Let's start off this week with some very good news.
Next week, my column will be changing to a blog format. Whoo-hoo! Come with me as we enter the new millennium.
This means I will be able to communicate with you more regularly and in a more timely fashion. I will now post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And you will be able to post comments directly to my blog. All the regular TV Gal features like quotes and familiar faces will be there. And I would love your thoughts on other regular features you would like to see on the TV Gal blog or any other suggestions. So definitely write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you're thinking.
Want more good news? This is the first column of the new season. Happy New TV Season to you and yours (seriously, Hallmark should so make a card for this occasion). Therefore, it's time to revisit my ratings system.
Five Stars: This show is so wonderful I don't leave home when it's on for fear my TiVo will fail (you know the contentious relationship we have) and I'll miss an episode (example: "Lost," "The Office" and "Friday Night Lights").
Two Stars: If I'm home and I need to watch something while I'm folding laundry, I'll watch this show (example: "Las Vegas," "CSI: Miami").
One Star: If I'm home, I won't turn on the TV for fear this show will be on (I'm too happy about the new season starting to put a show in this category. Simply insert your most despised TV show here).
I will use this rating system to let you know what I think of what I've seen so far. But by now we all know that TV shows are a work in progress. They need time to find their voice, hone their story telling and discover what works (and what doesn't). Shows that I thought were merely average in the beginning have become my favorites (see "The Office" or "Brothers & Sisters"). Pilots that I absolutely adored never lived up to their true potential (even though I watched "Studio 60" to the end, I acknowledge there were many, many flaws with the show). So, as the season progresses - and we learn what shows will live to see November - I will check back in on the new shows to see how they are doing. I promise.
Now let's move on to the okay news. Three new shows premiere this week and they all are just that: okay.
"K-ville" (Monday, FOX, 9 p.m.): This is a show that is better in theory than in execution. It's obviously great to film on location in New Orleans and bring national attention to a situation that is no longer in the forefront of our minds. The series really makes New Orleans its own character. It's great, in general, to have a cop show that's not set in LA or New York. And, as I mentioned in last week's column, Anthony Anderson is a superb actor. But really, in the end, "K-ville" is a fairly typical cop drama. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there's also nothing really making me want to tune in next week. There's also plot twist at the end of the pilot that defies logic. I'm not sure if enough time has passed for Cole Hauser's Trevor Cobb to have pulled off what he claims to have pulled off. I would love to know what you think after you watch the show. Three stars.
"Back to You" (Wednesday, FOX, 8 p.m.): Both Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton face the same battle as the stars of this sitcom about two local news anchors who are reunited after years apart. Can they create a new television character that audiences will accept? Especially Grammer, who created one of the most beloved and long lasting TV characters of all time. Perhaps that's why while watching the first two episodes, I had the hardest time believing Grammer as a new character. The verbal tics, the cadence of his voice, and his physical gestures were all too familiar. Frasier and news anchor Chuck Darling get aggravated and frustrated in very similar ways. Maybe because Heaton's character is so removed from her "Everybody Loves Raymond" days, I believed her as Kelly Carr. They are surrounded by a great cast including Fred Willard and Ty Burrell (who I loved in "Out of Practice"). I think the writing needs to be stronger and we need time to accept Grammer as a new character. Three stars.
"Gossip Girl" (Wednesday, CW, 9 p.m.): First of all, Kristen Bell (our beloved Veronica Mars, sniff) narrates this story about rich, wealthy teens in Manhattan's Upper East Side. So we already have a really good reason to give the show a chance. Secondly, we have Josh Schwartz, who gave us some really great years on "The O.C.," as executive producer. But I guess I'm still a little torn. I'm not sure I want to see this much drunken debauchery and bed-hopping shenanigans from pretty, petulant high school students. There's a coldness to the characters that keeps them at bay from the viewers. Three stars.
And, with a heavy sigh, I must now bring you the bad news. I think you all know how much I loved "Prison Break" its first season. So it pains me to tell you that I've down-graded "Prison Break," which returns Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX, to two star status.
The first two episodes of the new season are really, really bad. The thing is this really is a show that should have let the dream go after the first thrilling season. It just seems so boring to have Michael in prison with Lincoln charged with rescuing him. And the show has always had plot holes the size of Cleveland and required a lot of willing suspension of disbelief. But I can't get on board with the fact that they would have all ended up in the same prison. With respect to what the show once was and because I think Wentworth Miller is doing a great job with a lousy script I will say no more. After you've watched the show, let me know what you think.
Um, can you take more bad news? I have seen the pilot of "Private Practice" and it is so disappointing. I'll have a full review next week. But I wanted to get out in front of this problem and give you time to come to terms with this news.
Quotes of the Week
"I've been a homicide investigator for more than 20 years. I have seen more crime scenes than I can possibly count. Well, 410, but that's not the point." Monk to a parole board on "Monk." Thanks to Dean for the quote.
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Kurt recognized Crista Flanagan as the switchboard operator with a crush on the art director on "Mad Men." Flanagan is a regular on the cast of "MadTV."
Ken was the first person to recognize Fredric Lehne, as the mysterious witness who suddenly appeared on "The Closer." Lehne, was the yellow-eyed demon on "Supernatural" and the US Marshal who tracked Kate down on "Lost."
And Joanna wanted me to remind everyone that Michael Landes, who is Evan, the botanist romancing PJ on "My Boy," played Kirk McCraig on "The Wonder Years." By the way I don't think it was Evan who was waiting for PJ in first class, do you? I'm voting for the baseball player. Who's with me?
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are for September 17 to 23
So, I want to double down right now that I think Hollis Nye, the only lawyer Ellen trusts at this point is in cahoots with Patty Hewes on "Damages" (Tuesday, FX, 10 p.m.). I trust no one on this show. Do you?
Danielle or Evil Dick? I'm torn. Both benefited from their alliance and Danielle really dominated in the competitions. But Evil Dick has been fairly honest, in his own way, with everyone. More importantly, can you believe I care about this? "Big Brother 8" says good-bye to another summer of deception and back stabbing Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS.
CBS didn't send out an episode for review so there's not much I can tell you about "Kid Nation," the most controversial show of the season, which premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS. Forty children lived by themselves (or as alone as you can be on a reality show) for 40 days in Bonanza City, New Mexico. The kids were charged with forming their own society. In general, I don't feel great about real kids being used for entertainment purposes but I'm withholding judgment until I've seen the first episode.
"Burn Notice," which was picked up for a second season (yay), has a two-hour finale Thursday at 9 p.m. The show won't return next summer (booooo).
That's all for today. I'm back next week the premiere of the TV Gal blog. I'll have a look at the season premieres of "How I Met Your Mother," "Ugly Betty," "Brothers & Sisters," "Desperate Housewives" (it's a good report) and "House." I'll also have reviews of new shows including my favorites "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Reaper" and much more. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week? Have an idea for my blog? Write me at email@example.com.