Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Fall 2011 Preview: ABC’s New Shows September 4, 2011

Filed under: Fall Preview,Television — Emily @ 5:22 pm
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One of ABC's most intriguing new shows

I love this time of year! The summer heat starts to dissipate, the kids go back to school, and the tv networks launch a plethora of new shows. Every year I enjoy researching these shows before they ever air: who stars in them? what are they about? what shows are they up against? And most importantly, why should I care? With that in mind, I’d like to share my initial impressions of the five biggest networks’ new offerings. I’ll start with ABC, since, as usual, they have the most promising new crop of comedies and dramas.

  • Apt. 23 – This roommate comedy has a naive midwesterner choosing her new roommate (Krysten Ritter, the girl from Veronica Mars and Breaking Bad), because she is friends with James Van Der Beek. That’s about the only interesting thing about the show, and all the characters seem pretty unlikable. It is funny that James Van Der Beek plays himself, but I think that will get old. Think I’ll skip this one.
  • GCB – I think that if you want to go there and name a show something controversial like “Good Christian Bitches” then you should own it and not shorten it to GCB. No one knows what that means! They should have found a more suitable name that wouldn’t alienate much of what is probably their target audience. I hear that at one point they changed the name to “Good Christian Belles,” but I’m sure they want a name that conveys a snarkier tone. It is about a woman returning to her hometown of Dallas after a nasty divorce, only to encounter the mean-spirited ladies she went to high school with. Based on the trailer, this show looks like it is trying too hard to be clever. I would totally skip this one, but Kristin Chenoweth is in it, so I may at least watch the pilot. I also think it’s weird that Leslie Bibb is playing mother to a teenager! She was on that WB show Popular when I was in graduate school 10 years ago! That wasn’t really that long ago, was it?
  • Charlie’s Angels, Last Man Standing, Man Up – I lump all these together because they seem to emphasize the same thing: females are starting to dominate the world. Do we really need a Charlie’s Angels tv show again? The first movie was okay, the sequel was so so. I’m not interested. And Last Man Standing is basically Home Improvement 2.0. Man Up seems mediocre at best. Not even worth writing about here.
  • Missing – Sounds like it has potential with Ashley Judd as a former CIA operative on a mission to find her missing college aged son in Europe. Perhaps too specific a plot to last long, but I’ll watch the pilot.
  • Pan Am – This is ABC’s obvious attempt to recreate the success of Mad Men. May be too stylized to work on network tv. I don’t find myself very interested, but then I never got into Mad Men either. Unlike Mad Men, there isn’t much buzz about this show. Critics are calling it boring and saying you’ll fall asleep watching it.
  • Revenge – This one stars Emily Van Camp as a woman out for revenge against a bunch of rich people for destroying her father’s life. What happened to our sweet Amy Abbott from Everwood? Could be a good soapy show, plus it marks the return of Nick Wechsler (Kyle on Roswell) to tv! (He’s been floating around as an occasional guest star for the past decade…)
  • The River – I enjoyed the preview for this one. Features some good actors (Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope, etc.), and looks pretty spooky! I like a good adventure thriller, so I’ll check this one out. It centers on the mysterious disappearance of a popular wildlife expert in the Amazon, and when his family and crew go on a quest to find him, they stumble upon something frightening and deadly.
  • Scandal – This is the one that stars our beloved Desmond (Henry Ian Cusack) from Lost. For that alone I’ll watch the pilot. But it actually looks really good. Not necessarily a show you’d have to watch every week, either. But it looks very well done. It’s about a team of lawyers whose job is to make their clients’ scandals go away. The premise doesn’t sound too exciting, but the trailer actually made it look pretty riveting.
  • Suburgatory – Hate the name, somewhat offended by the obvious mockery of the suburbs since that’s where I live! But this one actually looks like it has similar humor to Clueless, which I loved. Fitting, then, that it stars Jeremy Sisto (he played Elton), but how weird that he’s the dad! He moves his teenage daughter to the suburbs, where she is less than impressed by her fellow students and everyone else. It also stars Alan Tudyk (Dollhouse, V, Firefly), who is overdue for a successful show, and Ana Gasteyer. I’ll check this one out.
  • Work It – Worst. Idea. Of. This. Season. The preview was embarrassingly awful to watch! This is Cavemen bad. If it succeeds, then there is definitely something wrong with Americans. It’s about two unemployed car salesmen who dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps. A similar premise may have worked for Tom Hanks in the early ’80s show Bosom Buddies, but I just have no interest.
  • Once Upon a Time – I am excited about this one! I am intrigued by the cast (Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, etc.), anything from the Lost writers must be pretty good, and it has that epic feel to it. Hope it finds an audience! Like everyone else, I’m having trouble understanding exactly what it’s about, so I’ll just say that it’s about the real world and fairy tales colliding.

