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post #9061 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by rebkell View Post

We'll just have to agree to disagree, and I wouldn't be near as anti-cable if I didn't have to pay more for less as opposed to satellite. I do believe the programmers just adapted to the system that was put in place. Cable has never had a real threat from satellites, it was greed, I agree they may not have envisioned it getting to the point it has, but they didn't have a problem adding more and more and raising the bill every year either, I do believe we pay for every channel that gets added.

There you go again with the more for less stuff while still blaming cable for the current model and foisting channels on us that we don't want. The key for me is do I get the channels I want at a comparable price and, after every comparision, the answer is still Yes. I could care less about anyone boasting their capacity or number of channels. That is meaningless if I don't want/need/watch them. If it were strictly a channel/cost, everyone would be a Dish sub. AFAIK, they have more HD channels than anyone and, excluding exclusives like NFL/ST, as many regular channels as anyone.

Do I wish we had ala carte? Absolutely. In fact, I wish we could sub directly to a given channel and cable/sat were only the medium by which I received it, not the reseller adding to the cost, more like the BUG model. I'd gladly pay cable/sat a fee to provide the medium and do the billing. I think HBO, etc., would actually cost less if they had to directly fight each other for our subscriptions.

Cheers, Dave
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post #9062 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

Cablecos aren't to blame for this mess. It's the major media companies who forced this system upon them. What complicates matters now is that the bulk of MSOs (by households served) are now owned by, or involved with their own media sales.

Thanks. I'm surprised, almost shocked, that you agree with my basic point, but I'll take it.

At any rate, I think we've beaten the subject to death, at least in this thread, so I suggest we move on before Fred slaps us around.

Cheers, Dave
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post #9063 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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The 2007-2008 Season
After cleaning 'House'
In a bid to stay atop the network heap, Hugh Laurie's doc goes on a hiring-and-firing spree. Hey, it's all in character.
By Maria Elena Fernandez Los Angeles Times Staff Writer September 23, 2007

The Emmy statue would have gone so nicely with the surfboard.

But, really, who needs a stuffy old Emmy when the people who know what's hot have named you the Teen Choice TV Actor? Hugh Laurie has two Golden Globes at home and has earned two Emmy nominations, but America's adolescents last month picked him over Matthew Fox, Wentworth Miller, Milo Ventimiglia and Jared Padalecki as their favorite male TV star on the awards show presented by Fox and Global TV.

Not bad for a 48-year-old, huh?

Or as Laurie, star of Fox's Emmy-nominated "House," put it, "Given that the ages of all the other nominees probably don't add up to mine, I felt that was a real triumph. It's a huge thrill for me and I can't deny it."

Winning the Teen Choice surfboard, which Laurie says he will use "to iron my shirts or something," is actually not as much of an anomaly as it might seem, because "House" ranked as the top-rated scripted show among 12- to 17-year-olds last season. More important, the medical mystery drama also pushed past surgical soap "Grey's Anatomy" to garner the season's highest number of advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-old viewers for all scripted shows.

Now, in an attempt to keep that momentum for its fourth season, "House" producers have concocted a story line that takes advantage of House's irreverence and acerbic humor and, interestingly, forces art to imitate life. Just as 40 fellowship candidates are competing for not-so-dreamy jobs with Laurie's Dr. Gregory House, guest actors are vying for regular roles on the Fox drama. The writers are still mulling over which two or three will stay.

"What can happen often in TV is that if something is successful, everyone is nervous about changing anything in case they risk upsetting the boat," Laurie said. "But, of course, by the time you actually get a sign that you should change something, it's too late. I think it's very clever on the part of the writers that they have used the impetus we have at the moment to very slightly change directions. It's perfectly in keeping with House's way of going about things. You make House do something at your peril."

Cross-generational appeal

Laurie, whose characters on Britain's "A Bit of Fry and Laurie," "Black Adder" and "Jeeves and Wooster" were not as high-minded as the infectious-disease specialist he plays now, says it makes him nervous to think about the show's triple-threat success -- high ratings, critical acclaim and awards -- out of fear "that almost immediately it will evaporate like the morning dew." But he has come up with a credible theory on why the cranky, charismatic doctor has cross-generational appeal.

"Not that anybody cynically designed it this way, but I do think that House in some ways appeals to an older audience because he expresses all the impatience that old people have with the way the modern world is going and the touchy-feely, anti-scientific way the world is going," Laurie said. "But he also, I think, connects to teenagers who are similarly impatient with all the rules and restrictions on life. And that rebellious side of House really does appeal to teenagers."

If that is the magic formula, then this season, which begins at 9 p.m. Tuesday, should follow suit because the scheme that House hatches when he is forced to hire doctors to replace Foreman, Cameron and Chase makes his pretending to have cancer last season seem almost sane. The third-season finale packed a wallop -- the genius doctor who claims he prefers the company of his guitar was left alone, literally. After Foreman (Omar Epps) tendered his two-week notice, House hastily fired Chase (Jesse Spencer), which, in turn, prompted Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) to quit too.

The shake-up was not something creator David Shore had planned from the beginning of the season, but one the writers happened upon as they explored the effect of Foreman's departure on the team. Then, as the writers played with the idea of how House would handle losing everyone, Shore realized he was in the enviable position of reinvigorating his winning blueprint without forcing it, a challenge all hit shows face as they age and are sized up against new programs.

"Rather than, 'Oh my God, oh my God, we've run out of stuff, it's starting to get boring, it's starting to get dull, we've got to change something, what are we going to change?,' we changed it based on our own agenda," Shore said. "Let's try it now while the show is still working very well. We're just expanding the world. The show is not different. It's just growing a little bit."

To be sure, the May finale caught fans by surprise. All summer, Internet message boards have been filled with the musings of frustrated and excited fans alike -- some charging the producers with "ruining the show" for the sake of a "gimmick," others speculating that House's three fellows at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital will all be back because the producers would never fire three series leads of a hit show at the same time.

Certainly, no one has been fired -- and fans who don't want to know more should think twice about reading the next few paragraphs.

When the season begins, House -- and the viewers -- have no idea where the three doctors went.

By the second episode, we learn that Cameron has been reassigned to the emergency room at Princeton-Plainsboro, Chase works in surgery and Foreman is at New York Mercy Hospital. But eventually, as Epps disclosed on the Emmys red carpet on Sunday, "he'll be back begrudgingly."

And their former Vicodin-addicted boss is as brutally honest and self-indulgent as ever.

Deciding that he does not need a staff, House takes to doing things, such as bouncing his ideas off the janitor until Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), the dean of medicine and hospital administrator, and oncologist Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) step in and force him to hire help in a story line that takes full advantage of the threesome's comedic rapport.

"It seems monumental, but it's really organic, House being House," executive producer Katie Jacobs said. "How many years can you really survive working with this kind of boss? And when the season starts, he's by himself. He likes himself."

Given no choice but to replace his three fellows, House decides to hire 40 temporary candidates, a move Cuddy must tolerate because she does not have to pay them more than she paid Foreman, Cameron and Chase. The rest plays out like a game of "Survivor," with doctors eliminated on a weekly basis until six are left in the fourth episode. House even makes them wear numbers so he doesn't have to bother learning their names.

"For Cuddy, this is like if you're water-skiing and all of a sudden the speed boat takes off and starts whipping around and you're trying to hold on," Edelstein said. "He's just gone out of control. Imagine if he has three people to hurl insults at and now he has 40 people. It's like the show is magnified at this point because there's just more people to abuse on it."

If the "reality" game seems vicious, consider this: The new actors playing doctor are jumping the same hurdles, except that they don't have to put up with a grouch's mean streak off-camera. At recent table reads, Laurie has noticed that the actors vying to become regulars have been reading their scripts back to front. Edelstein said she finds the new season's scripts so exciting that she has been waiting for the table reads to find out who gets fired at the end of each episode.

"It really is rather a cruel environment, in many ways," Laurie said. "But what's really delightful is that the actors involved, instead of eyeing each other jealously and competing and trying to stab each other in the back, they are a sort of happy band of brothers. They almost, almost sing songs around the campfire."

The group includes Olivia Wilde ("The O.C." and "The Black Donnellys") as an intriguing physician whom House can't figure out; Edi Gathegi ("Lincoln Heights") as a black Mormon; Peter Jacobson ("The Starter Wife") portraying a plastic surgeon; Anne Dudek ("Mad Men") as an ambitious know-it-all; and Kal Penn ("24") as the doctor most invigorated by the genius he wants to work for.

Shore and his writers are now in the process of choosing House's two or three new fellows, which takes place in the eighth episode.

"On any other show I've worked with, I don't know how this would feel," Shore said. "But this just feels like something House would do. Interviewing and hiring seems like something he wouldn't do. Hiring 40 people and then firing 37 of them feels like something he would do."

Laurie agrees but finds comfort in knowing that the audience knows House better than anyone at Princeton-Plainsboro.

"For all that horrible, random, destructive behavior, there always remains something redeemable about House," Laurie said.

"Nothing that House does is for public approval. In the same way he doesn't care about the criticism, he also doesn't care about the applause either. He's just doing it for his own reasons, and we the audience know something. We have a hint that underneath all of that, he may not be an angel, but he's on the side of the angels."

http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-ca...?coll=cl-tvent
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post #9064 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Not at all, Dave.

Intelligent discussion, even with fervent opinions is welcome here at any time. And fortunately, we have been able to stay away from personal mud slinging for the most part.

As long as we stay on topic and talk about how we feel and what we think just about anything dealing with TV is welcome here.

We have all been careful about characterizing the arguments of others as shallow, their intelligence as lacking or their arguments simply of the fanboy variety.

So let the discussions continue, although I tend to agree that for the moment at least, we seem to have expended our a la carte ammunition.


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....At any rate, I think we've beaten the subject to death, at least in this thread, so I suggest we move on before Fred slaps us around.

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post #9065 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 08:18 AM
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(Going back a couple pages) Fred, Family Guy also premieres tonight.

