What Worked and What Sucked:
NBC, FOX and Sci-Fi Channel 2007-2008 Fall Season Edition
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
Welcome back! You are just in time for the final installment of our G-POP season recap! This week, we will review series from NBC, Fox and one darling from the Sci-Fi Network. Some of Fox’s series have already started, but we’re going to turn a blind eye to that and get started on recapping what happened last year before we start talk on the new shows to hit the airwaves.
Just a quick disclaimer before I begin: If I went over every televisions show that crossed our airwaves, I would not have time to breath, and I will have taken over G-POP’s entire article load for a month. This being said, those television shows that are covered in this series are merely those that crossed my path, those that I tried and that either hit the scrap heap or became a part of my weekly fair. So, if you know of a show that I didn’t catch, or if you disagree with my brilliant assessment, check out our Submissions Page and send us your own point of view. We’d love to publish you!
Follow the links:
Back to You (Fox): It would have sounded like a good idea, in Fox’s pitch room. Take two sitcom veterans, Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Cheers) and Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond). Play up their strengths in their respective series. Grammer plays Chuck Darling, enhancing the pompousness of Frasier to the point of being a downright playboy and unfeeling jerk. Heaton plays Kelly Carr with a toughness and fight in her so exaggerated from Debra on “Raymond” that she becomes an annoyingly whiny shrew. The series centers around these two television news anchor that had a relationship in the past. Darling had been out on his own on a national news show but after throwing a fit that was accidentally filmed and aired live, he loses his job and returns to his old stomping grounds – as co-anchor to Kelly. The cast of characters rounds out with a series of wacky personalities. There’s Ryan (Josh Gad, The Rocker) as the cooky and socially inept show runner, Gary Crezyzewski (Ty Burrell, Out of Practice) as the downtrodden special interest reporter who can’t catch a break and whose name nobody can say correctly, Marsh (Fred Willard, from Everybody Loves Raymond, too) as the airhead old sportscaster who is probably far beyond his day and age, Montana (Ayda Field, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) as the weather woman who uses her body to get attention, and there’s Gracie (Laura Marano, Without a Trace, The Sarah Silverman Project) as the love child of the one night stand between Chuck and Kelly – and the big secret they both share. Now, amidst all these characters, Chuck and Kelly must learn how to work together – for the sake of the station and for the sake of Gracie. It all sounds pretty funny, right? Well, at times it was. The problem wasn’t in the funny. It was in the characters. They were funny characters, sure, and for a comedy, that could have been all you would need, but they were also devoid of personality – or at least likeable personalities. In the end, you didn’t know who to side with and that didn’t help the series. So, post-writer’s strike, who really cared anymore? Well, I didn’t. And apparently neither did the rest of America. The series was canceled. So, I guess I’m right sometimes.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox): When I heard about this series, I was instantly intrigued by the possibilities. By the time this series was being pitched, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had already made it to theaters and it displayed iconic character Sarah Connor as having died from cancer many years ago and John Connor had been locked in a vault as nuclear attacks from the machines destroyed the world and he remained protected from the threat, preserving him until the future, when he would lead the rebel army against the machines. So where exactly could a series about Sarah Connor go without trampling all over the movie franchise? Well, Fox summed this up nicely in the season premiere. Starting in between Terminator 2 and 3, the series picks up with Sarah (Lena Headley, 300) having a vivid nightmare about the return of a Terminator that leads her to pick up and go on the run again, despite the fact that she was finally settling down. Leaving her fiancé, Charlie (Dean Winters, 30 Rock, Rescue Me) behind, she picks up with her son, John (Thomas Dekker, Heroes) and leaves town, inadvertently stumbling John into an attack from a Terminator named Cromartie (originally played by Owain Yeoman in the pilot, permanently played by Garrett Dillahunt). Thankfully, John is rescued by yet another Terminator sent from the future by John. Her name is Cameron (Summer Glau, Firefly, Serenity, The 4400) and she leads John and Sarah to a one time use time machine, shooting them into the future to our current time. Now, Sarah, John and Cameron must survive in the future and continue to piece together how they can change the future. This series delivered an injection of excitement into the Terminator franchise. Every actor selected does their job brilliantly – Headley is simultaneously tough-as-nails and a warm mother, Dekker is endearing with a hidden smolder building, and and Glau is deceptively sweet, innocent and horrifying, depending on the situation. The most fun is to be had in the addition of Derrick Reese (played in a manner that is surprisingly gritty by Brian Austin Green, 90210, Freddie), the brother of the 1st movie’s Kyle Reese and John’s uncle. His addition turned the tide of the show, making it infinitely more interesting. With Season 2 in it’s first few weeks, things definitely look like they’re getting increasingly interesting. Can’t wait to see more.
