Fall has barely begun, yet there’s a familiar chill in the air. Halloween is still a couple of weeks away, but there’s a certain group of people out in Hollywood already shivering in fright. Less than a month into the new fall TV season and the television dead pool has claimed its first victim.
Poor Marta Walraven, she’s a harried wife and mother. Her youngest son just got expelled for bringing a handgun to school. Her parents are acrimoniously divorced. Her dad is an infamous Russian mobster. And her criminally entangled husband just got murdered. Her one advantage is the fact that she’s played by sinew-powered actress Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill,Pitch Black, High Art).
The National Treasure films weren’t good by any conventional definition of the word, but they were fun. After all who doesn’t love a globe-hopping treasure hunt—especially when it comes wrapped in a conspiracy and painted over with a few layers of historical significance? Just ask Indiana Jones. Or Tom Hanks in that Da Vinci thing. These clue-dropping treasure hunts aren’t something episodic television has had much luck recreating. But ABC’s new thriller “Zero Hour” certainly gives it the old college try. And if the pilot episode is any indication, the network might have something halfway decent on its hands.
ABC’s new cooking competition “The Taste” promises—repeatedly, it must be noted—to be a cooking competition “unlike any you’ve ever seen.” This is a completely accurate description—but only if you’ve never seen a food-based show before. For the rest of us, it’s a totally generic, frustratingly unsatisfying taster menu of refried ideas.
Sometimes it pays to watch the credits. I wouldn’t have given ABC’s new musical drama “Nashville” much of a glance if I hadn’t paid attention to who’s behind the camera. The show is created by Callie Khouri, who won herself an Academy Award for a little movie called Thelma & Louise.
If you think combining “Melrose Place” with “American Horror Story” sounds like a great idea, then you’re not very creative. You are, however, creative enough to be a programming executive at ABC. The network’s new series “666 Park Avenue,” is far more soapy than scary—but it does manage to meld two not terribly compatible genres into a rather rickety hour-long melodrama.
A few weeks in and the fall 2012 TV season is already starting to look like a washout. Almost none of the new shows are generating much interest. All that is about to change drastically, though, with the bracing, nuclear-power shot across the bow that is ABC’s “Last Resort.” This isn’t just the best new show, it’s the best hour of television in ages.