Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Showworthy - My Take on the New Shows So Far

Here are my 2 cents on the new shows for this Fall 2009 season so far, from Best to Worst:

  • Glee (Series Premiered Sept. 9) FOX/Global Wednesdays 9pm ***** - Pilot, Showmance, Acafellas, Preggers - Eps. 101-104

  • Well, you knew I was going to love this, but I'm surprised it's getting such quick backlash usually reserved for the big show of the year. Yes, it's getting tons of PR from Fox (shockingly) but the musical TV show is still an underdog (and netting only abotu 6-7 million viewers which isn't huge in the overall picture) and I think its genre will always make it so. I know this show just won't be for some, but I've been surprised at who has been hating it and who hasn't.

    For one, a major complaint is it's constantly changing tones and cheesiness. To me, that's the shows biggest asset. I love that the show changes from complete absurdity to a heartfelt moments to a cheesy musical number. It's hyperkinetic, absolutely ridiculous and thus completely winning and hysterically funny.

    I'm also willing to be patient as the episodes slowly introduce all the characters into the mix, recently adding in Puck and Quinn Fabray more into the central storylines, and fleshing out Kurt and Sandy. I know everyone loves Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester and we all want Lea Michelle's Rachel Berry to sing everything but it's a SERIES, not a movie, so there's a whole lot more coming people. Patience!

    Anyways, I'm just still loving it all and looking forward to where it's all going. Plus with the great Broadway star guest appearances (so far, Victor Garber, Debra Monk, Josh Groban (well, not Broadway but he did do Chess galas) and Kristin Chenowith this week), I can't wait to see what else they do with the glee club this year!

    And if anything, even if the show ends up tanking, the larger world will now know the tremendous voice of Lea Michelle. Seriously, her "Take A Bow" is even better than Rihanna's original. I can't wait for Michelle and Cory Monteith's updated version of "No Air". Finally there will be a version to replace the Chris Brown one.

  • Modern Family (New Series Premiered Sept. 23 2009) ABC/CITY Wednesdays 9pm ****1/2 - Pilot - Ep. 101

  • While it's almost like a toned down, more realistic and less absurd Arrested Development, it's also a modern version of the family sitcom. In both style and substance. The title couldn't be more correct.

    The jokes are subtle and observant, the hilarity and awkwardness rings true, and every character in the large extended family of 10 (including the kids) is distinct. Okay, not all the jokes are subtle, but when they're big (like the "Lion King" entrance), they're absolutely hilarious.

    Plus the cast includes my faves Julie Bowen (Ed, Boston Legal), Ty Burrell (Back to You) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The Class) and Ed O'Neill is back! And makes Sofia Vergara lovable!

  • FlashForward (New Series Premiered Sep. 24 2009) ABC/ATV Thursdays 8pm - ***1/2 - No More Good Days - Ep. 101

  • Okay, so essentially it's Lost Lite, and even includes Lost alum Sonya Walger and Dominic Monaghan in the cast. It even opens similarly with a our lead Joseph Fiennes waking up disoriented and in the middle of some sort of mysterious disaster with big explosions included. Flashbacks, flashforwards, a huge ensemble, and an apparently billboard with Oceanic 815 in the background (I didn't see it but apparently it was there) and the show seems to resemble the fellow ABC show.

    Who cares? I was thoroughly entertained, I got into the mystery (and if it is lighter, that might be a relief since Lost is taking up too many brain cells) and I LOVE the ensemble cast which includes John Cho (Harold and Kumar), Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Sonya Walger (Lost, Coupling US), Jack Davenport (Coupling UK), Brian F. O'Byrne (Broadway's Doubt), and Courtney B. Vance (L&O: Criminal Intent) and I noticed Shohreh Aghdashloo will show up in future episodes. Can't wait!

    Plus, Zachary Knighton, the suicidal doctor is a cute find!

  • Community (New Series Premiered Sep. 17 2009) NBC/CITY Thursdays 8:30pm - ***1/2 - Pilot, Spanish 101 - Eps. 101-102

  • Joel McHale. What can I say? I just love the man. And the series, while not perfect, is amusing and enjoyable and had a better start than Parks & Recreation (which at least, has gotten better this season). Plus, you know, I love me some Joel McHale wherever and whenever I can get it.

    Even Chevy Chase isn't annoying me and in fact, is part of a great ensemble that surrounds McHale.

  • The Good Wife (New Series Premiered Sept. 22 2009) CBS/Global Tuesdays 10pm - *** - Pilot - Ep. 101

  • A solid standard drama about a woman scorned and restarting her life as a working mother. While I'm not a Julianna Marguilies fan, I always forget that I do like her when she's on TV. And with the ensemble that surrounds her, with Christine Byranski (The Big Bang Theory, The Birdcage)! Josh Charles (Sports Night)! Matt Czuchry (Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls)! Archie Panjabi (Bend it Like Beckham, The Constant Gardener)! Even the son is played by Graham Phillips who made his Broadway debut last season in the underrated musical 13!

