Ready? Set. Watch.
As premises for TV shows go, a secret $32 million cross-country road race is right up there in terms of utter preposterousness.
But you know what? I kind of liked "Drive," which has its two-hour premiere this Sunday on FOX at 8 p.m. Now granted FOX has only sent out the first hour of the series but, so far, I like what I see (three and a half stars).
Nathan Fillion (who we all fell in love with because of "Firefly") stars as Alex Tully, a man who enters the race in search of his missing wife (played by Amy Acker of "Angel"). Other contestants include a new mom escaping from her abusive husband (Melanie Lynskey, who left her gig as Rose on "Two and a Half Men" for this role), a father who went to pick up his daughter from school and ended up in the race (Dylan Baker) and three Hurricane Katrina survivors (Michael Hyatt, Taryn Manning and Rochelle Aytes). What works is that I was immediately drawn into the disparate story lines. And, frankly, I'm so exhausted by "Prison Break" that I'm happy for any series to take over its time slot ("Drive" moves to Mondays at 8 p.m. on April 16).
The series has some things working against it, starting with the fact that many of the car scenes look extremely fake (you can tell the car isn't really moving). But the biggest obstacle a show like this faces is if the audience buys into the series and the show becomes a success, do the people behind the scenes know what they are doing? Do they have a vision for the series? Because if they don't, we end up with the second season "Prison Break" and that was torturous for everyone wasn't it? (I mean I didn't want to watch, but I couldn't stop watching. I am so relieved that the second season ended. I couldn't take it any more. It was a hellish version of "choose your own adventure.")
"Drive" has a good chance at success because Tim Minear, who created the short-lived but much loved "Wonderfalls" and executive produced both "Angel" and "Firefly," is the creative mind behind this show.
So I'm going to watch "Drive." Don't even try to stop me. After you watch the premiere, let me know what you think. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quotes of the Week
"I made it, but it's no good without you." Michael to Sara in one of the few non-laughable moments in the season finale on "Prison Break."
"You don't have to thank me. That's my job." Bill to Karen on "24." Sigh.
"I can't even comment on the vocals any more." Randy to Sanjaya on "American Idol."
"You tricked me into being decent? That's gotta be the lamest con in the history of cons." Sawyer to Hurley on "Lost."
"You give me a raise or no more sex." Michael trying to negotiate a salary increase from Jan on "The Office."
"I will never say a word. And now we are even." Jim after finding out about Angela and Dwight on "The Office."
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Adam Lavorgna, Robbie on "7th Heaven," was the adult version of the outcast student on "Cold Case."
Anne Ramsay, best known for playing Jamie's sister on "Mad About You," was the pregnant photographer on "House."
Okay, I know everyone knows that was Will Arnett, GOB on "Arrested Development," as Jack's rival on "30 Rock." But it's been so long since I've been able to talk about my secret TV boyfriend that I couldn't let his hilarious appearance go unnoticed.
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for April 9 to 15
Barney gets involved in Marshall's bachelor party on "How I Met Your Mother" (Monday, CBS, 8 p.m.). Now I had absolutely no idea this show was in danger of not being picked up for next season but that's the rumor running amok in Hollywood. I can only hope the buzz is wrong. We don't have many good comedies on TV and we certainly can't afford to lose this legendary one. There are plenty of other sitcoms that deserve to be lemon lawed.
"The King of Queens" finally returns with its 200th episode this Monday at 9:30 p.m. on CBS. This is the first of the series' seven final episodes.
Her advice don't cost a thing. Jennifer Lopez coaches the eight remaining contestants on"American Idol" Tuesday at 8 p.m. on FOX. But obviously my hope is that she give Sanjaya hair tips.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Must be Renewed. It's the season finale of "Friday Night Lights" (Wednesday, NBC, 8 p.m.). The team is gearing up for the state championship; everyone finds out that Coach Taylor accepted the job at TMU and Tami gets some good news. Now I will know whether or not you've watched. To paraphrase my mother's favorite phrase when I was growing up: "I have eyes in the back of my remote." So please do me a favor and tune in.
