Notes on New Series

At the beginning of each TV season, I like to sample new shows at least once. Last night, I did a marathon, watching NCIS: Los Angeles, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Glee and half of Eastwick. Since my eyes have way exceeded their daily radiation allotment, I’m going to keep this short and just go with quick impressions of each show.

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

NCIS: Los Angeles. Chris O’Donnell is so wrong for this role of tough, military-trained leader guy. He’s as edgy as soup; his low-energy line readings and pauses slow down the show’s pacing, which broadcasts every plot development from a mile away. It makes no sense that O’Donnell’s character doesn’t know what his first name is (he only has the initial “G”). If he’s an orphan like it’s implied, at some point while he was going through the system, someone would’ve given him a name, if for no other reason than proper record keeping. Everyone else in the pilot is completely forgettable, except for maybe Barrett Foa, whose tech expert is quirky without being annoying, and Linda Hunt, whose character looks exactly like the costume designer Edna from The Incredibles.  Even LL Cool J couldn’t make this show like his name. Nerd verdict: NCIS=Not Cool or Interesting Show.

Photo: Bob D'Amica/ABC

Photo: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Modern Family. I was a little wary of all the hype surrounding this show since I was underwhelmed by CBS’s Julianna Margulies-starrer The Good Wife, which also had advance rave reviews. But Family got in a few good jokes and most of the characters are likable. My favorites are the gay men who just adopted the cutest Vietnamese baby and named her Lily. A family member asks, “Wouldn’t that be hard for her to say?” I’m Vietnamese, can pronounce all my “L”s properly and still found that hilarious. Nerd verdict: A Family I’m happy to see.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Cougar Town. I think Courteney Cox can be really goofy and she does good, brave work here. Who doesn’t like a beautiful woman who can make fun of herself? The pilot was trying too hard to be witty, though. We get that Jules, Cox’s character, is a little desperate but the show shouldn’t come off that way, too. Dan Byrd (Aliens in America), as Jules’s son, does have a sane, grounding presence and the show has potential if everyone would just relax. Nerd verdict: I’d visit this Town again if residents quiet down a bit.

Eastwick. I bailed halfway through so my remarks only apply to the first 30 minutes. The leads, Rebecca Romjin, Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman, lack bewitching powers and the Jack Nicholson role is filled by an actor looking like Chris Noth-lite speaking in affected soap-opera tones. Nerd verdict: No magic here.

glee

Courtesy Fox

Glee. This show has been on for a couple weeks and its pilot aired back in May but it’s still a new series. If you’re not watching it yet, you’ve got to start. Every week, it deftly mixes humor with pathos, features Jane Lynch as MVP, and includes at least one musical number. I don’t even like musicals but find myself looking forward every week to the showcase piece. This week, it was a high-school football team taking a timeout during a game to dance on the field to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” complete with the infamous moves. As entertaining as this was, though, the high point for me was the scene where Kurt (Chris Colfer) came out to his father (Mike O’Malley). Both actors handled the scene with the perfect amount of heart and it was a beautiful thing to watch. Nerd verdict: Glee, indeed.

What new shows have you seen? Which gets a season pass on the DVR and which will you just pass on?

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8 responses to “Notes on New Series

  1. OMG, thank you for watching as many of the new shows as I have been, you make me feel like less of a total crazy person.

    I haven’t looved anything yet. I loathe Jenna Elfman, but “Accidentally on Purpose” was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. But, that said, one episode was more than enough for me…

    Love the new “Melrose”, but mostly because the hot Asian chick playing the student doctor/high-priced call girl is really hot! And “The Vampire Diaires” is surprisingly awesome…and not just because it stars my homegirl Nina Dobrev from “The American Mall”!

    Other than that, our Tivo is overflowing with new and returning shows like “The Good Wife”, “Mercy”, “Modern Family”, “Cougar Town”, “Eastwick” and the premiere of “Heroes”, which I don’t know why I still watch considering how crappy it has gotten over the last two seasons…

    So, thanks to your reviews, I might just delete “Eastwick” and catch up on “Glee” instead, which we are kinda crazy for right now anyway!

    Oh, yeah…two more things. One, I loved that you said Chris ODonnell is as edgy as soup…hilarious! And, two, stay away from “The Beautiful Life: TBL” on the CW…wow, that show suuuuuuucks!

    • Ha ha! I love that you watch as much TV as I do. As for the crazy part, you DO leave comments at insane hours!

      I missed Accidentally on Purpose but it sounded stupid so I wasn’t kicking myself. I’ve only seen the Melrose pilot and found it gut-wrenchingly painful to watch. That girl is super gorgeous but her acting is super bad. My eyeballs almost got stuck at the back of their sockets because I rolled them so much during her scenes. And she’s not even the worst actress on there! Every time Ashlee Simpson-Wentz was “emoting,” I wanted to commit seppuku. Having said that, I heard Heather Locklear is coming back so I’ll probably tune in again. She’s going to show them how it’s done!