    While the show is essentially standard lawyer show mixed with working mom mixed with spurned wife, the cast alone elevates the material and with some smooth direction, I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot so far.

  • The Vampire Diaries (New Series Premiered Sep. 10 2009) The CW 8pm/CTV 7pm - *** - Pilot, Night of the Comets, Friday Night Bites - Eps. 101-103

  • I liked this FAR more than I thought I would, and think I should. But it's like a return to old style WB dramas, and not unexpected since it's Dawson's Creek's Kevin Williamson at the helm. Plus I'm kinda digging the collision of Panther worlds Degrassi:TNG with star Nina Dobrev and Friday Night Lights' Zach Roerig (he was evil Cash). Plus add in faves Ian Somerhalder from Lost and mini-Ephram Steven R. McQueen (above with Dobrev) from Everwood, and the series is a whole lot more fun than it probably deserves to be. Love the angsty atmospheric aura (how many fog machines does the production have anyways?) and the show somehow stays on earnestness without falling into high camp, all while being a vampire show and somehow it all works.

    I'm still not completely sold on Paul Wesley as lead paramour vamp. He annoyed me on every show he's been on (especially Everwood) but he's growing acceptable to me here. Which is a start. At least he's usually next to Nina, Ian or Chris William Martin (another Canadian on the cast, Felicity) so it all balances out.

  • Cougar Town (New Series Premiered Sep. 23 2009) ABC/CITY Wednesdays 9:30pm - *** - Pilot - Ep. 101

  • Okay, there are dirty jokes, double entendres and some are real zingers, while others fall flat, but you gotta give Courtney Cox credit for not resting on her Friends money (seriously, does she really ever have to work ever again?) and going for the gusto here as the central cougar in question (in a town with a football team called The Cougars). I like her rapport with Busy Phillips (Dawson's Creek) and I LOVE her rapport with her son Dan Byrd (Aliens in America).

    Dan Byrd is simply AWESOME! And he holds things together on this show and grounds it as it's about to fly off the deep (throat) end. The show even makes Josh Hopkins funny (and hot), Brian Van Holt (usually hot) funny and a bit sad and slimy, and Ian Gomez (not hot but very funny, though will forever be Javier on Felicity to me) gets to be back on TV again (not that he, married to My Big Fat Greek Wedding riches ever needs to work again either)!

    Christa Miller (Scrubs), married to creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) plays the same character she played on Scrubs. I wonder how she got the job? Surely it's not for her face, which has totally been botched up by some plastic surgery. Seriously, she's become so grating and while once it was funny, it's become so annoying that she really puts a damper into this show.

  • Eastwick (New Series Premiered Sep. 23 2009) ABC/ATV Wednesdays 10pm - *** - Pilot - Ep. 101

  • Okay, I'm still not sure I buy good'ol Canadian (and former fake Due South Mountie) Paul Gross as the Devil but I enjoyed this show far more than I thought I was going to as well.

    Okay, so it's really Desperate Ghost Whispering Charmed Cashmere Lipstick wearing Housewives and using Stars Hollow seems sacrileges (even though I know that set has been around forever), but while I have a feeling this will all wear thin very fast, I actually enjoyed the pilot.

    Big plusses go to two actresses I never feel I like but do when I actually see them in shows. Lindsay Price grew on me in Lipstick Jungle and Rebecca Romijn proved herself by playing a transgendered fashion mogul on Ugly Betty and so far the likability is carrying through here.

    Add in Sara Rue (Popular, Less Than Perfect and hottie Johann Urb, narration by Veronica Cartwright, and gratuitous shots of Matt Dallas (Kyle XY) with his shirt off and belly button back on, and I'm kinda sold for another few weeks at least.

  • The Beautiful Life (New Series Premiered Sep. 16 2009, Cancelled Sep. 25th 2009) TheCW/ATV Wednesdays 9pm

  • Well so much for that! I had a feeling that by the time I got this post out, this show might not even exist, but I'm still surprised at how fast it all happened. Especially considering the show is far better than Melrose Place which got a far bigger push from the network (and hence probably why it got far bigger ratings. I barely heard about TBL). So TBL joins yet another notch in The CW's self-destructive fulfillment. Too bad, cause I kinda enjoyed this gratuitous show about beautiful people and I liked leads Sara Paxton and Ben Hollingsworth (who incidentally was the gay hustler in Degrassi:TNG who almost got Marco a new way to earn money!).

    Okay, so Mischa Barton was majorly annoying, as was Jaime Murray's blackmailing cougar who uses Chad Corbin Bleu for her own sexual pleasure, but whatever, it was frothy and showed a lot of skin and had more interesting and plausible storylines compared to MP.

