TV Gal Revs Up for 'Race'

EntertainmentTelevisionTelevision IndustryScienceScientific ResearchThe Amazing Race (tv program)

One hour.

That's how long it took me to remember who won last season's lackluster edition of "The Amazing Race." And even when I remembered I had the same apathetic feeling towards the Linz siblings that I did when they crossed the finish line. Didn't love them. Didn't hate them. Whatever.

When an excellent reality show goes boring, it stings. The eighth edition of "The Amazing Race" was claustrophobic, bumbling, unwieldy and unrelentingly uninteresting. Even when I tried to muster up a rah-rah attitude, I simply couldn't.

So I'm thrilled to report that ninth season of "The Amazing Race" (premiering Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS) is back to normal. I'm not going to lie to you, when Phil announced that for the first leg of the race, the eleven teams were off to Brazil, I actually clapped. This season will span five continents (insert dance of joy here) with stops including the Middle East, Moscow and Sicily. I already have my favorite teams (Desiree and Wanda, David and Lori, and Yolanda and Ray) and ones I'm all set with (Dani and Danielle and Michelle and Lake don't let the pit stop hit you on your way out). But the most important thing is that I actually care. Will you fall in love "The Amazing Race" all over again? After you watch the premiere, let me know.

Let's take a look at two new series premiering this week:

  • "Conviction" (premiering Friday at 10 p.m. on NBC): So Dick Wolf's new drama is a charactercedural which is a fancy way of saying that the series mixes legal cases with the personal lives of young New York Assistant District Attorney's (blind dates, bad debts and office romances oh my). Of course this would make series such as "ER," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Boston Legal" charactercedurals too. So don't be fooled by the new fancy vocabulary word (although I'm all for making up words). "Conviction" is a fairly straight forward, fairly average show. It doesn't really matter if you show me character's personal lives if I still don't care about them at the end of the hour. Stephanie March reprises her role of Alexandra Cabot (although in the first two episodes there's nary a mention of her time in the Witness Protection Program) and here's the best news -- the series also stars J. August Richards (Gunn on "Angel") who I'm always happy to see even when I'm not smitten with the series. Two and a half out five stars.
  • "Free Ride" (premiering Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on FOX): The most interesting thing to me this spring is FOX's two new comedies ("The Loop," which I will discuss in a future column, premieres March 15). Despite the apparent ratings failure of "Arrested Development" (please be advised I'm still moping, cue the theme music), the network is still going full steam ahead with innovative, non-traditional, single camera comedies. And while I would still rather have the Bluth family (come on), I'm glad FOX is fighting the good fight for television sitcoms. In "Free Ride," Nate (a quite charming Josh Dean) graduates from college and returns home. His parents (Allan Harvey and Loretta Fox) have turned is room into a gym and are way too fond of openly discussing their marriage and, unfortunately for Nate, their sex life. His new best friend Mark (a spot-on Dave Sheridan) is the lovable loser who never left town. The series is primarily improvised which means most scenes are hilarious but sometimes it's like watching a bad "Saturday Night Live" skit. But I'd still take this show any day over all the WB's new comedies combined. FOX is really trying, this show is really trying and "Free Ride" just might work. Three and a half stars.

What do you think of "The Amazing Race," "Conviction," and "Free Ride." Talk about it on the TV Gal Message Board.

A Message From Me to ABC, With Love

Dear ABC, Do you recall the dark times of our relationship? When you cancelled "Sports Night," "The Job" and "Once and Again?" Did you think that perhaps all was forgiven because of "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy"? Were you under the mistaken impression that perchance I wouldn't notice that you haven't announced when "Alias" would return to the schedule? Um, that would be a no. Our relationship is still on probation. I giveth and I taketh away. And I'm seriously considering giving you the silent treatment until you tell me when Sydney and the gang will back. With love and affection, TV Gal.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

David and Robin recognized Tom Verica, Jack Pryor on "American Dreams," Kyle on "Providence" and Dr. Max Hudson on "The 4400," was the father of the sick super model on "House." Cameron Richardson, Paula on "Point Pleasant," was the daughter.

