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post #5251 of 25503 Old 09-22-2005, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Killer Instinct

By Rick Kushman Sacramento Bee TV Columnist

A San Francisco cop (Johnny Messner) works in the Deviant Crime Unit. Really, they call it that. More people going after the worst of the worst cases, like on a lot of cop shows. He's tough but still reeling from the death of his partner, like on a lot of cop shows.

What's What: First the good news. Chi McBride plays the lieutenant. And San Francisco plays San Francisco. Now for the rest. Been there, been bored by this kind of formulaic show. Not to mention they aren't kidding when they talk about deviant crimes.

Rickster Scale: 2

http://www.sacbee.com/content/lifest...14413378c.html
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post #5252 of 25503 Old 09-22-2005, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Ghost Whisperer
'Whisperer' talks nonsense with style

By Verne Gay Newsday September 23, 2005

Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) has a gift you likely don't have: She can see dead people, or rather their tormented "earthbound spirits [and] just some of them are here longer than others ..."

This all began as a kid, when her acutely strange grandmother (yup, same gift) would take her to funerals, for example, to pass messages between the recently deceased and the living. At one, a man she is seated next to tells her, "I had to go so quickly I didn't tell [my wife] how much I loved her.... She really needs to hear that now. Will you give her the message?"

Fast forward to adulthood, and the little girl is now looking just fabulous - as only Love Hewitt can - and informs her husband that "places aren't haunted - people are haunted." You are correct: There's a voluminous amount of bunkum on display here, but bunkum has only rarely looked so spookily stylish on prime-time TV.

"Whisperer," in fact, is a mini-triumph of style over substance (of which there is almost none). It is also manipulative, and perhaps egregiously so, simply because there is no substance. In tonight's pilot, for example, Gordon directs the poltergeist of a soldier killed in Vietnam to his living son. The scenes between father and son are touching, and meant to be, but Vietnam was a real war, and there were real fathers who never saw their real sons again. So is this fair game in the context of a prime-time drama? Your call.

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment...sion-headlines
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post #5253 of 25503 Old 09-22-2005, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Inconceivable

'Inconceivable' (pregnant pause) sure is

By Verne Gay Newsday September 23, 2005

Couples who go to fertility clinics have a laundry list of issues to deal with - eyeball-shattering expenses, a national debate over stem cell research, papal disapproval (if they happen to be Catholic) and, more often than not, heartbreak. Now, they must add to this agonizing litany a new NBC drama so utterly vacuous and incompetent that for some of them it might even become the straw that breaks their overburdened backs.

"Inconceivable" should know better. It stars Jonathan Cake ("Empire") and Ming-Na ("ER") as co-founders of the clinic they both operate, and Angie Harmon ("Law & Order"), a late cast addition, as their new partner.Its co-creators, veteran TV scribes Oliver Goldstick and Marco Pennette, underwent in vitro surrogacy with their own respective partners.

But the show, which badly wants to be "ER" or maybe "Chicago Hope," is phony in every frame, beginning with the first when a baby is actually born in the clinic. A maternity ward in a fertility clinic? That's rich. This show revolves (stumbles and falls) around the tribulations of those who are trying to conceive. They are a parade of cliches - from the nervous gay couple, to the soldier who's using a surrogate for the eggs of his wife who was killed in Iraq, to the white couple whose surrogate gives birth to a black baby. Wonder how the show will tackle the stem cell debate? On second thought, no, we don't wonder.

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment...sion-headlines
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post #5254 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Inconceivable

At this point it's a little pregnant

By Paul Brownfield Los Angeles Times Staff Writer September 23, 2005

Of all the new fall shows, NBC's "Inconceivable," premiering tonight, is the fringe candidate no aliens, feds or crime labs. OK, there is a lab, but it's filled with people's sperm and eggs. "Inconceivable" is a drama (with light comedic elements) set at the Family Options Fertility Clinic. NBC ordered it, then punted, coaxing it over to the lesser spotlight of Friday nights.

The show, created by experienced TV writers Oliver Goldstick and Marco Pennette, does seem to be poking its head out over a kind of "Is America ready for this?" cliff, even if hospital dramas aren't necessarily even set in hospitals anymore. We've moved on to centers of more elective procedures. "Inconceivable," mind you, is no "Nip/Tuck," whose third-season premiere this week saw a plastic surgeon deal with a morbidly obese woman stuck to her sofa while his partner recovered from the trauma of being raped by a serial slasher called "The Carver." Story resolution, for that doctor, came in the form of a palliative threesome. We like to watch.

"Nip/Tuck" has drawn some advertiser backlash, but nothing that has kept it from steamrolling into basic-cable living rooms. Face-lifts and breast augmentations, the trend whence the show sprang, are this day and age's accessorizing; it's got its own reality show, Fox's "The Swan," for God's sake.

"Inconceivable" is a much more tentative exercise than "Nip/Tuck," offering only the mildest hints of comment on the world it depicts, of affluent people going to great lengths to bear children. But Jonathan Cake's wry, malleable face offers a kind of entry point into the show's more complex issues. He plays Dr. Malcolm Bowers, a good-hearted but egomaniacal cad who's never seen a womb he didn't think he could impregnate, including that of Rachel Lu (Ming-Na), who co-owns the clinic.

Cake is particularly big in his role, a breath of fresh air from the world of de-accented actors; the producers, thankfully, don't make him lose his mellifluous British brogue. Somewhere, Hugh Laurie is grumbling to his agent.

"You start playing God, God's gonna start playing you" is not something Dr. Bowers would ever say. The pilot gives that expositional line to a side character. Bowers is too busy for that bedding down with a colleague while orchestrating a magazine profile while brushing aside a potential lawsuit against the clinic after the surrogate for a white couple gives birth to an African American baby. As if that weren't enough, deep into the episode, wanting to help a patient conceive via a complicated procedure, he fetches Angie Harmon, a late addition to the cast.

