My DVR runneth over. Between the returning shows, new shows that started last week, and new shows that started this week, I have had a huge backlog of episodes to watch. Week one I watched no less than 11 premieres. Let’s start with the two that came on after I posted my last update:
Brothers & Sisters premiered on Sunday (which you can count as last week or this week… your choice) as the big return of Calista Flockhart to TV (remember her as Ally McBeal?). I’m not sure what it says about her acting, but despite playing a very different character (now a media personality with Conservative political views), it seems like we’re watching Ally again — with the neuroses dialed-down (a bit). Other stars join her (Rachel Griffiths of Six Feet Under, Ron Rifkin of Alias, Tom Skerritt of Picket Fences, Balthazar Getty, and Sally Field) as her large clan of a family, full of their own issues. So far I am not too interested. The characters seem to be stereotypes designed for an ensemble drama and it all seems kind of stale. Sundays on ABC. (3 out of 5)
In sharp contrast, I was really happy to see Desperate Housewives make a return to form. New characters have been introduced: the mother of Tom Scavo’s daughter (who competes with Gabrielle’s maid/surrogate Xiao Mei for being the most annoying character on the show) and Dougray Scott (from Heist) as a new potential love interest for Susan while Mike is comatose (here’s hoping they don’t do the “boyfriend comes out of the coma just as the two of them kiss” cliché). All signs point to the show bringing the ladies back together to uncover the mysteries of Orson (Susan’s dentist friend and Bree’s new fiancé, not to mention the guy who ran Mike down in the street) — I can’t wait. Sundays on ABC. (4 out of 5)
Heroes was the big debut of the week for me. I really enjoyed the characters with their various powers (everything from teleportation, to rapid healing, to seeing the future, to flight) and the fact that they come from diverse backgrounds and cultures (a nurse, a politician, a professor-turned-cabbie, a cheerleader, a stripper, a corporate drone, etc.). It’s a lot like Lost in that respect, and in many other ways as well. Though these new super-humans don’t know each other, connections start to reveal themselves to us viewers. Not only are they drawn together by coincidences (?), but there’s a mysterious man who appears to be related to why they have powers and what that’s all about. The actors are mostly new faces, but I have a feeling that this geek-friendly show will make stars of them all – especially Masi Oka as the wide-eyed teleporter Hiro (He is soooo the new Hurley!) Mondays on NBC. (4.5 out of 5)
Another surprisingly hyped show that debuted this week was Ugly Betty about a young woman with less than “model-pretty” features who ends up working at a NY fashion magazine. So far everyone has been talking about how charming and sweet this show is and how it was such a huge hit as a Spanish-language telenovela, but the pilot was very familiar. It was essentially the plot of 13 Going on 30 without the temporal anomaly. Does Betty have better ideas than her beautiful bosses? Of course. Does everyone treat her badly until they find that they need her? Of course. Does she end up with the guy? Well no, but there’s a lot more series left to go. I concede that there are some charming scenes at home with Betty’s family, but overall the characters are so cartoonish that you expect their thoughts to appear in bubbles above their heads! Here’s hoping that Betty (the show) becomes a swan really soon. Thursdays on ABC. (3 out of 5)
Last but not least, Smallville and Supernatural “returned” to their home on the new CW network this past week. Smallville picked up its massive cliffhanger (where Clark was trapped in the Phantom Zone, Zod had taken over Lex (and gotten a hold of Lana), Martha Kent and Lois were in a crashing plane, and Chloe and Lionel Luthor were being attacked by a Metropolis gone mad). Amazingly, they tied that all up in one premiere episode, and even introduced Jimmy Olson as Chloe’s new beau (I guess crisis really does bring people together). In contrast, Supernatural ended its first season with the overused car-crash cliffhanger, and the lackluster premiere of season two spent virtually all of its time in the hospital. I was hoping that the events near the end of last season would lead them to a new story direction, but the premiere seems to have done its work to make sure that everything goes back to the way it was before. Thursdays on CW. (4 out of 5 for Smallville, a generous 3.5 out of 5 for Supernatural)
Next week, the awesome return of the big three: Lost, Veronica Mars, and Battlestar Galactica. Let the drooling commence!