Bones (Fox): Season 3 of Bones was a little different than previous seasons had been. Four story arcs moved the show forward this season, in a series that had previously been mostly episodic. One – the main characters, FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and his forensic anthropologist partner, Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel, Glory Road, Boogeyman) hit a rough spot after he arrests her father (a known criminal, played by seemingly, a known criminal Ryan O’Neal), leading the two to be forced by the FBI to attend partner therapy under Dr. Lance Sweets (series newcomer John Francis Daley, Freaks and Geeks, Kitchen Confidential). Two - Bones also spent the season trying to find a way to free her father and brother, Russ, (Loren Dean, Mumford). Three - Angela, the lab’s facial reconstruction specialist (Michaela Conlin, MDs) and Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), the lab’s insect and particulates guy, struggled to find a way to get married, but first they must find Angela’s husband. Four – and most importantly, is the overarching hunt for the serial killer the lab nicknames “Gormagon” – a killer and his apprentice who believes in secret societies, hunts those he believes belongs to the, cooks them, and eats them. Yes, eats them. Along with their boss, Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor, Lost) the lab team works out the truth in the bones, while Agent Booth shakes up his suspects with his unique talent for reading people. All of these talents collide as they investigate leading to several intense episodes including a Christmas miracle for Brennan’s family that leads to a “kiss-bet” between Booth and Bones, Brennan’s attempt to get her father out of jail while the rest of her team must testify against him, a stalker that almost proves deadly for Booth, and the most intense - the revelation of Gormogon’s apprentice as Zach! With this season promising a real kiss between Booth and Brennan (who happen to absolutely ooze chemistry) and many returns for Zach, how can anyone not return to the scene of this crime? The verdict: I can hardly wait.
Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi Network): What can one say about this amazingly detailed, gritty, and true-feeling space drama? A lot of good things – which makes it all the more frustrating that the bad TV Schedulers over at Sci-Fi have spread the last season and a half over 3 years – so don’t be surprised that this series, which supposedly started last April will make it to the next recap. The previous season ended with talented pilot Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katie Sackhoff, also see Bionic Woman), returning from the dead and promising to lead Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber) back to Earth, the mythical homeland that both the humans and their robots-concealed-in-human-flesh enemies (it’s a theme, i.e. Terminator) have been searching in vain for. As the season begins, the Cylons enter into civil war, leading Starbuck to find and choose a side for the humans to help out in the hopes of reaching a common goal. Meanwhile, the four of the five final Cylons that have remembered who they are, Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan), Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), Sam Anders (Michael Trucco, One Tree Hill), and Presidential Aide Tori Foster (Rekha Sharma, Smallville) struggle to stay hidden only to reveal themselves as part of the treaty. Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos, everything) must struggle to cope with the fact that his dearest friend is a Cylon and that the woman he loves, President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell, Independence Day) is dying of cancer – again. Lee struggles to find his way now that he is no longer a fighter pilot and is now a lawyer and then, a politician. And all the while, borderline bad guy Gaius Baltar (James Callis, Bridget Jones’ Diary) works his way to become the newest messiah and a messenger of the One True God, lead by the voice of Cylon Six (Tricia Helfer) in his head. Packed with religious undertones, sci-fi goodness, action, mystery, very human drama, damn find acting and directing, Battlestar is a good show for anyone who is not a fan of Sci-Fi to sink their teeth into deeply and get their first bite, and is a very appetizing meal for all those who already have it. It’s just a shame that we have to wait all the way until 2009 to see how it ends. Torturers.
