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.
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.
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.
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. 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?