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Sneak preview of fall TV shows

Maggie Q in a scene from the new series Nikita. The CW’s female-centered spy show debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Associated Press

Maggie Q in a scene from the new series Nikita. The CW’s female-centered spy show debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday.

The Feed

Had your fill yet of the America's Got Talent So You Think You Can Dance with Big Brother's Real Housewives blur of reality TV and burnoff series this summer?

Consider today's Feed column a tasty preview of the relief that's coming. Most new fall network TV shows won't debut until the week of Sept. 19, when we'll devote that day's Floridian to sorting the next Glees (very good) from the next Jay Leno shows (not so good).

But there's a few series, especially on youth-oriented underdog The CW, that show up a little earlier. So consider this column a preview fall TV preview; a sweet glimpse of the choices that will come when the Big Brother house is aired out and summer TV is in the rearview for nine more months.

Nikita, debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday on WTOG-Ch. 44: This is the smart, female-centered spies-and-slick shootouts series that Fox fumbled so spectacularly years ago in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. Action star Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard) is sizzling as Nikita, a damaged street kid trained as a government assassin looking to take down her former handlers. ER alum Shane West is convincing as the dreamy, conflicted middle management guy who can't decide whether to kiss Nikita or kill her. And if you can put up with stick-thin models tossing around beefy stuntmen like they tried blocking the door to a Louboutins sale, then this slick re-re-re-invention of the La Femme Nikita film (after Bridget Fonda's disastrous Point of No Return and USA Network's Nikita series) will go down well. TiVo, if only to see Maggie Q in a swimsuit a few more times.

Terriers, premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday on FX: What would James Garner's beleaguered private eye Jim Rockford look like in the new millennium? I'm betting he'd resemble Donal Logue's Hank Dalworth, a onetime alcoholic-turned low-rent PI after getting ousted from the police force and losing his marriage. Logue's Dalworth is a perpetually cashless, working-class guy who somehow remains optimistic and on good terms with his knockout ex-wife (Rockford fans, this sound familiar?). When a good friend gets killed by a rich sleaze, Dalworth snaps out of his stupor and begins putting all his resources to work nailing the guy, assisted by his partner with a thieving past, Britt Pollack (True Blood's serial killer, Michael Raymond-James). TiVo for the recession-friendly story line; everybody loves when a street guy takes out the rich sleaze.

Hellcats, debuts at 9 p.m. Wednesday on WTOG-Ch. 44: It's like a Frankenstein monster of different tween TV types; a mashup of Glees postmodern snark, Make It Or Break Its teen girl competition drama and the cheerleading setting immortalized in Bring It On. Still, Alyson Michalka is compelling and brightly bratty as a prelaw student forced into cheerleading to keep her scholarship. They even let High School Musical's perpetual villain Ashley Tisdale play someone with a pulse; a detail-oriented cheerleading captain who isn't the baddest girl on the block. Ti-NO unless you fear withdrawal symptoms since Make It or Break It wrapped its latest season.

Thintervention with Jackie Warner, debuts at 10:15 p.m. Monday on Bravo: Warner, once such a glorious ball of reality TV drama in the show centered on her Beverly Hills gym (Bravo's Work Out), has become a thin clone of bossy Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels. The show, which features Warner coaching eight people to lose weight in their own surroundings doesn't really spark until we spend time with the participants. Instead of Biggest Loser's feel-good togetherness, we get a collection of backbiting knuckleheads so annoying you understand why Bravo might inflict Warner on them in the first place. Ti-NO, unless super-thin, super-nutty weight loss experts are your thing.

The Feed

The best antiheroes

on television

Hanging on the set of FX's Sons of Anarchy last month (see preview in today's Floridian), got me thinking about the state of the modern TV antihero.

Morally conflicted and absolutely fearsome, they draw us in with gangster cool and make us care by showing vulnerability. Besides the Sons crew, who would stomp me into a fine paste if I didn't show some props, who else tops that list today?

Eric Northman, HBO's True Blood (Alexander Skarsgard): Forget about whiny do-gooder vamp Bill Compton. Skarsgard's ruthless vampire sheriff has ignited this season of True Blood, targeting the world's oldest vampire for killing his family, using open-hearted heroine Sookie Stackhouse's blood to get him out in the sunlight.

Dexter Morgan, Showtime's Dexter (Michael C. Hall): How do you humanize a guy with a compulsion for killing people? Make him target other killers and give him Hall's sardonic, hilariously eccentric voice. Expect lots of sympathy as he copes with the death of a close relative at the start of Season 5 on Sept. 26.

Walter White, AMC's Breaking Bad (Bryan Cranston): A former high school teacher stricken with lung cancer, White started making crystal meth to pay his medical bills. But he's kept on after his cancer went into remission, allowing a woman who threatened his operation to die of an overdose. Now he's killed two men and pushed his partner to kill a third; how much more before viewers get the heebie-jeebies?

Sneak preview of fall TV shows 09/04/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 4, 2010 6:29pm]
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