Ming-Na, meanwhile, who's transferred over to "Inconceivable" from that old saw "ER," plays a single mother and moral conscience to Cake's cowboy. Like the president of the Hair Club for Men, she's not just the president, and the show has her struggling with what to tell her son, beyond that Daddy is "someone who helped Mommy bring you into the world." There's also staff psychologist Dr. Lydia Crawford, played by Alfre Woodard, offering soulful empathy in a guest role before she heads over to Wisteria Lane as the newest neighbor on "Desperate Housewives."

In its first episode, "Inconceivable" brings onstage a gamut of themes and conflicted wannabe parents the soldier, the priest, the gay couple. The Marine is tormented about what to do with the frozen eggs of his late wife, who was killed in Iraq, the priest is conflicted about the whole insemination issue, and the more neurotic half of the gay couple is picking through the surrogate's trash while warning her that oral sex during pregnancy can cause air embolisms.

It's a bit overboard, the idea that the fabric of America comes through the doors of a pricey fertility clinic. On the other hand, in this season of otherworldy overload, that same messy muchness also comes across as unexpectedly grounded in human reality.

http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-et...?coll=cl-tvent
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post #5255 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Inconceivable

Let Other Doctors Save Lives; These Specialists Create Them

By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN The New York Times September 23, 2005


"Inconceivable," which starts tonight on NBC, is a cerebral, macabre drama about a glamorous fertility clinic. It's impressively produced, but it will make you queasy. The show spends not a minute on ideological controversies surrounding this brave-new-world reproductive science - the surrogates, egg transfers, sperm samples - but there's something in it that's just too unstable to serve as a backdrop for primetime drama. Betrayal and vanity may suit the characters on "Nip/Tuck," FX's marvelously creepy drama about plastic surgery. Around the delicate creation of human life, however, it's worth saying: more reverence is in order.

With its high style, capable writing and self-assured performances, "Inconceivable" asks that viewers accept the characters as familiar television professionals, but this turns out to be a tall order. The way these doctors tinker with procreation is just chronically unsettling.

You'd think there would be jokes here, and there are notably two, built on broad caricature. The first is a clumsy gag about a man laboriously producing a sperm sample while watching a pornographic video coincidentally titled "Desperate Housewives." Ugh. And then there's a snitty gay man obsessed with his pregnant surrogate's appetite for dangerous canned tuna and pork rinds.

Except for some Wisteria Lane-like mise-en-scène, that's it for humor. The female characters - Rachel Lu (Ming-Na, formerly of "ER") and Dr. Nora Campbell (Angie Harmon) - appear to be tough, grave figures. And Dr. Malcolm Bowers (Jonathan Cake) is a watery blend of television's two great sinister doctors: Gregory House on Fox's "House" and Christian Troy on "Nip/Tuck." Generally, this first episode is just ponderous, as it strains to convey at least a half-dozen intricately braided plots, each one more heartbreaking than the last.

Consider just a few. A white couple erupt in rage when they find their surrogate has unaccountably given birth to a black baby. (They promptly abandon the baby to the nursery's loneliness and bright lights, as the audience is informed that a white baby is adopted within 72 hours while a "mixed-race baby" stays in the system for years.) A reverend's wife, after several failed efforts at in-vitro fertilization, schemes to use sperm other than her husband's. And a school-age boy, Rachel's son, tries to come to terms with being taunted as Frankie, for Frankenbaby, since his classmates are aware that he was conceived in vitro and doesn't know his father.

New reproductive technologies can bring joy and children to people who ardently want them, but "Inconceivable" is not about joy. It's about the grim ironies of reproductive technology - boutique programming indeed. Forget politics. Few viewers will have the stomach to enjoy this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/23/ar...gewanted=print
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post #5256 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:22 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Some debuts too sweet, others are too sour

By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 23, 2005

Two sappy feel-good shows debut tonight, and though neither is good for much, both have the potential to elicit a good cry from viewers who like to wallow.

'Three Wishes'

Of the two, NBC's "Three Wishes" (9 tonight, WPXI) is at least an upbeat, positive reality show. It's also a rip-off of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Amy Grant and a crew of wish fulfillers travel the country seeking out stories of people who need help. Then the show helps them.

Tonight that means building a play/rehab room for a little girl who was disfigured in an automobile accident, helping a boy get legally adopted by his stepfather and installing a new football field for the Sonora, Calif., high school.

There's a lot of slow-motion cheering, tears, declarations ("I would say this is the best moment of my life!"), rushing to complete tasks, etc.

To be fair, "Three Wishes" is touching. It is heartwarming to see nice things done for people in need. But it also feels like the show manipulates viewers.

When a camera follows a boy on a bike riding up to the "Three Wishes" tent before he's chosen to have a wish granted, you have to wonder, how did they know to film him then? Would the CEO of the company that installs the new football field allow cameras in his office without already having made the decision to donate his company's services? Is it really believable that, when building the rehab house for the little girl, "all of a sudden" her friends come running up the road to help? And there just happened to be a camera there to capture their approach?

"I've traveled the last 48 hours here for you guys," Carter Oosterhouse tells the throng assembled in the football stadium for the announcement of the new field. But as one of the show's contributors, isn't travel part of his job? It's not like he's doing it for free.

It's great that "Three Wishes" does good for people, but the way it goes about these good deeds is contrived.

'Ghost Whisperer'

An hour earlier, another rip-off show premieres, this one seemingly scheduled after CBS executives saw NBC's success with "Medium."

"Ghost Whisperer" (8 p.m., KDKA) isn't good drama (too saccharine for my taste), but it will provide a warm fuzzy for viewers who like to see the dead make peace with the living.

