Must See (& Must Skip) New Dramas This Fall
Yet NBC's My Own Worst Enemy (Monday nights at 9 p.m. starting Oct. 13) have him playing two very distinct men: Henry, the slightly dippy family man living in pre-fab suburbia, and Edward, a Jason Bourne-esque operative for a secret society. Edward knows about Henry and can use pre-taped computer messages to warn him of impending danger, but Henry (supposedly) doesn't know about Edward: is he repressing his dark side or jus schizophrenic? Hedward (let's call him for ease) consults his best friend (played by Mike O'Malley) and a psychiatrist (Saffron Burrows) to try to sort it all out, but he is racing the demons in his own mind at times, as he seemingly has no waning when the inner wall will come down, allowing one to take over their shared body.
"My Own Worst Enemy" is convoluted and limited, mostly due to Slater's monotone delivery. It is advised to stick with tried-and-trues on Monday nights - like CSI Miami - instead.
For those of you not interested in yet another teenage show aimed at the tween set, Tuesday nights promise more than just the new 90210 (Sept. 2) when it pits newbies The Mentalist on CBS and Fringe on Fox against each other at 9 p.m.
"The Mentalist" (Sept. 23) stars Simon Baker and seems to want to capitalize on the "psychic" fame of Medium or Ghost Whisperer, even though it points out no less than four times in the pilot that the lead character is not a psychic; he's just paying attention. Baker is said lead character who works as a private investigator to help the police force solve crimes.
"Fringe" (Sept. 9) is the newest slightly surreal episodic from J.J. Abrams, centering on an FBI agent who is forced to work with a slightly rogue scientist in order to get a handle on some odd phenomena. Both shows offer the male-female partner dynamic, which begs the question of potential romantic hook-ups down the road, but "Fringe" focuses more on the female's point of view and therefore might bring in that women demographic that has stayed away from FBI shows since Profiler. Both shows exhibit potential, with "Fringe" inching out "The Mentalist" - if you don't mind the "give a little, take a lot back" reveal of information that Abrams became famous for on Lost - but both also come up short, feeling like less-developed copycats of already existing television dramas.
Wednesday nights have the new Knight Rider at 8 on NBC starting Sept. 24, but a flashy, kitschy version of an old campy program can't match the draw of ABC's quirky hit Pushing Daisies (especially with Will Arnett being replaced as the voice of K.I.T.T.!). This updated but not really rejuvenated version is like The Fast & The Furious meets Transformers, with K.I.T.T. being the main attraction over pretty people Justin Bruening and Sydney Tamiia Poitier.
Where "Knight Rider" tries to rope in the YouTube generation by featuring frenetic energy, sophisticated technology, and high-grades weapons systems and chase sequences, "Pushing Daisies" is much more a character drama and deals with the intricacies (and often hypocrisies) of interpersonal relationships. It is much more the "thinking" viewer's show, but it is also of much higher quality. "Knight Rider" relies on its high-octane to drive its performance and assumes (or at least hopes) some of the more ridiculous or "out there" moments are glossed over.
With the emergence of Eleventh Hour at 10 p.m. starting Oct. 9, Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS are planning to keep their hold on Thursday nights for a long, long time.
Based on a British miniseries, Bruckheimer's version stars Rufus Sewell as Dr. Jacob Hood, a biophysicist who gets recruited by the FBI to investigate scientific oddities in the very final moments prior to losing jurisdiction and the chance to save dozens of people from nefarious plans. Marley Shelton is the agent assigned to watch out for Hood, and the two have the will-they-or-won't-they chemistry made famous by Mulder and Scully and Benson and Stabler, which is just tired now after so many variations and copycats. Overall though, "Eleventh Hour" feels a bit forced - and faked - as Hood is an even more absolute force than Gil Grissom, and a lot of what he happens upon just feels too "convenient."
"Eleventh Hour" is definitely not worth a look over ABC's Life on Mars (also at 10 p.m. beginning Oct. 9), which sends an NYPD detective (Jason O'Mara) back in time to the pre-digital age of the 1970s and paired up with a rough-around-the-edges old school cop (Michael Imperioli). "Life on Mars" is a period piece but a cop drama at its heart, and it only uses its gimmicky time period to further the serialized story aspects (for example, back then women on the force had to be a part of a special bureau and could only perform menial, desk tasks).
But overall, it is doubtful if either of these shows will stick around too long considering the sheer number of similar programs already successful on air. Most viewers will probably opt to just stick with what's established - what's known and comfortable - instead of giving these new guys a shot because really, how many crime dramas do we need?
There is room, however, for a new legal show with only Boston Legal still around and on its last legs. Starting on Labor Day, Steven Bochco and Mark Paul Gosselaar team up once again for Raising The Bar. It's your typical smart and highly charged drama with Gosselaar playing the "idealistic one," a public defender who will stop at nothing to help those who cannot help themselves. Co-starring Gloria Reuben, Currie Graham, Teddy Sears, and Jane Kaczmarek, "Raising The Bar" focuses on opposing counsel who have been friends since law school but who often come to blows in the courtroom. Will their different stances on the same cases create rifts in their personal relationships? Will one of them have a secret from their past that will come back to haunt a case? Will any of them hook up? If you know Bochco, you know the answer is yes! And since the show airs on TNT (no network censors for them), it is a fair assumption that they will be at each others' throats one minute and jumping into bed with each other the next.
The verdict? Give "Raising The Bar" a shot, even if only to get your answer for what Zack Morris has done with his life.
For those that choose to stay home on Friday nights, NBC has Crusoe at 8 p.m. (Oct. 17), a spin on the classic tale of Robinson Crusoe that is a fun, fantastical journey for the whole family. Philip Winchester is the title lead, co-starring with Sean Bean and Sam Neill as part of the extended family with whom the isolated adventurer dreams of being reunited. The show is set years after Crusoe is a castaway, but it utilizes flashbacks to incorporate plenty of action and interaction with other cast members. Ultimately, though, this version of Crusoe gets a bit darker and simultaneously duller (quite a difficult feat!) as the season goes on, and with so many tuning in expecting the light-hearted kid's tale of years past, it may not last long.
Put the kids to bed at 9 and flip over to CBS for The Ex-List (Oct. 3). Full of relative unknowns like Elizabeth Reaser, Adam Rothenberg, and Alex Breckenridge, "The Ex-List" is also a one part fantastical drama, revolving on a single woman in her 30s (Bella Bloom) who visits a psychic only to learn she has already had a relationship with the man she is meant to be with. Though she is a bit skeptical, she is also curious enough to revisit past men in an attempt to make it work-but more often just comes away remembering why they broke up in the first place. In a way, "The Ex-List" is the female version of How I Met Your Mother, and watching the dating journey program from the comfort of your own living room offers a nice alternative to encountering similar relationships in the the bars and clubs every Friday night.
Though the dramatic options have been a bit disappointing, we'll soon take a look at what's new in reality shows - and those results might surprise you!
Story by Danielle Turchiano
Starpulse contributing writer
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