A dozen new TV shows—discussed, dismissed
September means back to school—or, more appropriately, back to the real foundation of America’s education system: television. Yes, TV still matters, even though hipsters keep telling us they don’t watch it—probably because they actually have lives, can’t afford cable or prefer to Netflix whole seasons’ worth of shows only after determining for sure that they’re popular. For the rest of you, the annual harvest of new programming brings many opportunities for vicarious living, not to mention lively conversation.
So, because I know you like your cultural commentary to evoke a room full of chatty layabout slobs wasting away on the couch, I’ve convened a roundtable discussion between myself, associate arts editors Edward Dunn and Josh Fernandez, and editorial assistant Kel Munger.
Twelve shows, no particular order. This is not everything you need to know about new fall TV. Not even close. But, as mandated by SN&R’s stylebook, what we lack in comprehensiveness, we make up for in foppish disregard for comprehensiveness—and, of course, in puerile self-referentiality. Bear in mind that our jokes, like the shows, can’t all be winners.
Now, go ahead and touch that dial.
Premieres, September 26, 9 p.m.
A doctor (Kate Walsh) decides to leave a hospital in one city and start a private practice in another.
Ed: “In this spin-off from Grey’s Anatomy …” OK, you can stop right there.
Josh: If my calculations are correct, I believe the black acting community will pick Taye Diggs as their representative to offend the gays this season.
Jon: Whoa. Careful, buddy. You don’t have to be gay to find Taye Diggs offensive.
Josh: But does it make me gay if I tingle at the thought of his chocolaty loins?
Jon: Hmm. What does that make you? Gay-cist?
Premieres, October 21, 8 p.m.
From executive producer and guest star Hugh Jackman, a BBC series-based musical crime drama about some guy’s (Lloyd Owen) struggle to open a casino in Laughlin, Nevada.
Josh: I haven’t seen this many smug white people since our last editorial meeting.
Ed: Well, it’s got more potential than, say, “Viva Pahrump.” Still, Elvis would roll in his grave. If he weren’t such a fat fuck.
Kel: I thought they’d sunk to a new low of Elvis trashing with that “Viva Viagra” commercial. But I guess I was wrong.
Jon: I’m less of a man just for having seen that horrific commercial. So I guess it’s an effective pitch for Viagra after all. Hmm. Anyway, nice segue, Kel. This show does look a little limp, eh?
Back To You
Premieres September 19, 8 p.m.
Quarrelsome former TV news co-anchors (Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton) reunite as quarrelsome current TV news co-anchors.
Ed: A newsroom comedy? Wow, genius. You know, I liked Frasier, loved Cheers and adore Sideshow Bob, so what is Kelsey Grammer doing in this clearly sub-par sitcom? Perhaps his wife needs new tits?
Kel: Great: a revamped, less funny version of Buffalo Bill. But, of course, you’re all too young to remember that program. Hell, you’re all too young to remember when television was funny.
Ed: That’s not true, I remember Roots; that was hilarious! That zany Kunta Kinte, you just never knew what wild thing he’d do next.
Jon: I believe you’re thinking of Jimmy Walker on Good Times.
Josh: Fun fact: I heard that the “You” in Back to You stands for womanizing, drunk driving, sex tapes, cocaine and the Betty Ford Clinic.
Ed: I can only hope that David Hyde Pierce plays the neurotic weatherman.
Premieres September 24, 10 p.m.
A newspaper reporter (Kevin McKidd) finds himself traveling through time, changing lives.
Ed: With McKidd, from HBO’s Rome, as the eponymous time-traveler, this is like a hotter version of Quantum Leap. I say that honestly, and I’m straight.
Josh: You liked Frasier, dude. How straight can you be?
Kel: I’m not straight, and I say this stinks of a straight-white-guy version of Tru Calling. In which case, c’mon, lose the premise and just bring back Eliza Dushku. I’ll watch her in anything.
Jon: Must admit, I loves me some time-travel stories—like the one about me going back in time and killing the dumb bastard who greenlighted this rubbish. Let’s just say the last thing we need is a show about how some journalist is actually a super-powered history maker. We’re self-important enough.
Premieres October 19, 8 p.m.
Like American Idol, but with bands instead of idols.
Ed: Because why crown one talent-less schmuck every season when you can churn out four or five “winners” at a time?
Josh: Prediction: In its first season, one band will be so patriotic, so supportive of our troops and so against breast cancer that nobody will have the balls to vote them off. Incidentally, Nigel Lythgoe’s limey head will explode.
Ed: What are the chances that any of the contestants will even know who the Grand Funk Railroad is?
Jon: Hey, haven’t I asked you not to discuss stadium-rocking ’70s supergroups in front of the scenester kids? It frightens them.
Kel: My bias against so-called “reality” television aside, didn’t any programmers watch The Gong Show? At least that had conflict. Character. A narrative arc. There’s a reason for that funny little thing called “plot.” Give me some, please.
Josh: I’ll bet Osama bin Laden is rolling over in his cave. Oh yeah, and, I got your plot right here.
Premieres September 27, 10 p.m.