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays Melinda Gordon, who's the conduit between the living and the ghosts waiting to cross over to the afterlife. Pittsburgher David Conrad plays her husband, Jim, a paramedic who thinks by saving lives on the job he can spare his wife some work.

Conrad's steady presence works well as a counterpoint to Hewitt's always-about-to-cry dewy-eyed nature.

Wentworth Miller ("Prison Break"), a 1990 graduate of Quaker Valley High School, has a guest spot in tonight's premiere as a soldier who died in Vietnam whom Melinda must help connect with the now-grown son he never knew.

It's all a bunch of mush, but I suspect it's mush that will find a receptive audience.

'Killer Instinct'

The women-as-victims trend, a lowlight of the fall 2005 TV season, continues in Fox's "Killer Instinct" (9 tonight, WPGH). Troubled cop Jack Hale (bland Johnny Messner) returns to head San Francisco's deviant crime unit after his former partner (and lover) was killed in the line of duty.

Tonight he gets a new partner (Marguerite Moreau), but don't get too attached; she's replaced in next week's episode. Chi McBride ("Boston Public") plays Hale's boss, and Jessica Steen ("Homefront," "Earth 2"), a personal favorite, has a recurring role as a coroner, although next week she's given a terrible red dye job.

Tonight's creepy crime involves a killer who uses spiders to incapacitate his female victims before he rapes and kills them. The rape and murder are not shown on screen, but the story gruesomely complements the butchering and/or terrorizing of women in pilots for The WB's "Supernatural," CBS's "Criminal Minds" and "Close to Home" and ABC's "Night Stalker."

TV critics made network executives and producers uncomfortable by asking about this development at press conferences this summer, so it's a little surprising to see the trend didn't end with the pilots. In subsequent episodes of "Killer Instinct" and "Night Stalker," women continue to have, um, short-lived roles. On "Night Stalker," a father takes a metal baseball bat to his wife's head; on "Killer Instinct" a psycho incapacitates a blind woman, cuts her eyes out and then kills her.

Even though I wasn't wild about the warm and fuzzy shows I mentioned earlier, I'd still recommend a lousy sappy show over a sadistic series that, underneath its ghastly veneer, is just a dull, unoriginal crime drama.

'Inconceivable'

An often lighthearted medical show set in a Los Angeles fertility clinic, NBC's "Inconceivable" (10 tonight, WPXI) lacks the grit of "ER," the heart of "Scrubs" and the soapy shenanigans of "Grey's Anatomy," leaving an empty husk of a series. Tonight's premiere is also pretty boring, filled with medical cases meant to touch the heart but which miss the mark.

Former Pittsburgher Ming-Na plays clinic founder Rachel, who tussles with Dr. Malcolm Bowers (Jonathan Cake), who, in typical TV fashion, is brilliant but arrogant. They work with counselor Lydia (guest star Alfre Woodard), who takes the fall when a Caucasian surrogate to two white patients delivers an African-American child.

A scene featuring newest cast member Angie Harmon, as Dr. Nora Campbell, has been shoe-horned into tonight's premiere. Her confident, Bowers-baiting character offers hope that "Inconceivable" might improve, but next week's episode, despite a semi-intriguing mystery plot and murder, does little to deliver on that.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05266/576231.stm
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post #5257 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Ghost Whisperer

She Sees Dead People, and Offers Them a Sympathetic Ear

By NED MARTEL The New York Times September 23, 2005

When it comes to death, CBS be not proud. The network's mawkish new series "Ghost Whisperer" posits itself as an hourlong grief-counseling session that benefits the living and the dead. A young newlywed keeps hearing from spirits who have not crossed over into some otherworldly zone of solace, and only with her message-delivery skills can the mourners and the mourned get on with their lives - or deaths, as the case may be.

It's a silly funereal spectacle, with the first episode as its probable format: the ghost first appears in macabre makeup, spooking young Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) in her low-cut nightie. Then as they reach an understanding, the phantom reappears good as new and Melinda trots around her picture-perfect small town, performing errands on the ghost's behalf. Eventually she orders up a double dose of closure, with grateful glances sent her way through teary eyes.

Networks can't stop seeing dead people, but these whispered-to apparitions have none of the scariness of the "Medium" murder victims, the scolding of the "Providence" mom or the sass of the "Six Feet Under" corpses. The Casper-like "Ghost Whisperer" spirits could be scared off by any of these more plausible apparitions.

The series supplants the more daring "Joan of Arcadia," which delivered divine messages to a more reluctant recipient. "Ghost Whisperer" is decidedly less philosophical and less thought-provoking than that family drama, which had itself gone soft around the edges. Instead, the new series tries to make a viewer vulnerable with the spooking phases of the episode, and then follows with a couple of hard yanks on the heartstrings.

Loosely based on a real person, Melinda discovered her visionary gifts as an intrepid little girl, as the pilot explains. At a funeral, the ghost of an old man asks her to whisper a few sweet nothings into his widow's ear, recalling habits that only she would know. "I didn't have time to tell her how much I love her," he confides to the wise moppet.

Ms. Hewitt's character keeps her girly empathy into her young adulthood (though the camerawork makes sure to emphasize her womanly curves). She gets to explain her line of work to very understanding allies: her radiant best friend (Aisha Tyler) and her paramedic Prince Charming (David Conrad). It's a credit to CBS that the series is as perfectly cast as it is cleverly contrived. Even the guest stars in the first episode are heartthrobs du jour (Balthazar Getty and Wentworth Miller), who know just how to melt female hearts. The key: Act all brusque and then shed man-tears.

Mr. Getty gets to give a particularly perceptive lecture to Ms. Hewitt, which exposes, one might guess, the writers' doubts about the show's motives. He plays someone in her town whose dad died in Vietnam before he was born. When she pries into his family past, the young man doubts Melinda as the benevolent go-between and suspects that she's preying on his emotions for her own voyeurism. "It must be great to have such supernatural powers," he says, slamming his front door in her face.

