Without Question, 'Chelsea' Is Lame
January 10, 2012 8:55 PM
By Alan Pergament
I have an answer to the question in the new NBC sitcom Are You There, Chelsea?
Let's hope that it won't be there for long.
It is one thing to read and enjoy the raunchy attitude of comedian Chelsea Handler in her bestselling books and late-night E! cable talk show.
But when it comes to the same material on prime time network TV, a little raunch goes a long way.
Handler is one of the stars of the series that premieres on NBC Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET, after the less offensive and occasionally funny Whitney. But she doesn't play herself. That's a smart move. As an NBC promo for the series suggests, she's probably a little too old by TV standards to play a sex-crazed bartender with a sailor's tongue. And she's wise to dye her blonde hair dark, as if she is trying to avoid being seen.
The real Chelsea plays Sloane, the very pregnant older sister of the fictional Chelsea, who is played by Laura Prepon of That '70s Show. The most laughable moment out of Handler's mouth in the two episodes available for review occurs near the end of the second episode when Sloane (the real Chelsea) gives the fictional Chelsea a relationship lesson and tells her that life isn't all about sex.
This show is. Cover your ears, or in this case, your eyes as the fictional Chelsea narrates the episodes. In the first minute of the pilot tonight, there's a chlamydia joke, soon to be followed by jokes about sexual positions, a wacky new roommate's virginity. and giving a bartender a "handy" (in front of Chelsea's father, no less). I'm no prude, but this show tries much too hard to get laughs out of sophomoric material, with one-liners that probably read funnier written on paper than they do when performed. The sexual-position joke is the bottom of the barrel -- and repeated often.
It isn't like NBC doesn't have a censor. The word "vodka" isn't in the show title, as it is in Handler's bestseller Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. However, it kept vodka in the script, and also allows several politically-incorrect drinking jokes. After all, isn't drunk driving funny?
Besides the virgin and the father (played by Lenny Clarke), the characters include a dull bartender, a best friend, a male little person, and a cat with a name I won't repeat (but isn't the obvious slang word you might think). None of the actors (or the cat) makes much of an impression.
My impression is that potential viewers would be wise to ignore Are You There, Chelsea? and read a book. Even one of Handler's books.
Rating: 1 and a half stars out of 4
'Bones' Returns With Satisfying 'Unsolvable Situation'
November 10, 2011 8:20 AM
By Alan Pergament
Stephen Nathan, one of the executive producers of the Fox hit series Bones, wrote a message to the nation's television critics that came with the DVD of the first two episodes of the seventh season.
He wrote: "Bones finds itself dealing with a happily unsolvable situation: Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) are a couple. And they are about to have a baby. Sure, they have been stealing glances and secretly lusting after each other all these years, but we also have seen they couldn't be more unsuited for each other. Will it work out? How is a child going to change them?"
They are both very good and very interesting questions. The larger question is: How is the situation going to change the series, which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox? After all, babies often are the kiss of death for series.
As usual, the murders in the first two episodes -- last week's "Memories in the Shallow Grave" and this week's "The Hot Dog in the Competition" -- are secondary to the relationship between Brennan and Booth and all of the secondary characters. Tonight's "Hot Dog" episode, which involves the murder of an eating contest champion, is the more involving of the two.
Relationship-wise, the episodes highlight the differences between the rational scientist (Brennan) who is clueless about how to behave when living with the more emotional homicide detective (Booth) she supposedly loves.
Of course, the scientist is self-aware when it comes to hormonal issues. But she isn't aware of her partner's need to have input in every decision about the baby, including being at the doctor's office to find out the sex and deciding where the family should live. The couple also has typical debates about money and sexual needs that they would be better off addressing before becoming parents.
Brennan's better financial situation -- she is a millionaire off her book sales -- is an amusing subplot, as Booth is determined to split all expenses 50-50.
Booth and her co-workers also seem determined to educate Brennan about how to behave in a loving partnership, making Bones seem as much like a couple's counseling session as a murder mystery.
Of course, what leads to love and romance often can be a mystery. As warm and lovable as some elements of these episodes often are, it is easy to question whether this couple can survive as long as the series already has.
