Murphy’s Law – Boob Tube Breakdown 2009

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

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 third-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:

Accidentally on Purpose
CBS (Premieres: Monday, Sept. 21, at 8:30 p.m.)

Synopsis: Accidentally on Purpose, based on the bestselling memoir by Mary F. Pols, is a comedy about a single woman, Billie, who finds herself “accidentally” pregnant after a one-night stand with a much younger guy, and decides to keep the baby … and the guy. A newspaper film critic, Billie is barely surviving a humiliating breakup with her charming boss, James, who’s still trying to resume their relationship.

Pregnant, after a brief fling with her “boy toy” Zack, Billie and Zack make an arrangement to live together platonically. Billie’s party girl best friend Olivia, and Abby, her conventional, younger married sister, eagerly look forward to the new addition and offer their own brands of advice and encouragement. But when Zack and his freeloading friends, including Davis, start to turn her place into a frat house, Billie isn’t sure if she’s living with a boyfriend, a roommate or if she just has another child to raise.

My Take: It’s tough to say if this show is going to suck accidentally … or on purpose.

The Beautiful Life
The CW (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but as every new model quickly learns, behind the beautiful façade is a world of insecurity and cut-throat competition. Two teenage models who are about to discover this world for themselves are Raina Mayer (Sara Paxton, Last House on the Left), a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth, The Line), a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy.

When Raina makes an unforgettable impression at a show introducing the new line from designer Zac Posen (appearing in a cameo role), she steals the spotlight from her friend Sonja Stone (Mischa Barton, The O.C.). Sonja has been out of the country for mysterious reasons and is now desperate to reclaim her standing as the reigning supermodel. While Raina and Sonja live at the top of the fashion food chain, Chris is starting at the bottom, having just been discovered by an agent at the Covet Modeling Agency, which is owned by former supermodel Claudia Foster (Elle Macpherson, Friends).

My Take: I wonder if Sonja’s “mysterious disappearance” involved being held for 72-hours for psychiatric evaluation because her “tooth hurt.”

Fox (Premieres: Friday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: Brothers is a comedy about a former NFL hot shot who learns that even though you can always go home again, doing so might be more difficult than you think.

Mike Trainor (Michael Strahan) seemingly has it all – he’s a good-looking, wealthy and recently retired NFL player living the high life in New York City, but he’s about to get sidelined. When Mike gets a phone call from his mom, Adele (CCH Pounder), who orders him home to Houston, he quickly realizes that the more his life has changed, the more his family has stayed the same. His brother Chill (Daryl Chill Mitchell), whose life changed drastically after a car accident left him in a wheelchair, is struggling to keep Trainor’s, his sports-themed restaurant, afloat.

My Take: I have sad news for you, person who writes copy for Fox – simply writing that Michael Strahan’s character is good-looking will not magically make the gap-toothed, lisping athlete more attractive. I’m hoping the part was originally written for Tiki Barber and you’ve just been too lazy to update it.

The Cleveland Show
Fox (Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 27 at 8:30 p.m.)

Synopsis: The Cleveland Show is a new animated series that follows everyone’s favorite soft-spoken neighbor, Cleveland Brown (Mike Henry), to his hometown in Virginia as he settles down with his high school sweetheart, her unruly kids and his own 14-year-old son, Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson).

In Virginia, there are a few surprises in store for Cleveland, including Roberta (Reagan Gomez-Preston), a rebellious new stepdaughter; Rallo (Henry), his new five-year-old stepson who loves the ladies; and a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck, Lester (Richardson); a hipster wanna-be, Holt (guest voice Jason Sudeikis); and a religious pair of talking bears, Tim (Seth MacFarlane) and his wife Arianna (guest voice Arianna Huffington).

My Take: I love Cleveland, but this seems like a bad idea (and not just because they gave Arianna Huffington a voice role). The whole Family Guy formula is getting a bit stale, so for this show to work, the writers are really going to need to find a way to distinguish it from that show. Otherwise, we’ll just end up with another American Dad … and no one wants that.

