If you're desperate, Fox, CW are back

Consider it a double-barreled start to the fall TV season. The first round explodes today, as Fox and the CW begin rolling out a host of new and returning shows, reaching for viewer attention before the biggest networks really get rolling. The next round falls the week of Sept. 22, considered the official start of the new TV season, when old-school broadcasters such as CBS, NBC and ABC start a stretch of new and returning series debuts reaching into mid October. Since the CW didn't give critics an advance look at their Beverly Hills 90210 reboot, here are capsule reviews of some things I did see in advance, during a week where a dozen new and returning shows are emerging from the pit of summer TV:


Show Prison Break Gossip Girl America's Next Top Model Bones
Debut time/place 8 tonight on WTVT-Ch. 13 8 tonight on WTTA-Ch. 38 8 p.m. Wednesday on WTTA-Ch. 38 8 p.m. Wednesday on WTVT-Ch. 13
TiVo or TiNo? This series is best watched with the brain disengaged. Otherwise, you'll have an aneurysm wondering how a once-dead character returns (with the flimsiest of explanations); Michael Scofield tracks down the dude he sprung from a Panamanian jail only to find a new agenda; and the cast's motley collection of ex-cons, disgraced lawmen and wronged innocents wind up united in a government-led effort to smash the evil Company. TiVo, if only to watch the series' version of Job, one-handed, dirtbag criminal T-Bag, endure the worst meal possible to survive a night stranded in the desert. It's hard to know why there's so much buzz over this low-rated show, which comes back with episodes so buried in the characters' histories, newcomers will find it tough to latch on. For fans, know that Serena escapes to the Hamptons to forget Dan, who is juggling several girlfriends to try to forget Serena. Blair takes up with a new boyfriend she can't stand just to make Chuck jealous, but discovers a secret that makes her rethink her position as Chuck rethinks his decision to duck out of that Tuscany getaway with Blair last season. TiVo only if any of this sounds remotely interesting. Host diva Tyra Banks always struts a fine line between playful eccentrics and oddball weirdness, and that trend doesn't change here. Centered on a futuristic theme, Banks forces her 11 contestants for Top Model honors to submit to "body scans," making her sidekicks/fellow judges dress like refugees from a bad '70s sci-fi flick (and in white after Labor Day, no less!) One contestant brings her lucky underwear; another is a literature major from Harvard who couldn't answer questions about Jane Eyre. Ti-NO to save your sanity. Headstrong FBI agent Seeley Booth and forensic expert Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan take their odd couple shtick to England, where they wind up investigating the suspicious murder of an American businessman's daughter with a British crime-solving pair who mirror their moves, except the cop is female and the expert is male. Fans should TiVo to enjoy the new setting for an old formula.

Coming Sunday: Our look at the new fall TV season. Who'll win the battle of the matchups? Our special video smackdown goes online Thursday. Find it at entertainment.tampabay.com.
Get into the Feed: Eric Deggans blogs anything and everything having to do with the media and TV. Stop by his place at blogs.tampabay.com/media.

If you're desperate, Fox, CW are back 08/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 9:09am]

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