by KELLIE ABRAHAMSON
Success in the TV business is, like high school, one giant popularity contest: the series with the best ratings always wins. In honor of this sad but true fact, we decided it would be fitting to award this fall’s new shows with superlatives. Which new network shows will be social butterflies and which are doomed outcasts? Read on to see our predictions.
Best New Comedy [by default]: Worst Week (Mondays on CBS)
My money for the true winner of this award is Aussie import Kath & Kim but because NBC has yet to share its upcoming pilots with the media due to reshoots, recasting and other excuses, we have to award Best New Comedy to CBS’s Worst Week. An adaptation of a British sitcom, the series centers on a tragically unlucky man (Kyle Bornheimer) desperate to get in the good graces of his future in-laws (Kurtwood Smith and Nancy Lenehan). The poor guy simply can’t do anything right, resulting in one wacky mishap after another. The show is absolutely amusing but after doing everything from arriving wearing only a makeshift diaper to setting fire to a priceless portrait of his father-in-law to be, one has to wonder how much more trouble our hero can get into and if audiences will find all that fumbling funny each week. Only time will tell.
Best New Drama: The Mentalist (Tuesday on CBS)
The Mentalist is like a grown-up version of USA’s comedy Psych. Patrick Jane (Simon Barker) is an FBI agent who used to be sort of sketchy himself. Before joining the Bureau he used his unusually heightened powers of perception to pose as a psychic and swindle people. With most of that behind him, Jane now uses his ability to catch bad guys and is after one in particular: the man who brutally murdered his family. The Mentalist is the perfect combination of drama, action and comedy and certainly qualifies as must-see TV.
Most Likely to Succeed: 90210 (Tuesdays on the CW)
This contemporary spin-off of our favorite teen soap is not the best new show to hit airwaves but there’s no doubt it will stick around for some time. 90210 is a perfect blend of nostalgia and rich-kids-gone-wild edge. It’s Gossip Girl but replace swanky New York clubs with the Peach Pit and make the entire cast the perfect shade of sun-kissed bronze. Teens will eat this show up and 20- and 30-somethings will tune in to get more dirt about what happened to the original characters after the original show signed off. It’s not great TV but 90210 is already a fan favorite and will likely stay that way for years to come.
Most Likely to Fail: Do Not Disturb (Wednesdays on Fox)
I am puzzled by Fox. A few years back they were airing Arrested Development, an award-winning comedy that lacked a huge audience but was a critical success and could easily be called one of the funniest shows of my generation. Fast forward two years and the network that had the guts to air one of TV’s most brilliant comedies brings us Do Not Disturb, hands down the most cliched, yawn-inducing series of the year. This “sitcom” about the employees of a posh hotel lacks depth, class and, most importantly, laughs. There’s no doubt this one will be the most likely to be axed. [Update: As expected, Do Not Disturb met it’s maker soon after this article was written. Good luck next time, Fox.]
Most Unrealized Potential: Fringe (Tuesdays on Fox)
We know J.J. Abrams is capable of great things (Lost, anyone?) but his latest series Fringe misses the mark. Fringe revolves around an FBI agent (Anna Torv) tasked with looking into a series of seemingly unexplainable events. These phenomena are known as “the pattern” and are linked to the work of a mad scientist (John Noble) who is enlisted to help make sense of it all. Because of his father’s deteriorated mental state, his skeptical son (Joshua Jackson) comes along for the ride. The premise is a good one and the cast is great but thus far the episodes have not lived up to the hype. Each has been unnecessarily convoluted, riddled with plot holes and slow going. With a few tweaks Fringe could be just as good as Lost or Alias. Let’s hope they fix this sci-fi drama before the audience gets tired of waiting.
Most Likely to Be Unjustly Cancelled: Easy Money (Sundays on the CW)
Easy Money is about a tight-knit family who runs a successful short-term loan company. Oldest son Morgan (Jeff Hephner) is the glue that holds the family and the business together. But Morgan has bigger dreams than the ones his small town has to offer and soon becomes embroiled in a mystery that could change his life forever. The series stars Laurie Metcalf, Katie Lowes and Jay Ferguson and is well-written and engrossing from the onset. Easy Money is a mature look at real people with real problems and it could be difficult to find an audience that will appreciate it at this particular network. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the fate of this one.
new cable tv (fall 2008)
Those blessed with cable will find themselves overwhelmed with options this fall. Here’s a look at the new and returning shows hitting the airwaves this season.
Parking Wars (returns October 8), The Rookies (NEW SERIES- premieres October 21)
Greek (returned August 26), Lincoln Heights (returned September 16)
Mr. & Mrs. Wolf (NEW SERIES- premieres October 21), Whale Wars (NEW SERIES- premieres November 7)
Tabatha’s Salon Takeover (NEW SERIES- premiered August 21), The Rachel Zoe Project (NEW SERIES- premiered September 9), Top Design (returned September 3), The Real Housewives of Atlanta (NEW SERIES- premieres October 1), Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style (NEW SERIES- premieres October 2)
The Sarah Silverman Program (returns October 8), South Park (returns October 8), Important Things with Demetri Martin (NEW SERIES- premieres October 15), Chocolate News (NEW SERIES- premieres October 15)
Friday Night Lights (returns October 1),
Iditarod (NEW SERIES- premieres October 7), Prototype This (NEW SERIES- premieres October 15)
The Girls Next Door (returns October 5)
The Shield (returned September 2), Sons of Anarchy (NEW SERIES- premiered September 3), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (returned September 18), Testees (NEW SERIES- premieres October 9), Nip/Tuck (returns November 2008)
True Blood (NEW SERIES- premiered September 7). Entourage (returned September 7), Little Britain (NEW SERIES- premiered September 28), The Life & Times of Tim (NEW SERIES- premiered September 28), Summer Heights High (NEW SERIES- premieres November 9)
Rita Rocks (NEW SERIES- premieres October 20)
Paris Hilton’s New BFF (NEW SERIES- premiered September 30)
Sanctuary (NEW SERIES- premieres Oct 3), CHA$E (NEW SERIES- premieres Nov 11), Estate of Panic (NEW SERIES- premieres Nov 12)
Californication (returned September 28), Dexter (returned September 28)
Crash (NEW SERIES- premiered October 17)
Frank TV (returns October 21)
Over Designed (NEW SERIES- premiered September 20), Real Simple. Real Life. (NEW SERIES- premieres October 17)
The Starter Wife (returns October 10), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (returns November 2008)
Rock of Love Girls: Charm School (returns October 12), Scream Queens (NEW SERIES- premieres October 12), Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (returns October 23), Real Chance of Love (NEW SERIES- premieres November 3), Eddie Griffin: Going for Broke (NEW SERIES- premieres November 3), Gotti’s Way (returns November 3)
new tv superlatives
by KELLIE ABRAHAMSON