The new shows that caught my eye this year are mostly those with a little bit of oddness to them. This season there are a few shows that try to add a bit of specialness to otherwise “ordinary” characters (I guess that’s the Heroes influence).
Easily my most anticipated, this latest “reinvention” from one of the creators of the current Battlestar Galactica takes a darker, updated look at injured and reconstructed hottie Jaime Sommers. This time ’round she’s played (a bit vacantly) by British newcomer Michelle Ryan. However, whatever Ryan lacks is more than made up for by the psychotically fun performance of Katee Sackhoff (last seen as the resurrected Starbuck on Battlestar) as version 1.0 of the bionic woman line. Not only do the two tussle in the rain, but Sackhoff’s Sarah Corvus even had a cybernetic hand in the “accident” that led to Jaime’s new life. Now the shady group that made them both has plans for Jaime — I can’t wait.
Starring Kevin McKidd as a journalist Dan Vassar, who finds himself inexplicably pulled back through time, this show has a moody “thirtysomething” tone to it that doesn’t really fit with its sci-fi-ish premise. Characters on the show (including the wife, the brother who was once married to the wife, and the dead fiancee who we see in time jumps) carry a lot of emotional baggage and it really detracts from the time travel. In Quantum Leap fashion, Dan is supposed to do something to alter the past and make something good happen in the present. However, the show seems to treat that as almost a secondary aspect. I can’t help thinking that this show is too much of a mishmash and totally doomed to cancellation.
This show is another genre-blender. Title character Chuck is a sad-sack nerd working for a Best-Buy-esque electronics retail chain who accidentally downloads a secret government database into his mind and finds himself mixed-up in the world of national security and espionage. The show is funny and slick, with definite promise, but the first episode had a bit of difficulty getting the mix right between “Office Space” and “Alias”.
Angel has nothing to fear from this new vampire detective on the block. Despite geek-friendly supporting actors such as Jason Dohring (Logan from Veronica Mars) and Kevin Weisman (Marshall from Alias), this show is terribly acted, poorly scripted, and constantly drizzled over by a pretentious noir-ish voice-over from the main character. Despite this show’s hyped backstage troubles, I was ready to give it a shot. Now I’ll probably stop watching very soon (if the network execs don’t put Moonlight out of its undead misery before then).
Back To You
It’s odd to think that sitcoms like Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond might be considered “old school”, but when watching Back To You (which features leads Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton from those two shows respectively), it’s exactly that kind of dated lack of freshness that seems to come across. As the TV news anchor Chuck Darling, who returns to his old network after a career downturn, Grammer seems to be regurgitating his performance as Frasier Crane. Similarly, Heaton’s Kelly Carr is merely a successfully employed version of her Debra Barone character.
In contrast, it’s hard to believe that a show about a 21-year-old home supply store employee whose parents sold his soul to the devil could have been any less preposterous a premise than that Geico caveman show (yes, they really made one). However, it’s fresh, funny, and (at least the first episode, which was directed by indie film director Kevin Smith) feels just like a good Kevin Smith movie. The dialogue is contemporarily witty and the characters very likable, especially Tyler Labine as the best bud, and Ray Wise as the prince of darkness.