"Not really," she says, indomitably. Of course, he comes around. Soon enough, in dialogue that plays off the fears of anyone who has ever lost a loved one, she offers supposed insights about the final heightened pain before a heart stops beating. "What happens to these people in their last moments, it really matters," she insists.

Neither Ms. Hewitt nor her series are malevolent forces, and the producers can feel as good as they choose about a cloying job well done. If there's any public ill that could be done through the possible success of "Ghost Whisperer," it's not that it could loose needy phantoms into the world, but that it might inspire nosy psychics to disturb the peace.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/23/ar...gewanted=print
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post #5258 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Ghost Whisperer
The dead have it tough too: Fortunately for them, a lively Jennifer Love Hewitt checks in as an otherworldly problem-solver
By Robert Lloyd Los Angeles Times Staff Writer September 23, 2005

"Ghost Whisperer," the new Jennifer Love Hewitt paranormal tear-jerker premiering tonight on CBS, might be titled "Touched by a Dead Person," or more accurately "Touched by a Person Who Sees Dead People" a dead-people person, you could call her. In this relentlessly heartwarming series, Hewitt portrays an otherwise ordinary young woman whose special gift, or curse, it is to see and talk to the unpassed-over dead as clearly as if they were checking her out at the supermarket. The trouble with ghosts, of course, is that they usually want something, and as the only contact in town she gets all their business delivering messages, sorting out their mental trash, helping them achieve the "closure" necessary for them to truck off into the Big White Light (characterized here as a big white light.)

"I need you to help me. They told me you could," says the unquiet ghost of a soldier killed in Vietnam who arrives at her house one dark and stormy night, as if her name were posted on some message board in limbo.

"Who told you?" asks Hewitt, who as a newlywed is seen often in her sleep clothes. (Some viewers will turn up just for that.) The soldier doesn't know, and perhaps neither do the writers.

The series' presence here among the living might have something to do with the success of "Medium," which, like "Ghost Whisperer," looks at the home life of a psychic. But this well has been visited many times before. It wasn't so very long ago that "Joan of Arcadia," "Tru Calling" and "Wonderfalls" series concerning young women receiving bulletins from the Beyond arrived all in a burst. It has roots as well in such this world/that world anthologies as "Highway to Heaven" and "Touched by an Angel." "Six Feet Under" is at least a cousin. Not to mention "Blithe Spirit." And "Topper."

The idea the show is ultimately here to sell is that love can transcend death not an idea for which it's terribly hard to find buyers. There are viewers who will rate this show on that point alone, for what one person might find a load of sad, sentimental, superstitious hooey, another might find moving and profound. "Load of hooey" is not a phrase you will find in the promotional materials for "Ghost Whisperer," which are content to describe its co-executive producer, self-styled "clairsentient" James Van Praagh, as he seems to himself: a "real-life psychic." The network has already been to bat, or gone to bed, with Van Praagh on the TV movies "Living With the Dead," with Ted Danson, and "The Dead Will Tell," starring Anne Heche, and are obviously happy to call him whatever he likes.

The show is not without comedy, and in fact could use more it enriches Hewitt's character. When she tries to avoid eye contact with the dead, for example, so they won't know she sees them and so won't ask for her help, it helpfully scrapes off a bit of her saintly goodness.

Hewitt is quite good, or as good as the show allows; there are some potholes along the way, as the script sacrifices sense to sentiment. But her marriage to regular-guy-hunk David Conrad ("Miss Match" ) is easy to buy; they have a nice chemistry that gets them through a couple of fairly turgid scenes. When "Ghost Whisperer" works, as it does in passing even on someone as firmly in the "load of hooey" camp as myself, it's primarily because of Hewitt. She's not the deepest young actress; she isn't even Neve Campbell. But there are times in tonight's show, as she engineers the reunion between the dead vet and his now-grown son, where she conveys just the right combination of emotional exhaustion and reflected happiness. I am quite prepared to believe in the art, even as I reject the picture.

http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-et...?coll=cl-tvent
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post #5259 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Killer Instinct

A Detective Used to Finding Killers and Losing Partners em

By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN The New York Times September 23, 2005

The pilot of Fox's "Killer Instinct" - a title that recalls the days of witless "Fatal Attraction"-derived movie-naming - begins with a murderer's-eye camera breaking into a San Francisco apartment. Blackhearted preparations are made around a sleeping woman. Spiders can be seen crawling on her skin - one, then more, then dozens. Finally, she's immobilized, and the bad person stands over her.

Murder! Into the action sweeps Jack Hale (Johnny Messner), a brawny, disturbed detective (or so we're told; he seems all right to me), and his new partner, Ava Lyford (Marguerite Moreau), a total cipher with no personality. Ava, it seems, is the inevitable by-the-book scold, a foil for hearty Hale. In fact, she's so blank that the producers here didn't waste any time hustling her off the series. She appears only in the first episode, which is being broadcast tonight.

Next week we'll meet Danielle Carter (Kristin Lehman), Hale's new new partner. I wonder how that will work, and if anyone will ever refer to Ava again.

But for now: Hale and Ava have arachnid issues. Someone is killing San Francisco ladies with the help of fast-acting paralyzing spider poison. Is it X, the person who obviously didn't do it? Or Y, the person who obviously did do it? In the spirit of all rote American procedurals, the ones that appall British mystery connoisseurs, it turns out to be Y.

The first episode of "Killer Instinct," though shot in Vancouver, looks good. By daylight a plausible Rice-a-Roni San Francisco glistens. The camera jumps around the city, conveying more bounce than menace. At night, though, this same landscape is supposed to be haunted - Hale and partner work in a deviant crime unit, hunting "monsters" - and this is when the city doesn't look quite unfriendly enough. A wharf scene is the closest the pilot comes to abandoning the Bay Area's oversized apartments and high-tech but environmentally conscious offices. Even the bug-filled waterfront shack seems groovy. San Francisco is not Gotham, and in its happy light monsters will have to work hard to be more like Son of Sam and less like the goofy gremlins that could serve as mascots for a software company.

