Bullz-Eye's 2007 Fall TV Preview: CBS
We're watching The Eye very closely at the moment. We're totally psyched that they listened to the fans and saved "Jericho" from the chopping block, and the fact that they renewed "How I Met Your Mother" has us psyched, too. But when one of the new shows has gone through a zillion production and casting changes, and another has Melanie Griffith singing "One Way or Another"...well, we just don't know what to think!
Kid Nation (Wednesday, September 19 @ 8:00 PM, CBS)
Host: Jonathan Karsh
Producer: Tom Forman
Network's Description: A reality-based series in which 40 kids will have 40 days to build a new world - in a ghost town that died in the 19th Century. These kids, ages 8-15, will spend more than a month without their parents or modern comforts in Bonanza City, N.M., attempting to do what their forefathers could not - build a town that works. They will cook their own meals, clean their own outhouses, haul their own water and even run their own businesses - including the old town saloon (root beer only). They'll also create a real government - four kid leaders who will guide the group through their adventure, pass laws and set bedtimes. Through it all, they'll cope with regular childhood emotions and situations: homesickness, peer pressure and the urge to break every rule they've ever known. At the end of each episode, all 40 kids will gather at an old fashioned Town Hall meeting where they will debate the issues facing Bonanza City. They'll show wisdom beyond their years and the unflinching candor that only kids can exhibit. There are no eliminations; you only go home if you want to. And in every Town Hall meeting, kids may raise their hands and leave. Will they stick it out? In the end, will these kids prove to adults everywhere (and their own parents!) that they have the vision to build a better world than the pioneers who came before them? And just as importantly, will they come together as a cohesive unit, or will they abandon all responsibility and succumb to the childhood temptations that lead to round-the-clock chaos?
The Buzz: No-one's had anything to say about this show that didn't involve a reference to "Lord of the Flies," and there's been a lot of controversy over accusations of breaking child labor law in New Mexico, but kids won't care about that. This is a pretty cool idea, at least to my eyes, and for all the naysayers, it's really not that much different than kids going to camp, except that, instead of chaperones and counselors, there are just cameramen and producers on the sidelines in case anything goes wrong.
Pilot Highlight: We only get a five-minute clip reel, alas, but from those moments, the clear tearjerker occurs when one of the kids admits that he misses his brother, who's in a wheelchair, and begins to cry. He's then immediately surrounded by several other kids, who give him a hug.
Bottom Line: This could be a sleeper hit...and deservedly so. Not only is it family-friendly, but it's potentially educational.
The Big Bang Theory (Monday, September 24 @ 8:30 PM, CBS)
Starring: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar
Producers: Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady
Network's Description: Brainy best friends Leonard and Sheldon can tell you anything you want to know about quantum physics, but when it comes to dealing with everyday life here on earth, they're lost in the cosmos. Neither fully understands that scientific principles don't always apply in matters of the heart - until they meet their sexy new neighbor Penny, a friendly screenwriter/waitress from the Midwest who also happens to be newly single. She quickly makes an impression on the other members of Leonard and Sheldon's geek squad - Howard Wolowitz, who portrays himself as the Casanova of Cal Tech, and fellow whiz kid Rajesh Koothrappali, who is rendered speechless around anyone unprepared to converse about the Theory of Relativity or other scientific jargon. The chemistry between this gaggle of geniuses and a delightful damsel is about to undergo a stimulating series of inter-personal experiments.
The Buzz: It's a pretty pedestrian show in format, but the writing is royally high-brow. Like, putting "Frasier" to shame high-brow. I mean, there's a joke about a quantum chemistry computation known as the Born-Oppenheimer Approximation, for God's sake. If there's one thing that can be said for these characters, it's that they definitely play like real geeks...but is it going too far? Actually, given how hot Kaley Cuoco is, a lot of guys probably won't be focusing on the geeks, anyway.
Pilot Highlight: There are a plethora of pop culture jokes, including a reference to playing Klingon Boggle, but the best comes when Sheldon suggests that he and Leonard watch Season 2 of "Battlestar Galactica" on DVD. "But we already watched Season 2," says Leonard. Sheldon replies, with the delivery of someone who believes he's stating the plainly obvious, "Not with commentary."
Bottom Line: Other sitcoms might have more long-term potential based on the success of the members of their ensembles, but as a one-off half-hour, "The Big Bang Theory" easily wins the award for most laughs. We're hopeful that it will continue to spread its wings and score for the long haul.
Cane (Tuesday, September 25 @ 10:00 PM, CBS)
Starring: Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo, Nestor Carbonell, Rita Moreno, Polly Walker, Paola Turbay, Eddie Matos, Michael Trevino, Lina Esco, Samuel Carman, Alona Tal
Producers: Cynthia Cidre, Jonathan Prince, Jimmy Iovine, Polly Anthony, Peter Noah, Jimmy Smits
Network's Description: An epic drama about the external rivalries and internal power struggles of a large Cuban-American family running an immensely successful rum and sugar business in South Florida. When the family patriarch, Pancho, is offered a lucrative but questionable deal by his bitter adversary, the Samuels, to purchase thousands of acres of sugar fields, he's faced with a tough choice: Should he cash out of the sugar business and focus solely on rum, which would please his impulsive natural son, Frank, or protect the family legacy that he built from the ground up by not selling, and side with his adopted son, Alex, who mistrusts the Samuels and still sees value in sugar. Alex and Frank's approach to business is as different as their approach to life. While Frank might lose focus chasing women, Alex is deeply in love with his beautiful wife, Isabel, who is also Pancho's daughter. Married when she was just 17 years old, Isabel balances Alex by choosing not to involve herself in the business, focusing instead on their three children, who are determined to forge their own paths outside the family. For the Duques, will family allegiance come first or will their secrets and acrimonious conflicts over love, lust and control of the family fortune be their downfall?
