After suffering through a bleak summer with few viable options on television, the TV Gods are smiling upon us once again. That’s right, it’s September, the magical time of year when all of the networks debut their new fall lineups.
Since chances are you haven’t been tracking the new fall lineup with pants-less anticipation like I have, I’m here to preview all of the new shows debuting this month in the second-annual “Boob Tube breakdown.” Like every other fall, some of these shows will be good, some will be bad and quite a few will be canceled.
Let’s take a look at what the networks have to offer:
90210 – CW (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Synopsis: An edgy, contemporary spin-off of the iconic drama Beverly Hills, 90210, the new 90210 looks at life through the eyes of Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and her brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Wire), whose first day at West Beverly Hills High School leaves no doubt they’re not in Kansas anymore.
My Take: An edgy, contemporary take on 90210? Hopefully that means that Tristan Wilds will be channeling The Wire‘s Michael Lee in this show and will begin executing all of the rich Beverly Hills snobs in cold blood. That’s the only way I could ever see myself watching this uninspired remake.
America’s Toughest Jobs – NBC (Fridays at 8 p.m.)
Synopsis: America’s Toughest Jobs is a new extreme competition series that will test 13 men and women who venture out of their safe and comfortable careers and are injected into some of the most challenging, dangerous and demanding jobs on earth.
From logging high in the Oregon forest to oil drilling on the Texas range, and driving icy roads to extreme fishing – each job requires guts and stamina, and the competitors will have to live up to the same standards as the pros. At the end of each episode, their new boss and co-workers will determine success or failure, and those who don’t make the grade will be sent home. Upping the ante, the annual salary of each job will be thrown into the pot until the finale – where one rookie will take home the well-earned cash.
My Take: While I’m sick of reality TV shows in general, I have to admit the thought of a bunch of talentless, attention starved wannabe actors being forced to do a hard days work in order to grab that 15 minutes of fame they so desperately desire is appealing to me. That being said, I still won’t watch this show.
Crusoe – NBC (Fridays at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: From Power, Muse and Moonlighting Films comes an ambitious adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s masterpiece, Crusoe, a new primetime series for a 21st Century audience. Following the novel and its treasured tale of adventure, this high-action, fast-paced, thirteen-part series will combine for the first time the pace and energy of network television while remaining faithful to the author’s original classic story.
The drama explores the perils and challenges facing the world’s most famous castaway as Crusoe (Philip Winchester, Flyboys, Thunderbirds) and his native friend Friday (Tongayi Chirisa) struggle to survive on a desert island with little more than their wits. Overcoming marauding militias, hungry cannibals, wild cats, starvation and apocalyptic lightning storms, Crusoe dreams of the day he will be reunited with his beloved family.
My Take: This sounds like something I would be forced to watch in a high school English class. The fact that it is going to be airing on Friday nights only solidifies the fact that this show is aimed at the highly coveted “book nerd with no social life” demographic.
Do Not Disturb – Fox (Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: Do Not Disturb is a workplace comedy set at one of New York City’s hottest and hippest hotels: The Inn. Named one of the Big Apple’s “10 Best Places to Stay,” The Inn is just that – the “in” place to be, with its chic decor, stylish staff and celebrity clientele. Behind the scenes, however, the upstairs/downstairs dynamic tells quite a different story.
The hotel’s top-notch reputation and sophisticated look is due in large part to Neal (Jerry O’Connell, Crossing Jordan) – at least in his opinion. Although The Inn’s charismatic owner R.J. (guest star Robert Wagner) takes all the credit, Neal is the egotistical, hyper-stylish, detail-oriented general manager who will do whatever it takes to keep the hotel and its employees up to his standards.
Rhonda (Niecy Nash, Reno 911!) is the head of Human Resources who also keeps Neal’s demands in check. She’s brash, fabulous and brutally honest and runs the HR department from her bullpen downstairs with a set of rules that are all her own. Rhonda does her best to keep the back of the house in line and the front of the house out of trouble.
My Take: In the words of Miss Niecy Nash, this show is going to be filled with mayhem and foolishness. In short, it’s going to be a hot mess.
Eleventh Hour – CBS (Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: Eleventh Hour follows Dr. Jacob Hood, a brilliant biophysicist and special science advisor to the government, as he investigates scientific crises and oddities. His jurisdiction is absolute and Hood is dogged in his pursuit of those who would abuse and misuse scientific discoveries and breakthroughs for their own gain. His passion and crusade is to protect the substance of science from those with nefarious motives. He is called in at the eleventh hour and he represents the last line of defense. Special Agent Rachel Young is the decorated FBI protection officer assigned to watch Hood’s back.
