TV Gal Broadcasts a Public Service Announcement

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You know I only criticize because I care.

And now that we are only about a month and a half away from the start of the new season (can you feel it?), I thought it was time for a TV Gal Public Service Announcement.

This one is entitled Things We Don't Need to See on TV Again. There are only so many ideas in the TV world but some have become so over used and cliched that I think it's high time that a moratorium was placed on the following devices:

Characters Who See Things That Aren't There: What is going on? There are characters hallucinating on "State of Mind," "Saving Grace," "Heartland" and "Side Order of Life." The latter committed the most egregious version of this: a talking baby. Just when I declared that I liked the show, they brought on a talking baby. Are they trying to upset me? I'm all for the dead haunting Tommy Gavin on "Rescue Me," but this is a plot devise that is best used sparingly.

Slow Motion Montages: This is increasingly becoming a way to fill time on hour long shows. And it's all over this season's new pilots. I won't call out the shows just yet in the hopes that my little PSA will cause them to take note and write some dialogue. You know who you are.

Voice-Over Narration: I love voice-over narration on "Scrubs." "Desperate Housewives" certainly wouldn't be the same show without it. On shows like "My Name Is Earl" and "How I Met Your Mother" it serves a distinct purpose. But come on, many characters need to shut up. Too often voice-over narration is a "master of the obvious" technique. We know what's going on in "Grey's Anatomy," we don't need Meredith to constantly tell us about it. Again this is another device running amok on this year's pilots, sometimes it's great use of the device (Kristen Bell is the voice of "Gossip Girl") and sometimes it's completely unnecessary ("Cashmere Mafia").

Surprise/Unplanned Pregnancies: TV Gal reader Avery wrote me about this last week (in fact she's the one who got me thinking about this whole topic). I am so wary of this device that last week when Brenda wasn't feeling well on "The Closer," my go-to thought was that she was pregnant (I don't think so but it shows how conditioned we've become as TV viewers).

What are you sick and tired of seeing on TV? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com and let me know. I'll have your suggestions in my column next week.

More Tales From Press Tour

I try to give pilots a lot of leeway. They really are just a hint at what a series can become and most will go through recasts, rewrites and edits before they actually hit the air. Therefore, I'm going to wait until we get closer to the launch of the new season to give you the complete low-down (by then most networks will have released their revised pilots), but I thought I'd give you a peak at my early favorites:

Favorite New Dramas: The pilots for "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC), "Reaper" (CW) and "Chuck" (NBC) showed the most promise. "Journeyman" (NBC) could also turn out to be a very entertaining show. I didn't fall in love with "Pushing Daisies" (ABC) the way most critics did (I found it a little too cute and precious for its own good) and I really didn't like NBC's "Bionic Woman" (boring) or CBS's "Viva Lauglin" (bizarre).

Favorite New Comedies: ABC's "Samatha Who?" is positively delightful and CW's "Aliens in America" has the potential to become a pretty amusing show. I don't want to waste any time discussing ABC's "Cavemen" or "Carpoolers" because I don't think they will stock around long.

Biggest Disappointment: I almost don't want to even tell you that Amy Sherman-Palladino's new comedy "The Return of Jezebel James" is really bad. It hurts too much to think that this is the next show from the creator of "Gilmore Girls." I keep hoping that the comedy (and I use the term loosely) will go through many, many changes before it airs as a midseason replacement.

Set Visits: I got to visit the set of "Bones" and chat with David Boreanaz about the direction the show is taking this season. They were filming the second episode of the season and the crime they're investigating will ratchet up the sexual tension between Bones and Brennan. And typically when you visit sets they look smaller than they do on TV, that is so not the case on "Bones." The set was huge. With the other television critics, I visited "Heroes," "The Closer," "Two and a Half Men," "Cold Case," and "Brothers & Sisters." At "Brothers & Sisters," I almost had to become a member of the Walker family. I went to the restroom and when I returned the rest of my group was gone and I was lost in Ojai Foods (not a bad place to be lost by the way). It was like I was wayward on a school trip. I'll have more about my set visits and what I learned about what's coming up on your favorite series as we get closer to the launch of the new season.

Character Returns: We learned that Michael would be coming back to "Lost" and that Scottie would be returning to "Brothers & Sisters." And that got me thinking about other characters I would like to see return to their series. Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com with your suggestions and I'll have them in next week's column.

Quotes of the Week

"Purity Pledge, activate." Dale and his group of Purity Pledge members on "Greek." Thanks to Matt for the quote.

"There's a lot of people going to hell these days." Earl to Grace on "Saving Grace." Thanks to Avery for the quote.

Inside Joke Quote of the Week

"Oh, Frasier's on." Casey on "Greek." Of course, Casey is played by Spencer Grammer daughter of Kelsey Grammer.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

There have been a slew of familiar faces on "The Closer," but let's touch on the less obvious one. Jonathan Del Arco is the new coroner. He was Sofia Lopez on "Nip/Tuck." French Stewart, Harry on "3rd Rock From the Sun," was Brenda's realtor Gary.

Sherri Saum is currently playing Franco's girlfriend Natalie on "Rescue Me." She was Vanessa, the woman Roland slept with on "Army Wives."

Rishi wanted me to remind you of all the familiar faces we are seeing on "Kill Point." Michael Hyatt, Brianna on "The Wire" and Susan on "Drive," is one of the hostage negotiators. Dana Ashbrook, who I'll always remember as Bobby on "Twin Peaks," is Tony. Frank Grillo, the dear departed Nick on "Prison Break," is Pig. Grillo was also Gary on "CSI." And Stacie recognized Jeremy Davidson as bank robber Rabbit. He's also currently playing Chase on "Army Wives." Hmmm ... perhaps that's why Chase got called to duty.

DJ recognized Larenz Tate as the new basketball playing probie on "Rescue Me." He was Shooter on "Love Monkey" and Peter in the movie "Crash." Jerry Adler is the new chief. He was Hesh on "The Sopranos," Sam in "Raising Dad," and Mr. Wicker in "Mad About You."

Shawn recognized Olivia d'Abo, Karen on "The Wonder Years" and Nicole Wallace on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," is Sheriff Carter's ex-wife Abby on "Eureka."

Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for July 30 to Aug. 5

Nothing you can say can tear me away from "My Boys," which returns for a second season Monday at 10 p.m. on TBS. So be sure to tune in to see what happened after PJ and Brendan kissed in last season's finale. This comedy has some of the most likable characters of any television series. I want to play poker with them and hang out at Crowley's. They are just so darn enjoyable to watch. Four out of five stars.

So most of you agreed with me about "Saving Grace" (Monday at 10 p.m. on TNT). We're just not sure we actually want to watch Grace every week. But there is a reason to tune in this week. James Marsters (Spike on "Buffy" and "Angel" as if I have to tell you that) is a guest star.

ABC is bringing back "The Nine" Wednesday at 9 p.m. on ABC. But the series has already been cancelled so the network is merely burning off its unaired episodes. Therefore, promise me you won't get too attached. By the way, if you want to watch the episodes of "Drive" that FOX twice said they would air and didn't, go to www.myspace.com/fox.

Here's the deal. I love "Mad Men" (Thursday, AMC, 10 p.m.) and I get the point they are trying to make about the era. But the characters smoke so much that it has become something of a distraction. It's too much. I liked it in the premiere but I now want them to tone it down. This week Pete Campbell returns from his honeymoon and talks to Peggy about the night they spent together.

That's all for today. I'll be back next week with characters I would like to see return, your picks for overused TV devices and much much more. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com.

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