October 5, 2006

Fall 2006 TV Roundup

Posted in Television at 11:48 pm by Calico Jack

I always make a point of watching as many new TV pilots as I can every season, since ones that look interesting in the previews often turn out to be crap (and vice versa.) I wasn’t able to look at every new show that premiered over the past couple of weeks, but I snagged a good chunk of them. Here are my thoughts on a few:

Biggest disappointment: CBS’s Smith. What looked like a flashy, interesting caper serial turned out to be an extremely bland, yet nasty piece of television. The anti-heroes of Smith are too cold and amoral to sympathize with, and the show isn’t entertaining enough to hold the viewers’ interest. I really enjoyed A&E’s airing of Hustle (highly intelligent show about British con artists) earlier this year, and NBC’s midseason replacement Heist, while formulaic, was a lot of fun to watch — mostly because the show didn’t take itself too seriously. Smith left me with a dirty feeling afterwards; if you want bad guys to root for, go watch Prison Break.

Honorable mention: Six Degrees. I thought J.J. Abrams might be able to work his magic again, but no luck, alas. Six Degrees is a pale shadow of another new TV show this fall (more on that later.) Thursday nights at 10 aren’t looking good for TV; between Six Degrees, Shark, and ER viewers have lots of shows to ignore.

Pleasant surprise: ABC’s The Nine. Honestly, the only reason I watched the pilot was because it was on right after Lost. Ten minutes into the show I was hooked, however. This should be the best ensemble drama on television this season, if the pilot is indicative of anything. By the end of the hour, I actually cared about what happened to the characters, and there were enough tantalizing hints about what happened during the 52-hour hostage standoff to make my Veronica Mars “Was that just a clue” glands start salivating. I won’t be missing this show. Still, nothing quite compares to the teasers of…

Fastest turnaround: Heroes. I was about ready to give up on the show after watching the pilot last week. This was my most-anticipated show of the season, but the pilot was absolutely atrocious. Everything about it rubbed me the wrong way, from the dialogue to the clich├ęd character conflicts to the introduction of the powers to an anti-climatic cliffhanger. Heroes has been compared to Lost with its overarching storyline and deep complexity. But when I watched the two-hour pilot of Lost, I was absolutely blown away. After I saw Heroes, I just shrugged and said “Whatever.” Against my better judgment, I decided to give it one more chance.

Wow! The second episode was everything the pilot wasn’t. It actually had a storyline that was starting to make sense, it was exciting, it was funny, and it even had a few surprises. I was shocked at how much better this episode was than the original…until I found out that the NBC suits had ordered the original Heroes pilot split in half. Now everything made sense. These first two episodes would have worked much better as a two-hour pilot, but thankfully the ratings don’t seem to be suffering much at all. A week ago, I never thought I’d be saying this, but catch this show before it starts to pick up the pace. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

I already watch Lost, Prison Break, Boston Legal, Bones, The Office, and MI-5. Battlestar Galactica is starting soon, and 24 will begin in January. I don’t have time to add too many shows, but I’ll definitely set aside time for Heroes and The Nine. I have a feeling The Nine might not last through the season, but Heroes has a lot of buzz; and if NBC’s ratings hold up it could be their breakout hit of the season (not Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

Now, if they could only bring back Keen Eddie…

Update: According to the AP, Smith has just been cancelled. The article says it was facing stiff competition from Law & Order: SVU and Boston Legal. One down, how many more to go?