Brennan and Booth are so different that, in real life, they might last about as long as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. But in the fantasy world of TV, one would expect love will triumph over all of Brennan's cluelessness and Booth's frustrations.
Rating: 3 stars out of 4
ABC Has a Fairy Tale Winner in 'Time'
October 20, 2011 5:20 PM
By Alan Pergament
Once upon a time, ABC used to carry a Sunday night series called The Wonderful World of Disney that enabled the whole family to sit together and watch a sweet family-oriented program.
That magical time is back.
At 8 p.m. ET Sunday, ABC premieres an imaginative, creative and beautifully-produced series, Once Upon a Time.
It is about a lonely 10-year-old adopted boy, Henry (Jared Gilmore), who lives in a town called Storybrooke and believes all the characters and stories in a fairy tale book that he has been given by an English teacher are real and live in New England with him.
It stars Ginnifer Goodwin of HBO's Big Love, Jennifer Morrison of House, Robert Carlyle of The Full Monty and Lana Parrilla of Boomtown. They all have dual roles, playing characters that live in Henry's world now and the fairy tale world he believes they came from.
In Sunday's opener, Snow White, Prince Charming, the Seven Dwarfs, the Evil Queen, Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket and Rumpelstiltskin are brought to life as the story moves back and forth from Henry's real and imagined worlds. In Henry's view, the fairy tale characters don't realize they were frozen in time and are now living in the modern world.
Henry seeks out the mother who gave birth to him and put him up for adoption, Emma Swan (Morrison), on her 28th birthday, and brings the bail bondsperson to Storybrooke to meet the "evil" foster mother, Regina (Parrilla), who is raising him.
Regina also is the mayor of Storybrooke, and she doesn't take kindly to Emma showing up when she returns Henry home. She also doesn't realize that the English teacher (Goodwin) gave Henry the fairy tale book to give him hope "and belief in the possibility of a happy ending."
Once Upon is beautifully produced and told, but may have worked better as a movie. The cast makes the fantastic seem believable, and Morrison gets extra praise for playing a tough character that is opposite her former House role.
Some cynics and realists might question the way the hour goes back and forth from fairy tale time to the modern world. But if a viewer just accepts the premise and goes along for the magical ride, created by writers whose credits include Lost and Tron: Legacy, there is a good chance of leaving enchanted.
And how often can one say that about television these days?
But back to the real and modern world: Once airs opposite The Amazing Race, Sunday Night Football and The Simpsons. So there is no guarantee of a happy ending.
ABC's 'Pan Am' Has Bumpy Arrival
September 23, 2011 11:02 PM
By Alan Pergament
ABC's Pan Am arrives on schedule opposite CBS's The Good Wife this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.
It isn't exactly a soft landing for the pre-feminist 1960s stewardesses and jet age pilots who are circling the globe when the women offered coffee, tea or milk with a smile, and occasionally added something extra.
It's the extra the show concentrates on. The one member of the cast most likely to be recognized is Christina Ricci, who plays the rebel. The cast of characters also includes two competitive sisters, one a former beauty queen, who create a lot of turbulence for each other.
You'll like Pan Am if you enjoy looking at beautiful, stylish people, and feel nostalgic about the days women wore girdles and "silly little hats," when passengers could fly when snacks were plentiful, and before baggage fees and security checks made traveling one big pain. To spice up your trip, the script offers some romantic heartbreak and gives stewardesses an extra job as international spies.
You'll hate it if you're not a fan of flying or nostalgia or lines like this: "Better buckle up, adventure calls." Or "I want to see the world."
Did I mention it's opposite The Good Wife on CBS? And the Sunday night NFL game on NBC? You don't have to be an traffic controller to see that this well-produced and pretty-looking series is flying in dangerous territory, especially since the female audience already has a place to go opposite football.
It doesn't help that it takes the show's pilot a considerable amount of time to take off. ABC better give Pan Am another route to success.
Read more by Alan Pergament at stilltalkintv.com
'Revenge': Pretty Evil Soap Suds
September 21, 2011 6:05 PM
By Alan Pergament
Who doesn't love Emily VanCamp?
