Well the new fall shows have been running for a couple months now. It’s time to give our initial look at eight of these new programs. Which ones are instant hits? Which ones are horrific misfires? Which ones are too close to call? Well, we’re here to answer, so get your scorecard ready as we get set to play Hit or Miss.
Simple grading system here folks – pass, fail, or incomplete. So let’s get down to business and find out which shows are HITs and which MISS the mark.
30 Rock – The “other” NBC show focused behind the scenes of a late night sketch show has been dismal, disappointing, and downright dumb. Surprising, considering the good early commercials and talent involved (Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey). More dumb funny (heavy on dumb, light on funny) from a former SNL head writer; it’s a complete misfire. MISS
Brothers and Sisters – I haven’t caught much of Brothers and Sisters, but what I have seen has been brutal to watch. The show focuses on a dysfunctional family with a harsh eye. Think Arrested Development done as a straight drama. Some good acting, but why cast Calista Flockhart in a role that doesn’t allow her to use her considerable comic chops in this dreadfully serious show? MISS
The Class – A third-grade class reunited years later? Seemed like an odd idea for a storyline, but the pilot was Damn Funny and the off-beat nature of the show works well, though the scripts since have not been as high quality. There’s some nice situational comedy and some good chemistry between loser Richie (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Lina (Heather Goldenhersh), handy-man Duncan (Jon Bernthal) and trophy wife Nicole (Andrea Anders), and wild Kat (Lizzy Caplan) and straight-laced Ethan (Jason Ritter). If only they could drop the idiotic character of the gay-acting straight man (Sam Harris) that makes me want to change the channel, or kill something – depending on how far away the remote is. Right now it looks like it’s one of those shows were the cast is more talented than the writing; we’ll just see if it can skate by long enough to improve, or if we’ll see some of these actors in better shows next year. INCOMPLETE
Friday Night Lights – For those viewers whose lives peaked in their teens, we get high school football mixed with teen soap opera. You know I liked Varsity Blues, but I don’t need to watch it every week. Though it’s got its heart in the right place the odd small town atmosphere (seemingly pulled directly out of the 50’s) doesn’t quite mix with the teen sizzle and sexuality shown in the same frame. A close call, and I admit I might be in the minority here, but I’m saying this one goes wide left. MISS
Heroes – “
Save the Cheerleader. Save the world.” Save your sanity. Change the channel. NBC’s big show this year. Why is that again? I know this has become a huge hit for NBC, but seriously, why is that again? I’ve watched Heroes and come to the conclusion it wants to be a super-hero type show but it’s being made by people who have evidently never read a comic book. The show might just as well be called Freaks or Mutants. The characters powers are unexplained including limits, weaknesses, and most importantly origin. Why did these powers all manifest in such a diverse and random group (and no, vague references to X-Men don’t cut it). I’ve now seen a half dozen or so episodes and have yet to see anything ‘heroic.” Although it appears the characters may indeed have special powers, I just don’t see any heroes. Perhaps the characters, all 50 or so of them (new ones just keep popping up), will be further developed as the series continues, but it hasn’t given me any reason to stick around to find out. MISS
The Nine – ABC’s newest ensemble drama may not be the show everyone’s talking about, but it should be. The show is focused on nine survivors (Timothy Daly, John Billingsley, Jessica Collins, Scott Wolf, Chi McBride, Kim Raver, Camille Guaty, Dana Davis) of a 52-hour bank robbery and hostage situation. Each week a little more of the events inside those tense hours are glimpsed, but the real heart of the show is watching these people deal with the after-effects and trauma of this life-changing event. The pilot was simply one of the best I’ve ever seen, and if the show can keep the drama without falling into melodrama and soap opera (which it’s teetered close too in a couple recent episodes) then it truly has a chance to be great. HIT
Standoff – Pre-empted by the MLB Playoffs and World Series, the show hasn’t aired that many episodes, but what it appears to be so far is a cast who are better than the writing allows. Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt play lovers and FBI agents called in during hostage negotiations. The show plays the relationship a little too cute for me, and could use some actual heat between the pair. There are some nice performances including Whedon alumni Gina Torres. Will the writing improve or will the cast end up with hernias and broken backs, from carrying the dead weight, by the end of the season? INCOMPLETE
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – Despite not being the runaway hit NBC imagined when it wooed Aaron Sorkin back to the network, and fighting off rumors of early cancellation, Studio 60 has been a critical smash and one of the best new shows on television. Sorkin’s backstage look at a variety show on NBS has given us a rant against the state of current television, the battle between free-speech liberals and conservative Christains, the struggle to fight drug addiction, and all of that in just the first episode. Great writing and a stellar cast (Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amada Peet, Sarah Paulson, D.L. Hughley and so many more) make this the show I crave more of, and feel pangs each time the closing credits roll. You’ve got me addicted Mr. Sorkin, please don’t stop. This one’s a winner in my book and in case you missed Ian’s opinion, know that he agrees as well. HIT