the island parts are flashbacks, or if it's really just Crusoe and Friday hanging out week after week, fishing, competing in immunity challenges, avoiding the smoke monster, etc. In fact, no cast info has even been given, which isn't a promising sign. I know the pilot season was delayed by the writers strike, but to not even have an actor attached is pretty slapdash. This won't last six episodes. Unless there really is a smoke monster.

And that's it, only four new shows for the Fall launch. The networks are making a big stink about how they're shaking up the Fall season format, and deliberately holding back more shows than ever for the midseason. But I just can't bring myself to go through those shows, too -- not now, at least. Maybe a big round-up post at the end of the week. There's only so much I can take at one time.

Coming soon: ABC, the CW, CBS, and Fox. In that order.

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