Ready for back story? Hale lost his last partner - also a woman - under mysterious circumstances. (The network didn't yank that one.) Maybe they were in love. That's part of his resistance to Ava and probably will lead him to resist Danielle, too. But Mr. Messner is a simple two-dimensional idol, whom some may remember as the conniving Lance Baldwin on "The O.C." He should play thugs or action heroes; he should not trouble himself with acting troubled. It may take energy away from tricep extension and lat pull-down work.

In Hale's corner is Ray Cavanaugh (Chi McBride), a roly-poly boss with a nice disposition. He seems boring.

But it's Ava who's the real disappointment on this pervasively disappointing first episode. As a sexy teacher on ABC's now-canceled "Life as We Know It," Ms. Moreau was just right: she read Dostoyevsky and came on to a teenager. But here she's too pouty and languid to do forensics, and far too seductive to credibly interrogate entomologists.

Before she was replaced on the series, I was ready to say that Ms. Moreau - evidently a serious actress - had been terribly miscast, but it might have been fun to see her try to find her way out of her Juliette Binoche style to an officious "CSI" or "Law & Order" persona. But we'll never see that. Ava, like so many fly-by-night pilot stars who don't survive focus groups, we hardly knew ye.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/23/ar...gewanted=print
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS
The Season's First Casualty
Like The First Autumn Leaves, A TV Show Falls...

By Rich Heldenfels Akron Beacon Journal

At the end of a new Fox press release was the most important line: ''Head Cases,'' it said, ''has had its last air date.''

The Chris O'Donnell comedy-drama was of no great distinction and had gotten no traction with audiences in two telecasts. Indeed, my colleague Alan Sepinwall looked at the numbers after the first showing of ''Head Cases'' and anticipated the season's first cancellation. So no big surprise here. And the show at least had a chance to seek an audience. Fox has historically been notorious for announcing shows that never get on the air.

So what's going to replace it? Well, that's what the press release was about. And it involves the quickest fix networks can find: reality shows.
New ''Nanny 911'' episodes on Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 will get the network to the baseball playoffs. After baseball, in November, the time slot will go to ''Trading Spouses.''

http://blogs.ohio.com/beacon_tv/
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post #5261 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
A Critic's Choicer

By Gail Pennington The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Friday, Sep. 23 2005

"Killer Instinct"

A cop with problems of his own tracks killers preying on women in - hey, wait,
wasn't that last night? No, this isn't CBS' "Criminal Minds," it's Fox's
"Killer Instinct," with Johnny Messner as the brilliant, troubled crime-solver
and Kristen Lehman as his new partner.

Nevertheless, under the "go figure" heading, I kind of like this one, which
used to be called "The Gate" for its San Francisco setting. With a plot about a
rapist who employs spiders, the creepiness rivals "CSI," and Messner (he was
Lance last season on "The O.C." and before that Rob
Layne on "Guiding Light") is appealing as the tough but tender Detective Jack
Hale.

The set-up has him returning from leave after mourning the death of his partner
and lover. Her replacement (Lehman) isn't sure she can cope, but the lieutenant
(Chi McBride) is supportive.

Also new tonight

"Ghost Whisperer"

Jennifer Love Hewitt sees dead people and helps them "cross over" in a drama
that showcases Hewitt's apparently limited acting ability. The opener is most
interesting, in fact, for a guest turn by Wentworth Miller ("Prison Break") as
a dead soldier trying to get home.

"Three Wishes"

Singer Amy Grant and a fix-it team sweep into small towns and make wishes come
true in a shamelessly (and effectively) sappy reality show.

"Inconceivable"

Jonathan Cake is a smarmy fertility doctor in a comedy-drama that would like to
come off as an outrageous, network take on "Nip/Tuck" but is actually just an
awkward mix of tones. Ming-Na, wonderful here as the single mother of a little
boy, and Angie Harmon also star.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/ema...257084005FC90B
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post #5262 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
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''Dancing'': Please, No Re-Rematch

By Rich Heldenfels Akron Beacon Journal

I can easily imagine ABC executives sitting around a few days ago and envisioning A Ball To Settle It All. Now that's theoretically possible, since Kelly Monaco won the original ''Dancing With the Stars'' and John O'Hurley won this week's dance-off.

But I suspect they're now wondering if even a new season of ''Dancing'' -- due in January '06 -- is a good idea. A summer hit, ''Dancing'' proved less impressive in the ratings on Tuesday, when it was against fall programming. Some may blame that on disenchantment because of Monaco's controversial win this summer. (I still think she was better than O'Hurley, who even when he's dancing well looks a little comical, while Monaco knows where the drama is.)

Others may think, well, this was all right for the summer, but not on nights when there are fresh fall programs to pick from. And some may have just decided that the novelty has worn off. Any or all of those reasons are bad for ABC.

I don't object to O'Hurley's winning. At the end of Tuesday's show, I thought he had a slight edge. But I don't know if viewers actually judged that night's performances. ''Dancing'' has always had a weird approach to scoring, and the dance-off was odd in having people vote while the show was still in progress. At least ''American Idol'' makes you wait until all the numbers have been sung.

In any case, let's just call this a draw -- one for Monaco, one for O'Hurley. And not keep this going until we're stuck with the dance equivalent of ''Rocky IV.'' Whether we endure another set of ''celebrities'' or a world without ''Dancing,'' the show has had about as much impact as it ever will.

