Friday, August 27, 2010

The 2010 3 Ep Test

I'll usually only take one sip of rancid milk.  It doesn't really take the second or third gulp for me to know I'm not invested quite that much in my calcium intake.  But when it comes to TV, I'm a glutton for punishment.  My theory with the small screen is that any new show can be properly vetted in three episodes, no more, no less.  Even an awful pilot can show promise in the very next episode or vice versa.  So each fall I comb the new offerings from the networks and see what seems intriguing enough to invest in.  The result is a mixed bag for sure.  If you till the soil of the crop that sprouted three years ago when I began this you will find a single surviving specimen (God bless NBC for sticking with Zack Levi and Chuck) as well as one that I'm ashamed even piqued my interest (cough... Cavemen... cough).  But mostly you will find shows that had major promise and just couldn't generate enough audience for a bountiful harvest (I'm still waiting for someone to wake me up from the nightmare world where Pushing Daisies doesn't succeed.)  2008 was much the same, but last year something seemed to click.  For whatever reason, the audience showed up.  Three of the newbies are bona fide hits (Community, Modern Family, and Glee) and though Flash Forward couldn't see into the future far enough to notice there would be no season two, it was still a mighty satisfying one season experiment.

This year only 7 shows have tripped my sensor and set off the anticipation alarms, and here they are in order from least anticipated to most.

S#*! My Dad Says (CBS)
Thu, 8:30, 9/23

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat.  I will henceforth refer to this show as "Stuff" My Dad Says.  I'm not trying to be holier than thou or shuddering in offense about the casual nature of cursing in today's society. I've just never said the word before and I'm just not sure I could pull it off.  That, and I'm just not sure how to pronounce S, number sign, apostrophe, exclamation point   To be honest I think CBS made a huge mistake in leaving even the bleeped profanity as part of the title, but if anyone can power through that mistake it's Mr. over the top himself, William Shatner.  There is part of me hoping for this show to fail though, as I find it hard to stomach the thought of living in a world where a Twitter feed can become a hit TV show.

Running Wilde (Fox)
Tue, 9:30, 9/21

Like a 13 year old boy, this show will almost undoubtedly stink.  But I made a promise that I would follow Will Arnett wherever he may go (yes, I did just sing that in my head).   On the off chance this show somehow manages to be good, I want to be there to see him succeed.  On a side note I should mention, there are only a limited number of unassailable truths in this world; God is sovereign, pizza is the world's most versatile food, and sit-coms with laugh tracks are unwatchable.  If I smell even a hint of canned giggles on this or any comedy in the list, it's an automatic dismissal.  I'll laugh when it's funny, thank you, not when your laughter technician inserts chortle 24 followed by snicker 17 as my cue. (Just for fun someday do a Youtube search for "without laugh track". Here's one to get you started.)

Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
Mon, 10:00, 9/20

Maybe it's Daniel Kim (Jin from LOST), maybe it's the setting (Hawaii from LOST), but something is strangely drawing me to watch a remake of an old show I've never seen before in my life or even know what it's about.  I honestly have no clue why I want to watch this show.  Maybe CBS hired Leo Dicaprio to run around in my dreams and plant ideas.  I did have a strange one last night involving Melissa Joan Hart, a bag of jelly beans, and a surge protector.  I wondered what that was about.

Outsourced (NBC)
Thu, 9:30, 9/23

Plain and simple.  NBC + comedy + Thursday night = on the list.

Undercovers (NBC)
Wed, 8:00, 9/22

If married spies (a la Mr. and Mrs. Smith) isn't enough to intrigue you, how about the name JJ Abrams?  Felicity, Alias, LOST, Fringe, one episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender (ok, fine, I had to look that last one up on IMDB, but seriously how cool is that?!)  Point being, JJ gots the goods, and will have an automatic spot on this list anytime he decides to add a line to his resume.

The Event (NBC)
Mon, 9:00, 9/20

This is the kind of show that I assume the writers must have sat around and brainstormed ways to get me specifically to watch.  "Let's make it a high concept piece."  "Yeah, and have the teaser campaign give nothing away"  "And can we get that Ritter kid that he liked so much in Joan of Arcadia?".  SOLD!  This also has the distinction of possibly being the biggest let down on the list if the titular "event" turns out to be a lackluster affair.  All I'm saying is it better not involve David Blaine.

No Ordinary Family


Tue, 8:00, 9/28

The show I'm most excited about is a real world look at the concept of "The Incredibles"  That's a high bar to live up to for sure, but the concept itself is solid enough (see "Sky High" for another example) to make room for many iterations of the idea.  If that weren't enough they went and did something else novel by hiring genuinely talented actors for the leads (The Shield's Michael Chiklis and Dexter's Julie Benz).  The only question is will this family of superheros be strong enough to hold an audience beyond the first three episodes.

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