NBC (Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 17 at 9:30 p.m.)

Synopsis: From Dan Harmon (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Emmy Award-winning directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Arrested Development) comes Community, a smart comedy series about a band of misfits who attend Greendale Community College. At the center of the group is Jeff Winger (Joel McHale, The Soup), a fast-talkin’ lawyer whose degree has been revoked. With some help from his fellow classmates, Winger forms a study group who eventually learn more about themselves than their course work.

Also among the series stars who comprise the group are comedy legend Chevy Chase (Chuck) as Pierce, a man whose life experience has brought him infinite wisdom; Gillian Jacobs (The Book of Daniel) as Britta, the 28-year old drop out with something to prove; Yvette Nicole Brown (Rules of Engagement) as Shirley, a sassy middle-aged divorcée; Danny Pudi (Greek) as Abed, a pop culture junkie; Alison Brie (Mad Men) as Annie, a high-strung perfectionist; Donald Glover (30 Rock) as Troy, a former high school football star trying to find his way and Ken Jeong (The Hangover) as Spanish professor, Señor Chang.

My Take: This show sounds like is has potential, especially with Joel McHale in the lead role (since, as we all know, guys named Joel are inherently funny). However, it’s really just keeping the Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. slot warm until 30 Rock comes back in October, which means the show could be shuffled off to obscurity in order to make room for Tina Fey (unless it can outperform Parks and Recreation and steal that coveted timeslot).

Cougar Town
ABC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 9:30 p.m.)

Synopsis: Courteney Cox stars as Jules, a recently divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in our beauty and youth obsessed culture. While most women in their twenties go through life experiencing the challenges and often humorous pitfalls of meeting men, Jules took on the responsibilities of marriage and raising a son. Now in her forties, she embarks on a journey to self-discovery whilst surrounded by fellow divorcees and singletons eager to live or re-live a time gone by.

Along for the journey are her friends and family: Laurie (Busy Philipps), the younger, feisty co-worker who encourages her to get out there and have some fun; Ellie (Christa Miller), the sarcastic, unapologetic confidante content with her life and marriage to her average, but loveable husband, Andy (Ian Gomez); ex-husband Bobby (Brian Van Holt), a classic under-achiever who’ll test her patience as they attempt to raise their teenage son, Travis (Dan Byrd); and newly divorced neighbor Grayson (Josh Hopkins), who proves to be a catalyst of sorts for Jules.

My Take: I really hate when studio execs learn slang terms like “MILF” and “cougar”; it really ruins it for the rest of us.

ABC (Premieres: Wednesdays, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m.)

Synopsis: In the seaside village of Eastwick, three very different women are about to discover some bewitching talents they never knew they had. And once they get together– watch out. Something wicked their way comes. Eastwick is turned upside down as these enchanting women come into their own, but it’s still the best thing to happen to this small New England town in centuries.

Based on John Updike’s celebrated classic and the popular movie, Eastwick is brimming with romance, mystery and dangerous charm, offering a tempting vision of the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy.

Eastwick stars Ashley Benson as Mia Torcoletti, Jon Bernthal as Raymond Gardener, Veronica Cartwright as Bun Waverly, Jaime Ray Newman as Kat Gardener, Lindsay Price as Joanna Frankel, Rebecca Romijn as Roxanne (Roxie) Torcoletti, Sara Rue as Penny, Johann Urb as Will and Paul Gross as Darryl Van Horne.

My Take: A TV show adapted from a movie that was based on a novel. And they say there are no original ideas left in Hollywood.