-John
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post #9066 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Review
“The War”
'The War' offers compelling footage if viewers are patient
By Rich Heldenfels Akron Beacon Journal popular culture writer Sunday, Sep 23, 2007

I've gotten through about 10 of the 15 hours of Ken Burns' documentary The War. I have been exasperated and exhilarated, impatient and rapt. I have seen that some of the criticism about the program is justified, and that a big fear about the program is wrong.

And, as I sit here, I want to watch some more.

This makes for some considerably mixed feelings about the documentary, which premieres tonight and continues for six more nights spread across two weeks.

It presents World War II through the soldiers and citizens from four American towns Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Luverne, Minn., and Sacramento, Calif.

Those towns are at once specific and microcosmic, offering a window on what the war was like in Europe, Pacific and the home front in the air war, on the sea and land battles, on the front lines and in prison camps.

The towns offer views of how the war was for whites, African-Americans and the Japanese-Americans who were treated so abysmally imprisoned by a suspicious government and yet responded heroically. They also remind us repeatedly of the price of the war not only on the battlefield, but for the families whose men and women went off to unknown lands. (The writing of newspaperman Al McIntosh, the editor of the Rock County Star Herald, Luverne's local newspaper, is a vivid bridge through The War. McIntosh is long dead, but his work is read by Tom Hanks.)

One woman passed up at least one chance of marriage because she would not think about such things until her brother was safely home. Another, the mother of a GI overseas, waited each day for a letter from him until the telegram arrived saying he had died.

One soldier suffered 50 years of nightmares after D-Day, where he lived and his brother died.

''I would have rather come back without my arms and legs than to come back without my brother,'' he says.

It is in such moments that The War shines. But getting to those moments is at times a drag. Where Burns can be an exciting filmmaker his Jazz series was full of energy the pace of The War is often too slow. Burns and writer Geoffrey C. Ward also are too much in love with detail; a mention of people going to the movies requires the naming of two theaters in each of the four communities.

The program also suffers from a grudging, post-production concession to protests about the series.

While The War says up front that ''the Second World War was fought in thousands of places, too many for any one accounting,'' it nonetheless strives to show the diversity of the American experience. And when that sweep left out Latinos, groups complained until Burns consented to add material about Latinos and Native Americans to the film.

But those additions function as little more than postscripts to the production as a whole, 29 minutes in total, added to the end of the first, fifth and sixth installments. While the stories told there can be compelling, they are still outside the production as envisioned by Burns and co-director Lynn Novick. ''The new material,'' says a letter from a show publicist, ''has not changed the existing film in any way.''

Nor is that the only worry facing The War. At times, the people in it speak bluntly. Indeed, the fifth part is called FUBAR which in polite company means ''fouled up beyond all recognition,'' but which in its original usage was earthier. The War opts for plain speech about that, and about SNAFU (which, in these pages, has to be ''situation normal, all fouled up'').

Television stations have become uneasy about the way the Federal Communications Commission monitors content. In 2004, some stations including WEWS (Channel 5) chose not to carry a replay of Saving Private Ryan because of its uncut profanity.

With The War, stations have to choose between an edited and unedited version. WNEO/WEAO (Channels 45/49) will air only the edited version. WVIZ (Channel 25) will air the edited versions of episodes at 8 p.m. and on weekend afternoons; telecasts beginning at 10 p.m. or later will be the unedited shows.

I believe that the unedited version should be seen. It is a clearer demonstration both of how people talked, and of what combat did to the way people thought and talked. As one returning veteran says, ''When you came home . . . it was a very good chance that you would lapse into the use of bad language. . . . It made you speak slowly and deliberately. . . . In the service, you just don't use any adjectives. You forget all your adjectives and just use one or two . . . I'm not gonna say.''

Of course and I know this is terrible understatement World War II changed America. As The War shows, it changed the way people thought about war, and death, and economizing, and race, and even music. (Bing Crosby's White Christmas became an evocative hit in wartime.)

It did so with a lot of struggle and a lot of years. Like Private Ryan or Flags of Our Fathers, The War includes graphic images of wartime violence, as well as veterans' descriptions of it, to make clear what this war cost. It also makes clear that a watershed like D-Day did not end the war; it's no accident that the glory of the allied invasion is followed by the FUBAR episode.

This brings us back to Burns' ambition. While there has been a great deal written and shown about World War II, including in evocative films like Private Ryan and Flags, Burns wants the generation of viewers long removed from the war to understand what it was. He recently told Newsweek one inspiration for the series ''was finding out that a huge number of our high school graduates think that we fought with the Germans against the Russians in the second world war. It's so unbelievable.''

Yet I wonder how many of those recent graduates will sit through The War, especially the scene-setting in the first installment. The pace is Burns-deliberate, the narration (voiced by Keith David) soft-spoken. The commercial networks are rolling out their big shows this week, providing considerable temptation to viewers to look away.

But if they are willing to stick around, if they show the patience that is in short supply these days, they may come across some wonders.

http://www.ohio.com/entertainment/9943171.html
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post #9067 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for noticing my omission, pwrmetal.

Upcoming Premieres / Returns

60 Minutes Tonight, 7 PM ET/PT CBS
CW NowTonight, 7 PM ET/PT CW
Online Nation Tonight, 7:30 PM ET/PT CW
The Simpsons Tonight, 8 PM ET/PT Fox
King Of The Hill Tonight, 8:30 PM ET/PT Fox
Cold Case Tonight, 9 PM ET/PT CBS
Family Guy Tonight, 9 PM ET/PT Fox
Ken Burns' "The War" Tonight, 9 PM PBS
Shark Tonight, 10 PM ET/PT
Dancing With the Stars Monday, 8 PM ET/PT, ABC
How I Met Your Mother Monday, 8 PM ET/PT CBS
Chuck Monday, 8 PM ET/PT NBC
The Big Bang Theory Monday, 8:30 PM ET/PT CBS
Two and a Half Men Monday, 9 PM ET/PT CBS
Heroes Monday, 9 PM ET/PT NBC
The Bachelor: Monday, (90 minutes) 9:30 PM ET/PT, ABC
Rules Of Engagement Monday, 9:30 PM ET/PT CBS
CSI: Miami Monday, 10 PM ET/PT CBS
Journeyman Monday, 10 PM ET/PT NBC
Dancing With the Stars (Performance Show): Tuesday, (90 minutes) 8 PM ET/PT, ABC
NCIS Tuesday, 8 PM ET/PT CBS
Bones Tuesday, 8 PM ET/PT Fox
The Unit Tuesday, 9 PM ET/PT CBS
Reaper Tuesday, 9 PM ET/PT CW
House Tuesday, 9 PM ET/PT Fox
Boston Legal Tuesday, September 25, 9:30 PM ET/PT ABC
The Singing Bee Tuesday, 9:30 PM ET/PT NBC
Cane Tuesday, 10 PM ET/PT CBS
Law & Order: SVU Tuesday, 10 PM ET/PT NBC

The complete list can always be found here:

https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...92&postcount=4
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post #9068 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Not at all, Dave.

I was just trying to be cute on this fabulous Sunday morning here in Phoenix. We are finally able to open the doors/windows to let in some fresh air and not be subject to the oppressive radiant heat.

Cheers, Dave
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post #9069 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Critic’s Notes
A talk with Kate Walsh from “Grey's Anatomy”…'
…Who goes into “Private Practice”
From Maureen Ryan’s Chicago Tribune blog “The Watcher” September 23, 2007

Kate Walsh has plans for Addison Montgomery.

The redheaded doctor spent the last two seasons of "Grey's Anatomy" trying to salvage her failing marriage to surgeon Derek Shepherd. But thanks to his on-again, off-again affair with Seattle Grace Hospital intern Meredith Grey (and her own dalliances with a guy nicknamed McSteamy), the marriage failed.

Now Addison has moved down the coast, from drizzly Seattle to sunny Los Angeles. She's got her own show, the much-publicized "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff "Private Practice," which premieres 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC.

And when it comes to Addison's future, Walsh is thinking cocktails and cougars. (And she doesn't mean the cousins of kitties: UrbanDictionary.com defines "cougar" as "an older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man.")

"I'd love to see a cougar date situation," Walsh, a former Chicago theater actress, said by phone from the show's Los Angeles set. "I'd love to see her cougar it up. I'd like to see all the ladies [from Addison's new practice] go out with [young, male receptionist] Dell and his friends."

That shouldn't be difficult to arrange.

What may be harder for "Private Practice" is capturing the magic -- and the ratings momentum -- of "Grey's Anatomy," which premiered 2 1/2 years ago and since then has started more than its share of water-cooler conversations.

The medical drama's massive success came as a surprise to ABC, but "Grey's" runaway-hit status helped shape the network's current drama template, which calls for large ensembles, sexy and soapy antics, mostly well-to-do characters and the occasional heart-tugging emotions.

Whether "Private Practice" will be able to consistently deliver a pleasing variation on that ABC formula is another question. A "backdoor pilot" for "Private Practice" aired during an extended episode of "Grey's" in May; it featured Addison's first foray to her new place of employment, the Oceanside Wellness Center in Santa Monica.

That two-hour episode was widely panned by critics, who disliked the way the new show made the strong Addison seem wishy-washy. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a "Grey's" fan who liked the Ally McBeal-esque talking elevator, or the way that Tim Daly's character, the New Age Dr. Pete Wilder, informed Addison he was going to kiss her "with tongue."

Though nobody faulted the skills of the acting ensemble in the May pilot -- which featured respected TV veterans Amy Brenneman ("Judging Amy"), Paul Adelstein ("Prison Break") and Taye Diggs ("Day Break") in addition to Daly -- their characters, which included the author of a best-selling self-help book, a psychiatrist and a fertility specialist, were widely seen as whiny and not particularly fun to be around.

The diagnosis for Wednesday's premiere episode? Things haven't improved much at Oceanside.

The "Private Practice" series premiere struggles mightily to settle on a tone, but in the meantime veers among tragedy, predictable medical melodrama and humor that comes off as far more brittle (and even hostile) than funny.

At least the talking elevator is gone.

