2006 Fall TV Preview

THE FALL TELEVISION PREVIEW

The brothers Sarni dig into the new fall pilots to decide what’s worth watching this fall…

JP’s Picks

BEST NEW DRAMA
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

BEST NEW COMEDY
The Class (CBS)

BEST NEW SEASON-LONG CLIFFHANGER
The Nine (ABC)

Patrick’s Picks

BEST NEW DRAMA
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

BEST NEW COMEDY
Til Death (FOX)

BEST NEW SEASON-LONG CLIFFHANGER
Jericho (CBS)

It’s been a little crazy in the JoyHog office lately. Now that we’re all rolling back from the last summer holiday (except Mandy who keeps pushing back her return flight from some European hotspot), it’s time to buckle-down with the pilot DVDs. It’s a mad scramble to plow through all the boxed sets of things we missed from last season so that we’re all caught up. FOX has already begun to unravel their new season, while the rest of the networks will continue to tease us for a few more weeks.

Now it’s just unkind to say mean things about shows before they have a chance to hit the air, so we’ll just focus on the good stuff (there’s a lot to see) and let the network cancel half these new programs on their own.

SUNDAY

One of the big shows to hit Sunday night that we’re all anxious to see is “Brothers & Sisters” on ABC from executive producer/writer, Jon Robin Baitz. And we’re anxious because it has the most ridiculous cast to hit television in years (Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Ron Rifkin, Balthazar Getty and Patricia Wettig) and ABC has yet to fork over the preview tapes. We can also look forward to the return of “Desperate Housewives.” “Everybody Hates Chris” (now on The CW), “The Amazing Race,” and the FOX line-up of funny that includes: “The Simpsons,” “American Dad,” “Family Guy,” (they sent us a lovely pair of promotional boxers) and “The War at Home.”

MONDAY

studio60.jpgABC has “Wife Swap” coming back (really…who cares?), and then “The Bachelor: Rome” (JP has the DVR set already) followed by “What About Brian” at 10pm. Patrick likes that one, but JP can’t understand why there’s not a question mark at the end of the title. It keeps him up nights. Over on CBS, 8pm is “The Class” which is JP’s favorite new laffer, then “How I Met Your Mother” and some more returns. NBC has “Deal or No Deal” (yes, still), but then things really liven up with “Heroes” about people from all over the world realizing they are a bit extraordinary. And THEN, dear friends, is the most chatted about show of the season and the hands-down best drama for our 44 commercial-free minutes: “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” Thomas Schlamme and Aaron Sorkin really outdid themselves during their time on “The West Wing,” and the bar is set pretty high. If the pilot is any indication, “Studio 60” will feature all the one-two banter as well as some great comedy, provided by the premise of backstage drama on a late-night sketch show. FOX has the return of “Prison Break” (two episodes in, those boys are still a’runnin’) and then the new show “Vanished” which boasts an impressive cast including Gale Harold (“Queer as Folk”), Ming-Na (“ER”) and Rebecca Gayheart (“Dead Like Me”). It’s a good show, but not all that new, and has yet to show its je ne sais quois. “Runaway” is on The CW at 9pm – a drama about a family on the run from the law, continuously changing towns and identities. It’s not terrible.

TUESDAY

So Tuesdays are not so cute for television. This can be the designated drinking night out for you and your pals. Once again in alphabetical order… ABC opens with “Big Day” and “Notes from the Underbelly,” half-hour comedies in the category of so-so. “Big Day” subscribes to the episodic method. The whole season covers one couple’s wedding day. The pair is played by the very funny Josh Cooke (“Four Kings”) and Marla Sokoloff. fridaynight.jpg Wendie Malick is also here, being all sassy. Cute concept…might fly. “Notes…” is about the steps that couples go through on the way to babyhood. Among its company are Jennifer Westfeldt (big fan of hers) and Rachel Harris (“Fat Actress” – LOOOOOVE her). Then it’s “Knights of Prosperity” at 9pm, where a funny gaggle of down-and-outs plan to rob Mick Jagger’s apartment on Central Park West. “Boston Legal” is back as well (if you like that sort of thing). Over on CBS, “NCIS” and “The Unit” are back, and Ray Liotta stars in “Smith” at 10pm (which is trying to be “Oceans CBS,”) but it makes a compelling hour of television, nonetheless. NBC has the new show “Friday Night Lights” from the book and the film before it. Kyle Chandler is the coach here, and it’s a very slick hour, pulsating with music and emotion. The big question is whether or not each Tuesday night “Friday Night” can be as gripping and carry the story forward. FOX has “Standfoff” with Ron Livingston about hostage negotiators. Plus “Gilmore Girls” and “Veronica Mars” are back, now together on The CW.

WEDNESDAY

We’re still plowing through season two of “Lost,” (which is just now hitting DVD) and revving up for season three, in hopes that Mr. Abrams is finally going to tell us what the $&%@ is going on! After that it’s more jericho.jpgmystique with “The Nine,” in which a group of total strangers (or are they….) are held hostage for 52 hours inside a bank. Over the course of the season (or many seasons depending on ratings), we learn what exactly went on with cast members Scott Wolf, Chi McBride, Tim Daly, Kim Raver and others. Over on CBS, there’s “Jericho,” which is FANTASTIC (and yes, also dripping with mystery). Skeet Ulrich, pays a random visit to his Kansas hometown just when there’s a crazy-ass firecloud erupting off in the distance. Power goes out, birds fall from the sky and the outside world is totally shut off. Very cool. “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY” are back, but we have new toys now, so we can throw these under the bed for now. NBC has the sitcoms “Twenty Good Years” and “30 Rock” (should Tina Fey really have left SNL for this one?), “The Biggest Loser” (sweet Caroline Rhea), and then television favorite Dana Delany and Timothy Hutton get their littl’un nabbed in “Kidnapped” and Jeremy Sisto is the last great hope. It’s kinda like the movie “Ransom,” but still much better than the commercials let on. FOX has “Bones” coming back and the new show “Justice” (don’t get too attached to that one). Mystery, mystery, mystery…

THURSDAY

The CW has “Supernatural” coming back, so I guess people watched it (I really meant to, but I was watching DVDs at the time) and “Smallville” for season number 6 (sheesh). NBC had their night all planned out until ABC lined up its can of whoopass commonly referred to as “Grey’s Anatomy.” It’s got a new lead-in and a new outro. At 8pm, it’s the hour-long comedy (uuuuhhhhh). “Ugly Betty” stars America Ferrera (who I adore beyond words, and kinda wanna be friends with) as the sad, homely girl from the block who gets a gig at a glossy run by Ericsixdegrees.jpg Mabius and the back-stabbing Vanessa Williams. Funny with heart and lessons. It’s all very Disney. The 10pm hour has J.J. Abrams delivering “Six Degrees” (I think you can figure out the premise there), and now ABC officially owns the night. James Woods is busy with “Shark” on CBS, NBC hasn’t really changed, and FOX has “The O.C.” coming back in November as well as the new comedy “’Til Death” (Pat’s a fan, JP feels eh about it) and “Happy Hour,” which may make a name for itself based on the comedic talents of its cast – among them, the very scrappy John Sloan.

FRIDAY

“Men in Trees” from some “Sex and the City” folk stars Anne Heche and has that “Northern Exposure” feel to it. Cool program. But really, isn’t it time you went out of the house and saw real people and let the flatscreen rest for a bit?