It gave us something amusing to talk about during the summer, and made ballroom dancing feel interesting again. Between this show and the movie ''Shall We Dance,'' my wife and I have been talking about dancing lessons. I don't think another round of ''Dancing'' will make us talk more.

http://blogs.ohio.com/beacon_tv/
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

TV SEASON PREVIEWS
The Season's First Casualty
Like The First Autumn Leaves, A TV Show Falls...

By Rich Heldenfels Akron Beacon Journal

At the end of a new Fox press release was the most important line: ''Head Cases,'' it said, ''has had its last air date.''

Incredible, two eps and it's gone... I didn't think it was that bad, has any show been canceled after just one airing?
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post #5264 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 12:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Sure, there have been a handful of them.
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post #5265 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 01:18 AM - Thread Starter
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I can only quickly find info on a few of them, Jim.

There was Dot Comedy on ABC, which aired its only program Dec. 1, 2000.

There were others, too: South Of Sunset (CBS 1993), Co-Ed Fever (ABC, 1979), Public Morals (CBS, 1996) and the legendary ABC flop Turn On (1969) which, legend has it, was cancelled half way through its first -- and only -- broadcast.

In January of this year, CBS cancelled The Will after a single episode, and Fox cancelled Who's Your Daddy earlier this year, too, after just one televised episode.
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post #5266 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 08:03 AM - Thread Starter
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TONIGHT'S TV PREMIERES
Three Wishes: Amy Grant soars far above a dismal pack

By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle Friday, September 23, 2005

Everybody who is, by nature, cynical, inclined toward smug condescension, a reader of AdBusters, a person who understands how the sausage gets made in the television business, loathers of reality shows and others opposed to the words "Amy" and "Grant" -- that means you -- need gather your horses and hold them.

Listen: If, for the forces of good to triumph -- helping people in real need, paying medical bills, building homes, pushing through adoptions, getting surgeries performed -- that good has to be done on a reality show that manipulates viewer reaction for maximum tears, is filled with gratuitous product placements and is hosted by Amy Grant, so be it. You can be as bitter as a mouthful of aspirin with a lime chaser some other day, for some other cause. But we are going to give an endorsement here to NBC's "Three Wishes," a reality series that essentially rips off the winning formula of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in that really nice and helpful things are done for people who truly deserve them -- while the cameras roll, naturally.

On the second worst night of television during the week (must we tell you again about the graveyard that is Saturday?), when three other soul-sucking dramatic series are premiering, believe us when we tell you that the least of these evils is Amy Grant rolling into Sonora to make a whole bunch of people happy. If we are going to have another reality show on television, better it helps a cute little girl badly injured in an auto accident or a nice little boy who wants to make his adoptive father happy.

Americans love sap. And the reason "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is such a ratings powerhouse (the third season premieres Sunday) is that the whole country is in tears as the credits roll.

The same thing happens on "Three Wishes." Grant rolls into the Tuolumne County town on Monday and by the time she performs a farewell concert on Saturday night (be quiet), she's changed the lives of three families -- and, as a cherry on top -- she grants a few lesser wishes on her way out. A series like this is a boon for businesses -- they get their names mentioned in connection with helping people. It's feel-good consumerism. Is the series manipulative? Of course -- that's essential for the drama. You know there are shoots and reshoots and edits and reconstructed scenes -- all to capture the tears. The jaded will have a field day, but so what? In the end, if lives are changed like they are on "Three Wishes" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," then who cares what corporate names are flashed or how many manufactured "reveals" there are?

In these instances, we'll look away.

Anything not to look at the other freshman series tonight. It's brutal out there.

How else to explain Jennifer Love Hewitt in a rip-off of "Medium" called "Ghost Whisperer" on CBS? She talks to dead people. She also acts as if she's dead. And somebody clearly killed her hairstyle. None of that matters, however, as males and females, gays and straights, dogs and cats, grandparents, fish, etc., will only be able to stare at her breasts. No series in recent memory has put so much attention on a pair of breasts. It's laughably ridiculous. You can't escape them. Hewitt is in her nightgown half the time and then in shirts three sizes too small the other half. In one scene the strap of her shoulder bag prominently divides her breasts. If you can watch that scene without laughing, you're too desperate by half.

Oh, and the show is terrible.

Fox has a series set in San Francisco called "Killer Instinct." It used to be called "The Gate." It rivals "Ghost Whisperer" as the fall's worst series. Had they kept it "The Gate" and made it about our Web site (a Web site that killed people, of course) it might have been interesting. As it stands, you won't see any worse acting across the broadcast spectrum. The women-in-peril scenes are vile. The writing is atrocious. The series is horrifically bad. And not in a way that would make a good drinking game. Like Hewitt's breasts -- avoid at all costs.

A less heinous series but also a monumental waste of time, is "Inconceivable," an NBC drama about a fertility clinic. If, on a Friday night, you are truly desperate for drama, better to watch the second season finale of "Battlestar Galactica" on Sci-Fi. Even if you haven't watched all season, it stands out in this cosmos of lameness as a beacon of light. Next week when it's not on? Try "Numb3rs" on CBS. Infinitely better.

But if you watch "Inconceivable" you will be subjected to every cliche possible about getting pregnant, wanting to get pregnant, having trouble getting pregnant -- and the banal interaction between a series of doctors who talk about ethics more than you'll ever find necessary or interesting.

Flippant, yes. But it's flippant Friday. Forget three wishes -- we only have one for this night: Get better or get us a book.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...L&type=tvradio
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post #5267 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 08:17 AM
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Hi Fred.. Curb your Enthusiasm is not in HD according to HBO.com
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post #5268 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for catching the error, goman
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post #5269 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thursday's network prime-time ratings have posted near the top of Latest News the first item in this thread.
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post #5270 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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TONIGHT'S TV PREMIERES
Three Wishes? For one, kill these shows

With premieres like these, you might want to make it a Blockbuster night

BY GLENN GARVIN Miami Herald

All I have to say after yet another hurricane near-miss is: Come back, Rita! I beseech you, come back, and bring that round-the-clock TV coverage with you! Anything to save us from tonight's prime-time lineup.