Jayne Brook, who we just saw as Hannah's mom on "Everwood," was Paul's estranged daughter on "Boston Legal." Among her many roles, she was also Jamie on "John Doe" and Dr. Diane Grad on "Chicago Hope." Mike remembered that Adam Arkin, who was prosecuting Alan's case, was Dr. Aaron Shutt on "Chicago Hope." He was also the principal on "8 Simple Rules" and Dr. Stanley Keyworth on "The West Wing."

Miriam and Dave were the first to catch Jeff Perry, Richard Katimski on "My So Called Life," was Meredith's father "Grey's Anatomy." Michelle remembered that Perry was the man Sawyer killed in error on "Lost" last season and Harvey Leek on "Nash Bridges."

Jen and Joseph recognized Jo Marie Payton-Noble, Harriette Winslow on "Family Matters," was the woman who found Lynette's children on "Desperate Housewives."

Quotes of the Week

"I'm tired of my Alzheimer's being a story point." Denny to Alan on "Boston Legal."

"I love you. What the hell is the matter with you that you won't just let me?" Preston to Christina on "Grey's Anatomy."

"I'm not talking to a terrorist. You talk to him." The President to Mike on "24." I love it when he sounds like a petulant teenager.

"You've got to find Terry. I don't belong in here. Terry belongs in here." Jimmy Johnson in a jail cell on "The Shield." John was the first to submit this very popular quote.

Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for March 6 to 12

It's going to be the best Monday night program in the world. The fifth season of "The Apprentice" premieres Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC. This season the Donald's offspring Don Jr. and Ivanka are invited into the boardroom.

After lackluster Olympic ratings, NBC returns to its regularly scheduled program. Don't forget that "Scrubs" returns to the schedule Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Izzie's heart transplant boyfriend is back as Sam and Dean's father on "Supernatural" Tuesday at 9 p.m. on the WB.

I've got to tell you I'm simultaneously impressed, fascinated and horrified that Paula continues to so blatantly flirt with the male contestants on "American Idol" (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m.).

Paging Dr. Carter. Would Noah Wyle please report to the "ER." The good doctor returns to the series that made him famous Thursday at 9:59 p.m. on NBC. Alas John Leguizamo's Dr. Clemente (like the actor, despise the character) is also back.

It's movie's big night Sunday. Jon Stewart host the 78th annual "Academy Awards" (Sunday, ABC, 8 p.m.). Here's hoping bad outfits and bad hair abound. You know it's so much more fun that way. Plus I'm so rooting for Felicity Huffman.

To the TV Gal Reader Belongs the Spoils

You know the rules. Don't read if you don't want to know.

Well it is time for all Donna and Josh fans to rejoice. The duo will finally lock lips (and hopefully a whole lot more) when "The West Wing" returns to the schedule.

I think you know this but before "Alias" ends its run both Michael Vartan and Bradley Cooper will be back.

We'll continue to see Jayne Brook on "Boston Legal." Paul will become suspicious that his daughter is still using drugs and will ask Brad to investigate.

When "The O.C." returns to the schedule on March 9, Marissa will once again be implicated in someone's death, this time Johnny's. Meanwhile Ryan kind thinks that maybe Sadie is the girl for him.

Mariel is going to tell her kids exactly what happened to her when she was out in the water on "Invasion." But the best new is that James Frain, Audrey's poor dead husband Paul on "24," will guest star in the March 8 episode. He's in my "deserves his own show" file.

That's all for today. I'll be back next week with thoughts on "Grey's Anatomy" (that show is always giving us something to talk about), reviews of "Sons & Daughters," "The Unit" (with President Palmer and Noel Crane) and "Black. White." Have question, seen a familiar face, have an inside scoop or want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com.

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