ABC (Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: It’s just another normal day in Los Angeles. FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare in Love) and his partner, Demetri Noh (John Cho, Star Trek, the Harold & Kumar film series), are in the midst of a car chase monitored by their boss, Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and colleague Janis Hawk (Christine Woods); Mark’s wife, Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger, Lost), is in the middle of surgery; Dr. Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton) is weighing a potentially life-ending decision; Mark’s friend, Aaron Stark (Brían F. O’Byrne, The International), is working high above the ground on power lines; and Nicole (Peyton List) – baby-sitter to Mark and Olivia’s daughter, Charlie – is in the throes of passion with her boyfriend when suddenly and without warning, every person on Earth blacks out for two minutes and seventeen seconds and sees a series of events from their own future, taking place on April 29, 2010 at 10:00 p.m., Pacific Time. For some the future will be joyous and hopeful; for others, shockingly unexpected; and for a few, it simply doesn’t seem to exist.

Knowing their fate will alter each person’s life in one way or another and poses the questions: Can destiny be changed? And by changing just one destiny, what effect would that have on those of others?

My Take: Out of all of the new shows debuting this fall, this one has me the most excited. David S. Goyer, who wrote Blade and cowrote Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, is an executive producer on the series, which has me giddy for obvious reasons. Plus, a lot of people are thinking this show might have the potential to be the next Lost. But, potential means you ain’t done shit yet, so it’s probably best to try and stay “cautiously optimistic” when approaching this show.

the forgotten
ABC (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m.)

Synopsis: From executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the forgotten is a drama series in which a team of dedicated amateurs – The Forgotten Network – work on murder cases involving unidentified victims. After the police have given up, this group, led by Alex Donovan (Christian Slater), must first solve the puzzle of the victim’s identity in order to then help catch the killer. These are citizen volunteers solving extraordinary crimes. Their persistence and compassion for the cases put them on a personal and emotional journey that focuses on giving names back to the deceased.

The Forgotten Network gathers in coffee shops and living rooms to discuss leads, clues and tips, each bringing his or her own motivations and skills to the table, each driven by a deep sense of purpose. Donovan is a former detective who left the force after the disappearance of his own young daughter. Using his investigative skills, he can help piece together each victim’s story, retracing their footsteps and finding out why they died by learning how they lived. Working against the clock to give each victim a name before they’re buried as a John or Jane Doe, these amateur detectives are in it to bring closure … and win justice.

My Take: Speaking of the forgotten, does anyone remember My Own Worst Enemy, the shitty Christian Slater series that tanked last year on NBC? Instead of piecing together clues about unsolved cases in his free time, Slater should try to put together the pieces of his shattered career, which he’ll have plenty of time to do when this show is canceled as well.

Fox (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: The series follows an optimistic teacher, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), who – against all odds and a malicious cheerleading coach – attempts to save McKinley High’s Glee Club from obscurity, while helping a group of aspiring underdogs realize their true star potential.

My Take: The malicious cheerleading coach is played by Jane Lynch, who is in just about everything these days. It’s like her and Samuel L. Jackson have a side bet going to see who can be involved in more projects. Because her and Samuel L. Jackson totally hang out all the time.

The Good Wife
CBS (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m.)

Synopsis: The Good Wife is a drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who boldly assumes full responsibility for her family and re-enters the workforce after her husband’s very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail.

Gaining confidence every day, Alicia transforms herself from embarrassed politician’s scorned wife to resilient career woman, especially for the sake of providing a stable home for her children, 14-year-old Zach and 13-year-old Grace. For the first time in years, Alicia trades in her identity as the “good wife” and takes charge of her own destiny.

My Take: This sounds like one of those Lifetime Original Movies that women are supposed to watch while cranking “I Will Survive” in the background and eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I’m afraid my estrogen levels are too low to truly appreciate this show.

ABC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: Sometimes scaling back is the best way to get ahead. A legendary entrepreneur in the sports retail world, Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammer) and his wife, Tilly, have been living the high life in New York City. That is until Hank is forced out of his CEO job and has to downsize and move his family back home to the small town of River Bend, Virginia.

