What Worked and What Sucked:
ABC’s 2006-2007 Fall Season Edition
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
The time has come when series television is taking a small break for the Fall season. This is also the time that I can’t help but crawl out of the woodwork and analyze the decisions the network made with the seasons. Over the coming weeks, I will be praising, complaining and sometimes just rolling my eyes at what the fall television season brought us…and also what it stole from us. The perfect compliment to our First Impressions series, I can’t wait to take a bite. Just remember that the series I will discuss are strictly those I watched, so if you feel I missed something, write your own article and we’ll be glad to print it! This week, let’s look at ABC’s schedule.
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Desperate Housewives: The third season of this popular show didn’t have the same fire as the previous two seasons, but what it lacked in outlandish mysteries, it made up for in romantic entanglements. Now, don’t get me wrong – there was plenty of mystery to be had in the murder mystery involving Orson (Kyle Machlachlan, of last year’s brilliant but canceled In Justice), who has just proposed to Bree (Marcia Cross), but unfortunately that storyline had to end a tad early, due to the blessing of twins that was bestowed upon Ms. Cross circa mid-season. So, the mystery had to end, but the series still continued to present us with plenty of chills and thrills week after week. Susan (Teri Hatcher) had to choose whether to marry coma-ridden, amnesia-stricken Mike (James Denton) and new beau Ian (Dougray Scott), Lynette and Tom (Felicity Huffman and Doug Savant) found themselves the owners of a new pizza place, and Lynette found herself the victim of a shooting, a robbery, a possible tumor and a almost-affair with Windfall’s Jason Gedrick. Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) found herself being pursued by the now rich son of Mike, Zach Young, and then by a US Senatorial candidate (John Slattery), and Carlos (Ricardo Chiavara) was wooed by Edie (Nicolette Sheridan) once she decided to give up on Mike. All in all, a great new season of the series, despite the fact that I hope that, if next season there must be pain, they spread it around a little more! Poor Lynette!
Grey’s Anatomy: Another series reaches its junior year and does so with a bang! Grey’s Anatomy was as good as ever. Following a crew of medical interns into yet another year, this year mostly focused on the return of Izzy (Katherine Heigl) after the drama of last season, the loss of George’s (T.R. Knight) father and its aftermath, Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) family, Christina and Burke’s (Sandra Oh and Isaiah Washington) secret and the addition of new characters Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Mark Sloan (Eric Dane, Feast). And what a roller coaster ride this season was! The season was jam-packed with interesting encounters and emotional rollercoasters, best of these was the season’s turning point three-parter, in which one of the ferry-boat’s crashes, putting all of the interns out on their first field mission. The season finale left us with plenty of questions, and while the fact that everybody manages to have sex with an intern (Isn’t it funny that the only attending that hasn’t is the sleazy McSteamy?) is a little tiresome, I can’t wait till next season and the new batch of interns that are on the way!
Brothers and Sisters: Surprise, surprise, you can teach an old dog new tricks! It’s funny, because before two years ago, I never watched much, other than genre television. Now, I’ve just completed an entire season of something I never thought I would – a family television series – and I enjoyed it! I didn’t think I would. The series, which follows the return of active Republican Kitty Walker (Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal) to her home and family of avid Democrats, touched the wrong key with me in the first few episodes as I found I wasn’t interested in watching a political drama. I also had some issues with the fact that the death of Kitty’s father in the first episode riddled the first few episodes with the outing of family secret after ridiculous family secret. But, at some point, I found myself embroiled in the life of this dysfunctional family, and they began to feel like my own. Sally Field is brilliant as family head Nora Walker, a controlling mother. Field balances the control with vulnerability that makes her endearing despite the need you can sometimes have to smack yourself in the head while she is speaking. Aside from its two main “star-power” stars, the series is filled with brilliant actors and spectacular storylines. The drama runs high in every family member - Dave Annabale (Of last season’s brilliant but canceled Reunion) plays Justin, the army medic who is home from his tour in Iraq and addicted to drugs, Tommy (Balthazar Getty, Charmed) and his wife Julia (Sarah Jane Morris, Windfall) are trying to have a baby while Tommy tries to get out of the shadow of his dead father and his sister Sarah (Rachel Griffiths, Six Feet Under), whose marriage to Joe (John Pyper-Ferguson, Nightstalker, another brilliant but canceled program of last year) is pushed harder and harder against the rocks. All the while, Kevin (Matthew Rhys) their gay attorney brother, is looking for a meaningful relationship with a man and searching for the ability not to hate all of his sister Kitty’s Republican views. Add to that Nora’s brother Saul (Ron Rifkin, Alias) and his relationship with Mr. Walker’s mistress (Patricia Wettig, thirtysomething, Prison Break), and the addition of a surprise half-sister to the family (Emily VanCamp, Everwood), and you’ve got a true nighttime soap opera without the ridiculous Melrose Place-y-ness that Desperate Housewives can contain. Good clean family fun, except for when it’s not, Brothers and Sisters contains a healthy balance of both political sides and earns kudos for its expression of the views of the war and its treatment of homosexual relationships. Definitely a series to check out if you like them lightly soapy!
