Friday, May 21, 2010

CBS Fall Line-up 2010

The CBS fall schedule, announced this week, rearranges some programs, but there are only five new entries.

Two new sitcoms arrive: "Mike and Molly" about two overweight people who met at Overeaters Anonymous and "$#*! My Dad Says" with William Shatner as the cranky Dad whose real-life son has been Tweeting his unprintable musings.

Also joining the line-up are a remake of Hawaii Five-O (YES, the lead character is named Steve McGarrett) and two new dramas.  "The Defenders" is an "irreverent" law show set in Las Vegas where Jerry O'Connell and Jim Belushi defend "the little guy."  "Blue Bloods" is about a family of cops in New York City with Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg and Len Cariou.  (I just hope the characters don't affect those terrible cop/New York accents done so terribly on "NYPD Blue.")

Big Bang Theory" moves to Thursday to be followed by a new sitcom; "Miami CSI" (so tired) moves to Sundays and "Survivor: Nicaragua" goes to Wednesdays.

Conspicuously absent from the CBS schedule are "Ghost Whisperer," "Cold Case,"  and "Numbers" - all cancelled (Rob Morrow already has a new ABC gig).  "Medium," "Gary Unmarried" and "New Adventures of Old Christine" should be back later in the year.

CBS Web site features classic TV

Watch classic TV shows at:

Includes: The Ed Sullivan Show, Love Boat, Hawaii Five-O and many others.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ABC: Fall 2010

So far, the new ABC schedule seems to be the least promising of all the announced new skeds for fall, though the network has a number of new programs.
“Better Together” sounds good.  From Shana Goldberg-Meehan of “Friends,” it’s about two sisters at different stages in their romantic relationships. One is in a long-term relationship; the other gets pregnant and marries a new guy.  This show will join ABC’s already successful slate of Wednesday night comedies.

Starring Julie Benz and the appealing Tate Donovan, “No Ordinary Family” revolves around a typical American family with “special” abilities, ala “The Incredibles.”  Michael Chiklis is also in it.

“Detroit 1-8-7”
is a crime drama pilot set in Detroit.  It follows a fictional documentary crew following a homicide squad and is described as having a “humorous tone.”
A legal drama, "The Whole Truth," that the network claims presents both sides of a case equally so the viewers are the virtual jury.  Jerry Bruckheimer produces it and the cast features Rob Morrow.  Yes, there will be a verdict at the end of each hour.

In the oy vey department, ABC is finally getting into the spate of shows with dissected dead bodies.  In the aptly titled, "Body of Proof," Dana Delany ("Desperate Housewives," China Beach”) is a neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner whose expertise helps solve murders.

For "My Generation" the gimmick is the return to a town where the high school class of 2000 was captured in a documentary.  Now, ten years later, the crew is back to capture the classmates’ return to Austin, Texas where each one (all the typical high school characters are represented – nerd, overachiever, punk, etc.) discovers that what happened to them during the previous decade wasn’t exactly what they expected when they left high school.

Finally, ABC will be airing a program that ran briefly on Fox, called "Secret Millionaire," which follows wealthy people who go undercover in economically depressed areas and give some of their money to people in need.

So, here’s the schedule:

Sunday: “Extreme Makeover: Home,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters”
Monday: “Dancing with the Stars,” “Castle”
Tuesday: “No Ordinary Family,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Detroit 1-8-7”
Wednesday: “The Middle,” “Better Together,” “Modern Family,” “Cougar Town,” “The Whole Truth”
Thursday: “My Generation,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice”
Friday: Secret Millionaire,” “Body of Proof,” “20/20”
Saturday: Football

Fox TV's Fall Schedule 2010

The Fox Fall TV Schedule has few surprises.

A couple of new series hopefuls are the comedy entries, "Running Wilde" and "Raising Hope."  I don't know much about the latter, described as a single-camera family comedy from the producers of "My Name is Earl," but it's the lead-in to "Running Wilde," which means they're banking on it.  "Wilde" sounds better.  It's from the "Arrested Development" folks and stars Keri Russell ("Felicity") and Will Arnett ("30 Rock") as two childhood sweethearts finding their way back to each other. 

