The New Fall TV Season Begins..

Well, the new television season has begun, and I’ve been checking out a few new shows, and some old favorites, to see if any are worth watching this time around. Here are just a few of the ones I saw:

NEW SHOWS:

BORED TO DEATH (HBO, Sundays at 9:30pm) – This new show stars Jason Schwartzman (who was so great in Wes Anderson’s classic, RUSHMORE) as a novelist, struggling to write his second book, who decides one day, when his girlfriend leaves him, to become a detective (he finds a Raymond Chandler book when she moves out). He puts an add on Craigslist and gets ready for business. His first case involves a college girl who has mysteriously disappeared. His second case involves a woman who think her husband is cheating on her.

The show is okay, but nothing special. Schwartzman is actually kind of lifeless and boring in his role (his deadpan delivery can work in the right hands, but doesn’t seem to here), and you have a hard time caring about him. Some of the supporting characters (Zach Galifianakis as his best friend, and Ted Danson- who seems to be channeling John Malkovich – as his hedonistic boss) are better, but don’t have enough screen time. I’ll give this show more of a chance, but based on the first two episodes,  BORED TO DEATH could go either way. It might actually be an apt name for the show, but describing the viewer’s dilemma. Or it could grow on me over time. We’ll see.

COUGAR TOWN (Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC) – Courtney Cox leaves one canceled show (FX’s DIRT, which I actually enjoyed) and gets a new sitcom. This time, she plays a divorced 40-something who decides to go on the prowl for younger men. At this point, the whole cougar thing is already verging into cliché, but Cox (arguably the only truly hot castmember from the overrated Friends – a show I couldn’t stand)  is very likable as a single mom who wants to revive her sex life, and she’s attractive enough to make the part believable. Normally, I avoid sitcoms like the plague, but I’ve always liked Courtney Cox, and I’ll give this a chance.

EASTWICK (Wednesdays at 10pm on ABC) – The new television series based on the movie THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (and John Irving’s source novel) is exactly what you think it would be. A repressed brunette, a workaholic redhead (who’s also a supermom with five kids) and a free spirited blonde live in a small town, all wanting more out of life. After all three of them make a wish in a fountain, a devilish stranger comes to town, intent on giving them all a chance to get what they want. The show plays like “DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES with witches,” and I can see it getting more and more soapy as it goes on. Not an awful show, and well cast, but not the kind of thing I’d watch on a regular basis.

FLASH FORWARD (Fridays at 8pm on ABC) – I sure am watching a lot of ABC shows this season. Maybe because they’re doing the most interesting new shows. Well, with LOST approaching its final season, it looks like ABC is already trying to create a replacement “quirky sci-fi show.” This one features a day where everyone in the world blacks out for 2 and a half minutes.  They just collapse where they stand – or get into car crashes, plane crashes, etc. Afterwards, everyone  realizes that during their blackouts, they each had a glimpse into their lives 6 months in the future. Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare from Shakespeare in Love) plays a FBI agent who will try to get to the bottom of the mystery. With a fine cast, tight writing, and a mystery that will keep me watching, I think this might be the best new show of the fall so far.

VAMPIRE DIARIES (Wednesdays at 8pm on the CW) – I should have known to stay away from this one as soon as I saw that Kevin Williamson was the “creative genius” behind the show. For those who forgot, Williamson is the same idiot who gave us the Scream movies and the incredibly awful Cursed (all directed by Wes Craven – who I swear was under Williamson’s mind control), where teens full of wit and angst take center stage, and we forgot what adults are. Williamson was also responsible for the show Dawson’s Creek (which started out interesting and then took a quick nosedive into idiocy). Williamson is the king of superficial lameness. That said, this was a little better than I expected. Based on a series of young adult novels, Vampire Diaries is about a teenage vampire named Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) who comes back to his hometown to look up a high school girl who looks an awful lot like the love of his life who existed generations ago. His evil vampire brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) comes on the scene soon after, because that’s what he does – he “lives” to fuck up his brother’s life. The good vampire has an odd square head and delivers his lines like he’s reading aloud from a book above his grade level, and has the charisma of a slug. Yet everyone finds him incredibly attractive. The bad vampire (you might remember him formerly as Boone from LOST) is the one with the real presence, but he’s reduced to simply tormenting his brother and trying to ruin whatever makes his sibling happy. They both want the girl, but I don’t really see what’s so great about her.

If the whole vampires in high school scenario sounds familiar, it’s because the Twilight series, another vampire series revolving around the same “age group” (in quotes, because, as we know, vampires are never as young as they look) is already a big hit in movies. I guess we can never have enough lame romantic vampires pining for humans. This series is pretty forgettable, though. In more capable hands than Williamson’s, who knows? It might have had some charm.

Returning Shows:

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO Sundays at 9pm) – Larry David’s abrasive sitcom returns and it’s as funny as ever. Easily the best situation comedy on television. This season, the cast from Seinfeld is supposed to turn up in a few episodes as well.

IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (Thursdays at 10pm on FX) – This insane show about five idiots is another of the funniest shows around. Bar owners Mac, Dennis and Charlie (and Dennis’s sister Dee, and their stepfather Frank) are so dumb they often break taboos and social boundaries without even knowing it. It’s been a long time since sheer stupidity been so hilarious. This is the kind of show that grows on you, and it just seems to get better and better each season (and it seems to be becoming a big cult show). If you haven’t given this one a chance yet, you really should. I’m really starting to love this show.

DEXTER (Showtime, Sundays at 9pm) – This season, the good serial killer (he only kills bad guys) has a new wife and baby. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to wedded bliss, and the boredom of domesticity. Already he’s getting no sleep with a new baby, and falling alseep during kills. Meanwhile, John Lithgow is on the scene as a new/rival serial killer who is especially creepy. Looks like Dexter has some competition this season.

MAD MEN (AMC, Sundays at 10pm) – Maybe the best show on television continues to maintain its gold standard with great acting, and even better writing. If you aren’t a fan yet, you seriously must check this show out.

DOLLHOUSE (Fridays at 9pm on Fox) – The FBI agent who was trying to uncover the sinister Dollhouse, where people are blank slates and regularly have new personalities imprinted on them, has finally found the facility, and has since become a part of the very thing he sought to bring down. That’s the latest twist in the second season of this show starring Eliza Dushku (who somehow masters the art of being annoying and hot at the same time) and created by Joss Whedon who gave us such television gems as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Not the strongest premeire episode I’ve ever seen, but I still enjoy the show and I’ll stay tuned.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll post more later when more new shows come on.

(Note: all show times are eastern standard time)

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