September 18th, 2009


The Fall TV Season

Watching the season premiere of my beloved The Office last night, your trusty TV Nerd realized he had yet to discuss the new fall season--in particular what I'll tune in for, what I might give a chance to, and what they couldn't possibly pay me enough to watch. As with the last few years, you'll note there are actually very few new shows that are catching my eye. And now, onward!

Not a whole heck of a lot going on Mondays for me. I'm delighted that Castle (ABC) is back and looking forward to watching Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic resume their witty banter as a bestselling mystery author and the police detective who reluctantly tolerates his presence as a consultant. I'm also going to do something stupid and give Heroes (NBC) another shot, though I find myself at a loss as to why I would bother. To say this series has produced diminishing returns over the last two seasons is an understatement, and we've heard the producers' "we're getting back to basics" line a million times before already to no avail. Still, something keeps pulling me back. I suspect it's my love for Hiro and Ando. I could watch those two on their own for hours. The new show they couldn't pay me enough to watch on Mondays? CBS' Accidentally On Purpose, a sitcom where Jenna Elfman gets knocked up after a one-night stand with a much younger man. The show also stars Grant Show of the original Melrose Place as her boss/boyfriend. Let the funny commence. Or not.

Remarkably, the Tuesday night schedule is pretty much a wasteland for me. The only series of possible interest for me is the new V (ABC), and that's mostly because it looks like it's got a strong cast. I enjoyed the old V when I was 14, but how will the new one stand up now that I'm 40? I'm willing to watch the premiere and find out. The new series they couldn't pay me enough to watch on Tuesday nights? The new Melrose Place (The CW). Sorry, guys, but even the old series outstayed its welcome by the time it ended in 1998. Also, it stars Ashlee Simpson. 'Nuff said.

You're not going to believe this, but there is nothing on the current Wednesday network schedule that your faithful TV Nerd is interested in! I'll tune in to Comedy Central for the return of South Park, but that's pretty much all that's calling to me. The show they couldn't pay enough to watch? Eastwick on ABC. Here's a winning formula: Take a John Updike novel, blend it with a hip, Sex and the City vibe and turn it into an hourlong dramedy starring Rebecca Romijn. The countdown to cancelation

As if to make up for the dearth of series I'm interested in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the networks seemed to have crammed everything into Thursday night. NBC still dominates with Weekend Update Thursday, a six-episode series from SNL that mostly succeeds because it's only a half hour long instead of an interminable three times that length, Parks and Recreation, which is definitely improving if last night's season premiere about gay penguin marriage was any indication, the aforementioned The Office, 30 Rock, now the best comedy on network TV (yes, even above The Office!), and new series Community. Last night's premiere of Community was okay, not great. There was very little innovation involved in the story or humor, and Gillian Jacobs as Britta, the ostensible love interest, leaves me cold, but star Joel McHale (best knows as the host of E!'s The Soup) and costars Chevy Chase and John Oliver (from The Daily Show) all lend this series the potential to become something pretty good once it finds its voice. I wasn't bowled over, I think I only laughed once--when a student starts shouting lines from The Breakfast Club in class--but the potential's there. Hopefully they'll nurture the series into something special.

Also on Thursdays, The Mentalist (CBS) returns, and hopefully they will have ironed out season one's kinks about who Simon Baker's Patrick Jane is and how he acts. Last season, he was like a different character in each episode, and I'm hoping they've found the consistency necessary to make Jane work as a protagonist. Also of possible interest on Thursdays is the new series FlashForward. It didn't sound like much to me at first, but the more I read about it the more intrigued I became with the idea. Also, the cast looks pretty darn good. We'll see how this one plays out. The series they couldn't pay me enough to watch? The Vampire Diaries (The CW). Yes, it's got monsters and scariness, two things I enjoy, but it just doesn't look like anything I'd actually be interested in watching. I've got my hands full already when it comes to vampire romance with HBO's True Blood--and in TB's favor, the characters are adults, not high school students. Despite my being a horror fan, The Vampire Diaries is clearly not made for me.

Smallville (The CW) returns in the death row timeslot of Fridays at 8 P.M. Looks like they won't even need Zod's help to bring this once mighty series down! Still, I tune in because I am addicted. Admitting it is the first step toward recovery. And also because I keep hoping Lex Luthor will come back and liven things up again. The new series they couldn't pay me enough to watch? It's a tough call, because there aren't many new series being launched on Friday night, so I'm going to go with Brothers (Fox). It stars former football player and sports commentator Michael Strahan as a grown man who moves back in with his "wacky" family. Despite the inclusion of CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers, I'm going to say no thanks.

Skipping the TV wasteland of Saturday, unless BBC America comes up with something good to show in Torchwood or Primeval's old timeslots, we come to Sunday nights. If I had Showtime, I'd be all over the new season of Dexter, but I'm HBO's bitch (to borrow a phrase from jewellwelles), so I'll be tuning in to the return of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and checking out the new series Bored to Death, about a writer who decides to become a private detective. While I no longer believe HBO automatically means high quality the way it used to (The Life and Times of Tim, anyone?), Bored looks like it could be fun, especially with Parker Posey and Kristen Wiig guest starring.

Aside from HBO, my Sunday nights are also all about Fox, with the return of The Simpsons for its four-thousandth season and Family Guy for, well, it's hard to know when to stop and start counting seasons there. I'll also be checking out The Cleveland Show, a Family Guy spinoff from creator Seth MacFarlane. Here's hoping the end result is closer to Family Guy than to American Dad, which I still can't get into.

And there you have it, the TV Nerd's surprisingly slim picks for the new fall TV season. As always, your own mileage may vary.

Gabriel Hunt on Video

You can see a short video interview with me and Gabriel Hunt creator Charles Ardai today on PW's Genreville blog, as well as some other authors like Jack Ketchum and Leanna Hieber. It was shot by rosefox and sinboy at an event at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble back on August 25th. Please enjoy, even though I hate seeing myself on video and always think I come off looking and sounding like a doofus. Gah!