Checking In On Fall's Biggest New Shows
Most new shows are treated a little unfairly. Nearly every media outlet features a fall television preview far in advance, written by someone that has only seen a few clips or perhaps a pilot for each show. Now that we're a few weeks into the season, I've seen enough of this fall's new shows to confidently say that I can be thoroughly unfair.
It's a verb ending in "ing" followed by a character's name, a title which has several meanings! Sort of like the other new Fox show, Raising Hope, or Raising Arizona, or Judging Amy, or Chasing Amy, or Killing Zoe, or Crossing Jordan, or Raising Cane, or Saving Grace.
Let's say you're developing a series about a lazy astronaut, and you need a title. Something evocative of space travel, yet still connected to the main character. What if you named him Nelson Offe and went with the title Lifting Offe?
How about the ultimate combo: Policing Blue, a show about Matt Blue (hence the blue), a depressed (blue again) cop (police, blue) with argyria (blue) patrolling (policing) Blue City (blue).
This spy show centers around an exceptionally likeable couple returning to the field after having left five years earlier to get married and lead normal lives. With Major Dad as their endearingly grumpy handler, they hop around the world via the most green screeny green screen to ever green screen. If a future episodes calls for an adventure in a lush tropical settting, I wouldn't be surprised to see them awkwardly flailing at coins and ducking under bats in the Nick Arcade finale.
Undercovers is pretty fun. It's got a great visual style, appealing characters, and dudes shooting rocket launchers like it's buy-one-get-one-free week at the Henchman Rocket Emporium. Tonally, it falls somewhere between Chuck and Alias.
I've seen people bemoan the lack of a "hook" to draw people in, but hooks tend to paint writers into a corner that ultimately takes the focus away from a series' strengths, like spying and rocket shooting.
While Lost was by no means flawless, it had a personality that came through in even the weakest of episodes.
The Event has zero personality. Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh. It has the personality of a mid-90's disaster mini-series, and the dialog to match. This show was very much slapped together to fill the void left behind by (and capitalize on) Lost. Sometimes interesting things happen, but never in an interesting way, and never as a progression that builds upon the themes from one scene to the next.
Remember how Lost had a bunch of stuff happen on a plane, and lots of flashbacks? Remember that series The 4400, about aliens and all those people held in captivity? Imagine that a senile man conflated the two and summed the story up to Brett Ratner. That's The Event.
In this thrilling prequel to Pitch Black, Cole Hauser plays the sidekick to U.S. Marshall Annie Frost. Frost likes to capture criminals exactly as she was taught in the academy: By splitting up from her partner, engaging the fugitive in fisticuffs, being beaten, then improvising with a nearby object (in the first episode: belt, then driftwood) to subdue him.
So far I find myself enjoying each episode, looking back and realizing it was pretty shallow and full of stupid moments, then watching the next episode anyway and enjoying myself all over again.
Steve Buscemi is playing the lead role. This series is set in prohibition-era Atlantic City, but each episode could be fifty six minutes of Claymation dinosaurs fighting each other and it would still be my favorite show because Steve Buscemi is playing the lead role.
At first glance, this and Mike And Molly appear to be mean-spirited takes on overweight people and Indians, but part of you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt, hoping that they're actually insightful comedies that leave behind network sitcom traditions to explore new people and ideas.
You should probably take an ice cream scooper to your chest and carve that part out of your body before it does further harm.
Each series derives a fair amount of its humor from the most obvious of jokes, which typically rely upon condescension.
Twitter is the most overhyped website in recent memory, Shit My Dad Says was a middling collection of fake quotes that weren't quite entertaining enough to be obviously fake, and this show makes both of those things seem very exciting in contrast.
I asked my uncle for his opinion, and he said:
"No one says stuff like that off the cuff on such a regular basis, much less without being self-aware, especially after their son got a book deal and a television show! Stop bench pressing three thousand pounds and somehow getting handsomer by the minute while letting it be known that you're listening to offers for book and/or television deals!"
According to CBS' website, Jerry O'Connell (of Kangaroo Jack fame) and Jim Belushi (of Tugger: The Jeep 4X4 Who Wanted To Fly fame) star as "two Las Vegas lawyers who play by their own rules".
As far as I can tell, playing by your own rules means pointing out items of expensive clothing that might get ruined with physical activity, and not much else.
"I have to run? In these alligator shoes?"
"Climb a fence? Do you realize that this is a three hundred dollar shirt?"
"Eat? With this Faberge egg pacifier in my mouth?"
"Lay down on this railroad track? But my full-body silk cocoon will become absolutely ruined!"