Monday, September 24, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Welcome to the best week of the year - fall TV premiere week.

You've got new shows galore and old favorites returning. Which ones will fail? Which will succeed? Which shows are you rooting for?

Of course, last week saw the premieres of two Fox shows, "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) and "K-Ville" (Fox, 9 p.m.), but this is the week that pretty much everything is new.

As I've posted previously, right now, NBC has the most interesting slate of new shows, followed closely by The CW. Of all the new NBC offerings, I believe "Chuck," (NBC, 8 p.m.) has the broadest appeal. Following the misadventures of a geeky store clerk, Chuck (Zachary Levi) finds himself having the entire American intelligence network downloaded into his brain by his former college rival.

Now operatives from both the CIA and NSA want the knowledge in his head and are keeping a close eye on him.

What makes "Chuck" different is that we actually get insight into the protagonist's home life. We're not just pulling for Chuck to not get killed, we're also pulling for him to get that assistant manager's job at work.

Oh, and "Chuck" also has perhaps the best-ever Ninja-vs.-geek combat sequence.

"Chuck" leads off an entire night of fantasy-based shows for the Peacock, with the season premiere of "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) and "Journeyman" (NBC, 10 p.m.) For more insight into "Heroes," you can check out this week's edition of "Entertainment Weekly," which has a great cover story on the show.

"Journeyman" is a show a lot of viewers may find confusing at first, but I think that's partly deliberate from the show's writers to reflect the confusion the lead character Dan (Kevin McKidd) is experiencing. Dan, a journalist, suddenly finds himself bouncing around through time, following the life experiences of a single family Dan accidentally meets. By the second episode, things get a bit clearer for Dan, though obviously how and why he is bouncing around through time will remain the season's big mystery.

There are plenty of other highlights tonight for a wide range of viewers. CBS kicks off its lineup with the season premieres of returning comedies "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.), with guest stars Mandy Moore and Enrique Iglesias, "2 1/2 Men" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "Rules of Engagement" (CBS, 9:30 p.m.), followed by the premiere of "CSI: Miami" at 10 p.m. The Eye also premieres the new comedy, "Big Bang Theory" at 8:30 p.m. Feel free to skip it.

ABC goes the so-called reality route, with the season premieres of "Dancing With The Stars" (ABC, 8 p.m.) - go Wayne Newton! - and the 11th edition of "The Bachelor" at 9:30 p.m.

UGLY COUCH TIME: On Tuesday morning's edition of "Live With Regis & Kelly," (WMAZ, Tues., 9 a.m.) former Maconite Christina Stefano Wood will appear as a finalist in the national Ugly Couch Competition.

MORE VIRAL MARKETING: A couple of items e-mailed to me from helpful publicists may interest you. If you want to check out the season premiere of one of TV's best shows before it airs in "Friday Night Lights," it is currently running on Yahoo! at:

Also, for fans of MTV's "Jackass" (I don't count myself among that group), Dr. Steve-O is getting his own show on USA. You can check out a preview at the official Web site,

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: There's not much I haven't already listed, but I should point out that the excellent "The War" (PBS, 8 p.m.) is continuing tonight. There are also new episodes of "Weeds" (Showtime, 10 p.m.) and "Californication" (Show, 10:30 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

As if I wasn't already in a great mood following the Dawgs stirring O.T. win in Tuscaloosa Saturday night, I now get Fall premier week.

"Chuck" is definitely on the list and it's by far, the best of the new NBC shows and the one I will most likely support (and the one that has the best chance of actually becoming a hit).

Mondays and Thursdays are by far my most 'crowded' night of Television. Between "Chuck", "Heroes", "Journeyman", "Mother", "Prison Break" and (possibly) "K-Ville", it could be a busy night IF I choose to stick with all those series.

I was about ready to say bye bye to "Prison Break", but since I have already seen tonight's pilot episode of "Chuck", I will stay with "Break" 1 more week. I am still heavily leaning towards cutting it.

The show I am most excited about is "How I Met Your mother". What's even more amazing to me is there is nothing else on CBS I have any remote desire to watch tonight, but "Mother" is absolutely one of my very favorite shows on air, anywhere. I can't even say it's the BEST show, or even the BEST, sitcom, I just adore the show and wish they would air new episodes every night.

I am also hopeful that considering what a huge hit "Knocked Up" was in June (raising co-star Jason Segel's profile, deservedly so), plus given the Emmy nomination for Neil Patrick Harris (so brilliant as Barney) that these series of events bode well for raising the show's profile in season 3 and while it has no chance of winning the time slot, solidifying the ratings would be good.

I have to again give CBS a lot of credit. The show has had middling ratings and this is a network, unlike NBC, that has several hits and didn't have to stick with "Mother"--they have. CBS execs like Nina Tassler and Kelly Kahl have come to the realization that while "Mother" may not get the boffo ratings of hits like "CSI", "criminal Minds" or "Two and a Half Men", the show gets a lot of critical buzz and it's also a lot cooler and hipper and more 'upwardly mobile' in terms of the type of audience it's getting.

"Mother" is getting a lot of leftover "Friends" fans that want a funny, likeable, half hour show with hip, funny, good looking New Yorkers. And I would argue strongly that "Mother" is the far superior to show than "Friends", even if the ratings have never been close.

My one concern is that "Chuck" and "Mother" may hurt oneanother for a lot of the same audience as they battle for #2. "Prison Break" had such a huge dropoff in its return last week, that it's safe to say that "Break" will now in fact be the #4 show at 8 PM.