A self-made man, Hank is used to being the boss. But now that he’s lost almost everything, is he up for the even bigger challenge of being a husband and father? While Tilly regrets having to leave the glitz of New York City to move back to her hometown, Hank is gung-ho to relaunch his career in the place where it all began for him. Unfortunately this also means having to spend way too much time with his brother-in-law, Grady, who delights in Hank’s recent misfortunes. Hank struggles to find common ground with his kids – offbeat son Henry, who would rather play with action figures than toss a baseball with his dad, and daughter Maddie, a hip, New York City teen in whose eyes Hank can do no right. But every great businessman knows that the key to success is to turn setbacks into opportunities. It may take a while for this corporate giant to figure out how to mingle with the little people – like his family – but Hank’s up for the challenge, a man who feels he is destined to return to greatness. And he is. It’s just not the greatness he imagined.

My Take: I love when rich Hollywood executives who spend all their time at work, ignoring their wives and kids, greenlight shows about rich CEOs who lose everything and are forced to live a simple life where they actually have time to reconnect with their family. Here’s hoping this show makes enough money to pay for their kids’ therapy bills.

The Jay Leno Show
NBC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m.)

Synopsis: An annoying weasel with a high-pitched voice tells unfunny jokes in front of a brightly-colored set and acts phoney nice to celebrities. (Note: In case you were wondering, this is not NBC’s official synopsis of the show, although it should be.)

My Take: So NBC had to give up five hours of primetime space per week in order to make room for Jay Leno’s massive ego. Shows like Chuck struggled to get renewed because of the limited amount of space in the lineup and who knows how many great new shows didn’t get greenlit because of Mr. Chin. If there is any justice in the world, Leno will tank hard when faced with tough primetime competition, but let’s be honest – morons will watch his show and it will be a huge success. Because Americans love bright colors and easy-to-digest jokes (just ask Seltzberg).

Melrose Place
The CW (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: In an elegant Spanish-style apartment complex in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, the lives and relationships of a diverse group of 20-somethings intertwine to form a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton, the original Melrose Place) is the landlady, still beautiful at 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck (Shaun Sipos, Shark). Sydney started an affair with David despite her turbulent history with his estranged father, Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro, the original Melrose Place). Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people.

Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms (Katie Cassidy, Supernatural), once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career. Sydney also played a pivotal role in the career of Auggie Kirkpatrick (Colin Egglesfield, All My Children). After they met at an AA meeting, she became a supportive friend to Auggie and encouraged his dream to become a chef. He’s now a successful sous chef at the trendy restaurant Coal, but his relationship with Sydney has gone sour since she began drinking again.

The other tenants include Lauren Yung (Stephanie Jacobsen, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller (Michael Rady, Swingtown), an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend Riley Richmond (Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield), a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, wide-eyed 21-year-old Violet Foster (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, 7th Heaven), has just arrived in LA and is horrified to find a bloody body floating in the courtyard pool. David is the leading suspect but, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way.

My Take: Here’s hoping that they remake Melrose Place in another 15 – 20 years, just so Sydney can come back and have sex with three generations of Mancinis.

NBC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: You haven’t seen inside a hospital until you’ve seen it through the eyes of those who know it best: its nurses. Veronica Callahan is one of those nurses. She just returned to Mercy Hospital from a tour in Iraq and knows more about medicine than all of the residents combined. Together with fellow nurses Sonia and Chloe, she navigates the daily traumas and social landmines of life and love both inside the hospital and out in the real world.

From executive producers/writers Liz Heldens (Friday Night Lights), Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts (Pushing Daisies), executive producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun, and Emmy Award-winning director Adam Bernstein (30 Rock, Rescue Me) comes a medical drama with a totally unique point of view.

My Take: You’re not fooling anyone. You can make your show about the crime scene unit, but it’s still a cop drama. You can focus on the nurses, but it’s still a medical drama. And, at the end of the day, nothing will change the fact that crime and medical dramas are the two most overused genres on TV today. Seriously, go learn about some other professions, you unoriginal hack writers.

The Middle
ABC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m.)

Synopsis: Frankie Heck is a superhero. Well, no, not an actual superhero – not unless you count getting her kids out the door for school every morning as a superfeat. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, this harried wife and working mother of three uses her wry wit and sense of humor to try to get her family through each day intact. Frankie has a job selling cars at the town’s only surviving car dealer; her husband, Mike, is a manager at the local quarry.