In some weird conspiracy by the networks, three of the worst shows of the new season have been packed onto a single night, proving that mere nature is no match for humans (well, OK, television executives, semi-humans) in creating catastrophes.

Both CBS' supernatural drama Ghost Whisperer and NBC's reality show Three Wishes try to distract you from their essential awfulness by manipulating the daylights out of you.

In the case of Ghost Whisperer, in which Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a newlywed antique dealer who sees whiny, demanding ghosts, that involves building the pilot episode around the restless spirit of a soldier missing in action in Vietnam for nearly 40 years, searching for a son born two months after his death. If Samuel Johnson had seen this, he would have said that patriotism is the last refuge of crummy TV writers. As for me, I was reminded of a line from a miserable undead character in An American Werewolf In London: ``Have you ever talked to a corpse? It's boring.''

Three Wishes is not so much boring as disgusting. How disgusting? Worse than anything the contestants on Fear Factor have to eat.

Orphans, mutilated accident victims and terminal leukemia patients come to tearfully grovel in front of pop singer Amy Grant, as sickening violins swell on the soundtrack like the Hollywood Strings in Hell. The lucky ones get their wishes (always with a plug for some corporation and its smiley-face CEO) and the rest crawl off to die decorously off-camera. I'll give the show credit; it did make me think what I would ask if granted three wishes. Interestingly, all three involved the flesh of Amy Grant being devoured by rabid weasels.

Next to Three Wishes, Killer Instinct may seem like Playhouse 90, but don't be fooled. The thing's a mess that's already been renamed twice and reformatted once. Oh, and don't get too attached to Marguerite Moreau, tonight's co-star -- she was unceremoniously fired after the first episode. The other co-star, Johnny Messner (The O.C.), is still around, at least until mid-October or so when Fox puts Killer Instinct out of its misery.

Killer Instinct, if you must know, is about a San Francisco police unit that investigates the city's sickest, most perverted killers. The villain of the first episode is a Berkeley entomologist who uses poisonous Egyptian spiders to paralyze young girls before he rapes and kills them. After I mentioned that in The Herald's fall TV preview, I got a call from a horrified University of California official asking if I was serious. Alas, the answer is yes.

That brings us to what, on an evening like this, passes for the saving grace, NBC's Inconceivable. Though if you've ever considered artificial insemination or fertility drugs, you might not want to watch Inconceivable, the Animal House of fertility clinics. Sperm donations get switched! White people have black babies! The staffers inseminate one another in determinedly non-artificial ways!

Nonetheless, a strong cast -- notably including Ming-Na of ER as the clinic's boss and Jonathan Cake of Empire as her slithery partner -- breathes life into what might otherwise be just one more tepid medical drama. Even so, nothing in Inconceivable is as fascinating as the in-utero photography that runs behind the opening credits -- eggs and zygotes and fetuses, drifting peacefully through a silent world, more mysterious and wonderful than any TV show.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald...printstory.jsp
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post #5271 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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'SNL' Slate Unveiled

By Joel Meyer bcbeat.com

Steve Carell (of The Office)and musical guest Kanye West will kick off this season of Saturday Night Live on Oct. 1. This will be the show's first season in HD.

Other guests include:
Oct. 8: Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder; musical guest TBA

Oct. 22: Catherine Zeta-Jones; musical guest Franz Ferdinand

Oct. 29: Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong; musical guest, Sheryl Crow (Armstrong's fiancee)

Featured players Bill Hader and Andy Samberg will debut this season. Hader is a Second City Los Angeles vet. Samberg is an alum of three writer-performer-filmmakers dubbed "The Lonely Island" showcased on Channel 101.com.

http://www.bcbeat.com/
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post #5272 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
CBS' 'Whisperer' goes bump in the nighties

** out of five

Bill Goodykoontz The Arizona Republic Sept. 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Jennifer Love Hewitt sees dead people.

And viewers see a lot of Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Actually, Melinda Gordon, the character Hewitt plays in the new CBS drama Ghost Whisperer, sees ghosts. If this sounds suspiciously like Medium, the NBC drama in which Patricia Arquette plays Phoenix psychic Allison DuBois (and for which she just won an Emmy), well, yeah. On its face it's a lot like that. But Allison uses her gifts to solve crimes. Melinda helps spirits cross over, or whatever it is they have to do to rest in peace.

Also, she wears a lot of nighties and shows a lot more cleavage than Allison.

I know how that sounds. That's considered off-limits stuff, not to be talked about in polite company, immaterial to the show, sexist, all that. And, generally speaking, I agree.

Not this time. Hewitt's chest is practically its own character, either by accident or design. (I know which I'm guessing.) To not talk about it is to ignore one of the more notable parts of the show. Certainly it makes more of an impression than her husband (David Conrad), a self-doubting paramedic, does. The nighties make some sense, because Melinda sometimes sees ghosts at night. But the backpack with dual straps that cross in the front? Some costume designer is going to win an Emmy for that.

The trouble with seeing dead people, of course, is convincing all the people who don't see them that you aren't crazy. In the first episode, for instance, Melinda has to convince the son of a missing Vietnam veteran that his father has contacted her to check up on him, to let him know he's proud of him, that kind of thing. Naturally the son is suspicious. Naturally Melinda convinces him otherwise. Naturally there are plenty of tears shed all around.

Naturally it's bad.

Naturally it'll be a big hit.

