Bullz-Eye's 2006 Fall TV Preview: The CW
You have to admit, it must’ve really sucked to be the folks at the CW – the blending of the now-defunct networks UPN and the WB – who had to decide which shows were making the transition onto this new network and which ones were getting the axe. In the end, enough lives were spared that they only needed two new shows: one sitcom and one drama. Still, you just know someone’s gonna say, “I can’t believe they cancelled (INSERT SHOW HERE) for this!”
The Game (Sunday, October 1 @ 8:30 PM, The CW)
Starring: Brittany Daniel, Coby Bell, Hosea Chanchez, Pooch Hall, Tia Mowry, Wendy Raquel Robinson
Executive Producers: Kelsey Grammer (“Girlfriends”), Mara Brock-Akil (“Girlfriends”), Steve Stark (“Medium”)
The Pitch: Being the wife or girlfriend of a pro football player might sound like a glamorous and stress-free existence, but Melanie Barnett (Mowry) is about to discover the truth. Melanie’s boyfriend, Derwin (Hall), is the new third-string wide receiver for the San Diego Sabers. While Derwin worries about the plays on the field, Melanie learns about the power plays that NFL wives use to get their men the best agents, managers, endorsements, merchandising deals and even the “in” charity. As she deals with egos, groupies and image consultants, Melanie is finding out how The Game is played among the women behind the athletes.
The Buzz: Sounds suspiciously like an American version of the BBC favorite, “Footballers’ Wives.” Word on the street is that the pilot tends to fall back on sitcom stereotypes rather than go with anything particularly creative.
Pilot Highlight: Unavailable at press time.
Bottom Line: It’s following “Girlfriends,” so it’s got a built-in audience. It’s reasonable to expect that it’ll do pretty well.
Runaway (Monday, September 25 @ 9:00 PM, The CW)
Starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Dustin Milligan, Karen Leblanc, Leslie Hope, Nathan Gamble, Sarah Ramos, Susan Floyd
Executive Producer: Chad Hodge (“Tru Calling”), Darren Star (“Kitchen Confidential”), Ed Zuckerman (“JAG”)
The Pitch: The Raders look like a normal middle-class American family, with a dad, Paul Rader (Wahlberg), his lovely wife Lily (Hope), teenagers Henry (Milligan) and Hannah (Ramos) and 8-year-old Tommy (Gamble). Those are their real names, but as they struggle to blend into a new life in Bridgewater, Iowa, they are all using secret identities. This family is on the run, hiding from the legal system that unjustly accused Paul Radar of a terrible and violent crime. Adding to the danger, the real killer is now threatening the lives of the Rader children. As Paul works to protect his loved ones and uncover the evidence that will clear him, he lives with the daily fear that someone will accidentally reveal the family's dark secret.
The Buzz: Sounds like a cross between “The Fugitive” and the fondly-remembered ‘80s film, “Running on Empty.” Don’t think it’s a coincidence that the show features a former “24” cast member (Hope) and airs on the same night that “24” usually does. Too bad it isn’t even close to being as good. Wahlberg’s acceptably moody and Hope once again plays the dutiful wife role well, but the teenagers are complete assholes and coincidence runs rampant throughout the script.
Pilot Highlight: It’s probably supposed to be a scene where it appears that the authorities have already caught up to the Rader family…except that it’s a complete rip-off of a similar scene in “Silence of the Lambs.”
Bottom Line: Even combining the power of UPN and the WB, the CW isn’t what you’d call a major ratings threat…and this likely won’t change things any. Wahlberg’s profile as an actor was raised considerably with “Saw II,” so his attachment to the show might help a bit, but it’s a real mess. Unless the pace picks up dramatically within the first few episodes, it won’t last much longer than that.