The Canadian actress has been adorable ever since she hit the American TV screen as a teenager on Everwood, the WB series in which she played Amy Abbott, love interest of the emotionally scarred Ephram.
Greg Berlanti, the creator of Everwood, eventually found a place for her on Brothers & Sisters as Rebecca, who became the love interest of the emotionally scarred Justin.
And now she gets her star turn on Revenge, a new ABC drama that the producers told TV critics is loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo.
VanCamp plays a former jailbird who got money and now is out to get all the obscenely rich people in Southampton, Long Island, who earlier conspired to ruin her father's reputation when she was an adoring daughter.
In other words, Emily has gone bad after getting rich. But it's the kind of bad that people can root for against even worse rich people, the one group that TV series love to hate.
As good as it is to see VanCamp expand her acting range, it is a little unsettling to see the formerly adorable Emily play such a schemer. And I can almost hear Speaker of the House John Boehner lament the class warfare in Revenge.
VanCamp plays a character taking a new identity as Emily Thorne, who narrates the pilot and looks great in a red dress. Through flashbacks, viewers learn that Emily lived in Southampton 17 years ago, when she was known as Amanda, though only a dog and a nerdy rich tech guy (Gabriel Mann) still recognize her.
She rents the house next door to Victoria Grayson (known as Queen Victoria and played by Madeleine Stowe, above with VanCamp) and husband Conrad (Henry Czerny), who destroyed her father. Emily's primary goal is seeking revenge in a way that nobody figures out what she really is up to. Her entree into Queen Victoria's family is Daniel (Josh Bowman), the handsome son who can't resist Emily's charms. Who can?
Emily's beauty helps her pull it off, for the most part, with the help of a close friend who's an event planner (Ashley Madekwe). Flashbacks enable viewers to see what Emily's life was like when she was known as Amanda. Back then, she hung out with the middle class son of a local tavern owner, Jack (Nick Wechsler, below with Mann), before her dad was arrested right before her eyes.
Now the villainous rich people have affairs with their best friends' spouses and screw their underlings financially, while they smile and act like do-gooders. That makes it easy to root for Emily, who gets people in trouble by acting naive when she knows exactly what she's doing.
The hour is intriguing and very easy on the eyes. But glamorous series like this can be tough sells beyond a season or two, despite all the potential stories with this rich cast.
Revenge probably would have played better as a TV movie. Yet I can think of much worse ways to spend 13 to 22 evenings a year than watching VanCamp parade around in colorful dresses at opulent parties in what could become this generation's version of Dynasty or Dallas.
Read more by Alan Pergament at stilltalkintv.com
'Person of Interest' Makes Fall TV Interesting
August 10, 2011 1:55 PM
By Alan Pergament
TV critics and bloggers across the nation just gathered at the semi-annual Television Critics Association tour looking for the next great thing. I couldn't go this year -- after 27 years in my previous life as the Buffalo News television critic -- but the networks were kind enough to send me all the DVDs available of the new shows.
I've watched several already and imagine that one of the series bound to get the most attention is CBS' new drama Thursday at 9 ET, Person of Interest.
There are plenty of reasons for it to get extra buzz. It stars Michael Emerson, who played Ben Linus, one of the most intriguing characters on ABC's Lost. The co-star is Jim Caviezel, best known for playing Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. It is produced by J.J. Abrams, who added the summer movie hit Super 8 to a resume that includes TV's Lost, Alias and Fringe.
But the biggest reason comes courtesy of Rupert Murdoch, whose media company News Corp is in serious jeopardy because of a hacking scandal.
You can't help but think of the News Corp. saga while watching Person of Interest because the main characters hack into cell phones to get information about possible victims and perpetrators of crimes in New York City.
They invade privacy in the post-9/11 world for good reason -- to save someone. But the ease with which they do it with the help of red-light cameras and hacking devices still is pretty scary stuff.
I'm not saying I loved the pilot. It reminded me a bit of a combination of the Francis Ford Coppola movie The Conversation, Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, and Edward Woodward's old CBS series The Equalizer.