Hewitt, alas, isn't much of an actress, but she tears up as well as anyone, and is at least aiming for an earnestness that some might find winning. And if that fails, there's always the nightie to fall back on.

http://www.azcentral.com/php-bin/cli...goody0923.html
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post #5273 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thursday's network prime-time ratings - and Marc Berman's analysis of the fourth night of the 2005-2006 network prime time TV season --have now been posted near the top of Latest News the first item in this thread.
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post #5274 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
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TV SEASON PREVIEWS: FRIDAY
Ghost Whisperer: Surprisingly Good

Jennifer sees dead people

*** 1/2 out of four

BY DOUG ELFMAN CHICAGO SUN-TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC September 23, 2005

I can't believe how effective "Ghost Whisperer" is. How can a sentimental show with such a stupid name and an unbelievable premise be this good?

Part of "Ghost Whisperer" 8 PM ET/PT is even reminiscent of one of the funniest "Saturday Night Live" sketches ever, the one when Christopher Walken played "The Trivial Psychic" and told a guy his immediate future:

"You're gonna treat yourself to a vanilla ice cream. You're gonna eat it too fast. You're gonna get an ice-cream headache. It's gonna hurt. Real bad."

In "Ghost Whisperer," Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) sees dead people who sometimes divulge to her trivial things from the great hereafter, and they want her to pass these little statements on to their living loved ones. One ghost wants Melinda to tell her widower where a key is -- small change from the cosmic unknown.

But that's the light comic relief. The heft of the show is concerned with far heavier emotional appeals. In tonight's premiere, a Vietnam soldier (Wentworth Miller) stumbles back into his sleepy town, where Melinda lives. He's a disoriented soul who doesn't know what's become of his pregnant wife. He wants Melinda to talk to his son for him.

If you think that's sappy, it's nothing compared to the schmaltz of the ending. Truly, it's as if the Whoopi Goldberg parts of "Ghost," when she tells a crying Demi Moore about her dead husband, were replicated a few times every week in a TV show.

It's good, though. Ever since I first watched "Ghost Whisperer" two months ago, I've wondered what makes this potential disaster work. I have answers.

But first, it's important to ignore that self-satirical title. Some people didn't want to watch "Cop Rock" years ago based on the sheer name of it. And as great as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was (best show of all time), it took years for me to convince my sister and some friends to give it a chance, because the title threw them off.

What is special about "Ghost Whisperer" is the way it gets everything else right -- casting, acting, writing, directing, pacing, music, you name it. Hewitt has really settled into her groove. She's funny when she tells the widower where the safe-deposit key is. She's dead-on convincing in scenes of quiet crying and words of encouragement.

I should disclose I don't buy the idea that ghosts walk the earth. But I don't believe in vampires, either, or UFOs. None of that matters when good fiction builds a little home in itself, when it creates a self-contained world so fully that it suspends disbelief.

"Ghost Whisperer" is created by experienced TV director John Gray and based on the lives of so-called "mediums" James Van Praagh and Mary Ann Winkowski. I can't imagine I'd have much use for their "paranormal investigators" in real life.

I'm also not sure how sensible it is for Hewitt's character, a newlywed and antiquities shopkeeper, to go around telling people she's spoken with apparitions of their family members. Hearing that would freak me out.

But it gets to me when Melinda, as a little girl in the beginning of "Ghost Whisperer," tells a widow what her dead husband has on his mind: "Tell her I want her to keep on having a glass of champagne every Friday night. ... And tell her to never feel alone."

That may look silly in print to some of you, but the scene is shot with a genuine and understated sweetness. The underlying principle is it satiates what many people would like to believe: There is an afterlife, and our dead beloveds are doing well. It's a pie-in-the-sky scenario that everything will work out in the end.

That's quite the rosy prospect to pitch in a TV landscape that see-saws between "inspirational" shows ("Three Wishes," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition") and ironic shows that make fun of such earnest and heartfelt work ("The Daily Show," everything on MTV).

In other words, "Ghost Whisperer" is ripe for being made fun of. Oh, yes, I see ... I see ... a parody of "Ghost Whisperer" in "Saturday Night Live's" future. But I'm still gonna watch it every now and then.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/enter...ftr-elf23.html
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post #5275 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 10:34 AM
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I can only quickly find info on a few of them, Jim.

There was Dot Comedy on ABC, which aired its only program Dec. 1, 2000.

There were others, too: South Of Sunset (CBS 1993), Co-Ed Fever (ABC, 1979), Public Morals (CBS, 1996) and the legendary ABC flop Turn On (1969) which, legend has it, was cancelled half way through its first -- and only -- broadcast.

In January of this year, CBS cancelled The Will after a single episode, and Fox cancelled Who's Your Daddy earlier this year, too, after just one televised episode.

Interesting, it seems as if it's a lot of money down the drain really quick. I would guess it be more for the companies producing the show than the network though.
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post #5276 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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If a network orders 13 episodes, it is (by my understanding, at least) usually on the hook for them.

Of course since the studio wants to keep producing programs for the network some financial arrangements can often be made.
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post #5277 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, I have been posting (and will post more) TV critics reviews of the (mostly) new programs in network prime time. I hope they have been helpful in your viewing -- and reording -- of the new programs.

Now it is your turn.

What has been your favorite new show this season and why?

And what has been your least favorite, and why?

(You can post a comment now, and later when you see more premieres, feel free to add a new comment.)
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post #5278 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 11:32 AM
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Prison Break is my new favorite series. I like the pace of it. Reminds me of 24.

Favorite comedies are Chris and Earl. I'll give the edge to Chris because I relate a little better to it.

Surface and Invasion look interesting but not gung-ho over them.

I am waiting to watch Commander and Ering.

So these 7 shows are the only ones I'm going to try this season. Based on the descriptions these are the ones that caught my fancy.

rather be lucky than good.
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post #5279 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 11:33 AM
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By the way, I think UPN did a great job of the HD on Chris.

rather be lucky than good.
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post #5280 of 25503 Old 09-23-2005, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

The Season's First Casualty - Head Cases


Wow 2 episodes for a can is pretty wierd. Maybe the show aired something that pissed off fox?
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