My Take: “His passion and crusade is to protect the substance of science from those with nefarious motives.” Seriously? That’s his passion? Who the hell is he going after – Dr. Doom?
The Ex-List – CBS (Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Synopsis: What if you learned you had already met your soul mate? When a bachelorette-party psychic reveals to Bella Bloom that she has already met the true love of her life, she goes on a quest to find this mystery man from her past. With a limited time to locate him, Bella puts her normal skepticism aside and, with the help of her friends, lists all the males she has dated, befriended or even briefly encountered in her lifetime. It’s an illuminating and sometimes humiliating search, but Bella knows it might be her only chance to find “the one.”
My Take: What kind of asshole psychic is Bella going to? Assuming the psychic is actually on the level (which she would have to be for the show to work), why is she being so intentionally vague? Perhaps she can only make detailed predictions while topless and rubbing her third nipple.
Fringe – Fox (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Synopsis: When an international flight lands at Boston’s Logan Airport and the passengers and crew have all died grisly deaths, FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is called in to investigate. After her partner, Special Agent John Scott (Mark Valley, Boston Legal), is nearly killed during the investigation, a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), our generation’s Einstein. There’s only one catch: he’s been institutionalized for the last 20 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson, Dawson’s Creek) in to help.
When Olivia’s investigation leads her to manipulative corporate executive Nina Sharp (Blair Brown, Altered States), our unlikely trio along with fellow FBI Agents Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire), Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo, Oz) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) will discover that what happened on Flight 627 is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth.
My Take: I’m a big fan of Lance Reddick, so I have high hopes for this show, which seems like it could become the next X-Files. However, this show was created by Lost‘s J.J. Abrams, which makes me worried that it will be four seasons before any of the show’s mysteries are actually solved.
Gary Unmarried – CBS (Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: Gary Unmarried stars Jay Mohr and Paula Marshall in a comedy about Gary Barnes, a recently single painting contractor, and his controlling ex-wife, Allison, who face post-divorce mayhem after 15 years of marriage as they each embark on new relationships. He’s the fun parent and she’s the strict one. Together, they share custody of their two children – Louise, a politically correct and environmentally conscious 11-year-old, and Tom, their socially awkward 14-year-old son who is nervous around girls.
Charming and acerbic, Gary hasn’t dated since the split, but finally connects with Vanessa, a single mother whose condo he was hired to paint. He dreads telling Allison about Vanessa because it doesn’t adhere to her belief in their marriage counselor’s book, Rules for the Perfect Divorce. However, when Allison tells him that she’s engaged to their shrink, all bets are off and Gary decides it’s time to move forward. Now, in pursuit of post-marriage happiness, Gary must juggle his eclectic world of an ex-wife, their two kids, their shrink and his gorgeous new girlfriend.
My Take: More like “Gary Unfunny” … yeah, I know I wasn’t trying very hard with that joke. But, they weren’t trying very hard when they came up with this show, so let’s call it even.
Kath & Kim – NBC (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: The American adaptation of the Australian hit comedy series, Kath & Kim stars Molly Shannon and Selma Blair as the hilarious and iconoclastic mother-daughter duo. Kath & Kim focuses on Kath (Shannon), a cheerful, foxy, forty-something, and her self-absorbed daughter, Kim (Blair), who have the love/hate, push/pull dysfunctional relationship that only a mother and daughter could share.
My Take: Putting this show on Thursdays at 8:30 illustrates that NBC believes this will be a good lead in for The Office, which is also American adaptation of a foreign show. However, the fact that Kath & Kim is being executive produced and written by Michelle Nader of King of Queens doesn’t really fill me with confidence that this show will be funny. So unless Selma Blair is sporting Ursula Udders cleavage, you can count me out.
Knight Rider – NBC (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)
Synopsis: On the heels of NBC’s hit movie, the iconic 1980s television classic comes roaring back to life as a reinvented, updated and super-charged action series showcasing the new KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand). Absolutely the coolest car ever created, KITT is equipped with an “AI” (artificial intelligence) that is capable of hacking almost any system. Its weapons systems match that of a jet fighter, and its body is capable of actually transforming into other vehicles and using sophisticated holographic imagery to elude villains.
My Take: No David Hasselhoff. No William Daniels. No reason to care.
Life on Mars – ABC (Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: Where were you in 1973? NYPD Detective Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) finds himself in the cultural hotbed of New York City in the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War, Watergate, women’s lib and the civil and gay rights movements – without a cell phone, computer, PDA or MP3 player – suddenly hurtled back in time when he’s ripped from 2008 after being hit by a car while chasing down a criminal. He’s trying mightily to understand what has just happened to him and how he can get back “home.”