Caviezel plays John Reese, a former CIA type who becomes a vigilante after being pressed into service by Emerson's wealthy character, Mr. Finch. Except for a Ratso Rizzo limp when he walks, Mr. Finch isn't much different than Ben Linus. He is mysterious, a bit of a weasel, and says things that are supposed to be profound. Caviezel's Reese is the strong silent type of character that Eastwood can do in his sleep.
The opener is what is referred to as a premise pilot, which means Reese and Mr. Finch have several "walk and talks" in which they explain why Mr. Finch has enlisted the formerly homeless Reese to shoot anyone he needs to shoot in order to solve crimes in the name of justice.
The walk-and-talks also allow the viewer to understand the similar government and personal experiences that made these two very different men eventually see eye to eye.
It is an incredibly violent show that requires a viewer to suspend disbelief often -- especially when Reese is able to escape multiple armed villains and when a female district attorney enters a violent criminal's cell by herself without concern for her safety.
I didn't exactly understand everything behind the technology because it is explained so fast. But at least it is more understandable than Lost ever was.
If it becomes a hit -- and CBS moved CSI because it saw the possibilities -- I'm thinking Abrams, Emerson and Caviezel will have Rupert and his scandal to thank.
'Rescue Me' as Dependable as Jeter
July 24, 2011 3:49 PM
By Alan Pergament
The FX series Rescue Me rescued me one recent weekend.
I was sick and felt kind of low, but had seven episodes of the final season (back Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET) to make me laugh, think about death and how crazy life can be.
I had to get to Episode 7, which was titled "Jeter." I assumed it had something to do with shortstop Derek Jeter, who'd just gotten his 3000th hit as a New York Yankee.
And sure enough in this episode (set to air Aug. 24), there were a few lines comparing a firefighter to the dependable Jeter while another firefighter looked to be a hero like A-Rod.
Can you guess which character is referred to as "The Mick" or Mickey Mantle? I'm betting some longtime fans of this series about New York City firefighters dealing with the aftermath of losing 343 of their own on 9/11 might be able to guess that one.
With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 weeks away, there is no question that it is time for Rescue Me to end its run.
It gets off to a slower than usual start in early episodes, but by Episode 3 it catches fire, and each episode after that is an interesting blend of anger, pain, guilt, blame, scatological humor and poignancy.
The series centers on Denis Leary's volatile Tommy Gavin, who has had his share of personal and professional crises over the years -- most self-inflicted.
The craziness this time involves an unlikely alliance between his pregnant wife, Janet (Andrea Roth), and Sheila (Callie Thorne, photo at right), his late cousin's wife with whom Tommy had a torrid affair. Janet and Sheila have detested each other for years, but now it seems time for forgiveness and togetherness.
Things do get a bit strange on Rescue Me so you just have to accept the crazy parts to enjoy the poignant parts. In other story lines, Tommy's alcoholic daughter Colleen (Natalie Distler) is preparing to marry Black Shawn (Larenz Tate), one of Tommy's co-workers in the firehouse. Subplots include Franco Rivera's (Daniel Sunjata) attempt to become a lieutenant and Lt. Kenny "Lou" Shea's (John Scurti) attempt to stop eating doughnuts and save his best friend Tommy from himself.
That is a 24/7 job as Tommy loses it during a TV interview with a female reporter doing a story on the anniversary of 9/11 that gets a little too personal.
The media are dealt with pretty harshly in Rescue Me, with the theme of looking to get dirt rather than detailing the heroic stories supposedly being reported. While some of the media heat is deserving, some of it is it is as exaggerated as it is funny. Wait until you see how the female TV reporter gets her comeuppance. She is a condescending interviewer, pretending to care when she is just looking for a good sound bite or dirt to propel her career. She gets a good quote from Tommy: "There are no happy endings."
As far as the dirt, let's just say the firefighters know how to fight fire with fire.
The scripts can get a little sophomoric, as in the case of a female lover with a post-coital problem that requires a firefighter to eventually use a piece of his firefighting equipment to survive.
