Saturday, October 7, 2006


For most of the new shows, this was Week Two in the new season. A lot of people wait to decide on make or break with the third week, but life is short. Nasty and brutish as well. So I made my choices based on the first two episodes (three, in the case of 'Studio 60' and 'Jericho'.)

Apparently the audience is responding to 'Jericho' on CBS - there was an uptick in the ratings numbers for the second week. Probably because the show about a town isolated by nuclear attacks on nearby big cities is not a procedural. It's not weighted down with heavy mythology. And it's not a serial that you have to commit to.

With so many cities apparently destroyed by nuclear blasts, it's not likely much will change about the town's overall situation if you happen to miss a week.

(We learned about 6 more cities destroyed in blasts, only three of which were named: Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Diego.)

The news is not so good for 'Kidnapped' over on NBC at 10 pm. It's a great, well-made movie-quality series and people just weren't watching it. A big problem (pun intended) is the lead-in - "The Biggest Loser". What was NBC thinking by putting this on such a competitive night as Wednesdays? Sure, they probably didn't have much of a chance with an expensive dramatic series in the 9 pm slot once 'Lost' returned, but this is a piece of dogbleep!

They should have kept 'Law & Order' - with a built-in audience from 16 years of loyal viewing - at the 9 pm slot, even though it stumbled there last year when it was moved in. But starting off the year in that time-slot, after a chance to acclimated to it over the summer, would have given the audience the time needed to adjust. (Even though I hate coddling those babies!) And it would have been a great lead-in for 'Kidnapped'.

Also, people probably didn't want to commit to another serialized show, not when the overly-hyped 'The Nine' was about to premiere. (Boy, were they sold a big one with that show!)

I fear more for Leopold Cain when it comes to the network than I do when it comes to the kidnappers.

And so the network gave the producers of 'Kidnapped' only thirteen episodes to wrap up the storyline. At least there'll be closure. Unfortunately, the show's been banished to the graveyard of prime time lineups: Saturday night.

But at least this way, those who really are hooked into 'The Nine' can also enjoy 'Kidnapped' as well.

'Brothers & Sisters' wasn't bad second time out of the gate, but it really didn't give me much reason to come back a third time. Hard to keep up the momentum after killing off a major character played by such a good actor as Tom Skerritt. Rachel Griffiths continues to shine though as Sarah.

The second episode of 'Heroes' felt more like part two of the pilot, but it really built on the introductory premise and made me eager to see more. Not all of the characters are fully realized yet, or even seem worthy enough to continue following. But others more than make up for them and I'm sure eventually they'll be up to speed once the disparate storylines begin to gel.

Especially worthy of notice are Hiro Nakamura and Claire Bennett. Hiro is just so full of joy and so fun to watch, that I think the show could have focused on hiim alone. But maybe that's me.

And Claire's family dynamic is so full of menace, that she might as well be on the 'Lost' island - especially considering her "Daddy issues".

Finally, there's 'Studio 60'. Three episodes in so far on this one. I don't think I've had so much of a drop in enthusiasm for a show from one week to the next. The pilot was fantastic; blew me away. "The Cold Open" was mostly "meh". I didn't think much of the Gilbert & Sullivan parody and that dropped even more once I saw a transcript of the lyrics. The execution exceeded the material.

And when Jordan tried to pass off the fictional 'Studio 60' as being all-important to the movie studio advertising dollar, that really bothered me. I'm not in the business, but even I know that it's the Thursday night PRIME-TIME lineup that matters more for those adverstisers. The fight is basically over by 11:30 on a Friday night!

Also, I think Steven Weber and Amanda Peet are great in their roles, but aren't there other shows playing on the NBS network that might need their attention? The fictional 'Studio 60 ' is taking up too much of their time. They should have been hired on only a recurring basis, but now with contracts signed......

By the third week, it became truly apparent that Sorkin's method of writing it all himself is going to cripple him when you're trying to show behind the scenes of a comedy sketch show. Sorkin can't write funny! He can write witty things, and things that can be humorous, but when you're supposed to be belting one out of the park to get an actual laugh, he's totally lost. He's lame. Okay, he sucks.

Proof? The sketch for "Science, Schmience". It was over-written and even had it been pared down to key words to trigger humor (ask Buddy Sorrell for a list of those), it still wasn't funny. It was Sorkin, through Matt Albie, preaching his views on intolerant religious beliefs. Harriet Hayes could have and should have pointed this out to Matt since she is such an ardent (or strident) woman of faith.

But she was probably blinded to the problems of the skit because she has no concept of what should be funny. I don't care how many times Sorkin hits us over the head with how talened and funny "Harry" Hayes is supposed to be, we've yet to see evidence of it from the actress.

I would not be surprised if she is a good actress in some other part; this is probably not her fault. Sorkin has set the bar too high in our expectations of what she should be like, and Ms. Paulsen is never going to be able to match that.

But, truth be told, I did find the bear joke funny.

So as the new TV season begins to gel, I have to say that of these shows - all of which I was eagerly anticipating, - only 'Heroes' and 'Jericho' are working for me.

I'll continue watching 'Studio 60', however, even though Sorkin's smug attitude is seeping through and it's annoying the hell out of me. But the main reason I'm sticking with it is because there's nothing really of great import to watch at the time otherwise.

And that's hardly a recommendation.......



Brent McKee said...

You mentioned Kidnapped, and I like you both liked it and presumably like you mourn its coming demise. There's more than a little irony in the fact that Kidnapped was originally scheduled to appear on Tuesday night opposite Boston Legal and Smith, and of course Smith was pulled from the CBS line up the day after it was announced that Kidnapped would end after 13 episodes and would be moved to Saturday nights. But of course, once ABC moved Grey's Anatomy to Thursday night opposite CSI, which was the original time for Studio 60... the whole line up had to be rejigged to "save Studio 60.

Anonymous said...

[Heroes] is the show I'm excited about, though I (clearly in the minority, viewer-wise) am still sticking with Studio 60. The Nine is quite intriguing, but it'd be easier to watch in a different time slot. Still, with whatever brain cells remain unfried after an episode of Lost I'll use for The Nine. LOL! Better record it....

30 Rock this week -- looking forward to seeing that. Wonder if Alec Baldwin will steal the show? The promos that feature him are truly funny!