In between juggling shifts and picking up fast food dinners eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike raise their kids with love and solid Midwestern practicality. Axl is the oldest, a teenage jock who eats the family out of house and home and walks around in his underwear. Then there’s Sue, their extraordinarily ordinary pre-teen daughter who fails at everything she tries with great gusto. Brick, the youngest son, is an odd kid whose best friend is his backpack. Together, they’re putting The Middle on the map.

My Take: Wow, it’s nice to see a show just embrace its mediocrity. Instead of coming up with an original concept, why not just flaunt the fact that your show is unremarkable in every possible way? To mock this show would seem redundant. Well played, ABC, well played.

Modern Family
ABC (Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: Today’s American families come in all shapes and sizes. The cookie cutter mold of man + wife + 2.5 kids is a thing of the past, as it becomes quickly apparent in the bird’s eye view of ABC’s new half-hour comedy, Modern Family, which takes an honest and often hilarious look at the composition and complexity of family life in 2009.

Take for example Phil and Claire, two parents who want to have that open, healthy, honest relationship with their three kids. It’s not always easy, especially when you have a teenage daughter who’s growing up a little fast, a too-smart-for-her-own-good middle daughter and a rambunctious boy. On top of that, Phil wants to be the “cool dad,” while Claire is just trying her best to run a tight ship, determined not to let her kids have the rebellious childhood she had.

Then there’s Jay, a true guys’ guy who is having a bit of mid-life crisis. Jay has found a much younger wife, Gloria, who has become the center of his world. She’s a passionate and sassy divorcee who comes with an 11-year-old son, Manny. Already taking notice of girls and a hopeless romantic, Manny is as passionate as his mom and spends his time daydreaming and writing poetry. His new step-father isn’t altogether comfortable with the sensitive stuff and would like to toughen Manny up. But that’s only one of Jay’s challenges. The biggest is that people often mistake him for Gloria’s father, not her husband.

And lastly there’s Mitchell and his partner of five years, Cameron. They’ve just taken that amazing ‘next step’ by adopting a child together from Vietnam. Cameron has a wonderfully big personality and maybe a flare for the dramatic, whereas Mitchell is the more serious of the two. But they balance each other out and are already doting fathers.

My Take: I love that the opening two lines seem like a dig at fellow ABC show The Middle. Anyway, this show might be good or it might suck, but I will be tuning in for one simple reason – Ed O’Neill.

NCIS: Los Angeles
CBS (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: NCIS: Los Angeles is a drama about the high stakes world of the Office of Special Projects (OSP), a division of NCIS that is charged with apprehending dangerous and elusive criminals that pose a threat to the nation’s security. By assuming false identities and utilizing the most advanced technology, this team of highly trained agents goes deep undercover, putting their lives on the line in the field to bring down their targets.

My Take: I understand why CBS keeps spinning off all of their popular shows to different locations, but can’t they freshen it up a bit? Why is it always Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York or Miami? Why not NCIS: Intercourse or CSI: Fleatown (both real cities, by the way).

Shark Tank
ABC (Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: From Mark Burnett, executive producer of Survivor and The Apprentice, and Sony Pictures Television, comes Shark Tank, an exciting new reality show that gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to make their dreams come true and become successful – and possibly wealthy – business people. But the entrepreneurs must first try to convince five tough, multi-millionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they need to jumpstart their ideas.

Each week, ambitious entrepreneurs from across the country will present their breakthrough business concepts, products, properties and services to the panel of ruthless investors. Their goal is to convince these merciless moguls to invest their own dollars in the concept. Convincing real-life millionaires to part with their own money is no easy task, because when the idea is poor, the Sharks will tear into the ill-prepared presenters and pass on the idea with a simple, “I’m out!,” sending them running for the exit.

My Take: This show would be much better if it involved actual sharks.

