By Tim Parks
The fall holds with it such promise, the leaves are turning crisp from their spring awakening, and the air is pregnant with anticipation that something is on the horizon – something that can change your world forever. No, this is not the lost opening sentence to an unearthed Stephen King or Danielle Steele tome.
It’s the way that we TV-philes – wait, that sounds unseemly, as most things ending in “phile” do – I meant, we couch taters (that’s better) feel as there are more new “children” to adopt than Angelina Jolie or Madonna on a Third World visit.
And with the new season almost winding down and marching its way into The Forbidden Zone, known as summer shows, let’s take a look at the series that have either captured our imaginations or have made us channel surf away so quickly that we left a wake in our paths to distance us from them.
For this report card, I was going to use the really old school check/minus, check/plus system, but have opted to streamline it with the A-F formula, sort of.
And for the sake of argument (That’s enough out of you, non-descript reader with your smart-alecky backtalk. Shoot, I was looking into a mirror!), we shall begin alphabetically – so look out ABC shows! By the way, I am still mad at you for canceling “Ugly Betty.”
Another show facing a similar predicament is the aptly named “The Forgotten,” as no one I have talked to has even seen an episode of this crime procedural. Either the show really sucks or I need to expand my circle of friends. Sorry, series star Christian Slater, it looks like you are now a two-time TV loser – maybe you are your “Own Worst Enemy,” when it comes to choosing roles, which was his cancelled NBC show from 2008, just in case you didn’t remember it. Anyone? I didn’t think so.
Grade: F for the title, which isn’t a good one to make viewers want to tune in.
The reboot of the 1980s miniseries/TV show “V” is “on the bubble” as to its renewal. Interesting term “on the bubble,” which means that the network is undecided – a-ha, they are finally in tune with their viewership! But, they should rename the saying as being “on the fence,” as I was when this reincarnation appeared on the tube.
Where were the cheesy effects and Marc Singer – really, the new producers couldn’t have thrown him a bone? Or was he prepping to star in “The Beastmaster: The Next Generation” as “Pop-Pop”? I wanted there to be those “No way, dude” moments, like an alien baby being born, which made this fodder for discussion during my P.E. class in my formative years – it was so much better than my playing sports, trust me.
Plus, I like my alien-in-disguise villains to be named Diana and have big hair teased within an inch of being considered follicle abuse, shoulder pads like a linebacker and played as a “Dynasty” beeyatch by the original’s Jane Badler, thank you, and will not accept Anna (Morena Baccarin) as some pale (literally) pixie haircut knock off!
Over-the-top always trumps understated in my book.
Elizabeth Mitchell, you left “Lost” to do this project? Just add a “smooth move Ex-Lax” and you have her career choice!
Grade: What do you think – he’ll give it an F, right? No a B, as in Bad Idea.
“FlashForward” was being touted as the new “Lost” prior to its debut. Well, it’s not. It’s all about the worldwide populace experiencing the titular phenomenon, which enables them to see six months into the future, following a two-minute, 17-second (give or take a second – please, can you be more specific, writers?) loss of consciousness.
“FlashForward” to episodes in October and you can see me erasing them from my DVR and canceling its recording.
We get it! The people can see their futures, and the getting there was painful to watch. If I have to see the same damn fuzzy visages of what was to come each week over and over – oh, wait, I don’t.
Grade: A, as in “Are you serious?” The new “Lost”? Whatever!
Of course, in fairness there were some A+ efforts from ABC, including “Modern Family,” which is the funniest show on TV besides “Hoarders.” Oh, that’s not supposed to be funny? My bad.
And it’s so nice to see Courteney Cox and her “youthful appearance” back on TV where it belongs on the poorly named “Cougar Town.” Seriously, she only bedded one younger guy the entire season and the show is more about her inner circle (love Busy Phillips as Laurie, as much as I love the fact that someone named their kid Busy) and family. I think “Friends” would have been a better title. What? I do.
Over on the CW (or The Dub, as the cool kids call it), “Melrose Place” is also on the endangered species list. Bear in mind, this is the network that gave the go-ahead to producing “High Society” and “Fly Girls.”
Okay, now stay with me on this one. I have to admit I didn’t think the new version was all that bad. And if you think about it (again, stay with me), this revamp has traversed the same territory as its predecessor.
The show was floundering in the ratings from the get-go, with some bad characters, mostly in the guise of Ashlee Simpson. Hopefully after she “left the show” (cough, “was fired”) she took non-annoying acting classes.
Then along comes Heather Locklear for a few episodes in November, after Michael (Thomas Calabro), Jane (Josie Bissett sans her Wilson Phillips hairdo, guess it couldn’t “Hold On” for one more decade) and Jo (Daphne Zuniga) had already happened by their old stomping grounds, just like it was 1993 again when Locklear saved the show before.
And wouldn’t ya know the show gets really less bad than it was. Plus, Ella (Katie Cassidy) has become more of a scene stealer than the artist formerly known as Sammy Jo is. The problem is there was about a four-month lag time between Amanda’s first appearances and new Simpson-less episodes in March, which doesn’t help a fledgling show.
Grade: YB, as in “you boogers.” You killed Sydney! Actually, she was already “dead” during the original run on Fox (plausibility, smausibility – it’s “Melrose Place” and now I’m Fran Drescher!), but Laura Leighton was discovered freckled face down in the famous courtyard pool in the first episode!
Whoops, I skipped over CBS shows! Next! The only new Fox show that merits any mention is “Glee,” which makes “High School Musical” look very tame, like “Romper Room,” by having plots revolving around teenage pregnancy (you shouldn’t do a solo during your first trimester, by the way) and sexuality. It has quickly become a favorite, due in large part to lesbian actress Jane Lynch’s hilarious turn as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Hold up! Aren’t female gym teachers usually, um? Well, let’s just say good casting job to the show’s creators.
Grade: I’m going off my grading curve here and giving it a G, as in “gay, gay, gay.” Please, if high school had been like this, I might have gone more often!
“Community” is the lone NBC show I will discuss, because the medical drama “Mercy” needs to have the plug pulled on it. I love that this show is an unabashedly extended version of John Hughes’ seminal (snicker) 1985 film “The Breakfast Club,” and has acknowledged it with a nudge/wink mentality throughout its freshman season. Besides, now one of its stars, Chevy Chase, has been brought out of retirement. Oh? He never made that official announcement? Did you see “Vegas Vacation”? ’Nuff said.
Grade: This one gets a C, naturally – for “comedy well-done.” Oh, and because it’s called “Community.”
Although the networks won’t reveal their next season’s lineup until May and June, it didn’t mean I couldn’t give my two-cents worth right now. All right, I’ll cop to my penchant for gabbing. Make that three cents worth!
Until next time, that is all the news that’s fit to print!