As is Merrin Dungey ("Alias"), who over the summer was replaced in the role of Addison's best friend, fertility specialist Dr. Naomi Bennett, by Broadway veteran Audra McDonald.

As for the negative reactions to last spring's pilot, it's not as though the "Private Practice" team was in the dark about them.

"I've certainly heard those reactions too, but it seemed to me that half the criticism was that it was too dark and half the criticism was that it was too light," said Adelstein, another former Chicago actor, who plays pediatrician Cooper Freedman on "Private Practice."

Even ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson acknowledged to the media in late May that the show needed some work.

"We spent a lot of time introducing the characters but not enough time on the stories. We really have to hit the stories stronger," McPherson was quoted as saying.

At a press event for the show in July, University Park native Shonda Rhimes, who created both "Grey's" and "Private Practice," was unapologetic about the elevator. And she defended the depiction of Addison as that of a woman in flux, searching for a new direction in her life.

"I think that the Addison that you see as a doctor is very strong and decisive. I think that Addison as a person has never been fully that -- as strong or as decisive, but I think she's a smart, interesting woman," Rhimes said.

And she described "Private Practice" as more "squabbling family" than "Grey's" "high school with scalpels."

Well, there's no shortage of squabbling on "Private Practice." And it may be inevitable that critics will have their scalpels out for the show at first. Not just because it needs "serious script surgery," as TV Guide's Matt Roush put it, but because a number of critics have a good amount of pent-up animosity toward "Grey's Anatomy." Even the most hard-core fans had to admit that the show had a horrible Season 3, the second half of which was so inconsistent and strident that it was nearly unwatchable.

Add that simmering resentment to the season-long controversy over the offensive remarks of "Grey's" actor Isaiah Washington, whose character, Dr. Preston Burke, was written out of the show in the finale, and it stands to reason that anything coming from Rhimes' pen is going to get extra scrutiny.

"We will be under that microscope without already having great success, which is a strange phenomenon," said Adelstein, who, by a quirk, was cast as Burke in the "Grey's Anatomy" pilot but dropped out because of a movie commitment. "I hope it'll be well received."

But, he adds, "I think there will be vitriol."

Rhimes said in July that she's unafraid of strong reactions.

"I read the blogs," Rhimes said, and responses to "the writers' blog of 'Grey's Anatomy.' ... I take really seriously what the fans say. I kind of love that people feel this strongly about the show. What that means to me is that they are watching it and that they care about it and that they feel as emotionally connected to the characters as I do."

But the "Grey's" characters, for all their foibles and inconsistencies of late, at least used to have a fun, fresh enthusiasm for medicine and appealing friendships that connected with viewers, especially women viewers sick of catfights between female characters on TV.

The "Private Practice" characters, on the other hand, seem to be pretty lost in their personal lives, and many of the women in the pilot episode seem angry ... about what, it's not always clear.

Walsh, who was initially signed to do a five-episode guest arc on "Grey's" and became a fan favorite, appears to have already steeled herself to the "but it's not 'Grey's'" criticism.

"The tone is different. It's a whole different show. I think if people watch it expecting 'Grey's,' they're going to be disappointed," said the actress, who used to study at Evanston's famed Piven Theatre Workshop with Adelstein, an old friend from their mid-1990s Chicago theater days.

There are clear differences between "Grey's" and "Private Practice." For one thing, the focus of the progressive Oceanside doctors is not surgery, but, as the name of the practice states, wellness. Each doctor in the practice has a specialty, but they come together to treat patients with a team approach.

"You've got this group of people who want to go back to this more humane model [of medicine]," Adelstein said.

And the lack of direction in these doctors' personal lives may just be a sign of the times, according to Adelstein.

"Part of what Shonda is exploring here is American extended adolescence," he said. "You have these people -- I know tons of them out here -- they are in their late 30s and early 40s, and either have never been married or had starter marriages that didn't work out. ... They casually date, do a lot of sitting around lamenting not being able to find a mate but there's not a lot of self-reflection about what it would take to make that kind of commitment."

Addison knows about that kind of commitment but for now she wants none of it (though there are strong hints that she and Pete may hook up again).

Los Angeles represents a fresh start for Addison, Walsh said. Whether or not the doctor "cougars it up," she wants to have some new adventures in her new city and figure out what the next phase of her life will bring. And that may take some time to figure out -- both for the doctor and for the show.

"To be honest with you, I don't know how it's going to be until we see it," said the recently married, 39-year-old Walsh, who acknowledged she has had bouts of "Addison anxiety" since being approached about the spinoff in February. "I'm just as anxious as the audience is to know what it's going to be.

"I think it made sense [for Addison to leave Seattle], and also, Shonda was excited about writing a different story for ... men and women in their 30s who are established," Walsh continued. "What happens when you get what you want in your career, and then what's the next phase? What happens when your dream comes true, what's the next dream? That was sort of the idea ... people who seemingly have it together, and then are sort of not together at all."

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune....ctic.html#more
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post #9070 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 09:27 AM
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Thanks for noticing my omission, pwrmetal.

Upcoming Premieres / Returns

I think Boston Legal starts at 9:30 pm on Tuesday, and just as a little nitpick, you have Heroes out of order, you listed everything by time, but you kinda stuck Heroes in the middle of the 10:00 pm shows on Monday.
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post #9071 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 09:48 AM
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Thanks. I'm surprised, almost shocked, that you agree with my basic point, but I'll take it.

At any rate, I think we've beaten the subject to death, at least in this thread, so I suggest we move on before Fred slaps us around.

Fred and I have been hammering that point in every a la carte discussion. Some pro-cablers seem to think that a la carte is anti-cable and that the alacarters hold the MSOs responsible. The key battles in the rapid expansion of niche networks with no established demand are always between cable/DBS and the media companies.

What is a cable company supposed to do - dump ESPN, ABC and Disney in order to hold the line? That may sound great, in theory, but we all know they would suffer huge defections. If these media contracts all expired at the same time, maybe you'd see MSOs take a joint stand - but as long as they are staggered, nobody can afford to go out on a limb to take one for the team. So the expansion will continue unchecked.

Now what clouds the issue is the largest cable companies and D* are more vested in networks thanks to their parent companies. That makes their view of a la carte skewed because they are speaking as network owners - not strictly as cablecos. If there's any doubt, look at who supports a la carte - E*, Cablevision, Verizon, AT&T and the vast majority of smaller cable companies. Obviously, the common thread is the fact that the larger MSOs are owned by media companies - not that every other company is ignorant for pushing an a la carte system that will destroy their profit margins.

Most people don't seem to understand that when TWC or D* says they are against a la carte, they aren't saying that as a provider of television service to the consumer, they are saying that as the owners of networks. D*'s 18 million customers aren't the issue - it's the 72 million households that their "competitors" serve that Newscorp is concerned with - because a la carte will devastate those sales.
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post #9072 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Critic’s Notes
Fox marks the return of “Family Guy”
(and, next week, of “American Dad”)
By Jon Caramanica Special to the Los Angeles Times September 23, 2007

When "Family Guy" was delivered from extinction two years ago by zealous fans and ambitious executives at Fox, it went largely unquestioned why the show had failed at all on a network that had successfully nurtured "The Simpsons." Even at its best, though, "Family Guy" wasn't much more than a slapstick version of "The Simpsons," with a nasty-talking baby, Stewie, replacing a silent one, Maggie. The rest of the Griffin family felt familiar -- Peter, the bumbling dad; Lois, the well-meaning but frazzled mom; Meg, the too-smart daughter (though not as smart as Lisa Simpson); and Chris, the delinquent son (though not as much so as Bart). The show quickly ossified, though, thanks to its particular brand of hyperlink humor, relying heavily on quick cuts to tangential jokes steeped in pop ephemera. The sharp clips almost overshadowed the rest of the show's writing.

Tonight's sixth-season premiere is one of the better recent episodes, largely because it's almost entirely an aside. Show creator Seth MacFarlane has been known to drop "Star Wars" references into his scripts; tonight's episode is completely "Star Wars"-themed (and George Lucas-approved). Though in one sense it's a cop-out -- this episode has to do no work whatsoever toward answering larger questions about the Griffin family -- it also plays to the show's strengths.

"Star Wars" nitpickers will appreciate the handful of punch lines that explicitly address odd moments in the original film. (If you've ever wondered why elevated platforms inside the Death Star have no railings, this is the satire for you.) Even the asides-within-an-aside -- bits about Grey Poupon, dot-matrix printers and "Deal or No Deal" -- are funny and efficient.

And what's more, it seems that "Family Guy" is beginning to peer at itself in the mirror. After the "Star Wars" storytelling arc is completed tonight, the Griffins can't get past Chris' main concern: "Didn't 'Robot Chicken' already do this three months ago?" A note of self-doubt, maybe, masking as self-awareness.

In 2005, MacFarlane used his "Family Guy" capital to launch a second show, "American Dad!," an extended riff on the bizarrely drawn household. Stan Smith, the patriarch, is a wide-jawed CIA employee with one great burden -- his family. His wife, Francine, is needy; his son, Steve, a wimp; and his daughter, Hayley -- gasp -- a liberal. A talking fish, Klaus, and a domesticated alien, Roger, round out the household.

On the third-season's premiere, which airs a week from tonight, the Smiths learn that every family vacation they've taken has actually been a computer-program experience, "Matrix"-like, while they've been suspended in CIA-issued goo by Stan.

"That time in Mexico when you and I went hang gliding and you told me you loved me?" Steve asks.

"Neither of those things ever happened," Stan replies.

As a G-man, Stan is predictably blustering. He's loyal to his country and its Republican leaders -- a stand-in for blind jingoism, an easy punch line for audiences on their fourth consecutive half-hour helping of left-minded sketch yuks. ("Family Guy" and "American Dad!" are beginning to echo their lead-ins, "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill": the former rote in its cuteness, and the latter growing increasingly subversive over time. In the case of each pair, the cult may have formed around the wrong show.)