I would be excited about "The Good Guys," which stars one of my favorites, Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing"), had I not been watching the ridiculous-looking previews.  This is an action comedy with Matt Nix of "Burn Notice."  They are an old- and new-school cop who solve crimes from "irreverent angles employing non-linear storytelling."  Huh?  I guess you have to watch to understand.

The final new entry for Fox is "Lonestar," a soap set against the backdrop of big Texas oil.  "Dallas" for the new millennium?  David Keith and Jon Voight star.  I doubt the two of them combined will be as funny as Larry Hagman.

Rounding out the schedule for Fox are "House" on Mondays, followed by "Lone Star."  Tuesdays start with "Glee" and then the two new sitcoms.  Wednesdays feature the returning "Lie to Me" and "Hell's Kitchen."  "Bones" and "Fringe" return on Thursdays; Fridays are "Human Target" and "the Good Guys."

Saturdays present "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted," while there are animated features on Sundays: "The Simpsons," "The Cleveland Show," "Family Guy" and "American Dad."

Monday, May 17, 2010

NBC Fall Schedule 2010

NBC's new schedule for the fall was released today with a lot of fanfare, but little fare, at least not any that will make a huge difference in anyone's viewing habits.

Notable to me are two entries for Thursdays.

The first is a sitcom called "Outsourced" about a company that sent most of its jobs to India.

Second is a romantic comedy in the old hour-long format (remember, they have to replace five nights of the Jay Leno debacle) called "Love Bites."  It stars Jordana Spiro, late of "My Boys," who carries that great TBS show admirably (it returns in July).

The rest is unexciting - a couple of action shows on Monday nights, "The Event" and "Chase," and two hours of "The Biggest Loser" on Tuesdays, followed by "Parentwood.

Wednesdays will have a new program called "Undercovers," (a take on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith), followed by two "Law & Order" installments, SVU and the new Los Angeles iteration.

Friday nights will be "Dateline" and the new Jimmy Smits show, "Outlaw."

On Saturdays, NBC will repeat "Undercovers" and "SVU."  Sunday night is all football.

Stay tuned for the rest of the networks' announcements.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

24 this season is more like a 2

The producers are bragging that they’ve taken away Jack Bauer’s moral compass because of all the hell he’s been through.  EP Howard Gordon told “Digital Spy”: What he will have done in the last six episodes leaves him once again in a very compromised place morally, ethically and emotionally. This show is a tragedy… I’m taking people’s outrage as a measure of interest.”

Through the seasons Jack lost his wife, a couple of near-love interests and his latest flame, just seconds after an intimate interlude.

Jack, himself, has been tortured and shot so many times that he’s lost feeling in his soul.  Now, he’s on a rampage and has killed in cold blood; he’s gone completely rogue.

The writing team thinks all of this makes the show better, more dramatic.  I think the opposite.

They’ve taken the character out of the characters.  With the exception of Chloe, slowly but surely, every single stand-up individual in 24 has devolved into either complete stupidity or treason.

The worker bees at CTU are incompetent.  The bosses, virtually everyone who’s been put in charge, never know how to handle a situation.  And Jack is always the only one who can save the day.  Government officials are uniformly pompous and ineffective.  Every president of the United States portrayed has been brought down by hubris or sheer idiocy.  Only good ole reliable Chloe remains standing upright.

This season, even President Alyson Taylor (Cherry Jones), seemingly consumed by peace in the Middle East, became a sell-out sometime between hours 18 and 20.  A former president, Charles Logan, brought down in a previous season, is an outright traitor.  There was the devious Dana Walsh, a spy within the CTU ranks, and countless other shady individuals.  Once thought to be respectable, they went to the other side.

Viewers have no one to invest themselves in and that’s the biggest mistake of all.  Any book, movie or television show without a hero is doomed.  Characters can be flawed, but they must be admired, loved, or at least liked.  The drama is not worth watching if the characters are not mirrors of those we aspire to be.  The old Jack Bauer fit that description; the new one does not.  Yes, the program is a tragedy, but even Shakespearean tragedies have heroes.