So there you have it: ABC’s new shows for 2011-2012. Some of these won’t premiere until midseason, but it’s good for the network to advertise them now. I’m not completely sold on any of these shows, but I am hopeful that at least Once Upon a Time and Suburgatory will be worth adding to my viewing lineup. Which of these shows are you looking forward to or rolling your eyes at?

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Glee and Vampire Diaries: Opposite Ends of the Teen Spectrum September 11, 2009

Somewhere in Ohio, high school misfits find a common purpose in a revamped glee club, while somewhere in Virginia, a sad and isolated high school student finds a reason to be gleeful when she hits it off with the “new boy at school” vampire. I had to think really hard to work “vamp” and “glee” into both of those sentences, which just goes to show you how far apart the worlds of these two shows are. One is all inspiration, comedy, and fun; the other is all doom, gloom, and a love that spans centuries. One is more comedy for everyone than teen show; the other is a drama mostly for teens, mostly supernatural, and not funny at all. (Well, I was amused by the cawing blackbird and spontaneous fog, but I’m not sure that’s what was intended.)

I highly anticipated the premiere, post-pilot episode of Glee, and I was cautiously intrigued by the approach of Vampire Diaries. Now that I’ve seen both of these shows, I am prepared to share my initial reactions and opinions.

Overall Impression

  • Glee – While the second episode didn’t have the absolute, joyous perfection of the pilot, I was still thoroughly entertained. Some stand out moments included anything involving the principal, anything involving Jane Lynch’s cheerleading coach, and the glee club’s two performances – Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and Salt n Pepa’s “Push It.” I am not as interested in Rachel’s pining over Finn, or Terri’s spontaneous decision to fake being pregnant rather than telling Will it was a false positive. But if the show continues to find humor in the high school social strata, and if the glee club continues to grow and improve, I’ll keep tuning in.
  • Vampire Diaries – I was entertained enough by the pilot that I will watch the second episode, but I’m not yet convinced that this is “must see tv.” While I was watching the pilot, I kept thinking to myself, “I’m too old to be watching this.” I was so not interested in the melodrama of what’s his face wanting to get back together with Elena, or of Elena’s brother Jeremy being all wounded when his summer fling Vicki stopped paying attention to him. And the spooky parts weren’t very spooky. I wasn’t scared during the opening scene when the college kids had a bloody encounter with Damon, nor when Vicki was attacked in the woods. Really the only things I did like were Elena’s narration and diary entries, her friendship with possibly psychic Bonnie, Stefan’s mysterious past and desire to finally return home, and Stefan and Damon’s history as brothers, including their involvement with Elena’s Civil War-era look-alike  (Damon mentioned that he vowed to make life difficult for Stefan a long time ago, but we don’t really know why yet.).
Jane Lynch is my favorite thing about Glee.

Jane Lynch is my favorite thing about Glee.

The Acting

  • Glee – Overall, the acting is excellent on this show, which means that the casting was well done, too. The very best thing about Glee is Jane Lynch as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Lynch has always been fantastic in any role, but she is so completely hilarious and spot-on here, that every expression, every glare, every word out of her mouth is golden. If she isn’t nominated for supporting actress in a comedy category at all the tv awards shows this year, then something is very, very wrong. Matthew Morrison plays idealistic do-gooder very well, and I also love Jayma Mays as germaphobic guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury. So far the teen cast are too caricaturish to evaluate, but given time I imagine we’ll see some sort of development with them as well.
  • Vampire Diaries – I observed some rather atrocious acting during the pilot. I hate to name names, so instead I’ll just give credit to those who impressed me or seemed well cast. Well, that just leaves me with the three who received top billing: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder. Dobrev brings a quiet confidence and a no-nonsense air to Elena, Wesley plays “I’m the good one” vampire Stefan as well as one can, and Somerhalder brings some much-needed comic relief (I’m not sure it was supposed to be funny, but I laughed) and passion to the whole proceedings. Somerhalder just has that creepy, evil eye look about him, similar to Cillian Murphy, that makes him well-suited for a role such as this. He will be entertaining as Damon, and will probably be the main reason I’ll keep watching, if I do.

