The Hollywood Writers Strike's Last Gasp: March Midseason TV
That's because TV industry suits still have several weeks before newly-filmed, post-strike episodes of your favorite programs can start bulking up the networks’ schedules. So what’s waiting over the long weeks until new 30 Rock and CSIs appear? Oprah, a tabloidized Monica Gellar, Parker Posey and a grown-up TV-tized version of There’s Something About Mary.
Here’s some capsule reviews of what’s coming:
Oprah’s Big Give; debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday on WFTS-Ch. 28 -- Media queen Oprah Winfrey spreads her brand to ABC’s patented style of feel-good reality TV, handing 10 contestants a few grand and the power of her name to try doing good work for other folks. Split into teams of two, they tackle raising money for a woman whose Home Depot manager husband was killed in a robbery and a community-minded young doctor with $200,000 in medical school bills, among others. See a sample here.
Will it survive, post-strike? Are you kidding? It’s Oprah! The series itself is an odd mix of Extreme Makeover and The Apprentice, with teams facing criticism from a panel of celebrity judges which include Oprah pal Jamie Oliver and the host, another Winfrey acolyte, designer Nate Berkis. Oddly, it took a contestant to remind the judges that the worth of their help couldn’t just be judged by its dollar value alone – this being Winfrey’s world, there was a price tag on most everything – and Oprah’s narration barely covers the fact that she’s mostly absent from the series.
Unhitched, debuts at 9:30 Sunday on WTVT-Ch. 13 -- At a time when some Boomers are proclaiming 60 is the new 40, Fox’s sitcom about four thirtysomethings feeling over the hill while tackling today’s dating scene feels obsolete as a Farrelly brothers movie. Which explains why the minds behind There’s Something About Mary produced this fairly pedestrian sitcom idea, spiced by jokes about a guy getting sexually assaulted by a monkey and a woman with a “skin tag” growth sprouting from her shoulder. See the assault clip here.
Will it survive, post-strike? In an age when Two and Half Men is TV’s most successful comedy, anything is possible. But, much as I want to see Craig Bierko (Cinderella Man, Boston Legal) knock a series out of the park, I’m afraid this ain’t the one.
Dirt, debuts at 10 Sunday on FX -- Does anybody really want to see Friends’ Monica Gellar reincarnated as a self-centered, self-righteous tabloid magazine editor? Apparently, FX does, resurrecting Courteney Cox’s jarring attempt to humanize a scoop-hungry tabloid editor (she actually loves a star she can never have, and only prints salacious gossip which also turns out to be true!). See a sample here.
Will it survive, post-strike? Doubtful. Storylines about a drunken celebutante constantly in legal trouble (named Milan, get it?) and a sitcom star filmed in a drunken stupor after leaving a harsh voice mail for his daughter feel ripped from last year’s headlines –because they were. This mish mash of TMZ knockoffs is punctuated by the existentialist observations of schizophrenic paparazzo Don Konkey, who notes of Milan “She’s just the part of ourselves that we loathe.” You mean the crazy guy sees through all this absurdity the clearest? That’s never been done before.
New Amsterdam, debuts with a preview at 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, shifting to 9 p.m. Mondays on March 10, airing on WTVT -- Fox has come up with the season’s other drama about a crime-solving immortal, matching CBS’ Moonlight with a tale of a 400-year-old homicide cop given immortality by a Native American mystic. He has a 65-year-old son, talent for making antique furniture and the amazing ability to live in New York for four centuries without aging a day or attracting attention. And yes, it’s even goofier on screen than it sounds. See a preview here.
Will it survive, post-strike? CBS managed to turn Moonlight’s vampire private eye into a ratings success by amping up the romance. This series’ hero, John Amsterdam, may turn mortal if he finds his true love, who just happens to be a nurse at a New York hospital. I’ve got a feeling most of this hinges on whether female viewers find Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (left) hunky enough. What do YOU think?