Midseason TV: More New Shows Already?
The problem, is that you're not watching well-intentioned, if off-base efforts like Friday Night Lights, Knight of Prosperity, Scrubs and Men In Trees. So, like a organ grinder's monkey on a few lattes, the networks are jumping to offer some new stuff in hopes on convincing you to watch something other than American Idol and Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Here's a quick peek at what's coming:
WHY WE CARE: NBC needs a hit more than the other networks, so it's debuting two series this week. This drama stars Jeff Goldblum as a twitchy head case of a cop who reconstructs crimes by hallucinating images of the victims and talking to them. Really.
WILL IT WORK? On paper, it's the perfect way to combine Law & Order cops 'n' crime with Ghost Whisperer's sappy spirituality. In practice, it's a slender device on which to hang a show, held together by the thin glue of Goldblum's surprisingly appealing performance. But hey, the opening sequence is catchy and Golblum mettering to himself is still twice as entertaining as any CSI spinoff.
DEBUTS: 10 p.m Thursday on WFTS-Ch. 28. Preview here.
WHY WE CARE: The one time slot ABC can't make work on Thursdays is this one (damn you, Men in Trees and Six Degrees!). The million-dollar question: Can a predictable drama about an author who goes back home to all the friends he punked in a hit book hold on to the Ugly Betty/Grey's Anatomy audience?
WILL IT WORK? It's emotional and poignant enough to tug the heartstrings of Betty and Grey's female viewers. But it's also an empty premise that strands Laura Prepon (That '70s Show, right) and Tom Berenger (Platoon) in dead-end parts as the jilted girlfriend and crusty dad.
Andy Barker, P.I.
DEBUTS: 9:30 p.m. Thursday on WFLA. Preview clip here.
WHY WE CARE: Former Late Night with Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter returns with a show co-created by his former boss. After two false starts at Fox (the less said about Andy richter controsl the Universe and Quintuplets, the better), Richter takes a third swing as a dweeby accountant who discovers a talent for detective work after opening an office in a specae once occupied by an old P.I.
WILL IT WORK? The show chugs along on the same losers-make-good vibe that made Knights of Prosperity such a fun pilot. But ABC yanked Prosperity for low ratings, so maybe America isn't keen on spending time with cheeky bands of earnest losers. Unless, of course, they're singing on America Idol.
This American Life 10:30 p.m. Monday on Showtime.
WHY WE CARE: It's an ambitious task, developing a video version of National Public Radio's quirky haven for oddball feature stories. And just like on NPR, each episode has a central theme introduced by geeky host Ira Glass, king of the Big Framed Eyeglasses.
WILL IT WORK? I've always found Glass' NPR work a bit too precious and Gen X hipster -- the kind of radio a turtleneck-clad Michael Stipe might enjoy. But this version avoids these pitfalls, bringing viewers a standup comic who jokes onstage about her boyfriend's death and a rancher who can't admit the bull he dotes on wants to kill him. Just the kind of oddball adventurism that has helped separate Showtime from rival HBO in recent months.