      Haven’t seen Vampire Diaries because I am vamped out. I’ve seen promos, though, and thought Nina looked familiar!

      I recorded Heroes, too! Haven’t watched it yet and don’t know why I still care, either. I guess it’s because it was so awesome in season one and I keep hoping it’d go back to that.

      Thanks for the heads up re: The Beautiful Life. I recorded it but think I’ll delete it!

  2. NCIS: Los Angeles starts here next week. Last night was a repeat of the NCIS episode that introduced the LA characters. Chris O’Donnell was gunned down at the end of that episode – sounds like it’s a shame he pulled through! I gather he’s supposed to be a man of mystery. In hindsight, I see what you mean about him being a walking flatliner. I’ll tune in for the first ‘proper’ episode of the series anyway.

    None of the others are here yet or being promoted EXCEPT Glee, and yes, I am a Gleek! Love it. The second episode aired tonight.

    Thanks for the excellent wrap, PCN – good to know how the others are shaping up.

    • I’m in the Gleek Club, too! Love the term.

      I didn’t see the NCIS backdoor pilot but the premiere did a quick flashback of him getting shot. I think he’s supposed to be angsty about it but it wasn’t happening. I’m interested in your thoughts after you see it.

  3. NCISLA (My wife said, “Too many letters!”) We watched last season’s back door pilot on NCIS and were looking forward to this. I’m going to try and stick with it for a few episodes, but a few observations: I love Linda Hunt (especially in Silverado) but I picked up on the whole “Edna” thing right away, too. I love Chris O’Donnell (even as Robin and d’Artagnan) and I want him to do well in this, but I don’ t think that the writing is there for him. And, what happened to the characters as they were portrayed in the pilot? They started out as interesting, but now they are just “quirky”. And the plot…. the initial “G” thing. Aside from being implausible as you said, mystery names have been done before (Colombo, MacGyver) and they didn’t have to hit us over the head with it. Why are they acting like “Men in Black” and hiding their offices in an old water treatment plant (or something like that)? What happened to the female agent in charge from the pilot? Why would they put a recuperating agent in charge of an investigation on his first day back? He can’t find an apartment in L.A.? And, who cares about expense accounts and what’s with the whole NCIS Wardrobe Department. Like I said, I want to give it a few weeks to get it together, but I only have so much TV watching time to dole out.

    • Now you’ve got me going, Eddy. Besides all the excellent points you made, why did Linda Hunt make G change into a nice shirt just so he can attend a shootout with a drug cartel? LL had the same old long-sleeved T-shirt on all episode and no one told him to change. And yes, why did headquarters look like a movie set with a wardrobe rack and somebody ironing clothes? I was expecting someone to come out and do the agents’ hair and makeup before they went out in the field.

      At one point, LL was leaning against his car when he spotted their tail. When the other car sped off, instead of jumping into his own car to give chase, he ran after it! And when the shootout happened at the end, there was lots of gunfire and a dude went flying through a window, but the little girl outside didn’t hear anything?

      I read that Louise Lombard, the actress who played the female agent in the backdoor pilot, left the series after the pilot was shot but no reason was given.

  4. NCIS: Agree with you for the most part. The “G” as first name didn’t really bother me, but your logic about it is indeed sound. You have to admit though, the computer display thing is pretty cool. I can see the studio execs on this show saying these items are cool so we can ignore the need for stronger storylines and more compelling stars. It’s weak and I won’t return for a 2nd viewing.

    MODERN FAMILY: It’s actually just inappropriate enough to hold my interest. Some real potential there. I will tune in again.

    COUGAR TOWN: I agree, Cox is great, but the show is trying way too hard. Too bad this talented woman is not given the direction and material she deserves. BOOOOOO! Not coming back for this.

    EASTWICK: Missed it, so I can’t really comment.

    GLEE: Started out loving this show, but it is actually becoming less GLEEful. I need more music, guys! I will continue to tune in, but I worry the show will go the way of MTV (which should rename itself LRTV as in Lousy Reality TV).

    Are you listening, GLEE producers???

  5. I haven’t seen a lot of them, since they haven’t been aired around here.

    The only one that’s been aired is Glee’s pilot episode and I missed it (‘though I did get a chance to stream it!), and I absolutely love the show. It’s amazing. I’ve seen all episodes online (since they air in November), and I laugh my rear-end off!!

    I think Jane Lynch needs to buy a handkerchief to polish her now-very-well-earned-future Emmy, don’t you?

    (I’ll follow your advise and watch Modern Family and Cougar Town when they air. I admit, Courtney Cox is one of my favourite comic actresses… I’m a Friends’ fan, you know?)

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