The Week that Was … Well if that wasn’t a jam packed weekend of TV I dunno what it was. With the return of the vast majority of outstanding shows, including a raft more pilots it almost made it hard to keep up. Here’s my quick week in review …
Monday saw the return of Heroes, House, HIMYM, Castle, CSI Miami and TBBT joining forces with GG and Greek who returned during the previous weeks. New to Mondays is Accidentally on Purpose, a half hour comedy starring Jenna Elfman about a thirty-something movie critic who finds herself knocked up as the result of a one night stand with a younger man. Heroes continued in a similar vein to last season (for good or bad), whilst HIMYM continues to be one of the best half hourlies around.
Tuesday saw the return of NCIS (served up alongside 90210, Melrose and Sons of A. from previous). New to Tuesdays are The forgotten, The Good Wife and the new NCIS spin-off NCIS Los Angeles. NCIS LA was poor enough fare and will have to pick up the pace to hold up to NCIS. TGW is a new Legal drama starring Julianna Margulies (of ER fame), whilst The Forgotten is a new Bruckheimer produced procedurette (with Christian Slater) about a civilian group who investigate John/Jane Doe cases after the police have given up.
Wednesday saw the return of Criminal Minds, CSI NY and Gary Unmarried (served up alongside GLEE and TBL from previous weeks). New to Wednesdays are Mercy, Eastwick, Modern Family and Cougar Town. I thought CM started pretty strong after last seasons cliff-hanger. GLEE had its strongest episode since the pilot whilst MF and CT set themselves up as the new comedies to keep an eye on. Meanwhile Mercy is a Greyesque medical drama, and Eastwick is as you can imagine about three witches who well .. do stuff.
Thursday saw the return of CSI, Greys and The Mentalist (served up alongside Bones, Vampire Diaries, P&R, Office, Supernatural, Fringe, Community and It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia from previous weeks). New to Thursdays is Flash Forward .. but more on that later. Community is a another half hour comedy .. which may or may not be long for this world. TVD continues in its inimitable Twilight meets Smallville vein. I keep pressing play on P&R just for Amy Poehler I think, whilst the mentalist returns with its typically simple case-of-the-week stylings with the merest respect paid to its wafer thin red john arc. PS : Sunny is something which I’ve only got into recently, but its actually just entering its fifth season. I’m still midway season 3, but its one which I strongly recommend as a half-hourly-comedy.
Friday saw the return of Dollhouse, Smallville, Flashpoint, Ghost Whisperer and Medium (being served up alongside Psych and season two of Crash from previous). The only new show to Fridays is Brothers, another half-hour comedy .. and which has the honour of being the only new show to air, which I haven’t watched yet. Dollhouse was enjoyable enough though I can’t help but watch it and worry, whilst Smallville purports to present a season of Clark maturing into a bona fide superhero. (will he/won’t he fly??).
HBO/Sundays Last Sunday saw the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm to HBO. I’ve never been a huge fan, but its worth mentioning for any Seinfeld fans out there that the gang are all due to be back together on season 7 of CYE. HBO also piloted a new half hourly called Bored to Death. Billed as a ‘Noir-otic’ Comedy its about a new york writer who decides to start hiring himself out as an unlicensed PI. It co-stars Ted Danson. Having heard nothing of it before sitting down to watch it, I was pleasantly surprised. Defying Gravity continues to make its way onto the torrents courtesy of its continued airing in Canada, despite having been pulled in the US.
Doh The Beautiful Life, the new Ashton Kutcher produced drama following the lives of a group of ridiculously good looking models in new york … wait for it … GOT THE AXE!… after just two episodes. After managing to pull just over 1M viewers this week execs at The CW decided to call time, and for the moment anyways, are filling the slot with Melrose repeats. Guess I won’t be watching episode 3 so.
Interest Piqued With only a handful of new episodes having aired for most of the new shows (only one in many cases), its hard to say much about them, but that’s no reason not to try …. so here’s the ones which I’d have reasonable hopes for ..
The Forgotten : The premise doesn’t exactly stand a huge amount of scrutiny I’ll confess, but I’m a Christian Slater fan at the best of times and add to the mix the usual Bruckheimer shininess, and I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself coming back to this sooner rather than later. Its like your typically cop procedural, but different .. given they’re not cops. Slaters last outing (the spy drama My Own worst Enemy) only made it to about episode seven, lets hope this does a little better.
Modern Family and Cougar town. : ABC’s new Wednesday night hour of comedy came with some good advance word. And both were pretty damn good. Whilst Modern Family seemed to score better in the online reviews, I can’t help but prefer the Cougar pilot. It stars Courtney Cox as a forty something single mom (her son is the kid from Aliens in America), getting back on the dating scene. The tag-line made me want to not like this … but I just couldn’t help myself, it was just damn funny.
Pick of the Week There was one standout for me this week, and that was … Flash Forward.
The pilot felt like the start of a movie. And I couldn’t help but feel that I was watching the first episode of what should be a great season of TV. Co created by Brannon Braga (of N Star Trek Series’) and David S Goyer (who wrote the Blade movies, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight amongst others) the challenge here will definitely be to walk that line between questions unanswered and ‘confusing the fvck outa people’. This is being billed as event TV ala early Lost, lets hope it learns from some of its mistakes.
If you think you’re definitely gonna give this a try, then don’t watch this trailer as it gives a little too much away from the pilot imo. But if you’re on the edge, it might be enough to persuade ya.
Ratings A quick look at the ratings stateside reveals no huge surprises. Staples such as NCIS (20M), Greys (17M), House (16M), Criminal Minds (15M) and CSI * 3 (14 – 16M) continue to dominate. NCIS LA (18M) managed to hold most of the 20M leadin given to it by NCIS, so is likely to stick around regardless of quality. The Good Wife managed 13.71M viewers making it one of the winners on Tuesday night, whilst The Forgotten only held onto about 10M of its 16M leadin from DWTS. Wednesday night winners were the comedy duo of Modern Family and Cougar Town who both managed about 12M viewers, which bodes well for em. Glee managed 6.1M for Fox, which whilst an ok Fox number (according to them anyways), belies my previous thoughts that it was gonna be a monster. Flash Forward (12.5M) was the first show to beat out Survivor in its timeslot in yonks.
On the bubble Friday Night was a mixed bag for a couple of Mo. Favs. Dollhouse averaged 2.5M viewers which was 1M down on its season 1 average, but about the same as what the season 1 finale got. Meanwhile Smallville (2.5M) posted its smallest viewership ever for an original episode, but as the CW were quick to point out, it was actually their highest viewing number in that slot (lets not forget that Clark & Co. are on in the Friday night death slot this year) since Smackdown used to be there. It’s noteworthy that both these shows got spanked by ABC’s repeats of FF, CT and MF. (which in turn all got spanked by the mediocre Ghost Whisperer and Medium). And finally, the ratings continue to be ugly for Heroes. Its season opener managed just 6.1M viewers for NBC, which for an expensive show doesn’t bode well.
And that’s about it. Most of everything else I watched seemed to blur together this week. stoopid overload. Hopefully in a few more weeks time, and with a few more episodes under their belts, I’ll be better placed to separate the wheat from the chaff. -Mo.