Heroes (NBC): This series was another unfortunate sufferer of “Writer’s Strike Down Turn”. While the series creators had planned to split the season in half, with one story arc taking up the first twelve episodes, and the other taking up the final 12. However, thanks to the strike, the second arc that had been planned was cut down, so they chucked the thing altogether. Unfortunately, the first arc wasn’t all that interesting and that didn’t help matters. Where the 1st season finale brought all of the heroes together, the second season saw them all torn apart and separated, so we could watch them all in their more personal, internal journeys. The main storyline involved additional paintings by last season’s psychic painter, Isaac that led the Heroes to believe that a virus will break loose and destroy the world population. As the Heroes attempt to prevent the virus from getting loose, we learned a little more about the Company, watched it as Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) joined begrudgingly. Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) journeyed into the past, where he met his hero, Takezo Kensei, who was actually someone with regenerative powers named Adam (David Anders, Alias) who had a close tie to the company. Meanwhile, Peter (Milo Ventimiglia, Rocky Balboa, Gilmore Girls) struggled to regain his memory after the final showdown in Season 1, while attempting to help his brother Nathan (Adrian Pasdar, Profit) heal from his burns, dodging his surprisingly evil mother Angela (Christine Rose) and protecting his newfound niece, cheerleader Claire (Hayden Panettiere, Ice Princess). Also protecting Claire is her adoptive father, Noah (Dynasty, Nightmare Café) whose attempts consist of trying to keep her as off-the-radar as possible, and whose past leads new boyfriend and flying dude West (Nicholas D'Agosto) to fear him. Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is off on a beach trying to recover his powers, which have been lost since his near death at the end of the previous season. Meanwhile as Matt (Greg Grunberg, Alias, Felicity) investigates the murder of Hiro’s father (George Takei, Star Trek) he flirts with the dark side of his mind-reading power, even as he and Mohinder care for the young Molly (Adair Tishler) whose fear of the nightmare man leads Matt to a battle with his own father. Niki (Ali Larter, Final Destination) and her son Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey) deal with D.L.’s (Leonard Roberts) death and while Niki attempts to explore a way to get rid of her powers, Micah is left with relatives including his cousin Monica (Dana Davis, The Nine) who has an intense mimicking ability and a love of superheroes. Also joining the fray are new heroes Maya (Dania Ramirez, X-Men: The Last Stand) and her brother Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) who are searching for a cure for Maya’s destructive power, which only Alejandro’s power can control, and Elle (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) who works for the company and controls electricity. So, sounds interesting, right? Well, not so much. What ended up happening was a massive jumble of stories that didn’t quite seem as though they were really important to the mythology as a whole. In the end, we learned some important things about the company, brought Noah (my favorite character) into a way more prominent role, and got an awesome new villain in Adam – we also watched Nathan get shot before revealing his true nature and watched Niki die in a great big explosion. So, what’s gonna happen this year? It’s too early to tell, especially with this series. But hopefully, this year the creators will pace themselves, and we won’t have a massive jumble, but rather the well-oiled machine of Season 1.
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC): This downturn has absolutely nothing to do with a strike of any kind. The series, which follows a department of the NYPD that tracks down rapists and child killers and abusers took a very different down turn this year – it just got stale. What was the prime opportunity to shake things up due to last season’s finale got solved within an episode and everyone who was on the verge of disaster last year walked out of that first episode, jobs completely in tact, leaving the viewer with a feeling that the shocker season finale was merely a case of them overreacting. This was strangely fitting as most of the season involved characters getting ridiculously emotional and confrontational about cases that were just as terrible as the ones they had dealt with with a subdued reaction of a cop who knows how terrible it is but must act professionally. In a series where Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni, Nights in Rodanthe) is supposed to be the hot head, Detective Chester Lake (Adam Beach, Moose TV, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), Assistant District Attorney Casey Novack (Diane Neal) and coroner Dr. Melinda Warner (Tamara Tunie, As the World Turns, 24) all had ridiculous displays of hot-headedness, markedly out of place for their characters, while suddenly Sergeant Munch (Richard Belzer, Homicide: Life on the Street) was split from partner, Detective Finn (Ice-T) who was reteamed with Lake, and Munch spent most of his time doing nothing. Notice how I didn’t say anything bad about series leads Stabler and Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay)? That’s because they were the saving grace of the season. Standout, heartwrenching episodes include when Olivia takes Stabler’s pregnant wife Kathy (Isabel Gillies) to a doctor’s appointment and gets into a car accident that leaves Kathy stuck in the car and in labor, and an episode where Olivia goes deep undercover as an inmate in a jail where she knows women are being raped and almost gets raped herself, an event that promises to echo throughout this new season. By the final episode of the season, Lake had taken a witness hostage to prove the truth about a murder, Casey was in trouble with the Bar Association, and Finn was putting in for a transfer, thus leaving us with the idea of a brand new shakeup – unless we’re overreacting. Oh, and to borrow from staff writer Frank Ocasio, one last thing before I quit : NBC – we get it! The end of this very special SVU will be a twist – They ALWAYS ARE. Please stop advertising it like it’s a surprise? Please?