Lost: Well, this season was equal parts happy-making and greatly disappointed. ABC’s biggest mystery hit bit the dust this season when its mysteries became too convoluted and its storylines appeared to be going nowhere. A series about a group of airplane survivors who struggle to survive on a deserted island despite the group of “others” on the island, who are out to get them went far too long throughout the series without anything being revealed, and so, it was easy for viewers to get bored. It was quite strange that while the three main characters of the series, Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) spent most of the season in the “others’” camp, we learned almost nothing about them that we did not already know. And the fact that barely any of the other characters in this ensemble cast had anything else to do didn’t help much. Sadly, the only storyline of note for the first three-quarters of the season that did not involve the above mentioned threesome was that of Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) and the discovery of his impending doom, as told to him by now unexplainably psychic Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick). This storyline tore at your heart strings, but aside from that, things didn’t really pick up until the last quarter of the season, when the crew began to uncover the truth (or at least some of the truth) about the “others” and Locke (Terry O’Quinn) switched sides to learn the secret of the island. The finale was a doozy and despite my earlier complaints, I left the season hoping against hope that this would keep up into Season 4. I think I may be back on the Lost cheerleading squad…but, we shall see.
Dancing With The Stars: There is something to be said about too much of a good thing. In the celebrity reality genre of television, usually that something to be said involves there being no more celebrities of any real interest to put on the show. That is what has happened to Dancing With The Stars, the reality show for those who either love to see celebrities make fools of themselves or for those who actually want to watch the celebrities learn. After the Season 2 fair and correct victory of Drew Lachey, I was certainly raring to go for Season 3. However, Season 3 was less fair and fun. There were plenty of good dancers, but with a final 3 consisting of Joey Lawrence, Emmitt Smith, and Mario Lopez, there was no way Emmet Smith should have won. Despite that, I was not willing to give up so easily. The road to the finale was entertaining enough to keep me from being a spoiled brat and not watching the fourth season. However, when the cast was picked, it did nothing for me, and I quickly lost interest in the show, especially with my jam-packed new season of television. In the end, I quickly dumped Dancing with the Stars. Thought a deserving winner was chosen this time out of the gate, I didn’t care enough for the lead up. Sorry, Dancing, I hope you choose a better cast next season.
Six Degrees: It happens to you all the time. You meet somebody, talk to them for awhile, only to discover that they work in the same place as your best friend, or live two blocks away from you. It’s the theory that everyone is connected, and I’ve seen it in action. ABC created a television series based on this phenomenon, entitled Six Degrees. The series starred an ensemble cast, featuring Jay Hernandez (Hostel II, World Trade Center) as Carlos, a young attorney who rescues a young party girl (Erika Christensen, Swimfan, The Perfect Score). This party girl, Mae, is not actually a party girl but is on the run from a dark and dangerous man who has hired Carlos’ friend, Damian (Dorian Missick, Lucky Number Slevin) to hunt her down. As part of Mae’s secret identity, she takes a job as a nanny to Laura (Hope Davis), who has recently befriended Whitney (Bridget Moynahan, I Robot, Sex and the City), who has recently hired formerly burned out and strung out photographer Steven (Campbell Scott, Music & Lyrics, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) for a new ad campaign after seeing the photograph he anonymously took of Laura crying on the street after the death of her husband. Is it a tad convoluted? Are the connections a little more interwoven than they really would be? Yes and Yes. But was it a fatal enough flaw to send this series to the land of cancellation? I didn’t think it should have been. The characters were interesting, the acting was flawless, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen when all of the characters came together. However, apparently ABC could wait. They put the show on a forced hiatus, brought it back for two episodes months later, and then chopped it off of their schedule. Obviously, this series has not made the Fall Schedule for 2007…which is not surprising. It seems that it is that much harder for any series that is outside of the box to survive these days.