Early on, political friction between Stan and his daughter were key to the show's comedic dynamic. But his parenting foibles have proven far more durable. As a father, he's preposterous and engaging. He's a brute, utterly unable to see his family for the complex individuals that they are. And as this is a cartoon, he never has to grow up, meaning there's hope for many more misunderstandings to come.

http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-ca...?coll=cl-tvent
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post #9073 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Critic’s Notes
"The Farnsworth Invention":
Coming soon
By Cynthia Littleton Variety in her “On The Air” blog

I'm curious to finally see how Aaron Sorkin will handle the Birth of a Television saga on stage in his play "The Farnsworth Invention," which is set to begin its previews at Broadway's Music Box Theater on Oct. 15.

I think the historical story of how vacuum tubes, radio waves, ionoscopes and various transmitters, circuits and receivers were mashed together to create radio with pictures is a fascinating techno-thriller that should be more widely appreciated. It's got all the dramatic elements -- heroes and villains, endearing underdogs and larger-than-life overlords, examples of pure ingenuity, gumption and genius and ultra-high stakes for profit and glory among the (mostly) men who raced to stake their claim to having "invented" television.

Philo T. Farnsworth is a Steinbeck-ian character, the Utah farm boy who had an epiphany of how radio waves could be channeled to make pictures fly through the air as a teenager working in the field and studying rows of corn (I think it was corn). There's no question he got hosed in the credit department by the institutional machine of RCA, its mega-titan David Sarnoff and Sarnoff's genius-inventor-in-chief, Vladimir Zworykin.

But from the books I've read on the subject (one of the best is Michael Ritchie's "Please Stand By”), it's a little too simplistic to paint the story as RCA stealing it all from the struggling little-guy Farnsworth. So I'm anxious to see how Sorkin handles it. Play directed by Des McAnuff stars Jimmi Simpson as Farnsworth and Hank Azaria as Sarnoff. I'm guessing there's a role for Philo's beloved wife, Pem, who was at his side in the lab and stuck with him through his unhappy end in 1971, and then worked hard to make sure the industry didn't completely forget about her husband's accomplishment.

Variety looked in on "Farnsworth" when it was workshopped at the La Jolla Playhouse in February and March (click here for the story: http://www.variety.com/article/VR111...orth+Invention).

And if you're interested in diving deep into TV geek-dom, there's all kinds of websites out there stocked with info about Farnsworth, Zworykin, John Logie Baird (a nutty British guy who also has TV pioneer cred), and their ilk. (Click here for a good one about Farnsworth: http://www.farnovision.com/.)

The enduring image I have of rail-thin Philo T. is from an appearance he did on "I've Got a Secret" in 1957. (He got a couple hundred bucks cash and a carton of Winstons for stumping the panel.) I caught a rerun on Game Show Network some years back, and lo and behold I found the clip on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKM4M...5Fthe%5Fair%2F

http://weblogs.variety.com/on_the_air/
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post #9074 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 10:34 AM
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I can't wait for tonight's episode(s) of Family Guy. It should be a great hour of television.
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post #9075 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 10:46 AM
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TV Notes
Smaller cablers flip for scripts
Unlikely nets seek to make brand stand
By John Dempsey Variety

The evolution of "Burn Notice" is exhibit A in USA's branding strategy of creating action and mystery dramas that don't take themselves too seriously.

"I loved the writing in the original script of 'Burn Notice,' " says Bonnie Hammer, president of USA and Sci Fi Channel, "but the atmosphere was seedy and dark, and set in the world of New Jersey drug dealers. So we moved it to Miami, and filled the screen with babes in bathing suits. And that gave us stories with some heart, and a twinkle in the eye."

Did the president of USA/Sci-Fi Channel, a woman, just referred to women in bikinis on "Burn Notice" as 'babes'? Not that there's anything wrong with that... a woman calling other women 'babes' that is!
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post #9076 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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This Week’s College Football HD Schedule

Thursday, September 27th
Southern Miss (2-1) at Boise State (2-1) 6:30 PM ET ESPN

Friday, September 28th
West Virginia (4-0) at South Florida (3-0) 8 PM ET ESPN2

Saturday, September 29th
Notre Dame (0-4) at Purdue (4-0) 12 noon ET ESPN
LSU (4-0) at Tulane (1-2) 12 noon ET ESPN2
Indiana (3-1) at Iowa (2-2) 12 noon ET Big Ten Net
Michigan (2-2 at Northwestern (2-2) 12 noon ET Big Ten Net
Baylor (2-2 at Texas A&M (2-2) 12 noon ET Versus
Oklahoma (4-0) at Colorado(2-2) 12:30 PM ET FSN
Maryland (2-2) at Rutgers (3-0) 3:30 PM ET ABC
Clemson(4-0) at Georgia Tech (2-2) 3:30 PM ET ABC
Michigan State (4-0) at Wisconsin (4-0) 3:30 PM ET ABC
California (4-0) at Oregon (4-0) 3:30 PM ET ABC
Kansas State (2-1) at Texas (4-0) 3:30 PM ET ABC
UCLA (3-1) at Oregon State (2-2) 6:30 PM ET FSN
Alabama (3-1) vs. Florida State (2-1) 5 PM ET CBS
Auburn (2-2) at Florida (4-0) 8 PM ET ESPN
Ohio State (4-0) at Minnesota (1-3) 8 PM ET ESPN2
USC (3-0) at Washington (2-2) 8 PM ET ABC

This schedule is continually updated at:

https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...07&postcount=7
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post #9077 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Saturday’s fast affiliate over night prime-time ratings – along with Media Week Analyst Marc Berman’s view of what they mean -- have been posted at the top of Ratings News -- the second post in this thread.

https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&#post10367387
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post #9078 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

Fred and I have been hammering that point in every a la carte discussion.

I stand corrected, I haven't been keeping up with the ala carte thread (is that thread still active?) and, for some reason, it seems most folks here are anti-cable.
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So the expansion will continue unchecked.

At least until the government steps in and outlaws them, and hopefully makes current contracts null&void. Is there any doubt this will happen at some point fairly soon?
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If there's any doubt, look at who supports a la carte - E*, Cablevision, Verizon, AT&T and the vast majority of smaller cable companies.

Guess I need to find out where Cox stands. AFAIK, they are not owed by a media company, but they do have a vested interest in some content, like MOJO, Padres 4, etc.

I'm not sure why anyone fights ala carte, the only discussion should be how best to implement it. Surely cableco's/satco's will figure out a way to keep making money and major media companies will figure out how to get more than they get today. The only ones who will be hurt are the niche networks, but I suspect most folks who "really" watch those will be willing to pay more than the $.10 they might get now from everyone.

Then too, there are surely enough analysts in this country and enough databases for them to run the "what if" numbers and figure out how to do this to their advantage. To me, it's just a matter of spreading the money around differently than we do now. It's not unlike paying cash for locals. We still pay, it's just "who gets the money" that is different.

Cheers, Dave
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post #9079 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 11:25 AM
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I stand corrected, I haven't been keeping up with the ala carte thread (is that thread still active?)

"That" thread is off the front page - but there seems to be a new a la carte thread every week or two, so don't fret, there's always an opportunity to jump in the fray.
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post #9080 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 11:28 AM
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Surely cableco's/satco's will figure out a way to keep making money and major media companies will figure out how to get more than they get today.

Sure they will. The more people save on their monthly bill, the more they will be able to spend on other products the cableco will offer (PPV, internet speed upgrades, etc.) where they don't have to send a huge chunk into the media companies.
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post #9081 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 03:41 PM
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Maybe I'll just wait until everyone is streaming everything online and then I won't have to worry about all the cable/satellite/a la carte BS.
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post #9082 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 04:25 PM
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Maybe I'll just wait until everyone is streaming everything online and then I won't have to worry about all the cable/satellite/a la carte BS.

And just how much do you think that is eventually going to cost once they get everyone hooked?

Cheers, Dave
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post #9083 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for catching the errors, rebkell. They have been corrected.

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I think Boston Legal starts at 9:30 pm on Tuesday, and just as a little nitpick, you have Heroes out of order, you listed everything by time, but you kinda stuck Heroes in the middle of the 10:00 pm shows on Monday.

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post #9084 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Reviews
The 'Heroes' effect
New fantasies 'Chuck,' 'Journeyman' and 'Reaper' hope they've got the power
By Melanie McFarland Seattle Post-Intelligencer TV Critic

A year ago, a hospice nurse and an office worker both took leaps of faith -- one jumped off the top of a tall building, the other traveled through time and space from Tokyo to New York.

By May, the adventures of Peter Petrelli, Hiro Nakamura and every other character in NBC's "Heroes" were all some viewers could talk about.

"Heroes," which returns for its second-season premiere 9 p.m. Monday, would go on to be nominated for an Emmy for outstanding drama, and Masi Oka, who plays Hiro, received a nod in the drama actor category.

They were long shots to win, but the nominations speak much more about the way the show connects to viewers than whether it deserves a statue.

Scan the headlines: Our faith in the nation's leadership is low. We're in the midst of an unpopular war, fretting over a sagging economy and a mortgage crisis. For many, the American Dream is as attainable as, well, flight or X-ray vision or super strength.

While we can't be blamed for giving into the malaise, a hard-wired trait of American culture is the perpetual belief in the possibility of rising, of achieving the extraordinary. "Heroes" plays into the undying hope that the individual can triumph over the impossible.

Every white-hat hero is intimately connected to regular people: the beat cop, the protective mother, the artist, the geneticist, the nurse and, yes, the cheerleader. The show's exploration of the resilient good in humanity, combined with its treatment of power fantasy and escapism, make it the TV equivalent of comfort food.

That brings us to two rules of television. One: Where there is success, there will be clones -- and "Heroes" has inspired a lot of them this season. Two: Viewers decide fairly quickly that there ain't nothing like the real thing. Most of those, um, inspirations probably won't last.

But this fall, the zeitgeist could be on the side of "Chuck," "Journeyman" and "Reaper" -- regular guys just getting by when superpowers are thrust upon them. Not only that, two of the main characters are employees at big box stores, those altars to American consumerism that represent the death of the mom-and-pop store. The third is a reporter at a major metropolitan newspaper. Make what you will of that.

