Fall TV Preview

We’re on the verge of the Fall 2009 premieres, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on upcoming shows (Sadly, wordpress seems to have eaten all the videos I embedded to go along with the commentary):

Glee (FOX, premieres 9/2)– I’ve already written about Glee here, but let this serve as a reminder, since the re-air of the Pilot is tonight.  One of FOX’s most-pushed new shows, Glee follows the losers and outcasts of an Ohio Glee club, re-started by former Glee star-turned Spanish teacher.  It’s a musical comedy, but rather than breaking from reality for the musical numbers, they’re all diegetic, songs done by the Glee members or a cappella loops for sound effects/background music.  In the pilot alone, they do “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat,” “Rehab,” “On My Own,” and “Don’t Stop Belevin.'”  The show has a great quirky sensibility, and is playing the ‘outcasts band together to become more than they would have been alone’ vibe.  It’s got an infectious joy to it, and is definitely one to check out.

Flash Forward (ABC, premieres 9/24) — Adapted from a Robert J. Sawyer SF novel, this is being positioned as the long-awaited companion show to their ongoing hit, LOST.  In Flash Forward, everyone in the world collapses for 2 minutes and 17 seconds.  During that time, they see their own lives, 6 months in the future.  The action of the show will then follow the main characters working to ensure that the events in their flash forwards come to pass (or that they don’t).  The large ensemble cast includes Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Dominic Monaghan, Christine Woods and more.  ABC has been pushing the show, and it’s drawn a good bit of attention already, given the cast and the concept.  In the viewing world following shows like LOST, Heroes, and more, there seems to be more room for mystery-based SF shows, especially ones such as Flash Forward or LOST that have contemporary settings, focusing more on the familiarity than estrangement (to go back to Darko Suvin’s definition of SF).  Whereas the novel version by Sawyer flashed forward 21 years, the short-term flash-forward allow for each season to run the span of a flash-forward each season, then do another incident for each following season (which has been advertised as the plan for the TV show).  This approach should make for more contained story arcs, and hopefully, the ability for each season to stand on its own merits rather than serving as a lead-in for a subsequent season, as any longer serial narrative has a tendency to do.  I’m going to follow this one for probably at least a few episodes, unless it just crashes and burns.

Eastwick (ABC, premieres 9/23):
Seemingly positioned as a sequel to John Updike’s 1984 novel The Witches of Eastwick, this updates the story for a post-Desperate Housewives world.  Three women make a wish at a well at the same time, and have their wishes come true — which in true Monkey’s Paw fashion, proves to be more than any of them bargained for.  Featuring Rebecca Romajn, Lindsay Price, and Jaime Ray Newman, with Paul Gross as the wish-giving devil.  There have been a number of shows that have come along trying to be the next Sex and the City or the next Desperate Housewives, and this show has the honor of being the third TV remake/adaptation of the novel.  I’m not excited about it myself, since I’m not the target audience, but I may watch an episode or two just to see how it does.

The Prisoner (AMC, premieres Nov): A remake of the influential British miniseries, AMC is trying to increase its original programming props by going for a remake/sequel of a show that for many, stands the test of time without needing an update.  They do have the fortune of slick cinematography, strong set/costume design, and Ian McKellan in the role of #2, with Jim Caviezel as the protagonist, #6.  I admit I haven’t seen the original version, but I’m hoping to watch it from AMC (as they’re streaming the original series online for free) before watching this version.

Bored to Death (HBO, Premieres 9/20):  With Jason Schwatzman in the leading role, there’s instantly a certain expectation for the show.  Add the show’s logline of “A Noir-otic comedy,” and you’ve already got a decent sense of what you’ll be getting into.  Schwartzman plays Jonathan Ames, Writer by day, unlicensed Private Detective by night.  Ted Danson plays his boss, and the entire thing has indie screwball written all over it.  Given that it’s HBO, it automatically gets a certain amount of faith based on the network’s credibility, but I remain skeptical — more because of my own aesthetic leanings than any possible faults of the show.

Bored to Death

Midseason Shows

V: (ABC) — Another classic SF remake, this has a group of aliens arriving on Earth, promising technological bounties in all areas in exchange for access to water and another ‘common resource.’  Saying much more would verge into spoilers, but I’ll note that it will feature Firefly alums Alan Tudyk and Morena Bacarin as well as LOST star Elizabeth Mitchell.

Day one:(NBC) — This is an apocalyptic show that follows the residents in an apartment complex brought together to be in a position to do…something after a worldwide event/attack/something that Destroys Civilization As We Know It.  The recent trailers/previews seem to indicate an alien-type event, and a Mysterious Benefactor who chosen the main cast to lead the resistance against the aliens or whatever the source of the apocalypse ends up being.  It’s notable in that the level of effects used are reminiscent of films like The Day After Tomorrow or Independence Day, far beyond the scope of what is normal/expected for TV.  This of course means that if its budget is that high, it’ll need to perform amazingly well to earn its keep, a problem that shows like Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Battlestar Galactica have had to face.  None of the cast members stand out as of yet, and I have the feeling that Jason Alexander, the show-runner, is going for a Heroes/LOST-style ensemble where people’s backstories emerge in play to provide additional fuel as B-plots behind/beside the A-plot of the apocalypse and the recovery/survival aspects. We’re likely to see even more of this before it airs in 2010.

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