The Nine: The Nine was a strange case. It was interesting. I was curious. And the minute they canceled it, I forgot all about it. This kind of this is rare to me. Usually, if I like a show enough to watch it, I like it enough to miss it once it’s gone. The Nine tales place after a bank robbery where 9 people survive to tell the tale of what went on when they were locked inside of a bank together for 52 hours. The story mostly centered on the lives of the survivors after they got out of the bank and then flashed back through the days when they were locked in the bank ala’ Lost. The series starred Tim Daly (Of next Fall’s much hyped Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice) as the cop who managed to get locked into the bank after visiting for his weekly flirtation with bank worker Eva (Lourdes Benedicto, 24, Dawson’s Creek) who worked at the bank with her sister Franny (Camille Guaty, Prison Break, The Help) who has a thing for Dr. Jeremy Kates (Scott Wolf, Party of Five, Everwood) who’s girlfriend Lizzie (Jessica Collins) just found out that she is pregnant. While in the bank, Lizzie, a grief counselor at the hospital Jeremy works at, quickly befriends Lucas (Owain Yeoman, Kitchen Confidential), the nice robber, who also has a strange and mysterious connection to Felicia (Dana Davis), the daughter of the bank owner, Malcolm (Chi McBride, Boston Public). Also locked in the bank with them is 24’s Kim Raver as District Attorney Katherine Hale, a suicidal middle-aged man named Egan (John Billingsley, Enterprise), and the other bank robber, insane and violent Randall (Jeffrey Pierce, who just helped finish off CBS’ Close to Home with a bang this season as well). Did that description sound sort of like my Six Degrees description above? Yeah, that’s what I thought – and it shouldn’t have, because these shouldn’t have been similar shows. But, sadly, they were, and while I was interested in the character development and interaction, I really wanted to know about what happened in that bank…and by episode three, when we had only flashed through one hour of the events of that night, I realized that it would be three seasons before I ever would. And it wasn’t worth that much time. So, while I enjoyed The Nine while it was on, I knew it wasn’t going to last that long, and thus, I didn’t really miss it once I was proved right.
In Case of Emergency: Some shows you just forget completely that you were watching. You begin with every intention of keeping up with it, but as time passes and you have less and less time, you realize that you never had time to add another show, even another half hour show, to your weekly list of things to watch. This was one of those shows. In Case of Emergency is about a group of people in their thirties, who meet up for the first time since high school, and find that their lives are nothing like they had planned. Jonathan Silverman (another actor who went on to rock up the end of Close to Home on CBS) stars as the likeable divorcee and single father who goes for a massage at a massage parlor only to find that the woman about to give him the “massage” is his ex-high school classmate Kelly (Kelly Hu, X2, The Scorpion King). Add to this their old friends suicidal Jason (David Arquette), the doctor he loves (Lori Loughlin) and their famous health guru, formerly fat Sherman (Greg Germann) and you have an all-star cast and a vaguely funny premise. However, though there were jokes, they didn’t keep coming, and the characters just weren’t interesting enough to hold my attention. Though I had every intention of watching this show, I just never cared enough to miss it. And neither did ABC…it isn’t making it to the new Fall Season.
Knights of Prosperity: Have you ever watched the first episode of a series and wondered what the hell you just wasted your time on? That was the kind of strength behind my reaction to Knights of Prosperity. This series is about a group of friends who are tired of working menial jobs and being lonely and decide that the answer to their lifetime of mediocrity would be to rob the lavish home of Mick Jagger. Donal Logue (Grounded For Life) who is usually quite funny, but here not so much, Sofia Vergara (Lords of Dogtown, Chasing Papi), and Kevin Michael Richardson (A voice on every cartoon show you can think of!) are the only notable names attached to this series, except, of course, for Mick Jagger, who plays a surprisingly large role in this show. Despite the menagerie of comedians, the show is not funny except for Jagger, who plays it up in feigned clips from MTV’s Cribs in which he is completely ridiculous and fun. Other than that, this series was wholly uninteresting.
Well folks, those were my picks and misses for this past season. Check some of them out in a later season near you! But for now, onward and upward! Next week, we’ll take a look at CBS’ hits and misses. Until then, happy television watching!!!