Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The New Fall TV Season

Well, with today NBC begins its new fall TV season. Of course, the other networks will follow suit in the coming weeks. I usually look forward to the new TV season and I keep an eye out for shows that might interest me. Unfortunately, it looks like there isn't much of interest debuting this season.

There are at least three spin offs premiering this season. One is the one of two new shows that even interests me a little bit. Law and Order: Trial by Jury is another entry in the sucessful Law and Order franchise. Its focus wil be the entire courtroom process. Dick Wolf has made certain that each Law and Order series is different from the others. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is very different from Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and both are different from the original series. I am then interested to see what Law and Order: Trial by Jury will be like. Unfortunately, it isn't premiering until mid-season.

The other spin off is CSI: New York (CSI: NY) for short). Although I love CSI, I am not that interested in seeing CSI: NY. While I love CSI, it seems to me that the first spinoff, CSI:Miami, isn't that different from the original series. In fact, the only major difference between the two series is the setting. It seems to me, then, that the same will hold true of CSI: NY. It will be another clone of CSI.

The other new show that interests me a little bit is Father of the Pride. It is a computer animated series from Dreamworks, the makers of the Shrek movies. It centres on the pride of white lions who perform in Siegfried and Roy's act in Las Vegas. I loved Antz and Shrek and I have faith that Dreamworks will produce a good series. It will certanly be a break from the rather mundane sitcoms that are debuting this season.

Of those sitcoms debuting this season is one of the season's three spin offs. Joey relocates the least interesting character from Friends to Los Angeles. I do not have high hopes for this series. I am one of those individuals who loved Friends the first few seasons, but believes that in its last several seasons that the show went downhill. In fact, it seems to me that Friends jumped the shark long ago. If Joey retains the level of qulaity that Friends ended with, I rather suspect it will then be a very bad show. The fact that Joey is the more of a "second banana" makes any hope I might have that the show will be anything remarkable nearly nonexistant.

Often the younger networks (the WB and UPN) will have shows that more interesting than the older networks. Unfortunately, this season that does not seem to be the case. For all that critics have claimed that this is UPN's strongest season ever, it seems to me to be one of the weakest. Among the new shows UPN is rolling out this season is Kevin Hill It is yet another, ahem, "lawyer show." Taye Diggs plays a lawyer who inherits a relative's baby girl. It seems to me that there is nothing even vaugely original about the series' concept. In fact, I rather suspect we will see more of the same sort of formulaic stories that lawyer shows have been churning out for years, with little subplots related to the baby. I may be wrong. The series may actually turn out to be good. Unfortunately, I doubt it. I do have to give them points for casting a black male in the lead. It is a sad state on televison, but there have not been that many black lead characters in dramas. And Taye Diggs is a good actor. I only wish that he had received a show with a more original concept.

Another new show debuting on UPN is Veronica Mars. The series centres on a teenage girl who assists her private eye father in his investigations. This is where I have a problem with the show. I can't realstically see a private investigator letting his teenage daughter help in investigations, at least not anything beyond helping out in the office. It would be acceptable to me if Veronica was in her twenties. Of course, I suppose it could be argued that Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have been solving mysteries for decades, so that Veronica Mars may not be that objectionable. Still, I don't think it will be the sort of show that will interest me.

As to the WB, they cancelled their one truly great show, Angel. I believe Angel is one of the few spinoffs that actually exceeded its progenitor (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in quality. It was original, well written, well directed, and well acted. Arguably, it was the best drama on television. In its place WB has simply given us more youth oriented series. Jack and Bobby has an original concept. It deals with two brothers, one who will become President of the United States. This concept sounds promising, but my fear is in its excection. I fear that it may come off as just another one of the WB's youth oriented TV shows. Indeed, this is the network that sucked the life out of the Superman legend with Smallvllle.

Anyhow, it seems to me that the key word for this TV season is "bland." There is very little originality taking place and very little in the way of remarkable programming. Indeed, I have heard that more reality series will debut this season than any other. It seems to be one of those cases in which one can only hope that next season is better.

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