But there are also some tender, poignant moments scattered in, when the firefighters look at Ground Zero from a building nearby; Deputy Chief Sidney Feinberg (Jerry Adler) talks about the best way to honor heroes (it doesn't involve walls and memorials); Tommy Gavin questions the commercialism of 9/11; and Tommy is eventually moved to express his feelings about the friends and family he fought with and loves.
In the end, despite the occasional R-rated dialogue, Rescue Me is a family show that illustrates how arguing, debating and fighting with each other can just be a way to express love with those who can handle conflict more easily than they can handle guilt and blame.
The first seven episodes made available for review seem poised to deliver a powerful ending that may even live up to Sidney Feinberg's belief about the best way to honor heroes.
In the end, Rescue Me has become as dependable as Derek Jeter, delivering entertaining and thoughtful entertainment, with absurd humor and situations mixed in with real-life issues.
Just don't expect any happy ending.
When Comedy Gets Laughs for the Wrong Reasons
November 19, 2010 3:22 PM
By Alan Pergament
It was hard not to laugh this week when NBC announced its midseason schedule would continue its Thursday night of comedy past 10 p.m. ET, by pushing back Tina Fey's Emmy-winning 30 Rock and the freshman series Outsourced.
After all, one of the jokes in the previous weekend's PBS special honoring Fey with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor concerned how low the ratings for 30 Rock have been.
And the joke was made by Lorne Michaels, the Saturday Night Live producer who also is one of the producers of 30 Rock.
NBC has tried the 10 p.m. ET comedy strategy before on some nights, and it has never worked. The chance it will work with the low-rated 30 Rock is as slim as the chance Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien will have Thanksgiving dinner together. If nothing else, NBC's moves will give Fey some material for her show, which oftens skewers network executives.
I suspect one of the reasons 30 Rock was given a renewal through the 2011-12 season is that NBC executives realize Fey's show will deserve an extra year for being sacrificed at 10 p.m. ET Thursday, where Donald Trump's The Apprentice has been tanking this season.
The move does have some benefits for 30 Rock in that it eliminates one competitor. Fox doesn't program at 10 p.m. ET. As of now, it will face only ABC's Private Practice, which isn't exactly a ratings hit, and CBS's The Mentalist.
NBC's midseason scheduling changes [detailed here by Ed Bark] are one big concession that its fall schedule of new shows was close to a disaster, despite the pedigree of some shows' producers.
J. J. Abrams' Undercovers already has been canceled. Jerry Bruckheimer's Chase hasn't officially been canceled, but NBC has announced two shows in its 10 p.m. ET Monday time slot, so you don't have to be a mentalist to see what that means.
The Event [photo above], which had such strong numbers at the start that NBC immediately proclaimed it a hit, has been sinking since, and will go on hiatus for two months. It will need as much or more promotion for its return than it did at the start, to get audiences back now that they know it's a series about aliens.
Law & Order: Los Angeles had a strong ratings start, but has faded, which is why it is being moved to 10 p.m. ET Tuesday in February. It isn't getting much of a favor there, where it will compete with CBS's The Good Wife.
Outsourced isn't a ratings hit, but NBC hasn't demanded big audiences from its comedies -- witness the continuation of Community and Parks and Recreation.
The one recent NBC series that seems to be getting some traction is Parenthood [photo at left], which premiered last spring. Its reward? Moving to 10 p.m. ET Monday in March. That's the time slot where ABC's Castle and CBS's Hawaii Five-0 have been battling for audiences.
The biggest admission that NBC is facing reality -- that practically everything this fall failed -- is the announcement of all the reality shows it plans to return after the New Year.
That includes Jerry Seinfeld's The Marriage Ref, airing at 8 p.m. ET Sunday after the NFL season ends, followed by Trump's reality series.
'Friday Night Lights' Remains a Winner
November 1, 2010 11:48 AM
By Alan Pergament
It is time to get sentimental about Friday Night Lights.
And with Friday Night Lights.
The series about life in a small Texas town where high school football is king just entered its final season on DirecTV's The 101 channel (9 p.m. ET Wednesdays), before it gets a larger audience in 2011 on NBC.
