Then, by God, it must be TV season again.
BY CRAIG D. LINDSEY
The networks are screwed.
With the Big Three (and the Medium-Sized Three) playing it safe--for audiences still feeling the Sept. 11 aftershocks--by offering a lineup filed with family-oriented shows and familiar favorites, the most anticipated show to watch this season isn't even on the networks.
It is, of course, the new season of HBO's violent and vulgar crown jewel The Sopranos (Sundays, 9 p.m.), which both critics and audiences have been salivating over for about a year now. (Personally, I've been salivating more for the new season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sundays, 10 p.m.). But here's the rundown of new fall shows the network heads are praying will make you forget about Tony and them.
America's Most Wanted
There are some safe bets this season that'll gather, if not ratings, then lots of buzz and magazine cover stories. And needless to say, most of those sure things are on Fox. Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Joss Whedon goes into space with the sci-fi adventure series Firefly (Fridays, premiering Sept. 20, 8 p.m.). David E. Kelley once again gets some babes together to work in a law firm in girls club (Mondays, Oct. 21, 9 p.m.). Cedric the Entertainer Presents (Wednesdays, Sept. 18, 8:30 p.m.) has the original king of comedy attempting to revive the prime-time variety show. (Wayne Brady, take note.) And the McG-produced guilty pleasure Fastlane (Wednesdays, Sept. 18, 9 p.m.) teams up Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy as fast-and-furious lawmen taking orders from--I shit you not!--Tiffani (formerly Tiffani-Amber) Thiessen.
Boomtown (NBC, Sundays, Sept. 29, 10 p.m.) is a new cop show that could catch a fire, if only because it features the prime-time TV debut of former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg. Remember eight years ago when ER and Chicago Hope went head-to-head for the title of top medical drama? Well, two new shows, MDs (ABC, Wednesdays, Sept. 25, 10 p.m.) and Presidio Med (CBS, Tues., Sept. 24, then moves to Wednesdays, 10 p.m.) are looking to fight for that honor, especially since ER is about as annoying as a prostate exam these days. Push, Nevada (ABC, Tues., Sept. 17, then moves to Thursdays, 9 p.m.), co-created by Ben Affleck, could very well get a cult of fans with its you-solve-the-mystery-and-win-a-shitload-of-cash premise. Any person who has a warm place in his heart for the innately funny Bonnie Hunt will wanna check out her newest sitcom, Life with Bonnie (ABC, Tuesdays, sneak peek Sept. 17 at 8:30 p.m., premieres Oct. 1, 9 p.m.). And being the die-hard fan of the suddenly svelte Sara Rue (the plump chick from Popular) that I am, Less than Perfect (ABC, Tuesdays, Oct. 1, 9:30 p.m.) is already on my appointment-TV list, even if it co-stars Andy Dick recreating his NewsRadio shtick as the resident office freak and Eric Roberts as another Ted Baxter-esque newsman.
You know it's not an eventful season when the buzz is about John Ritter returning to the fold. That's right, Jack Tripper is back, this time as a daddy in constant showdown with his developing daughters on 8 Simple Rules ... (ABC, Tuesdays, Sept. 17, 8 p.m.). Patriarchs are running rampant this season: Randy Quaid is the breadwinner on the blue-collar comedy The Grubbs (Fox, Sundays, Nov. 3, 9:30 p.m.). Greetings from Tucson (WB, Fridays, Sept. 20, 9:30 p.m.) has a Latino family man (Julio Oscar Mechoso) moving his cross-cultural brood to the land of uppity white folk. Bram and Alice (CBS, Sundays, Oct. 6, 8:30 p.m.) has the classically trained Alfred Molina as a lecherous author who automatically becomes a deadbeat dad when he finds out he has a full-grown daughter (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place's Traylor Howard). And Hidden Hills (NBC, Tuesdays, Sept. 24, 9:30 p.m.) features a suburban father (Justin Louis) whose primary focus is getting some from his wife (Paula "Prime-Time Poison" Marshall). It's not just comedies in which dads figure prominently. The drama Everwood (WB, Mondays, Sept. 16, 9 p.m.) has Treat Williams as a dad moving his family to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado after his wife dies. Sisterly love also rears its head this season with What I Like About You (WB, Fridays, Sept. 20, 8 p.m.), which teams up 90210's Jennie Garth with Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes. If you wanna see the black version of that, you can tune in to Half and Half (Mondays, Sept. 23, 9:30 p.m.) on UPN.
It seems like this season is a good time, if any, for enigmatic crime-fighters. Party of Five's Matthew Fox is a private dick who sees dead people on Haunted (UPN, Tuesdays, Sept. 24, 9 p.m.). Former St. Elsewhere doctor David Morse returns to TV as a Philly vigilante taxi driver--why does that sound so familiar?--on Hack (CBS, Fridays, Sept. 27, 9 p.m.). And John Doe (Fox, Fridays, Sept. 20, 9 p.m.) has Dominic Purcell as an amnesiac who doesn't let his lack of personal knowledge stop him from solving crimes for the police. But let us not forget about Birds of Prey (Wednesdays, Oct. 9, 9 p.m.), a new WB show which once again gives DC comics superheroes--wheelchair-bound, former Batgirl Oracle and Batman-Catwoman spawn Huntress--their own hour-long drama. Well, the chick who plays Huntress looks pretty hot, plus the show also features that chick from Ferris Bueller's Day Off as villainess Harley Quinzel. Man, I wouldn't miss this for the world!
Going back in time to the good ol' days when families apparently watched TV together also seems to be a convenient trend this season. The drama American Dreams (NBC, Sundays, Sept. 29, 8 p.m.) appears to be the most blatantly nostalgic about it, focusing on a Philadelphia family in the 1960s. But two other shows, Do Over (WB, Thursdays, Sept. 19, 8:30 p.m.) and That Was Then (ABC, Fridays, Sept. 27, 9 p.m.), go about reliving the past in a quirky, Slaughterhouse-Five-ish manner. Both shows feature adult protagonists who trip back to their high school years so they can change their lives for the better. Can anyone say Peggy Sue Got Married?
Geek Invasion 2013