Okay, now that we're well into the new fall TV season, here's the new shows I'm finding myself watching:
First, the only new show I think I'd miss if it was canceled is Pushing Daisies. According to E! Online, it's doing well, and stands a good chance of surviving, which is great. It does push the charm and whimsy-o-meter right up to the line, but not quite to the breaking point. I would say it almost feels like a Tim Burton TV series, only it's nothing like Family Dog at all, which is the one TV series Tim Burton produced, off the top of my head. But it's fun, it's sweet, it's clever, and if their attempts to expand the envelope of what prime time network TV drama can be don't always work, at least they're not just producing the same old stuff.
And still, the best show on TV right now continues to be Friday Night Lights.
Comedies: I'm watching Aliens in America, The Big Bang Theory, and Back to You. All I ask from a comedy is that it make me laugh, and all three have. Big Bang Theory was probably the biggest surprise, since I was expecting it to be a "Look at the funny nerds" show. But I watched the pilot, thanks to a free iTunes download, and I liked it. I give it a lot of credit for allowing the hot blonde chick to treat the nerds as if they are normal people, and not looking down on them or treating them as stereotypes. Aliens in America is pleasantly low-key, a good follow-up to Everybody Hates Chris. And Back to You, starring sitcom vets Kelsey Grammer and Debra Heaton, is about as traditional as it gets, but it's still funny.
Oh, and I'm watching Curb Your Enthusiasm again, and am finally on board watching 30 Rock. None of these shows, new and returning, have grabbed me the way shows like The Office, Everybody Hates Chris, or My Name is Earl have, but I'm enjoying them.
Dramas: Journeyman is kind of a low-key Quantum Leap. I appreciate that the main character's wife has already accepted that he's traveling through time, and we don't have to watch episode after episode of him trying to explain his "mysterious" disappearances to her. Beyond that, I like the whole idea of him helping ordinary people instead of getting caught up in big events. Not watching anything new on Tuesdays, except for the gripping and soon-to-be-ending Damages.
Wednesday, it's the aforementioned Pushing Daisies and Private Practice and Bionic Woman. Again, both entertaining enough to bring me back next week, neither shows that I'd miss if they got canceled. In particular, Bionic Woman seems like a bigger-budgeted version of SciFi's dead series, Painkiller Jane, which I fell behind on and eventually stopped watching after four or five episodes. Michelle Ryan, as Jamie Summers, is just fine, but overall, the show is just a little too dark and heavy. That works okay on producer David Eick's other show, Battlestar Galactica, but since Bionic Woman isn't an allegory for the war on terrorism, it's an uncomfortable fit here.
I think it's also interesting that of the three shows set in San Francisco this year (Journeyman, Bionic Woman, and Women's Murder Club) Bionic Woman is the only one set exclusively in the parts of San Francisco that are dark, shitty, rainy, and look exactly like Vancouver. And since almost every TV show and movie try to pass Vancouver off as someplace else, Bionic Woman looks like it's set in the same place as every other TV show or movie. No real sense of place at all. (Heck, Nash Bridges did a better job of feeling like it was really set in SF.)
Private Practice is the much-anticipated Grey's Anatomy spin-off that is really just an okay medical drama. But that doesn't mean Amy Brenneman, Kate Walsh, or Kadee Strickland are in it any less. (Or Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, or Paul Adelstein, but the attraction isn't the same.) And just because it isn't groundbreakingly brilliant doesn't mean it's bad.
Don't believe I'm watching anything new on Thursday, beyond the fantastic, almost-finished-for-this-year Mad Men. Oh, and I've decided to check out Law & Order: Criminal Intent again because Alicia Witt has joined the cast. Been a fan since Cybill, created by the man behind The Big Bang Theory.
Friday is the home of the one new show I sampled and decided to pass on: Moonlight. The idea of a vampire detective sounded very Angel, and, in fact, Angel cocreator David Greenwalt worked on Moonlight briefly. In fact, it turned out to be more Forever Knight, without all the supernatural weirdness that made Angel interesting. Having said that, Sophia Myles was totally hot, and great, and almost enough to get me to watch the show if there wasn't anything else in that time slot.
But there is something else in that slot. Two somethings, in fact. There's the aforementioned Friday Night Lights--best show on network TV, and better than most cable--and the new Women's Murder Club. Like Private Practice, it's a good, solid traditional genre show (cop show instead of doctor show) that's quite well made and acted. On its own, it's just fine, but compared to something truly great, like Friday Night Lights, it pales a bit. However, I enjoyed it better than Moonlight, so I'll watch it over the vampire detective thing.
And I'll write about Sunday's new shows tomorrow.