Fall Arts Preview

Our annual look at the state of the arts.


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Fall TV

Just when the television networks were moving towards 52 weeks of new programming, the writers’ strike put a damper on this year’s pilot season. Here are the new network scripted series that managed to make it through to production.


Worst Week
Poor Sam Briggs. All he wants is to please his future in-laws, but he keeps winding up in a series of escalating Meet the Parents-style embarrassing situations. Prepare to cringe (9:30, CBS).

My Own Worst Enemy
You know that old sitcom formula in which two seemingly incompatible personalities are forced to live together? My Own Worst Enemy ups the ante by having those two personalities share a body. Taking a page from Fight Club’s book, one man is torn between his two identities: one is a suburban father, the other an operative trained to kill (10:00, NBC).


Those suffering from ’90s nostalgia can get their fix with the re-boot of 90210. Fans of the old show will recognize Jennie Garth’s character Kelly Taylor, returning as a guidance counselor—but you might be disappointed that, this time around, the cast comprises teenagers who look like they’re younger than 30 (8:00, CW).

The Mentalist
Patrick Jane (played by the handsome Simon Baker) gives up his life as a phony John Edwards-type psychic and uses his superior sense of observation to help the California Bureau of Investigation. But will his keen intellect and disregard of protocol help solve the murder of his wife and child? We’re guessing no (9:00, CBS).

A series that combines The Devil Wears Prada with The Nanny Diairies, Privileged finds an aspiring journalist whisked into the lives of the rich and famous when she gets fired from her tabloid job and becomes a tutor for a wealthy cosmetics mogul (9:00, CW).


Project Gary
A comedy about post-divorce blended families, only without the wholesome veneer of The Brady Bunch. Gary Barnes (comedian Jay Mohr) somehow must sort out a life that includes his cartoonishly uptight ex-wife, her new fiancé (who happens to be their former marriage counselor), his two children, his new girlfriend, and her son. At least they don’t all live under one roof (8:30, CBS).

Knight Rider
It had camp, it had cars, it had David Hasselhoff—who didn’t love Knight Rider in the ’80s? Now KITT is back—with “nanotechnological” upgrades that actually let the car change shape and color. Michael Bay fans take notice (8:00, NBC).

Do Not Disturb
Arrested Development star Jason Bateman steps behind the camera for this workplace comedy about a hotel with a celebrity clientele—and a staff of wannabe celebs. The ensemble cast includes a lot of familiar faces, including Jerry O’Connell (Sliders), Niecy Nash (Reno 911), and The Class’ Jesse Tyler Ferguson (9:30, FOX).


Eleventh Hour
Think of it as the X-Files without the supernatural: Dr. Jacob Hood (Rufus Sewell) investigates “scientific oddities” and crimes that use scientific discoveries for ill gains. Like other recent TV hits (think The Office), this one is a British import brought across the pond by kinetic producer Jerry Bruckheimer (10:00, CBS).

SNL Thursday Night Live
Live from New York, it’s…Thursday night? Believe it. In the heat of the political season, SNL is offering up a bonus half-hour of “Weekend Update”-style sketches (9:30, NBC).

Life on Mars
To heck with ’90s nostalgia—if you have ’70s nostalgia, you may want to check out this show, whose main character travels back in time to the era of bellbottoms to solve crimes with the LAPD. But wait—how did they solve crimes before Foresnsic Files (10:00, ABC)?


Do you like Lost, but hate all of the monsters, mysteries, and slowly evolving plot? Crusoe is a straight-ahead adaptation of the Daniel Defoe novel, with a series devoted to one man’s survival after a shipwreck. Sadly, there are no coconut radios in this one (8:00, NBC).

The Ex List
If you’re home alone on a Friday night, of course you’ll want to watch a drama about a single woman looking for Mr. Right. Bella Bloom (who owns a flower shop—get it?) learns from a psychic that she’ll never marry—unless she rekindles a flame with one of her exes within the year. She goes looking for the Ghost of Relationships Past in hopes of finding her one and only—again (9:00, CBS).


FRINGE ©2008 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Mark Ben Holzberg/FOX

From J.J. Abrams, the producer who keeps us throwing stuff at the TV each week with Lost, comes another mind-bending, Twilight Zone-style series—and yes, it begins with another mysterious plane crash. This time, two FBI agents have to investigate the grisly deaths that took place aboard an international flight, and the man who can help them has been in a mental institution for the past 20 years. Of course, shadowy forces are at work behind the scenes (Tuesday, 9:00, FOX).



KATH & KIM courtesy of NBC Photo: Trae Patton

Kath and Kim
There was Kate and Allie. There was Patsy and Edina. And now, there’s Kath and Kim, the newest female comedy duo to hit the small screen. Based on a mega-popular Australian sitcom, the show features Kath (Saturday Night Live’s Molly Shannon), a divorcée who finds that her daughter, Kim (Hellboy’s Selma Blair) has separated from her husband and moved back home. Westchester parents with boomerang kids can relate (Tuesday, 9:30, NBC).


Sit Down, Shut Up
If you want to add a new animated show to your TiVo Season Pass, this one has a much better pedigree: Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development), Bill Oakley (The Simpsons), and Josh Weinstein (The Simpsons) are all producers, and the voice cast includes comedy stars Will Arnett, Maria Bamford, Will Forte, and even Henry Winkler. With a talent roster like that, we’d watch it no matter what the subject is, but the fact that it’s a show about burned-out teachers makes us laugh just thinking about it (FOX).


Harper’s Island
A little Lost, a little Survivor, a little Scream, Harper’s Island focuses on a group of childhood friends who return to the island off the coast of Seattle where they grew up for a wedding—an island that happens to be the site of a series of brutal slayings. And is the killer really gone (CBS)?

The Philanthropist
After the death of a child, Teddy Rist becomes the world’s first billionaire “renegade philanthropist,” making back-room deals and dodging bullets to do right in the world. Like Batman, without all the gadgets and crime-fighting (NBC).

With Kings, I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence re-imagines the David and Goliath struggle in a modern metropolis suffering from endless war (sound familiar?) when a young upstart soldier named David finally brings peace to the war-torn kingdom. This earns him the respect of the ladies—and quite a few political enemies. (Yeah, we don’t totally get it either; 10:00, NBC).

The Office Spinoff
As of press time, details of this spin-off—and even its official title—were still under wraps. But if it’s even a fraction as cringe-inducing hilarious as the original, it’ll be one of the stronger debuts of the season (NBC).

Yes, that Merlin. Only forget the robes and the long, white beard. This show takes a look at Merlin and Arthur before the legend began, in their early years, when they were young men ready for adventure. (Who would win in a wizard fight, Young Merlin or Harry Potter? NBC).

A secret collection of illegal “actives” carry out sordid, under-the-radar missions, and return to the “Dollhouse” to have their memories and personalities wiped clean before heading out into the fray again. Yet one “active” goes Pinocchio and starts to keep her memory and personality—can she become a real girl before the FBI finds the Dollhouse and shuts it down? Dollhouse is created by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so it’s sure to develop a cult following (FOX).

The Cleveland Show
Family Guy fans just can’t get enough. First, the show’s creator came up with another animated series, American Dad, which follows the exact same blueprint for crass jokes and bumbling characters. If that weren’t enough, now Family Guy has launched a spin-off, based on the show’s easy-going Cleveland. Fans of random cut-away jokes to complete non sequiturs, rejoice (FOX)!

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