For Better or Worse
TV for fall 2008
With the writers’ strike behind us (and a possible actors’ strike ahead of us), the fall 2008 TV season arrives battered, bruised and only slightly behind schedule. As expected, there are fewer new shows than normal. As expected, a great many of them are remakes of older (The CW’s “90210”) or foreign shows (NBC’s “Kath & Kim”). As expected, there are plenty of cheap game shows (ABC’s “Opportunity Knocks”) and reality shows (NBC’s “America’s Toughest Jobs”). So what else can we expect? Let’s go over the (potentially) good and the (expectedly) bad.
“Eleventh Hour” (CBS, Oct. 9) Produced by hit-maker Jerry Bruckheimer and given the plum, post-“CSI” timeslot, this remake of a British series seems like a winner. Rufus Sewell (Dark City) stars as a gloomy government brainiac traveling the country with his sexy bodyguard (Marly Shelton, Sin City), investigating abuses of science. “Fringe” (FOX, Sept. 9) Sure, this looks an awful lot like “The X-Files,” but we’ll cut producer J.J. Abrams (“Alias,” “Lost”) some slack. He makes good TV. “My Own Worst Enemy” (NBC, Oct. 13) Christian Slater heads a good-looking cast (Saffron Burrows, Mädchen Amick, Alfre Woodard) in this intriguing tale of a suburban dad with a Jekyll-and-Hyde complex who’s also a deadly superspy. “Life on Mars” (ABC, Oct. 9) The U.S. version has already undergone multiple changes, but the original BBC series (about a cop time-tripping back to the ’70s for reasons unknown) is a classic. The cast, including newly added Gretchen Mol and Lisa Bonet, looks hot. “Surviving Suburbia” (The CW, Nov. 2) We know next to nothing about this sitcom, but just the idea of seeing Bob Saget sending up his TV image as a suburban dad dealing with insane neighbors sounds worthwhile.
“Crusoe” (NBC, Oct. 17) The fact that this version of Daniel Dafoe’s 17th-century adventure yarn is being described as “MacGyver”-meets-“Castaway”-by-way-of-Pirates of the Caribbean makes you think producers don’t have a lot of confidence in the concept. “Gary Unmarried” (CBS, Sept. 24) Formerly edgy comedian Jay Mohr (“Action”) headlines this totally generic sitcom about a divorced dad trying to raise his two kids while sparring with his ex-wife. “In Harm’s Way” (The CW, Sept. 21) From the folks who brought you “Dirty Jobs” and “America’s Toughest Jobs” comes ... more dirty, tough jobs. “Opportunity Knocks” (ABC, Sept. 23) It’s a game show with a twist! Instead of shooting in a fancy studio, they film in people’s houses. That’s it. That’s the twist. “Valentine” (The CW, Sept 21) This quirky dramedy finds a family of Greek gods helping people find soul mates in modern-day L.A. Wait. Wasn’t that the plot to the 1998 Jeremy Piven series “Cupid”?