The Soundtrack

  • Glee – The music is probably the main reason I watch this show. I enjoy hearing choral interpretations of popular songs, plus I like the quirky, Bobby McPherrinish harmonies that provide atmosphere for many of the scenes.
  • Vampire Diaries – In the tradition of many CW shows that have come before it, this vampire love saga is chock full of barely known music from current bands. At least, it’s barely known to me. But I am all for promoting the little guys. In fact, I like how the CW often advertises the music at the end of its shows: “Tonight’s episode featured music from…” That being said, I didn’t absolutely love any of the music in the pilot episode enough to go download it. Maybe next week. Click here for a list of the songs from the pilot.
Vampire Diaries is the land of lost teens, with almost no adults to be found.

Vampire Diaries is the land of lost teens, with almost no adults to be found.

Where Have All the Grown-Ups Gone?

  • Glee – Well, all the grown-ups are hanging out in the halls of the high school, because most of them are teachers and faculty. The only parent we’ve seen is Finn’s mom, when he flashed back to their fun times on the front lawn with the lawn care guy. And the only spouse we’ve seen is Will’s crazy, self-centered wife Terri (played very well by Jessalyn Gilsig. And for a show about a high school, this is as it should be. Since most of the action takes place at school, there’s no reason to develop the parents at this point.
  • Vampire Diaries – Now that is a good question for this show – where are all the grown-ups? We saw one older teacher, who was put in his place by Stefan when he gave the class some misinformation about Mystic Falls’ civil war civilian casualties. And then there was that secretary who Stefan glamored into enrolling him at the school without proper paperwork. But Elena and Jeremy live with their grad student aunt, who doesn’t look much older than 25, and none of the other kids seem to have any sort of parental guidance. (Am I forgetting anyone?) I haven’t figured out the relationship between Stefan and his “uncle.” I’m guessing that’s just a living descendant of the family who is aware of his family’s bloodsucking past. It seems awkward to just ignore all the parents. I mean, a simple mention would do, or a wave goodbye as Bonnie and the gang head to their coffee shop hangout. I am surprised that we aren’t seeing more parents since this show is from Mr. Dawson’s Creek himself, Kevin Williamson. I always enjoyed the parents’ subplots on that show, since real teenagers’ lives are usually mixed up, rather than totally separate from, their moms and dads, grandparents, guardians… Maybe the show will introduce more adult characters in the coming weeks. If not, I’m calling this out as a flaw.
Vampire Diaries reminds me of Roswell, specifically Max and Lizs relationship.

Vampire Diaries reminds me of Roswell, specifically Max and Liz's relationship.

Reminds me of…

  • Glee – It’s hard to think of any shows like this one. It reminds me more of Christopher Guest movies, such as Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Unlike most of what comes on tv these days (lots of revivals, remakes, and spin-offs), this one seems very original.
  • Vampire Diaries – This show has nothing in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except that a vampire falls in love with a teenage girl. But I don’t see Elena picking up a sword and vanquishing Damon in the season finale. No, Vampire Diaries is more reminiscent of Roswell. On that show, alien Max Evans fell in love with Liz Parker, and Liz wrote in her diary about how her world was turned upside down the moment she got involved with him. Like Elena, Liz had a friend with psychic connections – as I recall, Maria was somehow in touch with that kind of thing. Aliens, vampires… while there are many differences, both Liz and Elena are drawn to Max and Stefan because they aren’t like the other boys.

In the Great Scheme of Things

  • Glee – I am thrilled to have a musical comedy on tv. Amidst all the melodrama of teen romance, the mystery of criminal investigations, and the depressing cases of medical shows, Glee is a breath of fresh air. I just hope the showrunners and cast can keep up with audience expectation for a long time to come.
  • Vampire Diaries – This, my friends, is no Joss Whedon show. Buffy or Angel it will never be. The love triangle was always just a part of the story on those shows, with a more epic story arc taking center stage. I’m not sure this show will ever rise above the Stefan-Elena-Damon love triangle and the mayhem that Stefan will try to prevent Damon from inflicting on Mystic Falls. Do I sound skeptical? Well, I am. Perhaps if I continue watching, then after several episodes I will compare Vampire Diaries to other vampire shows of the past, to see how it stacks up. I should at least give it a chance.