In a TV season that is without a must-see new hit, Lights shone as brightly and as beautifully as ever in last week's premiere episode, titled "Expectations."
The series finally received Emmy respect last season, with the actors playing the best husband and wife team on TV, Kyle Chandler (Coach Eric Taylor) and Connie Britton (guidance counselor Tami Taylor), deservedly getting nominations.
This being high school, the departures of Minka Kelly (Derek Jeter's fiance), Scott Porter (who now is on The Good Wife), Adrianne Palicki (who was on this year's flop Lone Star) and Zach Gilford as regular cast members have been skillfully handled. They all will return for appearances in the final season.
In the fifth-season premiere, the Taylors had to deal with the heartache of seeing their daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) head off to college.
It's a very sentimental goodbye that should resonate with any parent who's experienced the emotional pain of seeing a child leave while at the same time being proud that they raised him or her to be independent.
At one point, Eric looks at his wife and daughter having a conversation at the kitchen table about shopping and says "I'm going to miss this."
There is a lot to love about Lights, with the Taylors' family life high on the list.
The remaining characters from the original cast include bad boy Tim Riggins (played by Taylor Kitsch) and good guy Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons). However, it looks as if they will be taking a back seat to newcomers on the series.
The show's writers have done a great job in the past few seasons incorporating new teen characters played by Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Madison Burges. This year, they have added Grey Damon (90210, True Blood) as a basketball player who initially takes the very un-Texas like position that "football is stupid."
Though Lights has been one of the best shows on TV for four seasons, it never has been able to attract the audience it deserves for a combination of reasons.
For one thing, it isn't easy getting viewers to watch family dramas.
The football backdrop also may have turned off female viewers from even sampling the show, though those who have seem to love it.
The story lines also can be a little too dark and depressing, since they deal with very real issues involving teens in a poor Texas town dominated by football – including the inequities between funding of schools, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs, racial discord, neglectful/abusive parents and boyfriends, and the difficult of escaping the cycle of poverty.
But it is the intelligent way that Lights deals with all these issues that makes it a TV classic that deserves to go out a winner.
And all indications are that it has a solid game plan for a final season, after last year's winning season in which Coach Taylor left the comfort of Dillon High to go crosstown to East Dillon and coach with considerably fewer resources.
It wasn't an easy move for his wife, either. The guidance counselor will face frustrations after heading East, too, at season's end, after taking a principled stand that upset the Dillon School Board.
Looks like Coach Taylor will once again try to teach his players lessons about teamwork, pride and family, while his frustrated wife tries to help them overcome the low expectations their parents have given them.
If you don't shed a tear or two as the Taylors prepare to say loving goodbyes to their daughter, then check your pulse to see if you're alive.
I'm going to miss this series.
Fall TV: Hard to spot the hits
September 14, 2010 12:31 PM
By Alan Pergament
If ever there was a good year to stop being a full-time TV critic, this is it.
I have to give the networks' promotional departments credit -- they've made several shows look intriguing. But I've watched just about all the pilots for the new fall shows and loved exactly one -- Fox' show about a Texas con artist, Lone Star.When I told this to a former big city critic who also has become a blogger, he responded that he didn't even like Lone Star all that much.
A year ago, it wasn't hard to spot ABC's stylish and hilarious Modern Family as a sure-fire hit even if one didn't realize that the weekly hijinks of three different families within a family would lead to an Emmy Award as best comedy.There is no Modern Family this TV season, which is loaded with so many cop, crime and legal shows that the Hollywood community should be arrested for lack of creativity.
I read in a wire service story that the networks had several shows trying to appeal to younger viewers. I don't know what shows that guy saw, because the overwhelming sentiment I got from watching the pilots was how far network TV has gone back to its future in an attempt to attract the older viewers more likely to watch it.
I teach at a couple of local Buffalo-area colleges -- Buffalo State and Medaille. When I ask the younger generation if they watch network TV, only a few students raise their hands. And then they tell me they watch reality shows. Ouch.
Like other media, the networks had a choice of trying to appeal to the users they have or attract the ones who play harder to get than the prettiest girl in class.
