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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WINTER TV ROUND-UP: 2011

Here are the rankings of the new shows airing on TV this winter, judged solely on the pilot episodes only. To qualify, I will be reviewing every new show on the Big Five, be it a drama, comedy or reality show. I will also be reviewing all new scripted fare on the cable nets, as well as select reality shows such as FACE OFF on SyFy.

GAME OF THRONES (HBO) A+
THE VOICE (NBC) A
HAPPY ENDINGS (ABC) A
SHAMELESS (SHOWTIME) A-
CAMELOT (STARZ) A-
BEING HUMAN (SYFY) A-
FACE OFF (SYFY) A-
THE KILLING (ANC) A-
SKINS (MTV) A-
MAD LOVE (CBS) B+
MR SUNSHINE (ABC) B+
GIGOLOS (SHOWTIME) B
MARCEL'S QUANTUM KITCHEN (SYFY) B
HARRY'S LAW (NBC) B
THE CAPE (NBC) B
EPISODES (SHOWTIME) B-
RETIRED AT 35 (TVLAND) B-
AFTER LATELY (E!) B-
LIVE TO DANCE (CBS) B-
BREAKING IN (FOX) C+
WORKING CLASS (CMT) C+
PORTLANDIA (IFC) C+
OFF THE MAP (ABC) C+
LIGHTS OUT (FX) C+
REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MIAMI (BRAVO) C+
SERIOUSLY FUNNY KIDS (Lifetime) C+
AMERICAS NEXT GREAT RESTAURANT (NBC) C
FAIRLY LEGAL (USA) C
BREAKOUT KINGS (A&E) C
CHAOS (CBS) C
PIER'S MORGAN TONIGHT (CNN) C
CALL ME FITZ (DIRECTV) C-
TRAFFIC LIGHT (FOX) C-
THE CHICAGO CODE (FOX) C-
EBERT PRESENTS AT THE MOVIES (PBS) C-
THE BORGIA'S (SHOWTIME) D+
PERFECT COUPLES (NBC) D+
LET'S STAY TOGETHER (BET) D+
SHEDDING FOR THE WEDDING (CW) D+
THE PAUL REISER SHOW (NBC) D
BODY OF PROOF (ABC) D
WORKAHOLICS (COMEDY) D
BOB'S BURGERS (FOX) D-
JAMES ELLROY'S LA (Invest. Disc.) F
ONION NEWS NETWORK (IFC) F
ONION SPORTSDOME (COMEDY) F
CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR (CBS) F

Winter/Spring TV Review: Body of Proof

It goes without saying that Dana Delany is a really good actress, but that's about all that ABC's Body of Proof has going for it. Indeed, we've seen this Quincy/Crossing Jordan procedural stuff all before, and in more exciting ways. It's routine, and most of all, boring. I couldnt even get through the pilot episode, I was that bored and turned off. Sorry, but another new show bites the dust in one of the worst TV years creatively in memory. D

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Networks in Review: FOX

With the exception of GLEE and the minor success of RAISING HOPE, Fox had a tough time in the fall, where new shows LONESTAR and RUNNING WILD quickly tanked. Other shows then started to show signs of age, including the still-potent (for now) HOUSE and LIE TO ME. BONES was a perk, though. And FRINGE relocated to Fridays with so-so results (but did improve former occupant GOOD GUYS and was just renewed). Winter replacement shows largely failed (TRAFFIC LIGHT and BOBS BURGERS should be canned ASAP, while THE CHICAGO CODE isnt doing any better than LIE TO ME).
Then there is the phenonemon of AMERICAN IDOL which held up surprisingly well post-Simon Cowell. Thank GOD for AI, eh FOX execs?
Looking ahead is a different story...come fall 2011 FOX has two very highly anticipated new shows: TERRA NOVA and THE X FACTOR. They also have a huge utility player with JJ ABRAMS in the pilot ALCATRAZ (though JJ is no sure-fire thing, witness UNDERCOVERS for proof).
I think FOX should just chalk up this year as the calm before the storm because 2011-2012 is going to ROCK!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Networks in Review: CBS

Without a doubt, CBS has been the most consistent network in terms of scripted shows for the past decade, relying almost exclusively on crime procedurals to get total viewers to sample their goods, and this season was no exception, with CBS being the only network to give all their new fall shows full-season orders (though its doubtful that THE DEFENDERS and SHIT MY DAD SAYS will get second-seaon renewals). MIKE & MOLLY, HAWAII FIVE-0 and BLUE BLOODS all did solid business, though none were ratings powerhouses (a sad theme for all new shows this year). The NCIS and CSI franchises are still top 30 contenders, and SURVIVOR and AMAZING RACE still deliver big ratings. Even the comedies did well, with TWO AND A HALF MEN soaring high before flaming out with Charlie Sheen early last month, effectively cutting the 8th season of the comedy short by 8 episodes. Mid-season shows like MAD LOVE and SUSPECT BEHAVIOR were luke warm, and LIVE TO DANCE was an out-right dud. Next up is CHAOS next week. So yeah, there are some holes to fill for next season, but nothing so dramatic that CBS needs to be shaking in their boots.