As was the case in "Heroes," none appreciates those supernatural bonuses.

Ditto for Jaime Sommers 2.0, whom we'll meet when the "Bionic Woman" premieres Wednesday at 9. One minute she's a surly bartender, then -- pow! -- she can run at breakneck speeds. You'd think that would be great, but actually it kind of sucks. (Unfortunately, I'd say the same about the pilot, but we'll get into that next week.)

'Chuck'

Premiere: Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC

What makes him extraordinary: Although "Heroes" celebrates the power inherent in the unified front of average joes, only one character had a job that regularly forced her to ask, "Would you like fries with that?" She was killed. That means mild-mannered Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) is the remaining champion of the hourly wage drone on NBC.

Back story: Chuck should have been an engineer, but when his more popular college pal stole his girlfriend and got him kicked out of school, he resigned himself to working on the Nerd Herd at a loss-leader electronics store called Buy More. When Chuck opens an e-mail from his old frenemy, countless government secrets absorb into his brain, making him the government's most valuable asset. NSA agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strzechowski) are sent to protect him, but he doesn't know which to trust -- and they sure don't seem to like each other. Of course, Chuck has to keep this secret from his slacker best pal, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) and his sister, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster).

Why it could work: "Heroes" lacked a decent companion last year, and though "Journeyman" was the early bet for the job, "Chuck" has more oomph. Run by producers who know how to have fun with ridiculous circumstances, "Chuck" is the co-creation of Josh Schwartz ("The O.C.") and Chris Fedak, with McG ("Charlie's Angels") on board as another executive producer. Expect a lot of full-throttle action, twists that push the boundaries of plausibility with style, and geek humor worthy of a grin and guffaws. Plus, Morgan, Chuck and the rest of the Buy More crew provide enough comic relief to make up for the story parts that stumble.

The downsides: "Chuck" is, at its best, cute -- and that's not enough to keep up with the big dogs. And it is too similar to "Reaper," which does a far superior job with a similar setup. Keep reading.

'Journeyman'

Premiere: Monday at 10 p.m. on NBC

What makes him extraordinary: Sometimes heeding a supernatural calling can bite the big one, as demonstrated by Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd), a respected San Francisco reporter whose marriage is going through some rough spots. Destiny delivers Dan a swift kick in the package by shifting him to different time periods at inopportune moments. While he's driving a car, for example. During his visits to different timelines, he figures out that it's his job to influence people at pivotal moments in their lives.

Back story: Dan's amorous history is a touch tricky. He was engaged to a woman named Livia (Moon Bloodgood) who dies tragically. He then marries Katie (Gretchen Egolf), who used to be involved with his cop brother, Jack (Reed Diamond). Since that's not enough tension, Dan's trips back through time find him crossing paths with his lost love at their happiest moments.

Why it won't work: We have doubts about this one, even though viewers have taken to time-travel adventures. "Early Edition," "Quantum Leap" or, if you really want to dig in the stacks, "Voyagers!" all had their charms because they made you smile in the midst of their weirdness. That's what is lost in "Journeyman" -- a sense of lightheartedness. This leaves McKidd, who displayed such fire and presence in "Rome," without much to play with. Plus, he and his wife handle what is essentially a terrible situation far too well to be believed. A heroic tale has to have tension; an hour of this show merely depresses, regardless of the outcome. The only thing dull, disappointing "Journeyman" can do is lower our pulse rates to ready us for beddy-bye. Time out!

'Reaper'

Premiere: Tuesday at 9 p.m.

What makes him extraordinary: There have been other shows about bounty hunters for Satan, but none that have had as much highwire fun with it -- or acknowledged the coolness and suckiness of it.

Back story: Not much is worth mentioning about Sam (Brett Harrison), the quintessential slacker who lives at home and has at a dead-end job at Work Bench, a home improvement store -- until he turns 21. A feat of telekinetic heroism forces his parents (Andrew Airlie and Allison Hossack) to confess to him that they sold his soul to the devil (the incomparable Ray Wise) who comes a-calling before he blows out the candles. Sam is reluctant, especially when the devil presents him with his weapon for his first job: a Dirt Devil. But his pals Bert "Sock" Wysocki (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez) revel in the possibility of becoming his sidekicks. Plus, his superpowers give him hope that his great crush, Andi (Missy Peregrym), finally will notice him.

Why it could work: Shows like "Reaper" are the reason we get excited about fall TV. Besides being the funniest pilot, it has the best cast. Labine became a crowd favorite in "Invasion," but he couldn't let loose in that series like he does here. The breakout star here has to be Ray Wise, who captures Satan's appealing, humorous and sinister qualities in his gleaming grin. Add a top-notch crew of executive producers (Tara Butters, Michelle Fazekas, Mark Gordon, Deborah Spera and Tom Spezialy), a pilot directed by Kevin Smith and consistently hilarious banter, and you have to believe that the good guys will win.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/tv/332724_tv22.html
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post #9085 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Reviews
“Chuck”, “Journeyman”
Two are far out; one is fun
By Jonathan Storm Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist

'What if you are the unwitting target of a ninja vendetta, and he returns tonight to strangle you with his numchucks?"

Oh, if only Chuck's life were as simple as the scenario drawn up by his fellow worker in the Nerd Herd down at the big electronics store, Buy More.

Unwittingly, Chuck has memorized all of his country's deepest secrets, and now a lot worse than ninjas will be after him.

Chuck is one of two new fantastical shows premiering Monday on NBC, making a Heroes sandwich. That's fantastical, not fantastic, though Chuck, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), is maybe half-fantastic, one of the season's more entertaining entries. His companion piece of bread, Journeyman, at 10 (ET/PT), is merely mediocre.

Chuck stars Zachary Levi (Less Than Perfect) as a slacker Stanford grad who lives with his sister, and, several years out, still pines for his freshman girlfriend. She was stolen by his roommate, who went on to the CIA, but, for some reason, loses his mind Monday and e-mails scads of secret spy stuff to Chuck.

It hypnotizes our hero and streams into his brain in one long night's download: Abraham Lincoln, an imploding hotel, hummingbirds and a buffalo, ladies in weird hats, a fez, bathing beauties and blueprints, a crazy magician, and pyramids, pie and the pope.

Real nerds the world over will freeze-frame the gibberish to figure it out, but it will make sense occasionally only to Chuck, who, abetted by a hot-stuff CIA agent (Yvonne Strahovski) and a mean NSA man (Adam Baldwin), will foil terrorists and assassins for as long as anybody will watch, if neither of them kills him first.

He's one of a passel of slackers and geeks making the TV rounds. Strangely, all are affable at least (CBS's Big Bang Theory, also premiering Monday) and borderline hilarious at best (CW's Reaper, bowing Tuesday). Chuck, with his cell phone ringtone from Journey (no, it's not "Don't Stop Believing") is in the middle.

Paranoia lurks in all those secrets, leading Chuck to fear, for instance, that the guy at the Large Mart, two aisles over from the Astro Diapers, is Serbian demolitions expert Vuc Andric, instead of just some local dude with a Terminator vibe.

Chuck will learn to live with it, and it's possible lots of us will learn to laugh along and share in the excitement of his new life.

The new life of reporter Dan Vasser, the Journeyman title character, played by Kevin McKidd (Rome), includes continually hurtling into the past, where he meets up with his now-dead girlfriend, much to the consternation of his present-day wife.

He never takes a stock table along, to pick up some killer investments, but he lives in a multimillion-dollar mansion in San Francisco anyway, even though he's only a newspaper reporter, which is consistent with everything else that makes no sense.

The next time McKidd hits the time warp, he should take his producers with him. Maybe they'd bring back a better show.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/colum...ne_is_fun.html
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post #9086 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Review
“Big Bang Theory”…
… and the comedy of contempt
From Maureen Ryan’s Chicago Tribune blog “The Watcher”

I'm not sure what Chuck Lorre has against smart people, but with the foul sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" (8:30 p.m. ET/PT Monday, CBS) he tries to have his revenge against anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

Sitcom veteran Lorre, the executive producer of “Two and a Half Men,” co-created “The Big Bang Theory,” but apparently his sizable sitcom fortune hasn’t blunted his anger at the world in general and intellectuals specifically. “The Big Bang Theory” takes as its premise that people who are super-smart will never have sex, and what’s more, those geeks who attempt to emerge from their socially awkward shells should be viciously attacked. In a funny way, ha-ha-ha.

With much of its fall fare, CBS is openly aspiring to make itself cooler and to hang with the hipsters, so to speak. What the network fails to realize is that, these days, the nerds are the hip people. Many far superior fall shows and a host of successful recent movies take as their premise that geeks are gently mockable but also kind of cool and attractive.

Never mind all that. In the eyes of Lorre and his co-creator, Bill Prady, every nerd deserves to be given a wedgie and shoved in a locker.

The unfortunate stars of this show are Johnny Galecki (“Roseanne”), who plays Leonard, and Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon. They are undone when a shapely blond neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), moves in down the hall. She is a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory, so, according to the logic of the show, she must be stupid.

Yet Leonard still wants to chat with her.

“But we don’t chat, at least not offline,” Sheldon hyperventilates.

If you have trouble telling Sheldon and Leonard apart, by the way, the former has plaid pants and the latter has thick, black glasses (because apparently geek fashion hasn’t changed a whit since “Revenge of the Nerds,” which came out in 1984).

“Big Bang” is the kind of comedy that is so proud of a non-funny joke that it trots it out twice (sorry, but the idea of Klingon Boggle is not exactly gut-bustingly hilarious the first time around).

And it crams as many geek stereotypes into the pilot as it possibly can: There are references to Stephen Hawking, all manner of mathematics and Darth Vader shampoo. And of course the closest anyone gets to an actual request for a date is when one of the nerd duo’s friends asks Penny if her avatar can hang out with him in an online game.

The one ethnic character, a nerd of apparently Indian descent, is so flummoxed by Penny that he can’t even speak to her. Raise your hand if you find that even remotely amusing.