Overwhelmingly, all the networks except Fox went to option 1.
The new shows have one additional hurdle to overcome -- the DVR. The recording device that makes it easier for viewers to watch shows at their convenience tends to reward older hits at the expense of new shows trying to get a first or second look.
Here's a brief overview of the new shows premiering this fall. I have put them in three categories -- must see, must watch again to see if they will improve, and must avoid.
Lone Star, Monday at 9 p.m. ET (Sept. 20), Fox -- The lone member of this category stars a guy (James Wolk, photo at top) who has a George Clooney twinkle in his eye and enough charm to get two people to marry him at the same time while he fleeces one group of victims to pay off another one. Unfortunately, it airs opposite NBC's heavily-promoted conspiracy series, The Event.
MUST WATCH AGAIN TO SEE IF THEY IMPROVE
The Event, Monday at 9 p.m. ET (Sept. 20), NBC -- Starring Jason Ritter, Blair Underwood and Scott Patterson, this conspiracy series is more complicated than the summer movie hit Inception. In the first 15 minutes or so, viewers are shown graphics that tell them things happened 23 minutes earlier, 11 days earlier, 13 months earlier, 8 days earlier. You may know in 15 minutes if you care.
Hawaii Five-0, Monday at 10 p.m. ET (Sept. 20), CBS -- CBS' latest attempt to make Australian actor Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) a star, in this reprise of the Jack Lord series. Cast also includes Scott Caan (Entourage), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) and Jean Smart (as governor). O'Loughlin plays a former Navy man who partners with Caan, who's divorced and knows when his ex calls because the theme from Jaws plays on his cell phone. It is stylish -- and amusing in a 1980s sort of way.
Raising Hope, Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (Sept. 21), Fox -- It's a dry comedy about a young pool guy, Jimmy, who ends up with an infant after a one-night stand with a serial killer who ends up in jail. Jimmy is so clueless that he throws up on the baby after seeing the kid's first bowel movement. Needless to say, his childish, low-class parents aren't thrilled but eventually forget their suggestion to have the baby dropped off at the fire station and are willing to help raise the kid.
Running Wilde, Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET (Sept. 21), Fox -- Totally dependent on whether you can tolerate Will Arnett, who plays a man so rich and clueless that he gives himself a humanitarian award. His former girlfriend, played by Keri Russell, is the daughter of one of his father's housekeepers and a leading environmentalist. She has a daughter and believes she can change Arnett's character. I'm not wild about it, but could see it appealing to fans of Arrested Development.
Detroit 1-8-7, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET (Sept. 21), ABC -- Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos plays an unknowable cop who hates people as much as he hates cell phones. He has great instincts, verbally abuses his partner, and is followed around by a reality TV crew. Yeah, that's going to happen. In other words, it is a routine, scripted version of Cops. At least it isn't set in Buffalo.
Undercovers, Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET (Sept. 22), NBC -- Love the promos about this romantic spy show from J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias). The series leads -- Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw -- are gorgeous, and the plot has a Thomas Crown Affair feel. But it is almost all style and little substance.
The Defenders, Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (Sept. 22), CBS -- Jerry O'Connell is a defense lawyer who sleeps around, and Jim Belushi is a lawyer who manipulates the system, pines for his estranged wife and plays with his client's lives. It's dumb but likable -- like Belushi's character in the sitcom According to Jim.
My Generation, Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (Sept. 23), ABC -- Another scripted show with a reality TV component, it follows around the stereotypes who graduated high school in 2000 to look at their unfulfilled lives a decade later: the punk, the wallflower, the nerd, the brain, the rock star, the rich kid, etc. It would be a good show -- if it were on the CW. I can see college kids today playing beer pong as they count the cliches. But at least everyone looks good.
Outsourced, Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET (Sept. 23), NBC -- A comedy about a twentysomething guy with $40,000 in college loans who's forced to go to India to work for a novelty company that has outsourced its call center. The show is an equal opportunity offender -- it takes shots at life in India and the United States. Pilot is offensive and amusing. But how long can writers do jokes about the gastric joys of Indian food, fake vomit and other tasteless things?