Three Rivers
CBS (Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 4 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: Three Rivers is a medical drama starring Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight, upcoming CBS Films The Back-Up Plan) that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country, where every moment counts. However, dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel.

Leading the elite team is Dr. Andy Yablonski, the highly-skilled workaholic lead organ transplant surgeon, whose good-natured personality and sarcastic wit makes him popular with his patients and colleagues. His co-workers include Dr. Miranda Foster, a surgical fellow with a rebellious streak and fiery temper who strives to live up to her deceased father’s excellent surgical reputation; Dr. David Lee, a womanizing surgical resident who’s broken as many hearts as he’s replaced; Ryan Abbott, the inexperienced new transplant coordinator who arranges the intricately choreographed process of quickly and carefully transporting organs from donor to patient; Dr. Sophia Jordon, the dedicated head of surgery who has no patience for anyone who hasn’t sacrificed as much as she has for the job; and Pam Acosta, Andy’s no-nonsense operating assistant and best friend. In this high stakes arena, in which every case is a race against the clock, these tenacious surgeons and medical professionals are the last hope for their patients.

My Take: Who’s broken as many hearts as he’s replaced? Jesus, I hope that is metaphorical.

NBC (Premieres: Monday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m.)

Synopsis: Like an adrenaline shot to the heart, Trauma is an intense, action-packed look at one of the most dangerous medical professions in the world: first responder paramedics. When emergencies occur, the trauma team from San Francisco General is first on the scene, traveling by land, by sea or by air to reach their victims in time.

From the heights of the Transamerica Pyramid to the depths of the S.F. Bay, our heroes must face the most extreme conditions to save lives, and give meaning to their own existence in the process. From executive producer Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), Trauma is the first high-octane medical franchise to live exclusively in the field, where the real action is.

My Take: Oh look, another medical drama. How fucking original.

ABC (Premieres: Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: V is a re-imagining of the 1980’s miniseries about the world’s first encounter with an alien race. Simultaneously appearing over every major city in the world, the Visitors (or V’s) promote a message of peace. Through their generous offer to share advanced technology, the V’s build a following that may actually hide a more malevolent agenda, one that twists a very deep component of human nature: devotion.

While the world quickly becomes fascinated with the V’s and their link to wonders just beyond the reach of human understanding, FBI Counter Terrorist Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) discovers a secret hidden beneath the skin of every V – a secret that may threaten the lives of everyone close to her. Yet for her teenage son, Tyler (Logan Huffman), the V’s are his ticket to something big and hopeful – a new chance for mankind to unite in common goals. To Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), a career-hungry news anchor, his exclusive interview with Anna (Morena Baccarin), the leader of the V’s, is crucial to his dominating the airwaves. Also unsure about the Visitors is Father Jack (Joel Gretsch), a priest questioning his faith in the wake of the Visitors’ arrival. Seeking answers outside the church, Father Jack discovers there are other dissidents who believe the Visitors are not who they say they are, including Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut), who is faced with his own life-altering decision when the V’s show up. Never has there been more at stake – it truly is the dawning of a new day.

My Take: I think this show will succeed – mainly because I think Chris Kirkman is going to steal as many Nielsen rating boxes as he can to ensure he doesn’t lose his beloved Elizabeth Mitchell ever again.

The Vampire Diaries
The CW (Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m.)

Synopsis: Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, DeGrassi: The Next Generation) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, Everwood), are still adjusting to their new reality. Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her grief from the world. Elena and Jeremy are now living with their cool-but-overwhelmed Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning, Smallville), who is doing her best to be a surrogate parent.

As the school year begins at Mystic Falls High, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, Fallen). Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, although Elena is puzzled by Stefan’s increasingly bizarre behavior when he appears suddenly at the cemetery where her parents are buried. What she doesn’t realize is that Stefan is hiding a dark, deadly secret of his own – the fact that he’s a vampire.

My Take: I’m not a pre-teen girl or a sad middle-aged woman with a bunch of cats, so I zoned out about halfway through that description. My apologies.

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

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