I will keep watching 24, but not with the rapt attention I once had.  I don’t see how the upcoming theatrical movie can be successful under the current circumstances.  I was a lot more enthusiastic about rooting for Jack  when I admired him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is Edward R. Murrow to the Les Nessmans on Other Networks (If you don’t get the reference, don’t continue reading)

The New York Times wrote about “Morning Joe” on MSNBC in the Sunday Styles section this past week, but they were late to the table.

Having watched from day 1 in May 2007, I can say that the Times story missed the point about an outstanding program for grown-ups with brains.

Hosted by former Congressman Joe Scarborough and longtime broadcaster Mika Brzezinski, this wake-up-with-politics show is so much better than others in this genre.  More than the relationships among the hosts, more than the revolving cast of notables debating issues and more than extended segments, “Morning Joe” stands alone in that it doesn’t pander to “the suits” who usually demand that a program be tailored to everyone.

The never-ending dialogue is sophisticated, urbane and intelligent, but it’s also as unrestricted as the conversation you have with your close friends after the rest of the party guests have left.  You get the idea, at least, that no one’s pulling punches and being politically correct. 

There’s sarcasm, jokes that those in Peoria won’t get and a lot of inside baseball.  No one’s hiding behind a desk and pretending to be perfect.  Guests can be put on the spot and asked questions without being prepped by pre-interviews.  Ill-prepared?  Don’t do live TV.

What I love, particularly, is that there are no vomit-inducing human-interest stories, no suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts and (GAG) no cooking segments.

Celebrities who come to the set get a minute to promote and then have to demonstrate intellect or take a hike.  Tom Hanks is a recent example; he showed that he’s much more than an actor and director.  He can think.

And that’s what it’s all about: thinking.  Thank goodness there are some broadcasters out there who are still given free rein to do so and that the bosses at parent company NBC are leaving Mika, Joe and company alone. 

P.S. Note to Don Imus (whose program Morning Joe replaced): your sophomoric show was Les Nessman to their Edward R. Murrow.  (If you don’t get the reference, Morning Joe is not for you.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Harry Connick Should Fill Simon's Shoes

If the American Idol producers are still searching for a replacement for Simon Cowell, they should look no further than this week's musical guest, Harry Connick, Jr.  (This is Cowell's last season.)

Connick is a musician's musician - a composer, arranger, pianist, singer and conductor - who's worked in many genres.  Plus, he's funny and tremendously entertaining.

The man would bring a lot to the table, like bona fide musical critique, not platitudes and gushing.  He's pleasant, but not a pushover.  I LOVED it when he admonished the judges last night to stop using the word "pitchy" to tell performers they're simply "out of tune."  (I've been yelling that at the TV for years.)  Connick has the musical chops.

Harry seemed like he was bucking for the judge's job.  During his two-night stint he coached the idols, performed, cracked jokes and conducted the orchestra.  Let's hope I'm right.  Next season could be great fun.

Pass it on!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thwarting Terrorism in “24” vs. Real Life in Times Square

If you’re watching “24” this season, you know that midtown Manhattan, near the UN, was threatened by a radiological device. The situation was somewhat similar to the car bomb, though not radioactive, found in Times Square on Saturday.

There are many similarities, but, unfortunately, many differences. On “24,” the fictional anti-terrorism agency, CTU, has far more high tech surveillance at its disposal. Producers portray New York City as having cameras on every street, radar detectors all over the place and 3-D schematics of every building. It seems, in TV land, as if anyone can be tracked at any time.

Now, over to real life. According to today’s newspaper reports, the NYPD is only in the planning stages of a security system that would be able to read all license plates on cars traveling between 34th and 50th Streets. The system would also have chemical, biological and radiological sensors. The program is not in place and more funding is needed to complete it, probably around $50 million. Other reports speak of body-temperature scanners that can detect explosives underneath clothing; they’re reportedly available but not in wide use in NYC.

This is disappointing news to those of us who watch TV and particularly those of us who watch TV and spend time each day in midtown Manhattan, unequivocally a number one terrorism target.

It’s always been fun to fantasize about the gizmos and gadgets in fiction that we’d like to see in the real world. Calling Dick Tracy. And, some have become reality. For the sake of millions of people let’s hope government officials see the seriousness of the situation and commit the funding. It’s clearly more than fun to fantasize, it could be lifesaving.