Fall TV 2009 – week 1

Summer is fun and all, but nothing beats the start of a new fall TV season. This year has many returning faves, but also a large batch of promising new series. Most premieres are slated for later in the month, but Fox and the CW have taken the lead with some hype-worthy starts.

Glee

For me, this is the year’s most anticipated series. Fox’s stroke of genius was to debut the pilot episode before the summer hiatus, so there were several months for the show to build a lot of buzz and for us fans (aka Gleeks) to listen to the songs repeatedly. The second episode (first of the main season) did not disappoint. The show is a tongue-in-cheek dramedy about melodrama in the lives of the members of a high school glee club. I won’t pretend that there isn’t hamminess or broad humour, but there’s definitely something fresh and enjoyable about these characters. Plus we’re amazingly deep into their lives (especially teacher/coach Mr. Schuester) after only two episodes. They top it all off with some catchy, fun musical performances each week. Lea Michele, who plays the ambitious and driven Rachel Berry, is a great singer. Plus I’m loving the bitchy characters: Sue Sylvester, the gym-teacher nemesis; Quinn Fabray, the ice-queen cheerleader girlfriend of male lead Finn Hudson; and Terri, Mr. Schuester’s passive-aggressively manipulative wife. I gotta admit, I am addicted to Glee.

Melrose Place

The CW came on strong this week, not only with the season premiere of a refreshed 90210 (though I didn’t watch it) as well as the debut of another remake, Melrose Place. Despite the fact that they’ve already featured the return of some of the original cast members (and have a few more on tap) they could easily have picked any sunny apartment complex to throw their pretty young people into. Perhaps they figured that if they’re going to make a Melrose Place clone, they might as well use the actual brand. It’s no surprise that even after one episode there’s all kinds of soapy mystery for our sexy cast. My favourite cast member is the obvious Heather Locklear stand-in, Katie Cassidy (who I really didn’t enjoy as Ruby on Supernatural) as the blond vixen Ella Simms. I hate to sound snooty about this, but I’m obviously not their target audience. As much as I didn’t care about the lives of the Gossip Girls or the 90210 kids, I find myself not caring about the doctor with her financial woes, or the struggling filmmaker and his newly-engaged fiancee. I especially don’t care about the lost little rich boy. With all this apathy, you can bet that I won’t be tuning in for long.

The Vampire Diaries

Being the genre geek that I am, I wonder if the CW soap would be more appealing coated in some element of the supernatural. The Vampire Diaries, a new series about the lives and loves of a couple of vampires, from Dawson’s Creek creator Kevin Williamson, gave me my answer. I’m a huge fan of the latest trend in bloodsuckers, but even with dialogue-friendly Williamson at the helm the debut of this series had less of a pulse than a v.. (don’t make me say it). Anyway, I believe in Williamson and I think there must be some potential (especially since the show is based on a series of successful novels) for this show to end up being good. Unfortunately it’s off to a [… ahem …] lifeless start (which is too bad for Ian Somerhalder — the only actor whose character I don’t think should have died on Lost — who plays evil vampire brother Damon).

Supernatural

Until that show picks up, CW still has one of my favourite series, Supernatural, going for at least one more season. Could there have been any bigger finale than last season, as the Winchester brothers waited with fear and anxiety as they set Lucifer loose (oops!) on Earth? The premiere episode basically took its time to tie up some loose ends and unravel a few more. Lucifer was seeking his human vessel, and apparently has the same taste as the producers of Lost who also chose actor Mark Pelligrino to play their devil(?) figure Jacob. The best news of this season is that Misha Collins, who plays the soft-spoken angel Castiel, is on as a series regular.

So that’s it for week one. Stay tuned for the return of The Office next week, and the CW brings more beautiful people to the tube in the not-too-cleverly-titled The Beautiful Life.

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