So I'm curious, why haven't you tuned back into "Jericho" (Wednesday, CBS, 8 p.m.)? I never liked the show but I know you did and "Jericho" was successful until it went on its mid-season hiatus. Since its return though it hasn't done well. Do you know why?
I think "CSI" might be having its best season yet. There's the miniature killer (which comes up again this Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBS), the ongoing romance of Grissom and Sara (I now love the way the show is handling it) and a strong story line for Greg. If only we could enter "CSI" and "CSI: Miami" into some sort of Thunderdome competition (two crime dramas enter and only one exits). I know which show would be victorious.
The time has come for me once again to defend "Lost." The show is having a fantastic run since it returned in February. There are so many possibilities and intricate story lines in play right now. Heck, the show even made Nikki and Paulo interesting before killing them off. A couple of weeks ago I was actually screaming at the TV, "If Locke's father is behind the door, I'm going to freak out." Rest assured that freaking out did ensue. Plus, we've got the whole Jack/Kate/Juliet/Sawyer love square, Desmond's ability to foresee the future, Locke seemingly joining the Others. Each week I think the show gets more and more intriguing. What about you? Have you forgiven "Lost"?
You know I'm all about fearless predictions. And now that "30 Rock" has been picked up for a second season (yay), I want to predict that I think when the series returns next season, Jane Krakowski won't be part of the show. She's been the weakest, least funny and most unnecessary part of the series all year long. Listen to me now and believe me later, she won't be back next year. "30 Rock" remains the perfect example of how a show can blossom with time and the faith from its network. It's great to see NBC taking this kind of risk with a low-rated show. This week (Thursday, NBC, 9 p.m.), Liz and Floyd are happy together (and by the way I'm loving Jason Sudeikis in this role) and Tracy continues his quest to make a dramatic movie about Thomas Jefferson.
If it looks like a repeat and acts like a repeat, it's still a repeat even if it's disguised in a more clever package. Jeffrey Dean Morgan hosts "Grey's Anatomy: Every Moment Counts," Thursday at 9 p.m. I am so not buying the idea that Izzie is suddenly in love with George and it just felt "right." Are you?
"ER" finally returns Thursday at 10 p.m. on NBC. Annabella Sciorra guest stars a photographer.
So watching "The Amazing Race: All-Stars" (Sunday, CBS, 8 p.m.) simply isn't the same without Romber. But what I need to talk about is the faux foreign accent Charla and Mirna use to talk to people in any country they are in. Why do they do that? Do they know they are doing it? Do they think it will actually make people understand them better? And could Mirna possibly be any more annoying?
This time they really mean it. "7th Heaven," the show that cried "this is our series finale," was cancelled once again this week. I really think this will be remembered as one of the most bizarre network decisions ever. Once the CW resuscitated the Camden clan they made it nearly impossible for the most loyal fan to know when the show was on because more often than not it wasn't. This week, setting up the show's farewell redux, Lucy considers a new job, Ruthie wants her tattoo removed and Martin goes on a date with Sarah. Also Beverley Mitchell sings a song from her new country album. I would like to take this opportunity to reissue my threat that Reverend Camden better live to see the end of the series.
We've entered the third week of Email Watch 2007. That's right, my email is still not working. This is even worse that when my TiVo had a nervous breakdown. I can't tell you how bizarre it is to write this column without your input. We have a symbiotic relationship. You are the Ryan to my Seth, Jack to my Chloe, Veronica to my Wallace. It's kind of like when the Others could observe the castaways but the castaways didn't know they were there. My column has never been so one-sided and I'm having serious withdrawal. I'm sure there are quotes and familiar faces I'm missing all over the place. Apparently my email will be fixed this week, so keep writing me at email@example.com.
I'll be back next week with a look at the potential pilots for next season (my favorite ridiculous premise so far: A slacker who becomes the devil's bounty hunter), the return of "Gilmore Girls," "Smallville" (with Wonder Woman), how we're feeling about "The Sopranos" and much much more. Have a question, seen a familiar face or want to nominate a quote of the week. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Eventually I should get your missive.