My Take: NCB tried and failed to do the whole time traveling thing last year with Journeyman. Look, if you want to do a show about someone trapped in time who desperately wants to find his way back home, why not just bring back Quantum Leap?
The Mentalist – CBS (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Synopsis: The Mentalist stars Golden Globe Award nominee Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, an independent consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who has a remarkable track record for solving serious crimes by using his razor sharp skills of observation. Within the Bureau, Jane is notorious for his blatant lack of protocol and his semi-celebrity past as a psychic medium, whose paranormal abilities he now admits he feigned. Jane’s role in cracking a series of tough high-profile cases is greatly valued by his fellow agents.
However, no-nonsense Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon openly resists having Jane in her unit and alternates between reluctantly acknowledging Jane’s usefulness and blasting him for his theatrics, narcissism and dangerous lack of boundaries. Lisbon’s team includes agents Kimball Cho, Wayne Rigsby and rookie member Grace Van Pelt, who all think Jane’s a loose cannon but admire his charm and knack for clearing cases.
My Take: How is this show any different from Psych? I mean, besides that fact that it’s going to suck and will inevitably be canceled?
My Own Worst Enemy – NBC (Mondays at 10 p.m.)
Synopsis: My Own Worst Enemy raises the question: who can you trust when you can’t trust yourself? Starring Christian Slater (“Bobby”) as both Henry Spivey and Edward Albright, My Own Worst Enemy explores the duality of a man who is literally pitted against himself.
Henry (Slater) is a middle-class efficiency expert living a humdrum life in the suburbs with his wife, Angie, their two kids, a dog, and a minivan. Edward (Slater) is an operative who speaks 13 languages, runs a four-minute mile and is trained to kill. Albright works at Janus Headquarters for Mavis Heller (Alfre Woodard, Desperate Housewives), a tough, extremely intelligent woman with a hidden compassionate side. Henry and Edward are polar opposites who share only one thing in common – the same body. When the carefully constructed wall between them breaks down, Henry and Edward are thrust into unfamiliar territory where each man is dangerously out of his element.
My Take: This sounds like the script to the movie Donald Kaufman writes in Adaptation. “Okay, well here’s the twist. We find out that, that the killer really suffers from multiple personality disorder, right? See, he’s actually really the cop and the girl. All of them are him. Isn’t that fucked up?”
Opportunity Knocks – ABC (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Synopsis: What would you do if there was a knock at your door and you opened it to find an entire game show in front of you, along with an audience made up of your neighbors and friends? And what if you were given the opportunity to have a family game night where you could win hundreds of thousands of dollars and amazing prizes that could change your life?
In the new one-hour show, Opportunity Knocks, that chance is realized when one lucky family is brought together each week to play the game of a lifetime.
My take: What would I do if there was a knock at the door and I opened it to find an entire game show in front of me, along with an audience made up of my neighbors and friends? I’d go back inside and deadbolt my door.
Worst Week – CBS (Mondays at 9:30 p.m.)
Synopsis: Worst Week is a comedy about Sam Briggs, an entertainment magazine editor who will do anything to please his girlfriend’s parents … but instead becomes a one-man wrecking crew whenever he’s around them. Sam (Kyle Bornheimer, Jericho) and his girlfriend, Melanie Clayton (Erinn Hayes, Kitchen Confidential), have only one hurdle left to clear as they start their life together: breaking the news to Mel’s conservative parents that they have a wedding in the works and a baby on the way.
Dick (Kurtwood Smith, That ’70s Show), a stern Judge, and his wife Angela (Nancy Lenehan, My Name is Earl), are protective of their daughter, and are really trying to let go of the anger they feel toward Sam … after all, disaster follows whenever he visits their house. But despite his best efforts, every time Sam takes one positive step forward in winning over his future in-laws, he inevitably takes two crushing steps back. But with support and love from Melanie who stands up for him despite his knack for making himself look bad, Sam will hopefully charm his way into her family.
My take: A blatant ripoff of Meet the Parents, a movie that came out in 2000. I can’t wait for the 2016 pilot season when they debut their Tropic Thunder show.
Random Thought of the Week:
I’m proud of you, America. Apparently, you listened to my plea last week and took a stand against Seltzberg. Disaster Movie failed to make the $18 million its predecessors made on their opening weekend. It only earned $5.7 million this past weekend and it might not earn back its $20 million budget.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at email@example.com.