You've got to hand it to Fox. They hype their new shows like it's the best thing to hit the air since The Rockford Files, but if the numbers aren't there in the first three weeks, they have no problem cutting the throats of their new children. Already there's trouble for Happy Hour, Justice, Standoff and Til Death. Fox claims they are all just going on hiatus early and they'll all be back after baseball (riiiiight), but we all know what the doublespeak in the press release really means. These shows are in trouble. Standoff at least is getting some help, as it seems they are behind on their scripts and they are bringing in my favorite Fox alum (who has perennial series trouble of his own) Tim Minear to bail them out. This makes me happy, because I love Tim. If Tim's reading, I'd be happy to help you bail them out or write on your midseason contender Drive. Either way.
As for Justice, I am less optimistic. I seem to be the only TV junkie I know who likes this show and wants it to live. Where Shark has a (mostly) beating heart to it, Justice stabs that heart and steps on it. I think that's why I like it. The cynicism about the legal system is overt and embraced. Boston Legal may get righteously indignant about how out of whack the legal system is (I'm guessing, The Practice used to shout pretty loudly about it all the time, I'm guessing it's a David E. Kelley thing), but Justice snickers at the system and figures out how to use it to their advantage. It's refreshing.
I got through some other new shows on the DVR this week. Smith surprised me. I wasn't expecting to like the show, and I'm still not sure I love it enough to add it permanently to my viewing schedule, but I'll definitely give it a second look. The pilot was glossy and slick (expected, most pilots tend to be glossy since they got money to make them and lots of time to edit and perfect). None of the characters, including the married couple played by Ray Liotta and Virgina Madsen are particularly loveable, but yet I was compelled to keep watching. I'll let you know how I feel after this week.
As I expected, I found Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to be the kind of quality writing Sorkin should be cranking out. After a few days of mulling it over, however, I wasn't sure it really had the humanity that was always at the root of Sports Night and The West Wing. There seems to be something missing here -- perhaps because he is drawing very heavily from his own life, there's a point of view there that is more bitterness than light. I hope this turns around soon. I'll definitely be watching for a week or two. If the show gets too moralistic speechifying though, I may tune out (that's what killed The West Wing for me after 3 seasons).
I had been looking forward to Shark ever since I ready the pilot in March. This was the show I wanted to be picked up, and when I learned James Woods would be playing Sebastian Stark, I was giddy. Imagine my surprise when I watched the show and found it moved too fast, running through It's emotional moments, barely catching its breath to let us, the audience really absorb the drama. It was like going on a tour of a pilot -- here's our setup, and if you look over there, you'll see the introduction of our main characters. Up ahead, blink and you'll miss the pathos of our main character, but don't worry we'll come back to that later... I was made dizzy by the end, asking myself what just happened? If they were close on time, I could have made some suggestions for scenes to cut, just so the really good scenes could breathe more. It also felt like Woods wasn't entirely committed to Stark. There were some glorious moments, but mostly I felt like he was following a recipe -- a little smirk here, add some glistening eyes there, rather than really being this guy. Again, I hope these things change, and soon. Shark had the highest number of viewers for a new fall show (until Heroes last night), so I will be curious to see how it holds up. It stays on the DVR for at least two more weeks.
Brothers & Sisters on ABC. I can't really describe how much I hated this show, so I won't. It's horrible. It may become my new favorite show to hate (and I had really set myself on Vanished for that title).
Heroes was on last night with a limited interruption premiere. I'm glad to see the audience was high, and I am looking forward to future episodes (it feeds my inner geek soul). Could someone tell Ali Larter to crack a smile once? Oh, and Milo, you must stop talking out of the side of your mouth. You keep that up, you'll be talking like Katie Holmes. We all know that's what led her down her present path. Consider this an intervention. Hiro should really have his own show, and why can't the rest of the characters be as vibrant and exciting as he is? It's no wonder he emerged as an early favorite in test screenings, he's hands down the most interesting guy on the screen with the best lines. Word to the wise: write the other characters with as much pizazz and you'll have a solid hit on your hands.
Okay, that's enough for this week. Next week we'll talk about Men in Trees, Jericho, Kidnapped, Ugly Betty and 6 Degrees. I'm impatiently waiting for the Lost premiere on October 4th, and the Battlestar Galactica premiere on the 6th. Now there's some TV Junkie excitement.