Even if the jokes on this show weren’t tired and mean-spirited, it would be hard to care about any comedy that hates its own lead characters so much. I’m unfamiliar with the rest of the cast, but Galecki is a talented comic actor. With any luck, “Big Bang” will implode quickly and free him to do something more worthy of his skills.

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post #9087 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 06:30 PM
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Just as a counterpoint to this Maureen Ryan, who has a personal problem with Chuck Lorre (she hates Two and Half Men, too) here are two good reviews for The Big Bang Theory from the respected Hollywood Reporter and Variety :

The Big Bang Theory
Bottom Line: A comedy about a girl and two geeks? Smart. Very smart.
By Barry Garron
Sep 21, 2007


Kaley Cuoco's geek radar hones in on Jim Parsons, center, and Johnny Galecki.

8:30-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24
CBS

Maybe the upside to the dearth of half-hour sitcoms is that, for at least several networks, the one that survives and makes it to the schedule is better than most of the ones that used to get on the air. That's certainly the case with "The Big Bang Theory," a nice combination of brains and belly laughs and a solid addition to the CBS comedy block on Monday nights.

The series could have been inspired by CW's "Beauty and the Geek." Although one is a reality show and the other a sitcom, both find endless humor in the social deficiencies of boy geniuses, albeit in a nice way. Be kind to geeks, they say, because they are nice people, just socially retarded. What's more, both shows demonstrate that all geeks are not alike, that there are varying degrees of geekiness.

In "Big Bang," Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) share an apartment that screams "geek," right down to the shower curtain emblazoned with the periodic table of the elements. (And, yes, their names are an homage to the legendary TV producer and tough guy character actor.) They haven't soured on the opposite sex but, rather, have come to the conclusion that no woman in possession of all her senses would find them attractive.

Then they get a new neighbor, sweet and gorgeous Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who revives their interest in women, particularly Leonard's. Penny, a waitress, has just come off a four-year relationship that did not end well. She is of average intellect, at best, but practically has a doctorate in sizing up her new neighbors. She quickly grasps that underneath the MENSA minds, Leonard and Sheldon are good souls, just timid and inexperienced.


Leonard, who once dated a girl, isn't as awkward as Sheldon or their two good geeky friends, Howard (Simon Helberg), who fancies himself a ladies' man, and Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar), who is so afraid of women that he can't even speak around them.

In the premise pilot, Leonard and Sheldon, as a favor, attempt to retrieve Penny's TV set from her muscle-bound former boyfriend. It doesn't go well, but Penny appreciates the effort.

"Big Bang" is the work of Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre, the latter being the creator of "Two and a Half Men" and, earlier, "Dharma & Greg." When Lorre, in particular, gets through punching up a script, the next laugh is never more than a few seconds away. "Big Bang" is loaded with great lines and humor that is nearly as smart as the characters. Getting stellar sitcom director James Burrows to helm the pilot didn't hurt, either.

The four geeks are played with pride and a touch of vulnerability, which adds heart to the humor. Cuoco's Penny is faintly aware of the impact she has on these geeks, but she doesn't flaunt it. That combination of empathy and restraint makes Penny hard to resist. Same with the show, for that matter.

THE BIG BANG THEORY
CBS
Warner Bros. Television
Credits:
Executive producers/creators/teleplay: Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady
Producer: Michael Collier
Co-producers: Joe Bella, Mary T. Quigley
Director: James Burrows
Director of photography: Steven Silver
Production designer: John Shaffner
Editor: Peter Chakos
Set designer: Ann Shea
Casting: Nikki Valco, Ken Miller
Cast:
Leonard: Johnny Galecki
Sheldon: Jim Parsons
Penny: Kaley Cuoco
Howard Wolowitz: Simon Helberg
Rajesh Koothrappali: Kunal Nayyar
Althea: Vernee Watson
Kurt: Brian Patrick Wade

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/....jsp?&rid=9879


The Big Bang Theory

(Series -- CBS, Mon. Sept. 24, 8:30 p.m.) Taped in Los Angeles by Chuck Lorre Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady; producer, Michael Collier; director, James Burrows; writers, Lorre, Prady.

Leonard - Johnny Galecki
Sheldon - Jim Parsons
Penny - Kaley Cuoco
Howard Wolowitz - Simon Helberg
Rajesh Koothrappali - Kunal Nayyar


By BRIAN LOWRY
Variety

"The Big Bang Theory" doesn't conjure up many big laughs, but its colliding elements do generate enough little ones to become another promising addition to CBS' Monday sitcom lineup. Less "Revenge of the Nerds" than a grown-up "Malcolm in the Middle," the series boasts appealing leads in Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons and actually builds jokes around the notion of being smart, albeit socially backward. Although CBS hasn't set the world ablaze ratings-wise Mondays beyond "Two and a Half Men," this "Two Men and a Hottie" should fit right in with the more middling successes in that four-stack.
As with "Men," which also comes from producer Chuck Lorre, the premise here is hardly bone-rattling: Two big-brained science types share an apartment, only to have their pristine little world of chalkboards and quantum particles thrown into a tizzy when an attractive blond waitress named Penny ("8 Simple Rules'" Kaley Cuoco) moves in across the hall.

It's hard not to root for a sitcom that employs a "science consultant" and whose heroes are named Sheldon (Parsons) and Leonard (Galecki), who watch the "Battlestar Galactica" DVD commentary, play "Klingon Boggle" and talk bluntly about "masturbating for money," having just visited a sperm bank for high-IQ donors.

For newly single Penny, it's like taking up residence next to "those 'Beautiful Mind' genius guys." Leonard is instantly smitten, whereas Sheldon -- a glass-half-empty type if there ever was one -- can't see a potential relationship ending any way but badly, were one to happen at all.

As directed by James Burrows, there's a sweetness to Sheldon and Leonard's awkwardness, and given a sampling of their friends, they might be the cool ones in the group.

That said, there are some qualms surrounding how long the producers can mine the Leonard-Penny aspect of the show, a shallow vein if there ever was one. More promising is the interaction among the key duo and their Mensa-worthy friends.

Fortunately, Lorre has exhibited an ability to keep unearthing funny bits on "Men" with little more than his cast and a couch-- a welcome reminder that even in the troubled world of TV comedy, good writing and well-defined characters don't require gimmicks or "very special episodes."

As with "How I Met Your Mother," "Big Bang" consciously populates its cast with younger characters, presumably the better to hit the lower half of the 18-49 demo, as CBS gradually tries to "youthify" its profile.

That sounds logical in theory (especially since "Dancing With the Stars" has tango-ed off with part of the older audience), but TV development traditionally adheres to a simpler equation -- the one that states while elaborate formulas look good on paper, sitcom survival generally boils down to the basics of execution.

Camera, Steven Silver; editor, Peter Chakos; theme song, Barenaked Ladies; production designer, John Shaffner; casting, Nikki Valco, Ken Miller. Running time: 30 MIN.

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117...goryid=32&cs=1
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post #9088 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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The 2007-2008 Season
All dork and no play?
It all depends on which channel you hop to this fall
By Doug Elfman Chicago Sun-Times Television Critic September 23, 2007

Can a dork score a girl? This depends on which new TV show you watch during the fall season of dorks, geeks and nerds.

If you turn on NBCs "Chuck," you'll see a tall, strapping young man who becomes not only an accidental spy/brainiac, but also the dorky object of beautiful female affections.

But if you watch CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," you'll see socially awkward science geeks who play "Klingon Boggle" and fail to effectively chat up a naked blonde in their own apartment.

What's going on here?

"Dork is the new cool," says Zachary Levi, who plays Chuck.

And Hollywood wants to capitalize using different tacks.

NBC follows the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" approach with "Chuck" (as does the CW's "Reaper") by making characters sexually robust and embraceable by dorky viewers who will immediately understand certain jokes, such as: "I'm working on a five-year plan, I just need to choose a font."

And there's no studio audience to pass judgment on "Chuck."

By contrast, "Big Bang Theory" goes the "Frasier" route and portrays geeks as wimpy smartypants who make others bristle at their intellectual flatness.

One "Big Banger" brags: "I have 212 friends on MySpace." Another responds in this obvious, already old joke: "Yes, and you've never met one of them."

"Bang" characters explain their geeky jokes aloud, so a studio audience and non-dork viewers at home can laugh at them, not with them.

In other words, everything about "Chuck" is new and warm. Everything about "Big Bang Theory" is traditional and cold.

They're both well-crafted comedies for what they are. But if you enjoy one and not the other, this might say something about who you are and the current state of your relationship with dorkiness.

As for me, I'm a "Chuck" man. For the most part, the premiere episode is entertaining in big chunks, and merely stupidly absurd in a few dumb scenes. The writing is crisp, the direction is nimble, and all the actors inhabit their roles perfectly.

"Chuck" is a computer tech in a Best Buy-like store called Buy More. One day, he watches hours of visuals sent to him by e-mail, and this turns his brain into a vat of national secrets.

Soon enough, the CIA and NSA will turn him into an accidental spy who knows too much.

Chuck is a charming guy, due to a humble but confident performance by Zachary Levi, the center of the action comedy featuring a certain amount of "Alias"-like sleekness.

Chuck is fairly representative of America's "quarter-life crisis," in which some "kids that are 24, 25 years old" are working in "big box" stores, producer McG says.

And "Chuck" may serve as wish fulfillment for video gamers, as Levi said during show promotions:

"We play these video games so that we can go on these missions in our head," he said. "Now, we get like, 'Oh, please let me shoot a gun. Please let me be in a car accident. I want to do it. Throw me out of the helicopter, please.' "

The female co-lead is a Third Wave Feminist, as McG identifies her. Sarah (Yvonne Strzechowski) not only looks fit in boy shorts and a bra, she's a whipsmart CIA agent who can dance suggestively at a club while simultaneously throwing knives accurately at men swarming toward her.

Now, compare all that to "Big Bang Theory," in which the writing is quick, the direction is adroit and the actors find their voices quickly -- but there's nothing much fresh in the setup.