The Buzz: It's like a Latino blend of "Dallas" and "Falcon Crest" (but instead of oil or wine, the focus is rum), but it's rooted at least slightly more in the real world. Elizondo and Moreno bring decades of class to the cast, while Carbonell is clearly the J.R. of the family, but Smits' towering presence is what drives the show.
Pilot Highlight: When we discover definitively at the end of the episode that Alex is a man driven not by power but by revenge.
Bottom Line: CBS bombed last year with the all-star cast of "Smith" in the exact same timeslot, but Latino viewership in America is not to be trifled with. "Cane" has a very good chance of securing a fanbase the same way that "Ugly Betty" did, as long as they keep things realista with how they portray the family dynamic.
Moonlight (Friday, September 28 @ 9:00 PM, CBS)
Starring: Alex O'Loughlin, Sophia Myles, Jason Dohring, Shannyn Sossamon
Producers: Joel Silver, David Greenwalt, Ron Koslow, Rod Holcomb and Gerard Bocaccio, Trevor Munson
Network's Description: Mick St. John is a captivating "undead" private investigator who uses his acute vampire senses to help the living... instead of feeding on them. In an agonizing twist of fate, Mick was "bitten" 60 years ago by his new bride, the seductive and beguiling Coraline. Immortal and eternally as young, handsome and charismatic as he was then, Mick is sickened by Coraline and other vampires who view humans only as a source of nourishment. With only a handful of undead confidantes for company, including deceitful ally Josef, Mick fills his infinite days protecting the living, and trying not to think about how his life would have been if he hadn't followed his heart. However, after six decades of resisting, he wonders if it's time to pursue the love of a mortal. He has his eyes on Beth Turner, a beautiful, ambitious reporter who has been covering the ongoing plague of unusual murders. But would Beth even consider giving up a normal life to be with him, and can Mick risk the pain of seeing himself as a monster in her eyes? As Mick lives between two realities, fighting his adversaries among the undead and falling in love with Beth, he knows he needs to figure out a reason to keep "living."
The Buzz: At first, when David Greenwalt was attached, people couldn't stop talking about the similarities between this show and one of his previous shows, which was also about a vampire who's a private investigator. Greenwalt has since departed the show, however, along with just about everyone from the original cast, which has people understandably concerned.
Pilot Highlight: Only a brief preview was available, and it's probably all out of date now, anyway, given how many changes have taken place since it was put together, so there's no real point in picking one.
Casting Caveat: As noted, O'Loughlin's practically the only remaining cast member from the original cast of the show at this point.
Bottom Line: Who knows? It's clearly a premise that's been done before, both with "Angel" and with "Forever Knight," but with little written in stone, there's no way to guess how this will turn out until it actually rears its head on the night of its premiere. This much turmoil, however, rarely bodes well.
Viva Laughlin (Sunday, October 21 @ 8:00 PM, CBS)
Starring: Lloyd Owen, Mädchen Amick, Eric Winter, DB Woodside, P.J. Byrne, Ellen Woglom, Carter Jenkins, Hugh Jackman, Melanie Griffith
Producers: Hugh Jackman, John Palermo, Bob Lowry, Paul Telegdy, Peter Bowker, Tyler Bensinger, Steve DeKnight
Network's Description: A mystery drama with music about eternal optimist and freewheeling businessman Ripley Holden, whose sole ambition is to run a casino in Laughlin, Nev. Occasionally using upbeat contemporary songs to accentuate the drama and humor and advance the story, the series is based on the hit BBC show "Viva Blackpool." Ripley is the ultimate gambler with an infectious personality who is on the brink of making a killing... just as soon as he opens his casino that's nowhere near completion. When his financing suddenly falls through, the fearless and tenacious Ripley approaches his enemy - dashing, sarcastic, wealthy casino owner Nicky Fontana for help. Though the odds are stacked against him, Ripley doesn't miss a beat, even when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after the body of his ex-business partner is found at his club. At home, Ripley uses his dry wit to adjust to the demands of his family: his gorgeous wife, Natalie, wants more attention; his teenage daughter, Cheyenne, wants his approval; and his son, Jack, wants to help him at work. All of this adversity would defeat a lesser man, but for the outgoing and passionate Ripley there's no such thing as bad news, only deals to be struck and wagers to be won in the intoxicating neon glow of Laughlin, where the cards are on the table, romance is in the air and lively music is on the stage.
The Buzz: The curiosity factor comes from Jackman being wooed to serve as a recurring character on a prime-time television show, but when it comes to prime-time shows blending singing and drama, it's still too soon for people to stop bringing up "Cop Rock." Plus, a casual observer...okay, it was my wife...noted that waiting for characters to suddenly burst into song is like waiting for a bomb to drop. That's probably not a compliment.
Pilot Highlight: Nicky Fontana's arrival by helicopter while singing "Sympathy for the Devil," a song which continues during his strut into his casino, where he's surrounded by leggy chorus girls.
Bottom Line: It's a unique show, make no mistake, and placing it on Sundays at 8 PM means that the possibility for a big family audience is there...but, then, a show about a casino doesn't seem much like a family-friendly series. It probably won't matter, anyway; neither the Jackman factor nor the novelty of waiting for the next song will be enough to keep "Viva Laughlin" on the air for more than a handful of episodes.