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2009 Fall Preview – Wednesday

Wednesday

The 9/8c time slot is the busiest on my grid this year. In fact, I’m glad I upgraded to a third HDDVR at the beginning of this month since it’s the one time of the week when I’m recording six shows simultaneously. I’m sure the full slate won’t survive through October, but at least I’m prepared.

ABC – It appears ABC is making an attempt at assembling a sort of “Super New Wednesday” with a full slate of new shows. I certainly hope it doesn’t meet the same fate as the schedule from a couple years ago when we got hooked on Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money, only to have the writer’s strike kill their freshman seasons, a fate they never recovered from.

Kelsey Grammer makes another attempt at his triumphant return to network television in a sitcom with a premise that sounds almost exactly like his FOX failure from two years ago, Back to You. Successful guy loses success and has to learn to live with a family he has ignored. My love of Frasier means I’ll check out at least a couple episodes, but I doubt this one will last. In an odd coincidence, Grammer’s Back to You co-star Patricia Heaton stars in The Middle, another traditional sitcom that also marks an attempt to show us that network television understands what it’s like to be affected by our current recession. Both shows premiere September 30th.

A less traditional hour of programming follows, starting with Modern Family, a show that follows three families in a documentary style (think The Office) and features an exceptional cast including Ed O’Neill (Married with Children) and Julie Bowen (Boston Legal). As many of you know, I’m a big fan of comedies sans laughtrack, so I have high hopes for this one. Following Modern Family, Courtney Cox returns to network television with Cougar Town. I haven’t learned much about the show, but it was created by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) so I think it has a much better shot at success than say….Joey. These two shows premiere September 23rd.

Rounding out the night, we have Eastwick, a re-imagining of the 1987 movie The Witches of Eastwick and the John Updike novel of the same name. Be careful when setting this one on the DVR, I would hate for you to end up with a late night showing of 2005’s The Witches of Breastwick.

CBSCriminal Minds returns in its normal slot for a fifth season on September 23rd. Minds has quietly become a very consistent performer for CBS, which surprises me considering how little support it got when it started. If you haven’t watched this at all before, I would recommend checking out an episode–each week is pretty self-contained so it isn’t hard to jump on.

Comedy Central – The boys are back October 7th for the second half of South Park Season 13, and plenty of ultra-topical shenanigans will be there. Following South Park is a new live-action show called Secret Girlfriend. The show is basically about a group of guys partying and attempting to get laid. I have no idea if it will be good, but the network only ordered six episodes so I’ll check it out.

DirecTV 101 – Continuing their partnership with NBC from last season, DirecTV gets the exclusive premiere of Friday Night Lights season four, starting October 28th. Dillon is in for some big changes with Coach Taylor headed to the newly re-opened East Dillon High School to lead the Lions. Taylor “Gambit” Kitsch and Zach Gilford return, although Gilford will likely make a mid-season exit a la Smash and Street before him. For those who haven’t figured it out yet, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Eric and Tami Taylor are the best couple on television. Also, have no fear FNL fans, DirecTV and NBC have already inked a deal that ensures 13 episodes for this season and another 13 next year. Game on.

DiscoveryMythbusters picks up for the second half of season seven on October 7th. From the look of this story, they busted a few windows making the episode in March of this year.

FOX – Are you watching Glee yet? If you aren’t, I’m not sure you’ll need me to tell you to. FOX has declared a media war on anyone who thinks this is just another lame attempt at a tv musical. If creator Ryan Murphy’s name isn’t enough to get you on board, I don’t know what will work. Murphy’s nip/tuck helped start the cable drama revolution a few years ago and now that he’s done with it, he’s decided to do something kids can watch too. In addition to normal promotion, The songs will be taking over iTunes each week, and two albums are already scheduled, with the first one dropping in November. Glee premiered September 9th.

FX – As I posted last week, nip/tuck returns October 14th for its second-to-last season. I would have said penultimate season, but I’m tired of people saying penultimate.