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki from "Roseanne") are physicists who meet a dumb blonde neighbor they desire named Penny (Kaley Cuoco, "Eight Simple Rules"). They stumble over their words. She smiles at them pitifully.

The tone is theatrical American farce; Parsons most resembles Niles from "Frasier." Galecki gives Leonard a bit more social grace. But neither knows how to flirt with Penny, except to entice her to dinner with science riddles and an offer of a "clean colon."

It's interesting to note that co-creator Bill Prady is a brainiac who, while promoting the show, said he never had the girl problems his characters have.

"I'm a married man, and I've been very successful with women, and I don't need to have my wishes fulfilled on television," he said.

But if people like Prady and my dad [a physicist] and many other dorks have been able to get girls, why do these "Big Bang" geeks have to be social losers in a traditional sitcom way?

One answer may be that "Big Bang Theory's" network, CBS, has an older audience. Older viewers, a presumption goes, are drawn to older TV formulas like dumb blondes and nutty professors.

ABC and NBC, on the other hand, attract younger viewers and have moved away from studio audiences and the notion that intellectuals, dorks and blondes are primarily to be made fun of.

So maybe Prady was a dork, but so was McG, who is a little more giving with his characters:

"That's my inner nerd as a guy who went to high school; I graduated 5-foot-2, orange Afro, braces -- and shoe skates. I never had one date, and you'd always dream about empowered women sort of giving you the time of day."

McG, you know, directed "Charlie's Angels." This wasn't revenge of a nerd. It was a sign of the times: Dorks have style and they get girls, so let's get on with it, shall we?

http://www.suntimes.com/entertainmen...elf23.article#
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post #9089 of 100746 Old 09-23-2007, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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The 2007-2008 Season
The new season
Previewing the new shows
By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette TV Editor Sunday, September 23, 2007

Is it a better or worse fall TV season than in recent years?

That's the question I inevitably hear around this time of year and it's always a difficult one to answer. Great pilots can devolve into mediocre shows ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"). Thin premises can blossom into terrific series ("Ugly Betty").

This fall will probably be a lot like fall 2006 and fall 2004, years in which just a couple of shows broke out from the pack ("Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" in '04; "Heroes" and "Ugly Betty" in '06), and the rest of the new shows either failed or muddled through.

Geeks, wealth that corrupts and shows with supernatural/fantasy themes are hot in the 2007-08 TV season that begins in earnest this week. Why? Because they've worked before.

Nerds and superheroes rule at the box office ("Superbad," "Knocked Up," "Spider-Man") and on TV (see: last year's breakout hits), so viewers can expect to see more of both this fall. Some of the fantasy shows are more grounded ("Journeyman"), others are outrageous and funny ("Reaper").

As for the shows about wealthy families ("Cane," "Dirty Sexy Money," "Big Shots"), that subject has been a TV staple going back to "The Beverly Hillbillies" and in the 1980s with "Dallas" and "Dynasty."

A couple of housekeeping notes: No new series premiere on Saturday, a graveyard night not worthy of programming as far as broadcast network executives are concerned. We previewed My Network TV shows in the Aug. 31 Tuned In column, available online at post-gazette.com/tv. Premiere dates follow each capsule review in parentheses.

SUNDAY

"CW Now" (7 p.m., The CW): A weekly newsmagazine that tracks the latest fashions, music, movies and gadgets of interest to teens and twentysomethings. (Today)

"Online Nation" (7:30 p.m., The CW): User-generated content from the Internet (think: YouTube videos) gets a broadcast outlet. Not available for review. (Today)

"Life Is Wild" (8 p.m., The CW): Aiming to be "7th Heaven" of the Sahara, this genial family drama is a remake of a British show, "Wild at Heart," which airs in the United States on BBC America. The CW's American version has more kids and is told from the teenage daughter's point of view with occasional narration. A New York blended family moves to South Africa to live in a game reserve, marvel at the animals and date the locals. D.W. Moffat ("Hidden Palms") and Stephanie Niznik ("Everwood"), playing the parents, are the only actors you're likely to recognize in this fine but unremarkable show. (Oct. 7)

"Viva Laughlin" (8 p.m., CBS): Based on the BBC America miniseries "Viva Blackpool," this drama also features characters who break into song but, unlike on "Cop Rock," which featured original compositions, the characters here just sing along with popular tunes such as "Viva Las Vegas" and "One Way or Another." Ripley Holden (Lloyd Owen) wants to open a casino, but when his top backer backs out and then turns up dead in the unopened casino, complications ensue. This American version -- sappier and with a defanged lead -- lacks the verve of the British original, especially during the music numbers, which are too brief and feature too simplistic choreography to make much of an impact. If you're going to do that little with the musical numbers, why even bother? (Previews 10 p.m. Oct. 18, premieres Oct. 21)

MONDAY

"Chuck" (8 p.m., NBC): Chuck (Zachary Levi), a computer geek for a big box store -- the sign says Buy More, but think Best Buy -- gets the nation's top secrets downloaded into his brain in this comedic thriller that gives Chuck a hot CIA agent partner (Yvonne Strahovski) and a menacing NSA agent boss (Adam Baldwin). Light, action-packed and fun, "Chuck" was executive-produced by "O.C." wunderkind Josh Schwartz. (Monday)

"Aliens in America" (8:30 p.m., The CW): Justin (Dan Byrd), a sensitive, nerdy teen, finds a kindred spirit in a Pakistani Muslim foreign exchange student, Raja (Adhir Kalyan), who comes to live with his family despite the misgivings of his over protective mother (Amy Pietz, "Caroline in the City"). "Aliens" offers funny social commentary that makes the show a good companion, tonally, with The CW's "Everybody Hates Chris." (Oct. 1)

"The Big Bang Theory" (8:30 p.m., CBS): The smart-but-socially-awkward-nerd-meets-hot-but-vapid-girl jokes may wear thin quickly, but it definitely generates laughs in this pilot. Johnny Galecki of "Roseanne" plays one of the geeks who likes to play Klingon Boggle with his geeky friends, including roommate Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Meanwhile, new blond neighbor (Kaley Cuoco) is a vegetarian "except for the occasional steak." (Monday)

"K-Ville" (9 p.m., Fox): Anthony Anderson stars as a New Orleans cops in post-Katrina New Orleans (hence "K-Ville"). It's a premise rife with possibilities that are immediately squandered on typical cop show plots. (Already premiered)

"Samantha Who?" (9:30 p.m., ABC): Samantha Newly (Christina Applegate) wakes from a coma, but she remembers nothing about her old life. Her nasty personality is also gone, but the new, nicer Sam soon discovers, with the help of family and friends, who she really was. Applegate's winning performance helps the show rise above ABC's comedy malaise. (Oct. 15)

"Journeyman" (10 p.m., NBC): Kevin McKidd ("Rome") plays a San Francisco newspaper reporter who inexplicably begins to travel back and forth through time, changing people's lives, possibly including his own when he meets up with his first love (Moon Bloodgood). That complicates matters because in the present, he's married and has a kid. McKidd is an actor of great emotional depth who makes you feel for his character's situation despite the show's frustratingly opaque premise. (Monday)

TUESDAY

"Cavemen" (8 p.m., ABC): Based on the Geico commercials, the cavemen get their own TV show in this comedy that positions them as a minority group that faces frequent discrimination in modern society. The original pilot will not air as the first episode, which wasn't available for review. (Oct. 2)

"Carpoolers" (8:30 p.m., ABC): Four guys carpool to work together every day, sharing in each other's successes and failures. This is another one of those ABC, single-camera comedies that's just not funny. Carpool members include the family man (Fred Goss, "Sons & Daughters"), the playboy who's getting a divorce (Jerry O'Connell, "Crossing Jordan"), the pushover nice guy (Jerry Minor) and the newbie (Tim Peper, "Guiding Light"). (Oct. 2)

"Reaper" (9 p.m., The CW): Sam (Bret Harrison, "The Loop") wakes on his 21st birthday to discover his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born and now it's time to pay the satanic piper. Ray Wise ("Twin Peaks") is perfectly cast as Beelzebub, who insists that Sam act as his bounty hunter on earth, returning hell's escapees. Harrison has mastered the deer-in-the-headlights look that aids in ratcheting up the show's comedy quotient. (Tuesday)

"Cane" (10 p.m., CBS): A Latino "Dallas" that substitutes sugar for oil, this family soap stars Jimmy Smits as an adopted son who is given control of a family rum and sugar business, much to the chagrin of oldest son Frank (Nestor Carbonell). In a bit of ewww storytelling, Smits' Alex is married to a woman he grew up with as his sister. The show sort of glosses over this unfortunate factoid. There's a rival family, of course, secrets and a twist that makes Alex a less sympathetic character than he should be. "Cane" has a decent premise, but character introductions in the pilot are handled in a confusing, haphazard manner that may keep viewers from sticking with this one. (Tuesday)

WEDNESDAY

"Back to You" (8 p.m., Fox): Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") and Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") star as a reunited Pittsburgh news anchor team in this traditional sitcom that begins with a strong premise but founders a bit on sex-obsessed writing. Grammer and Heaton make the show worth watching and "Back to You" also takes welcome shots at local news conventions. (Already premiered)

"Kid Nation" (8 p.m., CBS): Forty kids spend 40 days in a ghost town without adult supervision. They attempt to build a society for your viewing enjoyment while CBS lawyers stand by waiting for the first lawsuit to be filed. Full pilot not available for review. (Already premiered)

"Kitchen Nightmares" (9 p.m., Fox): In this "Extreme Makeover: Restaurant Edition," chef Gordon Ramsay ("Hell's Kitchen") tries to help restaurant owners fix their foundering restaurants. (Already premiered)

"Pushing Daisies" (9 p.m., ABC): Reminiscent of Tim Burton's "Big Fish" or "Edward Scissorhands," this pilot directed by Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black") and written by Bryan Fuller ("Dead Like Me," "Wonderfalls") has some flourishes that bring to mind Sonnenfeld's 1998 ABC series "Maximum Bob" (think: mermaids). It's a visually distinctive pilot, but one that made me wonder, how will they keep this up on a weekly basis? Lee Pace stars as Ned, a guy who can bring the dead back to life with a touch. The only rule: If he touches them again within a minute, they're dead for good. If they live beyond a minute, he can't touch them again or they die forever. This becomes problematic when he revives his childhood sweetheart (Anna Friel) but can't even hug her. Weird but wonderful, "Pushing Daisies" is like a cracked fairy tale. (Oct. 3)