I think if "Chuck" can at least be top 3 and neck and neck for 2nd place with "Mother", it will hopefully bode well for both shows to survive.

Unfortunately, nothing is going to defeat ratings monster "Dancing with the Stars", but I would settle for "Chuck" and "Mother" to share a close 2nd and both pacing ahead of the ever ridiculous "Prison Break".

Jonathan said...

I actually liked "Journeyman's" pilot a little more than "Chuck," but it was a close call. I think the point you made about all of the confusion we are subjected to see through our main character's eyes was one of the big reasons I enjoyed it so much. I am curious how the hell he will be able to keep that job at the paper though will all of his frequent dissaperances. You work at one, so maybe you can shed some light on that. Love "Chuck" as well, though, and hope both shows do well enough to stay on for awhile so we can see where they are heading.

I watched "Big Bang Theory" last night; they have a free download at itunes. I agree with your previous assessment. I also got annoyed with all of the nerd speak. I always get annoyed that when pop culture geeks are represented on film or television, most of the time they drop film and t.v. references every two seconds. I would also imagine that a group of physic majors don't bring up quantam measures and paradoxical quandarys into every chat they have either. And things like the Darth Vader Shampoo and Klingon boggle felt rather forced as well. I will say this about it though the last line in the episode is killer, and was the one laugh the stupid thing got out of me, but not enough of a reason to keep watching by any means. I just kept thinking they couldn't give "The Class" another chance over this?

"Prison Break" was rather uninteresting and quite ridiculous last week, but like Zod I might give it a few more weeks. After sticking with a show for so long, it's kind of hard to turn away and not see where they will take it, especially in what is supposed to be its last season. However, since they've apparently created a whole new conspiracy storyline that seems forced as hell, it might not bother me too much to walk away. "K-Ville" didn't really do anything for me, and I have zero interest in keeping up with that in the future. Love Anderson and Hauser though; wish it could have been better. Fox keeps calling it a new Fall hit; is that misleading, or did it get decent numbers? Because I had heard that "Prison Break" dropped off quite a bit, so I assumed most people didn't tune in for "K-Ville" either.

Phillip Ramati said...

What I liked about Chuck and Journeyman (and Reaper) is how they worked the mundane aspects of people's lives into the scripts. So often on TV people go on grand adventures and never seem to have to worry about odd little bothers like, you know, going to work.

Jonathan, as Journeyman goes on, things clear up a bit, but again, one thing I liked was that the other people in Dan's life know about his time traveling, even if they don't believe it. It makes for an interesting mix.

K-Ville did do pretty good numbers, but remember, a) Fox hyped the hell out of it and b) it wasn't going against anything new. How much of its audience it retains after a mediocre pilot and going against the season premiere of Heroes remains the big test.

Zod, I too am glad that CBS stayed with HIMYM, though I have to agree with Jonathan: After watching Big Bang, how could CBS not give The Class one more chance? I think the fact that we are supposed to meet the title Mother this season will also be a big boost to the show.

zodin2008 said...

Phillip & Jonathan,

I agree about also liking that aspect of 'Journeyman' - the confusion through Kevin McKidd's eyes. He seems like a strong actor. And I am already a little biased towards this show doing well because besides my loyalty normally to NBC, and the fact that it's time travel/genre, but I am of course a HUGE "Homicide" fan and seeing Reed Diamond playing a cop on NBC again - well, it just FEELS right.

If only Reed could show up at a bar sometime owned by some cops named Bayliss, Munch and Lewis. :-)

As for HIMYM, what's funny is I actually could care less (at this point) about who the Mother in the title actually is. The show is so damned funny, so good as it is, if they never introduced me to the mother I would be fine. I could watch this show every week and watch these 5 actors play off one another - and be very content.

It maybe the most comfortable show on TV. The ultimate in 'comfort food television'. For a long time, "Scrubs" had that mantle for me ("Quantum Leap" had it for years for me, so did shows like "L.A. Law", "Angel" and even going back, "Family Ties" and "Lost in Space"!) - where a show just feels good to watch everytime it comes on. That's how much I adore "Mother".

With the exception of maybe "Lost", "Scrubs" and "The Office", I can't think of any other show that has much chemistry between it's actors as "Mother".

As for "K-Ville", I guess I enjoyed the old school, 80's style copy thing a bit more than you guys. Watching Anderson and Hauser (both enjoyable actors, by the way) give us that "old school" cop show feel - felt good to me.

I am not a fan of any of that CSI 'forensics' garbage, I find those shows boring as hell. I mean, is "K-Ville" on a par with The Shield, NYPD Blue and Homicide (the 3 greatest cop shows in my book)? Nope, but it could be a lot of fun, especially since the 2 lead actors are so enjoyable.

And Jonathan, "K-Ville" actually increased "Break's" numbers by 2 million. That alone already makes "K-Ville" a marginal success - and "Break" a major flop in season 3.

Jonathan said...

With so much on, I forgot to mention "Mother" which is easily my favorite sitcom on television right now, although when Scrubs and 30 Rock start up next week, I might be saying the same about them, but anyways love the show. Agree with Zod on the fact that I could care less who the "Mother" is even at this point. I think that's a good thing.

Phillip Ramati said...

I don't know, I still care who the mother is. One thing about HIMYM is that it actually progresses the storylines, something not all sitcoms do.

Actually, I think Reed Diamond was perfect casting as Kevin McKidd's brother, since they look a lot alike. During the second episode, you really see the resemblance during a flashback when they are watching a football game.