MTVReal World Road Rules Challenge is back again to meet our need for some sweet guilty pleasure tv. My advice is to DVR it, fast forward through the manufactured drama bullshit, and just watch the challenges. The show premieres September 30th.

NBCMercy is yet another new medical show, and normally I wouldn’t give it the time of day. However, it has James Tupper from the ill-fated Men in Trees, so I can’t help but tune in. Apparently, nurse shows are the new surgeon shows–what a super original idea!

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September 23, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Drama, Game Shows, New Series, Premiere, Reality, Renewed, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nurse Jackie Episode 1: Pilot

Thanks to an early preview on DirecTV’s 101 Network, I was able to watch the series premiere of Showtime’s latest half hour dramedy this weekend. Nurse Jackie stars Edie Falco as the title character, an emergency room nurse in a Catholic hospital in New York City.

 

If you don’t want the spoilers, but would like to know what I think of the show, skip to the last paragraph and you’ll be okay.

 

The episode opens with a bright white light and the sounds of a crazy ER, then fades into mellow elevator music as Falco begins a voiceover. The brightness fades as we see Jackie laying flat on the floor, just as the disembodied voice explains our heroine has a bad back. This leads us straight into the first reveal of her painkiller addiction, as she counts out 16 (always 16 she says) grains of Vicodin and snorts them cocaine-style through a straw. Why not pop pills like Dr. House? My younger brother tells me snorting the drug gets it into the bloodstream faster, thus a more immediate benefit.

 

Freshly medicated, Jackie heads to work to find a bruised and broken bike messenger waiting for attention. She examines him along with Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli) who ignores her advice to get a CT to rule out a brain bleed. Despite his recent fame as a Twilight cast member, Facinelli excels at playing cocky douchebags, and Cooper seems to be right up his alley. I won’t spoil the great exchange between the doctor and Jackie when she confronts him in the locker room, but the scene definitely shows us what the interaction between these two will be like.

 

Continuing with our introduction to the cast, Jackie’s peer Mo Mo (Haaz Sleiman), a gay male nurse, enters a scene just long enough to show us that Jackie isn’t the only sassy nurse on staff. He also takes the opportunity to dump Zoey (Merritt Wever), a student nurse, in Jackie’s lap, saying he got stuck with the previous three students. Zoey is an obvious contrast to Jackie, both in experience and attitude. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Jackie to break her down. Zoey’s intro is cut short by the appearance of Mrs. Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) who is apparently some kind of administrator, a la Lisa Cuddy. Jackie quickly blows her off and exits. This allows us to meet Eddie (Paul Schulze), the hospital pharmacist that Jackie is having sex with, which isn’t making her back any better. Although that’s nothing a second bump of Vicodin won’t fix.

 

Jackie and Zoey then find themselves attending to a badly cut-up hooker while the paramedics inform them that she was able to get her attacker’s knife and cut his ear off before he got away. Zoey promptly gets sick at the sight of the ear, and Jackie is ready for a break. Jackie goes to dinner with her friend Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best) and a very funny exchange takes place in the upscale restaurant where they are dining. After dinner, Jackie returns to treat a young stoner with third degree burns from shooting a Roman Candle out of his ass. After the exam, Jackie does bump number three before getting back to work.

 

The hooker’s assailant arrives for treatment and Jackie find out he won’t be charged because he is a diplomat and has immunity. Once she confirms what a giant asshole the guy is, Jackie takes the law into her own hands a dispenses a little frontier justice. I found myself wondering if this was something Jackie would have done if she hadn’t been flying on all that Vicodin.

 

At the end of a long day, Jackie heads home, but not before Eddie hooks her up with some more Vicodin and she turns down his offer of spending the evening together. I’m not going to spoil the big reveal at the end of the episode, but it certainly confirms that Jackie is not the saint that Zoey think she is.