Journeyman (NBC): I almost didn’t watch this show, but I stuck with the first episode, and by the time I got to the end, I couldn’t pull away. Unfortunately, I was forced to, only thirteen episodes into the drama, due to its abrupt cancellation. The series follows Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd, Rome, Grey’s Anatomy), an investigative reporter who, one day finds himself in another time. Fighting to understand what is happening to him and learning through trial and error, he quickly begins to understand that he must assist the person who he comes into contact, and this will bring him back home to his wife, Katie (Gretchen Egolf, Roswell, Martial Law) and his son Zack (Charlie Wyson) as well as his cop brother, Jack (Reed Diamond, Homicide: Life on the Street) who believes Dan to be little more than a ne’er do well. Even once he has gone back, Dan can expect to pop back and forth into the person’s life, until he has rescued him from some sort of fate – and every time, when he returns, he finds that the person he has saved has changed the course of history for the better. His guide on these missions is none other than Livia (Moon Bloodgood, Daybreak), a ghost from Dan’s past. With just these facts involved, the series seems very much like early nineties series Quantum Leap, except, unlike it’s main character, he is home, but fears that every time he goes back in time, he may get stuck there and never get back. What made this series even more interesting was the supernatural soap opera side of it, a trait that was missing from Quantum Leap. You see, Livia was Dan’s ex, until she died in a plane crash. Except she never did die. She is actually just like Dan, only she moves forwards through time and he moves backwards. Her presence in his time for the time it took to meet him, was only because she believed herself to be stuck in his world. Meanwhile, Dan’s current wife, who struggles with his secret and trying to help him hide it, is Jack’s ex-fiancee. So the bottom line of the series ends up being about the mystery – about what is controlling Dan and Livia, about how this works, how much he can change in the past without terribly altering the future (stand out episodes occur when one misstep causes Dan to have a daughter instead of a sun, a hostage situation in his home, and when a stolen bag of money from the past gets Dan in some deep water in the future). All in all the series was amazing, and I couldn’t wait to see where the mystery was taking us. Unfortunately, as is the case with many good shows these days, I will never get the chance.
Bionic Woman (NBC): When I first saw the commercials for this, I was proud of NBC. I thought they had finally got it right. They were remaking a show with the right dramatic weight to make it work. Watching as the new Jamie Sommers (Michelle Ryan) had an emotional breakdown due to her new implants, it just felt like the right way to go. Add to that her battles with another Bionic Woman, Sarah (Sackoff, see Battlestar Galactica above) and the fact that Jamie is working while trying to protect her sister (Lucy Hale, Privileged) from enemy hands and from the truth added a little something to it. Still, the character development was poor from the beginning, the secret agency she worked for was suspect and the people simply weren’t likeable. In the end, the series became pointless and apparently the network agreed. It never got picked up for a full season. The only positive thing about the series was Jamie’s meeting with fellow secret agent and love interest Tom (Jordan Bridges, Conviction). These episodes were the most fun thanks to Bridges performance and their chemistry between him and Ryan, but fortunately they were the last in the series, easing the pain of the rest of the ordeal.
So that was the wonderful and mostly halved 2007-2008 season. It went by kind of fast, and we lost a lot of time, but it would be great if we could get a full season this year! On to season 2008-2009!