Like Desperate Housewives, but with dudes. Business dudes (Michael Vartan, Dylan McDermott, Christopher Titus and Joshua Malina).
Ed: You went watchin’ Big Shots on your plasma screen, it’s ’bout some fine Park Avenue dudes. You had the remote control in your hand but you wouldn’t peruse. Ooh, and when you wake up in the mornin’ with your head on fire and your eyes too bloody to see, go on and cry in your coffee, but don’t come bitchin’ to me.
Jon: OK, mincing scenester kids be damned, you just ridiculed lame TV by paraphrasing Billy Joel. You can share my office any day.
Josh: Get a room, you two. And good job television, you’ve found yet another way to alienate Mexicans.
Ed: Now there’s an idea: a show about Mexican astronauts …
Josh: Great, a whole new galaxy of dishes …
Premieres September 19, 8 p.m.
Forty kids, one town, no adults. Several complaints of child-labor-law violations. The kids, aged 8-15, make their own society in a New Mexico ghost town.
Josh: A chance for deadbeat parents to get rid of their annoying kids. All they do is bring the little bastards to the colony, say goodbye and watch as they fend for themselves on primetime.
Jon: One of my high schools was like that.
Josh: Combine this with To Catch a Predator, and then we have a show.
Ed: Wow. Oh. Wow.
Jon: I’m going to write a research paper about what this means to our society. It shall be called “Bored of Lord of the Flies.”
Kel: What worries me is that this show will probably go more smoothly than the last session of Congress. Of course, here we have more emotional adults present.
Premieres Sunday, September 23, 7:30 p.m.
The CW compiles and broadcasts a weekly half-hour’s worth of popular video clips from all over the Web.
Josh: A chance for deadbeat execs to get rid of their annoying writers. All they do is fire the bastards, steal their material from YouTube and watch as the profit margin rises tenfold.
Jon: One of my first jobs out of college was like that.
Kel: Why do I sense that Idiocracy was a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Jon: Totally. Wait—are you talking about me or the show?
Premieres September 17, 9 p.m.
A few dedicated New Orleans police officers mean to take their city back from Katrina’s lawless aftermath.
Jon: You thought Big Easy cops were corrupt before.
Josh: You know what makes Hurricane Katrina survivors who’ve lost their homes and livelihoods feel better? Cheesy comedic over-actor Anthony Anderson (My Baby’s Mama, Malibu’s Most Wanted). Well, go for it, man; it’s never too soon in my book. Got any good Virginia Tech jokes? And get this, Anderson plays Marlin Boulet, a cop whose name couldn’t get any New Orleans-ier if you dipped it in the bayou, adorned it with show-me-your-tits beads and rubbed it in Cajun pepper.
Ed: Mmm, tits and Cajun pepper.
Jon: I can only hope that David Hyde Pierce plays the neurotic weatherman.
Premieres September 26, 9 p.m.
As in The Bionic Woman (1976), a woman (this time Michelle Ryan) becomes bionic.
Kel: OK, so my heart is broken. The ’70s version of “must-see TV” for baby dykes finally gets updated, and this is what they give us? I hate to think that the golden age of lesbian television consisted of a couple of years in 90s, when we had Xena and Buffy at the same time. OK, I’m done.
Jon: Baby dykes and me, thank you very much. Which is to say: Mmm, Lindsay Wagner. I mean, sure, the new lady looks hot and all, but Lindsay was better than just hot She was warm. I think I’d prefer to watch one of her mattress commercials than this show. Then again, it does also have Molly Price, formerly of Third Watch, and Katee Sackhoff, formerly of Battlestar Galactica. Mmm, Molly Price and Katee Sackhoff. Hey, maybe I am a baby dyke.
Josh: Mmm, Taye Diggs. Uh, wha? Hello? Um, go Raiders … boxing!
Premieres October 2, 8 p.m.
As per the Geico commercials, three cavemen (Bill English, Nick Kroll, Dash Mihok) try to assimilate into modern suburban American life.
Ed: Way to go network bosses: Just when Geico’s caveman campaign has finally jumped the shark, you decide to make a show out of it.
Jon: I heard Dreamworks just closed a three-picture deal with that little animated gecko.
Kel: I have hope for this one. If only because it seems like the cavemen they have writing for television and the cavemen they have on television might have something in common.
Josh: And to think I just got done vomiting from the 25-year entertainment-industry assault perpetrated by Jim Varney (Ernest Goes to Wherever the Fuck).
Premieres September 25, 9 p.m.
In this horror comedy executive produced by Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith (who directed the pilot), a slacker (Bret Harrison) discovers that his parents have sold his soul to the devil (Ray Wise), for whom he becomes a bounty hunter.
Ed; The future of this CW shit-com looks grim indeed.
Josh: I heard Kevin Smith got paid in Ding-Dongs.
Jon: If it fills the Gilmore Girls void, you won’t hear me complaining.
Josh: Thanks, Oprah.
Kel: Just give me a sense of humor and a worldview that isn’t Manichaean. Oh, wait. This is TV. You can’t say “Manichaean,” unless it’s the name of a demon about to be slain.
Josh: Man, you gays are smart. When’s UFC on?