Networks in Review: The CW

Two years ago The CW had one of those development seasons that rocked when they picked up MELROSE PLACE (it had the buzz, but didnt deliver) and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (one of their biggest hits out of the gate), then came this last fall and we were served up the pathetic HELLCATS and the snoozy NIKITA. The only other new show was this winter's forgettable dud SHEDDING FOR THE WEDDING. So, as far as new blood goes, The CW failed to deliver. And their other shows are all aging, though SUPERNATURAL, 90210 and GOSSIP GIRL still work, in my opinion...as does SMALLVILLE, but it was already pre0determined to depart. AMERICAS NEXT TOP MODEL is sagging, as is ONE TREE HILL. So going into next season, The CW needs a new 'tude and look...and with Dawn Ostroff leaving her post, it's possible that The CW can turn around a bit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Networks in Review: ABC

The once-promising ABC network took a turn for the worse when Steven McPherson took the reigns. Coming off the highs of 2004 when Desperate Housewives, Lost and Grey's Anatomy ruled, Steve fumbled the ball (in my opinion) when he scheduled BIG SHOTS over FOOTBALL WIVES a couple years back. More lackluster shows followed, as well as dumping the promising PUSHING DAISIES. Now he is out and, with next fall, a new headrunner will unveil a new ABC (which best include CHARLIES ANGELS!)
As for this current season, ABC has pretty much tanked. Fall yielded not a single hit, with MY GENERATION and THE WHOLE TRUTH canned immediately, and DETROIT 187, NO ORDINARY FAMILY and BETTER WITH YOU barely limping along. Worse, its established shows are all aging. The only bright spots appear to be the comedies THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY. Other comedies COUGAR TOWN (very underrated) and MR SUNSHINE (DOA) featured former FRIENDS Courteny COX and Matthew Perry, with only the former guaranteed to return next season. Other disappointments included SKATING WITH THE STARS and OFF THE MAP, with only two other new shows yet to premiere: HAPPY ENDINGS and BODY OF PROOF (neither looks too promising).
So going into next season, it's important for ABC to clean house and ax shows that arent making any traction (that includes you, V and BROTHERS AND SISTERS). And with what looks like a strong development slate, I believe ABC can do it. THey have the aforementioned ANGELS, plus the promising (on paper) drama pilots PAN AM, GRACE, GEORGETOWN, POE, HALLELUJUAH, THE RIVER, ONCE UPON A TIME and GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES.

Winter TV Review: Marcel's Quantum Kitchen

Remember Marcel from season 2 of TOP CHEF and the recent ALL-STARS edition? If so, you know he was a polarizing personality (I was on the liking him side and was pissed when he was robbed of the winning crown). Now on SYFY he has his own reality show, which is surprisingly interesting. I was ready to give it a quick one-look because I am not a patient fan of cooking shows. But with Marcel's unique talent of preparing and making foods through scientific experiments, he creates a world of wonder that is only set-back by the usual cloying 'fake-reality' aspects of coming up with a situation and 'creating' drama for it. Still, it works, even though Marcel is once again true to his nature: a polarizing personality. Check out his hottie assistant Jarrid (WOOF!) B

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WINTER 2011...so far

After a lackluster Fall that only produced a few shows I liked (Walking Dead, Raising Hope and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills...and to a lesser degree, Better With You, Outsourced, No Ordinary Family, Shit My Dad Says and Mike & Molly), winter 2011 was equally unimpressive, though it did produce a few standouts: Being Human and Face Off on SyFy (both renewed for a second season), Shameless and Episodes on Showtime (also both renewed for second seasons), as well as MTV's Skins and CMT's Working Class. But it was the summer of 2010 (my official start of the TV year, running through May 2011) that produced my absolute favorites: Scoundrels on ABC and Persons Unknown on NBC (both tragically canceled), as well as the renewed Hot In Cleveland on TVLand.

But all that could change in April when two promising shows threaten to take the top two spots: HBOs Game of Thrones (I am reading the books known and cant wait to see the series) and NBCs The Voice with CeeLo Green!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Winter TV Review: America's Next Great Restaurant

An interesting premise (contestants vie to get their idea for a restaurant chain sold) and strong production values aside, this new reality show on NBC has been seen before in countless other reality shows. C

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Networks in Review: NBC

Of all the networks (well, except CW), NBC has been in the worst shape for the longest number of years...and as such, desperately needs to revamp their schedule for 2011/2012. Their fall output largely blew, and not a single new midseason show has broken out of the gate (though one could argue that Harry's Law does respectable business for total viewers, though lags in the 18 to 49 demo). Just how bad was the midseason line-up? Um, Perfect Couples and The Cape, which followed the horrible fall entries of Outlaw, Undercovers, Chase and The Event. Even Outsourced has slipped in its 11:30 timeslot change. Of the veteran shows, Chuck seems to have lost its luster this season (damn those budget cuts!), and The Office risks bleeding viewers once Steve Carel exits end of season. Cult shows Community and Parks & Rec are quality, but the viewers havent responded in stellar ratings. Also down in viewers are The Biggest Loser and Parenthood. That doesnt leave too many bright spots to anchor new shows come fall. The only bright spots are 30 Rock and Sunday Night Football.
If I were NBC, I would clean house and get rid of more of the poorer performers (even Chuck, though it pains me to say it.) They need to rebuild. And the pilots, on paper, look promising. I'm especially excited about 17th Precinct, Grimm, Playboy, Smash, and Are you There Vodka, Its Me Chelsea

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winter TV Review: Breakout Kings

This new A & E show is from the producers of PRISON BREAK, and its about cons who help the feds nab criminals to get time shaved off their sentences. If they flee while on assignment, their original sentences get doubled. Production values were solid, but I didnt buy the premise. It came off a little too diluted. C

Winter TV Review: After Lately

E's new "behind the scenes" comedy had a decent debut, with the 'plot' of the pilot centering on who the ten people Chelsea Handler would choose to go to Cabo with her. Knowing the crew, especially Heather McDonald, from the Chelsea Lately show makes this spin-off all the more enjoyable. Here's hoping that other crew make their appearances too. Where it will all go is anyone's guess, but the pilot had a solid start. B-