Ah a new season.
A time to wipe the slate clean, forgive past transgressions (RIP Dead Denny), and face the fall with an open mind and a flexible season pass manager.
Let’s take a look at two shows returning this week with quite a bit riding on their premiere.
“Bones” (Thursday, FOX, 8 p.m.): To me the biggest problem with the season finale of “Bones” was that the episode was the season finale. As a stand alone episode, it would have totally worked. But as a finale that was promoted as finally featuring Brennan and Booth getting to know each other in the biblical sense, it was a bit of a letdown. I don’t know about you but I felt like I had been hoodwinked. So “Bones” returns with a fifth season with a lot of explaining to do. It’s a strong episode that features Cyndi Lauper as a psychic who discovers 12 buried bodies. Booth has recovered from his surgery and his coma and is back at work where he sees Brennan for the first time. I think my problem is that I’m still not convinced I want Booth and Brennan together. (Which I know is odd for me to say, since I’m usally all about romantic pairings). To me, the premiere felt like the show was trying too hard to persuade viewers that the Bones/Booth romance was a good thing and to justify their kind of wacky season finale. Although I liked the episode, it didn’t do the trick for me. I’ll be so curious to hear what you think after you’ve watched the season premiere.
“Parks & Recreation” (Thursday, NBC, 8:30 p.m.): I always thought Amy Poehler was funny. Her show, although it had potential, not so much. “Parks & Recreation” returns for a second season having made several strategic improvements. First of all, Poehler’s Leslie is a lot less like a female version of Michael Scott. Leslie is still optimistic, but she’s not as goofy and ridiculous. She’s become a much more relatable and believable character. And it never really made sense why a smart woman like Ann (Rashida Jones) was with a selfish jerk like Andy (Chris Pratt, who is now a series regular. Whoo-hoo!). They’re broken up and Andy’s attempts to woo Ann back are much funnier than when the pair was together. The show has also gone broader than Leslie’s campaign to turn the local pick into a park – that plot line is still there – but we get to see more of Leslie’s job. The show’s best asset is Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford who has the great ability to make almost any line funny. I still think the show has work to do but it’s off to a great start.
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time for September 14-20
When “One Tree Hill” returns for a new season Monday at 8 p.m. on the CW, the show jumps 14 months into the future and adds a bevy of new characters to make up for the fact that Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton are no longer on the series. Keep an eye out for Robert Buckley, who played Kim Raver’s younger boy toy on “Lipstick Jungle” and then popped up at the end of the season on “Privileged” as a magazine editor, as Nathan’s sports agent.
If like me, you’re still slightly devastated that “Privileged” isn’t back for a second season perhaps you can take some small comfort in the fact that Joanna Garcia begins her guest star stint as Nate’s new girlfriend on the season premiere of “Gossip Girl” (Monday, CW, 9 p.m.).
You probably remember that when I first heard about the fact that Jay Leno would be moving into the 10 p.m. prime time slot every night of the week I thought it would be an unmitigated failure. I didn’t think people wanted to see more talk shows at night nor did I think anyone was that particularly attached to Leno’s brand of humor. But lately I’ve been beginning to think I was very, very wrong and thatI misjudged the viewing public. I’m beginning to think this whole idea could work, which I do think, will eventually have a fairly devastating effect on scripted programming. What do you think about “The Jay Leno Show” (Monday-Friday, NBC, 10 p.m.). Will you be watching? Do you think other people will be watching? Do you think it will be a success? A failure? Or land someplace in between? Talk about it below.
As I said on Friday, the CW declined to send out the complete pilot of “The Beautiful Life: TBL” (premiering Wednesday at 9 p.m.) so I really can’t give the show a complete review. Mischa Barton stars as a model trying to regain her rightful place on the top of catwalk with Sara Paxton’s ingenue nipping at her fashionable heels. As I said over the summer, I think Nico Tortorella is an actor to watch. If this show doesn’t make him into a star, another one will. Right now “TBL” seems like a rehash of what we’ve seen the CW churn out before – beautiful, skinny people and lots of angst. I’m definitely watching Wednesday night so I can see a full episode but for now two and a half out of five stars.
Carter (Dylan McDermott) is in deep trouble in the season finale of “Dark Blue” (Wednesday, TNT, 10 p.m.). In many ways this show never completely took off and was always weighed down by its gloomy disposition. As I said in my original review, I understand that these are undercover cops dealing with extremely grave issues but as a viewer I found it hard to live in their world for an hour. On a show like “24” for example, the stakes are high but I’m still able to enjoy the show as entertainment. That never quite happened with “Dark Blue.” But I will say that the season finale goes a long way in explaining exactly why Carter is such a dark and tormented character. I think the finale is the show’s strongest episode and if the series returns for a second season, they are, at least, heading in the right direction.
I’m one of the people who loved The Michael Scott Paper Company story line last season on “The Office” (Thursday, NBC, 9 p.m.) which I think allowed the show to end on a creative high note. I’m thrilled to report that the season premiere is hilarious. There’s one scene – and I think you’ll know it when you see it – that I had to watch three times to catch all the jokes because I was laughing so much. One of my complaints last season is that now that the show put Jim and Pam together, they needed to move their relationship forward which they did in the season finale when Pam and Jim discovered Pam was pregnant. Thursday’s premiere proves that the couple can be just as funny when they are together and happy.
Honestly could they make Thursday night more stressful? It’s time like these that I absolutely believe networks are plotting against us. How else do you explain “The Office,” “Fringe,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Supernatural” all airing at the same time — bad networks, very bad networks. When “Fringe” returns for a second season this week (Thursday, FOX, 9 p.m.), Olivia has a very traumatic return from the alternate universe. And definitely set your DVRs to go a little longer because my TiVo often cuts off the end of FOX’s shows and you don’t want to miss the final seconds of the “Fringe” premiere.
I’ve talked a lot about how too much positive hype can harm a show and I think that’s what happened to me with the new comedy “Community” (premiering Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on NBC). I had heard so many positive things about the show that by the time I watched it, my expectations were high. Joel McHale stars as Jeff Winger, a lawyer forced to go back to community college when his law degree is revealed to be bogus. There, of course, he meets a hodgepodge of misfit characters. The pilot has a few giggles, Chevy Chase is quite amusing as an entrepreneur who loves to remind people of his claim to fame, and Danny Puddi definitely has the potential to be a breakout character as the student who loves pop culture, has a movie quote for every opportunity, and has no filter about what he says. I liked the premiere, I just didn’t love it and I’m not sure how sustainable the premise is.I’m not convinced I will want to visit these characters each week. Three and a half out of five stars.
Liza Minelli and Delta Burke guest star as psychic sisters on “Drop Dead Diva” (Sunday, Lifetime, 9 p.m.) but that’s not the only reason to tune in. I think there’s another familiar face you’ll be very happy to see back in Jane’s life.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO. Of course the big news is that five episodes this season will feature the cast of “Seinfeld” who come together to do a reunion show. They don’t show up until episode three when Larry gets the whole gang back together. This nonreunion reunion really works for the tone of the show – we get to see the “Seinfeld” cast back on the famous set and the behind-the-scenes machinations that get them there. My advice is to wait until episode three to tune in – the first two episodes feature a lot of screaming and not enough laughs.
That’s all for today. I’ll be back on Friday to talk about the Emmy Awards and to get a jump start on next week, which is officially fall premiere week (just don’t tell that to FOX or the CW). So I’ll also have a review of the two-hour season premieres of “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or a topic for discussion? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter. Have a great week. Talk to you on Friday.
Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal