HAVE YOU SEEN FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: if you haven’t, fear not: ABC Family will show FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS from the very beginning starting September 7. This incredible drama is well worth your time whether it’s the first time you’re seeing it or a repeat viewing. It’s not about football, it’s about family, friends and community. Set the DVR, mark your calendar, just don’t miss it.
TRUE BLOOD LIVES UP TO ITS TITLE: I’m not quite sure how I feel about this Rolling Stone cover but whatever the case, it sure is effective:
This week’s episode closed with one of the best scenes EVER as King Russell Edgington took over a local newscast and made his point about vampires crystal clear as he staked the newscaster, ripped out the guy’s innards and then told the viewing public that vampires don’t want to be their equal, they want to eat them and then eat their children. Immediately followed by the finest segue ever when Russell turned and said, “And now for the weather – Tiffany?!” There’s a whole lotta stuff in the TB gumbo pot and I think I care about maybe half of it: Bill & Sookie, Eric & Pam, Sam Merlotte and Russell Edgington. If Tara and Jason fell by the wayside, I don’t think I’d miss them. But TB revels in its over the top stew and I’m happy to go along for the ride because there are always juicy tidbits in every episode. I feel like they could be putting Lafayette to better use too; he seems almost peripheral these days and he deserves more.
MAD MEN: In “The Rejected” we saw how the times they are a-changin’ and it looks like Peggy and Joey are the only ones who are moving forward with them. I loved the boys club vs. the hipster kids in the final scene of the episode as Pete and Peggy looked at each other through the glass front door of SCDP. Other great moments:
–Peggy declining to sign the card for Pete & Trudy and instead going to congratulate Pete on the baby news in person.
–The focus group scene – heartbreaking to watch Allison start to cry during the group and then the even more difficult scene with her and Don in his office, buttoned with Don’s insulting “write whatever you want and I’ll sign it” blunder.
–The sadness of the women’s conversation in the focus group about how what they think of themselves isn’t important, it’s what men think of them that matters. All I could think is, “this is what Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem worked their whole lives to undo.”
–Joey’s line to Peggy: “do you ever read anything between the ad pages?”
–the lesbian editor from Life Magazine hitting on Peggy and asking, “does your boyfriend own your vagina?” and Peggy responding, “No, but he’s renting it.” — while Peggy was high – priceless!
–Don’s drunken spiral is turning off some viewers but I trust the writers more than enough to know they’re doing it for a reason. I’m just waiting for the episode where Anna dies or is near death and Don has to deal with that.
–Pete becoming more venal with his own father-in-law over the Clearasil / Vicks account. You had to admire Pete standing up to his father-in-law and telling him “I’m through auditioning. I want it all” and then shrugging while he fixed him a drink.
–Watching the Pond’s focus group reminded me that not only is advertising heavily influenced by focus groups, television relies heavily on it too. From my years in the current and development trenches, it always saddened me that network and studio execs could not go with their guts on many projects. Every pilot is tested and when I attended a focus group, I was horrified to see who the participants are: elderly folks, unemployed people of all ilks and people whose mental capacity I had serious doubts about. I understand the need for testing but I still firmly believe that if you work for a studio or network and you don’t like the concept for a show and you don’t believe in the talent pitching it, don’t order the show. TV shows cost too much and it’s crucial to support and believe in the show from the very start.
THE SURF REPORT PILOT TALK: Thoughts in brief because even after all these years, I don’t think you can judge a show solely on its pilot. If you’re involved in any of these projects, please remember this is my opinion after fifteen years of reading and watching pilots. Please don’t take anything personally and if you want to reply, feel free – just keep it polite and civil. Thanks.
MY GENERATION – the pilot is solid, I like that they use a variety of video techniques and try to frame it in the context of events that happened ten years ago and today. The multi-culti cast is very attractive and talented. I’m curious to see what they can sustain after the pilot. There are enough soapy elements to keep the audience coming back but I’m not sure how much we’ll actually care about these people. Logline: The show follows a group of high school grads in Austin, TX and catches up with them ten years after graduation.
BETTER WITH YOU: Most of the comedies this season feel like 90s retreads. This one does too BUT the exception here is Joanna Garcia, who brings a lot of lightness and fun to the show. I don’t think the show will be a hit but I want Joanna Garcia to work more so I’ll watch the second episode to see where they take it. Logline: one sister has lived with her boyfriend for ten (15?) years and then her younger sister gets engaged to her goofy boyfriend after a very short time. Their long-married parents are elated for their younger daughter which causes the older daughter considerable angst.
187 DETROIT – Michael Imperioli is the reason to watch the show. It’s a well-produced procedural drama about homicide detectives. The genre doesn’t distinguish the show but Imperioli is terrific. For NYPD BLUE fans, James McDaniel co-stars in the show.
MR. SUNSHINE – Matthew Perry, Andrea Anders, Allison Janney and James Lesure star in this new comedy. The pilot felt strained and they were trying hard for laughs. I’m curious to see if the show will relax into some kind of rhythm and if the ensemble will gel. The players are all comedy capable; it’s the writing that needs sharpening. Logline: Perry plays the manager of an event venue (think of a place like the Staples Center) in San Diego, CA. Janney is his self-medicating boss who owns the property. Andrea Anders is the marketing director.
NO ORDINARY FAMILY – Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz are the parents of this family that survives a plane crash in the jungle and upon returning home, each family member discovers they have a certain kind of superpower. What I really like about this show: it’s a good, solid family show and Michael Chiklis is always a pleasure to watch. I’m also a fan of Julie Benz and she’s cast well here as a mom who wants to be able to do everything at work and at home and just can’t seem to make it happen, until she discovers her new power. The show won’t change the face of television but I think good family shows are always a boon to primetime. It’s promotable, and it’s good, clean fun. Bonus: Romany Malco plays Chiklis’ best friend.
BODY OF PROOF – Dana Delany stars as a neurosurgeon who was in a car accident which wrecked both her career and her marriage. Now she’s a forensic doc, finding clues from dead bodies. Yes it’s formula and procedural but Delany makes this show work. The writers give her smart and often sarcastic dialogue and it made me remember how much I love her as an actress. Plus she’s in a well-deserved lead role, not relegated to the stupid shenanigans of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. She’s a working woman and she’s trying to reconnect with her daughter while her ex-husband tries to stand in her way. I liked this pilot a LOT more than I thought I would and Delany is the reason why.
EDGAR FLOATS – this was my favorite pilot this season and of course ABC is re-casting and “re-working” it. Tom Cavanaugh starred in the title role as a police psychologist whose house is being invaded by raccoons so he needs money to fix his house. He winds up working with his ex-wife (Alicia Witt) at her father’s bail bonds company, helping to recover fugitives. Rand Ravich and Far Shariat (LIFE) wrote this meticulously produced pilot and it saddens me that the show will not move forward as originally conceived. ABC gave them a six script order but who knows what will happen to it after the network pees all over it?
HAPPY ENDINGS – Elisha Cuthbert and Zach Knighton star as a couple who are about to get married when she gets cold feet and ditches him at the altar. Their friends try to support both of them after the wedding incident. Watching this, I could envision the ABC execs getting all excited, thinking this was their new FRIENDS. It’s not but despite my reservations about Elisha Cuthbert (and those are considerable), this show has potential to be a solid ensemble comedy. I’m not sure it will fulfill any of that potential but I think Zach Knighton is talented so I’ll watch more to see what they do.
Tell me what you think of the upcoming new shows. What do you plan to watch? I always love to hear your thoughts.
TODAY’S SURF WRITTEN WHILE LISTENING TO: Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” — the piano hook reverberates beautifully in my head.
ABC: Wipe Out, Shaq vs., Primetime: What Would You Do
CBS: NCIS [r], NCIS: LA [r], The Good Wife [r]
NBC: Minute to Win It [r], America’s Got Talent
FOX: Glee [r], Glee [r]
CW: One Tree Hill [r], 18 to Life, 18 to Life
ABC Family: Melissa & Joey series premiere starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, 10pm: Make It or Break It
Bravo: 9pm: Flipping Out, 10pm: Rachel Zoe Project
Cartoon Network: 8pm: Unnatural History
Comedy Central: 10pm: Big Lake series premiere – 2 episodes back to back – the new comedy stars Chris Gethard, Horatio Sanz and Chris Parnell
FX: 10pm: Rescue Me, 11pm: Louie
MTV: 10pm: Teen Mom, 11pm: If You Really Knew Me
Syfy: 9pm: Warehouse 13
TNT: 9pm: Hawthorne
USA: 9pm: White Collar, 10pm: Covert Affairs
That’s a wrap for now.