"Bionic Woman" (9 p.m., NBC): Dark, broody and completely missing the occasional joy of the 1970s original, this re-imagining comes from David Eick, an executive producer on "Battlestar Galactica." "Bionic Woman" is just as bleak. Several "Galactica" cast members have guest spots in the pilot, which stars British newcomer Michelle Ryan as the title character, who's given new life by her professor/surgeon boyfriend after the pair are in a car crash perpetrated by the first, evil (and more interesting) bionic woman (Katee Sackhoff). (Wednesday)

"Gossip Girl" (9 p.m., The CW): A well-made teen soap that brings to mind the setting of "Manchester Prep," Fox's aborted TV version of the movie "Cruel Intentions," "Gossip Girl" follows the haves, the have-nots and a have-girl caught in between. Serena (Blake Lively) returns from a year at boarding school to be rejected by her best friend, Blair (Leighton Meester), who's paranoid (for good reason, it turns out) that Serena will steal her boyfriend, Nate (Chace Crawford). Meanwhile, Dan (Penn Badgley) and Jenny (Taylor Momsen), less-privileged children of a rock star-turned-artist (Matthew Settle), are finally being recognized by members of the in-crowd, and it turns out their father and Serena's mom (Kelly Rutherford) have a past. If it sounds like an Upper East Side rendition of "The O.C.," well, that's because it is. (Already premiered)

"Private Practice" (9 p.m., ABC): Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh) leaves Seattle Grace and "Grey's Anatomy" for the sunnier climes of Santa Monica, Calif. The back-door pilot that aired as a "Grey's" episode in May -- featuring co-stars Tim Daly, Paul Adelstein, Chris Lowell, Taye Diggs and Amy Brenneman -- received a mixed-to-negative response from critics and fans. The premiere episode isn't much better. (Wednesday)

"Dirty Sexy Money" (10 p.m., ABC): Lawyer Nick George (Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under") follows in his father's footsteps and makes a deal with the devil -- in the form of patriarch Tripp Darling (Donald Sutherland) -- to work for the wealthy, spoiled Darling family (think: The Kennedys), whose closets are full of skeletons. It's one of those maddening series where, if the protagonist simply made the logical decision not to work for the Darlings, there would be no show, which makes it difficult to cheer for dumb-dumb Nick. (Wednesday)

"Life" (10 p.m., NBC): British actor Damian Lewis is a fantastic actor as evidenced by his roles in "Band of Brothers" and "The Forsyte Saga," but in "Life" he's saddled with an oddball character so socially awkward that he's uncomfortable to watch. It's obvious producers were going for a "House"-like vibe, but instead this story of a cop who was wrongly imprisoned for a decade before being cleared and returning to work is just strange. When Lewis' Detective Charlie Crews says, "It's the universe that makes fun of us all," viewers may make fun of this series and its frequent bouts of new-age mumbo-jumbo. (Wednesday)

THURSDAY

"Big Shots" (10 p.m., ABC): Some critics call this show misogynistic, but I simply found it to be a male "Desperate Housewives" about high-power business executives who behave badly and pay a price for it. Michael Vartan ("Alias"), Christopher Titus ("Titus"), Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") and Joshua Malina ("The West Wing") play the title characters who more often fail in humorous ways than succeed in this portrait of modern masculinity. (Thursday)

FRIDAY

"The Next Great American Band" (9 p.m., Fox): An "American Idol" clone that seeks to crown an entire band and not just a singer as victor. (Already premiered)

"Midnight" (9 p.m., CBS): Los Angeles private investigator Mick St. John (Alex O'Loughlin) also happens to be a vampire, but he doesn't dine on humans and instead tries to aid the living. Full pilot not available for review. (Friday)

"Nashville" (9 p.m., Fox): Imagine the faux reality of "Laguna Beach" with a bunch of wannabe country music stars. That's this show. (Already premiered)

"Women's Murder Club" (9 p.m., ABC): A group of San Francisco women -- a detective, district attorney, medical examiner and reporter -- secretly work together to solve crimes in this likable character-driven procedural drama. Angie Harmon stars as a recently-divorced cop in this series that's based on the James Patterson book series. Part-procedural, part-character driven drama, "Women's Murder Club" is one of the better pilots of the fall season. (Oct. 12)

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The 2007-2008 Season
11 new series this week:
"Chuck," "Reaper" are standouts
By Hal Boedeker Orlando Sentinel Television Critic

The fall TV season officially starts Monday. And the best new series is ...

PBS' "The War," a tremendous achievement that, I predict, will be the high point of the television year. The 15-hour documentary started at 8 p.m. Sunday on PBS.

OK, OK, "The War" is a special and not a series. For your planning purposes, I'll list the 11 scripted series premiering this week. (And remember: TV criticism is like reviewing a book's first chapter. After a great start, a lot of series break your heart.)

Another warning: I think the broadcast networks came up with the weakest field of newcomers in memory.

Here's the list of new series, in order of preference:

1. NBC's "Chuck," at 8 p.m. Monday: Computer geek Chuck becomes a secret agent after government secrets are downlowded into his brain. "Chuck" is a flashy, frantic, funny adventure. You want first-rate car chases? "Chuck" is for you. The main reason to watch is Zachary Levi -- remember him from "Less Than Perfect"? -- as Chuck. He's a gifted comic actor. He also turns on the sexual chemistry with mysterious Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strzechowski).

2. The CW's "Reaper" at 9 p.m. Tuesday: Slacker Sam (Bret Harrison) turns 21 and learns horrifying news. He must work as a bounty hunter for Satan (Ray Wise) and recapture wicked souls. (If that premise chills you, remember that Sam is catching WICKED souls.) This aventure is powered by sharp special effects, witty dialogue and persuasive acting. Harrison is pleasing as the befuddled hero, and Tyler Labine is hilarious as his pal Bert. Best performance in a new series this fall? Wise wins my vote. He is astonishing.

3. NBC's "Life" at 10 p.m. Wednesday. Detective Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) spent 12 years in prison for crimes he didn't commit. After he is cleared, he returns to the police force. He investigates cases as he looks into his own: Who framed him? Sarah Shahi is appealing as Crews' exasperated partner. But this is a gimmicky, maddening show. You appreciation for "Life" will depend on your reaction to Lewis' bravura performance: Is he too quirky? Or is he fascinating? I vote for the latter. You will remember Lewis from "Band of Brothers" and "The Forsyte Saga."

4. NBC's "Journeyman" at 10 p.m. Monday. A newspaper reporter (Kevin McKidd) travels through time, doing good deeds and changing lives. (A little too "Touched by an Angel" for you? You have been warned.) This show is more complicated than it should be. And it's rather creepy that the reporter can look back at his own life and loves. I think the show hurts itself by weighing down the hero with domestic crises. Still, I want to see more episodes (which is more than I can say for most series on this list). You'll remember McKidd from "Rome." Reed Diamond of "Homicide: Life on the Street" plays his brother. And I wonder if this reporter hero could solve declining newspaper circulation.

5. ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" at 10 p.m. Wednesday. An attorney (Peter Krause) takes on baby-sitting the rich family that his late father used to serve. This show entails watching a lot of rich people misbehave. The family's last name is Darling, and they are anything but. The adult children haven't grown up. The patriarch (Donald Sutherland) has a shady side. And so does the matriarch (Jill Clayburgh). If you loved "Dynasty," you might want to try this glossy soap. And if you want to flee, I understand. In the large cast, only Clayburgh and Sutherland register in a compelling way.

6. CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" at 8:30 p.m. Monday. A sitcom about two brilliant nerds and their beautiful neighbor. Can she teach them about life? Jim Parsons gives an outstanding performance as one of the lead nerds. Kaley Cuoco (of "8 Simple Rules") is charming as the not-so-bright neighbor. Does this show really have a long run in it? Well, Chuck Lorre is behind it, and he produces "Two and a Half Men." Maybe he has a brilliant formula to extend the show. I didn't see much evidence of it in the sweet, daffy pilot.

7. CBS' "Cane" at 10 p.m. Tuesday. A Cuban-American family weathers personal crises in South Florida. Leading the cast are Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo and Rita Moreno. Only Smits breaks out -- he is superb. But a soap opera can't be a one-man show. Beware the bitter aftertaste. "Cane" you turn you off quickly.

8. ABC's "Private Practice" at 9 p.m. Wednesday. The "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff that sends Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) to work in a Los Angeles clinic. Remember the "Grey's" episode that established this series last spring. Remember how wobbly it was? Not a lot has improved since then. The cast includes Audra McDonald, Taye Diggs, Tim Daly and Amy Brenneman. And they're all playing characters who need to grow up. I expect this annoying show will earn a big tune-in. Will viewers stick around? I don't think so.

9. CBS' "Moonlight" at 9 p.m. Friday. A vampire (Alex O'Loughlin of "The Shield") works as a Los Angeles private detective. He's going to take a bite of crime. (I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself.) A good leading man is squandered in a trashy show. O'Loughlin and Sophia Myles, as an ethics-bending Internet reporter, have chemistry. They don't have a good script. Just a shame. I think CBS will regret canceling "Close to Home."

10. NBC's "Bionic Woman" at 9 p.m. Wednesday. In this update of the old Lindsay Wagner series, Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) is rebuilt after a terrible car accident. She lives in a bleak, punishing world. Don't go there.

11. ABC's "Big Shots" at 10 p.m. Thursday. Four male executives carry on as if they were desperate housewives. Yes, Dylan McDermott and Michael Vartan are good-looking. Yes, Joshua Malina is a fine actor. And, yes, Christopher Titus is hilarious. And they are trapped in dross. "Big Shots" is a big mess.

And that's the start of the new television season. Happy viewing ...

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