So obviously, if I were forced to choose between these two shows, I would immediately select Glee. Vampire Diaries pales (pun intended) in comparison to the more magical, zingier Glee. What did you think of these two shows?

 

Fall 2009 Preview: The CW’s New Shows September 3, 2009

I will now round out my take on the major networks’ new series with a look at the CW’s new shows. I haven’t watched anything on the former WB since Veronica Mars was canceled two years ago. I thought I would be permanently finished with this youth-skewing network, but they have at least one show that has piqued my interest this season. Let’s take a look.

Not Interested At All

  • Melrose Place – I somehow managed to avoid this show in its original incarnation. Well, I was 14 when it started, which probably made me a bit too young to be watching a trashy primetime soap about 20- and 30-somethings living in an apartment complex. Strange, then, that they are reviving said trashy soap on a network geared toward teens. I see no reason to watch this show. I don’t like soap operas, and I don’t know any of the actors, and based on the preview I watched, it doesn’t look like any of these characters are likable. However, I am sure it will find an audience and will provide some good watercooler topics for people who are interested in that sort of thing.
  • The Beautiful Life – Description from cwtv.com: “The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but as every new model quickly learns, behind the beautiful façade is a world of insecurity and cut-throat competition. Two teenage models who are about to discover this world for themselves are Raina Mayer (Sara Paxton, “Last House on the Left”), a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth, “The Line”), a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy.” This is another show that simply isn’t for me. I would never watch this show. I have no interest in high fashion, and I am sure this is yet another primetime soap in the making. Kudos to Ashton Kutcher for getting involved with a project that is a somewhat new approach to the genre, by setting it in the world of fashion. I can’t think of another show besides reality-based ones that has had such a premise. Too bad I’m just not interested. The CW was smart to schedule it after America’s Next Top Model. They will probably gain more viewers that way.

Somewhat Interested


  • The Vampire Diaries – This is the only CW show premiering this fall that I’m remotely interested in. I always give vampire shows a chance. Sometimes they are great (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel); sometimes they are lackluster (Moonlight). I am guessing this one will fall somewhere in between. I’ve heard the book series upon which it is based is mediocre at best. It seems obvious that Vampire Diairies is the CW’s attempt to capitalize on the huge popularity of all things Twilight. A human girl (played by Nina Dobrev from Degrassi: The Next Generation) falls in love with a mysterious, handsome boy who happens to be a vampire… However, Twilight fans may not be willing to just watch this show because it is about vampires. Most of them are quite obsessed with dear Edward and company, so these new fangs on the block may not measure up. It’s nice to see Ian Somerhalder (Boone on Lost) back on tv, and I also know Paul Wesley from his role on Everwood as Amy’s drug-addicted boyfriend. He was also the star of the short-lived supernatural drama Fallen. It will be hard for me to believe Somerhalder as the villain, but I’m willing to see what he does with his character, Damon the ancient and evil vampire. So, yes, I am skeptical as to whether or not CW can do a vampire show well, after all the shows they have managed to mess up over the past few years. But I’ll tune in as long as it holds my interest (and doesn’t conflict with my other shows).

The CW has two more shows scheduled to premiere at midseason: Blonde Charity Mafia and Life Unexpected. Blonde Charity Mafia sounds terrifying – something about the lives of Washington, D.C.’s most influential 20-something alpha girls. It’s described as a docu-series. I don’t know if that means it’s a reality show, or simply a drama based on reality. I don’t want to find out! The other “coming soon” show sounds potentially decent. Life Unexpected is about a 15-year old teenager, Lux, who decides to become an emancipated minor after spending most of her life in foster homes. During the legal process that follows, she meets her biological father, 30-something “aging frat boy” Nate, and her biological mother, Cate, a local radio celebrity. Cate also has a radio DJ boyfriend, Ryan. A judge grants temporary custody of Lux to Nate and Cate (how cute – rhyming names), and they decide to “make a belated attempt to give her the family she deserves.” It’s nice to see Shiri Appleby (Roswell) back on the WB, I mean CW. She’ll be playing Lux’s mother, Cate. It’s also nice to welcome Kerr Smith back to the network, although I have a hard time seeing Jack from Dawson’s Creek as an aging frat boy. I hope I remember to watch this show at midseason. It could be the next Everwood. Family drama, interesting characters… It at least looks like a step up from One Tree Hill and 90210. That’s something, right?

Will you watch any shows on The CW this season?

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