  • Mercy (New Series Premiered Sep. 23 2009) NBC/CITY Wednesdays 8pm ** - Can We Get That Drink Now - Ep. 101

  • Trauma (New Series Premiered Sept. 28 2009) NBC/CITY Mondays 9pm *1/2 - Pilot - Ep. 101

  • Mercy/Trauma are both sort of ripoffs of Grey's Anatomy/ER and feel like sad knock offs. Mildly entertaining, and I applaud sticking in non-white leads in both shows, but while I didn't hate either show, I'm not sure I'm really going to follow all season long. Despite the great creatives behind Trauma (who also are behind Friday Night Lights) and the great ensemble cast on Mercy who include Margo Martindale (Paris, Je T'aime) and Guillermo Díaz (Weeds).

    James Tupper (Men In Trees) is a plus on Mercy and I like Michelle Trachtenberg here, but I love her more on Gossip Girl and feel like Merritt Wever has already done the innocent naive nurse far better on Nurse Jackie now.

    There's not really characters on Trauma as there are explosions with people who are in the vicinity. It's invigorating to see the selfish dimwit who MUST txt on the phone while speeding on the highway, then causing a massive pileup and getting hurt, but really, I don't need to see that ALL that much.

  • Melrose Place (New Series Premiered Sep. 8 2009) TheCW Tuesdays 9pm (Global Wednesday 10pm) - *1/2 - Pilot, Nightingale, Grand - Eps. 101-103

  • Thank goodness for Katie Cassidy (Supernatural), Colin Egglesfield and Michael Rady or else this would have been long gone from my list.

    What a bore. I know they're trying to evoke soapy darkness but all it is so far is poorly lighted overly glossy wallpaper. It may look nice but it doesn't do anything.

    I want to like Canadians Shaun Sipos and Jessica Lucas (who was far better guesting on 90210 last year) but they're not exactly given much to work with. And don't even get me started with Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Wench more like it.

    Michael Rady still exudes his nice guy charms (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Greek) which sort of doesn't fit into the darkness they're trying to evoke here. Only Colin and Katie have that pretty with a hint of darkness down pat.

    Let's hope Heather Locklear's Amanda can re-start this series up like she did the first time around.

  • Accidentally On Purpose (New Series Premiered Sep. 21 2009) CBS/CITY Mondays 8:30pm - *1/2 - Pilot, Memento - Eps. 101-102

  • Ashley Jensen left Ugly Betty for this? Okay, so she was getting like 3 lines every 5 episodes but those were at least 3 very funny lines. Better than the many lines she's getting here, none of which are funny.

    And yet, I did laugh out loud 3 times in 2 episodes here. Accidentally I think. It's gotta be a relative thing. On the other hand, I do like me some shirtless Jon Foster. When did that boy get muscles and abs? Wowza!

    And I don't actually hate Jenna Elfman, but she's not exactly grabbing me here either. Though watching Grant Show do comedy (not since Melrose Place days is kinda fun.

  • N.C.I.S. Los Angeles (New Series Premieres Sept. 22 2009) CBS Tuesdays 9pm - * - Identity - Ep. 101

  • Well, it has Linda Hunt, Peter Cambor (so funny from Notes from the Underbelly), and Chris O'Donnell (I love me some whitebread) but it's N.C.I.S spinoff. This is just not my thing. Granted, O'Donnell paired with LL Cool J is actually a nice buddy cop thing (and really, if you think about it, O'Donnell and LL Cool J? The 90's wouldn't believe it) but still, it's N.C.I.S.. I'll pass.

  • The Forgotten (New Series Premiered Sept. 22 2009) ABC 10pm

  • I forgot to watch.

    I also skipped Brothers and The Cleveland Show. Two black shows. I didn't skip it cause they were black shows, but just cause they were Fox weekend shows.

    Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


    mB said...

    Totally agree with your top picks - Glee and Modern Family for the win! (But of course FOX and ABC had to pair them up at the same time aarrrgh!)

    FF does for me what LOST never did to me (or I've yet to give it a chance to for me) which is grip me without blind-sighting me. And while Community was funny, just half an episode of 30 Rock is funnier than both those episodes combined (that stupid Spanish class montage was absurdly unfunny, though apparently i'm in a minority on this one) and TGW - cast aside - is a procedural/lawyer show (which... if you're not starring Glenn Close: bleeghh).

    Other than that, I didn't bother with anything else (except CT and well...Courtney, I'll give you a couple of more eps to win me over)

    Scooter McGavin said...

    Mercy is quickly rising on my favorite new show of the fall list. I think I laughed more at an hour of Mercy than I did at a combined hour of Modern Family and Community this week. Unfortunately Mercy is a drama and I laughed at plenty of scenes I shouldn't have laughed at so that may not be a good sign for the show.

    As for Community, I am completely off the McHale bandwagon, there is absolutly nothing redeeming about his character and his antics have already gotten tired after three episodes. I'd like the show much more if Annie were the main character.

    Krystan said...

    I agree w these. BUT her name isn't krista fraser it's Christa Miller. She is married to the Scrubs/Cougartown creator and plays ellie

    Vance said...

    Oops. Fixed it! I don't even know where I got the Krista Fraser from.

    International Jock Crocs, Inc. Bare Necessities>