Body of Proof, Friday at 9 p.m. ET (date TBA), ABC -- What could be bad about a series starring Dana Delany (China Beach and Desperate Housewives)? She plays a tough, scarred Philadelphia neurosurgeon turned coroner after a bad case and bad divorce. It has some similarities to Castle and Bones in that her character knows as much or more than the police, and there are some tender family moments.
Blue Bloods, Friday at 10 p.m. ET (Sept. 24), CBS -- Beautifully-shot series about three generations of cops who share family meals together but don't share all the family secrets. It stars Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynihan and Frank Sinatra's (New York, New York) music. This is New York cops as heroes, though Wahlberg's character has a little Andy Sipowicz in him. It is far from David Milch's NYPD Blue, but a twist near the end of the pilot takes it out of the totally routine category.
No Ordinary Family, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (Sept. 28), ABC -- Sweet family show in which Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz play a husband and wife whose marriage seems a little shaky before they get superpowers with their children after a plane crash. It is sweet, but probably would have worked better as a Disney movie.
Outlaw, Friday at 10 p.m. ET (Sept. 15 preview, Sept. 17 premiere), NBC -- Jimmy Smits chews the scenery as a former conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice, womanizer and gambler who resigns to embrace his father's heritage and spout liberal cliches. The dialogue in this one makes it a long fall from being president on The West Wing -- it is often as silly as the idea anyone would resign from the Court to practice law. Conservatives and liberals will agree -- this is one stupid show.
Mike and Molly, Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET (Sept. 20), CBS -- Sitcom from Chuck Lorre, the creator of Two and Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, it illustrates that he has the power to get anything on the air. It's a comedy about a cop and a teacher who belong to Overeaters Anonymous. There are a lot of fat jokes in this very thin comedy.
Chase, Monday at 10 p.m. ET (Sept. 20), NBC -- Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) is a pretty and pretty tough U.S. Marshal who spouts cliches (visible in the promos) in a Jerry Bruckheimer show with a Criminal Minds feel. Talking about a rival law enforcement group, she says: "They are about where he's been, we are about where he is going." The bad guy is the most interesting character in the fast-moving pilot, which is never a good sign. And a water chase is pretty comical.
Better With You, Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET (Sept. 22), ABC -- Three couples at different stages of romance. One sister is pregnant with a dumb guy she just met. The less said, the better about this season's biggest loser.
$#*! My Dad Says, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET (Sept. 23), CBS -- The laugh track is annoyingly loud in this laugh-less comedy in which William Shatner plays an annoying, politically-incorrect father. In the pilot's first 10 minutes, there are urination jokes and one joke about a "broken vagina." This show is a piece of $#*!.
T.O., Ochocinco Compete for Attention, On and Off the Football Field
August 22, 2010 5:30 PM
By Alan Pergament
Tony Siragusa, TV critic.
The Fox analyst turned into one Friday night during a sideline interview with Cincinnati Bengal receivers and new best friends Terrell Owens (shown here) and Chad Ochocinco during the Bengals' 22-9 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
At one point in the endlessly silly and entertaining interview, Siragusa appeared to turn to Ochocinco to praise his VH1 reality series, Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch.
I'm not sure what was sillier -- Siragusa praising the dating series, or wasting so much time with the attention-needy players while the game was being decided.
Check that. It was a preseason game, so ex-Bill Owens and Ochocinco were definitely the better entertainment choice.
Siragusa's apparent praise of Ochocinco's series had to sting Owens a little, since his reality series, The T.O. Show, also runs on VH1, and these guys are in competition for everything -- catches, TV ratings, screen time, headlines, and any attention.
But if T.O. was upset, it was never visible. He seemed on a mission to filibuster during the interview, hogging camera time and even putting in a pitch to do some toothpaste commercials while he flashed his beautiful white teeth.
In short, T.O. looked happier Friday night than he did all last season playing for the Bills without a decent line or quarterback.
Oh, by the way, T.O. caught three passes for 67 yards in the game, which would have been a good day's haul for any Bills receiver last season.
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