Trouble at NBC. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with G as in Gee they’re screwed!
NBC’s fourth place standing is a bit of a mystery to us. But then, we count among our writerly ranks fans of Heroes, The Office, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, every Law & Order ever, Conan and even ER. We understand that SOME people think Friday Night Lights is good. We’re kind of bored by it, but hey. To each their own.
We can even understand the appeal of the sublimely stupid Deal or No Deal (Hot models holding suitcases and ordinary, overly enthusiastic folk getting the chance to win big money is a sorely underrepresented genre). So what’s the deal? Why can’t NBC get out of fourth place? The answer lies within the hearts and minds of the American public, for only they can tell you why they refuse to stop watching crappy CSI spinoffs, Grey’s Anatomy and karaoke juggernaut American Idol.
Perhaps if NBC would just let ER die and replace it with Heroes on Thursday night, we’d all be happy to tune in. Or maybe, until NBC comes up with a reality competition for singing crime scene techs who sleep with each other a lot, they’re kind of pooched. Because this season, NBC has provided us with a cop-turned-con-turned-cop, a geeky spy guy, a time-travelling reporter, three female executives and a bionic woman. Will that be enough to hike them out of fourth place? Eh. Somehow, we think Conan’s “NBC is balls!” schtick will live on.
Life: (Damian Lewis stars as a cop who gets a second chance on the force after years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Wed., 10 p.m.)
Tanis – This premise SHOULD intrigue me, but the bland, officey nature of the clip I saw didn’t really do it for me. Also, Damian Lewis scares the shit out of me. Like, he hasn’t adjusted to life outside yet, so watch your back, new partner. He’ll shank ya in the exercise yard and steal your smokes! Which is not to say I don’t think he’s hot. Cuz I do. I loves me some redheads. I would be on that in about three seconds flat. Which brings me to the partner conundrum: If she sleeps with him, I’ll be all “Noooo! That’s so stupid! It would never happen in real life!” But if she doesn’t, I’ll be like “Woman! Are you nuts? Look how hot he is!” It’s like Mulder and Scully all over again, except I don’t really care about the characters.
Jess – There is something tightly wound about Damien Lewis. Here he looks like he’s three seconds away from strangling someone, or everyone. Probably with good reason, but man, cheer up Damien Lewis! What, did they call you “ginger
balls” in prison? I doubt the world needs another cop show, especially one that stars the guy from Band of Brothers who wasn’t Ron Livingston. I expect this to go the way of Livingston’s cop show.
Journeyman: (A San Francisco newspaper reporter travels through time, changing the past and dealing with the havoc that wreaks on his present family life. Mon. 10 p.m.)
Tanis – So. This guy who kind of looks like a squatter, less lithe version of Mr. New James Bond, is a newspaper reporter. Except he TRAVELS THROUGH TIME! Orly, Kolchak? I’m going to pitch a show to NBC next year. “Yeah, yeah, it’s about a copy clerk in an office.” “Hmmm… I don’t know.” “Okay, but, see, he TRAVELS THROUGH TIME!” “I love it!” “Wait! There’s more!” “More!?” “Yes! He travels through time to save his one, true love who has amnesia! And he’s a vampire!” “A vampire?” “With morals! Played by the ING Direct guy!” “The one with the accent?” “Yes!” “Question: Can he punch women in the face while warbling old Rolling Stones hits?” “OF COURSE!” “Sold!” I am going to get so many Emmys.
Chuck: (A geek becomes a government agent after super-secret spy secrets are embedded in his brain. Mon., 8 p.m.)
Jess – Oh boy, a ninja! I really hope they work in a pirate, a monkey and a robot. This entire show is old meme.
Tanis – The clip I saw involved a ninja. And that’s about all the good will I can muster for this dud. If a show with a ninja in its clip manages to cause me to yawn – twice – then I can’t imagine what the rest of the pilot is like. And can I just take your attention away from how everybody was kung fu fighting for a minute to share one of my biggest pet peeves? Okay. I have had enough man-gets-hit-in-crotch “jokes” to last me a lifetime. Other “jokes” I have had enough of: “OMG! This dude’s crotch is, improbably, in this other dude’s face! And vice versa! They are totes gay!”
Bionic Woman: (You know the drill. They have rebuilt her. They have the technology. Wed., 9 p.m.)
Jess – I’ll watch this for Katee Sackhoff, but I’m not convinced. When reimagining a classic show, you need to either do something fun and goofy or bleak and uncompromising, like Battlestar Galactica. You can’t pull the latter off on a major network, and anyway, the magic of BSG is unlikely to be repeated. Maybe that’s for the best. Does anyone want to see a remake of The Love Boat where a decaying ship carries the last remnants of humanity on a pointless journey around the world? I mean, anyone other than me? I didn’t think so. Bionic Woman needs to embrace the cheesiness of the original. I want episodes shot entirely in slow motion, fembots, doomsday machines, garish suits, Oscar Goldman, and the bionic sound effect. As it stands, it looks more like a bad season of Alias, or given Miguel Ferrer’s role, Crossing Robot Jordan.
Tanis – The screams of NotJenniferGarner in the preview when she discovers that she’s now every Bionic woman seem a little cheesier than strictly necessary. The whirly, over-the-top camera angles make it even moreso. I’m not sure how I feel about this show quite yet, but if it wants to capture my attention, it needs to have REALLY strong characters and a really good stylistic flavour. Shows like Heroes, which is shot so beautifully it’s like every scene is a panel in a particularly good graphic novel, and the first season of Veronica Mars, with its wonderful use of shadow and light hearkening back to great noir films, had interesting premises and wonderful characters. Bionic Woman, right now, feels a little too flat, the characters a little too unrealized. It’s early going though, and Katee Sackhoff’s presence guarantees I’ll give it a try. For the record though, NBC, I think this show would do better paired with Heroes. Perhaps it will get that chance when Journeyman and Chuck are inevitably cancelled.
Lipstick Jungle: (From Sex And the City’s Candace Bushnell, this is a series about three high-powered female friends. January. Sun., 10 p.m.)
Tanis – I like Brooke Shields, but I think it’s just my eyebrow fetish rearing its ugly head. If they hired Peter Gallagher to play her husband and Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys to play the man she’s having an affair with, I would never turn the channel. Sadly, it appears there are no dudes with thick, bushy eyebrows. Consequently, I am already looking for my remote. Jess – This promises to be a relatively sexless Sex and the City, or a female Big Shots. Both of which would be dire. “They’re not looking for Mr. Big,” the preview tell us, “They are Mr. Big.” Big was kind of a smarmy douche, and you could store three Sex And The City spin offs in his eye bags. I don’t know that I want to watch a show about Mr. Big. Or Ms. Big. Also, the “There’s no crying in baseball” joke from A League of Their Own has been recycled as “There’s no hugging in firing.” While I can’t say I’m above that sort of thing, I wouldn’t include it in my NBC pilot. Is there hugging in cancellation?
Our last, and possibly most heinous crop of fall shows, will be CBS on Saturday. One of us will explore her secret and terrible love for Cop Rock. By the way. K-Ville had its very first episode. And I didn’t catch it because not only do I think it looks bad, but I also hate Prison Break. Still, I bet it was poignant and touching and filled with uncomfortably stiff silences in which Anthony Anderson wonders why he is even bothering with television. He was in a Scorsese movie, people! And he did a passable job! And now, he stars next to Cole “Seriously, I am so fugly and wooden, how do I even have a career? Oh yeah, Ben Affleck.” Hauser. It always comes back to Affleck.