 

I realize I made more than one comparison to House in my analysis of the Nurse Jackie’s premiere, and that wasn’t an accident. There are some vary obvious parallels between the two shows–both feature a deeply flawed protagonist who make up for their lack of social skills and nasty demeanor by being damn good at their job. Then there is the painkiller addiction. Jackie’s method of consumption is certainly edgier than House’s, but the result is the same, they both go through life in a medicated state that no one really understands the full effects of. I think the key difference between the two is that Jackie does understand she is not a role model, where House often holds himself up as the best example of someone in his profession. That difference is captured best in the prayer Jackie offers during the closing moments of the premiere, “Make me good God, but not yet.” That is the difference that will bring me back next week for episode two.

 

Nurse Jackie airs at 10:30/9:30c starting Monday, June 8th.

 

And yes, people actually stick Roman Candles in their asses.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Drama, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summer TV Preview Part 5: Sunday

Here is the fifth and final part of my Summer TV Preview.

 

Sunday

 

NBC – As part of NBC’s continued effort to lower their production costs, they have partnered with the BBC to co-produce Merlin, a re-imagining of the classic tale that takes place when the magician is a young boy. The second season of the program is set to premiere in the UK, so we know at least the British viewers like it. We’ll find out what Americans think at 8/7c on June 21st.

 

HBO – Our favorite alternate-reality bloodsuckers are back for more when True Blood premieres its second season on June 14th at 9/8c. On June 28th at 10/9c we will get a chance to see Thomas Jane in Hung, the new show about a man who decides to take up the world’s oldest profession. Then the boys return on July 12th at 10:30/9:30c for a sixth season of Entourage.

 

HGTV – Home improvement meets reality tv with the fourth season of HGTV Design Star, in which a group of potential host battle through a series of do-it-yourself challenges to see who gets a show of their own. The group will strap on their toolbelts on July 19th at 10/9c.

 

WE – She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m putting this one on the list for my wife. Amazing Wedding Cakes combines a competition atmosphere with the joy of creating cakes for each couple’s big day. The show airs at 10/9c starting June 7th.

 

101 – DirecTV’s exclusive HD showcase channel will be hopping this summer with complete series runs of Deadwood and Oz (link contains spoilers), two beloved shows that many wish could have lasted longer. For DirecTV subscribers, this certainly beats taking up slots in your Netflix queue or paying big bucks to buy the DVDs.

 

BBC2 – Jeremy, James, and Richard are back to create more automotive havoc when the 13 series of Top Gear premieres on June 21st. While I understand that we are stuck with BBC America and the edited series 12 episodes that are currently airing, I know that intrepid viewers will look for other alternatives to see the most current episodes as soon as they air.

 

This concludes my summer preview, so I hope you find it helpful as you plan your tube time for the next few months. I only included the things I’m going to watch, so if you want to see everything, check out the comprehensive grid over at The Futon Critic.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Drama, New Series, Premiere, Reality, Renewed, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Summer TV Preview Part 5: Sunday

Deadwood and Oz Coming to DirecTV

Great news for people like me who are normally too cheap to pay for HBO–DirecTV has made a deal to show the complete, uncensored run of Deadwood in HD on the 101 starting May 31st. I’m excited about this since I’ve only seen the first season. The rest of the series has been in my Netflix queue for some time now.

This deal also includes the full six season run of Oz, which I haven’t seen, but I’ve always heard was very good. Oh, and did I mention they will air both shows commercial-free?  Who says we have to settle for terrible summer filler programming?

Read the full press release on DirecTV’s site.

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Drama, News, Television | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Deadwood and Oz Coming to DirecTV

DirecTV Releases iPhone Application

No more waiting for the overly simple DirecTV for Mobile Phone website to load in your browser thanks to a new full blown application for the iPhone. The gang over at DBSTalk has put together an outstanding review that I would encourage you to read for the full details. I’ve been visiting DBSTalk for several years (mostly as a lurker) and these guys really know their shit.

March 29, 2009 Posted by | Technology, Television | , , , , , | Comments Off on DirecTV Releases iPhone Application